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A FIFTY YEAR CHRONOLOGY

A FIFTY YEAR CHRONOLOGY

The Gregg Smith Singers

1960-1969

  1. First appearance under Igor Stravinsky at Franz Waxman’s Los Angeles Music Festival. It was the beginning of a close relationship that continued until the composer’s death in 1971.

  2. In June GSS made their second appearance with Stravinsky at the LA Festival and subsequently recorded Stravinsky’s Mass for Columbia Records. This was followed by a tour of Europe that included the Edinburgh, Salzburg and Darmstadt festivals. Rave reviews (“one of the Edinburgh’s four great concerts”) and a Time magazine article on the Darmstadt program led to an offer by impresario Kenneth Allen to tour nationally.

  3. GSS’ first national tour had 63 concerts from coast to coast. Allen continued booking the Gregg Smith Singers for the next ten years.

  4. The first of four Everest recordings, “An American Tryptich,” contained works by Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland and William Schuman. It had a great impact on choral conductors who had not heard these works before. The Singers also gave the world premiere of Stravinsky’s The Dove Descending in their eighth Monday Evening Concert appearance.

  5. John McClure, Director of Columbia Masterworks, signed GSS to a long term contract to record all the choral music of Charles Ives (four albums).

  6. Gregg moved to the East Coast (Ithaca College) in order to be near New York City which had a far better climate for classical music than Los Angeles. At the same time a great deal of recording with Stravinsky commenced with the West Coast GSS, making Mr. Smith a very busy commuter. The first of the Ives recordings, “General William Booth enters into Heaven” was made in June.

  7. With a great college choir at Ithaca, Gregg was able to augment GSS for more Stravinsky performances and recordings — Persephone on the West Coast and the world premiere of his last major composition, Requiem Canticles at Princeton. This was also the year of GSS’ first Grammy (“General Booth”).

  8. GSS joined E. Power Biggs and George Bragg’s Texas Boys Choir for the historic recordings made in San Marco in Venice, “The Glory of Gabrieli.” Upon their return to the United States GSS joined the Ithaca choir in Carnegie Hall to perform and record with Leopold Stokowski Four Songs for Chorus and Orchestra by Charles Ives.

  9. A big award year: 1) GSS’ second Grammy for “The Glory of Gabrieli” recording, 2) a High/Fi Stereo “Record of the Year” (Billings album) and 3) the Montreaux award for their participation in Robert Craft’s “Schoenberg — Vol. VI” (Canons).

  10. Having moved to SUNY Stony Brook, Smith organized an all-Stravinsky concert (Robert Craft conducting) with the University Choir, GSS and his newly formed community chorus, LISCA. Stravinsky attended the concert in what was to be his last public appearance. During the summer, Smith traveled to LA to prepare the West Coast GSS for the world premiere of Lalo Schifrin’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at the Hollywood Bowl.

    GSS toured and recorded Jack Beeson's delightful canon for CRI in 1969.

    Listen to: Jack Beeson, Give the Poor Singer a Penny