Effective July 1, 2018, Eugene Rogers, currently associate director of choirs and associate director of conducting, will assume the position of Director of Choral Activities, succeeding Jerry O. Blackstone, who has held the position for the last 14 years. Dr. Blackstone will retire in April 2018 after 30 years at SMTD, where he is also is professor and chair of the Department of Conducting.
The new appointment for Rogers comes with the enthusiastic and unanimous support of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance Executive Committee, along with overwhelming endorsement from faculty colleagues.
Eugene Rogers received both his MM (2001) and DMA (2008) in choral conducting at SMTD. In his current role, he is responsible for directing the University Choir and the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, and for teaching two conducting courses. In addition to his duties as a conductor, teacher, and singer, Rogers is the co-artistic director of Portugal's Lisbon Summer Choral Festival and, in 2010 and 2011, was the artistic director of the Disneyland Hong Kong Winter Choral Festival.
Rogers has served as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts and currently serves on the boards of the Central Division American Choral Directors Association (Male Chorus R&S Chair), the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and is the ChoralQuest series editor for the American Composers Forum. In 2015, the Men's Glee Club under his direction, was selected through blind audition to perform solo performances in Salt Lake City, Utah at the American Choral Directors National Convention. This past year, Rogers was appointed National Chair of the Diversity Initiatives Committee of the American Choral Directors Association, by the ACDA executive committee.
Rogers's creative work was recently recognized with a Sphinx Medal of Excellence, presented annually to three emerging classical artists of color by the Sphinx Organization. An advocate of new music and emerging composers, Mark Foster (Hal Leonard) Publishing began the Eugene Rogers Choral Series, which features music of contemporary classical and folk music traditions.
A highly sought-after guest conductor, clinician, and speaker, Rogers's list of professional engagements is lengthy and impressive. Recent past and upcoming guest appearances include the Coro de la Communidad de Madrid (Spain); the Latvian National Radio Choir (Riga); the Lisbon Summerfest Choir and Orchestra (Portugal); the IFCM and Beijing International Choral Competition (China); the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) High School Mixed Honor Choir (Luxembourg), the British Columbia Music Education Association, the Sphinx Symphony and Flint Symphony Orchestras, and All-State ensembles throughout the United States.
Jerry Blackstone's long tenure at SMTD has resulted in major successes including two GRAMMY® awards, presented in 2006, for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience for which Blackstone served as choirmaster. The album was named "Best Choral Performance" and "Best Classical Album." Also that year, the Chamber Choir performed by special invitation at the inaugural convention in San Antonio of the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and in 2003, the Chamber Choir presented three enthusiastically received performances in New York City at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).
For significant contributions to choral music in the state of Michigan, Blackstone received the 2006 Maynard Klein Lifetime Achievement Award from the ACDA-Michigan chapter. More recently, the Naxos recording of Milhaud's L'Orestie d'Eschyle, for which Blackstone served as chorusmaster, was nominated for a 2015 GRAMMY® Award ("Best Opera Recording").
Blackstone is considered one of the country's leading conducting teachers, and his students have been first place award winners and finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of the ACDA's biennial National Choral Conducting Awards competition. He served as conductor of the Men's Glee Club from 1988-2002, and as conductor and music director of the University Musical Society (UMS) Choral Union from 2003-2015, a large community/university chorus that frequently appears with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and presents yearly performances of Handel's Messiah and other major works for chorus and orchestra.