University of Mississippi Choirs

The University of Mississippi

We are proud to announce the judges for the 2019 Ole Miss Choral Festival!


Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Conducting at the University of Toronto where she was named the inaugural Faculty Teaching Excellence Award winner in 2013. She holds the Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting. She is also Artistic Director of Exultate Chamber Singers, a semi-professional ensemble in Toronto. Raised in Nova Scotia, she earned degrees from the University of Toronto, the University of Illinois, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds an ARCT in piano performance. Formerly Director of Choral Activities and Associate Director of the School of Music at the Ohio State University (1993 – 2010), she has conducted choirs at divisional and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and conducted the University of Toronto MacMillan Singers at Podium 2012, the national conference of Choral Canada. She has led choral festivals in Europe, and at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre in New York. In 2009, she conducted the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in a live broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word.” She has directed all-state choruses in 35 states and led the 2011 Ontario Youth Choir. She conducted the 2014 National Youth Choir of Canada in an all-Canadian program in a tour of the Maritimes, culminating with a performance at Podium in Halifax, N.S. For several years, Dr. Apfelstadt was a member of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers and recorded two Grammy award winning CD’s with them in France.

She is a prolific author, having published multiple articles in professional journals, as well as several chapters in two books: Wisdom, Wit and Will: Women Choral Conductors on their Art (GIA, 2009) and Conducting Women’s Choirs: Strategies for Success (GIA, 2012). She is a contributing author to Teaching Music in Performance Through Choir, volume 4, which is slated for publication in 2017 (GIA). A member of the Editorial Board for the ACDA Choral Journal, she also writes a regular choral column for The Canadian Music Educator, the Canadian Music Educators Association journal. Her research interests include choral pedagogy; repertoire, particularly of Canadian composers; and leadership styles among conductors. She is currently preparing a book on the life and work of Canadian composer, Ruth Watson Henderson. She is a frequent conference presenter and often does conducting master classes at various levels, including several university residencies. While working in the U.S., she served ACDA both as Central Division President and also as National President. She is a Life Member of the organization.

Dr. Judy Bowers currently holds the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Endowed Chair in Music Education at the University of Louisiana Monroe, a position she accepted in 2017 after retiring from 27 years of teaching choral music education undergraduate/graduate courses at Florida State University. Immediate goals at ULM included creation of a summer MME program for practicing music teachers, plus the revision and expansion of current undergraduate music degree programs to reflect current pedagogies and essential learning experiences; both programs are now in place. Bowers’ teaching and scholarship responsibilities are frequently paired through learning partnerships that focus on teacher preparation goals for university students while enriching community and school learning opportunities for K-12 students and community participants. Examples include a 20 year middle school partnership that provided a rich learning environment for music education majors, a 3 year, life-changing prison choir partnership serving singers from across many university programs who sang each week with women residents in a correctional facility, and approximately 40 semesters of Adopt-a-Choir with area public schools. Bowers frequently presents workshops and clinics for teachers, primarily focusing on developmental teaching methods that allow for students of varying ability and training to successfully perform music together with more advanced musicians. She is an active conductor of all-state and honor choirs across the United States and Canada; in 2014 she conducted the East Africa Middle School Choral Festival in Tanzania. Bowers received multiple Excellence in Teaching awards at FSU, and has been awarded the Wayne Hugoboom Distinguished Service Award from the state ACDA Chapter of Florida. In June 2014, Judy Bowers was named a Lowell Mason National Music Education Fellow and was inducted into this society by the National Association for Music Education in Washington D.C.

Dr. Andre’ J. Thomas, the Owen F. Sellers Professor of Music, is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music Education at Florida State University. A previous faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin, Dr. Thomas received his degrees from Friends University (B.A.), Northwestern University (M. M.), and the University of Illinois (D.M.A). He is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honor/All-State Choirs throughout North America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa. Dr. Thomas has conducted choirs at the state, division, and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (NAfME) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). His international conducting credits are extensive. They include conductor/clinician for the International Federation of Choral Musicians’ summer residency of the World Youth Choir in The Republic of China and the Philippines. He was also the conductor of the winter residency of the World Youth Choir in Europe and a premier performance by an American Choir (Florida State University Singers) in Vietnam.  He has been the guest conductor of such distinguished orchestras and choirs as the  Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in England, guest Conductor for the Berlin Radio Choir and the North German Radio Choir in Germany, the Netherlands Radio Choir, The Bulgarian Radio Choir and Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, Tallahassee Symphony, China’s People’s Liberation Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Since 1988, he has also served as Artistic Director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus.

Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger.  Hinshaw Music Company, Mark Foster Music Company, Fitzsimons Music Company, Lawson Gould, Earthsongs, Choristers Guild, and Heritage Music Company all publish his compositions and arrangements.  Dr. Thomas has produced two instructional videos “What They See Is What You Get” on choral conducting, with Rodney Eichenberger, and “Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice” on adolescent voices, with Anton Armstrong. His recent book “Way Over in Beulah Lan,” Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual” has quickly become a major source in this area of study.

Thomas has been recognized by various musical organizations. The African Diaspora Sacred Music honored Dr. Thomas as a Living Legend.  In 2011, Thomas’ dedication to and accomplishments in the choral arts were recognized by his peers in Chorus America when that the organization presented Dr. Thomas with its Distinguished Service Award. In March of 2017, ACDA presented Thomas with its highest honor – the Robert Shaw Award; and in November of 2017 NCCO (National Collegiate Choral Organization) presented Thomas with its Lifetime Achievement Award.  In January 2019 he was inducted into the Florida Music Educator’s Hall of Fame.

He is a past president of the Florida ACDA and the past president of the Southern Division of ACDA, and the current President Elect of National ACDA.