UMass Conducting Institute 2015

JULY 22-25, 2015


NOTE: All conducting positions have been filled for 2015. We are only accepting applications for auditors at this time.


All sessions will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Fine Arts Center. This workshop is focused on helping you become a better conductor, teacher, and listener. Activities include conducting the Institute Choral Ensemble, private lessons, and clinics/sessions that directly relate to your life as a conductor, teacher, and artist: literature selection, score study, rehearsal strategies, creativity, conducting technique, and leadership skills.



Conducting Participants will conduct the Institute Choral Ensemble and resident string ensemble each day and participate in all sessions. This track is designed for conductors who have completed undergraduate conducting courses and/or possess a Bachelor’s degree in music. Music educators and conductors of all ages are welcome, but this is not a “beginner” conducting experience. Total participant workshop fee is $550. This total includes a $100 non-refundable deposit. Enrollment will open on Thursday, January 15, 2015, and will close Friday, May 15, 2015. No refunds will be given for cancellations after Friday, May 22, 2015.

Applications no longer accepted.


Observing Participants (auditors) attend all of the sessions, but do not conduct the ensembles. Enrollment for the Auditor track is open and recommended for musicians of all levels and abilities. Auditors are an invaluable part of this workshop! Total auditor workshop fee is $250. This total includes a $100 non-refundable deposit. Enrollment will open on Thursday, January 15, 2015, and will close Friday, May 15, 2015. No refunds will be given for cancellations after Friday, May 22, 2015.

Click here to complete the enrollment form.


Repertoire to include:

Ave verum corpus (William Byrd)
Choruses from Messiah (G.F. Handel)
Missa Brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo (F.J. Haydn)
Elegischer Gesang, Op. 118 (Ludwig van Beethoven)
Abendlied, Op. 92, No. 3 (Johannes Brahms)
Six Chansons (Paul Hindemith)
Rejoice in the Lamb (Benjamin Britten)
Bogoroditse Djevo (Arvo Pärt)


Will be posted here in early June.


Dr. Tony Thornton is the Director of Choral Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, MA) where he oversees an extensive choral program that includes five ensembles and directs the graduate program in choral conducting. Thornton conducts the Chamber Choir, and teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting and choral literature. A more detailed biography can be found on the Department of Music & Dance website.

Dr. Matthew Westgate is the Director of Wind Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, MA) where he conducts the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Band and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in conducting and wind literature. A more detailed biography can be found on this website or

Dr. E. Wayne Abercrombie is Professor Emeritus of Music and former Director of Choral Activities at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Abercrombie retired in May 2007 after 33 years in the Department of Music. He succeeded Alan Harler as Director of the Madrigal Singers in 1974, founded the University Chamber Choir in 1978, and became Director of the University Chorale in 2000. Dr. Abercrombie is a noted conductor, clinician and workshop facilitator, with extensive experience working with singers and students at all levels. He is a Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Children’s Chorus of Springfield (MA), and helped establish the International Federation of Choral Music’s program, Conductors Without Borders.

Dr. Abercrombie’s degrees are from Westminster Choir College, (B.M. in Voice and M.M. in Conducting), and from Indiana University (D. Mus. in Choral Conducting with Highest Honors). Major Teachers were Julius Herford (Westminster and Indiana), Nicholas Harsanyi, Warren Martin, iFora Continuo, Don V Moses. He has been Assistant Conductor and/or Chorus Director of the Johnstown (PA), Elkhart (IN) and Springfield (MA) Symphony Orchestra Choruses. He taught and conducted at West Georgia College and Indiana University at South Bend, has taught voice and sung recitals and solos with orchestra, and was a member of the First Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus under Robert Shaw.

Choirs under his direction have appeared at various professional conferences and have toured the Eastern Seaboard and in Europe, and the 2004 tour singing in St. Thomas’ Church, Leipzig, St. Stephen’s in Vienna, and St. Mark’s in Venice. The repertoire comprised music written for those venues.

In summer, 2006, he taught master classes in conducting at the SeventhTaipei International Choral Festival, and is a frequent clinician at professional conferences and for individual choral programs and conductors.

Recognition includes the Massachusetts ACDA 2007 Conductor of the Year Award, Choral Arts New England Lifetime Achievement Award (2013), ACDA Eastern Division Helen Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award (2014). More information can be found at

Rodney Winther is Professor Emeritus of Music and recently retired after fourteen years (1997-2011) as Director of Wind Studies and Professor of Music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. His duties at CCM included conducting the Wind Symphony, Chamber Winds and the CCM Chamber Players, while also teaching Masters and Doctoral students in Wind Conducting. Prior to his appointment at CCM, he served for fifteen years (1982-1997) as Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Ithaca College’s School of Music, where he brought the IC Wind Ensemble to international attention through their concerts, tours and recordings. Mr. Winther’s frequent appearances as guest conductor and clinician have taken him across the United States and abroad, including England, Ireland, the Republic of Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Venezuela and Canada.

He has worked with many of the world’s finest wind bands and ensembles, including the Eastman Wind Ensemble, eighthblackbird, Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra, Summit Brass, concert:nova, The U.S. Navy Band, The U.S. Naval Academy Band, Taiwan Wind Ensemble, Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra Wind Ensemble, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra’s Symphonic Winds, Kent Youth Wind Orchestra (England), World Youth Wind Symphony (Interlochen) and the Taller para Bandas del Tachira (Venezuela).

His conducting workshops, both in the United States and abroad, have been critically acclaimed, helping young conductors around the world for the past thirty years.  Mr. Winther’s conducting workshop in Taiwan is an annual event that has helped to transform the face of wind conducting in that country, and is sponsored jointly by KHS International Music Group and Shih Chien University. His workshops and concerts in Venezuela were recently recognized when he was awarded the Manuel Felipe Rugeles Medal of Honor by the Governor of the State of Tachira. The Medal of Honor is Tachira’s highest cultural award and Professor Winther is the first American to receive this honor. He was previously given the Otorga Botón Honor al Mérito in recognition of his contributions in music. In the summer of 2005, he and CCM were awarded the 14th WASBE Convention, which was held in Cincinnati in July of 2009. In addition, he was elected to the International Board of Directors of WASBE, whom he served for six years. More information can be found at


Graduate credit is available from UMass Continuing & Professional Education. The cost for one credit is $145.00 and $245.00 for two credits. Registration for these credits will be handled separately. Email for more information.

Massachusetts educators qualify for 45 PDPs (Professional Development Points) for participating in the Institute. Certificates will be made available for anyone (within MA or those living outside MA) interested.


Housing is available on campus for the modest fee of $43.00/night. Indicate which needs you need housing on your registration form.

UMass Dining operates one of the best university food services in the country, and there are numerous on-campus options for you. Food is also available in nearby Hadley and downtown Amherst.


Parking fee is $15.00. For those participants that are staying on campus, there is FREE parking near the housing area. It is approximately a 10-minute walk to the FAC.


Check back! Registration opens on January 15, 2015. Register early!

For more information, contact:

Dr. Tony Thornton – (Choral)

Dr. Matthew Westgate – (Winds)