It looks as if Buffalo’s most talked-about group of singers, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, will shortly be seeking a new director.
Erin Freeman, who was named director of the chorus last July, has resigned, The News has learned. Freeman, reached on the phone, declined to confirm or deny the reports. But Holly Grant, president of the board of directors, confirmed that the director was resigning.
“She will be with us for the foreseeable future but not as music director,” Grant said.
Freeman has accepted a newly created position in Richmond, Va., a joint position as director of choral activities at Virginia Commonwealth University and director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus. Currently, she is director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus and associate conductor for the Richmond Symphony.
“She was offered an incredible opportunity,” Grant said. “It’s great that the Richmond community rallied behind her. I can’t say I blame them, in pulling this together for her. We’re happy for her.”
During her brief time here, Freeman proved popular. Besides directing the chorus, she conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a number of memorable events including January’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., December’s production of “The Nutcracker” in Shea’s Performing Arts Center, and several lively pops concerts. Buffalonians applauded when she pinch-hit in a snowstorm for fellow conductor Ron Spiegelman, whose flight was grounded.
Her tenure with the chorus, while less than a year, has been beneficial. Freeman took the reins at a difficult juncture. The chorus was still reeling from the controversial dismissal of its last director, Doreen Rao. Many of the singers had left the chorus in protest over Rao’s departure in January 2012.
Freeman had spoken with enthusiasm about Buffalo and recently auditioned for the position of associate conductor with the BPO. The position was given to former BPO trombonist Stefan Sanders.
But her ties with Virginia run deep. She has been associated with the Richmond Symphony since 2007. It was in Virginia that she got to know BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta, working with her on a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.
A native of Atlanta, Freeman holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in conducting from Boston University School for the Arts, and a doctoral degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University.
Grant, of the Philharmonic Chorus, sees a search for Freeman’s successor in the future, although details are still unclear.
She said, “We haven’t made a determination on that.”