Faculty

Dr. Tony Thornton, Professor
Director of Choral Studies

Active as a conductor, educator, and author, Tony Thornton received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Voice from Westminster Choir College, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Historical Musicology from the University of Arizona. He studied conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt, Kenneth Fulton, Frauke Haasemann, Margaret Hillis, Bruce Chamberlain, and Donald Neuen.

Trained first as a singer, Dr. Thornton has performed as a tenor soloist throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. As a member of the Westminster Choir, he performed at the Spoleto Festivals in both Italy and the United States, and he has recorded with Leonard Bernstein, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, and Zubin Mehta. He sang for seven years as a member of the Grammy Award-winning Robert Shaw Festival Singers.

As a guest conductor and clinician active on the national and international choral scene, Dr. Thornton has worked with over 400 choruses in 24 states, Japan, and throughout Europe. A strong advocate for the choral arts, Thornton was engaged for four years by the Beyond the Bell Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District – the second largest school district in the nation – to present choral pedagogy workshops to music teachers and choral masterclasses to students in middle and high schools. In this capacity, he worked with thousands of singers and their teachers.

Dr. Thornton is the author of The Choral Singer’s Survival Guide (giamusic.com) and he maintains a choral series in his name at Colla Voce Music. He has held teaching positions at California State University-Los Angeles, Los Angeles City College, and Pomona College. He is the Founding Artistic Director of Los Angeles Choral Artists and he was the Music Director of the Tucson Masterworks Chorale from 2006 to 2008. Dr. Thornton is the Founding Artistic Director of Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble.

At UMass, he oversees an extensive choral program, conducts the Chamber Choir, teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting, and guides the graduate program in choral conducting. He has taught as a Summer Session and Saturday Seminar faculty member at Westminster Choir College of Rider University.

Dr. Thornton is Past President of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, and he holds active memberships in ACDA, Chorus America, the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and IFCM. He is a national member of Phi Mu Alpha and current Collegiate R&R Chair for the ACDA Eastern Division.

Dr. Stephen A. Paparo, Associate Professor
Music Education/Choral Specialist

Dr. Stephen A. Paparo is Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and conductor of the University Chorale. He holds degrees from Michigan State University (Ph.D.), Syracuse University (M.M.), and Ithaca College (B.M.), and is a Guild Certified Practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education. As a former public school teacher, he taught junior and senior high school choral music for ten years in New Hartford, New York, and earned National Board Certification in 2002.

Active as a guest conductor, Dr. Paparo has conducted honor and festival choirs at all levels in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. In 2019, he conducted the Rhode Island All-State High School Mixed Chorus. He has presented at international, national, and state conferences, including the International Symposium on Performance Science (Kyoto, Japan), The Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), Suncoast Music Education Research Symposium (Tampa, FL), and at two American Choral Directors Association Eastern Division Conferences. He has served on the board of the Massachusetts chapter for the American Choral Directors Association as Student Activities chair (2012-2017), as President (2017-2020), and currently as Past-President (2020-2023).

His research interests include the application of the Feldenkrais Method to singing instruction in the choral setting, non-traditional choral ensembles, such as contemporary collegiate a cappella, virtual choirs, and circle singing groups, and LGBTQ studies in music education. He is published in the Bulletin for the Council of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Music Education, and Music Education Research. His chapter “Voicing with Awareness: An Introduction to the Feldenkrais Method” appears in Somatic voice: From practice to praxis, published by Routledge, and his chapter “Circle singing: Composing Improvisation and Improvising Composition” is published in Musicianship: Composing in Choir, published by GIA. His compositions, “Sing in Harmony!” and “A Musical Pun-ology”, for beginning choirs are published by Alfred Music.

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