Keynote Presenters

Ēriks EšenvaldsĒriks Ešenvalds (Latvia)

The Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds has emerged as one of the most sought-after composers of his generation. Recent commissions include works for the Boston and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, the Utah Symphony, and a new opera at the Latvian National Opera.  The multimedia symphony “Nordic Light” was co-commissioned by orchestras and choirs in Latvia, Canada, the USA, Germany and the UK, for premier in Latvia in April 2015. Particularly well-known for his choral works he has written for choirs from the UK to Japan, South Africa to the USA, and Australia to Canada.  His music is regularly recorded, with the newest recording coming from the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, following a fruitful time as Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge University from 2011-2013.  Ēriks is a popular public speaker, which he often combines with leading workshops on his music. Ēriks’s scores are published by Musica Baltica in partnership with Edition Peters.

KarminaKarmina Šilec (Slovenia)

Karmina Šilec has brought freshness and originality to the world of vocal music and theatre, opening new spaces of expression, persuasiveness, intensity of experience, and communication. Her projects are provocative, daring; her ideas break taboos, both those of the society and music. With her Choregie concept and its innovative interventions, she has opened wider artistic spaces and set trends worldwide. She is an artistic director of Carmina Slovenica and Choregie – New Music Theatre, conductor, stage director, set designer and choreographer. She works with the most prominent festivals and artists worldwide and is considered as an interesting creative phenomenon. Karmina has received more than 20 highest international awards, among them prestigious ITI – Music Theatre Now award in category Music beyond Opera and Robert Edler award for her contribution to the world choir movement.

Karen BrunssenKaren Brunssen (USA)

Karen Brunssen, mezzo soprano, Co-Chair of Music Performance, Associate Professor, Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University, and recipient of the Northwestern Alumni Association “Excellence in Teaching Award.”  Her singing career has spanned over 30 years with recent performances of Bach Cantatas 94 and 45 at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, and Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appetit. She has presented at the 2015 ACDA National Conference on “The Evolving Voice:  The Senior Years”, in 2014 and 2012 NATS Conference on “A Lifetime of Singing” and “The Aging Voice”, was a featured presenter for NATS National Workshops on “The Evolving Voice:  Profound at Every Age”, based on her article in the Choral Journal.  She has done unique residencies at Cambridge University teaching lessons and choral master classes, and taught at the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy, the Zürcher Sing-Akademie in Switzerland, and the Castleton Festival.  She is a member of the distinguished American Academy of Teachers of Singing, was presented the Weston Noble Award from Luther College, and is currently the Governor of NATS Central Region, and Program Chair for the 54th National NATS Conference.

Julia DavidsDr. Julia Davids (Canada)

Julia Davids, D.M. enjoys a thriving career as a singer, conductor, and music educator. She is Associate Professor and Stephen J. Hendrickson Director of Choral Activities at North Park University, Chicago where she directs the multiple choirs and teaches music education and conducting. She is co-author with Stephen LaTour of the acclaimed book, Vocal Technique – A Guide for Conductors, Teachers, and Singers, published by Waveland Press, and winner of the 2014 Choral Canada award for Best Choral Publication. Julia is the Artistic Director of the Canadian Chamber Choir, Music Director for the North Shore Choral Society, and Director of Music Ministries at Trinity United Methodist Church. From London, Ontario, Julia has degrees in music education, voice performance, and conducting from the University of Western Ontario, the University of Michigan, and Northwestern University.

P FreerDr. Patrick Freer (USA)

Patrick K. Freer, Ed.D., is Professor of Music at Georgia State University. He is a former Interim Director of of the School of Music. He holds Affiliate Faculty status with the Institute of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His degrees are from Westminster Choir College and Teachers College, Columbia University.  He has guest conducted or presented in 36 states and 16 countries. Patrick is academic editor and chair of the editorial board for Music Educators Journal, the oldest and most widely-circulated music education journal in the world. His recent books are Getting Started with Middle School Chorus (2nd edition) and TIPS: The First Weeks of Middle School Chorus. He is the author of the critically acclaimed DVD series Success for Adolescent Singers, and his articles are published in most of the field’s leading national and international journals.

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