2015 COA Nationals for Top Choirs | Faculty
Karen Kennedy is associate professor and director of choral studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music where she conducts the Frost Chorale and other choral ensembles. She is also artistic director of the Master Chorale of South Florida.
She previously held the positions of chorus director for the Honolulu Symphony, director of choral activities at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, and director of choral activities at Towson University. She earned a D.M.A. degree in choral music from Arizona State University, a M.M. in choral conducting from Butler University and a B.M. in Music Education from DePauw University. Dr. Kennedy regularly conducts choral festivals featuring major works such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Durufle’s Requiem, Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor and Rutter’s Gloria and presented concerts in such venues as the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah and the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. She has received numerous awards for teaching, including the University of Hawai`i Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching, Arizona State University’s Manzanita “Top Prof” Award and Butler University’s Faculty Distinction Award.
Dr. Kennedy is well known as a choral clinician and adjudicator, regularly working with all-state and festival honor choirs. Her workshops have been a part of recent ACDA and MENC regional and state conventions and she has served as the ACDA Eastern Division Collegiate Repertoire and Standards Chair and as a founding member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.
Grammy Award winning conductor Jerry Blackstone is Director of Choirs and Chair of the Conducting Department at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance where he conducts the Chamber Choir, teaches conducting at the graduate level, and administers a choral program of eleven choirs. In February 2006, he received two Grammy Awards (“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”) as chorus master for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s monumental Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
Professor Blackstone is considered one of the country’s leading conducting teachers. In 2004, Dr. Blackstone was named Conductor and Music Director of the University Musical Society Choral Union, a large community/university chorus that frequently appears with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and presents yearly performances of Handel’s Messiah and other major works for chorus and orchestra. In March 2008, he conducted the UMS Choral Union and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a special performance of the Bach, St. Matthew Passion. Choirs prepared by Dr. Blackstone have appeared under the batons of Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Leonard Slatkin, John Adams, Helmuth Rilling, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Peter Oundjian, and Yitzak Perlman.
Santa Barbara Music Publishing distributes Dr. Blackstone’s acclaimed educational video, Working with Male Voices and publishes the Jerry Blackstone Choral Series, a set of choral publications that presents works by several composers in a variety of musical styles. As a strong advocate for the training of young musicians, Professor Blackstone serves as Director of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s summer programs for high school students and adults.
Joshua Habermann was named director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus in December 2010 and began his tenure in August 2011. Dr. Habermann comes to the Chorus from the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where he was associate professor and program director of choral studies and conducted the Frost Chorale and other choral ensembles. He also led the Master Chorale of South Florida (Miami, FL) through the 2010-2011 academic year.
A native of California, Dr. Habermann is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed doctoral studies in conducting with Craig Hella Johnson. He has also studied under Helmuth Rilling (conducting), Scott Foglesong (piano) and David Jones (voice).
From 1996-2006, Dr. Habermann was assistant conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and in 2006-2007 served as interim director. In that capacity he prepared the chorus for performances with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and Charles Dutoit in concerts of Mozart, and Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust. Recordings as a singer with the SFSC include Christmas by the Bay (Decca Records), and Mahler Symphony No. 2 (London Records), also a Grammy nominee for Best Choral/Orchestral Recording.
Dr. Habermann has appeared in numerous conferences and festivals, including international engagements in Havana, Cuba (2002 Festival Internacional de Coros), Germany, Czech Republic, China and France. As a singer (tenor) he performs with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus (Eugene, Oregon), where he can be heard on the Grammy Award-winning recording of Krzystof Penderecki’s Credo. Other projects include two recordings with Austin-based Conspirare: Through the Green Fuse, and Requiem, a Grammy nominee for best choral recording in 2006. He also maintains an interest in the Hawaiian choral tradition, and sings periodically with Kawaiolaonapukanileo, an ensemble dedicated to performing and preserving this unique repertoire.