Gregory Gentry, Director of Choral Studies at the University of Colorado (Boulder) and the ‘Lynn Whitten Choral Music Faculty Fellow,’ administers the doctoral, masters, and undergraduate choral conducting programs and choral ensembles. Gentry’s new book In Search of Inspiration: Interviews with Notable Choral Conductors (the title of which is an homage to In Quest of Answers: Interviews with American Choral Conductors, 1991), published by GIA in 2021, is now available.
With more than 12 years as a successful public school music teacher (3 years in elementary and 9 years at the high school level) and 23 years as a college educator, Gentry’s career as a conductor has allowed him to work in both professional and academic settings, preparing and performing great choral masterworks. From his 2009 Phoenix Symphony conducting debut to sold-out audiences with Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, to his conducting the Arizona State University Symphony and combined choruses in William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast in 2011, to his conducting the University of Colorado Symphony and combined choruses in Boulder’s historic Macky Auditorium or the New England Symphonic Ensemble at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Dr. Gentry has shown his expertise and sincere versatility.
In New York, Dr. Gentry’s April 2018 Carnegie Hall engagement was a resounding success, conducting the world premiere of Reflections on a Mexican Garden by Colorado composer Kevin Padworski. While Gentry has prepared and conducted numerous regional premieres of works by John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov, Arvo Pärt, Gunther Schuller, and Eric Whitacre, other world premieres include conducting Distance Can’t Keep Us Two Apart (2012) by Chen Yi which was performed at the Western Division Conference of the American Choral Directors Association; Tito’s Say (2010) by Arizona composer James DeMars, with the ASU Symphony and the ASU Symphonic Chorale, where Dr. Gentry was honored by the Mexican Consulate at a reception at Tempe’s Gammage Auditorium.
Under Gentry’s leadership “the Phoenix Symphony Chorus has become one of the gems of Phoenix’s cultural scene.”
—Richard Nilsen, The Arizona Republic
Gregory Gentry is the founding Chorus Master for the new Boulder Philharmonic Chorus, collaborating alongside Michael Butterman and the Boulder Philharmonic. In his capacity as Chorus Master with the Phoenix Symphony (2005–2012), Michael Christie, conductor, Dr. Gentry prepared the Phoenix Symphony Chorus in a wide range of performance repertoire, including Puccini’s Messa di Gloria (2012), the North American premiere of In Principio by Arvo Pärt (2011), the Arizona premieres of On the Transmigration of Souls (2009) and Nixon in China (2009) both by John Adams, the world premiere of Mark Grey’s Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio (2008, [Naxos 2009]) with an English/Navajo libretto by Laura Tohe, and the Arizona premiere of Golijov’s Ainadamar in collaboration with Dawn Upshaw and Kelley O’Connor (2008).
As former Director of Choral Performance at the Arizona State University School of Music, Dr. Gentry administered the graduate and undergraduate choral conducting programs, taught graduate conducting, literature and score study. Under his artistic direction, the ASU Symphonic Chorale was featured on tour in numerous western cities, including performing Igor Stravinsky’s Mass in Albuquerque, Denver, Fort Collins, and Phoenix, as well as a new work by Chen Yi in Las Vegas and Reno. His choirs have performed for the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA), and College Music Society (CMS). His edition of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s “Cor meum et caro mea” (Fred Bock Music Publishers) was premiered at the ACDA National Conference by the National High School Honor Choir. In 2013, Fred Bock Music Publishers launched the Gregory Gentry Choral Series, which now includes forgotten choral gems such as “Prairie Sunset” by Cecil Effinger, “Sing Unto the Lord” by George Lynn, and Wray Lundquist’s epic “Johnny’s Gone Marching.”
Dr. Gentry is pleased to be carrying on the legacy of great choral music at the University of Colorado, where Warner Imig conducted the first formal choral concert in 1938, and founded the ground-breaking Modern Choir in 1947. Composer, arranger, choral conductor and educator (and early mentor to Gentry) George Lynn was then director of Modern Choir during the 1950s, before returning to Westminster Choir College. In the late 1970s, Lynn Whitten set new standards in choral research and scholarship that continue with the University of Colorado’s graduate choral conducting programs today. Gentry’s graduate students are teaching and conducting at universities across the country, including the State University of New York, William & Mary, San Jose State University, Waldorf University, Morehead State University, Scottsdale Community College, University of Virginia, as well as conducting or singing in ensembles worldwide such as Conspirare, Phoenix Chorale, True Concord Voices, Graindelavoix (Belgium), Gimhae City Choir (South Korea) and Anúna (Ireland).
Gregory Gentry’s passion for conducting sophisticated contemporary choral music is rivaled by an exceptional affinity for prerevolutionary Russian choral music, particularly of the Russian Synodal School and its performance practice. He is a proponent of the solo voice and emphasizes the use of vocal science as the foundation for his approach to artistic ensemble singing. Dr. Gentry is past president of the Arizona state chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA, 2010-2012), during which time he introduced the electronic format for the state newsletter and the use of QR codes for performance programs. He also takes professional delight in having founded Southwest Liederkranz in 2006, an intimate symposium for select choral professionals, where Kirke Mechem, Morten Lauridsen, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Vance George, Dale Warland, Dennis Keene, Maria Guinand, Eph Ehly, Duain Wolfe, Joan Catoni Conlon, Joshua Habermann, Sharon Paul, and Gary Packwood have, to date, been invited to share their knowledge, wisdom, inspirations, and sense of humor!