BLACK CHORAL CONDUCTORS
*BLACK CHORAL CONDUCTORS AND CLINICIANS YOU NEED TO KNOW*
Sunday Feature -1 (Highlighting Black conductors who have largely been known for their conducting or research work in the GOSPEL arena, but are equally capable in the arena of Classical Choral Music. Call these folks for your honor choirs, symposia, etc. They will BLESS YOU and your constituents! )
The INCOMPARABLE Trey McLaughlin was born in Augusta, GA on March 30, 1984. He graduated from John S. Davidson Magnet School in 2002. While in high school, Trey was a member of the non-profit, performing arts organization, Creative Impressions, serving as both President and Student Director of the organization from 1999-2002.
Sunday Feature -2 Since 1989, Dr. Leo H. Davis, Jr. has served as the Minister of Worship at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Memphis, Tennessee, the largest African American congregation within this denomination in the United States. As the Minister of Worship, he incorporates a wide variety of musical genres such as traditional and contemporary gospel, African American spirituals, anthems, and classical selections into the worship experience. This versatility has enabled him to successfully connect with multiple generations, cultures and ethnicities through worship music that inspires many people.
Sunday Feature - 4 Alisha Lola Jones, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University (Bloomington). Dr. Jones is a graduate of University of Chicago (Ph.D.), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), Yale Institute of Sacred Music (ISM) and Oberlin Conservatory (B.M.). Dr. Jones' is a council member of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s (SEM) council and the co-chair of the Music and Religion section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Additionally, as a performer-scholar, she consults seminaries and arts organizations on curriculum, programming, and content development.
Sunday Feature - 5 Bishop Chantel R. Wright is an internationally celebrated choir director and the founder of Pneuma Ministries International. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Bishop Wright started her career as an award-winning choral conductor and received her formal education at Vander Cook College of Music, where she earned her BA degree in Music Education. As part of her undergraduate studies, Bishop Wright had the privilege of studying in London, England, with Ian Pleeth and traveled throughout Europe as a soloist. She started her professional career in Atlanta, Georgia, where she served on the music staff of Ebenezer Baptist Church — home of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – and as an educator in Dekalb County Public Schools. After seven years of service, Bishop Wright relocated to New York City and hit the ground running as the new Director of the Girls’ Choir of Harlem. Bishop Wright lent her talents to working with the youth of Queens, New York, as the Artistic Director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra Youth Gospel Choir, an honor bestowed on few women.
Day#10-Dr. Jeffery Redding currently serves as the Director of Choral Activities at University of Central Florida in Orlando. He and his choirs have earned first place awards at competitions nationally and internationally. One of four conductors for Walt Disney World's Candlelight Processional, he is also the Founder and Artistic & Executive Director of the Orlando Choral Society, Inc., which includes the Garden Community Choir, a professional level chamber choir called Voci del Cuore, and Jubilate, an Outreach Choir. He is also the Worship Arts Director at Tuskawilla First United Methodist Church.
Sunday Feature - 1 (Highlighting Black conductors who have largely been known for their prowess as composers, but who are also quite adept on the podium and bring wonderful experiences to conferences and the like. Call these folks! They will BLESS YOU and your constituents! )
Sunday Feature - 2 Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of choral music. She has an impressive catalogue of works published by some of the nation’s leading publishers, including the Hal Leonard Corporation, the Fred Bock Music Company/Gentry Publications, Oxford University Press, Alliance Music Publications, and Shawnee. Dr. Powell is commissioned yearly to compose for university choruses, professional, community and church choirs, as well as secondary school choruses. Dr. Powell’s works have been conducted and premiered by nationally-renowned choral conductors, including, but not limited to, Anton Armstrong, Philip Brunelle, Bob Chilcott, Rodney Eichenberger, Tom Hall, Albert McNeil, Tim Seelig, and André Thomas. Her work has been auctioned by Chorus America and her compositions are in great demand at choral festivals around the country, frequently appearing on the regional and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as Honor Choir festivals. Dr. Powell’s compositions include sacred and secular works for mixed chorus, women’s chorus, men’s chorus, and children’s voices. Dr. Powell serves as Professor of Voice at Auburn University. She holds degrees from The Florida State University (D.M. in vocal performance, University Fellow), Westminster Choir College (M.M. in vocal performance and pedagogy, with distinction), and Alabama State University (B.M.E., summa cum laude). Dr. Powell served on the faculties of Philander Smith College (AR) and Georgia Southern University prior to her arrival at Auburn University in 2001.
Sunday Feature - 3 A Virginia native, Marques L. A. Garrett (he/him/his) is an Assistant Professor of Music in Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Glenn Korff School of Music. His responsibilities include conducting the auditioned Chamber Singers and non-auditioned University Chorale (soprano-alto) as well as teaching graduate choral literature and undergraduate conducting. Before earning his PhD in Music Education (Choral Conducting) at Florida State University, he was the Director of Choral Activities at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, he holds an MM from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a BA from Hampton University.
Sunday Feature - 4 Dr. Zanaida Stewart Robles is a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education and performance. Authentic interpersonal connection and relationship-building are core principles of her teaching and performance methods. Born, raised, and educated in Southern California, she is in demand as a vocalist, conductor, clinician and adjudicator for competitions, festivals, and conferences related to choral and solo vocal music. She serves on the national board of the National Association of Negro Musicians and is chair of the board of directors of Tonality, a non-profit organization that promotes peace, unity, and social justice through choral music performance in Los Angeles. Zanaida holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the USC Thornton School of Music, a Master of Music degree from CSU Northridge, a Bachelor of Music degree from CSU Long Beach, and she is a graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
Sunday Feature - 5 Victor C. Johnson, a native of Dallas, Texas, is the School Choral Editor for SING!, the educational publishing division of Choristers Guild. A prolific composer and arranger, he has over 350 choral works, vocal solo books, and keyboard collections currently in print.
Sunday Feature - 6 Carl W. Haywood, a native of Portsmouth, Virginia, is a cum laude graduate of Norfolk State University and a recipient of the Master of Sacred Music (organ) and Master of Music (choral conducting) degrees from Southern Methodist University. Dr. Haywood who also received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California is recognized as a superb choral conductor/organist with superior musical acumen. His matriculation at SMU afforded him opportunities to study composition, arranging, and conducting with Lloyd Pfautsch while also serving as associate conductor-organist for the SMU Chapel under Dr. Robert Anderson and Dr. Pfautsch. It was during this tenure that he composed, arranged, conducted, and sustained the Chapel's tradition for excellence in music. At USC, his principal teachers included Charles Hirt (choral conducting), Halsey Stevens (composition), and Ladd Thomas (organ).
Sunday Feature - 6 Dr. Mark Butler-composer, conductor, pianist, baritone and music educator. Butler received his undergraduate degree in Music Education from Florida A&M University. He holds a M.M.E degree from Florida State University and a Doctoral degree (DMA), in Choral Conducting from The American Conservatory of Music in Hammond, IND.
Sunday Feature - 6 Dr. Brandon Waddles, a Detroit native, is no stranger to the city’s rich legacy of vocal music in schools. An alumnus of Renaissance High School, he was a member of the Renaissance High School Varsity Chorus, under the direction of renowned music educator Nina Scott. Waddles credits Scott and the late Dr. Brazeal Dennard as founding influences on his work in choral music. He went on to receive his B.A. in Music from Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) and an M.M. in Voice Performance & Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University (Princeton, NJ). Dr. Waddles earned his Ph.D. in Music Education with a Choral Conducting emphasis at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL). Before pursuing his doctorate, he served on the Conducting and Sacred Music faculty at Westminster as conductor of the Westminster Jubilee Singers.
Sunday Feature - 1 (Highlighting Black conductors who are teaching in our public and private Middle, Jr. High, and High Schools who are doing phenomenal work. These K-12 music educators have had choirs perform at state, regional, and national conferences, and are truly making waves in the field. Call them for your honor choirs. They WILL NOT disappoint!)
Larry Dunn is currently in his 14th year of teaching in the Magnolia Public School District, where he directs the Magnolia High School Chamber Choir, Bel Canto and Concert Men. In addition, he serves as chair of the district’s strategic planning committee & Director of Performing Arts. Larry holds a Bachelors of Music Education (2007), Masters of Education (2010) and has completed additional coursework required for certification in Educational Administration & Supervision from Southern Arkansas University—Magnolia. Magnolia’s students have consistently earned placement in Arkansas’ All-Region & All-State honor choruses. Choral ensembles under Dunn’s direction have consistently earned superior ratings at regional, state, invitational and national choral performance assessments. Most notable, the Magnolia High School Chamber Choir were featured performers at Carnegie Hall in 2019. Dunn has adjudicated choirs in Arkansas & Louisiana and has served as a clinician across Arkansas. He was named Region III Choral Director of the Year (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018) and the Arkansas Choral Director’s Association Distinguished Director Award recipient (2015). Dunn has been named Magnolia Junior High Teacher of the Year, Magnolia School District Teacher of the Year, regional finalist for Arkansas State Teacher of the Year, Southern Arkansas University Distinguished Young Alumnus and Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year. He currently serves as President-Elect for the Arkansas Chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association.
Sunday Feature - 2 Dr. William George-Twyman currently serves as the Head of Choral Studies at the world-renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas ISD. He teaches Varsity Chorale, 910 Choir, Meistersingers, and Music Theory, as well as being the Assistant Music Conservatory Director over curriculum and instruction. William has led choirs at the middle and high school levels as well as stints at the collegiate, semiprofessional, and liturgical levels. He has served as pit conductor for numerous musical theater productions including “Coram Boy” in partnership with the University of Oklahoma where he also completed his Doctor of Musical Arts. Dr. George-Twyman was the recipient of the Outstanding Choral Leadership Award in 2016 from the University of Oklahoma. He holds a Master of Sacred Music degree from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Butler University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Transylvania University. A fierce advocate for racial equity in music education, Dr. George-Twyman recently presented a session on Anti-Racism in the Choral Classroom for Dallas ISD choir directors and was a featured presenter at SWACDA virtual conference in 2020. He’s the current (2020-2022) Repertoire and Resources chair for High School Mixed for SWACDA, and serves on the ACDA National Diversity Initiatives Committee Task Force.
Sunday Feature - 3 Jesse Cannon II began teaching in 2011 and is currently the Director of Choral Activities/Secondary Choral Coordinator at Duncanville High School. Mr. Cannon holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Dallas Baptist University and a Masters in Music Education with an Emphasis in Choral Conducting from Mississippi State University.
Sunday Feature - 4 David A. Richardson is a respected choral conductor, educator, singer, and keyboardist in the Charleston Tri-County area. The 2020-2021 school year will mark Mr. Richardson's 12th year in Dorchester School District Two as Director of Choral Activities at Summerville High School. He taught in the Berkeley County School District as a band director prior to his tenure in DD2. Before becoming Director of Choral Activities at Summerville High School, he was Director of Choral Activities at Rollings Middle School of the Arts and Fort Dorchester High School. His choirs at both Rollings and Fort Dorchester earned consistent superior ratings at festivals and adjudicated events and Festivals. Mr. Richardson’s passion for Choral Music Education reaches beyond the public school classroom as Adjunct Professor of Music Education at The College of Charleston where he teaches courses in Elementary Music Methods, Secondary Music Methods and Choral Literature.
Sunday Feature - 5 Dr. Edryn J. Coleman currently serves as choral director at Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, MD. There he teaches Chamber Choir, Vocal Ensemble, Concert Choir, and Piano. Edryn has taught music successfully at every level - elementary, middle, collegiate, and now high school. It was always a personal and professional goal of his to teach students at each academic level before retirement. During his time in middle school his choirs from Hyattsville Middle (Prince Georges Country, MD) performed for the Maryland Music Educators Association State conference. During his collegiate teaching, his choir at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania auditioned and was selected to perform for the state ACDA Fall Conference. With a plethora of guest conducting, judging, and conference presentations to date, Dr. Coleman is looking forward to presenting a session at the upcoming National ACDA conference for the second time!
Sunday Feature - 6 Christopher T. Leysath is Director of Choirs at North Augusta High School, where he leads three choral ensembles and teaches AP Music Theory and Class Piano. Mr. Leysath holds the Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees, as well as the Performance Certificate in piano from the University of South Carolina.
Sunday Feature - 7 Kristin Claiborne, a Valparaiso, Indiana native, is in her ninth year as choral director at Blythewood High School in Blythewood, South Carolina. She directs four levels of choir & the acaBengals, the area’s premier pop/jazz a cappella group, while also serving as the lead teacher for secondary choral directors in Richland School District Two. Each year, her choirs consistently earn a superior with distinction rating in choral performance assessments, & her students earn spots in the South Carolina All-State Choir & ACDA state, regional, & national honor choirs. Her choirs have traveled both domestically & internationally, including tours in Italy, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, & Orlando. In 2019, the BHS Concert Choir was selected to perform at the 2019 South Carolina Music Educators Conference. Ms. Claiborne has served as a guest clinician in various settings, most recently including Lexington School District One & Richland School District One, as well as in the midwest for Valparaiso Community Schools. She has also served as a guest lecturer for music education courses at the University of South Carolina.
Sunday Feature - 1 For my #SundayFeature, we look toward the future. We've looked at the past and present in this series *BLACK CONDUCTORS AND CLINICIANS YOU NEED TO KNOW*, but now, I'll focus on young men and women who are destined for greatness. These are the people to watch! Yes, we honor our history and our present and I hope to help pave the way for those young Black women and men who are the FUTURE of our profession!
American bass-baritone Dr. Marques Jerrell Ruff has performed across the globe, gracing countless stages including: the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Weiner Musikverein in Vienna, the Rudolfinum in Prague, and the Mariinksy Theater in St. Petersburg. As a soloist with the Hartford Symphony, Hartford Chorale, and VOCE, Inc., he has distinguished himself as a versatile, dynamic performer who excels in oratorio works, musical theater and the music of the African-American tradition. A former member of the Grammy® award-winning ensemble, Chanticleer, Mr. Ruff has traveled to dozens of countries, concerti sing with the ensemble across the globe, as well as presenting numerous vocal and conducting masterclasses. He has been the featured soloist on several recordings, most recently a world premiere by the talented young American contemporary classical composer, Nico Muhly, entitled ‘Three Moon Songs,' and ‘Sure on this Shining Night’ with famed American composer Morten Lauridsen. The Hartford Courant marveled, “ Ruff has a voice that has power, clarity and brilliant shades of color.” Following an international debut at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland, GoldenPlec Music Magazine wrote, “his voice [is] powerful, acrobatic, and full of soul.” Additionally, Mr. Ruff recorded a song cycle entitled ‘Guided Imagery' by composer and Staff Sergeant Daniel J. Campolieta (available on all music media platforms). Equally at home on the musical theater stage, common to his repertoire are the roles of Tom Collins from RENT, Black from The Wild Party, and Coalhouse Walker, Jr. from Ragtime. A graduate of Central Connecticut State University, Mr. Ruff was the University Singers Scholarship recipient, under the direction of Dr. Pamela J. Perry. He also holds dual Master of Music degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia in Choral Conducting (R. Paul Crabb) and Voice Performance (Christine Seitz).