Victor Gavenda was born in Austin, Texas, and began his choral career singing in the children’s choir at University Baptist Church. It wasn’t until college that he took a more serious interest in choral music, and sang in the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum under F. John Adams. Later, back home in Austin, he earned a Master of Music degree in Musicology at the University of Texas, continuing to sing in choral and early music ensembles.
Victor moved to Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Music History at the University of California. At Berkeley he took up conducting, studying choral conducting with Philip Brett and instrumental conducting with Michael Senturia. Victor was Assistant Director for the UC Chamber Chorus for 5 years under Philip Brett and John Butt. During that time, the Chamber Chorus made several notable recordings of Handel oratorios with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra led by Nicholas McGegan, and their recording of Handel’s Susannah won the Baroque Vocal Grammy in 1991.
While serving as Director of Music at El Sobrante United Methodist Church (1993–1998), Victor occasionally guest-conducted at St. Clement’s to help out with larger choral works. In 1998, Victor was invited to join the staff at St. Clement’s as Choirmaster, and became Director of Music in 2021.
In 2014, Victor was invited by fellow alumni of the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Music to conduct two reunion concerts in Paris, France, commemorating their 1976 European tour. The group convened again in 2018, this time in London, and performed in the village of Bray (near Windsor) and in Southwark Cathedral.