Vince Peterson is a respected choral conductor, composer/arranger, and teacher of music in the United States. His 20-year hybrid career spans the worlds of choral music, theater, sacred music, and music education. He has, however, established himself most prominently in the world of choral music, notably having founded the “shape-shifting” vocal ensemble Choral Chameleon in 2008. Under his leadership, Choral Chameleon has premiered more than 150 works since its nascence and has won critical acclaim in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The New York Concert Review, I Care If You Listen, The Examiner, and other publications. In 2015, the ensemble was awarded the prestigious ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming. In 2017, the group was named the first vocal ensemble artist-in-residence at NYC's undisputed new music hub, National Sawdust.
A native of San Francisco, Peterson began professional work in music at the unusually early age of sixteen when he became the organist and music director of his home parish. He studied piano from age six, and organ from age eleven. In high school, he toured internationally as a choral accompanist, appearing in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Philippines, and throughout Italy, where he also appeared before Pope John Paul II and played for mass inside of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. During his college years, he apprenticed under the inimitable Joseph Jennings. A colleague he met through Joe would eventually write of him:
"Already, his brilliance as an arranger, accompanist and conductor were evident. He studied seriously, argued brilliantly, and soaked up all the knowledge and experience imparted by his Bay Area mentors. He also gained an appreciation and understanding of the rare (at that time) 'professional choral musician.' It is little wonder that he would relocate to a place as musically rich, and yet dynamically challenging as New York City (Brooklyn, to be precise) to begin his own musical enterprise: one that focused on the well-being of the choral singer as a professional, the creation of new choral music, and the development of a multi-generational audience ready, willing and able to accept whatever new concoction Vince would throw at them."
In 2003, Peterson earned the BM in Composition from San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of celebrated vocal music composer Conrad Susa. He has also studied composition with David Conte, Elinor Armer, and Philip Lasser. In 2007, he earned a Double MM in Composition and Choral Conducting from Mannes College of Music where he studied under pioneer conductor Mark Shapiro as well as the composer David Loeb. Upon receipt of his Master's Degree, he was also awarded the singular Music Teacher's League Award for 2007.
As a prolific arranger, Peterson has received seven commissions to date from the multi-Grammy® Award-winning ensemble Chanticleer, whose YouTube videos of his work have garnered over half a million views. Several of his choral arrangements and original compositions have become staples for choirs across the United States. Distinguished performance venues include Chicago Symphony Hall, San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, Bartok National Concert Hall in Budapest, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Hall, among others.
A recognized thought-leader in the music world, The New York Times called Peterson "authoritative beyond his… years," and The Brooklyn Eagle praised 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.”
In 2018, Vince Peterson was awarded the Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal by Chorus America, a lifetime distinction he shares with only fourteen of the most influential choral musicians in the United States. When endorsing his candidacy for this award, another cherished colleague wrote:
"Vince Peterson’s record speaks more eloquently for him than I can ever do. I will conclude by saying that after my many years now as a choral conductor, singer, and teacher of some accomplishment, I have been running low on sources of inspiration and hope; but when I look to Vince Peterson, I am always refreshed again. That is the impact of his work on me. He is clearly the artist this award is meant to recognize and support. It has been my privilege to nominate him today."
In addition to his work with Choral Chameleon, Peterson is overjoyed to serve as Artistic Director of Empire City Men’s Chorus, which he has recently ushered through its 25th Anniversary Season.