Shenandoah Voices was inaugurated in the fall of 2020 as a means of finding viable and safe ways for singers to make meaningful music together. All singers from within Shenandoah Conservatory and from the greater Shenandoah University student body are welcomed and encouraged to enroll and participate in numerous vocal ensemble projects that are planned throughout the semester. Drs. Matt Oltman and Hillary Ridgley, assisted by our talented graduate choral conducting students, lead this innovative reimagining of the traditional university choral ensembles. Students will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform using both traditional and inventive methods with a focus on quality, relevance and safety. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to hone aural and sight-reading skills while improving their overall musicianship within the choral setting.
Shenandoah’s Conservatory Choir, Shenandoah Chorus, Cantus Singers and Shenandoah Singers are currently on hiatus for the fall 2020 semester as part of Shenandoah Conservatory’s safe reopening initiative. We will continue to adapt our safety measures and procedures as we consult with state and federal agencies, university leadership and industry professionals.
“We Will Rise” is a virtual choir performance crafted to interpret the internationally acclaimed song “We Will Rise” composed by Stefan Youngblood ’85 (Bachelor of Music in Music Education) and 75 choir participants and seven soloists from around the world.
Meet the Directors
Dr. Matt Oltman is music director emeritus of the Grammy Award-winning male vocal ensemble, Chanticleer, and artistic director emeritus of the New York-based Empire City Men’s Chorus. He will serve as the conductor of the Conservatory Choir, teach courses in choral conducting and literature, and assist in the leadership of Shenandoah Conservatory’s dynamic Vocal/Choral Division. He is also the associate director of CORO and leads the CORO/Simpson College summer master’s program in choral conducting.
Oltman first joined Chanticleer in 1999, singing in the ensemble until his appointment as music director in 2009. As a singing member, he appeared on 12 albums and toured extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He expanded the ensemble’s repertoire and attracted a younger, tech-savvy audience during three critically acclaimed seasons as the ensemble’s music director, which included over 300 concerts in more than a dozen countries. In addition, he helped launch the Chanticleer Live in Concert (CLIC) recording label and was the editor of the Chanticleer Choral Series, published by Hinshaw Music.
Dedicated to the creation of new choral music, he has facilitated commissions from composers such as Stephen Paulus, Mason Bates, Steven Sametz, Jan Sandström, Peter Michaelides, Roxanna Panufnik, and Ilyas Iliya, as well as Vince Peterson, who arranged the choral/indie pop sensation, “Cells Planets.”
Oltman has served as lecturer in music at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; guest director of choral activities at the University of California, Berkeley; and guest lecturer in music at Texas State University. He is a regular guest conductor at the Choral Chameleon Summer Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and the Taiwan Youth Festival Chorus in Taipei. He has conducted All-State choruses in Texas and Georgia and made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut in 2014, as part of the DCINY concert series.
Oltman is well known for his connection to Franz Biebl’s ubiquitous choral setting of the “Ave Maria.” His experience performing, conducting and recording the piece over two decades led him write a history and analysis in 2017.
Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, Oltman earned a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Simpson College, a Master of Arts in music from the University of York in England, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Hillary Ridgley serves as assistant professor of music education at Shenandoah University. She is an active conductor, clinician and adjudicator. Her research interests include choral text, the poetry of Sara Teasdale in choral music, music literacy and community service partnerships and field experience for music therapy and choral music education students. She co-directed the MTC Women’s Prison Glee Club for three years. Ridgley holds a Ph.D. in choral conducting/music education from Florida State University. Previously, she taught 12 years in the public school systems of Florida and South Carolina. Choirs under Ridgley’s direction have performed at the National Kodaly Convention, Florida Music Educators Association Conference, Florida American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Conference and Southern Division Conference of ACDA. Ridgley received a Bachelor of Music Education from Stetson University and Master of Music Education from the University of South Carolina.
Shenandoah Conservatory is committed to fostering a safe environment for our students and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are equally committed to providing exceptional opportunities for our students aligned with preparation for 21st century careers in the arts. This commitment begins with your audition! As the arts industry has responded to our current reality by modifying rehearsal and audition practices, Shenandoah Conservatory has also adopted the most recent industry standards, while maintaining a commitment to innovation and collaboration. Visit the Ensemble & Production Auditions webpage for the most up-to-date information about auditioning for our music, theatre and dance ensembles and productions.