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Dr. Patrick Walders

Director of Choral Activities, San Diego State University, CA      

Click here – for a video announcement of the debut recording of *San Diego Pro Arte Voices conducted by Patrick Walders

A native of Buffalo, New York, Patrick Walders maintains an active career as a professional vocalist, music educator, church musician, clinician, and conductor. Appointed Director of Choral Studies within the School of Music and Dance at San Diego State University in fall 2011, Dr. Walders was charged with building the choral program and developing the Masters degree and Artists Diploma in Conducting. He conducts the Aztec Concert Choir and SDSU Chamber Choir, and carries a teaching load consisting of undergraduate and graduate conducting classes, graduate level literature courses, and ear training. His reputation as a conducting and vocal pedagogue keeps his schedule full, working with students, professionals, and amateurs in concerts, workshops, and other formats. His research interests include Vocal Pedagogy, diction, and rehearsal techniques in ensemble settings and how dance and movement relates to conducting gesture.

As the SDSU Vocal Arts Area Coordinator, Dr. Walders fosters a collaborative environment among students and faculty connecting to all arts disciplines. The area offers a variety of degrees for undergraduates and a selective graduate program (MM and Artist Diploma). Students and faculty promote quality and professionalism in every aspect of what it means not solely being a vocalist, but a collaborative artist in the 21st century. Upon graduation, students will be self-sufficient contributors to the Arts, reinforcing a reputation for superior musicianship, sight-reading, rhythmic tenacity, refined sung-language (diction), and an informed interpretation of, and human connection to, the sound created.

From 2004-2011, he served as Director of Choral Activities at James Madison University (Virginia) overseeing undergraduate and graduate students building the largest collegiate choral program in the Commonwealth. He helped develop the DMA curriculum in Conducting, Pedagogy, and Literature and sat on the School of Music planning committee for the Forbes Performing Arts Center. Award-winning choirs performed under his direction locally, regionally, and abroad. He served as Chorus Master for the annual operas and Music Director and Conductor of the mainstage musicals. In the Voice Area that numbered over 100 voice majors, he assisted the Chair of the area with general scheduling and new student auditions that numbered over 200 prospective students annually. Dr. Walders is proud of his work there and his students are flourishing in the professional world as teachers, conductors, vocalists, composers, and church musicians.

For four seasons, he was the Associate Conductor of the National Philharmonic Chorale, and Artistic Director of the National Philharmonic Singers – the chamber choir formed from the nucleus of the Chorale based in the state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center at Strathmore located just outside of Washington, D.C. He made his National Philharmonic debut conducting Handel’s Messiah in December 2006 earning critical acclaim from the Washington Post. He made his Kennedy Center debut conducting John Hilliard’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in January 2007. He is at home conducting choral and instrumental works spanning all time periods whether working with period or modern instruments in a chamber or large concert setting. He is an advocate for new music having commissioned several works for a variety of forces and occasions.

In 2013, Dr. Walders and his wife founded a non-profit arts organization *San Diego Pro Arte Voices meant to support all disciplines of the arts and educate audiences about artists who create art. The professional chamber choir under this umbrella is the Ensemble-in-Residence at the annual San Diego Summer Choral Festival for which he is Founder and Artistic Director. The festival is an annual four-day event open to student, community, and professional musicians led by distinguished faculty artists culminating with performances in St. Paul’s Cathedral, downtown San Diego. On the east coast, Dr. Walders serves as Artistic Director of Voci per l’Arte, a professional chamber choir formed to supplement the annual Chorworks Summer Workshop in July based in Washington, DC. This ensemble performs on the Friday Faculty Concert and the culminating Sunday morning and Evensong services at the National Cathedral that are broadcast live on local television.

As a professional baritone soloist and consort artist, he has sung throughout the eastern United States and is finding success on the west coast. Performing with the Bach Collegium San Diego and Pacific Bach Project, a recent solo performance was described as, “fiery, yet handsomely crafted singing” (Ken Herman, San Diego Story). He performs in the Berwick Chorus, a 34-voice professional chamber choir formed for the Oregon Bach Festival under the direction of Artistic Director, Matthew Halls. On the east coast, he performed with Fuma Sacra (Andrew Megill), The Washington Bach Consort (J. Reilly Lewis), the Westminster Choir (Joseph Flummerfelt), Orpheus (Philip Cave). He has sung for Helmuth Rilling, Riccardo Muti, Ricardo Chailly, Matthew Halls, James Ross, and Simon Carrington, among others. Additional solo credits include The Folger Consort, Buffalo Philharmonic, and New Jersey Symphony. Equally comfortable with new and modern music by living composers, Dr. Walders has performed solo premieres by Gregory Brown and Jason Rosenberg, and recently participated in a performance of The Water Passion by Tan Dun. He carries a small voice studio as time allows and is always happy to coach and consult anyone interested in the voice and vocal production.

Highly sought for clinics, workshops, and festivals throughout the United States, Dr. Walders has conducted choral events and honor choirs for middle schools, high schools, churches, and universities. In 2012-2013 alone, Dr. Walders conducted Honors Choruses in Nevada, southern and central California, Virginia, Washington (DC), and the Connecticut All-State Mixed Chorus 2013. He has conducted All-State Choruses in Connecticut, Louisiana, and Maryland and initiated commissioning pieces by emerging composers and poets for all three events. He enjoys working with amateurs, students, and professionals, promoting advocacy for and literacy within the Arts.

An avid conducting pedagogue, Dr. Walders is passionate about teaching conducting in individual and group formats in a variety of academic and professional settings. He studied conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt, Sir David Willcocks, Thomas Regelski, James Jordan, Colin Durrant, Jon Washburn, Andrew Megill, James Ross, and Edward Maclary. In 2003, he was a fellow at the Vancouver Chamber Choir Conducting Symposium, conducting one of Canada’s finest professional choirs.

Dr. Walders specializes in Vocal Pedagogy as it pertains to ensemble settings. His dissertation titled, Vocal Pedagogy and Applications for Conductors Not Trained in Singing, proves to be a valuable resource (found online) for vocalists as well.

When time allows, Dr. Walders enjoys arranging choral music for small and large vocal forces. His setting of Coventry Carol for SSATB choir and optional handbells was published by Shawnee Press.

Dr. Walders holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Fredonia, a master’s degree in choral conducting from the Westminster Choir College and a doctorate in conducting from the University of Maryland-College Park. He has taught public school (7-12th grade) in western New York. He is passionate about teaching future and current music teachers and conductors, enabling them to be ambassadors not just for choral music, but all art forms.

DMA, University of Maryland, College Park
MM, Westminster Choir College
BME, State University of New York, Fredonia