William Jon Gray
Of his preparation of Antonín Dvořák’s Requiem with Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, Lawrence A. Johnson of the Chicago Classical Review said, “Scrupulously prepared by William Jon Gray—the mighty massed forces of the Grant Park Chorus delivered one of their finest performances of this season, resounding and majestic in the impassioned climaxes, singing with cohesion, clarity and delicacy, and thrilling in the great choral fugues. So impressive was the ensemble work, [the soloists] frequently turned to listen, smiling at their choral colleagues’ vocalism.”
Dr. William Jon Gray has been the Artistic Director of the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society since spring of 2016. He was a faculty member and chair of the Choral Department at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he conducted the Pro Arte Singers, the University’s prestigious chamber choir, and where he taught masters and doctoral level conducting, choral literature, and score study. In August of 2019 Gray retired as Chorus Director of Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, conducting the entirely professional chamber chorus and orchestra in subscription series concerts and preparing the ensemble for performances with internationally acclaimed conductors Jane Glover, Nicholas Kraemer, and Paul Agnew. He has been Associate Conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California, leading major choral and orchestral works and preparing performances with conductor Bruno Weil. William Gray has been Assistant Conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, and Artistic Director of the Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra of Washington, DC. As Artistic Director of the Bach Chorale Singers he received national critical acclaim for the commercially released recording In Praise of the Organ: Latin Choral and Organ Music of Zoltán Kodály.
William Jon Gray has made guest appearances with orchestras and choruses and at festivals around the United States, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Princeton Festival, National Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Bloomington Early Music Festival, Billings Symphony, Lafayette Symphony, Auriel Camerata, and the Musicians of Ma’alwyck. He has prepared choruses for Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Music Festival, the Indianapolis Symphony with Raymond Leppard, the National Chamber Orchestra, and has served as Director of Opera Choruses for the Indiana University Opera Theatre, collaborating with such notable stage directors as Tito Capobianco (La Traviata), Colin Graham (Peter Grimes), Vincent Liotta (A View from the Bridge), and Tomer Zvulun (Faust).
Dr. Gray studied at Indiana University, the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and Boston University. He frequently performed with Robert Shaw as a member of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, both in recordings and concerts in France and at Carnegie Hall.
Tenor and Associate Conductor Derek W. Stannard is a graduate of the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam where he studied voice with Dr. Kirk Dougherty. He is the founding Artistic Director of the Capital Region’s only professional choral ensemble, Auriel Camerata. While a student, Mr. Stannard was an active member of Concert Choir, Men’s Ensemble, Crane Chorus, Opera Ensemble and the Early Music Ensemble. He had the privilege of premiering The Sailor-Boy and the Falcon starring Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, and sang many other roles while at Crane including Pluto in Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach. Mr. Stannard was the tenor soloist in the Adirondack Voices presentation of the Verdi Requiem in May of 2011. In addition, he is an active member of Albany Pro Musica, and a former member of Aoede Consort (Carnegie Hall premiere, choral works of Vladimir Pleshakov, January 2012) and Voices of Cooperstown (Charpentier Mass de Minuit pour Noel, Handel’s Messiah). He has sung with the Lake George Opera (Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri), Battenkill Chorale, Broad Street Chorale, Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, Berkshire Choral Society, and Adirondack Voices. Whenever possible, he serves as a guest chorister at the First Presbyterian Church, Glens Falls, The Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Albany, and Brick Presbyterian Church, NYC. In addition he maintains a small, private voice studio, specializing in the male voice. While he was an active church musician, Stannard created sacred performance opportunities including the acclaimed annual “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” and “A Celebration of Handel’s Messiah” as well as community-wide hymn sings. Mr. Stannard continues to be a part of the ever-growing choral music community in upstate New York and Vermont areas.
“William Jon Gray conducted the combined [Carmel Bach] Festival Chorale and members of the Festival Orchestra in a religious masterpiece, not one of Bach’s but the massive Claudio Monteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 to the largest packed house I’ve seen at Old First in over 35 years of on-and-off reviewing there. It created a sensation, as indeed it deserves when so ably presented. Fine playing and excellent vocal work littered the evening with one peak experience after another…the applause hit like a prolonged tsunami.”
Monteverdi’s Vespers in San Francisco
Heuwell Tircuit of the San Francisco Classical Voice