Helen McMaster Endowed Professorship in Vocal and Choral Studies

Helen McMaster

Helen and the late Harold McMaster established this endowed professorship in spring 2000. Helen McMaster, a long-time Perrysburg resident, has supported the arts at BGSU for many years. In 1992 she served as honorary chair of Bowling Green’s Campaign of the Arts, to which the McMasters donated $150,000.
Generous friends of BGSU, she and her husband previously donated to programs in music, business, science and the Center for Photochemical Sciences. They established the Harold and Helen McMaster Professor of Photochemical Sciences position in 1993, helped to purchase a photoelectron microscope for the center in 1992 and gave the University a $1 million gift for the McMaster Endowment Fund, which supports the chemical sciences, in 1985.

College professors in vocal, choral or opera may nominate endowed professors (follow the link for more details).

Photo by James Goulden

2018-2019 Endowed Professorship in Vocal and Choral Studies

Conspirare presents “Considering Matthew Shepard”

Composed and conducted by Craig Hella Johnson

Monday, September 17, 2018

7 p.m., Kobacker Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center

This event will be free for all current BGSU students, faculty and staff with ID.
For community members, tickets can be purchased by clicking below.

Tickets available here

Photo by Scott Van Osdol
Residency Schedule (all residency activities are free and open to the public)

Monday, September 10

5:30-7 p.m.
    Multicultural Dialogue Series: LGBTQ+ Identities and Violence, Bowen-Thompson Student Union, room 427

Sunday, September 16

3-4 p.m.
    Screening of a PBS special on Considering Matthew Shepard, Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center

Monday, September 17

10:30-11:30 a.m.
    Clarinet master class with Vanguel Tangarov, Room 2121, Moore Musical Arts Center

11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
    WS 2000: Introduction to Women’s Studies, members of the cast visit with students about the production, Olscamp Hall 117

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Vocal master class with members of Conspirare, Choral Rehearsal Room (1040), Moore Musical Arts Center

12:30-1 p.m.
    Craig Hella Johnson with the BGSU Men's Chorus, Choral Rehearsal Room (1040), Moore Musical Arts Center

1-2 p.m.
    Percussion master class with Thomas Burritt, Wooster Street Center

7-9 p.m.
    Performance of Considering Matthew Shepard, Kobacker Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center
    Tickets can be purchased here.

9-9:30 p.m.
    Talk-back session with conductor Craig Hella Johnson and panelists, Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center

Tuesday, September 18

9:30-10:30 a.m.
    Craig Hella Johnson visits choral repertoire class, Room 2121, Moore Musical Arts Center

11 a.m.-12 p.m.
    Craig Hella Johnson conducting master class, Choral Rehearsal Room (1040), Moore Musical Arts Center

1:00-2:15 p.m.
    WS 3510/ENG 3110 Gay and Lesbian Literature and Criticism, visit by Conspirare technical director, 114 East Hall

About Conspirare
Established in Austin, Texas in 1991, Conspirare is a Grammy-winning and internationally recognized choir with a reputation for “expanding the boundaries of choral performance” (Wall Street Journal). Conspirare, which translates from Latin as “to breathe together,” is led by founder and Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson, and is comprised of soloists from around the country. Conspirare’s extensive discography includes 12 releases on the harmonia mundi label. The 2014 album The Sacred Spirit of Russia won the Grammy for Best Choral Performance. Conspirare’s ambitious mission is to engage the power of music to change lives. Through its artistic excellence, creative programming, commissioning, and educational endeavors, the
organization has established itself as an agent of change and a bedrock of the Texas arts community and beyond.

Conspirare's most recent recording and touring project, Considering Matthew Shepard, is a three-part oratorio composed by Craig Hella Johnson. The work, which debuted at number four on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart, is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the murder of Matthew Shepard. The Washington Post calls the impact “immediate, profound and, at times, overwhelming.” Conspirare debuted Considering Matthew Shepard in Austin in 2016, and presents the work at Boston Symphony Hall and Texas A&M in 2016-17. A national tour is now in the planning stages for the 2017-18 season in observance of the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death.

Conspirare has commissioned works from wide-ranging composers including David Lang, Tarik O’Regan, Jocelyn Hagen, Donald Grantham, Eric Whitacre, Nico Muhly, Mark Adamo, Robert Kyr, Jake Heggie, and Eric Banks. A commitment to new music and willingness to showcase a broad context through diverse programming is evident from the first recording in 2004. Through the green fuse features a Gaelic hymn, African-American spirituals, and works by Sibelius, Stephen Foster, Eric Whitacre, among others.

Green Fuse was followed in 2006 by Requiem (works by Howells, Whitacre, and Pizzetti) which received two Grammy Award nominations. In 2008, Threshold of Night (music by Tarik O’Regan) also received two nominations, including Best Classical Album. The 2009 PBS television special “A Company of Voices: Conspirare in Concert” received the Grammy Award nomination for Best Classical Crossover, and Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings was nominated for Best Choral Performance in 2016. Conspirare’s “astonishing” (Bay Area Reporter) 2012 recording of works by Samuel Barber includes two new arrangements for chamber choir and orchestra by Robert Kyr. In Europe, harmonia mundi’s re-release of Requiem in 2009 won the Netherlands’ prestigious 2010 Edison Award. In 2015, Path of Miracles was awarded the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik in Germany.

Conspirare represented the U.S. at the Eighth World Symposium on Choral Music in Copenhagen in 2008, joining invited choirs from nearly 40 countries. In 2012, the group was invited to France for six performances at the Polyfollia Festival and a public concert in Paris. In 2016, the Olavsfestdagene festival, in Trondheim, Norway, presented the group in a collaboration with the internationally acclaimed ensemble Trondheimsolistene. Conspirare has performed throughout the U.S., including appearances as a featured choir at the American Choral Directors Association annual conference and regional ACDA conventions.

At home, Conspirare performs a full annual season in Austin and Central Texas where it has received ongoing recognition from local organizations and critics, and Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson was named Texas State Musician. The group is also committed to an ongoing outreach program which includes free community Big Sings and performances at Travis County Correctional Facility. In 2013, Conspirare became a Resident Company of Austin’s Long Center for the Performing Arts.

Conspirare is a growing organization, and while known for the flagship vocal ensemble, the organization also boasts the Conspirare Symphonic Choir (a large auditioned ensemble that performs works for chorus, often with instrumental ensemble), the Conspirare Chamber Orchestra, and Conspirare Youth Choirs, an educational program made up of three choirs (Prelude, Kantorei, and Allegro) under the direction of Nina Revering.

About Craig Hella Johnson
Grammy®-winning conductor Craig Hella Johnson brings unparalleled depth of knowledge, artistic sensitivity, and rich imagination to his programs. As Conspirare’s founder and Artistic Director, Johnson assembles some of the finest singers in the country to form a world-class ensemble. In addition to his work with Conspirare, Johnson is music director of the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble and conductor emeritus of the Victoria Bach Festival. He has also served as guest conductor with the Austin Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and many others in Texas, the U.S., and abroad. Through these activities, as well as Conspirare’s recordings on the internationally distributed Harmonia Mundi label, Johnson brings national and international recognition to the Texas musical community.

Beloved by audiences, lauded by critics and composers, and revered by vocal and instrumental musicians, Johnson is known for crafting musical journeys that create deep connections between performers and listeners. A unique aspect of Johnson’s programming is his signature “collage” style: programs that marry music of many styles from classical to popular to create profoundly moving experiences. The Wall Street Journal has praised Johnson’s ability to “find the emotional essence other performers often miss.” Distinguished composer John Corigliano wrote, “I believe that [Johnson] has understood my music in a way that I have never experienced before. He is a great musician.”

Johnson was Director of Choral Activities at the University of Texas at Austin (1990-2001) and remains an active educator, teaching and giving clinics statewide, nationally, and internationally at conferences and universities. In fall 2012 he became the first Artist in Residence at the Texas State University School of Music. A composer, arranger, and music editor, Johnson works with G. Schirmer Publishing and Alliance Music Publications; his works have sold thousands of copies.

Johnson’s accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. Notably among them, he and Conspirare won a 2015 Grammy® for Best Choral Performance; Chorus America recognized his achievements with the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art in 2015, and the Texas State Legislature named him the Texas State Musician for 2013. Other honors have included 2008 induction into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame, Chorus America’s 2009 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal, and the 2011 Citation of Merit from international professional music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon. Johnson studied at St. Olaf College, the Juilliard School, and the University of Illinois, and earned his doctorate at Yale University. He has been a Texas resident since 1990.

Past McMaster Endowed Professors


Christopher M. Cock holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Lutheran Music and is director of the Bach Institute.

Through his activities as a choral music educator and distinguished solo artist, Professor Cock has forged a unique career path combining the roles of conductor and performer. He frequently brings his focus on outstanding repertoire, vocal technique, and polished musicality to high school ensembles throughout the country. For six years, he served as director of choirs for Lutheran Summer Music, the national Lutheran high school music camp. In 2006 he led the International Choral Invitational in Hong Kong and was conductor of the Spivey Hall High School Honor Choir, a festival begun by Robert Shaw. He has also conducted All-State Choirs in Minnesota, Georgia, and Ohio and the Collegiate Honor Choir in Pennsylvania. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall as guest conductor of the New England Symphonic Ensemble.


With a career spanning more than 25 years and 200 productions, Jay Lesenger’s stagings have been seen on stages across the country and recently Europe as well. Jay’s directing skills are reflected in a wide repertory of operas, operettas and musicals that includes WERTHER, MACBETH, LOHENGRIN, IL TRITTICO, THE BARTERED BRIDE, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, DIE FLEDERMAUS, THE CORONATION OF POPPEA and the five Mozart comedies.  He made his New York City Opera debut with a new staging of ANNA BOLENA followed by THE  MAGIC FLUTE and STREET SCENE. Debuts quickly ensued in San Diego, Pittsburgh and Hawaii. Jay is the Artistic/General Director of the Chautauqua Opera and in 2008 became the Director of the Opera Department at Northwestern University.

A dedicated Manhattanite, Jay was graduated from Hofstra University and continued his education in stage direction in the Master's program at Indiana University.  He is a nationally recognized teacher of acting for singers and for five years was an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor, where he directed the School of Music Opera Theatre.  He is a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and other vocal competitions.


Described as having “a tight and attractive vocal blend and excellent choral discipline” (American Record Guide), The Thirteen is an all-star professional choir known for inspired and powerful live performance. Since its founding in 2012, the choir has been at the forefront of bringing invigorating performances to the American choral community in repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to the Romantic, from Bach to Bruckner; and from Gregorian chant to the world premieres of new American composers. In past seasons, The Thirteen has performed and been in residency at Yale University, Bowling Green State University, Eastern Illinois University, the University of Central Oklahoma, York College, The University of Tampa, Virginia Wesleyan University, St. Ambrose University, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Guilford College, as well as concerts throughout the United States. The Thirteen is committed to educating and inspiring the next generation of musicians, and frequently coaches students at the high school and collegiate levels in masterclass, workshop and collaborative performance sessions.



For over three decades, Samuel Ramey has reigned as one of the music world’s foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire. With astounding versatility he commands an impressive breadth of repertoire encompassing virtually every musical style from the fioratura of Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo, which was the vehicle of his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 1984, to the dramatic proclamations of the title role in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, which he sang in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera televised by PBS. Mr. Ramey’s interpretations embrace the bel canto of Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti; the lyric and dramatic roles of Mozart and Verdi; and the heroic roles of the Russian and French repertoire.


Ann Baltz is founder and artistic director of the nationally acclaimed performance training program, OperaWorks. A master teacher of performance skills and operatic improvisation for opera companies, conservatories and universities, Baltz has been heralded as one of the leading opera educators in America today. She is a frequent presenter at the Classical Singer’s Conventions, and has been featured as a speaker for Opera America’s seminar “Building a Career: Strategies for Success.” Representative schools where she has presented workshops include the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, New England Conservatory, Boston University, Westminster Choir College, Rice University and the San Francisco Conservatory.


Pianist Margo Garrett is well known to audiences for her frequent performances in chamber, sonata and vocal recitals. She will present a two-day residency at Bowling Green on Oct. 8 & 10, 2007. The large roster of internationally known artists with whom she has long performing relationships include sopranos Kathleen Battle, Barbara Bonney, Elizabeth Futral, Beverly Hoch, the late Judith Raskin, Lucy Shelton, Dawn Upshaw, Benita Valente, mezzo Shirley Close, tenor Anthony Griffey, violinists Jaime Laredo and Daniel Phillips, violist Paul Neubauer, cellists Sharon Robinson, Matt Haimowitz and the late Stephen Kates. Her recordings can be found on Albany, CRI, Deutsche Grammophon (1992 Grammy for Best Vocal Recital), Dorian, Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch and Sony Classical. Active for many years in the world of contemporary music, she has performed the premieres of more than 30 works.


Leading heldentenor Jon Fredric West (‘74) presented a two-day residency at Bowling Green on Oct. 4–5, 2006. During the residency he gave a recital and held master classes. A Dayton native, West holds a bachelors’s degree in performance from BGSU. He attended the Opera Theater Program at the Manhattan School of Music for his master’s degree and completed postgraduate studies at the Juilliard Opera Theater. He has received grants from The National Opera Institute, The Sullivan Foundation and an award from The Liederkranz Foundation. West has established himself as the world’s foremost Siegfried in Richard Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. He recently sang the role as part of the complete Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera in New York under James Levine. He came to the Met after triumphant performances in both operas at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, led by Zubin Mehta. With pianist and former BGSU Artist-in-Residence Jerome Rose, he recently recorded Schubert’s Winterreise on Medici Classics. West has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony (at the Ravinia Festival), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bayerische Rundfunk, Houston, San Francisco, Saint Louis, Boston, Pittsburgh, Toronoto and Cincinnati symphonies. He has sung under the batons of James Conlon, Sir Simon Rattle, Christoph Eschenbach, Andrew Davis, Walter Weller, Sir Colin Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Slatkin, Seiji Ozawa and Lorin Maazel.


Libby Larsen (b. 24 December 1950, Wilmington, Delaware) is one of America’s most performed living composers. She has created a catalogue of over 400 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and over twelve operas. Grammy Award winning and widely recorded, including over fifty CD’s of her work, she is constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world, and has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory. As a vigorous, articulate advocate for the music and musicians of our time, in 1973 Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum, which has become an invaluable aid for composers in a transitional time for American arts. A former holder of the Papamarkou Chair at John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Larsen has also held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Colorado Symphony. Click for a gallery of Libby Larsen's visit.


Composer, conductor and teacher Alice Parker began composing early, and wrote her first orchestral score while still in high school. She graduated from Smith College with a major in music performance and composition, then received her master’s degree from the Juilliard School where she studied choral conducting with Robert Shaw. Her life-work has been in choral and vocal music, combining composing, conducting and teaching in a creative balance. Her arrangements with Robert Shaw of folksongs, hymns and spirituals form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world. She serves on the board of Chorus America, and was recently honored by the Eastern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association. Parker has published books on melodic styles, choral improvisation and “Good Singing in Church.”


Vance Y. George is recognized internationally as one of the world’s leading choral conductors. He has conducted throughout the U.S. as well as Europe, Australia and Asia. During his 23 years as conductor with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the group was hailed as one of the finest in the world. On their behalf he accepted two Grammy awards for Best Choral Performances in 1992 and 1995 for Orff’s Carmina Burana and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. Highly regarded as a teacher of conducting George has taught and presented workshops and lectures at many universities including the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Eastman School of Music, The San Francisco Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, Kent State University and the University Berkeley-California.


Opera News has called her “maybe the most influential singer in American history” and in fall 2005, she taught students at the College of Musical Arts. Famed singer Marilyn Horne returned to Bowling Green Oct. 4–6, 2005, as the inaugural artist of the Helen McMaster Endowed Professorship in Vocal and Choral Studies. She last visited BGSU in December 1996 when she gave a sold-out recital on the Festival Series. Currently focusing on a “master teacher” career, Horne spent several days privately coaching voice students in the College of Musical Arts. She also conducted two master classes featuring many of these same students. Horne’s five-decade career in opera, concert and recital has been celebrated throughout the world for the power and artistry of her unique and dazzling mezzo-soprano coloratura.

Basic RGB

Soprano Dawn Upshaw, a five-time Grammy Award winner, is devoted to sharing her compelling love of music along with her tremendous vocal talent with people the world over. She has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her both the devotion of an exceptionally diverse audience, and the awards and distinctions accorded to only the most distinguished of artists. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “genius” prize, and in 2008 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.