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CCM doctoral student appointed May Festival Choral Conducting Fellow

First-year DMA student Harry Cecil will help lead the May Festival Chorus in 2020-21

The Cincinnati May Festival has announced the appointment of CCM doctoral student Harry Cecil as its Choral Conducting Fellow for the 2020-21 season. Cecil will assist Director of Choruses Robert Porco and Associate Director of Choruses Matthew Swanson with the May Festival Chorus next season. Cecil was chosen as the May Festival’s eighth Fellow following an in-person audition with the May Festival Chorus in February.

A portrait of CCM student Harry Cecil.

First-year DMA student Harry Cecil.

Cecil hails from Missouri and completed his Bachelor of Music in Voice at Truman State University, his Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Missouri, and a Teaching Certification for K-12 vocal music at Lindenwood University. He begins doctoral studies in choral conducting this fall at CCM under the tutelage of incoming Director of Choral Studies Joe Miller and Professor of Ensembles and Conducting L. Brett Scott.

Cecil’s past studies led him to positions as Director of Choirs and Instructor at Mineral Area College and Assistant Conductor of the IN UNISON Chorus of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He has also contributed numerous articles to publications including the Choral Journal and is a frequent conference presenter.

“This program is an important component to the May Festival’s year-round activities,” said Porco. “While the ongoing pandemic has caused disruptions in the world of singing, we look forward to resuming rehearsals and programs when it’s safe to do so, and I look forward to working with Harry. The May Festival will benefit from his experience and enthusiasm.”

“I was honored to be selected as the Conducting Fellow and look forward working with both the May Festival Chorus and May Festival Youth Chorus,” said Cecil. “Serving in this capacity with such a highly respected organization is a rare opportunity.”

The May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship was launched in 2014 thanks to generous support from Ginger and David Warner. Since its inception, the Fellowship has consistently attracted top emerging choral leaders to Cincinnati. Past Fellows currently lead university, professional, symphonic, youth and liturgical choruses in our region, across the country and abroad.

“The Fellowship is a unique partnership among a world-class conservatory and a renowned choral festival, allowing the student Fellow enhanced professional training in the choral arts with the May Festival Chorus and Robert Porco,” said Earl Rivers, longtime director of Choral Studies at CCM who retires later this summer.

“We continue to attract the best of the best to our region and the whole community benefits from having these artists,” said May Festival Executive Director Steven Sunderman. “The success of the Fellowship underscores the reputation of Cincinnati’s rich choral tradition and the vibrancy of the region’s arts scene.”

  • Joseph Taff: 2019-20
  • Jennifer Jun: 2018-19
  • Daniel Parsley: 2017-18
  • Matthew Swanson: 2016-17
  • Minhye Jang: 2015-16
  • Daniel Blosser: 2014-15
  • Marie Bucoy-Calavan: 2013-14

About the May Festival Chorus

The May Festival Chorus has earned acclaim locally, nationally and internationally for its musicality, vast range of repertoire and sheer power of sound. The Chorus of 130 professionally trained singers is the core artistic element of the Cincinnati May Festival as well as the official chorus of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the Cincinnati Pops. Throughout each season the Chorus Members collectively devote more than 40,000 hours in rehearsals and performances.

Founded in 1873, the annual May Festival is the oldest, and one of the most prestigious, choral festivals in the Western Hemisphere and is under the leadership of Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena, Director of Choruses Robert Porco and rotating creative partner that changes from year to year. The annual Festival hosts an international array of guest artists and presents two spectacular weekends of dynamic programming. Highlights of the 2018 May Festival included a fully staged performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS led by Robert Porco, the Verdi Requiem with guest conductor Eun Sun Kim, as well as Juanjo Mena leading Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, the U.S. premiere of James MacMillan’s Credo and a celebrated performance of Handel’s Messiah

Many important choral works have received their World and American premieres at the May Festival, including Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi, and Robert Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses.

The May Festival Chorus has strengthened its national and international presence through numerous PBS broadcasts of live concerts and several award-winning recordings, many in collaboration with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops. Most recently, a live recording of Robert Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses featuring Music Director Laureate James Conlon conducting the Chorus and the CSO at Carnegie Hall was released to critical acclaim in 2016 on Bridge Records. In 2001 the Chorus recorded Christmas with the May Festival Chorus, a popular a cappella holiday recording which was re-released on the Fanfare Cincinnati label in 2017, and a 2004 May Festival recording featuring the world premiere recording of Franz Liszt’s St. Stanislaus was awarded the 30th International F. Liszt Record Grand Prix by the Liszt Society of Budapest. The Chorus is also featured on the 2012 Cincinnati Pops release, Home for the Holidays, and several other Pops albums.

The May Festival Chorus has garnered two awards in recognition of its continuing artistic excellence and performances throughout the state. In 2011 the Chorus received the Spirit of Cincinnati USA Erich Kunzel Queen City Advocate Award from Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 1998 the Chorus earned the Irma Lazarus Award from the Ohio Arts Council’s annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

About CCM Choral Studies

Recognized by US News and World Report as one of this country's leading conducting programs, CCM's Department of Choral Studies is widely known for its excellence in training conductors for successful, lifelong careers in the choral arts.

CCM's Master of Music and Doctor of Music Arts programs provide professional-level experiences in rehearsals and performances, developing musicianship and technique, and acquiring knowledge of styles, performance practices and repertoire.

MM and DMA graduates of CCM's Choral Studies programs are conducting and administrating highly successful professional, collegiate, symphonic, secondary, children's and church choir programs throughout the world.

For more information about CCM, please visit us online at


Featured image at top: The Cincinnati May Festival Chorus/Provided.

Additional Contacts

Rebecca Butts | Assistant Public Information Officer | UC College-Conservatory of Music

| 513-556-2675