Kevin Crowe is a graduate student pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting
at the University of South Carolina. He received both his Master of Music and Bachelor
of Music Education degrees from the University of Tennessee, where he conducted the
Women’s Chorale. After graduating, Kevin taught K-12 choral, instrumental, and general
music in Denver, Colorado. While teaching, he discovered a passion for working with
community choirs and older singers. He was Assistant Artistic Director of the Denver
Gay Men’s Chorus, Artistic Director of Sine Nomine (a mixed-voice chamber chorus),
Artistic Director of the Northland Chorale (an adult show choir), and founding Artistic
Director of the Sage Singers (a 50-voice chorus for elders and seniors in the LGBTQ+
community). In addition to school and community music, Kevin has served as music director
for both Presbyterian and Catholic congregations and maintained a private voice studio.
He currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with his husband Eric and their two
dogs, Lucy and Machete.
Bryon K. Black, II is pursuing a Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting
at the University of South Carolina. A native of Akron, OH, he received his Bachelor
of Music in Music Education from Ashland University, and his M.M. in Choral Conducting
from Kent State University. On the KSU School of Music faculty, Bryon conducted the
KSU Coro Cantare (formerly Men’s Chorus) and KSU Gospel Choir and taught choral conducting
courses. He also served as the Director of Music at Tallmadge Lutheran Church, directing
the Chancel Choir and Praise Team.
Bryon’s choral compositions have been performed by several ensembles, including choirs
at Kent State University, Slippery Rock University, and the University of Lincoln-Nebraska.
He started The Harvest Choir in 2017 to perform uplifting, original choral works,
including premiere performances of his compositions. In 2019, Bryon prepared the Tallmadge
Lutheran Church Chancel Choir to perform Mary Donald’s and Joel Raney’s cantata Sing
Christmas at Carnegie Hall, in concert with Distinguished Concerts International New
York (DCINY). He has also served as a guest conductor and clinician for various choral
festivals and other events throughout Northeast Ohio. Bryon is a member of the American
Choral Directors Association and served on the Ohio Choral Directors Association Board
as the Chair of the Standing Committee for Diversity. Under his direction, performances
by the KSU Gospel Choir and Coro Cantare were featured in the 2020 and 2021 OCDA Annual
Summer Conferences. Bryon resides in Columbia, SC.
Being a lifelong resident of the Denver area, Michael Ballard is thrilled to be pursuing
his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Columbia at USC. As an impassioned music educator,
Michael has enjoyed teaching general music, choir, and drama at a brand-new charter
school. Within one year of the school’s opening, he developed a strong music program
with four teachers, eight ensembles, and a strings program open to all students beginning
in preschool. Outside of K-12 teaching, Michael directed the Wheat Ridge Community
Chorale as well as several choirs at Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver. He
was the Conducting Fellow of the Colorado Repertory Singers based out of Broomfield
and was the Mark Sheldon Conducting Intern with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, Denver’s
only fully professional choir. As a singer, Michael has sung professionally with various
choirs in the Denver area such as St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, The Evans Choir, The
Denver Pro Chorale, and The Colorado Symphony Chorus. Michael’s undergraduate degrees
are in Music Education and Music Composition from MSU Denver. Michael recently finished
a master’s degree in Choral Conducting where he was a graduate teaching assistant
for the choirs at University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.While at Lamont, he
also earned a graduate certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy.
Augusto (Augie) Gil is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting
at the University of South Carolina. Augie earned his Bachelor of Music and certification
in K-12 Music Education with double emphases in voice and piano from Carson-Newman
University, and his Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting at the University
of South Carolina. After earning his MM, Augie spent four and a half years at Meadow
Glen Middle School in Lexington, South Carolina, where he more than tripled participation
in the choral program, established the first cross-disciplinary celebration of Heritage
Months in Lexington County schools, and organized and directed a music department
wide concert of masterworks arranged for middle school for the school’s 100 member
orchestra and 120 voice choir. He serves as Assistant Director of Music and Worship
at Eastminster Presbyterian Church of Columbia and is the owner and operator of Improving
Arts Academy, a private instruction and coaching studio for voice and piano students.
Augie previously served as International First Vice President for Delta Omicron International
Music Fraternity, and currently serves as an advisory member to the organization’s
board. He is a contributing author to GIA Publications’ Sacred Music Choral Repertoire:
Insights for Conductors, and also serves as the Chairman of the Board for Limited
Time Only, a Columbia based chamber choir consisting of professional musicians. Augie
and his husband, John Michael, live in West Columbia with their three dogs: Rose,
Apollo, and Tommy.
Brian Niu is a husband and proud father of two children. He received a Bachelor of
Choral Music Education and Master’s of Music Education from Florida State University.
He was the choir director at Boyd H. Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida
for six years. His heart has been for serving inner city and underprivileged students.
Kazarian Shumpert is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting
at the University of South Carolina. He attended Northeast Mississippi Community College
in Booneville, MS, his hometown, where he received his Associate of Arts degree. During
his time there, he was a member of the Showband from Tiger Land, the NEMCC Jazz Band,
Campus Country, and NEMCC Choirs. He then spent four years in Starkville, MS, where
he was a member of the Famous Maroon Band. He marched one year as a mellophone player
and served as drum major for the following three years. Kaz was also a member of the
choral department and performed with OPUS, the TTBB choir, and State Singers, the
premiere choral-vocal ensemble at Mississippi State. He graduated in May of 2023 with
a Bachelor of Music Education with a Concentration in Voice.
Angela Pinkham Varnon
Angela is a graduate assistant pursuing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at
the University of South Carolina. While completing a BM in Music Education from the
University of Tennessee, she performed in the Knoxville Opera Chorus and worked in
the Knoxville area as a collaborative pianist. After graduating, Angela taught 1-7
grade music and art at a private school in Knoxville and sang with the Knoxville Choral
Society. Angela is currently an organist and choral accompanist at her church and
lives in Irmo, SC with her husband, Jordan, and daughter, Sophie.
Allison Yablonski is pursuing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the University
of South Carolina. Allison recently earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance
from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia. During her time
at VCU, Allison served as Assistant Conductor for Commonwealth Singers, the university’s
premier choral ensemble, as well as Choral Arts Society, the university non-auditioned
choir. As President of the VCU student chapter of the American Choral Directors’ Association,
she developed a diversity initiative for students and faculty. Allison also sang multiple
roles with VCU Opera, including “Queen of the Night” in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
Following her passion of making music accessible to audiences of all ages, Allison
held an internship position with Wintergreen Music, which included managing the multigenerational
volunteer “Sing with Us!” chorus and supporting the pilot year of the LEAD Cooperative,
the festival’s education initiative. While in Richmond, Allison served as Soprano
Choral Scholar and Conductor of Youth Choirs at River Road Church, Baptist. She also
prepared the Chancel Choir for performances of large works, including Haydn’s “Missa
brevis Sancti Joannís de Deo.” She also maintained a private voice studio and sang
with the Richmond Symphony Chorus. Allison is thrilled to join the talented students
and faculty at USC in the fall!
Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.