Following an 18-month search, the Fairfield County Chorale has chosen a new music director and conductor — in time for its gala 50th anniversary season that kicks off in December.
Tapped for the position is David Rosenmeyer, a conductor, vocal coach, pianist and accompanist who was born in Argentina, raised for several years in Israel and is now a New Yorker.
Rosenmeyer, 44, is currently in Tel-Aviv, where he is visiting his brother and parents, and conducting and coaching with the International Vocal Arts Institute.
In an e-mail interview, Rosenmeyer wrote that he is “so excited to be working with a group such as the FCC. It is a committed bunch of people” that loves getting together to sing.
“The potential for spiritual connection, intellectual prying into masterpieces, sheer fun and the sense of community that is so special and unique to choral singing are all things that the FCC, its members and I can seek together.”
And to “land” at the 100-voice nonprofit FCC for it 50th anniversary is his good fortune, he noted, offering “a great opportunity to be able to work in a context of celebration and joy, and also as a way of looking at the past and getting ready for a new chapter.”
Now in his seventh season as associate conductor of the Oratorio Society of New York, Rosenmeyer was one of three finalists who guest conducted FCC concerts last season, chosen from a pool of about 70 candidates, according to FCC Executive Director John Parkinson.
Rosenmeyer succeeds the group’s legendary maestro, the Swiss-born Johannes Somary, who collapsed at his New York home on Dec. 27, 2010, after suffering a massive stroke. The music director since 1975, Somary died Feb. 1, 2011, at age 75.
“David was chosen for his passion, his ability to teach, his ability to deliver the most enjoyable performances to our patrons, and for his commitment to outreach,” said Holly C. Wolff, FCC president. “We were looking for a musical leader who could take us into our next 50 years with high-quality performances and a closer linkage to the community, and we felt David was the perfect match for us. We worked with terrific candidates, and he was the best of the best,” she said.
Parkinson, added: “David is a dynamic young conductor with international exposure to the world of music. The musicians and patrons of the Fairfield County Chorale are in for an exhilarating and rewarding experience.”
Rosenmeyer will debut in his new position at a free community Sing-In of Carl Orff’s ever-popular “Carmina Burana” on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Darien United Methodist Church, 345 Middlesex Road, Darien. (All voices are welcome and music will be provided.) ” `Carmina’ is fun to sing and perform and certainly to conduct,” he wrote.
Sharing a passion for music with others is a magical experience, Rosenmeyer noted.
“Being part of a collective creation or re-creation — where music gives us a chance to transcend the boundaries of time and space — is exhilarating and feels really like magic.
“Choruses give a chance to avocational singers to get in touch with the greatness that these composers achieve and to collaborate with first-rate orchestras and soloists. A big group of people of different sizes, ages, colors, tastes, political inclinations etc. working together to produce a common goal of beauty and meaning and depth of expression (is) … what music is about.”
Fluent in English, Spanish, Hebrew, French, Portuguese and Italian, Rosenmeyer also is music director of the New York University Singers and Chorale, and on the conducting staff of NYU and Mannes College/The New School for Music, where he received a master’s of music degree in conducting and music theory. (He received his bachelor’s degree in orchestral conducting from Catholic University in Buenos Aires.)
After completing graduate work, he and his wife (who also received a master’s degree from Mannes, in vocal performance) made a major decision: “One thing led to the other, we stayed, and now we have a son, who is a New York-born kid,” he wrote.
Rosenmeyer pointed out that from childhood there was very little question in his mind that music would be his life’s passion.
“As a kid, I loved music more than anything else. I was very lucky that my parents let me listen to what I wanted without restriction or judgment. I could go from the Beatles to Verdi to children’s music to Stravinsky.
“When we moved to Israel, when I was 8, I started going to concerts and fell in love with symphonic music. I played the drums and the piano. Seeing Zubin Mehta was a revelation! There was one night when I was 15, that with my friends, we went to hear the Israel Philharmonic play Mahler’s 1st Symphony, then we went to a jazz bar and finished the night in a show of punk music legend Ian Dury.
“I think I always knew I was a musician. My parents love music, but I think it comes from generations back. My grandmother sang opera in her youth in Berlin and with my grandfather, they went to the opera and concerts every night in Berlin of the early 1930s until things turned scary” when Adolf Hitler became obsessed with eliminating all Jews from German culture. ” Her grandfather was a famous synagogue cantor from Lithuania who toured all of Europe. My maternal grandfather also loved music and, his most precious belongings were his collections of Beethoven symphonies and of Benny Goodman.”
Rosenmeyer wrote that he has set several energetic goals for himself with the Fairfield-based FCC: To “bring in new people and renew the group; raise the level of excellency of the group; create a working environment and space — in mood and tone — that is both serious (that seeks excellence, not perfection!) and yet maintain the fun and love of the process; reach new audiences and do outreach. I want to bring children and youth to our programs and concerts.”