Kathy Saltzman Romey
The Minnesota Orchestra’s Choral Advisor Kathy Saltzman Romey is artistic director of the 200-voice Minnesota Chorale, which serves as the Orchestra’s principal choir. Romey is also professor emerita of music and former director of choral activities at the University of Minnesota, where she oversaw the graduate program in choral conducting and conducted choirs for thirty years.
Known for her meticulous training of choirs, Romey has conducted the Chorale in local, national and international forums. She has prepared the Chorale for performances with the Minnesota Orchestra under the baton of music directors Osmo Vänskä, Eiji Oue and Edo de Waart, Sommerfest artistic directors Andrew Litton, Leonard Slatkin and David Zinman, and acclaimed guest conductors as Roberto Abbado, James Conlon, Nicholas Kraemer, Roger Norrington, Helmuth Rilling, Robert Shaw, Juraj Valčuha and Thomas Wilkins. Romey has conducted the Chorale in national and international forums and in performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
Romey also coordinates and presents the Bridges series, the nationally acclaimed community engagement program of the Minnesota Chorale. Begun in 1994 to build musical and social connections between diverse populations, Bridges is an annual initiative that harnesses the richness of choral repertoire to partner with the greater community, expand the Western choral canon and raise awareness of pressing social needs. A passionate advocate of choral civic engagement, Romey documented the Bridges program in a co-authored chapter with two University of Minnesota conducting students for the 2009 book Wisdom, Wit and Will: Women Choral Conductors on Their Art published by GIA Publications.
Outside of the Minnesota Chorale, Romey has been on the staff of the Oregon Bach Festival since 1984 and is principal chorus master of the festival’s 54-voice professional choir, which she prepares for annual concerts, commissions and recording projects. Festival programs have included American and world premiere performances of major works by Tan Dun, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki and Sven-David Sandström, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart reconstructions by Robert Levin. She has assisted with twelve recordings, including the Oregon Bach Festival’s 2001 Grammy Award-winning CD of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Credo under Helmuth Rilling, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Grammy-nominated disc of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and the recent recordings of Mahler Symphonies Nos. 2, 3, and 8 with Osmo Vänskä leading the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale.
Active as a guest conductor, chorus master and clinician throughout the United States and Europe, Romey has regularly prepared ensembles with the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart for special programs and tours in Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the United States. Currently, she oversees the chorus of the Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble (Young Stuttgart Bach Ensemble) in collaboration with artistic director Hans-Christoph Rademann. From 2013-18, she also served on the faculty of the Weimar Bach Cantata Academy, focusing on the study and presentation of cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach under the direction of Bach scholar and conductor Helmuth Rilling. In addition to her work with Bach Academies, Romey has prepared programs with the Berkshire Choral International, Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus, Grant Park Music Festival, Netherlands Radio Choir, Teatro del Lago Festival and Westminster Symphonic Choir.
Romey earned an artistic degree in choral conducting under Helmuth Rilling from the Frankfurt Musikhochschule in 1984. From 1985-92, she served as director of choral activities at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1992 joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota. She was honored by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association with the 2002 Conductor of the Year award and in 2006, the University recognized her work with the Arthur Motley award for exemplary teaching. Romey co-authored a book chapter in 2012 with university colleague Matthew Mehaffey on choral music in the United States for the Cambridge Companion to Choral Music. She also collaborated with Helmuth Rilling in 2014 on his book MESSIAH: Understanding and Performing Handel’s Masterpiece. Romey was the recipient of Chorus America’s 2021 Distinguished Service award and recognized as one of four Minnesota choral luminaries at the 2021 Minnesota State Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. She retired from her position at the University of Minnesota in spring 2023.