AzACDA Congratulates Brook Larson
2016 Choral Director of the Year
Below is the presentation speech given by Michael Peterson, President of Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix, from whom the nominations in support of Dr. Larson came.
Tonight we recognize a humble and dedicated individual who has dedicated himself to achieving excellent in that all-important niche in music performance – community music-making, as well as a gentleman totally committed to his family and touching the lives of those around him every day. Before you express your congratulations and appreciation let me tell you some things about tonight’s honoree, Dr. Brook Larson.
A proud native of North Dakota, Brook spent six years teaching choral music education at Arizona State University. During his time at ASU he founded and conducted two choirs: the ASU Men’s Chorus and the Sun Devil Singers. In addition to his conducting duties he taught choral methods, supervised student teachers and coordinated field experiences for music education majors. His prior experience at the middle and high school levels contributed greatly to his success at ASU. Prior to receiving his DMA in choral conducting at ASU, he received degrees from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Moorhead State University in Minnesota.
Since taking the podium with Orpheus, he has increased the size of this organization from a 30-member chorus to a group that now numbers near 100 singers. Orpheus has grown in size and quality not only as an organization, but also in its reach to audiences. This is not an easy balance to achieve with a community music ensemble. It happens when several things come together to form an uncommon synergy: that hard-to-achieve balance of having fun and simultaneously producing a quality product, programming that provides something for everyone – the challenges of aesthetically demanding repertoire balance with something we all recognize and enjoy hearing, and the life-blood of any musical organization’s long-term success – recruiting. If any of you have ever been recruited by Brook Larson to sing in one of his groups, you’ll know that he is relentless. I use the term “pleasantly persistent” and he will be that until you either give in and give it a try, or you stop answering his messages. Believe me, it’s easier to just give in. In my mere five years with this organization, I have seen it grow from that small group of singers to a group that is enormously passionate and brings the joy of music-making to the stage – and that is a reflection of the leadership from Brook Larson.
Brook has expanded our community outreach, he has connected us to performances with other choirs and encouraged this group of men to always see their future as larger than their past. The marriage of Brook Larson and Orpheus has truly created the embodiment of synergy for the chorus and for the audiences we perform for. A man dedicated to his family, he enjoys watching his daughter Gemma play soccer, and shares a love of travel with his wife Laura and the rest of his family when time allows. I am sure many of you have been touched by his kindness, his energy and his musicianship. It is an honor for me to present the Arizona ACDA Choral Director of the Year Award to our conductor, and our friend, Dr. Brook Larson.