Rochester Oratorio Society, founded in 1945, is the leading choral/orchestral ensemble in Rochester, New York, and the surrounding seven-county region.
The Rochester Oratorio Society, founded in 1945, is the leading choral/orchestral ensemble in Rochester, New York, and the surrounding seven-county region. The mission of ROS is to produce live choral music of the highest quality, engaging and educating our community in numerous musical genres, and gratifying our volunteer singers with the professionalism of their art. Led by Maestro Eric Townell since 2006, the Rochester Oratorio Society gives voice to the very best qualities of Rochester and western New York.
Comprising approximately 145 auditioned, adult members in a typical performance season, the ROS presents two to four performances of predominantly well-known masterworks for chorus and orchestra from the 18th-20th centuries. In this role, the ROS has offered the local premieres of monumental works, such as the Berlioz Requiem and Britten’s War Requiem, and many performances of Handel’s Messiah, under the direction of founder Theodore Hollenbach and successors Roger Wilhelm and Eric Townell.
The ROS has performed concert tours to Italy, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and China; performed a live, one-hour televised concert for WXXI’s “Voices” series; collaborated with the region’s finest vocalists, instrumentalists, ensembles and artists in other disciplines; commissioned and premiered major works; hosted choirs from Canada and from major cities in the U.S.; appeared regionally in concert venues on college campuses, in performing arts centers and churches, and initiated a solo vocal competition of national stature which continues to this day.
Over the years, the ROS has performed for conductors of national and international distinction, including Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Yuri Segal and Christopher Seaman, in engagements with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and at the Chautauqua Institution, where the ensemble has appeared frequently over the years.
COLLABORATION WITH THE RPO
The ROS has long maintained a thriving relationship with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, performing masterworks of Vaughan Williams, Orff, Verdi, Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mozart and Britten, among many others. The relationship grew significantly (2006) with the arrival of Eric Townell, who brought professional orchestral conducting and choral preparation experience to his role with ROS and who enjoyed a close working relationship with (then) RPO Musical Director Christopher Seaman.This culminated in the 2009-10 season, during which the ROS completed a record four engagements for the RPO, all of which were subsequently broadcast over WXXI radio. In a highlight, the ROS performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Philharmonic under Christopher Seaman before three capacity audiences on the occasion of the grand opening of the remodeled Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater. Following an acclaimed performance of Handel’s Messiah in 2012 with the RPO under Eric Townell, the ROS was engaged for three performances for the 2013-2014 season and a further four performances in 2014-15, including La Traviata in concert with incoming RPO Music Director, Ward Stare.
In coming seasons, the ROS will confirm and solidify its role as the leading ensemble of its kind through high quality performance, ambition and creativity of artistic endeavor, social engagement and educational effort. Toward this end, significant growth in infrastructure and resources will be achieved.
The Rochester Oratorio Society, Inc., is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization.