Duain Wolfe was appointed director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus by Daniel Barenboim in the spring of 1994, succeeding founding director Margaret Hillis. He has prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for nearly a hundred programs in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as in a dozen works for commercial recordings. Wolfe also directs choral works at the Aspen Music Festival and for the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and he is founder-director of the Colorado Symphony Chorus, a position that he maintains along with his Chicago Symphony Chorus post.
Among the many performances for which Wolfe has prepared the Chorus are Cherubini's Requiem, Brahms' A German Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana and Verdi's Requiem and Otello-all of which were conducted by CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti-Haydn's Creation, led by Bernard Haitink; Shostakovich's Babi Yar Symphony; Bach's Saint Matthew Passion, Saint John Passion and Christmas Oratorio; Golijov's Ainadamar; Mahler's Second, Third and Eighth symphonies; Schoenberg's opera Moses und Aron; and world-premiere performances of John Harbison's Four Psalms and Bernard Rands' apókryphos, both commissioned by the CSO. He prepared the Chorus for the 2010 Grammy Award-winning recording of Verdi's Messa da Requiem led by Riccardo Muti, marking Wolfe's first Grammy win and the 10th time a recording featuring the Chorus was recognized with the Best Choral Performance award. Wolfe also prepared the Chorus for the 1998 Grammy Award-winning recording of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Sir Georg Solti, as well as for recordings of Mahler's Second Symphony (Resurrection) and Third Symphonies, Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé and Poulenc's Gloria on the CSO Resound label, led by Bernard Haitink. Most recently Wolfe prepared Members of the Chorus for performing renowned composer John Williams' original score for the November 2012 movie Lincoln, which was recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Williams' baton.
Wolfe also prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for its Carnegie Hall performances of Orff's Carmina Burana in 2012 and Verdi's Otello in 2011 under the direction of Riccardo Muti, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Staatskapelle Berlin in 2000, with Daniel Barenboim, and for performances of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron (led by Pierre Boulez) and Brahms' A German Requiem (led by Daniel Barenboim) at the Berlin Festtage in the spring of 1999.
Creator, director and conductor of the CSO's popular Welcome Yule! concerts, Wolfe also has conducted members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in education performances including "My Own True Voice," "Voices in Song," "A Company of Critters," "Do Re Meowzart," "Stomp Your Foot," "Parade," "Magical Movements," "A World of Music, A World of Dance," and " 'Big Ben's Odyssey."
Well known for his work with children, Duain Wolfe retired in 1999 from the Colorado Children's Chorale, an organization that he founded and conducted for 25 years. Also active as an opera conductor, he worked as conductor of the Central City Opera Festival for 20 years.
Wolfe's activities have earned him an honorary doctorate and numerous awards, including the Bonfils Stanton Award in the Arts and Humanities, the Colorado Governor's Award for Excellence and the Denver Mayor's Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline.
Duain Wolfe is a past chairman of the board of Chorus America, the national service organization for choruses. In 2012, he was awarded that organization's Michael Korn Founders Award in recognition of his contributions to the professional choral arts.