Congratulations to Brother Robert Istad (Zeta Beta Chapter – Augustana College – 1994) on winning a Grammy for Best Choral Performance during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards! He won this award alongside a team of conductors and chorus masters for their recording of “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, “Symphony Of A Thousand.”
“Symphony Of A Thousand” is rarely performed as it is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire. The Grammy-Award-winning recording features 346 performers from Brother Istad’s Pacific Chorale, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the National Children’s Chorus.
“I’ve dedicated my entire life to bringing people together in harmony. Lifting up singers to achieve their very best is my life’s great passion,” said Istad. “In some way, this Grammy recognizes the very special artistic and spiritual bond I share with those amazing people. I am so happy the Recording Academy heard our soulful singing shining through in our recording.”
The Grammy Award credits Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Grant Gershon, Robert Istad, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, and Luke McEndarfer, chorus masters (Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson, and Tamara Wilson; the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus and Pacific Chorale).
About Dr. Istad
Dr. Istad is the Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton, and the Artistic Director of Pacific Chorale. He regularly conducts and collaborates with Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Sony Classical Records, Yarlung Records, Berkshire Choral International, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra.
Brother Istad and the Pacific Chorale are featured on an album of Tarik O’Regan’s compositions on Yarlung Records and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s live recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony on Deutsche Grammophon.
He has prepared choruses for a number of America’s finest conductors and orchestras, including Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, as well as conductors Esa–Pekka Salonen, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, John Williams, Eugene Kohn, Eric Whitacre, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody.
Brother Istad was recognized as CSUF’s 2016 Outstanding Professor of the Year. He conducts the University Singers, coordinates CSUF’s graduate choral conducting program, and teaches courses in conducting, performance practice, and literature. Recently, he and the University Singers performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli, Kathleen Battle, recorded albums with Yarlung Records and with composer John Williams and Sony Classical.
He and his singers brought staged performances of David Lang’s little match girl passion throughout Spain in 2019. They performed a retrospective of Tarik O’Regan’s music for Distinguished Concerts International New York at Carnegie Hall in November 2015. They have performed at numerous regional and national ACDA conferences including the 2018 ACDA Western Division Conference and 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas, Texas. They also performed for the 2013 National Collegiate Choral Organization National Conference in Charleston, SC. Istad and the CSUF University Singers have performed all over the world, including a 2017 performance in Russia’s famous Glinka Cappella, a 2015 residency and performances in Paris, France, engagements at the 2012 Ottobeuren Festival of Music in Germany, the 2012 Eingen Festival of music in Germany, a 2010 performance for UNESCO in Pisa, Italy, and in 2008 at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary.
Brother Istad received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, his Master of Music degree in choral conducting from California State University, Fullerton, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral music at the University of Southern California. He studied conducting with Dr. William Dehning, John Alexander, and Dr. Jon Hurty.
Istad serves on the Executive Board of Directors of Chorus America, as Vice-President of the California Choral Director’s Association, and as Dean of Chorus America’s Conducting Academy, and is in demand as an adjudicator, guest conductor, speaker, and clinician throughout the nation.