Cheryl Frazes Hill, associate professor of music education and director of choral activities at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA), has been named the new conductor of the highly regarded Milwaukee Symphony Chorus (MSC).
Trained by the notable founder and first director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus Margaret Hillis, Frazes Hill has been a noted member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s conducting staff for more than 30 years, including more than 20 years assisting CSO chorus director and conductor Duain Wolfe, and 15 years leading choral activities in Roosevelt’s internationally recognized music conservatory.
Now the Roosevelt professor is adding another feather to her cap as the new conductor of the highly acclaimed MSC.
“The Milwaukee Symphony Chorus is one of America’s finest orchestral choruses, with a very long and important tradition, ” said Henry Fogel, dean of the CCPA, “For Cheryl to be chosen after a major international search process is a strong demonstration of the quality of her work as a choral leader.”
Her work with Roosevelt University students has exposed them to a rich variety of styles and audiences. The 2016/2017 season at Roosevelt included a performance of Bach's Magnificat, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, both of which MSC will perform next season; Conservatory Chorus students performed Verdi’s Requiem at Orchestra Hall for a production alongside professional singers from the Chicagoland area. Other concerts included two performances at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in honor of Yom HaShoah as well as one performance of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms performed by CCPA and choral students from Jones College Preparatory High School with the CCPA Symphony Orchestra as a part of this year’s Roosevelt University Vivid showcase at the Auditorium Theatre.
CCPA students frequently collaborate with professional orchestras throughout Chicago, including Chicago Symphony’s Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as The Chicago Sinfonietta, Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, which gives them exposure to audiences throughout the city and suburbs, while performing in great venues that include Orchestra Hall, the Auditorium Theatre, and the United Center where CCPA students performed with The Rolling Stones in 2013.
One of Frazes Hill’s biggest accomplishments, however, has been achieving the appointment as conductor of MSC, a position that attracted hundreds of candidates from around the country in a process that took more than a year to complete.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me to be selected to a lead a symphony chorus,” said Frazes Hill, who conducted a number of the MSC’s rehearsals for the performance series of Francis Poulenc’s Gloria in February.
Frazes Hill was selected for the position because of her vast knowledge and experience as a symphonic choral conductor, and the instant rapport she had with MSO singers.
“At the end of the process, it was very clear that Dr. Frazes Hill was the best fit for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra,” and its chorus, Deborah Patel, MSO board member, chorister, and head of the conductor search, said recently.
As new director of Milwaukee’s chorus, Frazes Hill currently is auditioning hundreds of singers who will perform with MSC in its new season that opens in September. She will be commuting between Chicago and Milwaukee on a regular basis, but will also continue to lead choral activities at CCPA.
“I will still be at Roosevelt and I’m glad that I will still have the opportunity to guide the next generation of singers and music educators,” Frazes Hill said.
She also hopes to engage Roosevelt alumni who live in the Milwaukee area in MSC activities, and is looking forward to the opportunity for collaboration between the MSO and Roosevelt’s CCPA students.
“It’s something that I have in the back of my mind. That would be exciting for our students and I would certainly enjoy it,” Frazes Hill said.