Revels Music Director George Emlen Announces His Retirement

Posted on 9.16.2015 by George Emlen

Dear Friends Far and Near,

George_for_retirement_letter.jpgBeing music director of Revels since 1984 has been a long and sweet ride. This year will be especially poignant for me because I will be wrapping up this chapter in my life on June 30.

The reality of this decision is rather sobering and not a little sad. But we at Revels have been thinking about "succession planning" for years now, and it was just a matter of time before one of us long-time artistic types made the move. I actually think it will offer Revels the opportunity to take a fresh look at its internal organization and reevaluate what we do and how we do it. It is inevitable that whoever steps in to take my place will bring a different skill set to the position, but I also know that Revels' commitment to "bring the world's cultural traditions and celebrations to life" will remain our central and vital mission.

What a privilege this has been, working with a terrific team of colleagues, delving into one culture after another, finding the artists and material from those cultures, and shaping – with the amazing Paddy Swanson – a dynamic production that does justice to these cultures. Not to mention getting to know hundreds of people who sing with us or get involved in other ways. I can’t think of anything remotely like it. Revels defies comparison to other arts organizations, and that uniqueness has fascinated me from the very beginning. The multi-faceted, multi-layered nature of a Revels production – and in fact everything we do – has always fed into my own eclectic musical background and tastes. Its central value of engaging audiences has always resonated with my personal mission of enabling people to make harmony – in music, relationships, and community. Revels has so profoundly affected who I am and who I have become that I will be challenged to untangle the many fibers that have bound us together for so long.

For me this move represents the turning of a page on my life. The creative energy that I have lovingly poured into Revels will now go into my composing, which has been on the back burner a long time, as well as into more choral conducting and group music-making. In the meantime I will be on hand to help with the transition to a new music director in any way that works best for the organization.

Revels will always be a part of me, and a part of me will always be in Revels. As I move on to new adventures I hope each of you will continue to be in my life. And remember – sing every day! I'll be listening.

All the best,


George