The Atlanta Opera Chorus in an undated photo, with chorus master Walter Huff (front, left). Photo: Jeff Rothman
The Atlanta Opera Chorus in an undated photo, with chorus master Walter Huff (front, left). Photo: Jeff Roffman

If you’ve heard the Atlanta Opera Chorus anytime in the past 28 years, you’ve experienced the genius of Walter Huff.

Huff, the opera’s chorus master since 1988, officially left the company Jan. 1, and will begin the tenure process in April at Indiana University. Huff has been splitting his time between Atlanta and Indiana since 2012, when he was hired there as an adjunct professor. In 2014, the prestigious music school named him a full-time associate professor of choral conducting.

Walter Huff
Walter Huff

While in Atlanta, Huff also worked as a musical director for the Atlanta Opera Studio, Georgia State University Opera and Actor’s Express.

“My admiration of Walter cannot be quantified or expressed in words,” Tomer Zvulun, the opera’s general and artistic director said in a statement. “I truly believe that his professionalism and brilliant leadership of our esteemed chorus are unparalleled.”

Huff led the Atlanta Opera Chorus in more than 110 productions at such venues as the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Hall, the Fox Theatre, the Atlanta Civic Center, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and at opera houses during the company’s 2008 European tour of Porgy and Bess. The singers whose lives he touched — at the opera and throughout the metro area — are innumerable. 

“Walter Huff’s Atlanta Opera Chorus can be compared to the best opera choruses in the world,” Arthur Fagen, the opera’s music director, says on the company’s website.

Huff received his bachelor of music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio and his master of music degree from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He has performed with singers throughout Europe and the United States and served as coach with the Peabody Opera Theatre and Washington Opera. He has performed in master classes given by such renowned singers and pianists as Sir Peter Pears, Licia Albanese, Eileen Farrell, Dalton Baldwin, Leon Fleisher and Elly Ameling.

He was one of four Atlanta artists chosen for the first Loridans Arts Awards, given to Atlanta artists who have made exceptional contributions to the arts life of Atlanta over a period of time.

Rolando Salazar, who has been the opera’s assistant conductor, assistant chorus master and music administrator, will be the chorus master for Don Pasquale (March 25-April 2). He’s been with Atlanta Opera for four years.

For Turandot in late April and early May, Lisa Hasson will act as chorus master. She leads the choruses at the Kentucky Opera and the Des Moines Metro Opera Festival.

Atlanta Opera is holding a local and national search for a new chorus master, and hopes to introduce that individual this summer.