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Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus names newest director

The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus’ latest search for leadership ended Friday, when the chorus named a new director, Adam Luebke.

Luebke, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, succeeds Erin Freeman, who was appointed director in July 2013 and resigned last June to work elsewhere. Freeman, in turn, was appointed following the controversial firing of Doreen Rao, a renowned figure in the choral world. Rao departed in January 2012.

Luebke holds a doctorate in choral conducting from Florida State University, a master of music degree in conducting from Westminster Choir College and a bachelor’s of music from St. Olaf College. St. Olaf, a Minnesota institution in the Lutheran tradition, is famous for its chorus.

He is currently an associate professor and director of choral activities at the Greatbatch School of Music at Houghton College, a position he has held since August. A singer, he has been a member of the St. Olaf Choir, the American Boychoir and other respected ensembles.

Luebke is a scholar of renaissance choral music and has published and lectured on renaissance performance practice. He also is a champion of community choruses. According to his resume, he has organized community performances and led community ensembles in Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, he earned a prominent mention in an Associated Press story when he was in Philadelphia with one of his choirs, a group from Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. The singers bumped into an archbishop from the Vatican who was touring the city, and Luebke led them in an impromptu performance of the Latin hymn “Ubi Caritas.”

The singers of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, a nonprofit group not officially affiliated with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, are banking on such enthusiasm to bring needed stability.

“Not only is Adam an incredibly talented musician and conductor, but his obvious passion for the music inspires the singers working with him, as well as the audience,” said chorus president Holly Grant, announcing the appointment.

Brad Felton, the chorus’ vice president, elaborated: “Our search committee interviewed Adam the day after he arrived in Western New York, and he immediately impressed us with his passion, his experience, and his knowledge of choral music, as well as his engaging demeanor. His audition with our membership reinforced those strong first impressions.”

Luebke, for his part, expressed enthusiasm for the challenges ahead in a statement.

“I look forward to contributing to the artistic landscape of the city and region,” he said. “The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus is an historic organization which has always been a vibrant presence in the community.”

His tenure will begin in January, when new auditions for the chorus will be held.


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