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Special Reports

MA 30 Movers & Shapers: Eugene Rogers

December 5, 2017 | By Vivien Schweitzer

Associate Director of Choirs, Associate Professor of Conducting
University of Michigan

Conductor, lecturer, and pedagogue Eugene Rogers is an advocate for new music and inclusion in the classical music world, a cause he champions as the first national chair of Diversity Issues for Chorus America. As associate director of choirs at the University of Michigan, Rogers teaches undergraduate conducting, leads the Men’s Glee Club and the University Choir, and is the faculty director of the MPulse Vocal Arts Institute, a national high school summer program.

“Repertoire that deals with issues of social justice is important to me, a part of my philosophy of teaching,” Rogers told Chorus America about his 2016 performance with the U-M glee club of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. The libretto features the dying words of African-American men killed by the police. Such repertoire, according to Rogers, “engages our audience, builds a strong sense of community amongst our singers, and can foster musical ubuntu [an African term meaning ‘humanity.’]”

Rogers continues, “As Nelson Mandela defined the philosophy, ubuntu holds that our personal humanity is dependent on the humanity of others.” In 2011 Rogers traveled to Tanzania to study East African choral traditions and published editions of Tanzanian choral music under the Hal Leonard World Music Series. The Eugene Rogers Choral Series (available via Mark Foster Publishing) features emerging composers who specialize in native folk traditions.

Rogers, who holds a BA in choral music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a PhD in choral conducting from U-M, has been a peer panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently serves on boards including the National Collegiate Choral Organization and is the ChoralQuest series editor for the American Composers Forum. His past appointments include assistant artistic director of the Boys Choir of Harlem and director of choral activities at Macalester College.


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