Mar 18


Shenandoah Celebrates the Careers of Invaluable Musical Mentors

Shenandoah University will celebrate the careers of Donald Black, professor of music (theory), and Steven Cooksey, director of church music and professor of music (organ, harpsichord) on Saturday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. in the Goodson Chapel/Recital Hall. Both professors leave an invaluable legacy of musical inspiration and academic excellence, not only to Shenandoah Conservatory’s students, but to the Winchester community and to the university as a whole.

Professor of Music (Theory) Donald Black, M.F.A., M.A., has taught at Shenandoah University for 46 years and attended Shenandoah at the Dayton campus in 1950. When he came to Shenandoah, the university was known as Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music. Throughout his tenure, he has taught most of the courses in music theory, aural skills and conducting. He also taught applied clarinet, and for 20 years conducted the Conservatory Orchestra. Black’s conducting experience at Shenandoah included many of its opera productions, and his wife, Nancy, often played piano for these performances. He conducted several different Shenandoah Ensembles at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well as other prestigious venues. Known as “Mr. Shenandoah” in the conservatory, he has served as teacher and mentor to many successful performers, conductors and teachers.

Director of Church Music and Professor of Music (Organ, Harpsichord) Steven Cooksey, Ph.D., came to Shenandoah in 1972. Thirty-four years ago, he was responsible for overseeing the installation of the beautiful pipe organ in the Goodson Chapel/Recital Hall. Dr. Cooksey founded Shenandoah’s Bach Handel Festival, which continues as one of the conservatory’s finest music festivals supported by the community. He also founded the Summer Church Music Institute. During his tenure, Cooksey designed and taught all courses in church music, instructed music history, music literature and conducting for both undergraduate and graduate levels. He is known by his students as a “gentle giant” – always gracious, respectful, humble and unselfish. “Dr. Cooksey is known for his commitment to his students, giving hours of extra time to help them achieve their goals. Cooksey is a fabulous teacher who is always able to make his students “thirsty for more.”

Shenandoah will honor each retiree with entertainment, moving testimonials and a presentation from Shenandoah Conservatory Dean, Michael Stepniak. A faculty and alumni reception, featuring live music by members of the conservatory, will immediately follow in the Brandt Student Center’s Ferrari Room at 6:45 p.m. For more information and to R.S.V.P. please visit


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