Noted for her “directorial command” and “technical expertise,” conductor Beth Willer is recognized as a bold, 21st-century artist with her finger on the pulse of the vocal ensemble art. Her commitment to expanding and deepening the repertoire for vocal ensembles through creative collaboration and culturally-relevant programming can be seen in her work with professional and student ensembles alike. A champion of new music, Willer frequently collaborates with established and emerging composers, including significant projects with David Lang, Julia Wolfe, George Benjamin, Kati Agócs, Kareem Roustom, James Kallembach, Shawn Kirchner, and Jessica Meyer. Current positions include Director of Choral Studies at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and Artistic Director of the critically-acclaimed Lorelei Ensemble.
As Associate Professor and Director of Choral Studies at the Peabody Conservatory, Willer leads the institute’s vocal ensembles, including NEXT Ensemble, the Peabody Camerata, and the Peabody Hopkins Conservatory Choir. In their inaugural year, the choirs commissioned and premiered new works by Kareem Roustom, Paula Prestini, Tina Tallon and Natalie Draper, and was invited to record works by Philip Glass for the short film Philip Glass: Three Cities | BALTIMORE in celebration of the composer’s 85th birthday. Prior to joining the Peabody faculty, Willer served as Director of Choral Activities at Bucknell University, and led ensembles at Harvard University and The Boston Conservatory. A passionate music educator, Willer has led numerous young artist ensembles, including choruses at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School, the Boston Arts Academy, and The Walnut Hill School. An active clinician and master teacher, Willer enjoys frequent engagements with high school and collegiate ensembles across the country.
As founder and artistic director of Lorelei Ensemble, Willer has led the octet to international acclaim, performing at celebrated venues across the country, including Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tanglewood Music Center, and Boston’s Symphony Hall. Committed to fulfilling Lorelei’s mission to elevate and expand the repertoire for women’s voices, she frequently initiates collaborations with composers from the U.S. and abroad, leading the ensemble in more than 60 world, U.S., and regional premieres since its founding. Recent recordings include James Kallembach’s Antigone: The Writings of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Movement (New Focus, 2022), David Lang’s love fail (Cantaloupe, 2020) and Impermanence (Sono Luminus, 2018) featuring motets of Guillaume Du Fay, selections from the Turin Manuscript and the Codex Calixtinus, and the premiere recording of Peter Gilbert’s Tsukimi.
Lorelei Ensemble maintains a robust national touring schedule, including recent collaborations with Grammy-nominated ensembles A Far Cry and Cantus. In 2022-23, Lorelei Ensemble is proud to present the world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Her Story, in performances with five co-commissioning orchestras: the Nashville Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Her Story is the latest in a series of Wolfe’s compositions highlighting monumental and turbulent moments in American history and culture. Recent and upcoming Lorelei appearances and residencies include Eastman School of Music, Princeton University, Duke University, and two appearances at the Tanglewood Music Center’s 2022 season, performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Thomas Adès), Emmanuel Ax, and Paul Appleby. Future projects include projects in collaboration with Grammy-nominated composer Christopher Cerrone, composer Ayanna Woods, video artist Hannah Wasileski, and Pilobolus co-artistic directors Renée Jaworski and Matt Kent,
As a guest conductor, Willer has been privileged to lead premiere ensembles from across the country, including performances with Seraphic Fire, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, New York Baroque Incorporated, and Roomful of Teeth. Symphonic work includes performance and recording of standard repertoire and multiple world and U.S. premieres with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Andris Nelsons, Thomas Adès), Nashville Symphony Orchestra (Giancarlo Guerrero), Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Marin Alsop), San Francisco Symphony (Guerroro), National Symphony (Gianandrea Noseda), the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (Stefan Asbury), Boston Modern Orchestra Project (Gil Rose), Odyssey Opera (Rose), and Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute Orchestra (Ken-David Masur).
Willer holds graduate degrees in conducting from Boston University (DMA and MM), and an undergraduate degree in music education and trumpet performance from Luther College (BM). Teachers include Ann Howard Jones, Weston Noble, Mark Shapiro, David Hoose, and Bruce Hangen.