Dr. Russell Robinson has been asked to conduct at Carnegie Hall for his third time on June 3, 2014. His debut there was in 1997, then he conducted again in 2006 when he premiered School of Music Professor Paul Basler’s Missa Brevis with chorus, professional orchestra and soloists. Robinson was asked by New York producer, Norman Dunfee, president and executive director of Mid-America productions, to be the conductor of this year’s Carnegie Hall concert.
Choirs from across the US as well as a choir that Dr. Robinson worked with at the Australian National Choral Association will form a 150-voice choir for a performance of Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes De Confessore (Solemn Vespers). The choir will be joined by a professional orchestra and four vocal soloists consisting of all New York professionals. Robinson will close with his “De Profundis” that he premiered in 2012 at Lincoln Center in March of 2012. Norman Dunfee and Mid-America Productions were also the producers for his 2012 Lincoln Center concert that featured the Schubert Mass in G.
Here are Robinson’s thoughts on the upcoming experience:
I am thrilled to have been asked, once again, to conduct in one of the world’s greatest concert halls, The Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. The first time I conducted there in 1997, I flew all of my family in for the concert and told them, “The worst thing that can happen is that this will be the only time I conduct Carnegie Hall.” I didn’t dream I would have now two more opportunities to conduct there. The producer, Norman Dunfee, takes care of every detail for the concert, including filling the hall. My last concert at Carnegie and my concert at Lincoln Center in 2012 were filled to the upper balconies. There is nothing like a full house in those venues. I have two four-hour rehearsals with the choirs, a two-hour rehearsal with the orchestra, a one-hour rehearsal with the soloists, then a one-hour dress rehearsal on stage before the concert begins at 8 p.m. I remember the first time I conducted Carnegie, in the Maestro Suite with pictures of many famous conductors surrounding the Steinway grand piano, and hearing, “Maestro, please come back stage, the concert is about to begin.” It took me a minute to realize they were calling for me! Over the past many years, I have really come to enjoy being a festival and guest choral conductor. There is an art and skill to putting a concert together that respects the stages of these great halls in a short amount of time. The participating choirs received my detailed rehearsal notes a month ago to insure that we will begin making Mozart’s wonderful work come alive at the first rehearsal.