David Vernier

David Vernier has been studying, listening to, composing, teaching, performing, and/or writing about music for most of his life. Along with formal study of piano and violin and immersion in the world of classical music, he explored interests in singing, guitar, folk music, jazz, pop, and rock, and what would become a lifelong passion for choral music.

He holds degrees from New England Conservatory (composition) and Columbia University (music education), which led to a teaching career in public schools and universities, taking him from New York City to Ontario, Canada, to Columbus, Ohio, where he worked on a Ph.D. before taking a position at a college in New Hampshire. In 1984 an irresistible offer to become music editor of a magazine devoted to the then-new world of digital recording and the compact disc opened up a new career as editor, writer, and music critic.

Ten years at CD Review magazine, beginning in the mid-1980s, offered entry into both the public and behind the scenes world of a resurgent music industry, leading to interviews with many of the world’s most celebrated musicians (Neville Marriner, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Marvin Hamlisch, Luciano Pavarotti, Peter Yarrow, Grace Slick, John Williams, Valery Gergiev, and, appropriately very briefly, John Cage) and feature articles on a wide variety of subjects, from high-end audio equipment and CD manufacturing, to accounts of recording sessions (in venues from San Francisco to New York to St. Petersburg, Russia) and the story of one Dutch record label’s project to record “forgotten” music composed in the Nazi concentration camp at Theresienstadt in World War II.

In 1999, he and a partner in New York founded the website classicstoday.com. Focusing exclusively on reviews of recordings (with occasional forays into opera and concert performances) by professional critics, the website continues to serve a substantial and ever-growing readership, providing not only reliable, thoughtful, expert critiques but comparisons of various recordings, exclusive sound samples, detailed surveys of re-issues, and even the most comprehensive boxed sets.

Vernier’s interest in the music of Benjamin Britten began when he first heard A Ceremony of Carols as a conservatory student. He was able to actively indulge this interest in directing performances with his high school string orchestra (A Simple Symphony) and later in his work with the choir he founded and directed for more than 20 years, the Peterborough Chamber Choir (New Hampshire), whose concerts featured many Britten pieces, including the cantata Rejoice in the Lamb, the Gloriana dances, and selections from A Boy Was Born. He has also written several feature articles about the composer and many reviews of his recorded music for both Classicstoday.com and other publications.

Today, in addition to his work with Classicstoday.com, he continues to serve as accompanist and composer/arranger for the children’s choirs directed by his wife, Maria Belva. Since 2003, Belva and Vernier have been traveling with Encore Tours every two years, taking Belva’s high school-age girls’ choir on concert tours to Europe, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, France, and the Czech Republic.