Gregg Smith Singers

Gregg Smith Singers


• Founded 1955


The Gregg Smith Singers are one of the world's primary small choral ensembles, particularly among those with a reputation for 20th century music. When Gregg Smith founded the ensemble, he was an assistant in the UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) Department of Music. In 1958 the group made its first appearance on the international musical scene, and later appeared at the Brussels World's Fair. Shortly, the Singers came to the attention of Igor Stravinsky, who chose it as his favored vocal ensemble, particularly in his historic series of recordings for the Columbia label. This association continued for 12 years until the great composer's death in 1971. Smith himself was chosen to conduct the chorus and orchestra for Stravinsky's funeral services in Venice.

The Singers undertook their second European tour in 1971; since then they continued touring frequently, totaling 34 tours by the end of the century. Since 1973 the Singers have been based in New York City and makes annual appearances at the Adirondack Musical Festival at Lake Saranac, New York, and conducts the North Country Choral Workshop at Saranac Lake, open to high school students. More than 1,000 students have completed this course. In the 1980s it became associated with New York City's "Art Connection" concerts.

The GSS' recording activities (which began even earlier than the Stravinsky collaboration with a recording on the Verve jazz label) has included for Vox, Everest, CRI, Lovely Music, and many others. Over the years it has participated in concerts and recordings with such conductors as Bernstein, Stokowski, Ormandy, and many others.

Seventy percent of the repertory of the Singers is American music, extending from Stephen Foster, Victor Herbert, Ives, Copland, and William Schuman, to late 20th century composers such as Roger Reynolds, Jacob Druckman, Elliott Carter, Ned Rorem, and Louise Talma. In 1978 it received the Ditson Conductor's prize for service to American music, and in 1988 the Berliasky Prize of the American Academy in Rome. It won three Grammy awards, one each for The Glory of Gabrieli, New Music of Charles Ives, and another Ives disc, General Booth Enters into Heaven.