Robert Porco has been recognized as one of the leading choral musicians in the U.S., and for nearly 40 years he has been an active preparer and conductor of choral and orchestral works, including most of the major choral repertoire, as well as of opera. In 2011 Mr. Porco received Chorus America’s Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.
Mr. Porco’s conducting career has included performances in the Edinburgh Festival; Taipei, Taiwan; Lucerne, Switzerland; Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel; and Reykjavik, Iceland; and at the Cincinnati May Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Berkshire Music Festival, Blossom Festival, and Grant Park Festival. He has been a guest conductor at the May Festival and with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra.
The 2015 season marked Mr. Porco’s 25th year as the May Festival’s Director of Choruses. In 2010 Mr. Porco led the premiere of Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, a piece commissioned by the Chorus in honor of Mr. Porco’s 20th season as director. Mr. Porco has prepared the May Festival Chorus for four acclaimed appearances in Carnegie Hall: Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Jesús López-Cobos and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Robert Shaw, The Cleveland Orchestra, and other choruses; and Britten’s War Requiem, John Adams’ Harmonium and Robert Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses with James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In addition, the Chorus’s performance of the Pulitzer Prize-winning On the Transmigration of Souls, under the baton of the composer John Adams, led Adams to write, “The pure American quality of their enunciation and their perfectly balanced sonorities lifted the matter-of-fact plainness of the words to a transcendental level, and for once the piece did not seem as compromised and uneven as I had previously thought.”
In 1998, Mr. Porco became Director of Choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra and has prepared the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for appearances at the Edinburgh Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Lucerne Festival and the London Proms, and in Frankfurt, Paris, Luxembourg and Miami, Florida.
Mr. Porco has gained national recognition for his preparation of choruses for prominent conductors such as John Adams, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Paavo Järvi, Erich Kunzel, Raymond Leppard, James Levine, Jahja Ling, Jesús López-Cobos, Zubin Mehta, John Nelson, André Previn, Kurt Sanderling, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Shaw, Franz Welser-Möst, John Williams and David Zinman.
Mr. Porco taught doctoral-level choral conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music from 1979 to 1998, and as a guest instructor in 2011 and 2012. A highlight of his tenure at IU included leading a wholly student choral and orchestral ensemble of 250 in a highly-acclaimed performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass as part of the Tanglewood Music Festival’s celebration of the composer’s 70th birthday. As teacher and mentor, Mr. Porco has guided and influenced the development of hundreds of musicians, most of whom are now active as professional conductors, singers or teachers in schools of music, performance ensembles or solo careers. Mr. Porco remains a sought-after guest instructor and coach for conservatory students, young professional conductors and singers. His guest teaching venues have included Harvard University, the University of Miami Frost School of Music and Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ). From 1988 to 1998, Mr. Porco was Artistic Director and Conductor of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir.