Duain Wolfe

Appointed by ninth music director Daniel Barenboim in 1994, Duain Wolfe served the Chicago Symphony Chorus as chorus director and conductor for 28 years, retiring in 2022. He prepared the Chorus for over 150 programs for concerts in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as many works for commercial recordings. Wolfe continues to direct choral works at the Aspen Music Festival and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and he remains chorus director of the Colorado Symphony Chorus, an ensemble he founded in 1984.

Winner of two Grammy awards in 2010 (Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Album) for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Verdi’s Requiem with Riccardo Muti, in 2012 Wolfe received the Michael Korn Founders Award from Chorus America in recognition of his contributions to the professional choral arts. He also prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for the Grammy Award-winning recording of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Sir Georg Solti, and for the CSO Resound release of Verdi’s Otello conducted by Riccardo Muti.

Well known for his work with children, Wolfe is conductor laureate of the Colorado Children’s Chorale, an organization that he founded and conducted for 25 years. Also active in opera, he served as conductor of the Central City Opera Festival for twenty years.

Among the many performances for which Wolfe has prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus are Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; Cherubini’s Requiem; Brahms’s A German Requiem; Orff’s Carmina Burana; Verdi’s Requiem, OtelloMacbeth, and Falstaff; Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana; Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre with Alberto Mizrahi as narrator; and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar), recorded during performances in Orchestra Hall in 2018 and recently released on CSO Resound—all conducted by CSO music director Riccardo Muti. World premieres include John Harbison’s Four Psalms and Bernard Rands’s apókryphos, both commissioned by the CSO.

Wolfe prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for its most recent Carnegie Hall performances of Scriabin’s Prometheus and Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky in 2015, under Riccardo Muti, as well as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Staatskapelle Berlin in 2000 with Daniel Barenboim. He also prepared the Chorus for performances of Schoenberg’s Moses and Aron (led by Pierre Boulez) and Brahms’s A German Requiem (led by Barenboim) at the Berlin Festtage in 1999.

Duain Wolfe’s activities have earned him an honorary doctorate and numerous awards, including the Bonfils Stanton Award in the Arts and Humanities and the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.