September 30th, 2013
In a significant and emotional farewell performance, former Kantorei Artistic Director and Conductor Richard Larson led his final performances with Kantorei May 17th and 18th in Denver. The concert featured a heart-felt program featuring several of Larson's personal favorite choral works over the years, works written by some of his closest friends and the world's most prolific composers, including Eric Whitacre, René Clausen, and Morten Lauridsen. Highlights from the program included two of Clausen's pieces: Tonight, Eternity Alone and Prayer; Whitacre's Alleluia; and Lauridsen's La Rose Complete and Dirait-On.
Throughout the concert, Kantorei members old and new spoke about Larson and the enduring legacy he leaves for the choir. Several of Larson's peers in the choral music world shared their well wishes remotely, with letters read from René Clausen, Eric Whitacre, Philip Brunelle, Anton Armstrong, Simon Carrington, Bradley Ellingboe, and Eric William Barnum.
At the conclusion of the performance, Larson was named Artistic Director and Conductor Emeritus by the Kantorei Board of Directors. Kantorei alumni were invited to the stage, and Larson completed his tenure by conducting Gustav Holst's Nunc Dimittis, a signature piece for the group for several years.
Larson has been involved in community music and music education for over thirty years. Formerly the Fine Arts Department Chair and Director of Choral Activities at Chaparral High School in Parker, Colorado, Mr. Larson began his choral career as Music Department Coordinator and choral music educator in Austin, Minnesota, where he also served as music director of the 80 member Austin Symphony Orchestra. From 1982 to 1995, Mr. Larson led the choral and orchestral music programs at Cherry Creek High School in Englewood, Colorado. Under his direction, the Cherry Creek Meistersingers performed at the 1988 and 1994 regional American Choral Directors Association conventions, the 1989 national convention, and the 1990 National MENC in Washington, DC.
Named "Choral Conductor of the Year," in 1989 by the Colorado ACDA, Mr. Larson taught music both at the University of Northern Colorado and at Metropolitan State College in Denver. In 2006, Mr. Larson was honored by Luther College as the first ever recipient of the Weston H. Noble award recognizing excellence in the field of choral music.
Under his direction, Kantorei has grown to become an ensemble recognized nationally for its merits. Mr. Larson and Kantorei have performed by invitation at the 2002 Southwestern regional ACDA convention, the 2003 National ACDA convention in New York, the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention and the 2010 Southwestern Regional ACDA convention. In March 2011, Kantorei performed at its second National ACDA Convention, held in Chicago. The performance marked Larson’s third invitation to the ACDA National Convention, a landmark achievement in the world of choral conducting.
To our founding conductor, Richard Larson: thank you for endless passion and tireless dedication to making music at the highest levels. You have made Kantorei the ensemble and family it is today. We will miss you dearly, and count ourselves lucky to continue to call you friend and mentor.