“With a heavy heart and much sadness,” Betsy Burleigh announced her intent to step down from her position as Music Director of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) in the 2015-2016 season. In 2013, Betsy moved to Bloomington, IN where she is Chair of the Choral Conducting Department at Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music, and since that time has made the punishing commute to Pittsburgh weekly throughout the season to conduct the Mendelssohn Choir. “Leaving the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made,” says Betsy. “I have felt a strong connection to Pittsburgh, to the individual members of the Mendelssohn Choir, its staff and board, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.” Betsy’s farewell concert will be a performance of the Duruflé Requiem at East Liberty Presbyterian Church on Sunday, October 11 at 3pm.
For the past nine years, the Mendelssohn Choir has benefited from Burleigh’s exceptional leadership and artistry. Building upon the foundation of excellence instilled by Robert Page, Mendelssohn Music Director Emeritus, she has taken the chorus to new heights of excellence thrilling audiences in the Pittsburgh region as well as in concerts in Washington, D.C., and New York. Last season’s breathtaking concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall was a triumph, and earned MCP critical acclaim as it was proclaimed one of the top choruses in the country.
Under Burleigh, MCP celebrated its centennial, making it one of only a handful of choruses nationally to achieve this distinction. She has led many MCP concert productions including Brahms’ Requiem, Bach’s B Minor Mass, and Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, and commissioned a new work by Ned Rorem which was premiered during MCP’s centennial year. This past October, Burleigh took the podium to conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with the Mendelssohn Choir performing Beethoven’s Mass in C and Brahms’ Schicksalslied.
MCP board members, staff, and chorus members are keenly aware of the high standard of excellence set by Burleigh for the position of MCP music director, and it will be with equally heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Betsy next year.
Information on the search process will be posted on the Mendelssohn Choir and Chorus America websites in early June.