ATU Names Visiting Director of Choral Activities

Dr. Ben Johns
Dr. Ben Johns

Dr. Ben Johns will serve as visiting director of choral activities at Arkansas Tech University during the 2023-24 academic year.

Johns was visiting assistant professor of conducting and director of vocal ensembles at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music the past two years. He also has experience conducting ensembles at Interlochen Arts Camp, the University of California-Davis, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the University of California-Irvine and the Eastman School of Music.

He was artistic director of the Torrance Civic Chorale and San Francisco-based Musae as well as director of education for the professional vocal ensemble, Chanticleer. Under his direction, Chanticleer’s education program won Chorus America’s Education Outreach Award.

“I am so excited our choral music students will get the chance to learn from Dr. Johns this next year,” said Dr. Jeff Bright, head of the ATU Department of Music and associate dean for the ATU College of Arts and Humanities. “I have had several discussions with him since he accepted the position, and in every conversation, he mentions that he can’t wait to get to Russellville and start making music with our students.”

Johns has performed professionally as a choral artist and soloist at venues around the world, including the Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Paris Consulate, Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, National Theater Taipei, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. His recording appearances include a performance under the baton of John Williams for the feature film “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

A four-time graduate of the University of California-Irvine, Johns holds Bachelor of Music in vocal performance, Bachelor of Science in chemistry, Bachelor of Arts in dance and Master of Fine Arts in choral conducting degrees from the home of the Anteaters. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

Johns will be joined on the ATU voice faculty during the 2023-24 academic year by tenured professors Dr. Jon Clements and Dr. Barbara Clements as well as newcomer Dr. Amy Porter.

Porter will serve as assistant professor of music. She was an ATU adjunct instructor during the spring 2023 semester while completing her teaching assignments at Gonzaga University, where she was interim director of choirs and vocal studies while also teaching applied voice lessons.

Learn more about the ATU Department of Music at