Artistic Director

Eric Townell, Artistic Director, Rochester Oratorio Society“The single most reinforcing, life-affirming experience I know is to sing in a really great choir.”

Maestro Eric Townell is an experienced and creative conductor of operatic, orchestral and choral repertoire from the Baroque period through the 21st Century. Since joining the Rochester Oratorio Society in 2006, he has led the ROS in subscription concerts, regional outreach performances, live radio broadcasts, a televised concert, collaborative concerts with the region’s leading arts organizations, a concert tour to Eastern Europe and an award-winning tour to Beijing and Shanghai for the 2008 Olympic Cultural Festival.

Maestro Townell has prepared the Rochester Oratorio Society for a number of appearances with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for conductors Christopher Seaman, Jeff Tyzik, Ward Stare, and numerous guests, performing the music of Bach, Beethoven, Vaughan Williams, Handel, Verdi, Gershwin, and Orff, among numerous others. In 2008, Eric also established Resonanz, a select high-quality choral ensemble that represents the Rochester Oratorio Society at special engagements.

Eric concurrently directs the Finger Lakes Choral Festival. He is the former music director of the Festival Choir of Madison (1993-2006), the Master Singers of Milwaukee (2003-2010) and the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra (1991-2001). He holds a doctorate of musical arts degree from the Peabody Conservatory and degrees in music performance and conducting from Northern Illinois University and Indiana University. He studied conducting and solfege with Catherine Comet at St. Louis Conservatory; opera conducting with Georg Tintner in the Czech Republic; orchestral conducting with Frederik Prausnitz at Peabody and Charles Bruck at the Monteux School, and choral/orchestral conducting with Helmuth Rilling as a member of the 2002 Master Class at the Oregon Bach Festival. An experienced and effective communicator on music and arts topics, Eric is in demand as clinician and adjudicator for choral and orchestral festivals and for choirs of all types across the country. He has offered pre-concert chats, creative consultation and program annotation for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic and several other ensembles and chamber music series. Eric is a frequent commentator on arts topics on WXXI radio and serves the Boards of the William Warfield Scholarship Fund and the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester. He is the producer and host of “In the Spotlight,” an arts interview program distributed via cable access television stations throughout Western New York. His orchestral and choral conducting were the subject of the 1994 Wisconsin Public Radio broadcast “Music from Wisconsin: A Wisconsin Conductor.” 

Our Past Leaders

The Rochester Oratorio Society is fortunate to have been guided through its long and distinguished history by just three wonderful leaders: Theodore Hollenbach, Roger Wilhelm, and Eric Townell.

Theodore Hollenbach founded the Rochester Oratorio Society in 1945 and served as its Music Director until 1986. Click here to read more about Maestro Hollenbach.

Roger Wilhelm stepped onto the podium to lead ROS in 1986, and held the post of Music Director until 2006. Click here to read more about Maestro Wilhelm.