Valparaiso University Chorale is among the top Lutheran collegiate choirs in the United States, upholding the highest standard of choral art through performance of the greatest choral literature of all eras. Dedicated to performing works that celebrate the university’s Lutheran heritage, the choir is also noted for the performance of significant contemporary works in their original languages and for the performance of music expressing multicultural perspectives.
The Chorale has served four residencies at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig Germany—the only collegiate American choir to enjoy such a strong relationship with the church of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Chorale returned in June 2012 for the fourth residency, marking the 800th anniversary of the St. Thomas Church and its choir, the Thomanerchor.
Under the direction of Dr. Christopher M. Cock, the 48-voice ensemble maintains an active annual schedule of touring, performing, and recording. Their recordings include: Traditions: Hymns, Motets and Folk Songs (1998); The Lutheran Chorale with Paul Manz (2000); Christ Child: Songs of the Nativity (2001); In Paradisum (2003); As it is in Heaven (2006); amazing day (2008); O My Soul (2010); and Star Still Guiding (2011).
The Thüringer Allegemine reviewed the Chorale’s concert in 2007: “a first class ensemble . . . such a high degree of tonal unity, such sure intonation in the most complex and dissonant groups of chords, and such a precise feeling of dynamic shading . . . “ In 2010, the Schwarzwälder Bote exclaimed, “Their heavenly and virtuosic performance enthused the audience, and the Schwäbisches Tagblatt hailed their performance as “masterful.”
The Chorale has established a relationship with the historic and musically significant Thomaskirche is Leipzig Germany. Johann Sebastian Bach served this church for 27 years as cantor, during which time he composed many of his well-known works and led the Thomanerchor, the famous choir of young men and boys. In March 2004, the Chorale undertook a residency at the Thomaskirche during their concert tour and performed for the President of the Federal Republic of Germany at Castle Bellevue. The Chorale served additional residencies in 2007, 2010 and 2012. An invitation was extended to the Chorale by the Thomaskirche and the Bach Archive in 2012 to join in the 800th anniversary celebration of the Thomaskirche and Thomanerchor and to perform in the annual Bach Festival in Leipzig.
During our residency in June 2012 Valparaiso University signed an agreement with the Thomaskirche and the Forum Thomanum resolving to continue the musical, cultural, educational and theological exchanges for many years to come. These exchanges include continued performances by the Valparaiso University Chorale at the St. Thomas Church, scholarly endeavors by the Bach Institute of Valparaiso University in Leipzig, theological and musical contributions by members of the St. Thomas clergy and cantors on the Valparaiso University campus.
Christopher M. Cock, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Valparaiso University, holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Lutheran Music, and is Director of the Bach Institute.
Through his activities as a choral music educator and as a distinguished solo artist, Dr. Cock has forged a unique career path combining the roles of conductor and performer. He frequently brings his focus on outstanding repertoire, vocal technique and polished musicality to high school ensembles throughout the country. For six years he served as director of choirs for Lutheran Summer Music, the national Lutheran high school music camp. In 2006 he lead the International Choral Invitational in Hong Kong, and was conductor of the Spivey Hall High School Honor Choir, a festival begun by Robert Shaw. He has also conducted All-State Choirs in Minnesota, Georgia and Ohio and the Collegiate Honor Choir in Pennsylvania. He has also appeared at Carnegie Hall as guest conductor of the New England Symphonic Ensemble – he has now made appearances as both conductor and soloist at this legendary venue.
At Valparaiso, Dr. Cock founded the Bach Institute in 2004. The Institute performs the major works of Bach triennially and in the years since its formation has devoted scholarship and performances to studying Bach’s professional years prior to his appointment in Leipzig (1723). His leadership of the Valparaiso University Chorale has lead to numerous recordings and extensive concert tours in the United States and Europe. The Chorale has served four performance residencies at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig – the only American choir to enjoy such a strong relationship with the church of J.S. Bach.
As a solo artist Dr. Cock’s extensive range and communicative performances have established him as a premier lyric tenor. Appearances as a Bach Evangelist are taking him to concert venues throughout the United States. He appeared as Evangelist in the St. Matthew Passion with The Los Angeles Philharmonic. The LA Times praised his performance for its “illuminating freshness.” He has, for numerous seasons, appeared as a guest artist with the Oregon Bach Festival, led by German conductor, Helmuth Rilling. In recent seasons he has sung with the Florida Orchestra, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Miami Bach Society, the American Sinfonietta, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Seattle Chamber Singers (with Orchestra Seattle) and the Northwest Sinfonietta. He frequently appeared as a soloist with Maestro Robert Shaw and the Robert Shaw Festival Singers. His performances with the Festival Singers can be heard on recordings released by Telarc International. He has sung the role of the Evangelist in both Bach Passions with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and is tenor soloist on their recording of hymns. In 2002 he made his solo debut at Carnegie Hall and appearances with the Bach Choir of Berlin. He returned to Carnegie Hall for performances of Messiah with the Masterwork Chorus and Orchestra in 2008.
Cock studied at the University of Southern California and completed his undergraduate study at Pacific Lutheran University. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Arizona (Tucson), where he was a student of Maurice Skones.
Learn more about the 2010 Germany Tour.
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