Gary Schwartzhoff, Conductor
Gary R. Schwartzhoff is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he conducts Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, The Singing Statesmen and teaches conducting. Schwartzhoff received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Central College in Pella, Iowa and a Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa. A recipient of the Helen Kemper Doctoral Fellowship Award, he received a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Conducting at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, where he studied conducting with Dr. Eph Ehly.
In 2014-2015, Schwartzhoff marks his forty-first year as a music educator. He has been active throughout his professional career in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) where he served as President of the North Central Division from 1992-94. In 2010, the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) bestowed the Morris Hayes Award for lifetime achievement in the choral art to Schwartzhoff. In 2007, WCDA named Schwartzhoff the Outstanding Church Musician in the state of Wisconsin. Schwartzhoff has presented choirs on twenty-seven conventions before the state, divisional and national levels of ACDA and The National Association for Music Education (NAfME). In2009, Schwartzhoff was inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Eta Sigma in recognition of scholarship, service, and commitment to student success. In 2011, Schwartzhoff conducted the Minnesota Men's All-State Choir and Wisconsin Choral Directors Association Men's Honor Chorus. In 2009 and 2013, he conducted the President's Day Choral Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Schwartzhoff has a choral series in print with Colla Voce Music, Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana. In February, 2015, Schwartzhoff will serve as guest artist at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Meyers.
In addition to conducting The Master Singers, Schwartzhoff serves as Director of Music at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eau Claire, where he conducts the Chancel Choir. Gary is married to Nancy Schwartzhoff and they have two daughters, Jenifer Morgan (Jerry), and Rebecca Johnson (Andy), and grandchildren Brady, Alex, Anna, Emma and Clare.
Frank A. Watkins, Conductor
Frank A. Watkins, a native of Omaha Nebraska, has taught secondary choral music in the state of Texas for six years. Prior to his tenure as Director of Choral Activities at John Tyler High School, he taught undergraduate classes in piano at the University of Arkansas. He has degrees in piano performance from Jackson State University (BM), the University of Arkansas (MM), and choral conducting from Northwestern University (MM). He will complete his Doctoral of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University in the fall of 2014.
Watkins' engagements as a conductor and clinician have afforded him the opportunity to work with several choirs both nationally and internationally. In 2008, the Tyler ISD Foundation recognized Watkins with the prestigious Outstanding Teacher award. In 2009, Mr. Watkins was chosen as the 2009-2010 Southwestern Regional Conductor of the "105 Voices of History HBCU National Choir". In 2011, Watkins was selected as the guest conductor for the Northwestern University Movie Music Concert; an outreach concert of orchestral film scores that brings at-risk youth in the community to Northwestern University to encourage them to become involved in local music programs. In 2013, he was selected as the 2013 Guest Conductor/Clinician of the Mid-Michigan Advanced Honor Choir. In the spring of the same year, Watkins toured central Europe with the Michigan State University Men's Glee Club as the conductor of the Spartan Chamber Ensemble. He has presented workshops in choral methods for the International Music and Christian Arts Conference, Michigan State University, and The Ohio State University. In the spring of 2014, Watkins served as a Visiting Professor of Choral Music at the University of North Florida where he conducted the Men's Chorus, Women's Chorus, Chamber Singers, and University Chorale as well as taught secondary choral methods and materials. In the fall of 2014, Watkins joins the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as conductor of the Women's Concert Chorale, Women's Chorus, and University Symphonic Choir and Orchestra.
Mr. Watkins is an active member of the Music Educators National Conference, Texas Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, Conductor's Guild, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
A dynamic young conductor, Watkins' love and passion is teaching. He believes that in order to educate, you must first inspire! It is his goal to make an impact…not just an impression on the lives of those that follow his baton.
Troy Larson, Conductor
Holmen High School Concert Choir
Troy Larson is a 1998 graduate of West Texas A&M University with a degree in Music Education. Troy has been teaching for the last 18 years in Wisconsin, Texas and New Mexico. His first years were in Texas putting in time teaching middle school in the northern panhandle of Texas. That lasted two years and then he was on to teach high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During his tenure there, he grew his program into a huge success in the southwest including two award winning show choirs and a large Concert Choir. He taught for three years in Canyon Texas with his college roommate while trying to locate a job in Wisconsin. Teaching in Holmen has been a perfect fit for Troy and he is proud to say he has found his home.
Troy arrived in Holmen in 2012 with 10 people in show choir and 40 in concert choir. The program has now grown to 145 students all while maintaining a block schedule. We proudly offer a full concert choir, two show choirs and a freshman women's ensemble. Troy has been in show choir and choir since he was in the 8th grade and has never stopped. Troy loves the state of Wisconsin, the outdoors, fishing in his boat and spending time with his family.