J. Ernest Green, Music Director
J. Ernest Green celebrates his 25th season as Music Director this year. He is also in his fifth season as a Cover Conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, where he has worked with such artists as Metropolitan Opera star Denyce Graves, Sir James Galway, Pinchas Zuckerman and Marvin Hamlisch. From 1995-98 he was the Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Aria Guild and has served as the Conductor for the Teatro Lirico d'Europa in Paris. Mr. Green was the Music Director for the Young Victorian Theatre Company from 1985-2008. In 1986, he made his international debut conducting performances with the Fundacao Orquestra Sinfonica de Brazil, Associacao Opera de Brasilia, and the Orquestra Jovem de Brasilia and in 1993 made his Carnegie Hall debut. From 2004-2007, Mr. Green served as the Music Director of the Mozart Festival Opera, where he lead productions of "Don Giovanni" and "Le Nozze di Figaro," "The Magic Flute," "La Traviata" and Rossini's "The Barber of Seville."
Known for his adventurous and creative programming as he pushes the boundaries of the concert hall, Mr. Green has created several "fusion" programs combining standard concert repertoire with popular and contemporary music, which he has lead with orchestras both here and abroad. In addition, he has received acclaim for his concert productions of operas and other stage works, most recently "Sweeney Todd." He has also been engaged to develop similar programs for other orchestras as well. Referring to this, The Baltimore Sun recently said: "Green should be commended for his downright prodigious programming."
Mr. Green's recent and upcoming engagements include: conducting the Philadephia Orchestra in August 2009; the January 2008 national Martin Luther King Day concert at the Kennedy Center with The National Symphony Orchestra, engagements with The Florida Orchestra, concerts at Carnegie Hall, Cumberland Valley Chamber Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony, the Sophia Symphony and Varna Symphony (Bulgaria), the Ballet Arabesque (Bugaria) the Ballet Theatre of Maryland and the Teatro Lirico d'Europa. He has conducted orchestras both here and abroad including The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Lincoln Symphony, Orquestra Sinfonica Nacional (Santo Domingo), Mesa Symphony, Cumberland Valley Chamber Players and the Trinity Chamber Orchestra (Cleveland). His opera credits include the Hawaii Opera Theatre, Teatro Lirico d'Europa, Boston Aria Guild, Indiana Opera North, Associacao Opera de Brasilia, Boston Academy of Music and the Young Victorian Theatre Company. Mr. Green is now preparing for a new production of "Aida" that will tour internationally in winter of 2009.
In addition to his musical activities, Mr. Green has a long track record as an avid advocate for the arts. He has served as a music panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council and was recently appointed to serve on its Strategic Planning Committee.
A celebration of J. Ernest Green's 20th anniversary with the Chorale in 2004:
"It was 20 years ago today….."
-- J. Ernest Green Celebrates 20 Years with the Annapolis Chorale --
In 1984, a young conductor stepped to the podium of the Annapolis Chorale, raised his baton, and brought 54 singers to musical life. Twenty years later, J. Ernest Green is still here, and the group's evolution continues at light speed. Not only has the chorale's membership tripled during Green's tenure, season performances have grown both in stature and frequency. This year, the 32-year-old ensemble is celebrating 20 years with its conductor and their journey together. Mr. Green says each accomplishment simply boils down to the singers. "The people in Annapolis have this enormous amount of heart and love for what they are doing," he says. "They are fun and dynamic, and they just keep coming back for more. I have always felt like there is extraordinary potential here."
Mr. Green, who started as a trombone performance major at the University of Toledo and later studied orchestral conducting at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, says he never dreamed his career would lead him to choral music until he accepted his first job leading singers at the urging of one of his professors. "I had been thrown into the middle of this, and I discovered that I loved it. There is something that is undeniably captivating and powerful about voices making music." Not long after his first stint as a choral conductor, the then 25-year old Green arrived in Annapolis, and the rest is history. "You just have to follow the path that is laid out before you sometimes. I discovered on a chance that this is my path. I love it."
Joe Metzger has one of the voices making music with Green. He has been a resident of the Annapolis Chorale tenor section since Green's second year at the helm of the ensemble. "It's absolutely amazing that he hears what he hears," says Metzger. "He just has the ability to bring out the sound. He knows what he's asking for, and he has the ability to get it."
Green says that much of his repertoire choices for the chorale hinge on that sound. "You need to have the right pieces in the right places at the right times, and I've been pushing the envelope a lot," says Mr. Green, whose envelope-pushing last season included a concert performance of Steven Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd." Mr. Green says that his programming decisions are also based on the chorale's burgeoning abilities. "This group of singers is capable of a sound I only dreamed of when I started with the Chorale. It's incredibly exciting to be in the middle of that sound!"
"The next season has an embarrassment of riches," says Mr. Green. The Annapolis Chorale kicks off the 2004-2005 season with a September 11 performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operetta "The Pirates of Penzance." Three weeks later, the company presents the Verdi "Requiem" on October 9. "Doing the Verdi Requiem is always exciting with this chorus. That big sound is just incredible, and the idea hearing them going full tilt on that piece is mind-blowing," says Green of this crowd-pleaser. In April, the Chorale presents for the first time Felix Mendelssohn's choral masterpiece, "Elijah." Mr. Green says that he selected these pieces specifically to showcase the chorus. "I wanted to do something where the chorus is really prominent because they're really the thing that got me here and that has kept me here all of these years." The Chorale's December Christmas series of performances includes the annual "Celebration of Christmas" on December 10, and two performances of Handel's "Messiah," December 17 and 19.
On February 11 and 12, the chorale presents its annual Broadway in Concert performance, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel," followed by an April 2 concert by the Annapolis Chorale Chamber Chorus at St. Anne's Episcopal Church. The program includes Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, the Vivaldi Gloria, and Vaughan Williams' "The Lark Ascending." "Elijah"closes the season on April 30.
Mr. Green demonstrates the same enthusiasm when contemplating future seasons with the Annapolis Chorale as well. "The artistic level of this group is extremely high, and we've done wonderful things together. I look forward to the future because there's still so much out there for us to do."
To read a story about Ernie's 20th Anniversary with the Annnapolis Chorale, click here.