The UM choral program began in 1960 with the arrival of Glenn Draper, who quickly built a Concert Choir, Choral Union, and Male Chorus.
Draper then developed a touring choir called the Singing Hurricanes. The group toured widely—to Europe and Asia under the auspices of the U.S. government—and helped build the reputation of the University of Miami School of Music, as it was then called. Draper stayed at UM until 1968.
Dr. Lee Kjelson led the Music Education program in 1967 and became director of the choral program from 1968 to 1993. Kjelson’s Chamber Singers sang a wide range of literature, both popular and traditional, on tours in the U.S. and abroad. In 1970 Kjelson founded the Miami Civic Chorale, a large community chorus which performed regularly with the Florida Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Donald Oglesby joined the UM choral faculty in 1977, coming from doctoral studies at Indiana University, where he was Robert Shaw’s assistant during summer festivals. Oglesby formed the Collegium Musicum that year, which became well known for its annual Madrigal Dinners (now the Holiday Dinners) and then, in 1984, as the chorus for the Miami Bach Society.
Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe came to Miami Frost School of Music upon the retirement of Lee Kjelson in 1993. He conducted the Frost Chorale, coordinated the choral program, and taught undergraduate and graduate conducting. The Frost Chorale (often joined by other UM choirs) sang at national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference, as well as various performances with artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, and Marvis Martin, and esteemed conductors Helmuth Rilling and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Joshua Habermann served as Director of Choral Studies from 2008-2011 before moving to Texas to lead the Dallas Symphony Chorus. Dr. Karen Kennedy became Director of Choral Studies in the fall of 2011. Kennedy and Oglesby are extremely pleased at the addition of a faculty line in Choral Music Education. That position begins in the fall of 2012 with the appointment of Dr. Corin Overland.
UM’s Choral Program has thrived for many years under the leadership of an outstanding faculty and the work of countless magnificent students. Students and faculty often stay in touch well beyond their time on campus.