Music Director of the Rochester Oratorio Society from 1945 to 1986
In December 1945, Theodore Hollenbach, a young choral conductor with a master’s degree from Eastman School of Music, raised his baton for the first time to conduct the Rochester Oratorio Society in Handel’s Messiah. Mr. Hollenbach had been conducting a chorus of Taylor Instruments employees. Some of his singers proposed that the group become a true community chorus and invited Mr. Hollenbach to become its conductor. He immediately accepted the challenge and led 300 singers in that first concert on Dec. 30, 1945.
Born in Brooklyn, the son of a Methodist minister, Mr. Hollenbach grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He attended Houghton College before entering Eastman School. His career was influenced by a period of study with internationally-renowned conductor Pierre Monteux.
In the summer of 1981, at the invitation of the European Symposium of Choral Masterworks, Mr. Hollenbach led L’Orchestre Lamoreux of Paris and singers from his own group, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, D.C., the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and soloists in a highly acclaimed performance of Rossini’s Stabet Mater in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. In 1983 he conducted members of his society and others from the United States and Europe, including the Hamburg Singakademie, in the Verdi Requiem in Verona, Italy. Maestro Hollenbach was a recipient of the Mahler-Bruckner Society’s Mahler Medal. His recording of the Berlioz Requiem with the Oratorio Society was praised by High Fidelity magazine as a performance of great power and conviction.
In addition to directing the Rochester Oratorio Society for 40 years, Hollenbach was for over 30 years the organist and choirmaster for the Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester; was director of the annual Bach Festival for 30 years; and served as conductor of the Corning, NY Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.