Earl Rivers

Earl Rivers

Professor Emeritus of Music

Professional Summary

Now retired from CCM, Earl Rivers' graduate conducting program was recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the U.S.A.’s leading programs. He conducted CCM’s forces in acclaimed regional premieres of John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls and El Niño, J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Bastian Clevé’s film The Sound of Eternity, Tan Dun’s Water Passion after St. Matthew, Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 -Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaya, and Krzysztof Penderecki’s Credo. At CCM he also produced and conducted acclaimed American university premieres of staged productions of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, and Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake. He championed Early Music at CCM with successful productions of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610Music of Love and War, and the recent CCM Monteverdi Festival, all integrating CCM students with professional Early Music guest artists and coaches. In 2014-16, he produced The Shakespeare Quadricentennial, CCM’s two-year commemoration of the playwright's legacy through choral music, featuring CCM Chamber Choir premieres of three newly commissioned works on Shakespeare texts by composers Judith Bingham, Dominick DiOrio and Jake Runestad.

Rivers served for 20 seasons (1998-2008) as music director and conductor of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, a professional chamber choir, championing new works, hosting visiting composers, and developing lasting artistic partnerships with multiple Cincinnati arts organizations. Since 1974, Rivers has served as director of music for Hyde Park’s Knox Presbyterian Church, where his Knox Choir has commissioned and premiered 12 new works, offered Cincinnati premieres of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ, and Vaughan Williams’ Hodie, and has been acclaimed by Cincinnati Magazine as "Best Church Music in Cincinnati."

In the 2019-20 season, Rivers conducted CCM’s Chamber Choir in Dallapiccola’s Canti di Prigionia (September 2019) and was scheduled to conduct Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 (April 2020, cancelled due to COVID-19), the Knox Choir and orchestra in J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (December 2019) and James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross (April 2010), and South Korea’s National Chorus and Orchestra in Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust (May 2020).

Recent guest conducting includes leading South Korea’s top professional choirs - Inchon City Chorale, Changwon City Chorale, Suwon City Chorale, and Gangneung Civic Choir; leading Festival Choirs and Orchestras in Syros, Greece, Vienna, Florence, Paris, and Carnegie Hall. He has taught conducting, coached choirs, and presented lectures and masterclasses in China, Taiwan and South Korea. Rivers served as Artistic Director USA for the World Choir Games Cincinnati 2012. More recently he served as Music Panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts.

Rivers has received Choral America’s Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Choral Art, honoring a lifetime of significant contributions to the professional choral art, and Chorus America’s Director Laureate Award, an honorary title recognizing an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and has had significant impact on the choral field.


BME and MM: Indiana University School of Music Bloomington, IN,


Contact Information

Phone: 513-556-9419