The Stravinsky Years

Chronology Part 3:
The Work Continues


In 1960, the Gregg Smith Singers were asked to return to the Los Angeles Music Festival. Again, the pieces were by Stravinsky and conducted by Stravinsky. This time GSS performed “Les Noces” and the Stravinsky “Mass.” The concert was June 7, 1960.

Stravinsky’s “Mass” was recorded for CBS Records on June 9, 1960, just after the concert, in the CBS studios in Hollywood, California. Stravinsky conducted. This was the first time GSS was privileged to work with John McClure (head of Columbia Masterworks and chief recording engineer).

Lukas Foss, who was appointed professor of music at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1953, worked with many choirs and performance groups. At some point in the years between 1960 and 1963 (after which Foss then went to work with the Buffalo Orchestra), Gregg Smith and the Gregg Smith Singers were part of a UCLA concert featuring Stravinsky's 1958 piece: Threni—Lamentations of Jeremiah. Lukas Foss was in charge of the orchestra.

Gregg Smith: “I recall one of the soloists in Threni—Henry Benicke—really knocked my socks off with his solo, and Stravinsky and Robert Craft were very impressed. Unfortunately, this performance of Threni was never recorded.”


Both 1961 and 1962 were extremely eventful years for the Gregg Smith Singers. In 1961, the Singers did their second European tour, which included the Edinburgh, Salzburg and Darmstadt Festivals. In Los Angeles, GSS was again asked to perform at the Los Angeles Music Festival. They would sing Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms,” with Stravinsky conducting. The concert was held on June 5, 1961.

Subsequent to the concert, CBS recorded the “Symphony of Psalms” with Stravinsky conducting and with the Gregg Smith Singers on June 4, 1961, according to Robert Craft. But the recording was never released by CBS.