WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Robert Bode, professor of music and director of choral and vocal studies at Whitman College, has been named the artistic director of Choral Arts, a professional chamber choir based in Seattle.
A member of the Whitman faculty since 1986, Bode was honored as a Paul Garrett Fellow in 1998 in recognition of his outstanding teaching and professional activity. In 2000 he was named the first recipient of the Alma Meisnest Endowed Chair of Humanities based on his outstanding record of teaching, advising, conducting and scholarship at the college.
Bode founded the Walla Walla Choral Society and the Walla Walla Mastersingers, co-founded Walla Walla Baroque, and served as the music director for the Mid-Columbia Symphony in Richland, Washington, for 15 years before resigning this spring. His choirs have been featured in performances for the American Choral Directors Association Regional conventions, and he has conducted the Walla Walla Mastersingers in performances at Kennedy Center and Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
Bode, who received his doctoral degree in conducting from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, has conducted concerts around the world at places including England, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Russia, and he has recorded with the Bohemia State Philharmonic in Olomouc, Czech Republic. In 1999, he conducted a performance of “The Barber of Seville” at the State Opera Theater in Bourgas, Bulgaria; he returned to Bulgaria in 2000 to conduct “Carmen.”
As the new artistic director of Choral Arts, Bode said he plans to improve the visibility of the choir around the Pacific Northwest and then across the United States. His plans include a renewed focus on music and education, specifically in Seattle and surrounding areas, a concerted effort to premier and record new American music, and thematic, powerful concert series designed to tug at the audience’s emotions while drawing it into the text.
“I envision a mix of styles and periods and languages at each concert—tied together thematically and dedicated to the idea that music has the power to change people’s lives,” said Bode.
Choral Arts, created in 1993, will perform four concert series this season in Tacoma and Seattle, up from three in past seasons. In May of 1999, the choir competed in the International Chamber Choir Competition in Marktoberdorf, Germany, where they placed fourth overall in a field of 300 choirs and received special recognition for Best Interpretation of a Romantic Choral Work for its interpretation of Hugo Wolf’s “Sechs Geistliche Gesänge”. Choral Arts has three recordings available through the Loft/Gothic label.