EMU Choir

Choir Biography

The internationally acclaimed Eastern Michigan University Choir is a highly select auditioned ensemble comprised of students from across the university, most of whom are music majors whose principal area is voice study. They maintain a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule and focus predominantly on choral art music for advanced choral ensembles.

With its tradition spanning back to 1854, singing at EMU has a long tradition of musical excellence. Under the direction of Dr. Johnson recent activities have included two European Concert Tours, two performances with Grammy-nominated tenor, Andrea Bocelli, 2018 Carnegie Hall Performance, 2018 Central/ North Central American Choral Directors Association Conference, 2018 Michigan Music Conference, 2017 Michigan ACDA State Conference, finalist in the American Prize and the release of four recordings in the past six artistic seasons.

  • EMU Choir Mission

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    The Eastern Michigan University EMU Choir proudly commit to an unwavering pursuit of artistry and excellence in choral music. We foster an environment of care for each musician and we value commitment, consistency and perseverance; all of which lead to artistic achievement. Beyond technical facility, we believe that transformative musical experiences require a connection of the poetry and the composer’s expression to 21st century students.
  • Musicians

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    Soprano 1

    • Megan Denti, Columbus, OH-Music Therapy
    • Shalini Augenstein, Traverse City, MI-Music Therapy
    • Em Tennie, Cincinnati, OH-Music Therapy
    • Elizabeth Gozdowsk,i Ottawa Lake, MI-Music Therapy
    • Clare McCloskey, Pinckney, MI-Music Education

    Soprano 2

    • Salma Bawardi, Ann Arbor, MI -Music Performance
    • *Zoe Zdrojewski, Farmington Hills, MI-Music Therapy
    • Kathleen Cicero, Villa Park, IL-Music Therapy
    • Rebecca DePumpo, Baroda, MI-Music Therapy
    • Cara Berg Shelby, Township, MI-Music Therapy

    Alto 1

    • *Olivia Barnaclo, Cincinnati, OH-Music Therapy
    • Abigail Belanger, Wolverine Lake, MI-Music
    • Jeannette Houston, Saline, MI-Music
    • Julie Kastelan, Warren, MI-Music Therapy
    • Sydney Timmer, South Lyon, MI-Music Education

    Alto 2

    • Michelle Smith, Berkley, MI-Music Education
    • Dominique Cooper, Novi, MI-Music Performance
    • Kaitlyn Collins Novi, MI-Music Education
    • Brianna Timmer, South Lyon, MI-Music Education
    • Caitlin O’Banion Ypsilanti, MI-Hotel Management

    Tenor 1

    • Gunter McCourt, Southaven, MS-MM Music Education
    • Anthony Davis, Milford, MI-Music Education
    • Harold Schaus, Dowagiac, MI-Supply Chain Management
    • Matthew Cook, Ph.D. Martin, TN-Music/Historic Preservation Faculty

    Tenor 2

    • *Joshua Danielson, Midland, MI-Music Education
    • Austin Neikirk, Monroe, MI-Music Education
    • Matthew Kanalas, Jackson, MI-Music Education
    • Theodore Kazmierski, Plymouth, MI-Music
    • Thomas Larner, Grand Ledge, MI-Music Education

    Bass 1

    • Austin Hadwick, Ann Arbor, MI-Music Education
    • Christoper Milbourne, Lansing, MI-Music Education
    • David Garvey, Canton, MI-Music Education
    • Jacob Fagerstrom, Clio, MI- Biology

    Bass 2

    • Jonathan Brant, Maybee, MI-Elementary Education
    • Trevor Miner, Ann Arbor, MI -Music Education
    • Ryan Downing, Ann Arbor, MI -Music Education
    • Charlie Moynihan, Ottawa Hills, OH-Music Education
    • Parker Lazar, Grand Rapids, OH- Computer Science
    • James Wohlfort, Fowler, MI- Communications

    *Denotes choir board member.

  • Conductor

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    Brandon Johnson, DMA is the director of choral activities at Eastern Michigan University and the artistic director and conductor of the Detroit Concert Choir. He has conducted professional musicians across the United States while maintaining his extensive work with students of all ages. He has performed in venues across the country including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center and will return to the stage of the renowned Carnegie Hall in 2018 and 2019.

    Respected by his faculty colleagues he has been awarded multiple teaching and artistic awards. At Eastern Michigan University he was selected to receive the Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Creative Activity Award, the highest honor the University presents to an individual faculty member. At Houghton College he accepted both the Excellence in Teaching Award, and was the inaugural recipient of the first fully endowed chair at Houghton College, the Horne-Blanchard.

    Choirs under his direction have been invited to perform for state and regional American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and the National Association for Music Education (NAFME) conferences. As a conducting pedagogue his students have been invited to participate in the ACDA National Conducting Competition.

    He has studied with German conductor Helmuth Rilling and was selected to conduct the Grammy winning Oregon Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra. In recent years, he has received invitations to conduct the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus, Buffalo Choral Artists, Continuo Arts Orchestra, Michigan Sinfonietta, Rochester Oratorio Society, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Cordancia and The Southern Tier Symphony. In addition to working with musicians from across the United States, he has conducted singers from Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain and the Ukraine.​

    In service to the profession, Johnson has served the American Choral Directors Association in many capacities, including as New York State president. In addition he serves the Michigan State Vocal Music Association as the High School Required Repertoire chair. He has lead honor choirs and held master-classes abroad (Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy) and at home (Alabama, Iowa, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania). He works tirelessly as a guest conductor, lecturer and clinician for singers of all ages.

  • Touring Program

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    The Eastern Michigan University Choir embarks on performance tours each season. In recent years, the EMU Choir toured throughout the U.S. and Austria, England, Germany, Czechia, Poland, Scotland & Wales. Many times, the ensemble collaborates with high schools and offers a masterclass as well as a joint concert to provide a collegiate level experience to high school students.

    EMU Choir Touring Schedule

    • 2021-2022 International Tour
    • 2020-2021 Canceled due to COVID
    • 2019-2020 West Coast Tour
    • 2018–19 Great Lakes and International Tour (Austria, Czechia, Germany & Poland)
    • 2017–18 Carnegie Hall, ACDA Regional, ACDA State, Michigan Music Conference
    • 2016–17 South East
    • 2015-2016 Midwest & International (England, Scotland, Wales)
    • 2014-2015 Eastern USA

    Please visit our Choir Touring Page for the most up-to-date concert information.

  • Available Recordings and Media Material

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    To purchase recordings, download pictures, videos, press-releases, past concert programs, and recording information, please visit our Press & Media Page.
  • Candlelight Concert

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    The signature Holiday Concert at EMU is the EMU Candlelight Concert. For more detailed information on this event please visit the EMU Candlelight Concert webpage.

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