Cincinnati May Festival appoints CCM doctoral student as new Choral Conducting Fellow

First-year DMA student Matthew Swope will help lead the May Festival Chorus in 2021-22

The Cincinnati May Festival has announced the appointment of CCM student Matthew Swope as its Choral Conducting Fellow for the 2021-22 season. A first-year student in CCM's choral conducting doctoral program, Swope previously served as the director of choral activities at Winter Park High School in Orlando, Florida. He was recently awarded second place in the high school chorus division of the American Prize Dale Warland Award in Choral Conducting.

First-year DMA student Matthew Swope.

"Matthew brings extensive experience in choral conducting and people management,” said Steven Sunderman, executive director of the May Festival. “He demonstrates a deep passion for the art form and a strong commitment to excellence, and we are very pleased to have him join our team."

"Matthew came to CCM to further broaden his musical sphere and energize his already outstanding career," said CCM Professor and Chair of Choral Studies Joe Miller. "The training and experience that he is receiving as the May Festival's Conducting Fellow is powerful synergy between a world-class conservatory and a renowned choral festival."

The May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship was created in 2013 thanks to generous support from Ginger Warner, a long-time trustee of the University of Cincinnati and director emeritus of the May Festival Board of Directors. Each year since its inception, in collaboration with CCM’s graduate choral conducting program, a Fellow is chosen from CCM’s doctor of musical arts (DMA) class and serves one season as the assistant conductor of the May Festival Chorus.

"I am honored to join my esteemed colleagues and mentors at the May Festival," said Swope. "The excellence, renown and visionary spirit of the Festival continue to reflect the ideals of its founding nearly 150 years ago. It is a privilege to be a part of this legacy and, indeed, history in the making."

Swope is the ninth May Festival Choral Conducting Fellow in the history of the program. Previous Fellows now lead youth, university, community, church and professional choral programs in greater Cincinnati, across the country and abroad.

  • Henry Cecil: 2020-21
  • 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

"This Fellowship has consistently attracted top emerging choral leaders to Cincinnati," continues Sunderman. "Not only does this program benefit the appointed fellow from an opportunity and professional development standpoint, it also pays dividends to the May Festival and Greater Cincinnati region in elevating music and the performing arts. We look forward to our season with Matthew."

Swope will assist Director of Choruses Robert Porco in the leadership of the May Festival Chorus, as well as participate in the full scope of the Festival’s organizational and artistic endeavors.

About Matthew Swope

Matthew Swope is a first-year doctoral student in choral conducting at CCM. He previously served as the director of choral activities and performing arts department chair at Orlando's Winter Park High School for 14 years, leading eight curricular choirs and two contemporary a capella groups. Swope has also served on the voice faculty of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and Camp A Cappella in Dayton, Ohio.

A native of Pennsylvania, Swope received his MM in Voice Performance and Pedagogy and BA degrees in Music as well as Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies from the Pennsylvania State University. In 2013, he was awarded Penn State’s Outstanding Alumni Music Educator Award and was included in the Most Influential People, Class of 2019, by Winter Park Magazine.

Ensembles under Swope's direction have performed for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Southern Region, Florida American Choral Directors Association (Florida ACDA), Florida Music Education Association (FMEA), National A Cappella Convention (NACC) and the International Championship of High School A Cappella Finals. He has presented sessions for ACDA, FMEA, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

A tenor, Swope was a founding member of the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the A Cappella Education Association and Florida ACDA.

About the May Festival and Festival Chorus

Founded in 1873, the Cincinnati May Festival is the oldest choral festival in the Western Hemisphere and remains “One of the Best Classical Music Festivals in the U.S. and Canada” (BBC Music Magazine, May 2021). The annual festival, anchored by the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, hosts an array of international guest artists and presents a dynamic series of choral-orchestral performances each spring.

Under the leadership of Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena and Director of Choruses Robert Porco, the 120-voice chorus of avocational singers has earned critical acclaim locally, nationally and internationally for its musicality, range of repertoire and sheer power of sound. The ensemble has received numerous awards and national recognition for recordings, PBS and NPR broadcasts, and appearances at Carnegie Hall. The Chorus performs year-round as the official chorus of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops, making it one of the most prolific choral ensembles in the country. The May Festival celebrates its historic 150th anniversary in 2023.

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.


Featured image at top: An illustration of the Cincinnati May Festival logo/Provided.

Additional Contacts

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

| 513-556-2675