Larry Gordon has been leading choirs since he founded a madrigal group in 1962 while still in high school in Portland, Oregon. Since 1971 he has lived in central Vermont where he has become a kind of Johnny Appleseed of community music making; he has been active as a conductor, a teacher, a publisher, and a community organizer. Larry is widely available as a workshop leader and guest conductor. With Northern Harmony he has led workshops throughout England, Germany and the US. With members of Village Harmony he led a very popular workshop at the Eastern Division ACDA convention in Providence, Rhode Island in February 1998.
Larry first encountered shape-note singing in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1970. Two years later, he began gathering together local friends for informal sings around the kitchen table at Bread and Puppet Theater, then based in Plainfield, Vermont. A growing passion for Sacred Harp music and a lifelong love of medieval and renaissance music led him to found Word of Mouth Chorus in 1973.Word of Mouth attracted a dedicated band of talented young singers, and quickly became a polished ensemble that performed extensively in churches, community centers and historical societies throughout northern New England and the American South, and attended traditional Sacred Harp singings in Georgia and Alabama.
Word of Mouth joined Bread and Puppet Theater for two three-month collaborative tours. In 1978 the first of these tours covered 10,000 miles throughout the United States with a show based on Josquin's mass , Ave Maris Stella. In 1980, the second tour traveled through England, France and Italy with an Easter show that featured shape-note singing. In 1978, Word of Mouth produced a recording of shape-note singing for Nonesuch, Rivers of Delight (with liner notes by Buell Cobb), which became one of the first widely available recordings of shape-note singing and introduced many people to the genre for the first time.
With Neely Bruce (then at Wesleyan) and singers from Norumbega Harmony in Boston, Larry and Word of Mouth helped found the annual New England Sacred Harp Convention in 1976, the first convention of its kind outside of the American South. Larry has been one of the main leaders of that convention ever since, frequently serving as chairman. Word of Mouth became less active in the early 1980's as some of the key participants moved away or grew preoccupied with children and family, and eventually disbanded in 1984.
In 1978 Larry founded Onion River Chorus, a non-auditioned community chorus of 30 to 50 members based in Montpelier, Vermont. In the early years of the chorus, Larry sang, came up with programming ideas, recruited musicians, and handled the organizational tasks while Brian Webb conducted. Adventurous from the outset, the group chose for its debut performance Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 (albeit not with original instruments). In its early years, Onion River Chorus devoted whole programs to major 20th century composers, including Stravinsky (Les Noces, Cantata), Bartok (Cantata Profana, From Olden Times, Songs for Children's Voices) and Dallapiccola (Canti di Prigionia and Songs of Michelangelo Buonoarotti). Since 1986, Larry has been the principal conductor of Onion River Chorus and has continued to lead the group in ambitious and inventive performances, championing rarely performed early baroque works by Charpentier, Schütz, Biber, and Cavalli, as well as numerous contemporary works, including many by Vermont composers.
In recent years Larry has been working with teenagers. After directing a high school choir from 1985-88 (when he took his choir on a two week performing tour to Georgia where they attended traditional Sacred Harp singings), he founded Village Harmony in 1989, and in 1990 started Village Harmony Summer Camp.