Todd J. Harper, who previously taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music in choral conducting and also conducted the USC Thornton Apollo Choir, which is the university’s only men’s choir, begins his new role as University of La Verne chorale director.
“Dr. Harper knows the ropes and will, because of his training, experience and love for music, thrive here,” Reed Gratz, professor of music, said.
Harper, ULV assistant professor of music, met former ULV Chorale Director Stephen Gothold while teaching at USC and was recommended for the position by him.
“I know the former director very well, and once I got in contact with him for the position, everything fell into place,” Harper said.
Harper received his doctor of musical arts degree at USC with honors and was the director of choral activities, studying with musicians such as William Dehning, David Wilson, Magen Solomon, Nick Strimple and Giulio Ongaro.
He received his master’s degree in choral conducting from Cal State Northridge and was the assistant conductor of the Northridge Singers.
Harper received his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance and choral conducting from Cal State Fresno.
He is currently the director of music ministries for Burbank First United Methodist Church and also is the conductor and artistic director for Melodia Sinica, a Chinese-American community based choir in the San Fernando Valley.
Harper taught choral music in California public schools for six years.
He was honored for excellence in teaching in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.”
“I enjoy it at La Verne,” Harper said. “The smaller amount of students makes it easier to work with.”
At ULV, Harper conducts two choral groups – the University Chorale and the Chamber Singers, which is a smaller, select group.
He will also oversee the vocal arts program, which includes private lessons, master classes and conducting.
According to Gratz, Harper and his ensembles will be seen as the “face” of the music department.
“His position is a very important one for the University because of the number of people who see the ensembles perform,” Gratz said.
Harper comes from a classical background and has brought in a different style of music for the University Chorale.
Daira Smith, senior University Chorale member, said Harper’s style is much different than Gothold’s.
“It was an adjustment from theater to all classical music,” Smith said.
Gratz noted that a renovation of the auditorium is in the planing stages and will bring forth credit due to the music department and the University.
“I have great confidence in Dr. Harper, firstly as a great person, as well as a first-rate musician and conductor,” Gratz said. “The University is fortunate to have him on our faculty.”
Harper said that he enjoys teaching and helping others to sing.
He has aspiring goals for the University Chorale and the Chamber Singers.
“We will work hard, make beautiful music and get to know each other very well,” Harper said.
The Chorale has several performances coming up in the fall concert season. “Sure on This Shining Night” will be performed Nov. 1 at 5 p.m., and “The 10th Annual Friends Festival” will be presented Nov. 7 at 1 p.m.
Both will take place at the La Verne Church of the Brethren, located at the corner of Bonita Avenue and E Street, with a $5 admission charge.
There are also two student recitals coming up Oct. 30 and Nov. 20, which will be held in Founders Auditorium at 4:30 p.m.
Admission to these recitals is free.
Jaclyn Mittman can be reached at email@example.com.