Celebrated for her passionate leadership, rich imagination and expressive performance, Dr. Diane Retallack has served as Artistic Director for the Eugene Concert Choir since 1985. Under her leadership, the chamber choir Eugene Vocal Arts was founded in 1986, and the Eugene Concert Orchestra was founded in 2015 to complete the forces of performing ensembles. In 1997, the Eugene Concert Choir organization became a Resident Company of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon.

For nearly 40 years, Diane Retallack’s energy and vision have nurtured the ensembles to blossom artistically. With each project she courageously forges a musical journey that cultivates harmonious connections between performers and audience. Her spirit is both playful and fearless as is reflected in her diverse programming. She doesn’t shy from a challenge and rejoices at the opportunity to stretch her creative wings and those of her musicians.

The Black is Beautiful project, bringing EXIGENCE, a Sphinx Vocal Ensemble of Black and Latinx professional artists conducted by founding director Dr. Eugene Rogers, has been a particularly meaningful and rich cultural expression. Celebrating the mission of Sphinx – “Transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts” – the weeklong artist residency of EXIGENCE engaged the schools and community in voice masterclasses, choral workshops, and a community forum, in addition to the culminating performance of the Black is Beautiful concert on May 7, 2023 at the Hult Center Silva Concert Hall. This moving, collaborative concert brought EXIGENCE and the Eugene Concert Choir & Orchestra together to perform beautiful music by Black composers about beautiful Black lives, featuring Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by composer Joel Thompson, who performed in the concert with EXIGENCE, and Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, an oratorio on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Black female composer Undine Smith Moore.

Dr. Retallack seeks out compositions by women composers and has created a two-hour long concert video with her chamber choir Eugene Vocal Arts, tracing women composers from the 12th century to the present. The music is available on all streaming platforms and the full concert video is available on YouTube. The concert video was created during the pandemic shutdown, as Dr. Retallack persevered with her choirs, continuing to rehearse and perform in every imaginable manner, in a soccer field, a huge gymnasium, city park shelters, the Hult Center parking garage, and on JackTrip Virtual Studio, and turning Silva Concert at the Hult Center into a gigantic recording studio.


“She is so expressive in performance that I rarely need to refer to my score because her face and hands indicate precisely how the music should be sung. Dr. Retallack guides our rehearsals with humor, tact and precision as she seeks to draw out the very best performance we are capable of. I especially enjoy the historical or technical details that she shares with us to help us understand the music more completely. She makes us reach as musicians and as a result I feel I have really grown as a singer since I joined the choir.”

– Vocalist, Jennifer McConochie

Retallack and the Eugene Vocal Arts gained national recognition in 2016-2017, winning the American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, community division, for the recorded performance of the world premiere of their original commission Shadow and Light; an Alzheimer’s Journey by Joan Szymko. The video documentary The Story of Shadow and Light also won Best Documentary at the 2017 Oregon Independent Film Festival.

A consortium commission, Northwest Premiere performance and recording was The Unarmed Child, transgender composer and spokesperson Michael Bussewitz-Quarm’s (she/her) heart-wrenching response to gun violence against children. This performance recording by Eugene Vocal Arts and Eugene Concert Orchestra garnered an American Prize 2021 Special Judges Citation for Championing the music of Michael Bussewitz-Quarm.

In 2022, Diane Retallack was accepted as a member of the Recording Academy, which recognizes excellence in the music profession. She received the well-deserved Bishop Arts and Letters Award in 2005 for extraordinary contribution to arts and culture in Eugene. She has had experience in every level of choral direction, including college and high school teaching, church choirs, children’s choruses, and community groups. In addition, she is an American Choral Directors Association certified adjudicator for the state of Oregon. Her fervent enthusiasm for the art of choral music has touched many singers and listeners alike, of all ages and all walks of life.

Dr. Retallack has conducted the greatest choral masterworks, including the Britten War Requiem, the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem, and the Verdi and Mozart Requiem masses, and she conducted the Brahms Requiem at Carnegie Hall in June of 2022. She has been invited to conduct Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht at the Berlin Philharmonie Kammermuziksaal in June of 2024 as part of the ChoralSpace International Music Festival.

Diane Retallack earned a Doctor of Music in Choral Conducting from Indiana University, where she studied conducting with Margaret Hillis, the Founder and Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and score analysis from renowned choral scholar Julius Herford. Further valued study includes conducting master classes with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival and the Bach Sommerakademie in Stuttgart, Germany, and participation as a singer in several performances with the Robert Shaw Festival Chorus at Carnegie Hall. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Prior to her appointment as Artistic Director of the Eugene Concert Choir, Retallack was Director of Choral Activities at Seattle University.