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Eric Choate

Eric Choate headshot while conducting



MM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

BA, St. Olaf College

Courses Taught

Conservatory Chorus

Organ for Pianists


San Francisco Symphony Chorus, 2014–Present

This was music to grab the listener’s attention through novelty and hold it through technical discipline."



What is your hometown?

Columbus, OH

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Theology and food.

Who were your major teachers?

Timothy Mahr, Justin Merritt, and David Conte.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

"A musician who is only a musician is only half a musician; keep your interests broad and musicianship will follow."

—Paraphrase of Bruno Walter

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

In a piano class, my teacher assigned all students to write a variation on "Ode to Joy." I loved this project and wrote several variations. I didn't realize until the class was presenting our compositions to one another that it was unusual to have been so thrilled by the project. I realized then I was meant to compose.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I always thought I would be an architect if not a musician.

What is your daily routine?

I force myself to get up early and compose. I find that I do my best work if I am still groggy. Then after composing for a couple of hours, I do a little bit of score studying of whatever I happen to be conducting at any given time.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart.


Eric is in demand as a choral and orchestral conductor, having served in a guest Chorus Master capacity for the San Francisco Symphony and the Berkeley Symphony. For three years, Eric was Assistant Conductor of the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, having conducted works including Verdi's Requiem, Dvorak's Stabat Mater, Cherubini's Requiem, Bach's Passion according to St. John, and Britten's War Requiem. Eric is a sought after choral clinician and currently serves as Director of Music at The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Eric is also a composer, whose work has been lauded by as "music to grab the listener's attention through novelty and hold it through technical discipline." He has several awards to his name, including First Prize in the SFCM Art Song Composition Competition, First Prize in the Vancouver Chamber Choir Composition Competition, and runner-up for the James Highsmith Award. His music has been performed by renowned artists including The Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, Brian Thorsett, Emil Miland, Friction Quartet, Areon Flutes, One Found Sound, Mouthscape, and others. Graduating with Departmental Distinction, Eric earned his Bachelor of Arts in Composition from St. Olaf College, where he studied with Timothy Mahr and Justin Merritt. He was awarded a fellowship to study harmony and counterpoint at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France; from this, he graduated with Honorable Mentions in Harmony and Solfege. He then went on to earn a Master of Music with David Conte at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.