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Raleigh Honored in his Final Bach Festival

With the end of the academic year, Stuart Raleigh will wrap up a 34-year career as a choral director at the BW Conservatory. This year’s Bach Festival is dedicated to Raleigh, who has been the chorus master of the Festival since 1974. 

Born, raised and educated in Syracuse, N.Y., Raleigh began his collegiate teaching career at Syracuse University. Shortly after graduating from Syracuse, he spent two summers at Tanglewood where he was a rehearsal accompanist for such musical greats as Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. He also spent five summers as a staff pianist at Blossom Music Center where he was Robert Shaw’s rehearsal accompanist and a soloist under conductor Pierre Boulez.

Since coming to BW, Raleigh has become an integral part of the College as well as the musical scene in Northeast Ohio. At BW he conducts the College and Motet choirs, the latter of which he established specifically to perform at the Bach Festival, but which also developed as a separate entity. This year he will conduct the Motet Choir in the motet Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, BWV 230, the same work he conducted in 1974.

He is the music director for BW opera and music theatre productions and is a frequent collaborative pianist with faculty and students. This year, his musical direction for the fall production of The Phantom of the Opera had many patrons asking if the orchestra was composed of professional musicians (it was a student ensemble). He also conducted the orchestra for the opera Semele in February, performed a faculty recital with colleague Robert Mayerovitch, and conducted a program with the College and Motet Choirs.

“It’s hard to imagine the Conservatory without Stuart Raleigh,” said Nanette Canfield, assistant director of the Conservatory, who has been both a student and colleague of Raleigh. “Hundreds of students have been awed, inspired, and instructed by him over the years. I should add that they’ve been made to laugh as well, since Stuart’s wit is as legendary as his astonishing musical prowess.”

In the broader community, Raleigh was a conductor for the Cleveland Opera and Lyric Opera Cleveland. In addition, he was music director for the Great Lakes Theater Festival’s productions of A Christmas Carol and for Berea Summer Theatre. 

The connections that Raleigh has made during his tenure are likely to provide continuing performance and conducting opportunities following his retirement.  While he has no specific plans, he hopes to stay involved in the musical community. He also hopes to spend part of the year in another part of the country…perhaps San Francisco, he said.

Bryan Bowser, another former student and current colleague noted, “Stuart has touched the lives of every student who has passed through the Conservatory. Many alumni would say that he has been a pivotal person in their careers.”

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