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     Smith, Gregg (21st August 1931-Present)

    He is a conductor, arranger, composer and teacher born in Chicago, Illinois.  He began to compose while still very young, around five years old, but he didn't take it up seriously until he was 17.  He had heard Suadedos de Brazil by Milhaud, which influenced him to write his own piano piece and the result was his From the Rio suite.   He took further music studies at UCLA in California and joined a choir where the director encouraged him to compose and staged several of his works.  He was introduced to a private tutor, Leonard Stein, and after studying with him while at UCLA he graduated in 1954 and won a teaching fellowship.  He began conducting as well as studying composition and took his first position in Los Angeles in a Japanese Methodist Church.  He wrote works for the choir and his Seven Last Words of Christ was used for his Major thesis in composition as well as being performed in the church under his leadership.  In 1955 he was asked to assemble a group and arrange and record works by Stephen Foster for a television documentary about him.  This was the beginning of the Gregg Smith Singers and they have been together ever since, touring and recording and making countless concerts appearances. He has written many arrangements and compositions for the Gregg Smith Singers and other artists and these include "Secular Canticle", "Grand Palindrome in C", Sound Canticles, "Festive Song", "Toccata del Rio", "Sanctus", "Landscapes", the Christmas opera The Other Wise Man and Bible Songs for Young Voices for the Texas Boys' Choir.  In the 1960s he was the Head of the Choral Program at Ithaca College and in the 1970s he became resident in New York City.  This was a time of prolifically composing for him and he was also the orchestrator and recorder of Gershwin's Blue Monday and five musicals by Victor Herbert.  During the 1980s he received an NEA composer's fellowship, which allowed him to compose the ballet The Continental Harmonist and followed it with Good Cheer commissioned by the New York Gay Men's Chorus and To Reach for the Stars commissioned by the New York Treble Singers.  At the end of then 1980s he received a further commission that ended up with his Rip Van Winkle children's opera.  The 1990s saw him undertaking another 13 commissions before accepting the position of Composer in Residence at Saint Peter's Church, New York, in 1998.  In the 2000s he has written another children's opera called The Dream Eater, Earth Requiem, In Memoriam: Singing Our Sorrow at Ground Zero and Jamaican Songs.  He estimates that to date he has written over 400 works of which around 100 have been recorded and is still active with the Gregg Smith Singers and as a choral conductor.  His numerous recordings include the albums Ceremony of Carols, 3 American One-Act Operas, Forbidden Fruit, Vocal Music of Lukas Foss and Madrigals and All That Jazz by the Gregg Smith Singers, Essential Collection, Interpretations, Passage and Anthology by The Carpenters, Favourite Songs by Stephen Foster, American Sampler by the Atlanta Singers and Once When I Was Young by the Dave Brubeck Quartet


    Gregg Smith Singers recordings

    Angels We Have Heard on High (French traditional/James Chadwick/Edward Shippen Barnes)

    Sony 66300 (CD: Voices of Christmas)

    Gregg Smith Singers

    Texas Boys Choir

    Organ – E. Power Biggs

    Arranger – Robert De Cormier



    1. http://users.michiana.org/sbcs1/smith.html
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Smith_Singers
    3. http://shopping.yahoo.com/p:Gregg%20Smith:1927065348





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