The Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) has announced that eminent Music Director Grant Gershon will continue his key leadership role at the choir’s helm through the 2019-2020 season, which will be his 19th season with the chorus, with the new title of Artistic Director effective July 1, 2014, according to LAMC Chair David Gindler. Gershon’s title change from Music Director to Artistic Director, a significant part of his five-year contract extension that begins in the 2015-16 season, reflects the highly regarded conductor’s expanded vision to redefine the choral experience. Widely lauded by critics for elevating the Chorale’s musical excellence to new heights since he joined the chorus in 2001, Gershon will reimagine how, why and where the chorus explores and presents choral music, from its concerts and educational programs to its online presence, marketing, strategic planning and every other area guided by the Chorale’s artistry.
“We are extremely pleased that Grant is not only extending his outstanding leadership of the Los Angeles Master Chorale but is dedicated to doing so in such a meaningful way,” says Gindler. “It will definitely not be business as usual. Grant is deeply committed to changing the face of choral music through his work with the Chorale. His desire to create a completely immersive environment for the audience has ignited incredible passion in the singers, the staff and our board. We are fully committed to supporting his vision to break barriers in choral music and redefine the concert experience. Grant’s expanded artistic vision will help the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s light shine so much brighter than it already does.”
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to take our work with the Chorale to a new level and am deeply grateful to the Board of Directors for embracing this enhanced vision and for committing to provide the resources to make it feasible,” says Gershon. “We are in a remarkable position to redefine what is possible for a choral organization. The Los Angeles Master Chorale is a tremendously strong and extremely well respected institution with a rich history and tradition. Our singers have achieved a phenomenally high level of artistry and refinement together in recent years. I’m therefore making this decisive commitment to rededicate myself to this amazing organization and its very bright future. The length of this contract extension is somewhat unusual, and I think that it should be seen as a sign that we are making an extraordinary commitment together for the artistic future of the institution as we strive to reach the Chorale’s full potential. By extending my leadership of the Chorale through the 2019-2020 season, we will be able to plan strategically in an unprecedented way. This will allow us to dream big and use our imaginations to create the most impactful organization possible.”
Explaining the significance of his title change to Artistic Director and how it will shape his role with the chorus, Gershon says, “It speaks to my strong commitment to the overall artistic profile and direction of the Chorale and my desire to be more involved with all aspects of the organization that touch on our artistic mission, including our education programs, community engagement, marketing/messaging, strategic planning and enhanced production values. It also suggests that there is more than just the music alone that defines our artistic profile. The look and feel of each concert is also vitally important, so we will explore all ways to open up the concert experience to maximize the impact of the music we love.”
There are several long-range projects and initiatives currently in the planning stages that will be announced at a later date. As an example of the kind of broader over-arching themes that the Chorale will explore, Gershon points to the unifying “triple Passion” concept that he crafted for the upcoming 2014-15 season, which features, in three separate concerts, J.S. Bach’s Passion According to St. Matthew, the Chorale’s reprise of Tan Dun’s extraordinary Water Passion After St. Matthew and the Disney Hall debut of Richard Einhorn’s “brilliantly effective” (Washington Post) 1994 work Voices of Light/The Passion of Joan of Arc, inspired by and performed with the 1928 silent film.
In addition, with the Master Chorale’s subscription concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall generally attracting capacity audiences for more than a decade, Gershon will explore expanding the chorus’s performance offerings into smaller venues, with concerts that provide fresh and unique artistic opportunities to showcase new repertoire with the talents of LAMC’s gifted singers, achieving LAMC’s goal of attracting even broader audiences while creating the most satisfying artistic experience possible for the singers. “Not all music is best served in a venue like Disney Hall,” explains Gershon. Alternate performance opportunities will also provide Gershon with more opportunities to tap the long list of composers with whom he would like to work. Additionally, there are a number of prominent and emerging directors, video artists and other arts organizations with whom he and the Chorale would like to engage in collaborative projects.
Gershon is reimagining the look and feel of the chorus’s artistic presentations to make concerts an “all in” experience for the audience by expanding such production elements as lighting, staging, video, singers’ attire and movement. “Incorporating these kinds of values into our concerts in a meaningful and thoughtful manner will further enhance our concerts and maximize the impact of the music, which is our ultimate goal,” explains Gershon.
Making the Chorale’s highly successful education programs more targeted and far-reaching and imagining new ways to engage the community and introduce people to the art form of choral music are also key components of Gershon’s vision. Additionally, he wants to reach new audiences in greater numbers with recordings, a more substantial social media presence and special projects that are marketable to presenting organizations in other regions.
“Bottom line, it’s all about reaching towards the Chorale’s full potential,” he says. “The Los Angeles Master Chorale is one of the strongest and most vibrant choral organizations in the world. We want to celebrate this by adopting best practices in all areas that will allow choral music to evolve in a way that is compelling and relevant for today’s world and beyond. I am so excited about the opportunities ahead and for the chance to make our vision a reality.”