Crane School of Music Marks 125 Years with Spring Festival Featuring World-Renowned Conductor Helmuth Rilling


Internationally acclaimed conductor Maestro Helmuth Rilling will spend a week at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music for the 2011 Spring Festival, in celebration of Crane’s 125th anniversary.

SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music will open its year-long 125th anniversary celebration with the 2011 Spring Festival, featuring an internationally-renowned conductor and showcasing many of its exceptional students, faculty and staff.

Since its founding in 1886, The Crane School of Music has been widely recognized as a focal point of music education in the United States, and has gained a worldwide reputation for excellence in musical performance.

In years past, the Spring Festival referred to the annual collaborative performance with the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra. This year, the Spring Festival will be a week of educational opportunities topped with a special concert performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Mass in B-Minor.” All events are free and open to the community.

The 2011 Dorothy Albrecht Gregory Visiting Conductor, Helmuth Rilling, will spend a week on campus, from April 25 to 30. One of the world’s preeminent interpreters of Bach, Maestro Rilling is known across the globe for his work with choirs and orchestras.

“We are so grateful for the support of our alumna and friend, Dorothy Albrecht Gregory,” said Dr. Jeffrey Francom, director of the Crane Chorus. “With her contribution, Helmuth Rilling will be the first of many distinguished conductors to visit The Crane School of Music. The opportunity to work with Maestro Rilling has motivated 250 students to learn the ‘Mass in B-Minor,’ one of the most difficult choral and orchestral works ever written. For many, this will be a highlight of their musical education at Crane.”

Rilling will conduct the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra. Guest soloists from Germany and across the United States will include soprano Julia Sophie Wagner, mezzo-soprano Sophie Harmsen, tenor Nicholas Phan and baritone Christòpheren Nomura.

The final performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, in Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall, with a pre-concert lecture offered at 6:30 p.m. beforehand. There is no cost for the performance on April 30, but tickets must be reserved. To have tickets set aside, call the CPS Box Office at (315) 267-2277 or Crane at (315) 267-2812.

The Spring Festival includes a full slate of workshops, conducting masterclasses, lectures, rehearsals and recitals. All events are open to the public, space permitting. For more information on the schedule of events, visit

The final concert will be broadcast live over the Internet via mp3 audio stream, at

2011 Spring Festival events include:

• Throughout the week: An exhibit of Bach’s “Mass in B-Minor” manuscript and related Crane history artifacts will be available in the Crane Library Lobby.
• Monday, April 25: Rilling will conduct a workshop with the Potsdam Community Chorus from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. in Bishop Hall Room C107.
• Tuesday, April 26: Rilling will lead a conducting masterclass with two Crane students and the Hosmer Singers from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in Hosmer Hall.
• Wednesday, April 27: Rilling will lead a second conducting masterclass with two Crane students and the Potsdam Community Chorus from 2 to 3 p.m. in Hosmer Hall. He will then offer the first of two lectures from 3 to 4 p.m., also in Hosmer Hall. Additionally, Rilling will conduct a combined rehearsal of the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra from 7 to 10 p.m. in Hosmer that evening.
• Thursday, April 28: Crane Chorus Director Jeffrey Francom and Coordinator of Choral Activities Heather Eyerly will offer a lecture-recital from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in Hosmer Hall. Audio Engineer Gary Galo and Music Librarian Edward Komara will present a lecture from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. in Wakefield Recital Hall. Rilling will conduct a rehearsal with the Crane Chorus, Crane Symphony Orchestra and soloists from 7 to 10 p.m. in Hosmer Hall.
• Friday, April 29: Crane graduate students taught by Rebecca Gerber will present a lecture on Bach from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Wakefield Hall. Guest soloists will offer a Q&A forum from 1 to 2 p.m. in Sara M. Snell Music Theater. Rilling will present his second lecture from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Snell Theater. He will conduct an open dress rehearsal with all performers from 7 to 10 p.m. in Hosmer Hall.
• Saturday, April 30: Ann Howard Jones, the 2012 Dorothy Albrecht Gregory Visiting Conductor, and Doreen Rao from the University of Toronto, will present a joint lecture from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. in Wakefield Hall. SUNY Potsdam Archivist Jane Subramanian will present a lecture on Crane history from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in Wakefield Hall. There will be a signing for Crane Professor Nelly Case’s new book, “Helen Hosmer: The Spirit of Crane,” following that lecture. Timothy Mount from Stony Brook University will discuss how Bach might have performed the work in a lecture from 2:45 to 4 p.m. in Wakefield Hall. Nelly Case will present a pre-concert lecture from 6:30 to 7 p.m. in Hosmer Hall, followed by the performance of Bach’s “Mass in B-Minor” from 7:30 to 10 p.m., featuring the Crane Chorus, Crane Symphony Orchestra and guest soloists, conducted by Maestro Helmuth Rilling.

About Helmuth Rilling:

Born in 1933 in Stuttgart, Germany, Rilling is active as a conductor, pedagogue and an ambassador for the music of Bach worldwide. In 1954, Rilling founded the Gächinger Kantorei and 11 years later, in 1965, he founded the Bach Collegium Stuttgart as the choir’s regular orchestral partner. Ever since, Rilling has been intensely involved with the works of Bach and has felt a strong link to this composer’s oeuvre. In addition, Rilling has been a fervent advocate of “neglected” Romantic choral music as well as commissioning and performing contemporary choral music.

Inspired by his devotion to Bach, in 1981 Rilling founded the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart dedicated to furthering the music of Bach through public concerts, masterclasses for singers and conductors, symposia and residencies all over the world, in addition to special annual projects such as the Bach Week Stuttgart and the European Music Festival Stuttgart.

In 2000, he led the critically acclaimed premiere of “Passions,” composed by Wolfgang Rihm, Sofia Gubaidulina, Osvaldo Golijov and Tan Dun. Of special importance to Rilling is the encouragement of young musicians and in 2001 he founded the Festvalensemble Stuttgart. This ensemble, consisting of choir and orchestra, draws on the participation of talented young musicians from 25 different countries. Combining the roles of pedagogue and conductor, Rilling has devised a system of “lecture concerts” in which he says he “peers over the composer’s shoulder” as he explains to the audience certain aspects of a composer's work by means of musical examples. He has recently led such concerts with the orchestras of the University of Miami, Dartmouth College and Yale University.

Either together with his house ensembles in Stuttgart or as a guest conductor, Rilling is active on the international concert podium, performing regularly throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada. He has a special friendship dating back some 30 years with the Israel Philharmonic, and since 1970 has been the Artistic Director of the Oregon Bach Festival. He has recently appeared with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and in 2007 he led a choral workshop at Carnegie Hall that culminated in a performance of Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion.” In January 2005, he led a highly acclaimed premiere of Robert Levin’s new completion of Mozart’s “Mass in C-Minor” at Carnegie Hall.

As a testament to his inexhaustible activity are hundreds of CD, radio and TV recordings. From 1970 to 1984, Rilling was the first musician to record all of Bach's cantatas, on the Hänssler Classic label. Furthermore, his was the guiding hand behind the Internationale Bachakademie’s critically acclaimed project to record the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach (on 172 CDs) for Hänssler Classic, which was released in 2000 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death. 

The many prizes Helmuth Rilling has received include the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s International Music Prize in 1994 and the Theodor Heuss Prize in 1995. In 2003, he became an Honorary Member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He won a coveted Grammy Award in 2000 for his recording of Krzystof Penderecki’s “Credo” and was again nominated in 2001 for his recording of Wolfgang Rihm’s “Deus Passus.”

About sponsorship:

The partnership of the Dorothy Albrecht Gregory Visiting Conductor Fund, established by Dorothy Albrecht Gregory ’61, and the Adeline Maltzan Crane Chorus Performance Tour Fund, established by Dr. Gary C. Jaquay ’67, brings distinguished conductors to The Crane School of Music for festival performances by the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra, and funds travel for major Crane Chorus performances to venues outside of Potsdam.

To learn more about Crane’s tradition of innovation and its 125th anniversary celebrations, visit

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2011.