After 30 years, Colorado Symphony Chorus has sights set on national acclaim

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Photo: Colorado Symphony Chorus celebrates 30 yearsWhile few Colorado artists get to perform at the annual Aspen Music Festival, the Colorado Symphony Chorus (CSC) is a rare exception.

The prestigious event is mostly focused on top, international talent. However on August 17, director Duain Wolfe will once again lead the ensemble to the festival, as he has done for more than 20 years.

“Duain Wolfe is one of the greatest choral conductors in the world,” Aspen Music Festival CEO and president Alan Fletcher says.

Wolfe, who also has longstanding relationships with renowned ensembles like the Colorado Children’s Chorale and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, founded the Colorado Symphony Chorus in 1984.

The 2014 Aspen Music Festival marks one of three different cities in which the CSC will perform Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” this year in honor of the ensemble’s 30th anniversary.

“It’s such a triumphant and exciting piece,” Wolfe says. “As many times as I’ve done it, I keep finding new things.”

The chorus, composed of around 180 volunteers who rehearse weekly, will also perform the popular piece along with the Colorado Symphony at Denver’s Boettcher Concert Hall on Sept. 18 and 19.

Here is a preview of CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman's conversation with Wolfe. For the full interview, tune in to the Colorado Art Report on Friday, August 8, at 10.30 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

CPR: You founded the Colorado Symphony Chorus in 1984. Was it typical at that time for orchestras around the country to be founding choruses and why was it important for the Colorado Symphony?

Duain Wolfe: There were very few at the time, and there are still very few that actually belong to the orchestra. Most of the time, choruses are founded by somebody that is simply interested and then orchestras engage those choruses. Maestro Gaetano Delogu wanted his own chorus so that it would be part of the musical culture of the symphony, and therefor would be part of the same vision and on the same page musically.

CPR: You’re the longtime head of two other important choruses: the Grammy-award winning Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Colorado Children’s Chorale. You’ve arguably done your most visible work with these choruses. Why doesn’t the Colorado Symphony get the accolades that the other ensembles you work with get?

Duain Wolfe: I assume some of it has to do with provincialism. We think of great organizations coming out of really big cities. So there’s an assumption always of what could come out of Colorado. Well the fact is, surprising things come up. We have a lot to be proud of, we just need to find ways to get the rest of the world to find out. We need to do more recordings, and with music director Andrew Litton it looks like we’re going to be doing that.

Conductor Duain Wolfe will also lead the Colorado Symphony Chorus during its 30th Anniversary Gala at the Boettcher Concert Hall on October 18.