Artistic Director, Christopher Shepard
Chris Shepard serves as Music Director of a number of the northeast’s most venerable choirs, including the Worcester Chorus, the Dessoff Choirs in New York City, the Masterwork Chorus of New Jersey, and CONCORA, Connecticut’s oldest professional choir. With these choirs, Chris has performed a wide range of repertoire, collaborating with a number of orchestras and conductors such as the Juilliard Orchestra under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico with Carlos Miguel Prieto, and in venues that include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall in New York, and the Royal Festival Hall in London. This season, he will appear as guest conductor with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in partnership with the Worcester Chorus.
Chris returned to America in 2008 after a dozen years in Sydney, Australia, where he founded the Sydneian Bach Choir and Orchestra. He led their BACH 2010, a project to perform all of Bach’s choral cantatas. Under his direction, the ensemble performed over eighty cantatas, as well as the two Passions, B Minor Mass, and Christmas Oratorio; they completed the cantata cycle in 2013. In addition to the music of J.S. Bach, Chris has conducted many staples of the choral-orchestral repertoire, and he has commissioned and premiered a number of new choral works in both Australia and America. Repertoire for his 2015-16 season includes Bach’s St John Passion, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Haydn’s Creation, the Mozart Requiem and Poulenc Gloria, Constant Lambert’s Rio Grande and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. He also leads two of the longest-running annual Messiah performances in America, with the Worcester Chorus and Masterwork Chorus.
A committed music educator, Chris has served on the faculty of the Taft School, Sydney Grammar School, Hotchkiss Summer Portals, and Holy Cross College. He founded the Litchfield County Children’s Choir in 1990, and has conducted numerous middle and high school regional festival choirs in New England, New York and Australia. He presented two documentaries with SBS-TV, an Australian national public television network, and has given several presentations at conferences for American Choral Directors Association and Australian National Kodàly Association. Chris has been a guest conductor at Emmanuel Church in Boston, a church renowned for its four-decade Bach cantata project, and he currently serves as Music Director of St John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford, Connecticut. He conducts the Great Waters Festival Choir and Orchestra in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, each summer.
A pianist and keyboard continuist, Chris holds degrees from the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music, where he studied choral conducting with Marguerite Brooks. He researched the performance history of Bach’s B Minor Mass in New York City for his PhD in Musicology from the University of Sydney; his dissertation won the American Choral Directors Association’s 2012 Julius Herford Prize for outstanding doctoral thesis in choral music.