2018 Swan Award Winner: Vance George


Vance George is recognized internationally as one of America’s leading choral conductors. Under his direction he and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus have been hailed as one of the finest in the world and have received four Grammys and an Emmy.

His unique range of musical styles, knowledge of languages, mastery of vocal colors, and synthesis of the choral-orchestral tradition has been lauded by audiences, critics, and conductors. His work embodies the legacy of the great maestros and mentors he has known as protégé and colleague, especially Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Robert Page, Otto Werner-Mueller, Mary Oyer and Kurt Masur, John Nelson, Helmut Rilling, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt and Michael Tilson Thomas.

For more than 23 years he prepared and conducted the SFS Chorus and SF Symphony in performances of large choral/orchestral repertoire as well as seasonal and pops concerts.

Prior to SFS Chorus he was Associate Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for seven years. As guest conductor he has led performances of Bach’s Mass in B minor, the Passions, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven Masses, the Requiems of Brahms and Verdi in Minneapolis, Spokane, Akron, Salzburg, Indianapolis and Sydney.

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus may be heard in Orff’s Carmina burana, Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, a collection of short choral works by Brahms, the Requiem under the direction of Herbert Blomstedt and in Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, Stravinsky’s Perséphone, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. The Emmy was for Sondheim’s Sweemu Todd in a semi staged versiou featuring George Hearn, Patti Lupone and Neil Patrick Harris.

Under Vance George’s direction the chorus may be heard on the Delos label in Christmas by the Bay and Voices 1999/2000 and on film soundtracks for Amadeus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Godfather III.

Vance George is highly regarded as a teacher of conducting and has written on the subject for Cambridge Press. A graduate of Goshen College and Indiana University, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts by Kent State University and a lifetime achievement award by Chorus America. He has served on the Chorus America Board and the National Endowment of the Arts.