Choral Studies Alumni

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  • Jace Saplan, D.M.A. '17

    Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan served as the Interim Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. He held the same appointment at Hamilton College (on leave for the 2018-2019 academic year). Dr. Saplan received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland, his Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with cognates in Music Education and Ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

    Known for his work in celebrating the intersection between Hawaiian music and choral performance, he is the artistic director of Nā Wai Chamber Choir, a professional vocal ensemble based in Hawaiʻi dedicated to the preservation and propagation of Hawaiian choral music. Under his direction, Nā Wai has commissioned and mentored emerging Native Hawaiian composers and conductors, toured throughout rural Hawaiian communities, and led workshops on the performance of Hawaiian choral music at schools and universities throughout the country.

    Prior to his appointment to the University of Hawai’i and Hamilton College, Dr. Saplan served as the chorus master for the Frost Opera Program at the University of Miami where he prepared a number of contemporary works such as Golijov’s Ainadamar, Kuster’s Old Presque Isle (done in collaboration with the John Duffy Composer’s Institute and the Virginia Arts Festival), and a premiere work by Grammy-nominated composer Shawn Crouch. He also served as an instructor of choral music at Florida International University where he directed the FIU Master Chorale and taught courses in undergraduate and graduate choral conducting.

    His work in preparing choruses and as a festival clinician are vast, resulting in performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Hall, The Oregon Bach Festival, Old South Church (Boston), Church of the Holy Trinity (Philadelphia), La Madeline (France), and the Harrogate Music Festival (UK).

    Dr. Saplan’s research focuses on the performance practice of Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions; multicultural perspectives in the choral rehearsal; intersections of choral pedagogy, gender, and sexuality in communities of color; and Native Hawaiian agency in music. His scholarship on these topics have also led him to lead clinics at the state, regional, and national level for the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the LGBTQ Studies in Music Education Conference. He is a frequent clinician and adjudicator for the state, regional, and national conferences and festivals.

  • Kathryn Kelly Longo, D.M.A. '14

    Kathryn Kelly Longo is the Choral Director and Coordinator of Choral Studies at Florida International University where she conducts the Concert Choir and Master Chorale and teaches undergraduate conducting courses. Since moving to Miami in 2011, Dr. Longo has worked as a clinician in many South Florida schools and conducted honor choirs in Broward and Collier counties.

    Longo taught middle and high school music in Connecticut and New York for five years. She was the choral director at Farmington High School in Farmington, CT, where she directed five choral ensembles and taught voice lessons. During her time as a high school music teacher, Longo and her students performed large works annually with the FHS Orchestra and sang in workshops with such clinicians as Henry Leck and Georgia Newlan. In addition to her experience at FHS, she taught middle school chorus and general music in New York City and at West Woods Upper Elementary School and Irving Robbins Middle School in Farmington, CT. An experienced choral director of all ages, Longo has also held positions with Miami Children’s Chorus and South Florida Singing Sons.

    As a singer and church musician, Longo has performed in a variety of academic, professional, and semi-professional choruses. She was the conductor of the University of Miami Chapel Choir in Key Largo, FL, and has sung with the Miami Bach Society and Temple Bet Shira in Pinecrest, FL. While living in Oregon, she sang with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus under the direction of Helmuth Rilling, and with the Portland Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Monica Huggett. During her time in Connecticut, she worked as a section leader and soloist at First Church of Christ in Wethersfield.

    Prior to her appointment at FIU, Dr. Longo received her DMA in Choral Conducting at the University of Miami Frost School of Music where she studied conducting with Karen Kennedy. While attending the University of Miami, Dr. Longo conducted the UM Women’s Chorale and Chamber Singers and was the assistant instructor for undergraduate conducting courses. She obtained a master's degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon under the tutelage of Sharon J. Paul, and her dual Bachelor's degrees in Music and Music Education from the University of Connecticut where she studied conducting with Peter Bagley. Her training also includes masterclasses and lessons with a variety of conductors including Helmuth Rilling, Rodney Eichenberger, Hirvo Surva, Dan Bara, Donald Oglesby, and Theresa Coffman. Longo is an active member of the Florida Vocal Association, the National Association for Music Educators, College Music Society, and the American Choral Directors’ Association.

  • Jeb Mueller, D.M.A. '12

    Jeb Mueller is Associate Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston Moores School of Music where he conducts ManChoir, ManCorps, and Concert Women's Chorus; prepares opera choruses, and teaches choral music education courses. In addition to his teaching duties, Mueller is an active clinician, adjudicator, and conference presenter throughout the United States.
    Mueller taught high school choral music in the Houston area for six years. His choirs consistently earned superior ratings at contests and twice won state and national festivals. He received recognition for teaching success on multiple occasions, including a selection as a state semifinalist for HEB's Excellence in Education awards.
    Mueller has also served as a church musician. He created the Camerata Concert Series at Austin's First English Lutheran Church, conducted the University of Miami Chapel Choir, and worked as the Assistant Conductor for Houston's Central Presbyterian Church.
    Dr. Mueller holds degrees from the University of Miami, The University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech University. He has studied with Joshua Habermann, James Morrow, Karen Kennedy, Kenneth Davis, Donald Oglesby, and Suzanne Pence. His training also includes master classes and/or lessons with such choral luminaries as Joseph Flummerfelt, Craig Hella Johnson, Ragnar Bohlin, Robert Porco, Vance George, Patrick Dupre Quigley, and Weston Noble.
    Mueller is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the National Association for Music Education.

  • Beth Gibbs, D.M.A. '10

    Beth Gibbs, D.M.A. ‘10, in choral conducting, is an assistant professor of music and director of choral studies at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL. In addition to earning a D.M.A. degree from the Frost School of Music, she holds M.M. degrees in choral conducting and vocal performance from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and the B.M.E. degree from Stetson University in DeLand, FL. Dr. Gibbs spent six years teaching at the high school level in Atlanta, GA. She majored in choral conducting at the Frost School of Music.

  • Cristian Grases, D.M.A. '09

    Cristian Grases joined the USC Thornton faculty in the Fall 2010 semester and is currently an associate professor of choral music and conductor of the USC Thornton Concert Choir. Born in Venezuela, he earned degrees from the Simón Bolívar University (MM) in Caracas, Venezuela, and the University of Miami (DMA). He has previously served as interim director of choral activities at Central Washington University; assistant professor in choral music at California State University, Los Angeles; and national coordinator of choirs for EL SISTEMA under Maestro José Antonio Abreu. He also served as conductor for the Women’s Chamber Ensemble of the University of Miami, was the assistant conductor of the Miami Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Eduardo Marturet, and the conductor of the Young Musician’s Orchestra. Additionally, he is an award-winning conductor and composer, and has been commissioned to write for several prestigious organizations such as the Piedmont Children’s Chorus and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale. Numerous ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale have performed his works.

  • Matthew Tresler, M.M. '05, D.M.A. '08

    Matthew Tresler, M.M. '05, D.M.A. '08 is Academic Chair of Music at Irvine Valley College in Irvine, CA, where he is director of the Vocal and Choral Area. He has sung with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Conspirare, Seraphic Fire, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, True Concord, Bach Collegium San Diego, Spire Ensemble, Tesserae, Vox Humana, Golden Bridge, and others.  Solo work has included solos for the above ensembles as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Flagstaff Symphony, Corona del Mar Baroque Festival, Arizona Bach Festival, Early Music Hawaii, and as soloist around Southern California. He can also be heard on a dozen film soundtracks.

  • David Friddle, D.M.A. '06

    David Friddle, D.M.A. ‘06, is an organist and conductor who has interests in choral music. His curiosity about Franz Liszt’s oratorio, Christus, eventually led to his research at the British Library and the Goethe-Schiller Archiv. He presented his findings at the 2005 national convention of the America Choral Directors Association, and his dissertation “Christus by Franz Liszt,” was later published as Christus: Oratorium nach Texten aus der Heiligen Schrift und der katholischen Liturgieand by Bärenreiter Verlag in English and German. David was the recipient of the Theodore Presser Award, along with additional grants from the University of Miami, which funded his research in England and Germany. His published articles appear in the Choral Journal, the Newsletter of the American Liszt Society, and the American Organist. David currently lives in Coral Gables, FL where he is continuing his career in sacred music.

    Dr. David Friddle has been called one of the most towering figures in the organ performance world. He holds Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Juilliard School (Organ Performance) and the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami (Choral Conducting). He has held church and academic positions in New York City, as well as in North and South Carolina. Besides his work as a performer, David is also active as a scholar, preparing Franz Liszt’s Christus for publication by Barenreiter. His compositions have been published by Morningstar and Yelton-Rhodes. In July of 2014, he was featured choral clinician at the RCCO National Convention in London, ON.

  • James Bass, D.M.A. ‘05

    James K. Bass, D.M.A Choral Conducting '05, three-time GRAMMY-nominated conductor and singer, is Director of Choral Studies in the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA and is the Artistic Director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers. In 2017, he made his Cleveland Orchestra solo debut singing with Franz Welser-Möst in Miami and in Severance Hall and was the bass soloist with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra, Xian Zhang conducting in 2018. Other engagements as a 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 was the featured baritone soloist on the GRAMMY-nominated recording Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings with soprano 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 album recordings on the Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Albany, and Seraphic Fire Media labels.

    He has prepared choirs for some of the most important conductors of our time including Sir Colin Davis, Sir David Willcocks, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gerard Schwarz, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marcelo Lehninger, and Robert Shaw among others.

  • Ken Wakia, M.M. '05

    Ken Wakia from Nairobi, Kenya graduated from the Frost School of Music with a Master of Music in Choral Conducting in 2005. He was the Cultural and Educational Affairs Specialist at the American Embassy in Nairobi, running more than two dozen cultural and educational exchange programs between the peoples of Kenya and the United States, including the Fulbright program. Wakia majored in choral conducting at the Frost School of Music.

    He is also the founding director of the Nairobi Chamber Chorus which was selected to perform for the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Windsor in May 2012. This choir consists mainly of university students from the various universities in Nairobi. 

  • Sally K. Albrecht, M.M. '79

    Sally K. Albrecht, M.M. ‘79, is the Director of School Choral & Classroom Publications for Alfred Music, a position she has held for over 20 years. She currently has over 325 popular choral publications in print and over 50 larger works, including musicals, songbooks, and cantatas. Her recent works include “Sing a New Song,” a 2-part work for the 2012 Georgia All-State Elementary Choir (which she guest conducted), "A Pocketful of Rhymes" which was premiered in Spring 2012 by the Rowan County Honors Choir along with the Salisbury (N.C.) Symphony, and a musical setting of “Non Nobis, Domine” which was premiered by the Kanawha County Junior High Chorus under her direction. Her newest holiday children’s musical Fiesta, The Legend of the Poinsettia, and her songbook/program Creepy Creatures are now available from Alfred. She was a performance major at the Frost School of Music.

  • Gary Fry, B.M. '76

    Frost School of Music's 1990 Distinguished Alumnus Gary D. Fry, B.M. ‘76 is an Emmy-winning Chicago based composer, arranger, producer, and music educator. He has a 19-year affiliation with the Chicago Symphony with more than 100 commissions during that span. He is also an artistic consultant and arranger for the Dallas Symphony and Chorus. He is the most-performed living composer with nearly 100 works for the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. His work has also been performed by the Dallas Symphony and Colorado Symphony orchestras, the pops orchestras of Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and New York, and the American Jazz Philharmonic. Fry’s extensive background in choral music has led to several commissions from academic and professional vocal ensembles across the country.

    For more than 20 years, Fry has also been one of the nation’s foremost commercial producers with over 2,500 nationally broadcast radio and television commercials for McDonald’s, Sears, Kellogg’s, United Airlines, and hundreds of other major national advertisers. He won a 2006 Emmy Award for his original work for WBBM-TV (Chicago).

    Fry is passionate about music education and music for children. Since 2012, he has served as Festival Artists Director for the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation “Rhythms of One World,” featuring annual concerts at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, as well as prestigious concert venues.

    Gary joined the company of Chicago’s Provision Theatre as a composer. He composed music for their Jeff-nominated production of Spoon River Anthology, as well as incidental music for the plays Shaw vs. Chesterton and the 2014 world premiere of Jacob by Timothy Gergory.

    Fry’s resume includes positions on the faculty of the University of Miami, Northwestern University, and Midwest Young Artists, where he conducted vocal ensembles and taught classes in music theory and composition.