Most students attend Geneseo for four years only to return for homecoming or a reunion every so often. After graduating in 1984, however, Gerard Floriano came back to Geneseo as a professor of music and the director of choral activities.
Floriano originally came to Geneseo as a political science and music double major, but kept only the music major after his first semester because of his positive experiences with Chamber Singers.
“I was always very involved with music in high school … but I didn’t know I wanted to major,” Floriano said. But Floriano said that after hearing the “beauty and precision” of the musicians “and developed relationships through the music, I realized I wanted to [major in music].”
It was also through Chamber Singers that Floriano met his wife, adjunct professor of music Joan Floriano, who teaches at Nazareth College as well.
“I got to know [Joan] as a friend … We did a few shows together and sang in Chamber Singers … and now we’re married,” Floriano said.
Floriano said one of his fondest memories as a student at Geneseo, in addition to meeting his wife, was a tour that the Chamber Singers took to Poland during his senior year.
Floriano said the experience was “very exciting; they were a really warm and receptive audience.” He said it was exciting to see the country “so excited to be on the cusp of freedom” prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
After graduating from Geneseo, Floriano attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. where he received his master’s degree in choral conducting. He went on to teach high school choral music but he said that he wanted to go back to Eastman to receive his doctorate in musical arts for orchestral conducting.
“I knew that I wanted to learn how to be as comfortable with orchestras as I was with choirs,” Floriano said.
Upon receiving his doctorate, Floriano continued to teach in public middle and high schools for another eight years until he applied for his current position at Geneseo. He said that he learned of the position through former director of choral activities and close friend Bob Isgro.
In addition to conducting Geneseo’s three choirs - Geneseo Chamber Singers, Spectrum Women’s Ensemble and Festival Community Chorus - Floriano also teaches classes in conducting and is the musical director of various shows put on within the department of theatre and dance.
When Floriano first started his career at Geneseo, he said that he was shocked to work with the many music professors that he had as a student, including lecturer of music Jim Kimball, Distinguished Service Professor of Music Jim Walker and professor of music John Willey.
With the students, whom he didn’t know, the transition was a bit easier.
“What was really interesting … was the first Chamber Singers reunion … in 2003,” he said. Floriano said he had five years of students and also friends in the choir.
Outside of Geneseo, Floriano conducts the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, which is composed of high school orchestral players within eight counties surrounding the Buffalo area. The orchestra performs four times a year and tours internationally.
During the summer, Floriano is the director of the conductor’s institute at Opera Viva!, a three-week intensive workshop for conductors, singers and pianists in Verona, Italy.
Many of Floriano’s musical commitments will come together next semester when Chamber Singers performs alongside Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra and a choir from Fairport High School in Fairport, N.Y.