David Hill to conduct Bach's Mass in B Minor in his final performance at Yale

April 22, 2024

David Hill, conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum and professor (adjunct) at the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, will leave Yale at the conclusion of the spring term. His final concert on campus will be a performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor on April 27 followed by a ten-day U.K. tour with Schola Cantorum and the period orchestra Juilliard415.

(Photo above by Harold Shapiro)

Hill joined Yale’s choral conducting faculty in 2013, partnering with colleagues Jeffrey Douma, Marguerite L. Brooks, and Felicia Barber. With Yale Schola Cantorum, an elite chorus of students from across the University, he has toured in Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Latvia, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. He has conducted Schola on recordings of music by Palestrina, Bertali, Schütz, Biber, Bach, Brahms, Fauré, Roderick Williams, Tawnie Olson, and Reena Esmail; a recording of music by Amy Beach is forthcoming. During his tenure at Yale, Hill has continued to conduct the Bach Choir in the UK as well as other ensembles, and in 2019 he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

ISM director, Martin Jean, said that Hill has made an “indelible mark” through his work at Yale. “David has impacted audiences both here and abroad through visionary programming and exquisitely crafted performances, but most importantly he has helped prepare the next generation of leaders through his pedagogy.”

After leaving Yale, Hill will continue to conduct and teach, but he plans to spend less time on transatlantic flights. He will remain music director of the Bach Choir and international chair in choral conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, alongside additional affiliations with the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Royal College of Organists, the Bournemouth Symphony, and the Leeds Philharmonic. Although Hill says he “enjoyed every minute of my experience at Yale,” he hopes that a more flexible schedule will permit him to conduct broadly in the U.S. and Europe and to pursue his passion for keyboard playing. Between concerts, he also looks forward to spending time with his five grandchildren.

Among his many accomplishments at Yale, Hill is proud to have performed a broad spectrum of music, including new commissions that were barely finished before rehearsals began. He toured India with an innovative work by Reena Esmail that features Baroque orchestra and tabla, mixing cultures of East and West. He presented a few audience favorites with unfamiliar twists, such as a chamber version of the Brahms Requiem, a recently restored Robert Schumann arrangement of Bach’s St. John Passion, and a nineteenth-century-style performance of the Brahms Alto Rhapsody.

Bach’s Mass in B Minor is a fitting work for Hill’s final performances with Schola Cantorum. The Bach Choir, which Hill has conducted for the past 25 years, was formed in 1876 in order to perform this masterpiece. The concert in Woolsey Hall will be on Saturday, April 27, at 7.30 p.m. and is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Watch this short video in which Hill explains why he chose Bach’s Mass in B Minor for his final concert with Schola Cantorum.

Members of the ISM community share their comments about David in this memory book.

—Laurie Ongley