Robert Bass

Collegiate Chorale conductor dies at 55 in NYC
August 26, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) _ Robert Bass, the longtime musical director of New York City's renown Collegiate Chorale, has died at age 55.

Bass, who underwent a heart transplant last year, died at his home in Manhattan on Monday from complications of amyloidosis, a rare blood disease, said his publicist, Joshua Marcum.

Bass became music director of the Collegiate Chorale in 1980 and was instrumental in raising its profile with a wide repertoire of choral and operatic works and styles including multimedia productions.

The chorale was founded in 1941 by Robert Shaw and took its name from its first rehearsal space, the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. It has established a national reputation built in part on a 1948 performance of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9" with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra.

Bass studied conducting under Richard Westenberg at the New School for Music and made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 26.

Last season, he conducted the New York premiere of Leonard Bernstein's "A White House Cantata" and the U.S. premiere of Handel's "Giove in Argo" at Avery Fisher Hall. In July, he traveled to Israel with The Chorale, where he conducted a performance at the Tel Aviv Museum.

Bass also served as artistic director of the Olga Forrai Foundation, which supports the careers of young singers and conductors, and was a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Bass is survived by his wife, Juliana, two children, a brother and his parents.

Article about Robert Bass in the New York Times