Texas Tech University

New Choral Studies Director Leads Debut Performances During Family Weekend

Amanda Castro-Crist

September 26, 2017


Alan Zabriskie will lead the University Choir through three pieces during a concert showcasing the School of Music’s four choirs.

Alan Zabriskie
Alan Zabriskie

On Friday (Sept. 29), the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA) will welcome Alan Zabriskie as new Director of Choral Studies during Texas Tech University's Family Weekend. The Kaleidoscope of Choirs Concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Hemmle Recital Hall and will include Zabriskie's debut as director of the University Choir.

“We are all eagerly anticipating Dr. Zabriskie's first performance at Texas Tech in his capacity as Director of Choral Studies,” said Keith Dye, interim director of the School of Music. “I'm sure he will be continuing the excellence we've come to expect of this historically accomplished program.”

As director of choral studies, Zabriskie will oversee all four of the School of Music choirs, which include the University Choir, the University Singers, the Matador Singers (men's chorale) and the Women's Chorale. Each of the ensembles will be showcased during the upcoming concert under the theme “Together We Sing.” All four will perform together during the first work, Joan Szymko's “It Takes a Village,” and the final piece, Texas Tech's “The Matador Song.”

The University Singers will perform a popular hymn and a southern African selection with percussion. Graduate conductors Minji Kim and Justin Nelson will lead their group for the Zulu song “Jabula Jesu” and a rendition of the Eucharistic hymn “Ave verum corpus” by time-honored British composer Edward Elgar.

Graduate conductors Jonathon Barranco and Nelson will lead the Matador Singers during two pieces. Percussionists will join the all-male choir for a rendition of the folk song called “Tshotsholoza,” originally from Zimbabwe but popularized in South Africa. A new setting by Dan Forrest of the Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision” will also be performed.

The Women's Chorale will present two works under the direction of Carolyn Cruse, associate director of choral studies, and graduate conductor Ryan Person. “Columba Aspexit” is a modern work by Tarik O'Regan, based on a mystical 12th-century chant attributed to Hildegard von Bingen. Flute and oboe solos will accompany the chorale during a performance of Z. Randall Stroope's setting of Psalm 23.

Zabriskie will lead the University Choir in three pieces, including “Exsultate Deo” by Baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti and Psalm 100 (“Jubilate Deo”) by Japanese composer Ko Matsushita. The third piece, Kim André Arnesen's “Flight Song,” is an ode to the healing and transformative power of choral singing, with a text by Welsh choral poet Euan Tait.

Prior to Texas Tech, Zabriskie served as Director of Choral Activities at the University of Central Missouri and taught middle and high school choral music in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He holds degrees from the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and Florida State University.

Zabriskie has directed several notable choral performances, including a solo concert at Carnegie Hall, and has served as chorus master for the Utah Lyric Opera and Florida State University Opera. He has conducted honor choirs and served as clinician in choral festivals and conferences throughout the U.S., Europe and Africa, and his textbook, “Foundations of Choral Tone: A Proactive and Healthy Approach to Choral Blend,”has been adopted by numerous universities and choral conductors around the world.

In addition to Director of Choral Studies and director of the University Choir, Zabriskie will serve as a professor of music and as a mentor to doctoral and master's students in choral conducting at Texas Tech. 

“Dr. Zabriskie was chosen in a national search that brought leading candidates from around the country to our campus,” said TCVPA Dean Noel Zahler. “Appointing him was a clear choice. His abilities, experience and innovative plans for the future of our School of Music Choral Program outshone all other candidates. We are proud to call him a Red Raider.”

The Kaleidoscope of Choirs Concert is free and open to the public. For additional information about this concert and upcoming performances, visit the School of Music website.

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