Choral Chameleon started in January of 2008 when a 27 year old choral conductor and composer named Vince Peterson, recently out of grad school, gathered together a group of his artistic colleagues to experiment with some new ideas in concert programming. Having been conservatory trained for nearly a decade, he felt a strong pull toward the art of drawing programmatic connections between seemingly unrelated styles and composers of music from across five centuries. This pull was also rooted deeply in the human experience and a desire to observe musicians as people before anything else. The first concert was so well received that Vince and a group of generous supporters decided to officially form a professional singing ensemble.
In December of 2008, the first official concert season began and it was as if the group had already existed for many years. The Choral Chameleon story continues today thanks to an outpouring of fervent love and support from a grateful community of singers and listeners alike. The ensemble was hailed in Time Out New York as “shape shifting” and “poetic.” Vince, who studied under the great pioneer conductor Mark Shapiro, brought with him from his education an unabashed openness and a notable lack of fear for any repertoire new or old. This allowed Choral Chameleon to embrace whatever music was needed at any given time and to always serve the community in the ways in which it asked to be served, without limitations of any kind. Since the beginning, the organization has striven to maintain a laudable roster of professional singers in NYC who not only show superior musicianship and professionalism, but also open-heartedness and palpable love for what they do. The singers, themselves, are the true definition of chameleon working in many artistic disciplines – both musical and non-musical.
Choral Chameleon concert programs equally welcome first-time listeners as well as seasoned concertgoers. The group is striving to redefine the role of a choir in the performing arts and to put choral singing where it is least expected. More adventurous programs include “The Choir…Electric” with five commissioned works for choir and electronics, “Follow Me” a walking concert in Central Park, and “Wide Waters” which included the world premiere of the oratorio version of “Tamar of the River”, a fully-staged choral work with ensemble movement and puppetry. The ensemble boasts over 80 world premieres to date and counting. Not limiting its work to concertizing, Choral Chameleon has ignited an extensive education outreach initiative, which includes workshops with high school and community singers, an unparalleled eight-day choral institute for composers and conductors every year in June, and an avocational chorus called Chameleonic, which is uniquely co-led by Vince Peterson and an ever-changing roster of guest conductors straight from the professional artist roster of Choral Chameleon.
Vince Peterson is a Brooklyn-based composer, conductor, and keyboardist. He is the founder of Choral Chameleon, a ground-breaking vocal ensemble in New York City, which has made significant strides in modern choral music and concert programming. The New York Times called Peterson “authoritative beyond his… years,” and The Brooklyn Eaglepraised his work as “a stunning symphony of the spiritual and secular”, while hailing him as a solo performer “with depth and vigor” who “provided a universal context which resonated with his audience.”
Commissioners and distinguished performers of his compositions include Ars Musica, Cantori New York, The Monmouth Civic Chorus, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, The San Francisco Arts Education Project, and the multi-Grammy® award winning ensemble, Chanticleer, among others. His works have been performed in major concert halls including Chicago Symphony Hall, San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, Bela Bartok National Concert Hall in Budapest, and New York’s own Metropolitan Museum of Art. His arrangement of Tom Waits’ “Temptation” was called “hard to top” by the San Francisco Chronicle and was recently performed live on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”. A champion of new music, he is responsible for commissioning and premiering over 100 choral and musical theater works to date.
While maintaining an active career in choral music, he also serves as Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Carroll Street in Brooklyn, as Artistic Director of The Empire City Men’s Chorus, and Director of Children’s Choirs at The Lycée Français de New York. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The New York Choral Consortium, where he works to develop the choral art and cultivate new program offerings for NYC choruses, their directors, and their administrators.