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New prof on the block

Dr. Stephen Kingsbury joins the music faculty at SMSU

October 8, 2011
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - In his varied career, Dr. Stephen Kingsbury has conducted award-winning choirs, and now he brings that experience to Marshall.

Kingsbury is the new director of choral activities and assistant music professor at Southwest Minnesota State University.

He said he grew up in a household of music as his parents were amateur musicians. And music would be played in their house.

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"It ran the gamut from classical music to the Beatles," Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury was in the church choir and then his high school choir. He said his choir director, who was in his first teaching job, was a source of encouragement.

"He had a great deal of energy and excitement for what he did," Kingsbury said. He said that instructor also encouraged the students to get more involved.

Originally, Kingsbury was thinking about being a lawyer and majoring in political science when he got to college. He ended up taking a different route.

Kingsbury auditioned for the American Choral Director's Association Eastern Conference Honors Choir. The piece the choir performed was Maurice Durufl's "Requiem" at Trinity Cathedral in Boston. The orchestra was mostly members of the Boston Symphony.

"It's such a powerful, haunting piece," Kingsbury said of Durufl's "Requiem." For five minutes, not a sound could be heard, he said. "All I could hear from the audience was weeping."

Another musical opportunity Kingsbury had while still in high school was being part of the McDonald's All-American High School jazz band which performed at the Grammy Awards in 1992. Kingsbury's high school choral instructor then encouraged him to do a music audition at the University of New Hampshire. Kingsbury got a full-tuition scholarship as a singer and double bass player.

He received his undergraduate degree in music pre-teaching and a master of arts in teaching from the University of New Hampshire. He also has a master of music performance degree in conducting from Boston University. Kingsbury received his doctorate of musical arts degree in choral conducting and literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

For his doctorate project, Kingsbury did the survey of the early choral compositions of James MacMillan, a Scottish composer.

"Having the influences of three extra musical ideas as they came to fruition in his work," he said.

Kingsbury said MacMillan's compositions have remained the center of his professional life and he has written several articles on MacMillan's music.

Kingsbury knew right away that he wanted to teach at a certain level.

"When I started teaching, I realized I wanted to work with college-level kids," he said.

His first collegiate job was a one-year appointment as instructor of choral music education at the University of Tennessee, Martin. Then Kingsbury joined the faculty at the University of Central Missouri as the director of choral activities. He moved onto Northwest Oklahoma State where he was director of choral and vocal studies.

"I was also asked to be department chair," he said. Throughout his career, choirs Kingsbury has directed have won several awards and distinctions. For example, in 2006, the University of Central Missouri University concert choir was chosen to be the featured showcase choir at the San Francisco Choral Festival. The Northwest Oklahoma State University Chorale was named the second runner-up in the 2010 American Prize Competition in Choral Performance Music in the college/university division.

Then he came to SMSU. Kingsbury said his overall goal for the choral program is growth.

"It encompasses two facets," he said. One is the number of students participating, both majors and non-majors.

The second facet, he said, is growth in terms of quality of performance, growing as vocal and performance artists.

"I'm trying to create a cohesive choral program," he said.

So far, Kingsbury said he's extremely impressed with the students, that they have a great attitude and work hard.

"They want to get better, they want to grow, which is nine-tenths of the battle," Kingsbury said.

Besides music, Kingsbury also brews his own beer and makes wine. He said he and his best friend decided to do beer-brewing as their hobby. A couple of his own recipes include St. Stephen's IPA and Professor's Nutty Brown Ale.

"They all tend to be a play on words," Kingsbury said.



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