Robert De Cormier was the
acclaimed music director of the New York Choral Society
for 17 years. Under his leadership the group became
renowned for its high standard of excellence in choral
singing and unique variety of programming.
As Music Director Emeritus, he guest conducted a
performance of the Verdi Requiem in 1990, the
Berlioz Requiem at St. Paul's Cathedral, New York
City in 1992 and the premiere of a commissioned work,
the Missa Iona in 1993 at St. Bartholomew's in
New York City. During the 1995-96 season he conducted
the operas, Brundibar and The Emperor of
Atlantis in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts
and at Merkin Concert Hall in New York.
He has conducted the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and
Chorus in performances of the Mozart C Minor Mass,
the Verdi Requiem, Vaughan Williams’s Dona
Nobis Pacem, Haydn’s Creation, Beethoven’s
Missa Solemnis, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana
and the Brahms Requiem.
A graduate of the Julliard School of Music, Mr. De
Cormier's conducting engagements have taken him from
Broadway and opera to the Berkshire Choral Institute,
the Zimriya World Assembly of Choirs in Israel and
numerous concert tours nationally and internationally
with his own professional group, the Robert De Cormier
He spent several years as conductor and arranger for Harry
Belafonte and has been music director for the popular
folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary for the past 27 years.
In 1993, he was invited to help establish and develop
the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. As its director, he both prepares and
conducts performances with the symphony.
He founded Counterpoint in
2000 and the professional vocal ensemble, now in its
tenth year, has performed concerts throughout Vermont,
Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. They made their
first national tour through the midwest in 2008-09.
Their CDs include When The Rabbi Danced, Shalom, Noel
We Sing, Missa Criolla, Let Me Fly, Christmas in Vermont
He has written several works ranging from choral to
ballet to Broadway scores. His cantata, The Jolly
Beggars, based on the poetry of Robert Burns,
premiered in New York to critical acclaim. His ballet
score, Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder, is in the
active repertoire of the Alvin Alley Dance Theater. His
choral works, Legacy, Four Sonnets to Orpheus, Shout
for Joy and Under a Greenwood Tree were
premiered at Carnegie Hall by the New York Choral
Society. Spiritual Suite, commissioned by the
West Village Chorale, premiered in New York in 1991.
Mr. De Cormier has also arranged extensively, from
African-American spirituals to American and
international folk songs.
Mr. De Cormier's recordings include three Christmas
albums on the Arabesque label with the De Cormier
Singers; the Kodaly Missa Brevis and Vaughan
Williams's Mass in G Minor on Vox Turnabout with
the New York Choral Society; Songs of Liberty for
Book-of-the-Month Club with the Choral Society and the
De Cormier Singers; Carmina Burana for Newport
Classics; Paul Alan Levi's Mark Twain Suite, De
Cormier's Legacy and Four Sonnets to Orpheus
for Centaur, and Christmastide with Jessye Norman
for Philips. His most recent recording, The Prague
Sessions, for Rhino Records, celebrates the life of
the late Mary Travers of Peter Paul & Mary, with
orchestrations created by De Cormier for many of their
most popular songs, recorded with members of the Prague
Philharmonic in the fall of 2009 and dedicated to Mary
A recording of John Dowland's music Awake, Sweet Love,
with Julianne Baird and the De Cormier Singers, was
released by Arabesque in 1992 and Noel We Sing
with the Choral Society was a Musical Heritage release
in 1994. Recent Arabesque releases include: Oh, You
Beautiful Doll, early 20th century popular American
songs, Children, Go Where I Send Thee,
international Christmas songs, two operas from the
Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia;
Brundibar, a children's opera by Hans Krasa and
The Emperor of Atlantis, composed by Viktor Ullmann.
The Jolly Beggars, De Cormier's settings of
Robert Burns poetry, was released by Arabesque in May
1998. Mr. De Cormier's television credits include a
three-part series of Choral Folk Songs for the BBC and
an Emmy award winning special with Harry Belafonte.
More recently, for Thames TV, he conducted
Christmastide with Jessye Norman and for PBS, with
Peter, Paul and Mary -- A Holiday Concert, Peter,
Paul and Mommy Too, and Lifelines. Mr. De
Cormier was the choral director for a combined concert,
PBS television special and recording starring Jessye
Norman and Kathleen Battle, conducted by James Levine.
He is also credited as choral director for the PBS
Special, Christmas at Carnegie with Kathleen Battle and
Frederica Von Stade, conducted by Andre Previn.
Cormier has served on the New York State Council for the
Arts, been a member of the Choral Panel of the National
Endowment for the Arts. His awards include the
Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, Lifetime
Achievement Awards from Choral Arts New England and the
New York Choral Society, and in 2007 an Honorary Doctor
of Arts degree from Middlebury College.