The Eastman School of Music excitedly welcomes three notable visiting professors to lead Eastman’s choral activities this spring 2024 while Dr. William Weinert, Director of Choral Activities, is on academic leave for the duration of the semester. Taking up the charge is Eastman alum Gregory Ristow, ’04E (MM/MA), ’11E (DMA) from Oberlin Conservatory; Marguerite Brooks from the Yale School of Music; and Jerry Blackstone from the University of Michigan. During their residencies at Eastman, they will work closely with voice students through weekly rehearsals, classes, and individual conducting lessons.
“We are delighted to have three master artist-teachers join us at Eastman this semester,” shares current doctoral student Colin Mann ’18E (MM). Mann is presently working with Ristow, an Eastman alumnus, and speaks about how motivating his lessons have been: “He has led our conducting studio toward new, thoughtful ways of listening to choirs, and has demonstrated methods to improve intonation and vocal unity in rehearsals. Dr. Ristow’s direction has helped us explore novel ways to present music using time, weight, space, and flow.”
Beyond the classroom, the inspiring musicianship of these visiting professors will be featured in two concerts this spring:
Professor Marguerite Brooks and current doctoral student Jonathan Mott will conduct the Eastman Chorale on Sunday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall. The program will feature works by Bach, Brahms, Schütz, and others.
On Friday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m., Professor Jerry Blackstone and current doctoral student Colin Mann ’18E (MM) will conduct the Eastman Philharmonia and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus in Kodak Hall. The featured works will be, Vaughan Williams beloved “Dona Nobis Pacem” and Poulenc’s “Gloria.”
Both of these performances are free and open to the public. Visit esm.rochester.edu/events to learn more about these concerts and other upcoming Eastman events.
About Gregory Ristow:
Oberlin Conservatory — Associate Professor of Conducting, Director of Vocal Ensembles
Gregory Ristow directs the Oberlin College Choir and Musical Union and teaches courses in vocal chamber music and conducting. He has been called a performer with “star quality” who was “striking whenever he appeared on stage” (Indianapolis Examiner). Ristow earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting at the Eastman School of Music, where he taught undergraduate and graduate conducting and was assistant conductor of the Eastman Chorale and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus. While at Eastman, Ristow received the TA Award for excellence in teaching and the Edward Curtis Peck Award for excellence in teaching by a graduate student. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education at Oberlin Conservatory, master’s degrees in conducting and music theory pedagogy at the Eastman School of Music, a Dalcroze certificate at the Juilliard School (studying with Robert Abramson), and a Dalcroze license at the Longy School of Music (studying with Anne Farber and Lisa Parker). He has studied piano with Lydia Frumkin, harpsichord with William Porter, and voice with mezzo-soprano Kathryn Cowdrick.
About Marguerite Brooks:
Yale School of Music — Associate Professor (Adjunct) Emerita of Music
Professor Brooks joined the Yale faculty in 1985 as chair of the choral conducting program at the School of Music and director of choral music at the Institute of Sacred Music. Active as a guest conductor, teacher, and clinician, she has been a juror for the Eric Ericson conducting competition in Sweden; she has conducted, given master classes, taught, and adjudicated in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. She has served on the faculties of Smith and Amherst Colleges and was director of choral music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Brooks was cited by the Yale School of Music for cultural leadership in music, and has received alumni awards for distinguished work in her field from both Mount Holyoke College and Temple University. The Connecticut chapter of the ACDA honored her with its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. She is most proud to have been honored recently as a Woman in History by the Barnard School.
About Jerry Blackstone:
University of Michigan — Professor Emeritus of Music
GRAMMY Award-winner Jerry Blackstone is a leading conductor and highly respected conducting pedagogue. Now emeritus professor of conducting, he served on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for thirty years where as director of choirs he led the graduate program in choral conducting and oversaw the University’s eleven choirs. In February 2006, he received two GRAMMY Awards (“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”) as chorus-master for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. In 2017, NCCO presented him with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Membership Award and, in 2006, for “significant contributions to choral music,” he received the ACDA-Michigan chapter’s Maynard Klein Lifetime Achievement Award. Professor Blackstone is considered one of the country’s leading conducting teachers, and his students have been first place award winners and finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of ACDA’s biennial National Choral Conducting competition. Prior to coming to the University of Michigan in 1988, Dr. Blackstone served on the music faculties of Phillips University in Oklahoma, Westmont College in California, and Huntington University in Indiana.