Reasons to learne to sing: Interview with Conductor Kevin Fenton

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This video shows Matthew Shaftel’s interview of Kevin Fenton, who conducted the premiere of Clifton Callender’s Reasons to learne to sing, commissioned by The College Music Society. The speakers discuss the process of preparing this newly commissioned work for choir, describing the challenges and rewards of working directly with a living composer.

Recording Location: Florida State University

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Last modified on Thursday, 27/09/2018

Kevin Fenton and Matthew R. Shaftel

Kevin Fenton, professor of choral conducting and ensembles, is director of University Singers and the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Choirs under Dr. Fenton’s direction have been invited to perform for regional and national conventions of ACDA, CMS and MENC on ten occasions, including the University Singers performance at the National Convention in 2013.  A champion of new music, Dr. Fenton has conducted over twenty premiere performances, including Jason McCoy’s “Santo” (2012); Jeffrey Ames’ “I Can Feel the Spirit” (2011); Eric Barnum’s “In Paradisum” (2010); Sydney Guilliame’s “Au-Déla du Chagrin” (2010); Clifton Callender’s “Reasons to Learne to Sing” (2010); and Troy Robertson’s "American Echoes" (2010). Kevin also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in choral conducting and choral literature.

Prior to his arrival in 2000, Kevin was DCA at James Madison University and Virginia Tech. He has conducted choirs in thirty-six states, including twenty all-state honor choirs. During 2012-13 Kevin will conduct All-State Choirs in North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. He has conducted the International Festival Choir with China’s People’s Liberation Orchestra in Beijing and he will conduct the Prague Festival of New Music in 2013. Kevin’s textbookFoundations of Choral Conducting is used by university students throughout the US. Dr. Fenton is a recipient of the Gamma Mu Chapter of Delta Omicron Music Professor of the Year Award and the FSU Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Kevin currently serves as president of ACDA’s Southern Division and he is looking forward to the 2014 Southern Division Convention that will take place in Jacksonville Florida.

Matthew R. Shaftel, Associate Professor of Music Theory, received Ph.D. and M.Phil. degrees from Yale University, where he won the prestigious Undergraduate Teaching Prize. He holds a B.A. degree in Music and Education, also from Yale University. He is current president of Music Theory Southeast, and recently completed four-years as editor of MTO, a journal of the Society for Music Theory. His numerous publications and presentations reflect an interest in opera, as well as in texted music from 1845-1945, including articles on Schubert, Schoenberg, Webern, Stephen Foster, and Cole Porter. His book-length publications include a critical edition of Anton Webern’s early music, a textbook published by Hayden McNeil, and an aural skills textbook, to be published by Oxford University Press. He is also co-editing a book on Cole Porter with Allen Forte, Susan Weiss, and Don Randal. He serves on the editorial board and publications committee of the College Music Society, where he recently rotated off the board of directors. At home he is the chair of the University Teaching Prize Committee, director of FSU’s Music Living Learning Center (Cawthon Hall), director of music at Good Shepherd Church, and the president of the Tallahassee Youth Orchestras.


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