2022 State Choral Festival Adjudicators
Dr. Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson, DMA is the director of choral activities at Eastern Michigan University and the artistic director and conductor of the Detroit Concert Choir. He has conducted professional musicians across the United States while maintaining his extensive work with students of all ages. He has performed in venues across the country including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center and will return to the stage of the renowned Carnegie Hall in 2018 and 2019. Respected by his faculty colleagues he has been awarded multiple teaching and artistic awards. At Eastern Michigan University he was selected to receive the Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Creative Activity Award, the highest honor the University presents to an individual faculty member. At Houghton College he accepted both the Excellence in Teaching Award, and was the inaugural recipient of the first fully endowed chair at Houghton College, the Horne-Blanchard. Choirs under his direction have been invited to perform for state and regional American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and the National Association for Music Education (NAFME) conferences. As a conducting pedagogue his students have been invited to participate in the ACDA National Conducting Competition. He has studied with German conductor Helmuth Rilling and was selected to conduct the Grammy winning Oregon Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra. In recent years, he has received invitations to conduct the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus, Buffalo Choral Artists, Continuo Arts Orchestra, Michigan Sinfonietta, Rochester Oratorio Society, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Cordancia and The Southern Tier Symphony. In addition to working with musicians from across the United States, he has conducted singers from Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain and the Ukraine. In service to the profession, Johnson has served the American Choral Directors Association in many capacities, including as New York State president. In addition he serves the Michigan State Vocal Music Association as the High School Required Repertoire chair. He has lead honor choirs and held master-classes abroad (Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy) and at home (Alabama, Iowa, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania). He works tirelessly as a guest conductor, lecturer and clinician for singers of all ages.
Joshua Pedde is the artistic director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC), one of the largest and most respected children’s choir programs in the world. In addition to conducting ICC’s advanced treble choirs, Josh is also the artistic director of the Anderson Area Children’s Choir. During his nineteen years with the ICC, Mr. Pedde has been instrumental in growing the ICC’s Innovations program which provides free music education workshops to public and private schools throughout central Indiana. In addition, he has pioneered ICC’s Neighborhood Choir Academy within Central Iniana which provides a six to eight-week musical experience for students to explore the world of choral music which culminates in a performance with the ICC. Mr. Pedde is a frequent conductor and clinician throughout the United States including the LCMS Worship Institute Children’s Choir, the WELS National Convention Festival and Children’s Choirs, Indiana Circle the State with Song festivals, the American Hymn Society, the National Conference of Pastoral Musicians, the National Disciples of Christ Conference, American Choral Directors Association all state choirs in Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and New Mexico, and the Indiana Music Education Association Middle School honor choir. Mr. Pedde frequently is a consultant to churches on Liturgical Worship and Children’s Choir. In 2003 he premiered the work “The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies” by Irish composer Mary McAuliffe at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Founder and artistic director of the Coastal Song Choir Festival. In addition to conducting at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center, Mr. Pedde was the backstage conductor for the premiere of the children’s opera, The Trio of Minuet. He recently prepared ICC’s most advanced treble choir for a performance at Shift: A Festival of American Orchestras at the Kennedy Center. He has conducted at numerous sporting events including the FINA World Swimming Championships, Indianapolis Fever, NCAA Women’s Basketball Finals, the RCA Tennis Championships, the 2008 U.S.A. Olympic Diving Qualifications, the 2012 World Choir Games, and Super Bowl XLVI. He has conducted choirs in performances at the Vatican and Canterbury Cathedral, in Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, and Spain. In September, Mr. Pedde’s treble choir was a featured performer at the 50th National American Orff-Schulwerk Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Pedde is a member of the NAfME, ACDA, and IMEA. He is also a member of the ICDA where he served on the board. He also served as a solo and ensemble and organizational judge for ISSMA and as a clinician for IMEA’s ensembles. Mr. Pedde serves as chair for the Consortium of Indiana Children’s Choirs. Mr. Pedde serves at Cornerstone Lutheran Church, Fishers, as director of worship and organist. He is the music director of the Carmel Community Choir and Orchestra. He is a member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and the AGO. He has received training and certification in Orff-Schulwerk, Kodály, and First Steps methods of teaching. Mr. Pedde was an elementary music teacher in the Zionsville Public School system for five year before joining the ICC as a full-time conductor and from 2001-2005 Mr. Pedde was the Artistic Director of the Kokomo Youth Chorale. Mr. Pedde earned his bachelor of music degree in vocal music education and a master’s degree in choral conducting from Butler University, where he was recognized for his outstanding work in elementary music and a DPM from Concordia Chicago. Josh delights in time spent with his wife, Laura, and children, Annabelle, Grayson, and Savannah.
Dr. James Bass
James K. Bass, three-time GRAMMY®-nominated singer and conductor, is Professor and Director of Choral Studies at the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. James is on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and serves as the associate program director for the Professional Choral Institute. He is the Associate Conductor and Director of Education for the Miami based ensemble Seraphic Fire and is the Artistic Director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers. Bass is an active soloist and ensemble artist. In 2017 he made his Cleveland Orchestra solo debut singing with Franz Welser-Möst in Miami and in Severance Hall, Cleveland. Other engagements as soloist include the New World Symphony with Michael Tilson-Thomas, The Florida Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Back Bay Chorale and Orchestra, Firebird Chamber Orchestra, and The Sebastians. He has appeared with numerous professional vocal ensembles including Seraphic Fire, Conspirare, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Trinity Wall Street, Apollo Master Chorale, Vox Humanae, True Concord and Spire. He was the featured baritone soloist on the GRAMMY nominated recording Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings with fellow singer Lauren Snouffer, conductor Craig Hella-Johnson and the GRAMMY winning ensemble Conpirare. He is one of 13 singers on the GRAMMY®-nominated disc A Seraphic Fire Christmas and appears on CD recordings on the Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Albany, and Seraphic Fire Media labels. Bass was selected by the master conductor of the Amsterdam Baroque Soloists, Ton Koopman, to be one of only 20 singers for a presentation of Cantatas by J. S. Bach in Carnegie Hall and was an auditioned member of Robert Shaw’s workshop choir at Carnegie. He has appeared as conductor with the Florida Orchestra during their annual education concerts. During his tenure as Artistic Director for the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, the official chorus of the Florida Orchestra, he was responsible for five recordings and multiple world premieres. In 2012 he served as chorusmaster and co-editor for the Naxos recording entitled Delius: Sea Drift and Appalachia featuring the Florida Orchestra and conducted by Stefan Sanderling. In 2014 he was the preparer for the recording Holiday Pops Live! conducted by the principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik. During his tenure as a chorusmaster he has prepared choirs for Sir Colin Davis, Sir David Willcocks, Jahja Ling, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Gerard Schwarz, Giancarlo Guerrero, Michael Francis, Marcelo Lehninger, Stefan Sanderling, Evan Rogister, Danail Rachlev, Joshua Weilerstein, Markus Huber, David Lockington, Xian Zhang, Patrick Quigley and Neal Stulberg. His professional career has coincided with the development of Seraphic Fire as one of the premier vocal ensembles in the United States. He has been actively involved as soloist, ensemble artist, editor, producer and preparer for 14 of the ensembles recordings and routinely conducts the ensemble in Miami and on tour. During the summer of 2011 he co-founded the Professional Choral Institute. In its inaugural year of recording, Seraphic Fire and PCI received the GRAMMY® nomination for Best Choral Performance for their recording of Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. As the Director of Education for the ensemble he has been involved with annual events that service more than 2000 students in the Miami-Dade county area each year. In 2017 Seraphic Fire and UCLA launched a new educational initiative entitled the Ensemble Artist Program that aims to identify and train the next generation of high-level ensemble singers. Bass received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Miami, where he was a doctoral fellow, and is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy.
J. Donald Dumpson
Dr. Kimberly Dunn Adams
Kimberly Dunn Adams is the Director of Choral Activities at Western Michigan University, where she directs University Chorale, Anima, Collegiate Singers, and Grand Chorus. She also directs the graduate program in choral conducting and teaches courses in choral conducting and literature. Under her direction, WMU’s University Chorale received 2nd place in the 2013 American Prize and has been invited to perform at multiple choral conventions. In 2017, they won three gold diplomas, the Director Prize, and the Grand Prix of the Kaunas Cantat in Lithuania – the first American choir to do so. The same choir released two albums in the past 5 years (Contemplating Weather – Bridge Records, Ex corde – WMU); both albums are available through international retail distributors. Adams maintains a busy guest conducting and presenting schedule around the country and internationally. She has presented at the World Choral Symposium (Barcelona, 2017), Nordic Choral Conference (Malmö, 2015), and National Collegiate Choral Organization conference (Baton Rouge, 2017). She has been featured at multiple Michigan Music Conferences, MSVMA Summer Workshops, and All-State choral festivals as a headliner, lecturer, clinician, and conductor. Adams holds degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory, the Yale School of Music, and the University of Wisconsin. Adams was previously the Director of Choral Ensembles at Mount Holyoke College, where she taught conducting and directed the Glee Club, Chamber Singers, and
Austin McWilliams, conductor and countertenor, is an Adjunct Instructor at Western Michigan University, where he conducts the operas and choirs and teaches several music courses. Austin strives to present compelling, intriguing music that is directly relevant to the communities in which it is performed. He is on the artistic and conducting staff of the Ad Astra Music Festival, a classical music festival in Russell, Kansas, known for its innovative and unique programming. In 2019 at Ad Astra, Austin conducted the outdoor premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s new opera Proving Up. He is a faculty member at Missouri Scholars Academy, an annual, month-long governor’s school for gifted high school juniors. Additionally, Austin is the Sanctuary Choir Director at Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Haven and is the Stage Manager of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
In 2019, Austin earned his Master of Music in choral conducting at WMU under Kimberly Dunn Adams. While at WMU, he designed a recital on HIV/AIDS awareness in collaboration with several community organizations, and he earned the School of Music Graduate Award for Excellence in Teaching. Austin graduated in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering with highest honors. He hails from the illustrious micropolitan hub of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where he received his formative training from Rachael Bonk.
Jeffrey Cobb is the Director of Music Programs and Choirs at Northwestern Michigan College, Artistic Director of the NMC Children’s Choirs, and Director of Music at Traverse City Central United Methodist Church. He holds a M.M. in Choral Conducting from Oakland University and a B.A. in Music Education from Western Michigan University. Jeffrey has held positions at Traverse City Central High School, Judson ISD in San Antonio, Texas; Parchment Schools in Parchment, Michigan; and the Leysin American School in Leysin, Switzerland. Choirs under his direction have toured throughout Michigan, Texas, Chicago, New York, Salzburg and Vienna and have been invited to perform at State and National Conferences including the Michigan Music Conference, the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, the ACDA Michigan Conference, and the ACDA National Convention. Jeffrey is a frequent clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor, working with school groups, Honor Choirs, All-State Choirs, and national touring groups. In addition to his work as a conductor, Jeffrey is also a regularly commissioned composer. His pieces have won several awards including honors from the Ithaca Choir Composition Contest, the New York Virtuoso Singers Choral Composition Contest, the Measure for Measure Choral Competition Contest, the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest, the Summit Chorale’s Composition Contest, the Outside the Bachs International Choral Music Competition, the C7Prize, and the Composition Competition of the Chiayi City (Taiwan) International Band Festival. Jeffrey’s arrangements and original compositions are regularly performed by college ensembles, community groups and high school ensembles throughout the United States, and in locales afar including Columbia, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and Belarus. His choral works are published through his own publishing company Mysterium Music, as well as G. Schirmer, Santa Barbara Music, Walton Music, Colla Voce, and Roger Dean Publishing Chorale.
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. He earned his PhD in Music Education (Choral Conducting) at Florida State University. An active conductor, Dr. Garrett has served as a guest conductor or clinician with several school, church, community, and festival/honor choirs throughout the country. In addition to his conducting classes at UNL, he leads conducting workshops at other universities and conferences. A versatile voice that performs both as a baritone and countertenor, Dr. Garrett has sung with several community, church, and university groups as both a chorister and soloist. He was the countertenor soloist in the European premiere of Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo in Limerick, Ireland. Currently, he sings with First-Plymouth Congregational Church, Festival Singers of Florida, and the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers. Dr. Garrett is an avid composer of choral and solo-vocal music whose compositions have been performed to acclaim by high school all-state, collegiate, and professional choirs including Seraphic Fire and the Oakwood University Aeolians. GIA Publications, Walton Music, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and others have published several of his compositions.
Eric A Johnson
Eric A. Johnson, D.M.A. is the founding Artistic Director of Cor Cantiamo and Director of Choral Activities at Northern Illinois University (NIU). As a recent National Endowment for the Arts Artworks grant recipient, he has been recognized for his artistic leadership, whose ensembles represent “choral artistry at its finest.” (Lauridsen). He is a committed champion of contemporary choral music and dedicated to addressing social justice issues through interdisciplinary concert events. Ensembles under his direction have performed at multiple national, division, and state conventions for ACDA, NCCO, and NAfME. He has served as a guest conductor at Avery Fisher Hall and the David Geffen Hall; Lincoln Center. Internationally, Johnson has served as a guest conductor of the Clare College Chapel Choir (Cambridge, England) and the Asian Pacific Activities Conference Choral Festival (Guangzhou, China); taught at Makumira University (Arusha, Tanzania); the Universidade do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte (Natal, Brazil); and directed guest choral residencies at Canterbury and Worcester Cathedrals. As the Artistic Director of Cor Cantiamo, Johnson has recorded commercial CDs released on Centaur Records and the Divine Arts record labels. He has published music with Santa Barbara Music Publishing, served as a music editor for Earthsongs Publications and has published articles in the Choral Journal. He is active nationally as a clinician and guest conductor for high school and collegiate honor choirs and regularly conducts choral/orchestral masterworks works with both collegiate and professional ensembles.
Christopher Kiver is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Pennsylvania State University where he directs the Concert Choir and Glee Club, oversees the graduate choral conducting program, and teaches classes in choral conducting and choral literature. He has served as Director of Music at the University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, as founder and director of The Orpheus Singers, and guest conductor of the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra. Choirs under Kiver’s direction have performed at numerous state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and National Association for Music Education. In March 2017, Kiver led a performance of Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields with the Penn State University Concert Choir and Bang on a Can All-Stars. He has taught at the Westminster Choir College Summer and Saturday Seminar programs, and appeared as guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator in the United States, Australia, China, and New Zealand. Kiver is President Elect for the Eastern Region of the American Choral Directors Association, former national Repertoire and Standards chair for Men’s/TTBB Choirs and a past-president of the Pennsylvania chapter of ACDA. A native of England, he has received numerous prizes and scholarships including a Fulbright Award, and the 2002 Sydney World Choral Symposium Foundation Scholarship. In February 2006, he was a double Grammy Award winner ("Best Choral Performance" and "Best Classical Album") as a chorus master for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s monumental Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Kiver was the recipient of Penn State University’s President’s Award for Engagement with Students in 2017. He is a graduate of the University of London, Florida State University, and the University of Michigan where he received the D.M.A. in choral conducting.
Dr. Bret Amundson is the Dean of the School of Arts and Letters at The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) in Duluth, MN where he also directs Bella Voce, a select treble ensemble. In addition to his work at CSS, Bret is the Artistic Director for the Lake Superior Youth Chorus and the Artistic Director of the Twin Ports Choral Project. Prior to his appointment as Dean, Bret was the Director of Choral Activities and Director of General Education where he led the College’s General Education program, including the first-year program, Dignitas, and directed the College’s auditioned ensembles, Concert Choir and Bella Voce. Choirs under Bret’s direction have performed regionally, nationally, and internationally and have performed at state and regional conventions. In 2007, the Cathedral High School Concert Choir was invited to perform at the Minnesota Music Educator Association’s Mid-Winter Clinic. That same year, Bret was awarded the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota’s (ACDA-MN) Outstanding Young Conductor Award. In 2015, Twin Ports Choral Project was invited to perform at the ACDA-MN State Conference and, in 2016, the North Central ACDA Regional Conference. In 2017, Bella Voce was invited to perform at the ACDA-MN State Conference, and in 2018 the Lake Superior Youth Chorus’ Cantemus was invited to perform at that same conference. In Spring 2020, Bella Voce was invited to perform at the 2020 Central/North Central ACDA Division Conference. In 2014, Bret was awarded the College’s Benedictine Professorship in General Education and in 2015, Bret was named one of Duluth’s 20 Under 40. Bret maintains an active schedule as clinician, adjudicator, presenter, and guest conductor for choral festivals and conferences around the country and is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, The College Music Society, Chorus America, and the VoiceCare Network, and he currently serves as the North Central ACDA Repertoire and Resources Coordinator for Children’s and Community Youth Choirs. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Saint John’s University, MN, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Saint Cloud State University, MN, a Doctorate of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington, and an MBA in Change and Leadership from The College of St. Scholastica.
Sarah Catt has recently assumed the position of Director of Choral Activities at Elmhurst College after teaching high school and middle school choir for ten years. She received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University Chicago, and her Master of Music Education degree from UIUC. Catt actively serves as a clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor for numerous honor choirs, including the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) Junior Choruses, ILMEA Senior Choruses, ILMEA Vocal Jazz Ensembles, the UIUC Illinois Summer Youth Music Junior Chorus, and various school music festivals. She has also served as a guest speaker for different presentations and conferences, including commencement speaker for the 2019 UIUC School of Music Convocation, speaker at the 2019 ILMEA MusEd talks, and panel member for the 2020 ILMEA Women in Music Education session. Prof. Catt is an active member of ILMEA, the National Association for Music Education, and the American Choral Directors Association, where she served on the Illinois board. Outside of her musical endeavors, she enjoys spending time with her husband Brandon, the fine arts department chair at Glenbard East High School, and their spunky, adventurous, and inspiring daughter, Amelia.
Dr. Zachary Durlam serves as Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM), artistic director of the Master Singers of Milwaukee, and choir director at Grace Lutheran Church in Grafton, Wisconsin. At UWM, Durlam leads multiple choirs and teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting and choral literature. He previously taught at Fresno Pacific University where his Concert Choir performed at the California Music Educators Association Conference and he was awarded the university’s 2013 Faculty Distinguished Service Award. Prior to that, Durlam taught high school vocal music for twelve years – including nine at Iowa City West High where his Chamber Choir was chosen to perform at the North Central American Choral Directors Association (NCACDA) conference and the music department was one of seven programs in the nation named a Gold Signature School by the Grammy Foundation. He received his bachelor’s degree from Luther College, master’s from the University of Iowa, and doctorate from Michigan State University. Durlam was awarded 3rd place in the college/university division of the 2018-2019 American Prize for Choral Conducting, and the UWM Concert Chorale and UWM combined choirs and orchestra were named national finalists in the same competition. The UWM Concert Chorale under his direction has been featured at the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) and Wisconsin Music Educators Association state conferences and the 2020 ten-state Midwest ACDA conference. This past fall they performed with Andrea Bocelli during his Milwaukee tour stop, and in 2015 they performed with the Rolling Stones at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Durlam has presented at state and regional conferences of ACDA and the National Association for Music Educators, and he frequently works as a guest conductor and clinician, recently conducting or presenting in California, Oregon, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin where he directed the 2019 Wisconsin Honors High School All-State Mixed Choir. Durlam currently serves as president of WCDA, and his research on Handel and Mendelssohn is published in ACDA’s Choral Journal.
Nationally recognized as a leader in the field of youth chorus directors, Ms. Ellsworth served as Artistic Director of Anima – Young Singers of Greater Chicago from 1996 – 2018. Under her direction, Anima won several national awards, including the 2014 Tribute Award from Chicago A Cappella, Chorus America’s 2013 and 2000 ASCAP awards for Adventurous Programming, the 2009 Dale Warland Singers Commissioning Award (jointly given with the American Composers Forum), and the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence (2008). She has also served on the choral faculty of Northwestern University as well as a visiting professorship in choral music at Luther College in the 2020-21 season. Enjoying an active role as guest clinician/conductor, Ms. Ellsworth has led all-state choirs and festivals in over 30 states, as well as for the Northwest, North Central, and Southwest divisions, and the 2019 national conference of the American Choral Directors’ Association. She has prepared ensembles for Chicago‘s major musical organizations and the Berlin Philharmonic working with conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, and Sir Georg Solti. International appearances include festivals in Ireland, England, Hong Kong, Grand Cayman Island, Greece, and presentations for Brazil’s national association of choral directors. For more information: http://www.emilyellsworth.net
Dr. Brandon Ulrich
Dr. Brandon Ulrich serves as Director of Choral Activities at Stoney Creek High School, Director of Music Ministries at Northminster Presbyterian Church, Chorus Master at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, and was recently appointed Artistic Director of The Madrigal Chorale. He holds degrees from Southern Oregon University and Michigan State, where he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting in 2013. He serves the Michigan School Vocal Music Association on the Board of Directors, and has served on the Michigan State University College of Music Alumni Board of Directors. His ensembles have performed at the Michigan Music Conference, ACDA State and Central Division Conventions, and frequently perform with the Detroit Symphony and the Detroit Chamber Winds. Dr. Ulrich is an advocate for new music, having established the Stoney Creek Commissioning Project which annually premiers several new works, and his own compositions and scholarly editions are published through Boosey and Hawkes, MusicSpoke, Colla Voce Music Inc., and Musicatus Press.
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