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Wells School of Music

Choral Music at WCU

Contact Wells School of Music  

Wells School of Music

Swope Music Building
817 S. High Street
West Chester, PA 19383

Wells School of Music
Phone: 610-436-2739
Fax: 610-436-2873

Faculty Contact Information:
Applied Music
Music Education
Music Theory, History and Composition

Staff Contact Information


The choral program at West Chester has a long and proud tradition. We are an important part of the University's cultural life, with 250 or more students enrolled each semester in one of eight ensembles, performing more than a dozen concerts annually for large and appreciative audiences. Each year, thousands of people hear a West Chester choir—not only on campus but through off-campus performances in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, throughout Pennsylvania, and in California, Florida, the desert Southwest, and Europe, as well as at professional conferences. Concert Choir and Mastersingers have performed several times at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. Together, WCU choirs sing an amazing range of repertory: large choral masterworks with orchestra (both the WCU Symphony Orchestra and professional ensembles like the Philadelphia Classical Symphony), shorter classical pieces, spirituals and folk songs, world music, choruses from opera and musical theatre, and vocal jazz.

Beyond concerts, we regularly bring to campus internationally renowned guest composers and clinicians, have an active ACDA student chapter, and offer educational workshops for teachers and high school students and a graduate M.M. degree in choral conducting. Most importantly, those involved in the WCU choral program find community—a place where singing abounds, where artistry flourishes, and where lifelong relationships begin.

On this web page, learn more about our choirs, hear from our students about their experiences, read about our repertory, and learn about our clinics and workshops. See our concert calendar for upcoming events and "like" our Facebook page. Whether you are a high school student intending to study music, a teacher interested in continuing education, or a community member who loves choral music, we hope you will be in touch with us and come hear us sing!

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David P. DeVenney
David P. DeVenney
Director of Choral Activities
Professor of Music

Ryan Kelly
Ryan Kelly
Associate Director of Choral Activities
Associate Professor of Music


Master of Music in Performance - Choral Conducting

The M.M. in Choral Conducting is intended for serious students who want to further their musical knowledge and their gestural abilities on the podium. The core program of study includes intensive score analysis and instruction in advanced conducting techniques. Class and private conducting study, ensemble participation, coursework in choral literature and related topics, and supervised podium time with University choirs allows each student to grow to his or her full potential. Students who enter the M.M. degree will add to the depth of their knowledge about choral music, its style and performance practice, and the application of these in effective choral rehearsals and performances. Guidelines for application to the M.M. in choral conducting may be found on the Wells School of Music website. Applicants are expected to have experience conducting public school, church, and/or community choirs prior to application. Graduate fellowships and assistantships for M.M. choral conducting candidates are available.

Further Information:
Dr. David DeVenney
(610) 436-2952

Summer Choral Conducting Symposium, July 17-20, 2019

This intensive week of conducting study, combined with repertory sessions and score study and analysis techniques, is designed primarily for practicing public school teacher, graduate music students, and church musicians. GRAMMY Award winner Jerry Blackstone, will join the WCU choral faculty for the event. Morning and evening sessions will focus on music of various historical style periods (with an emphasis on works suitable for use with educational choirs) and afternoons on conducting a major work. On Saturday morning, a chamber orchestra will be available for a final coaching on this work. Participants may register as conducting fellows (with podium time) for $500 (limited to 12 participants), or as workshop observers for $200 (unlimited enrollment). College and university students can register as observers for only $100, with college ID. For an additional cost, participants may receive Pennsylvania Commonwealth Act 48 credits, or may register for University graduate credits (3).

GRAMMY Award winner Jerry Blackstone is a leading conductor and highly respected conducting pedagogue.  Now emeritus professor of conducting, he served on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for thirty years where as director of choirs he led the graduate program in choral conducting and oversaw the University’s eleven choirs.   In February 2006, he received two GRAMMY Awards (“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”) as chorusmaster for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The Naxos recording of Milhaud’s monumental L’Orestie d’Eschyle, on which Blackstone served as chorusmaster, was nominated for a 2015 GRAMMY Award (“Best Opera Recording”). Opera Magazine reviewer Tim Ashley wrote: “the real stars, though, are the University of Michigan’s multiple Choirs, who are faced with what must be some of the most taxing choral writing in the entire operatic repertory. Their singing has tremendous authority and beauty, while the shouts and screams of Choéphores are unnerving in the extreme. Their diction is good too: the occasions when we don’t hear the words are Milhaud’s responsibility, rather than theirs. It’s an extraordinary achievement, and utterly mesmerizing.”

Learn more about the Summer Choral Conducting Symposium .

Register online and pay with a credit card
• Download the Print Brochure to pay by check

Further Information:
Dr. David DeVenney
(610) 436-2952

Opportunities for High School Students and Teachers

We are pleased to offer a much-expanded summer choral camp will be offered for high school students as part of the WCU High School Summer Music Institute. Highlights will include a week of rehearsal on music leading to a public performance; voice lessons; and, for those interested, conducting lessons. Students are housed in University dormitories and eat in the University dining hall. The workshop is hosted and led by the WCU choral and voice faculty.

Further Information:
Dr. Ryan Kelly
(610) 436-2854

The next High School Honor Choir will be held on Friday, September 28, 2018, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in Swope Music Building. High school teachers are invited to send a mixed quartet of their best students to participate in this event. The one-day workshop includes an intensive rehearsal of several pieces of music for performance later in the day. (Music will be provided in advance of the day). Participants will also receive a small-group voice lesson from one of the Wells School of Music's voice faculty. At 2:30 p.m., the Honor Choir will give a brief public performance, followed by a chance to hear a short concert from the WCU Concert Choir. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet and chat with current WCU music students during lunch in the University dining hall. For their teachers, the WCU choral faculty will offer a reading session of new music suitable for high school choirs..

Further Information:
Dr. David DeVenney
(610) 436-2952


Concert Choir

The WCU Concert Choir is a select thirty-two voice choir chosen by competitive audition from among the nearly 500 music students in the Wells School of Music. Primarily composed of upper-level voice majors and graduate students, the Concert Choir strives to sing music from the past five centuries in historically accurate, musically detailed, and dynamic performances. The choir regularly performs off campus and past excursions have sent them to California, Florida, the Desert Southwest, throughout the Northeast, and to Europe. Recent performance highlights include John Paine's Mass in D, David Conte's American Triptych, and Bach’s St. John Passion. Their repertoire also includes staged performances of contemporary choral works by Jacob Avshalomov, Hugo Distler, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Leonard Bernstein. Committed to performing new music, the Concert Choir has premiered or sung new and recent works by Jennifer Higdon, David Conte, Robert Maggio, Kurt Erickson, and WCU student and faculty composers.


Mastersingers is a mixed-voice choir selected by competitive audition. Comprised mostly of vocal music majors, other talented and skilled singers are also members of the ensemble. Their goal is to develop vocal and musical skills required for performing choral music in an expressive manner. Mastersingers presents concerts of shorter works and longer masterworks, often with orchestra or instrumental accompaniment, from a wide range of musical styles and epochs. Recent years have seen Mastersingers tour throughout Pennsylvania, engaging high school students and other audiences.

Cantari Donne

Cantari Donne is a select choir for vocally advanced female singers. Comprised mostly of vocal music majors, other talented women chosen by audition also sing in the ensemble. They sing music for women's voices from all eras, from medieval chants to contemporary music, spirituals, and world music. Cantari has also been honored by being chosen to perform for two professional music conferences in 2015 and 2016.

Men’s Chorus

Men’s Chorus specializes singing the rich trove of music for men’s voices. The ensemble is comprised largely of music majors who are not majoring in voice, along with a number of talented non-music majors. The repertory for the choir is especially broad, ranging from contemporary music, to selections from the classical repertory, as well as spirituals and folk songs.

Women's Chorus

The WCU Women's Chorus is the ensemble with the most varied constituency. Many of the members are music majors who are not majoring in voice, although occasionally voice majors sing in the choir, too. Many of the members are students from the whole University, studying things other than music, but who love to sing and who have participated in ensembles previous to enrolling at West Chester.

Three more intimate ensembles round out the choral offerings at WCU. The Vocal Jazz Ensemble specializes in close-harmony music written for 8-10 singers. The Chamber Choir sings music written for small groups of 12-16 singers, including madrigals and part songs. The Recital Choir is comprised of sixteen singers who are on scholarship to perform as the laboratory choir for the M.M. students in choral conducting.

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