The University of Kansas graduate choral conducting program is one of America’s most comprehensive programs. Led by Dr. Paul Tucker, Director of Choral Studies, the program combines practical and academic studies in both vocal and orchestral disciplines. The choral program makes use of the latest technology to help prepare the graduates to become leaders in the musical world.
The University of Kansas choral conducting students are afforded daily experience in training choirs with one of the university′s ten choirs. Select graduate students are given the responsibility to teach their own choir as part of their Graduate Assistantship. These GTA′s are carefully mentored so that there is immediate feedback with regards to their progress. Conductors are also given the opportunity to work with leading conductors from other institutions.
Our choral graduate students have had the opportunity to work such experts as:
- Dr. Jerry McCoy, The University of North Texas
- Dr. Ronald Staheli, Brigham Young University
- Dr. Andre Thomas, Florida State University
- Dr. Kenneth Fulton, Louisiana State University
In 2009 the University of Kansas began one of the few Masters of Music programs in conducting that is designed for study during the summer. This course can be completed in as few as three consecutive summers, and allows conductors to remain in full-time employment, while still completing an MM degree in conducting.
The Graduate Choral Conducting program at KU gives preference to applicants with significant teaching experience, keyboard skills, excellent communication skills, and a deep desire to learn and excel in the field of conducting.
Since the field of conducting cannot be isolated to one area only, candidates accepted to the graduate program will be expected to excel not only in choral music but in the instrumental arena as well.
The University of Kansas
Dr. Paul Tucker, Director of Choral Studies
1530 Naismith Dr. Room 336
Lawrence, KS 66045
Because our on-campus choral conducting audition date is in mid-February and it takes several weeks for the application materials to clear the university, the college and finally get to us, the candidate would be well served to submit the application packet no later than January 11. Early December is preferred.
Go to the College of Music web site, download all application forms, complete them and mail to us ASAP. Be sure to include a video of your conducting (view of the conductor) comprised of rehearsal and performance material. In addition to the video please include a CD of significant performances you’ve conducted.
The audition panel will be comprised of some or all of the following individuals.
- The Director of Choral Activities
- The Associate Director of Choral Activities
- The Associate Professor of Choral Music Education
- The Director of Organ and Church Music
The conducting audition will last roughly ten minutes. The candidate will be expected to conduct a single piece. Prior to the candidate’s arrival on campus, the Director of Choral Activities will assign the title for the audition. The candidate will conduct straight through the work (or movement), giving the audition panel an opportunity to see the candidate’s artistry and physical communication skills a conductor. In this segment of the audition, the candidate may not coach the choir verbally. Following the first reading of the piece, the candidate will be expected to rehearse a single segment of the work. This will give the audition panel a chance to see the candidate’s approach to rehearsal. It is important that the candidate not choose a segment that is too long or that cannot be improved in the time available. The point of the exercise is to see the maximum improvement of the passage in the shortest amount of time. The candidate should keep rehearsing until informed that the time limit has been reached. The candidate will then be given some specific conducting challenges to determine his or her ability to respond to instructions. This phase is conducted with the choir so as to create the most adverse condition possible. The candidate’s ability to respond to instructions will be determined from this exercise.
Graduate Placement Examination
In addition to the Graduate School′s graduate placement exams in Musicology and Theory, Choral Conducting candidates will be tested on their proficiency in Score Reading at the Piano and Diction for Singers.
Once we have received and evaluated the required materials, a determination will be made as to the candidates who will be invited to campus for auditions and interviews. The auditions and interviews may take place during the fall or spring semester. We will make the greatest effort to inform the candidates at least a month prior to the audition dates. The earlier we receive your materials; the earlier we can make this determination.
The audition video should include both rehearsal, and performance recordings, demonstrating the candidate’s conducting skills. The camera should be positioned so as to produce a face-on view of the conductor. Video submissions must be in DVD format. Permission must be obtained from the Director of Choral Activities in order to submit another format.