About the Department of Choral Studies
Choirs have always been an integral part of The University of Akron School of Music. Former choral directors include: Dr. Frank Jacobs, Dr. Edward McClary, Dr. Hank Dalman, and Rebecca Dawson. The university choirs have collaborated with many northeast Ohio musical ensembles including The Akron Symphony, The Canton Symphony and The Voices of Canton. Currently, the program includes The Concert Choir, The Chamber Choir, Akron Voices, University Singers, The Akron Symphony Chorus (administered by the ASO), and A Cappella Nuance. The choirs present 8-10 formal concerts on campus each concert season along with special appearances for various events in Northeast Ohio and the nation. The Concert Choir and Chamber Choir have sung three international concert tours since 2000. University choral ensembles have appeared at the Ohio Music Educatorís Conference in 2005 and 2006.
In 1998, Dr. Samuel Gordon became Director of Choral Studies. Since then, he program has grown to over 300 participants and includes both undergraduate and graduate music majors as well as many singers from other academic disciplines. All ensembles are auditioned and the auditions are held every semester.
In addition to a solid music curriculum, undergraduate music education majors and those preparing for graduate work in choral conducting, are required to take three conducting courses. Majors must participate in at least one major choral ensemble each semester. A wide variety of choral repertoire is experienced not only in performance, but in conducting classes where scores are analyzed with performance practice in mind. In addition to intensive choral conducting classes, all students concentrating in music education and choral conducting are required to take Group Vocal Techniques. All undergraduates in music education and choral conducting must participate in Choral Lab every week. The Choral Lab actually provides a warm-up/rehearsal laboratory for both undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Samuel Gordon (choral conducting) and Dr. Ann Usher (music education) team teach this lab in an effort to address teaching/rehearsal strategies and vocal/choral technique.
In 2000, The School of Music introduced a new graduate program in choral conducting. In its seventh year, the program has placed choral conductors in important choral positions throughout the United States and in Ohio. Somewhat unique in its curriculum, the graduate program in choral conducting provides a challenging and comprehensive program to talented men and women who are privileged to gain a great deal of experience in conducting university ensembles. All ensembles have a graduate assistant and each assistant participates in the administration and leadership of the choral program.
The curriculum consists of four seminars in various aspects of choral literature focusing on historical style and performance practice for music from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classic-Romantic and Modern eras. In addition to comprehensive training in group vocal techniques, score analysis and score reading, keyboard and solo singing, conductors receive concentrated personal attention in developing their conducting technique. Students participate in conducting live concerts, planning and leading rehearsals and sectionals and choosing concert repertoire. A graduate choral conducting recital is required along with a comprehensive paper that focuses on the recital repertoire and/or a particular research project.
In conjunction with a very cooperative voice faculty, the choirs host an annual High School Vocal Festival each January in which high school students (and ensembles) come to campus to perform for each other and to participate in a wide variety of private and group instruction.
The Voice Faculty
Dr. Samuel Gordon, Coordinator of the Voice and Keyboard Divisions
Dr. Laurie Lashbrook, Assistant Professor of Music, Chair, The Voice Department
Professor Alfred Anderson, Professor of Music
Richard Anderson, Instructor of Voice
Jean Blair, Instructor of Voice
Patricia LaNasa, Instructor of Voice and Coordinator of the Kulas Series
James Mismas, Director of the Opera
Denise Milner-Howell, Instructor of Voice
Dr. Lara Troyer, Instructor of Voice