Meet Dr. Zabriskie

Faculty Profile
by Daniel Mollenkamp

Photography by Emily Jordan

Please use Professional bio for programs and publications

During a performance of the UCM Concert Choir nothing comes between Dr. Alan Zabriskie and the music. Not instruments. Not even sheet music. The performers’ eyes are fixed on him while they sing, and he conducts. The music that they’ve been working on so hard in rehearsal to interpret flows from the choir back to him and on to the audience.

Alan always wanted to be a teacher and a choral musician. He also feels that conducting and teaching are one and the same. So it’s no surprise he conducts choirs. What is perhaps surprising is what happens when he does, and where he takes the choirs physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

Both of Alan’s parents were teachers, and it was through them that he first saw how a group of talented, intelligent, caring people could change many people’s lives for the better. As a child he took lessons in piano, trumpet, and violin in addition to singing in a choir. He went on to play in bands and orchestras, but choir had a special pull. The lyrics added layers of meaning, and the sounds of human voices naturally blending together engulfed him.

Later, Dr. Zabriskie literally wrote the book on the subject. The textbook, Foundations of Choral Tone: A Proactive and Healthy Approach to Choral Blend, helps other choral music educators develop their singers. But what his own students get from him can’t be taken from a book. It has to be experienced – his palpable enthusiasm for choir, his awareness of the individual within the group, and the learning that comes from simply singing, again and again, with dedication.

Under his direction, Dr. Zabriskie’s Centennial High School Chamber Singers were invited to perform at the ACDA National Conference. It was one of only seven high school choirs invited that year, and only the second ever invited from the state of Nevada. He was the chorus master for the Utah Lyric Opera and Florida State University Opera. He has conducted choirs through performance tours of the United States and beyond, all the way to Venice, Italy in that city’s most famous church, St. Mark's Basilica.

In 2010 Dr. Zabriskie joined the UCM faculty, where he conducts the Concert Choir as well as the  Women’s Choir. He routinely travels around the Midwest with the Concert Choir as musical ambassadors for the University. Wherever he ends up taking them next, physically, intellectually, and emotionally, one thing is for sure—the audience will follow.

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