The entire St. Louis Symphony Orchestra community is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Robert Ray, the founding director of the IN UNISON Chorus. He was 76.
With unwavering dedication, Ray led the ensemble from its formation in 1994 through 2010, shaping its distinct sound and profile and elevating it as an essential choral group in the region.
In addition to his wholehearted leadership of the IN UNISON Chorus for many years, Ray was a gifted composer and teacher, guiding many young musicians into their careers as a professor first at the University of Illinois, and most recently at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. An extraordinary pianist, he received a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University and appeared as a piano soloist in the United States and abroad.
He mentored many composers and leaves a legacy as a serious, but kind-hearted musicians. Students remembered him as thorough and respectful, maintaining high standards for musicality.
His masterful music filled many spaces, from local churches all the way to Carnegie Hall. Many of his compositions blended elements of music from the African diaspora with traditional classical forms, resulting in pieces with a singular voice. The SLSO and IN UNISON Chorus have performed selections from Ray’s Gospel Mass many times since its SLSO premiere in December 1996.
Our thoughts are with Dr. Ray’s family.
Ray was memorialized in this story by the St. Louis American.