May Festival/CCM Choral Conducting Fellowship: A Unique Training Opportunity for Young Choral Conductors


In 2013, the May Festival and the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati established the May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship, a unique training opportunity for early-career conductors of choral music. The Fellowship is awarded annually to a first-year doctoral student in CCM’s choral conducting program, a program long recognized for success in the training of conductors. Alumni of CCM’s choral program can be found conducting and administrating professional, collegiate, symphonic, secondary, children’s and church choir programs around the world. As a critical complement to their education at CCM, the Choral Conducting Fellow is mentored throughout the season by Robert Porco, Director of Choruses for the May Festival. The 2018–19 Fellow is Hyejung Jun, a native of Seoul, South Korea.

The May Festival Chorus is among the most active symphonic choruses in the world. As the official chorus of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, the Chorus performs not only in May, but throughout the season. As a result, the Fellow has the opportunity to observe, and participate in, activities across the full breadth and depth of the symphonic choral arts. The Fellow sings in the chorus and receives instruction from Robert Porco in all aspects of ensemble leadership, including historical and contextual research, musical analysis, rehearsal technique, and the physical aspects of conducting. In addition, the Fellow receives a competitive stipend to support their professional development.

Now in its sixth year, the Fellowship has attracted applicants from around the globe. Following an initial review of applications, finalists participate in an interview and a rehearsal audition with the May Festival Chorus, as well as the audition, interview and examination activities associated with admission to CCM.

Four of the six fellows have been finalists in the American Choral Director’s Association National Conducting Competition: Marie Bucoy-Calavan, Minhye Jang, Daniel Parsley and Hyejung Jun. Bucoy-Calavan and Jang captured second-place honors in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The fellows represent a diverse and international body of experience, and the five previous fellows are now leading professional, university, symphonic and church choirs here and abroad:

Marie Bucoy-Calavan (Chino Hills, California) is Director of Choral Activities at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. She currently leads the Akron Symphony Chorus and serves on the board of directors for Chorus America.

Daniel Blosser (Indianapolis, Indiana) is Director of Music Ministries at Christ Church United Methodist in Louisville, Kentucky, where he leads a music program of over 500 participants and curates an active concert series.

Matthew Swanson (Ollie, Iowa) is the Associate Director of Choruses for the Cincinnati May Festival. He is the director of the May Festival Youth Chorus and leads the May Festival’s community outreach and engagement programming.

Minhye Jang (Inchon, South Korea) is assistant conductor of the National Chorus of Korea, the country’s foremost professional chorus, and adjunct professor of choral conducting at Hansei University.

Daniel Parsley (Cincinnati, Ohio) is the Director of Choral Activities at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, and continues doctoral coursework at CCM. n

The May Festival is grateful to Ginger Warner for her generous support of the Conducting Fellowship.