Our graduates are conductors, teachers, Grammy award winners, social workers and doctors.

Notable Alumni

Sterling Allen, 2004, Director of Music and Worship Arts Ministries at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church

Sterling Martin Allen is the Director of Music and Worship Arts Ministries at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Cypress, Texas. There he conducts the Chancel Choir, the Chancel Orchestra, and oversees the multifaceted music and worship program. Previously, Dr. Allen was the Director of Music and Fine Arts at A&M United Methodist Church in College Station, Texas.  In addition to his duties there he was the Founder and Artistic Director of the Northgate Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, the Founder and Artistic Director of CAMERATA (a new all profession choral ensemble), and a Professor of Music at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas.

Dr. Allen has a driving passion for sacred choral masterworks and regularly conducts these works with choirs and orchestras in the United States and Europe. Recent presentations include Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Dubois’ Les Sept Paroles du Christ, Barnett’s The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Ray’s Gospel Mass, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Schubert’s Mass in G, Hayes’ Gloria, Chilcotte’s A Little Jazz Mass, Rutter’s Gloria, Faure’s Requiem, Hayes’ Gloria and Magnificat, and a concert of patriotic choral and wind symphony masterworks.

In addition to the conducting of major works in worship and concert, Dr. Allen regularly commissions new anthems and works by America’s leading choral composers. These new works include Dan Forrest’s Lord of the Small, In Your Footsteps, Forsaken, and O Come, All Ye Faithful (all available from Beckenhorst Publishing), Allen Pote’s I Will Sing and Not Be Silent (available from Hope Publishing Company), David Schwoebel’s Acclaim with Jubilation (available by request from the composer). As a champion of modern hymnody in worship, Dr. Allen commissioned Rev. Dr. Brian Wren to compose Glory to God – a hymn of praise celebrating the 2011 Ordination Service for the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

In demand as a conductor, Dr. Allen has conducted concerts throughout the United States as well as in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and France. With an eagerness to work with young artists, students, and conductors, Dr. Allen regularly adjudicates singing and choral competitions, works with high school choirs in preparation for competition and with church choirs eager to expand their ministry, musicianship, and repertoire.

Dr. Allen performed as a choral singer and soloist with the world-famous Centenary College Choir under the direction of Dr. Will K. Andress, University of Texas Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. James Morrow, and the Centenary College Camerata and Chorale under the direction of Dr. Julia Thorn. As a baritone opera singer and concert artist, Dr. Allen has sung the roles of Figaro and the Count in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Thomas Bouche in Kurt Weil’s Down in the Valley, Sam in Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Geronimo in Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto, and the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. On the concert stage, Dr. Allen has sung the bass/baritone soloist roles in the Requiems of Brahms, Duruflé, and Fauré, Handel’s Messiah, and Masses/Missa Brevis by Beethoven, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert. As a touring artist, Dr. Allen has sung in eight countries, in fourteen states, and at America’s great concert venues like the White House in Washington DC, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Georgia, the Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, Texas, and Disney Hall in Los Angeles, California. Internationally, Dr. Allen has been a concert soloist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland, Gloucester Catherdral in Gloucester England, Durham Cathedral in Durham, England, St. Martin’s in the Fields in London, England, and has given a solo recital of sacred music at L'église de la Madeleine in Paris, France.

Dr. Allen holds degrees in music, sacred music, and theology from the Hurley School of Music at Centenary College of Louisiana, the Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin, and from the Webber Institute. He is a protégé of Dr. Will K. Andress (Professor Emeritus of Music at Centenary College of Louisiana where he was the Director of the Centenary College Choir) and the late Dr. Gerre Hancock (Professor of Sacred Music at The University of Texas at Austin and Choirmaster Emeritus at St. Thomas Church on 5th Avenue in New York City, New York). Dr. Allen has studied voice with Dr. Timothy Jones, Dr. Oral Moses, Dr. Horace English, and Prof. David Small. He has coached with Dr. Gay Grosz, Rick Rowley, Jeanine Sasaki, Joseph Evans, and Genaro Méndez. In 2010, Dr. Allen completed his dissertation entitled “Developing a Better Understanding of the Ordo Salutis Through the Lyrical-Theology of Charles Wesley” with Dr. Don E. Saliers (Professor Emeritus of Theology at the Chandler School of Theology at Emory University).

Will K. Andress, 1960, Director Emeritus of the Centenary College Choir, Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA

Upon the occasion of his retirement in 2007, Centenary College of Louisiana named Dr. Will K. Andress "Director Emeritus" of the Centenary College Choir. College President Dr. Kenneth Schwab made the appointment in recognition of Will's exemplary 33 years (1974-2007) of leadership and service to both the Choir and the College.

Will's experience with the Centenary College Choir began much earlier, however. He was a high school senior from El Dorado, AR, in 1956 when he saw the Centenary Choir perform under the direction of Dr. A.C. "Cheesy" Voran. Even though Will had already enrolled at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, he was so impressed with the Choir that he traveled to Shreveport for an audition.

That fall, Will began his Centenary College Choir career as tenor soloist. During his years, the Choir traveled to Japan twice to sing Easter Sunrise Services for the troops on Okinawa, and made its first appearance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. During their five years together, Cheesy mentored Will, hoping to create a choir director for future generations. In his senior year at Centenary, Will served as Choir President.

After graduation, Will moved his family throughout the South while furthering his education. He earned a graduate degree in Church Music from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, a Masters in Music from East Carolina University, and a Doctor of Music from Florida State University.

In 1974, Centenary appointed Will director of the Centenary College Choir, a moment Will still recalls as "the proudest moment of my life, not including marrying Julia Ann and the gift of my two children, Knox and Libby."

Will, like Cheesy, came to be known not just as director, but also as counselor, teacher and friend to the more than 500 students who came through the choir during his tenure. His motto, often repeated, is "We are here to love people into doing great things."

Under Will's leadership, the Choir took its role as "America's Singing Ambassadors" to new heights, traveling to 31 countries on six of the seven continents, singing for many heads of state and military commanders. The Choir entertained Christmas guests at the White House seven times, and was the first Protestant choir to sing mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The choir performed in many other historic worship sites around the world, including Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, Canterbury Cathedral, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Will received Centenary College's highest honor for an alumnus - induction into Centenary's Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007. Upon his retirement, by proclamation of the Louisiana Senate and House, he was also recognized for a lifetime of commitment and service to the State of Louisiana.

In 2011, after 40 years of service, Will retired from his role as Director of Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Shreveport. He continues to serve FUMC part-time as Director of the Emmett Hook Center, a state-of-the-art performing arts center which opened in 2011. He works with the College Alumni Board on major projects as well. Will and current Centenary Choir director Dr. David Hobson also plan to continue the Choir's successful program of occasional alumni tours.


Alison Beck, 2002,Co-founder and pianist, Alison and Elizabeth Beck Duo

Pianist and composer, Alison Beck, is the first place winner of the “New Music for New York Composer Competition” sponsored by the Manhattan Chorale Ensemble, and the recipient of numerous composition prizes and commission projects. Alison’s works have been premiered by professional choirs and musicians throughout the country, including at the DiMenna Center for the Arts in New York City.

Alison has showcased her music in workshops around the nation, including the highly selective John Ness Beck Composer Workshop, where she worked closely with leading choral composers in the industry. December Carols, the sisters’ debut album of Alison’s sacred Christmas arrangements with a classical twist, was released on the Bolo Classique label and featured on radio stations in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

As a sought-after chamber musician and recording artist in New York City from 2014-2020, Alison has performed in concert venues throughout the city, including in Carnegie Hall. Her chamber music collaborations include members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the NYC Ballet Orchestra. Also in New York City, Alison was a collaborative pianist in the violin studio of Issac Malkin at the Manhattan School of Music, played for various professional and community choirs, and was a pianist for services and concerts at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

Alison earned a M.M. in piano performance from the University of North Texas on full fellowship, graduating first in her class, and a B.M. in piano performance, summa cum laude, from Centenary College. Her teachers include Dr. Pamela Mia Paul and Dr. Mark Zeltser.

Currently, Alison is attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas where she is working on a Doctor of Musical Arts in Church Music/Piano Performance with Artist in Residence, Dr. Tanya Karyagina and is employed as a staff collaborative pianist.

Alison enjoys playing section violin in community orchestras, singing in choirs, and anything that involves making music with others. Though she desperately misses her seventeen favorite NYC bakeries; she is happy to be back in the land of readily available “real” Tex-mex. 

Check out the Beckthoven Duo!

William Blake Bruchhaus, Class of 2012 Director of Music Ministry at Duke Catholic Center

Originally from Kinder, LA, Blake Bruchhaus serves as the Director of Music Ministry at the Duke Catholic Center at Duke University in Durham, NC. He holds an MAR in Liturgical Studies from Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music where he was awarded the Liturgical Studies Prize in 2023. Blake completed the Master of Sacred Music degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Notre Dame in 2016 and the Bachelor of Music degree in Sacred Music at Centenary College of Louisiana in 2012.

At Centenary, Blake was a member of the Centenary College Choir, Centenary Chorale, and Centenary Camerata, performing in Carnegie Hall, at the American Choral Directors Association’s National Convention in Chicago, and the National Collegiate Choral Organization’s National Conference at Yale University, respectively. In the Centenary College Choir, Blake served as President, Treasurer, and Bass Section Leader. 

Blake gained extensive pastoral ministry experience serving as Director of Music and Liturgy at St. George Catholic Church in Baton Rouge and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shreveport. In addition to his primary roles as a choral conductor and liturgist, Blake is a trained vocalist, pianist, and organist.

Casey Cantwell, 1985, Director of Music and Organist at Trinity Episcopal Church, Tulsa, OK

A native of Dallas, Texas, Casey Cantwell began to study the piano at five years of age in the Piano Preparatory Department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Casey earned the Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ Performance in 1985 from Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport. His teacher there was William C. Teague. While at Centenary, Casey served as Organist and Youth Choir Director at Noel Memorial United Methodist Church.
In October of 1984, Casey became the full-time Organist/Music Associate at First United Methodist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. He directed the Chapel Choir and Handbell choirs, and oversaw the renovation of the church’s 84-rank Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.

He served as Senior Organist at The Boston Avenue Church (United Methodist) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In this congregation of over 8000 members, Casey accompanied the 100-voice Chancel Choir for the 11:00 am televised service and the Chapel Choir, which sings for the 8:30 a.m. service each Sunday. In addition, he produced a recital series on the church’s 105-rank Müller pipe organ. At the time, the Boston Avenue Church was one of the six largest United Methodist Churches in the world.

In September of 2001, Casey was asked to become the Associate Organist/Choirmaster and Director of Communications for Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa. In this capacity, he shared playing and conducting responsibilities with Stephen Tappe, Organist/Choirmaster, and handled all the publicity for the parish. In September of 2004 Casey became the Organist and Director of Music for Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa. In April of 2012 he moved on to Director of Communications.

Casey is also known as a concert organist and has performed all over the US, as well as Munich, Florence, Assisi, and Rome including the Sunday High Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. In August of 2007 he took the Trinity Choir to England where they were in residency at Ely Cathedral, singing Evensong each day.
Casey has been published in the Choristers Guild Letters and has done numerous workshops and reading sessions, and has been a Housemaster for the Tulsa course of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) for seven years. Casey served on the National Council of The American Guild of Organists for three consecutive terms 2005, and has served as Dean of the Tulsa AGO Chapter. He is a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians, the American Choral Directors Association and is listed in Who’s Who in America.


Octavio Cardenas, 2000, Assistant Professor of Opera at Eastman School of Music

Stage director Octavio Cardenas captivates audiences with his visionary, visceral, and physical style of directing. Born in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, Opera News has praised him for creating “an immersive theater experience” while the Dallas Morning News hailed him for bringing “every character and situation to life.” Recent projects include Papermoon’s production of Barber of Seville with Opera Delaware, Lohengrin by Salvatore Sciarrino as a pop-up digital opera installation: a site-specific opera for COVID times in collaboration with artist Lance McGoldrick and Opera Southwest, Cruzar la cara de la Luna with Opera Santa Barbara, and the world premiere of Zorro by Hector Armienta with Opera Southwest.

Mr. Cardenas’ recent productions of Silent Night for Fort Worth Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City were described as “a breathtaking realization” with “many brilliant touches.” The Kansas City Star called the Lyric Opera’s production “one of its finest performances in recent memory.” Other recent productions include La bohème for Minnesota opera to which the Start Tribune acclaimed, “what makes the production a success, is Octavio Cardenas' staging." His production of As One for UrbanArias was acclaimed by MD Theater Guide, “Under the direction of Octavio Cardenas, the two stars playfully make great use of both stage and energetic space—it seemed the theatre condensed and expanded with Hannah’s journey.”

As the former Director of Opera for Baylor University, Mr. Cardenas directed productions of L’elisir d’amore, The Turn of the Screw, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Die Fledermaus, Man of La Mancha, La finta giardiniera, HMS Pinafore and Rita. He was Visiting Director of Opera at Chapman University where he directed Florencia en el Amazonas by Daniel Catán. He was a Resident Artist at Minnesota Opera for 4 seasons and has served as the Head of Directing Staff at Des Moines Metro Opera where he directed very successful site-specific productions of María de Buenos Aires in a Black Box, Rappaccini’s Daughter at Des Moines Botanical Gardens, Galileo Galilei at a Planetarium, The Tender Land on a corn field and La bohème for the main stage. He has also been on the directing staff at Chautauqua Opera and is currently a Professor of Opera at The Eastman School of Music where he will be directing Florencia en el Amazonas.

He received his Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from UCLA, a Master of Music from the University of South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Centenary College in Louisiana.

Emerson Corley, 1986, Founder, Entourage Jazz Ensemble

Emerson Corley, founded Entourage, an eclectic ensemble in the summer of 2007 and established Entourage Jazz in 2010. Trained as a classical singer most accustomed to performing the works of Bach and Mozart, Emerson became interested in singing in other genres as well.

Since starting Entourage Jazz, Emerson has comfortably transitioned from pop and classical repertoires to the jazz realm, specializing in standards from The Great American Songbook. Emerson's musical influences reflect the broad spectrum of music that has been performed. “On a daily basis, I am equally inspired by opera greats such as Frederica von Stade and Leontyne Price, jazz sensations Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall and Nat King Cole to pop/rock legends Karen Carpenter and the Beatles.”

Coming from a musical family, Emerson was encouraged early on to pursue formal training and education in music, having received a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory of Music, Boston. An avid performer, Emerson is excited to have made the transition from the opera stage to the jazz stage. “I am incredibly blessed to work with the amazingly gifted and versatile musicians who comprise Entourage Jazz. We have an absolute blast together.”

When not singing, Emerson is playing any type of percussion instrument on hand, including drums and banjo.  Emerson's passion for music is supported by a career as a Clinical Social Worker in private practice.

John Cowden, 2001, Director of Traditional Music at Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur, GA

John Cowden is the Director of Music at Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur, Georgia, where he oversees a dynamic music ministry focused on building relationships through music that includes choirs and handbell groups for people of all ages and abilities.

John had planned to make a career out of conducting a band in the armed forces, earning his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from Centenary College of Louisiana, but abruptly changed direction in his career after serving part time in a small church in north Shreveport. He and his wife (herself a graduate of Centenary College) moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he earned the Master of Sacred Music degree from Emory University, studying under Dr. Eric Nelson and performing at the national ACDA convention.

Following his time at Emory, John served as full time Director of Music at Embry Hills UMC and Decatur First UMC, where in addition to leading the music ministry he led clinics and workshops in handbell music, handbell techniques, and traditional worship. Choirs from Decatur First and Oak Grove have toured and performed nationally. John has also served as Assistant Director of the Atlanta Sacred Chorale (now the Atlanta Master Chorale) and guest conductor for the Callanwolde Concert Band.

Costas Dafnis, 2009, Composer

Costas Dafnis is a composer and artist based in California. His work has been awarded by New Music USA, the American Prize, International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition, and the Dallas Winds. His Mariana for soprano and processed underwater audio was featured by NOAA/PMEL in an article called “The Music of Challenger Deep” and his 2019 set of Cajun-language art songs is the subject of soprano Nancy Carey’s series of DMA lecture recitals and dissertation. Upcoming premieres include works for the SoCal Brass Consortium, the Greek Chamber Music Project and the Ferndale Public Schools Orchestra, a new piece for wind ensemble, theater and dance companies. His orchestral work was featured at the 2019 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music’s In the Works series and his music for media will be heard in the indie feature Overwhelm The Sky and at Cinequest in CR Coppola’s VR short, Universe At Play. Costas plays mandolin, designs experimental instruments, conducts and curates New Music at New Vision, and lectures in film at San Francisco Art Institute as well as Technology and Applied Composition at the San Francisco Conservatory.

Taylor Davis, 2003, Composer

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as penning “dreamy vocal lines” that “overlap and intensify to stunning effect”, Taylor Scott Davis’ “inspired pen” (Opera Today) is much in demand by vocal groups and orchestras around the globe. His music has been described as “sonically luxurious”, memorable and inspiring of hope, and his belief in supporting collaboration, diversity and creating musical opportunities at all levels underpins all. From “full filmic blockbuster technicolour” to ravaging, soulful countermelodies and harmonies, Taylor’s music has a unique and timely voice.
“it’s the sumptuousness velvetiness of the textures, the propelling nature of the counterpoint, the contrasts of light and darkness, the prevailing exultancy – that really draw the listener’s attention” (Opera Today; ‘To Sing of Love: a Triptych’ for violin, choir, orchestra)

A Choral Christmas, Decca Classics’ 2023 Christmas album will be released this autumn and features the world premiere recording of Taylor’s Magnificat and five new carol arrangements performed by the VOCES8 Foundation Choir and Orchestra, Jack Liebeck and Barnaby Smith. Originally commissioned for LIVE From London Christmas 2021 the online premiere of the carols was part of a lavish choral/orchestral extravaganza narrated by Tamsin Greig and was viewed/ received acclaim in over 180 territories across the media. O come, O come Emmanuel received over a quarter of a million views/listens in under a month, and Silent Night was a close second, receiving its world premiere on Classic FM radio and online. Taylor’s Magnificat will be premiered at Carnegie Hall, New York in May 2024.

Upcoming piece premieres include A Mosaic Mass - an idea created and curated by Taylor to promote multiple collaborative opportunities for composers and communities – the mass project will receive its first iteration at London’s Cadogan Hall in March 2024. Alongside Taylor, the four penning movements for Cadogan Hall’s A Mosaic Mass will be composing friends Jocelyn Hagen, Ken Burton, Jim Clements and Paul Smith, writing for 200 US students uniting under the guidance of VOCES8.

Stardust has been premiered around the world by VOCES8 and will appear on the group’s next Decca Classics release in 2024 – there is an orchestrated arrangement of the piece newly available. New work ‘To Sing of Love: a Triptych’ for violin, choir and orchestra received its online premiere in LIVE From London Summer 2023 and is planned for release in 2024. Additionally, Jubilate Deo, recent new commission from the Fort Worth Chorale for orchestra and choir was premiered and conducted by Dr. Karen Kenaston-French to a standing ovation.

Upcoming collaborations include Wind Phone with text by renowned poet Charles Anthony Silvestri, new commission for Texas Master Chorale and a new Requiem for VOCES8 as well as future projects including A Migrant’s Mass which was inspired by the image of a particularly visceral drowning in the ongoing global immigration crisis. A Migrant’s Mass includes as its Credo text, a poem from a WWII concentration camp:

“I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.

I believe in love even when I do not feel.

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem,

factorem cæli et terræ, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

I believe in God even when he is silent.”

Taylor has written and arranged for groups including the Grammy-winning choir Conspirare and regularly collaborates with VOCES8 as well as chamber ensembles such as the English Chamber Orchestra and symphony orchestras around the world. He often conducts his own performances with players from top London orchestras and Fort Worth, Dallas, and Houston symphony orchestras. Taylor’s ensemble music has been performed throughout the USA, Europe, South America, and South Africa, and his gaming music has been played around the world.

Published primarily by MorningStar Music, Taylor has also been commissioned to write a series of four new Christmas Suites, edited by Bradley Ellingboe and Dr. Jennaya Robison for National Music Publishing USA. The first, Journey into Light, was premiered by the conservatory choirs at UMKC and the Topeka Symphony in December 2022 and is now available to perform.

When not writing or conducting, Taylor Scott Davis serves as the Director of Music and Worship Arts at St. Andrew Methodist Church in Plano, Texas. He is a 2003 graduate and notable alumnus of Centenary College of Louisiana. Taylor earned a Bachelor of Sacred Music degree while studying conducting with Dr. Julia Brasher Thorn, as well as intensive courses with Dr. Sandra Willets, Dr. Ann Howard Jones, Paul Oakley, Alice Parker, and Jane Marshall. He has also studied composition with Dr. Eric McIntyre, Ms. Parker, and Ms. Marshall. In 2004, he became a Fellow of Melodious Accord.

“This was a programme of the ‘old’ made ‘new’. Taylor Scott Davis’ new arrangements of six traditional carols had a dazzling Romantic sweep which the Orchestra of 50 musicians – led by Jack Liebeck and the Carducci Quartet – and 24-strong Choir relished.  Imaginative instrumentations, new chord progressions and textures, re-harmonisations and added melodic strands brought freshness to the familiar themes.” (Opera Today)

Karl Dent, 1975,Two-time Grammy Award winner

Two-time Grammy Award winner; Professor Emeritus of Voice and Choral Studies, Texas Tech University, Waco, TX 

Karl Dent, tenor, is Professor Emertius of Voice & Choral Studies at Texas Tech University, having served on the School of Music faculty for 19 years. He formerly served on the music faculties of Hardin-Simmons University and The University of Texas at Dallas. Mr. Dent earned the Bachelor of Music with Teacher Certification degree at Centenary College, and the Master of Music in Vocal Performance degree at The University of North Texas.

During his tenure on the Tech faculty, Mr. Dent has graduated from his studio many singers with excellent professional potential, many of whom have gone on to advanced careers in opera, oratorio, and concert repertoire. These singers are making substantial contributions to their chosen fields, and are advancing the reputation of their former studio and of the Texas Tech University School of Music.

In addition to a singing studio and career, and for the last five years, Mr. Dent has taken up several new passions and careers – as a director of a male chorus, and as composer/arranger. Appointed director of the TTU male chorus in 2008, Mr. Dent reformed the group under the named MATADOR SINGERS, and began a new direction for this choir. Fifty voices strong, this ensemble has gained a place in the musical culture and traditions at TTU (see Ensembles). As a composer/arranger, Mr. Dent has written or arranged nearly 60 arrangements for male voices, many of which are usually programmed for the MATADOR SINGERS. His first composition to be published, entitled Gloria in excelsis Deo, will be released by Carl Fischer Publications in 2013.

Karl Dent has performed extensively in oratorio, concert and recital, having appeared nationally with numerous symphony orchestras. Mr. Dent made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1993 as soloist in the Berlioz Requiem, under the direction of Robert Shaw, and returned there in 1994 to sing the tenor arias in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. He made his 1991 debut with the New York Philharmonic in Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor. He has also appeared in return engagements with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C.

Recent engagements include performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Atlanta Symphony and at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Robert Shaw conducting; Handel’s Messiah with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra; and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on the Highlander Concert Series, Dallas. In addition, Mr. Dent assisted in dedicating the new concert facility at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston, by appearing as tenor soloist in Verdi’s Requiem, Robert Shaw conducting.

Other recents appearances have included Schubert’s Mass in E Flat with The Cleveland Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Carnegie Hall under Robert Shaw, and also with Richard Hickox and the Dallas Symphony, Mozart’s Coronation Mass with Christopher Hogwood and the Handel & Haydn Society, Haydn’s The Creation with the Naples Symphony, and Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz, conducting. He has also appeared recently in performances of Mozart’sGreat Mass in C Minor and Barber’s Prayers of Kirkegaard with the Baltimore Symphony, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells and the Berlioz’ L’Enfance du Christ with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers at the New York’s Church of St. John the Divine, Mozart’s Coronation Mass with Christopher Hogwood and the San Antonio Symphony, Handel’s Messiah with Christopher Seamons and the San Francisco Symphony, and Bach’s St. John Passion with the North Carolina Symphony.

Opera engagements include performances with the companies of Dallas, Albuquerque, Fort Worth, and Shreveport, highlighted by portrayals of Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. Mr. Dent created the role of Conrad in the world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s The Goose Girl. Mr. Dent has also appeared as soloist at major music festivals, including Mozart’s Requiem with Robert Shaw at the Tanglewood Music Festival, as well as the Cincinnati May Festival, the Bach Aria Festival in Stony Brook, the Round Top Early Music Festival, and the New Texas Festival. His numerous performances with Robert Shaw began in the 1989 performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Dallas Symphony, and include the world premiere of Menotti’s For the Death of Orpheus for tenor, chorus and orchestra with the Atlanta Symphony. In addition, he has attended the Robert Shaw Institute in Quercy, France as soloist in the Rachmaninoff Vespers, Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Aus der tiefe, and the Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer.

Mr. Dent’s recording credits on the TELARC label include two Grammy winning recordings. Most recently, Mr. Dent received a Grammy as principal soloist in Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, which won Best Choral Recording for 1997. The Rachmaninoff Vespers, recorded in 1989, featuring Mr. Dent as soloist, was awarded a Grammy for Best Technical Recording for 1990. Other recordings include the Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer, the Schubert Songs for Male Chorus, and Grand & Glorious, a recording of opera choruses. His recording with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony of Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass received a Grammy nomination as Best Choral Recording of 1990. Most recently, Mr. Dent appears as soloist on the CONSPIRARE recording, through the green fuse.


James Eakin, 1999, Composer

James Eakin was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana.  From an early age, he was drawn to his native blues and jazz as well as classical and film music, playing everything he heard by ear on the piano. His composition career officially began when Dr. Timothy Seelig appointed him as the first composer-in-residence for the renowned Turtle Creek Chorale.

Eakin's music catalog is prolific and spans genres from Concert Hall to Pop/Rock. He has composed works for Maya Angelou’s 80th Birthday celebration, the President’s Christmas Gala at the White House, and the Aspen Music Festival to name a few. James’ music is regularly performed at Carnegie Hall including his hour-long “Flowers over the Graves of War” for Chorus, Soloists, and Orchestra which premiered to a sold-out audience. Most recently, his “#twitterlieder: 15 tweets in 3 acts,” premiered by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at Davies Symphony Hall, was the subject of a nationally aired PBS documentary and was awarded the American Prize in Composition.

He holds a Bachelor of Music from Centenary College (2000), a Master of Music from Southern Methodist University (2003), and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Composition from the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City (2007).  James has had the privilege of studying with some of music’s most prominent composers: John Corigliano, Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Jack Smalley, George Tsontakis, and Bruce Broughton.

Victoria Fischer Faw,1976, Internationally known Bartók scholar

Victoria Fischer Faw is a pianist, teacher and scholar at Elon University with a special emphasis on the music of Béla Bartók and the issues that defined his unique and influential style. The history of Dr. Fischer’s fascination with Bartók’s music began in graduate school: As she was completing her dissertation about the sources and performance practice of Bartók’s Fourteen Bagatelles, Op. 6, she attended, and took the first prize, at Radford University’s 1990 Bartók-Kabalevsky International Piano Competition.

Dr. Fischer joined the music faculty of Elon University in North Carolina that same year. Through the years her concerts and lectures have taken her around the world and across the country to share her theories and discoveries about the issues that inform performance practice in Bartók’s music. Because of her ongoing specialization in Bartók studies as scholar and performer, she was invited to direct an international Bartók Symposium at Radford in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death. The Radford University Bartók Symposium proved to be a momentous meeting of many of the greatest scholars and performers working in the Bartók world, contributing eventually to Bartók Perspectives: Man, Composer, & Ethnomusicologist edited by Elliott Antokoletz, Victoria Fischer, and Benjamin Suchoff, an Oxford University Press book which included the lectures presented at Radford.

Other publications include a chapter contributed to A Bartók Companion (Cambridge University Press) and articles in Studia Musicology and The International Journal of Musicology.

Dr. Fischer received her musical education at Centenary College of Louisiana (B.M. in piano performance), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (M.A. in musicology), the University of Texas at Austin (M.M. and D.M.A. in piano performance), and the Vienna Conservatory in Vienna, Austria. She has received grants from Rotary Foundation International, Fulbright, and IREX. She pursues an active career as performer, scholar, teacher and adjudicator, with activities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Italy, Hungary, England, Greece, Germany, Austria, and Belize.

Now in her twenty-fourth year on the music faculty at Elon University, she has also served as Visiting Professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and the University of Belize. At Elon she teaches piano, piano pedagogy, and music research. Recipient of a full-year sabbatical leave from Elon 2012 -2013, she is deeply engaged in her present research, which continues to explore the scholarship of performance and pedagogy in the piano music of Bartok. When not at Elon, she lives on a Christmas tree farm in Glade Valley, NC with husband Stephen.


Shannon Gallier, 2007, Director of Music at St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, LA

Shannon Gallier is Director of Music at St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At St. James, Shannon oversees a vibrant and growing music program based in the English Cathedral tradition. At St. James, Shannon has overseen the installation of a new pipe organ, as well as the top-to-bottom rebuilding of the church’s music ministry to include three choirs for all ages, made up of more than fifty singers. Previously, he has served Episcopal parishes in the Dioceses of Western Louisiana, Indianapolis, Florida, Atlanta, and Louisiana. Shannon is an active member of the Royal School of Church Music in America, having served as staff and director at many of their Summer Training Courses. He is a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians and the American Guild of Organists and holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana and Indiana University, where his teachers included Hollice Watson, Larry Smith and Todd Wilson. His first organ studies were with Jerome Wells, another Centenary graduate. He has performed organ recitals throughout the United States. In his free time, Shannon is a history buff and a passionate, if amateur, sailor.

Jill Bowen-Gardner, 1990, World-class Soprano

Noted for her “effortlessly produced, rich voice,” American Soprano Jill Gardner is swiftly establishing herself among today’s leading operatic heroines.

Recognized as a “lyrico spinto, Puccini girl through and through,” Ms. Gardner has sung over 50 performances of her signature role of Tosca in recent seasons with such notable American companies as Opera Carolina, Arizona Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Hawai‘i Opera Theater, Toledo Opera, Lyric Opera of Baltimore, Piedmont Opera and in a new production with Mill City Summer Opera to name a few. Opera News calls Ms. Gardner’s interpretation of Tosca “fresh and focused” and states “in Gardner’s hands, her Act II aria, ‘Vissi d’arte’, was not merely a famous showstopper but an opportunity to reveal layers of Tosca’s character…” In the upcoming 2019–2020 season, Ms. Gardner sings her signature role of Tosca for Tri-Cities Opera and Eugene Opera and returns to Maryland Lyric Opera to sing the role of Giorgetta in Il Tabarro and debut the role of Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana.

Ms. Gardner has received critical acclaim for her many portrayals of the leading ladies of the verismo repertoire as well as contemporary heroines. During the past two seasons, the Southern soprano made her debut in the iconic role of Blanche Dubois in André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire for Hawai‘i Opera Theater; debuted the role of Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West to great acclaim at Virginia Opera and as a last-minute replacement for Maryland Lyric Opera; returned to her spell-binding performance of Lady MacBeth in Verdi’s Macbeth for Opera Tampa as well as creating the role of Mildred in the highly-anticipated world premiere production of Richard Auldon Clark’s and Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday Wanda June for Indianapolis Opera. In previous seasons, Ms. Gardner performed Manon Lescaut with Opera Grand Rapids; Madama Butterfly with Arizona Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Piedmont Opera and Greensboro Opera; Giorgetta/Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica with Opera Carolina; Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth with Michigan Opera Theater and Chautauqua Opera; Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Eugene Opera; Mimì in La Bohème with Boston Lyric Opera; Musetta in La Bohème with Florida Grand Opera; Marguerite in Faust with Madison Opera; Minnie in La Fanciulla del West with Opera Coeur d’Alene, in her role début; and Nedda in Pagliacci with Michigan Opera Theater, Mill City Summer Opera and in her début with Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other highlights from recent seasons include portrayals of Leonora in Il Trovatore with Piedmont Opera, Liù in Turandot with Arizona Opera, Helmwige in Die Walküre with Hawai‘i Opera Theater and joining the roster of Washington National Opera for their production of Manon Lescaut.

Equally at home in the operetta and musical theater traditions, Ms. Gardner made her role debut as Anna Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene for Virginia Opera in the fall of 2018, gave the first inaugural opera house performances of the role of Margaret Johnson in Adam Guettel’s Light in the Piazza with Piedmont Opera and has enjoyed success in Lehar’s The Merry Widow (Syracuse Opera) as well as Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (Hawai‘i Opera Theater). On the concert stage, she has performed with such ensembles as the Washington Chorus in a Puccini Concert; the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in a Verdi/Mascagni/Wagner Concert; the role of Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s operatic tragedy Dialogues des Carmélites with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Winston-Salem Symphony; Gala Concerts for Opera Carolina, Greensboro Opera and Anchorage Opera; Verdi’s Requiem in Dallas; Beethoven’s Mass in C Major with the Wichita Symphony; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the Syracuse Symphony as well as the Brahms Requiem, Wagner’s Ring Cycle in One Night and Holiday Pops Concerts with the Binghamton Philharmonic.

An alumna of the Young Artist Programs of Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Tri-Cities Opera in upstate New York, Ms. Gardner created the role of Madame Loiseau in the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good, which was recorded live in the Alice Busch Opera House of the Glimmerglass Festival for the Naxos Label. She has been a Southeast Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as well as a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Centenary College of Louisiana.

Ms. Gardner currently resides in Kernersville, NC with her beloved pups, Frida and Bear.

Rebecca Geihsler-Chittom, 2001, Associate Professor of Music, Chair of Music and Voice Area Coordinator at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS.

Dr. Rebecca Geihsler-Chittom, a native of New Orleans, is the Interim Chair of the Music Department, Associate Professor of Music, and Voice Area Coordinator.

In addition to teaching private voice and other music related courses, she has served as the music director for past Belhaven productions including The Secret Garden, Little Women, Big Fish, Curtains, and Into the Woods.

Dr. Geihsler-Chittom holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Centenary College of Louisiana, a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance and Doctor of Arts in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Mississippi, where she held a University Fellowship and an Assistantship in Opera. She has been a finalist in both State and Regional NATS Student Auditions and represented the University of Mississippi on several occasions in performances at the National Opera Association Convention and the Midwest Opera Festival.

She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the American Choral Directors Association. Past operatic and musical theatre roles include: Letitia in Old Maid and the Thief, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Ms. Silverpeal in The lmpressario, Little Red in Little Red Riding Hood, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Ann Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Marianne in Tartuffe, Papagnena in The Magic Flute, CasiIda in The Gondoliers, Tuptim in The King and I, and Minnie Fay in Hello Dolly.

She lives in Clinton with her husband and eight children.

Bernard Gordillo,1995, World-class Harpsichordist

Bernard Gordillo a native of Nicaragua, has performed on harpsichord and chamber organ throughout the United States, Western Europe, and Israel, appearing at a number of festivals and concert series including the Aldeburgh Festival, Berkeley Festival Fringe, Bloomington Early Music Festival, Cheltenham Festival of Music, Innsbruck International Festival of Early Music, Indiana University Summer Music Festival, Royaumont Saison Musicale, and Stoke Newington Early Music Festival.

Recent seasons have seen him perform with Baroque Northwest (Seattle), Music of the Baroque (Chicago), Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Catacoustic Consort (Cincinnati), and Camerata Bach (Managua, Nicaragua).

Bernard has accompanied in numerous masterclasses, notably at the Handel House Museum in London, the Innsbruck Summer Academy as accompanist-in-residence, and the Britten-Pears School where he was a Young Artist. He has been a staff accompanist in the Choral and Early Music departments at Indiana University, in addition to holding a long-term position as harpsichordist for its Pre-College Recorder Program.

Bernard was a finalist in the Guildhall School’s prestigious Deutsche Bank Pyramid Award for his group L’AURA and held a Corporation of London scholarship for Baroque keyboard accompaniment. In 2006, L’AURA was a first-prize winner of the Indiana University Latin American Music Center’s competition in the performance of music from Spain and Latin America. The ensemble was featured in a recording of wedding and ceremonial music entitled Beautiful Baroque, produced by WFIU Public Radio, Indiana University.

For five seasons, Bernard was the writer, programmer, and assistant producer for Harmonia, a nationally-syndicated Public Radio program dedicated to presenting early music in a new light. He was also the host and producer of the Harmonia Early Music Podcast. Both the program and podcast were productions of WFIU Public Radio.

From October 2011, he spent a year in Nicaragua as a Fulbright Fellow, looking for the vestiges of Spanish colonial music and culture, as well as exploring a large collection of manuscripts by 19th- and 20th-century Nicaraguan composers. During this period, he initiated a series of lectures on Nicaraguan music history at the National History Institute of Nicaragua and Central America ("IHNCA," Managua), where he was based during the fellowship. He also worked closely with the US Embassy in Managua, which presented him in a series of solo harpsichord recitals, in and out of the capital. He took part in a number of concerts at the Rubén Darío National Theater as both soloist and chamber musician, working closely with the nationally-recognized chamber ensemble Camerata Bach, in addition to appearing as concerto soloist with the Rubén Darío Youth Symphony.

Since completing the Fulbright year, Bernard has committed himself to the research he began in Nicaragua and continues his work at IHNCA. Most recently, he presented another cycle of lectures on Nicaraguan music history topics at the institute, his first documentary short film as part of the cycle, and collaborated with the French Embassy and Alliance française (Managua) in a national recital tour with French violinist Brigitte Ley. As well, he presented his first photography exhibition, "One Year in Nicaragua," in the capital as an extension of his first self-published book (2013) of the same title.

Bernard holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London).


Gay Grosz, 2001, Professor of Music at Centenary College

A native of Shreveport, Dr. Gay Grosz is a long-time member of the piano faculty at the Hurley School of Music of Centenary College where she teaches applied piano, music theory, and music appreciation.  Dr. Grosz received her undergraduate degree from Centenary College where she studied with Constance Carroll.  She received both her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from LSU in Baton Rouge.  Dr. Grosz serves as organist at First Baptist Church in Shreveport, and she also serves on the faculty of the FBC Academy for the Arts.  She is principal pianist for the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the Evangeline Trio and the Baroque Artists of Shreveport.

David Hobson,1998, Director of the Centenary College Choir, Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA

David Hobson began directorship of the Centenary College Choir in the fall of 2007, becoming only the fourth conductor in the choir’s 71 year history and the second to hold the prestigious A.C. Cheesy Voran Chair. In the first five years of his leadership, the Choir sang over 40 performances across the south, continuing the rich legacy established by his predecessors.

In 2009 he continued the Choir's program of international touring when he took the Choir to New Zealand and Australia, where the highlight was performing to a sold out performance at the world-famous Sydney Opera House. In 2011, the Centenary College Choir toured Brazil and Argentina, and a tour of Italy is planned in 2013. February 2012 included Hobson preparing the Choir for its Carnegie Hall debut, performing Choir alumnus Dr. James Eakin's world premiere of Flowers Over the Graves of War. Hobson also serves as full-time faculty in the Hurley School of Music, heading the Sacred Music program among other teaching responsibilities.

Hobson is a 1998 alumnus of Centenary College and the Choir, earning a Bachelor of Music degree with honors. His tutelage under Will Andress while in the Centenary Choir as well as church music classes helped shape his career upon leaving Centenary. He later completed the Master of Sacred Music program at Emory University, studying conducting with Eric Nelson. In 2010 he earned the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at Louisiana State University, where he was a student of Ken Fulton.

He remains active in church music ministry, having served churches in Shreveport, Atlanta, and Baton Rouge, directing vocal and handbell choirs of all ages. His youth choirs have toured extensively across the South and Midwest. Most recently, Hobson staged and directed church productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Godspell, and Fiddler on the Roof at University United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. He has also led several seminars in the area of music and worship for various churches and is available as a guest choral clinician in both academic and religious settings. Hobson served Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Shreveport from 2007 to 2011. In July 2011, Hobson was named Director of Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Shreveport.

David is married to Centenary alumna Dr. Emily Robinson Hobson, a pediatrician. They have three children - Hannah, Landry, and Andrew.


Stacy Hood, 2004, Director of Worship Related Ministries, Grace Community Church, Shreveport, LA

Stacy Hood is the Director of Worship Related Ministries at Grace Community Church, A UMC Congregation, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Stacy has also recently reopened her private music studio.

Stacy is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana, with an undergraduate degree in Music Education and a Graduate Degree in Educational Administration. She has also competed the Basic Graduate Theological Studies (36 hours) recognized by the United Methodist Church.

Stacy has greatly enjoyed her work with the United Methodist Publishing House, publishing on her own and with co-author Rob Weber. Rekindling Your Music Ministry, ReConnecting Worship, and Igniting Worship Communion name a few of the publishing endeavors. She has composed for 2 UMPH Vacation Bible School programs and has worked with various other UMPH projects, including selection to the United Methodist Hymnal Revision Committee in 2008.

A Seed Is A Promise, celebrating 135 years of UMW in mission, and My Louisiana, the CD project for hurricane relief in Louisiana, were two of Stacy's most meaningful works. Stacy's original dramatic creations, music, children's music, and original piano music for group labs are what she considers some of her most exciting work.

Stacy works with churches across the country to celebrate and evaluate current worshipping congregations to move with rejuvenated creativity into the future. Through individual consultations with worship directors, music directors, and pastors, Stacy helps worship teams work more effectively to allow God to be more fully alive through the many threads of worship that are woven together each week.

Stacy has led many workshops for the General Board of Discipleship and the General Board of Global Ministries as well as other conference events around the country.

Connecting with God and reaching out to others through worship is a great joy for Stacy. Participating at General Conference 2012 with Marcia McFee to provide leadership during times of worship was one of those joys. In 2011, Stacy led worship for the WGRS School of Mission for the United Methodist Women in Abilene, Texas. Stacy has also participated in worship leadership for the Global Women's Assembly 2010 in St. Louis and was a part of the team four years prior in Anaheim, CA. Stacy has led worship across the country and abroad, possessing the unique ability to help older and younger generations worship in engaging ways without comprising tradition or innovation.


R. DeAndre Johnson, 2004, Pastor of Discipleship at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston, TX

Rev. R. DeAndre Johnson is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in Sacred Music at Centenary College of Louisiana where he was a member of the Centenary College Choir and Centenary College Camerata under the leadership of Dr. Will K. Andress and Dr. Julia B. Thorn, respectively. He also received a Master’s of Sacred Music from Southern Methodist University where he studied with Dr. Alfred Calabrese, Dr. Pamela Elrod Huffman and Dr. C. Michael Hawn. He has served as a worship leader and consultant or several churches and conferences, including the GBHEM Exploration events in Denver (2013) and Portland (2017), the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (2016), the World Methodist Conference (2016), the Louisiana Annual Conference (2018-2020), North Texas Annual Conference (2017-2019) and the Texas Annual Conference (2007-2013). In addition to these, DeAndre has also served as the chorus master and guest conductor for the Houston Ebony Opera Guild and a member of the editorial team for WorshipArts, a periodical of The Fellowship of Worship Artists.

Timothy Jones, 1988, World-class Bass-Baritone

Timothy Jones, Doctorate of Musical Arts University of Michigan, is an American Bass-Baritone who enjoys a reputation as a charismatic presence on operatic and concert stages throughout the United States, Europe and South America. The Boston Globe hailed his voice as "stentorian and honeyed" and the Chicago Tribune called his "complete connection with the text extraordinary." The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review praised him for his theatricality, noting that he "relished the dramatic possibilities of the songs' text and music." His eagerly anticipated performances combine intelligent musicianship, commanding vocal technique and a unique ability to connect with audiences. A distinguished concert performer, Mr. Jones has soloed with the Cleveland Orchestra singing Handel's Messiah and Bach's St. Matthew Passion. He has also performed with Boston Baroque, Baltimore Symphony, St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, Austin Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, New Haven Symphony, Portland Symphony, Saginaw Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Utah Symphony, Wichita Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony. Dr. Jones is widely celebrated as an enthusiastic champion of new and contemporary music. His tour de force performance of Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies was called "an amazing feat, making unnatural demands seem natural … bizarre behavior coalesced into a sympathetic portrayal." (The Salt Lake Tribune) He has commissioned and premiered numerous compositions by composers Derek Beryl, Robert Avalon, James Balentine, Laura Carmichael, John Vasconcelos Costa, Kevin Puts, Marcus Maroney, Pierre Jalbert, Karim Al-Zand, Anthony Brandt, Kieren MacMillian, David Passmore, David Cutler, Jeffrey Goldberg, David Heuser, Doug Opel, and Jeffrey Nytch. His annual appearances with Kevin Noe and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble are a highpoint of the season. The Salt Lake Tribune raved over his performance of Argento's A Waterbird Talk conducted by Keith Lockhart, stating "Jones was a marvelous singing actor…. His wry enjoyment was contagious." His performance of Pulitzer Prize Winning Composer Kevin Puts' Einstein on Mercer Street is featured on PNME's recent recording Against the Emptiness. Other recordings include "Drunken Moon" and "The World of Ruth Crawford Seeger".

Thomas Holt Kirkendoll, 2010, Head of Theatre Arts at South Houston High School

NYC-based Musical Theatre Actor

Sun-hee Lee, 2013, Post Doctoral Fellow, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

More information coming soon!

Lori Lusted, 2008, NYC-based Musical Theatre Actress

Lori Lusted is a native of Baton Rouge, LA. She is thankful to have grown up in a household where she was inspired by her parents, who are both professional musicians. Her father is a Classical guitarist and her mother is a private piano instructor, church organist, and choir director.

Lori holds a B.M. in Vocal Music Education and a B.A. in German from Centenary College of LA. Her undergraduate degrees afforded her the opportunity to teach for two years as a middle and high school choir and drama teacher before continuing on to grad school to pursue her first love, performing. Lori graduated from Oklahoma City University (OCU) with a M.M. in Music Theater in May 2012.

Directly after graduating, Lori played Roxie Hart in Chicago and Sally Brown in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown with McLeod Summer Playhouse in Carbondale, IL. She then played the leading role of Katie Lapp in a new musical called The Confession (based on The New York Times Bestseller of the same name) with Blue Gate Musicals. Lori returned to McLeod to perform the roles of Jeanie in Hair and Grace Farrell in Annie for the Summer 2013 season. Most recently, she made her NYC debut with Atlantis! The Musical as part of the Emerging Artist's Theatre New Works Series. Currently, she is in rehearsals for an exciting, steampunk version of Oliver! with The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, NY.

Lori loves performing both music theater and opera and performed in Light Opera Oklahoma’s Evita (Mistress), Trouble in Tahiti (Trio Soprano), and The Light in the Piazza. With Shreveport Opera she performed in Carousel, Carmen, Manon Lescaut, and Cosi Fan Tutte, as well as the title role in Amahl and the Night Visitors. OCU credits include Carrie the Musical (Carrie), Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene (u/s)/ Herod Dancer), and the Opernprobe (Die Baronin). Previous favorite credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (Millie), Clue the Musical (Miss Scarlet), La Rondine (Lisette), and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (Le Feu). She has also performed the soprano solos in Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Missa Brevis and most recently, Mozart's Mass in C minor.

She is now based in NYC and is pursuing her dreams to build a career as a musical theater actress.


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Adam Philley, Assistant Professor of Choir and Vocal Studies at Northwestern State University and Chief Conductor of Prisma Vocal Ensemble

Adam Philley, holds a M.M in Choral Conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a B.M. in Sacred Music from Centenary College of Louisiana.

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Jacob Porter, 2000, Owner, Strangewood Guitar Company

Jacob Porter is a guitarist who studied under Susan Graham at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he received degrees in Classical Guitar Performance and Business Administration. He went on to study under Robert Guthrie at Southern Methodist University where he received his Masters of Music in Classical Guitar Performance.

In 2001, Mr. Porter had the privilege of performing for the opening of Southern Methodist University's Meadows Museum of Art, at which the King of Spain was in attendance. He attended The Aspen Music Festival and School, where he studied with Sharon Isbin and Lily Afshar. He has performed concerts throughout the southern United States and has performed in master classes given by Christopher Parkening, Muriel Anderson, Karl Maria von Kruger, Lily Afshar, Miguel Antonio, Jorge Morel, and Sharon Isbin. Mr. Porter has given master classes on classical guitar technique and has organized presentations on South American music and the life and music of Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Mr. Porter currently teaches as an Adjunct Instructor at The University of Texas: Permian Basin and played guitar with the Bridge Team at First United Methodist Church in Big Spring. Previously, he taught classical guitar at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and was Director of Music Ministries for Asbury United Methodist Church. Mr. Porter is also a full-time English teacher for Midland Legacy High School, where he teaches English and ESL.  Mr. Porter also owns the now closed Big Spring School of Music, through which he taught guitar, and StrangeWood Guitar Co.   In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Krystal and their two children, Alex and Cora.

For recordings or video go to: https://www.reverbnation.com/jacobporter

Joy Fair Ratcliff, 1977, Director, Centenary College of Louisiana Piano Preparatory Program

Joy Fair Ratcliff

Director, Centenary College of Louisiana Piano Preparatory Program 

Twyla Robinson, 1993, World-class Soprano

Twyla Robinson, soprano, serves TCU as an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice. She combines her teaching with an ongoing performing career, and in the current season will perform Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Sieglinde in Act I of Die Walküre with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, and Claude Vivier’s Lonely Child with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

Last season, she performed as soloist in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14 with I Musici de Montreal Chamber Orchestra, and Ein deutsches Requiem with the Winston-Salem Symphony, and she created the role of Becky Felderman in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star, with the Cincinnati Opera.

Recent orchestral highlights include Dvorak’s Te Deum with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 “Symphony of a Thousand” with Jiri Belohlavek at the opening night of the BBC Proms. She has performed Mahler’s 8th Symphony with orchestras such as the Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Münchner Philharmoniker, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Essen Philharmonie, and recorded it with the Berlin Staatskapelle for Deutsche Grammophon, Pierre Boulez conducting. Other recordings include Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the London Symphony orchestra on the LSO Live label, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Telarc, Schubert’s Fierrabras with Franz Welser-Möst on DVD with EMI, and Strauss’ Elektra and Daphne with Semyon Bychkov and the West German Radio Orchestra on the Decca label.

She is a frequent recitalist, and has served on the recitalist roster of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. She received her Bachelor of Music from Centenary College of Louisiana, studying with Dr. Gale Odom, and her Master of Music from Indiana University, studying with Costanza Cuccaro. She recently completed a 4-year term as Artist-in-Residence at Centenary College of Louisiana, where she taught the Singers’ Workshop, Applied Voice and directed the operatic and musical theatre productions. She has served as a guest clinician for such organizations as National YoungArts, NATS Texoma, the Marilyn Horne Foundation, Spotlight on Opera, and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Melanie Russell, 2002, NYC-based Soprano

New Orleans area native Melanie Russell made her NYC debut in August 2008 with Opera Omnia’s premiere production, The Coronation of Poppea, for which ClassicsToday.com stated: “[Her] creamy soprano and engaging stage presence impressed in the roles of Virtue and Damigella.”  The Wall Street Journal also took note of her “steely sparkle” and “almost impossibly fast, clean runs” in Handel’s Messiah at Trinity Wall Street. In addition to freelancing in the NYC area and around the US, she toured internationally for three years with Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach (now available on Blu-ray disc). She made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall  in April 2010 (Fauré’s Requiem) and covered the roles of 2nd Lady & 2nd Witch in the Mark Morris Dance Group’s production of Dido and Aeneas in Moscow and New York. Other notable solo appearances include Handel’s Messiah in New York, California, and Kansas City, Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (BWV 51) at St. Paul’s Chapel in NYC, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Israel in Egypt (Musica Omnia), Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate and Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mendelssohn’s Hör mein Bitten, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, and Magnificat settings by Bach and Mendelssohn (Naxos). In addition to her solo work, Melanie’s fifteen years of choral and chamber music experience have culminated in performances with Bach Collegium San Diego, Antioch, TENET, Clarion Music Society, Oregon Bach Festival Choir, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Yale Schola Cantorum, Yale Voxtet, Etherea, Seraphic Fire, Conspirare, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. Opera roles include Phoebe (The Cunning Man), Adele (Die Fledermaus), The Queen of the Night/ Pamina (The Magic Flute), Mme. Goldentrill (The Impresario), and Aline (The Sorcerer). Theater credits include The Music Man (Marian Paroo), The King and I (Tuptim), and Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story (Maria Elena Holly). Melanie holds the Artist Diploma in Voice from Yale University/ Institute of Sacred Music, as well as performance degrees from Loyola University New Orleans and Centenary College of Louisiana with a minor in French. She is currently based north of New Orleans.

Sarah King Sarver, 2002, Associate Professor of Music Theory, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma City, OK

Dr. Sarah K. Sarver joins the faculty at Oklahoma City University as Assistant Professor of Music Theory. Her current research centers on Schenkerian theory and late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century tonality. Her dissertation explores the ways in which various chromatic excursions interact with diatonic structural processes in selected works by Richard Strauss. Additionally, Dr. Sarver is interested in the relationship between text and music in lieder. She has presented her research at regional and international meetings, including the Music Theory Southeast and Texas Society for Music Theory regional meetings and the Theory and Analysis Graduate Students' Weekend hosted by the Society for Music Analysis. Dr. Sarver was awarded the Colvin Award at the 2010 Texas Society for Music Theory 32nd Annual Meeting.

Dr. Sarver comes to Oklahoma City University by way of Florida State University, where she earned the Ph.D. in music theory. While attending Florida State University, Dr. Sarver received a teaching assistantship, and her efforts in the classroom were recognized with a nomination for the Outstanding Teaching-Assistant Award. Prior to studying at Florida State University, Dr. Sarver received an M.M. in music theory from Southern Methodist University. Dr. Sarver also holds a B.M. in voice performance and a minor in French studies from Centenary College of Louisiana.


Donovan Soumas, 1994, Founder, Soumas Heritage School of Music

Donovan Soumas holds a B.M. degree from Centenary. A former instructor and accompanist for the Newark Boys Chorus, Mr. Soumas traveled extensively throughout the world with the chorus. Mr. Soumas is also the former Artistic Director of the Plainfield-based Ric-Charles Choral Ensemble.

Currently, Mr. Soumas is the Owner and Director of Soumas Heritage School of Music, located at 1451 E. 2nd St. in Plainfield, NJ. The general mission of the school is to supply enhanced music education to Plainfield and surrounding communities. Soumas Heritage School of Music offers music lessons to infants, children and adults in all levels, styles and instruments. The school also offers courses in American Sign Language / Music Interpretation, Songwriting / Composition, Choir Directing and Music Theory.

Mr. Soumas has been instrumental in providing students with the necessary music education for college entrance, professional studio work, church musicianship, Broadway and local auditions, national and local competitions and personal music endeavors. The school’s dedicated staff of 25+ music educators helps to round out and complete Mr. Soumas’ motto of being “Totally Educated!!!”

Mr. Soumas is also Founder and Executive Director of H.E.R.I.T.A.G.E., Inc., which stands for Helping to Enhance Resources by Incorporating The Arts to Gain Education, a not-for-profit organization which provides scholarships to students from a variety of backgrounds to further their music and artistic education.

•2004 Union County - Entrepreneur of the Year •2005 Spotlight Award as Judge for the Plainfield Idol Competition •2005 1st recipient of the Richard A. Dennis “Man of Integrity” •2005 Donavon P. Soumas Performance Arts Scholarship (named in honor) •2006 1st Place McDonald’s Gospelfest (Youth Choir division) Winner HERITAGE Inc., Show Choir •2007-2008 Heritage Registry of “Who’s Who” in American Business

•Plainfield Chamber of Commerce •US Coast Guard Auxiliary •Shiloh Baptist Church


Chandler Teague, 1974, Professor of Percussion, Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA

Chandler Teague

Principal Timpanist and Percussionist of the Shreveport Symphony, Longview Symphony, Opera East Texas, Chandler was the timpanist of the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria for 13 summers, and has for 19 years performed with the Breckinridge Music Festival.

He has performed with the St. Louis Symphony, touring Broadway shows, has been featured in timpani and percussion concertos, and as hand drum soloist in a performance of Ravi Shankar's Concerto #1 for Sitar and Orchestra. He has performed recitals with his wife, Janis, and his father, William Teague,and works regularly in a jazz trio.

Chandler received the 2008 Music Fellowship Award from the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, and teaches percussion at Centenary College of Louisiana and Grambling State University.


Gregory Warren, 2005, World-class Tenor

Gregory Warren’s career had its first spark in the opera world when he was chosen to be a part of the Placido Domingo - Cafritz program. There he was able to grow as an artist under the care of Maestro Domingo and all the talented musicians at Washington National Opera. Mr. Warren also had the opportunity to be part of The Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program in the summers of 2005-2007 where he studied under famous instructors, coaches and musicians.

After he successfully finished the Domingo-Cafritz Program in 2006, he made his debut with many international opera houses, such as Los Angeles Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, Theater St. Gallen (Switzerland), De Nederlandse Opera, New National Theater Tokyo, Estonia National Opera, Washington National Opera, de Nationale Reisopera, Opera de Nice and Opera Marseille. In these houses, some of the roles he debuted are Rodolfo (La Bohème), Alfredo (La Traviata), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Iopas and Hylas (Les Troyens), Ferrando (Così fan tutte) and Arturo (Lucia di Lammermoor).

Furthermore, he has sung in the world famous Concertgebouw with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of Holland in the live broadcast concert of Tomas Adès’ opera The Tempest. In 2012 he made his Carnegie Hall debut as the tenor soloist in Flowers over the Graves of War composed by James Eakin. He has sung under the baton of Maestro James Conlon, Donald Runnicles, Paolo Carignani, John Nelson, Christopher Moulds, Jaap van Zweden, Philippe Auguin, Antonino Fogliani and Lawrence Foster.

Mr. Warren's 2013/2014 season starts with a concert performance of Massenet's oratorio Marie-Magdeleine, singing the role of Jesus, with the Russian National Orchestra in Moscow. He will also make his debut in Italy at Teatro Verdi di Sassari, singing Ferrando (Così fan tutte). In November Gregory Warren will return to Santa Fe to sing the tenor soloist in Händel's Messiah.

2014 begins with his debut as Tito in La clemenza di Tito with Bratislava Opera.



Meredith Williams, 2005, Operations Manager, Houston Symphony, Houston, TX

As Associate Director, Operations at the Houston Symphony, Meredith Williams plays an integral role backstage.  She spends most days developing production plans, managing the movement of the orchestra beyond their home base of Jones Hall, and ensuring that the show does go on for the orchestra's 150+ concerts each season.  While at the Houston Symphony, Meredith has successfully planned orchestra tours to Carnegie Hall, Florida, the United Kingdom, and Moscow.  In recent seasons she has taken a leadership role in the execution of Houston Symphony Family and Education productions.  

Prior to her time with the Houston Symphony, Meredith spent two years as the Director of Education and Community Engagement at the Akron Symphony in Akron, Ohio.  She was also the Manager of the Akron Youth Symphony during this time.  In 2007 she interned with the operations department of the Aspen Music Festival and School.  Meredith holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration degree from the University of Akron, as well as a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance degree and a minor in Business Administration from Centenary College of Louisiana.  During her years at Centenary, Meredith served as president of the Eta Lambda chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota and was active in the Hurley Chamber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Chamber Winds.  Meredith currently lives in Crosby, Texas with her husband Ted, daughter Penelope, and their dog Sly.

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