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School of Music

Choral

2021-2022 Choral Grad Students

Luke Browder

Luke Browder

Luke Browder is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting at UofSC. A longtime resident of Greenville, SC, Luke received his Bachelor of Music from Furman University, his Master of Music from Converse College, and has served on the voice faculties at Clemson University and North Greenville University. With a specialty in singing for musical theatre, Luke has presented workshops and masterclasses at the statewide conventions of the South Carolina Theatre Association and the Palmetto Dramatic Association/SC Thespian Society. As a choral musician, Luke has directed church choirs for nearly a decade and is currently the Director of Music Ministries at John Knox Presbyterian in Greenville. He has performed with a number of choral groups in the Upstate, including the Spartanburg Festival Chorus, The Greenville Chorale, and as a member of the Chorale’s professional Chamber Ensemble. His professional stage credits include The Baker in Into the Woods, Father in Ragtime, King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot, and Schaunard in La Bohème, as well as direction of the musicals Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, and Tarzan. Luke has served as an adjudicator for the SCMEA Solo & Ensemble Festival, NATS Student Auditions, and the SC Thespian Society Festival. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Pi Kappa Lambda, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and is an Equity Membership Candidate with Actors’ Equity Association. Luke and his wife Chelsea live in Irmo with their very spoiled dog, Spirit the Springer Spaniel.

Kevin Crowe

Kevin Crowe

Kevin Crowe is a graduate student pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of South Carolina. He received both his Master of Music and Bachelor of Music Education degrees from the University of Tennessee, where he conducted the Women’s Chorale. After graduating, Kevin taught K-12 choral, instrumental, and general music in Denver, Colorado. While teaching, he discovered a passion for working with community choirs and older singers. He was Assistant Artistic Director of the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, Artistic Director of Sine Nomine (a mixed-voice chamber chorus), Artistic Director of the Northland Chorale (an adult show choir), and founding Artistic Director of the Sage Singers (a 50-voice chorus for elders and seniors in the LGBTQ+ community). In addition to school and community music, Kevin has served as music director for both Presbyterian and Catholic congregations and maintained a private voice studio. He currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with his  husband Eric and their two dogs, Lucy and Machete.

Denise Ellis

Denise Ellis

Denise Ellis holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from the State University of New York at SUNY Fredonia and a Master’s Degree in Conducting with a Certificate in University Teaching from Syracuse University. Denise also holds a professional teaching certificate in the state of New York. While pursuing her Master’s Degree, Denise served as the Graduate Assistant for the Choral Department at Syracuse University, and sang with the Syracuse University Oratorio Society, the Hendricks Chapel Choir, and the Syracuse University Singers. The Syracuse University Singers is the top touring ensemble at Syracuse University, and Denise was part of the 2015 Singers that competed in the Florilège Vocal de Tours, France; a European choral competition circuit, and won the competition grand prize. Since 2015, Denise has been teaching middle and high school choral music and other electives at the Hannibal Central School District; a small, rural public school in upstate New York. Having just one open enrollment choir at the junior high level, and one at the senior high level, Denise was tasked to revive and stabilize the choral program at Hannibal. In the last five years, Denise has made it her mission to provide opportunities for her students to travel and perform; singing in Annapolis, MD, Boston, MA, and New York City. Her students are regularly invited to perform in honors ensembles, and college choir invitationals, including annual holiday concerts with the State University of New York at Oswego, and a mixed chorus festival at Syracuse University. Denise’s most recent and most important mission as of late isproviding a differentiated and comprehensive literacy education to her students who have varying levels of experience and ways of processing information. Denise currently lives in Syracuse, NY, with her husband Ben, and loyal hound, Buddy.

Peter Allen Haley

Peter Allen Haley

Peter Allen Haley is a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at The University of South Carolina. He previously spent seven years as Choir Director at East Gaston High School in Mt. Holly, North Carolina, where his students were consistently chosen for honor choirs on the local, state, and regional level, while being immersed in a program that stressed music literacy and artistic excellence. In 2019, East Gaston's Concert Choir was selected to perform at the North Carolina Music Educators Association's Professional Development Conference. In his time at East Gaston, Peter also served as Director of the Gaston County Choral Ensemble, and sang with the Charlotte Master Chorale and Chamber Singers. He has worked in Baptist, Presbyterian, and United Methodist congregations and held leadership roles on the Executive Board of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and the 2020 Southern Division Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. He holds a B.A. in Music from Wingate University and an M.M. in Church Music from Samford University. He has the honor of being the second-best teacher in his house, behind his wife, Ashley, and is a proud parent of Patrick.

Bryon Black

Bryon K. Black, II is pursuing a Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting at the University of South Carolina. A native of Akron, OH, he received his B.M. in Music Education from Ashland University, and his M.M. in Choral Conducting from Kent State University. On the KSU School of Music faculty, Bryon conducted the KSU Coro Cantare (formerly Men’s Chorus) and KSU Gospel Choir and taught choral conducting courses. He also served as the Director of Music at Tallmadge Lutheran Church, directing the Chancel Choir and Praise Team.Bryon’s choral compositions have been performed by several ensembles, including choirs at Kent State University, Slippery Rock University, and the University of Lincoln-Nebraska. He started The Harvest Choir in 2017 to perform uplifting, original choral works, including premiere performances of his compositions. In 2019, Bryon prepared the Tallmadge Lutheran Church Chancel Choir to perform Mary Donald’s and Joel Raney’s cantata Sing Christmas at Carnegie Hall, in concert with Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY). He has also served as a guest conductor and clinician for various choral festivals and other events throughout Northeast Ohio. Bryon is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and served on the Ohio Choral Directors Association Board as the Chair of the Standing Committee for Diversity. Under his direction, performances by the KSU Gospel Choir and Coro Cantare were featured in the 2020 and 2021 OCDA Annual Summer Conferences. Bryon resides in Columbia, SC.

Nicholas Willey

Nicholas Willey

Nicholas Willey was born in North Carolina and has been living in South Carolina for the past 12 years. He obtained his Bachelor’s in Piano Performance from Winthrop University and is currently serving as the Director of Music at First Christian Church in Charlotte, NC. Nicholas is currently attending the University of South Carolina School of Music seeking his MM in Choral Conducting.

MIchael Ballard

Being a lifelong resident of the Denver area, MIchael Ballard is thrilled to be pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Columbia at UofSC. As an impassioned music educator, Michael has enjoyed teaching general music, choir, and drama at a brand-new charter school. Within one year of the school’s opening, he developed a strong music program with four teachers, eight ensembles, and a strings program open to all students beginning in preschool. Outside of K-12 teaching, Michael directed the Wheat Ridge Community Chorale as well as several choirs at Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver. He was the Conducting Fellow of the Colorado Repertory Singers based out of Broomfield and was the Mark Sheldon Conducting Intern with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, Denver’s only fully professional choir. As a singer, Michael has sung professionally with various choirs in the Denver area such as St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, The Evans Choir, The Denver Pro Chorale, and The Colorado Symphony Chorus. Michael’s undergraduate degrees are in Music Education and Music Composition from MSU Denver. Michael recently finished a master’s degree in Choral Conducting where he was a graduate teaching assistant for the choirs at University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.While at Lamont, he also earned a graduate certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy. 


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