Duain Wolfe first prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus as a guest for a Ravinia Festival program of opera choruses in August 1993 and again early the following February for downtown performances of Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden. Concluding a three-year search on February 10, 1994, Daniel Barenboim announced that Wolfe would succeed Chorus founder Margaret Hillis, who had served as director since 1957. He officially took directorship of the Chorus on June 1 and Hillis became director laureate.
“There are very few choruses in the world that perform at such a consistently high level, which is, of course, a tribute to Margaret Hillis’s brilliant leadership,” commented Daniel Barenboim in a press release. “The unique thing about the Chicago Symphony Chorus is its continuity. Its members, many of whom have been with the Chorus for a long time, are used to the sound of the Orchestra and to the methods of one director. This has enabled them to achieve their remarkable results. With Duain Wolfe I hope this tradition will develop even further and I look forward to our work together.”
During his tenure, Wolfe has prepared the Chorus for concerts at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival, as well as on tour in Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonie in Berlin. He also has prepared the Chorus for numerous recordings on American Gramaphone, Deutsche Grammophon, London, Teldec, and CSO Resound, including two Grammy winners: Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg conducted by Sir Georg Solti and Verdi’s Requiem conducted by Riccardo Muti. In 1995, Wolfe inaugurated Welcome Yule!—a popular series of holiday concerts that featured the Orchestra and Chorus along with children’s choruses, dancers, and actors—that enjoyed a twenty-year run.
Image above: Duain Wolfe in 2006 (Todd Rosenberg photo)
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