Dr. Brian A. Schmidt, the Chapel’s assistant conductor and administrative coordinator of Chapel Music, has accepted a position at Baylor University’s School of Music as an associate professor of choral music. He begins this new position this summer.
In notifying the Chapel staff of Schmidt’s new position, Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery said, “I recognize this new role for Brian as an affirmation of what many of us already know: Brian is both a talented musician with an ear for excellence and also a leader who has inspired many with his vision and passion. We will surely miss these gifts of Brian’s here at the Chapel.”
During his five years at the Chapel, Schmidt has led the Duke Vespers Ensemble, enhancing the group’s musical offerings while also expanding its audiences. He introduced varied and challenging repertoire to the weekly Vespers worship services -- both early and modern music – as well as the ensemble’s concerts. He led the group in recording its first commercial albums, Membra Jesu Nostri and Viva Italia. Under Schmidt’s leadership, the Vespers Ensemble gave their first performances at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2013 and returned in 2015. They were invited to perform for the first time at the Southern Division Conference of the American Choral Directors’ Association in 2016. In the summer of 2015, the students and community members of the Vespers Ensemble got a rare and unexpected opportunity – to sing backup for the Rolling Stones at Raleigh’s Carter Finley Stadium.
In addition to directing the Duke Vespers Ensemble, Schmidt has led a number of other musical initiatives. He is founder and director of the popular Bach Cantata Series at the Chapel, which culminates this spring with a performance of J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion. These concerts have expanded his collaborations with members of the Mallarmé Chamber Players and other regional instrumentalists and singers. Schmidt is also the founder and artistic director the South Dakota Chorale, which has recorded several commercial albums. Most recently, he led the Chorale in world premiere performances of, and a recording of, composer Marcel Tyberg’s Masses, which were thought to be lost during the Holocaust. In collaboration with Duke Performances, the Chorale performed these works at Duke Chapel in October of 2016.