The scale of UA’s graduate choral conducting studio offers our students the chance to meet a diverse group of individuals representing a vast range of educational backgrounds and career ambitions. This diverse cohort of artist-scholars informs the educational experience of studying at UA and welcomes a range of unique identities, experiences, and goals.

Read below to learn more about our 2019–2020 Conducting Studio. Click here to learn more about our alumni.

J. Brayton Bollenbacher

MM, in progress
MSW, University of Washington
BA (Sexuality Studies), The Ohio State University
BA (Music), The Ohio State University

Brayton Bollenbacher is the artistic director of Desert Voices Mixed Chorus and Reveille Men’s Chorus. Prior to living in Tucson, Brayton served for six years as the artistic director of Diverse Harmony (the nation’s first queer-straight alliance youth chorus) and Spectrum, Diverse Harmony’s small, a cappella ensemble. A social worker as well as a musician, Brayton completed his LICSW credentials in 2014. Brayton is excited to be changing lives and fostering community through song in Tucson and has ultimate dreams of helping everyone find their voice.

Luke Diamond

MM, in progress
BM, West Virginia University

Before moving to Tucson, Diamond completed a BM in Vocal performance with a focus on choral conducting and composition from West Virginia University. He also worked at Trinity Christian School in West Virginia, where he taught choir, band, and drama for preK–12. Currently, Diamond is studying at the University of Arizona where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting. He serves as the Music Director of the Tucson Barbershop eXperience and also Christ Presbyterian Church. During his weekends, he enjoys serving as the accompanist for the Murder, Magic and Mystery Dinner Theatre. In 2020, Diamond began as the music director of the University of Arizona’s Bass Glee and assistant director for the Coro ensemble. When not conducting, Diamond spends time composing. His works include the Opera Ma Grâce te Suffit, and the musicals What Have You Got to LoseThe Trouble with Gold, and This Ol’ Book.

Angelica Dunsavage

DMA, in progress, minor in Music Education
MM, Bowling Green State University
BM, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Angelica Dunsavage is currently the choral administrative graduate assistant and the Director of Music at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson. Her article, Changing the Role of Conductor, recently appeared in the AZACDA Antiphon, and her current research includes secular music of the early German Baroque era and its accessibility to secondary school programs. Angelica has served in church, community, and public-school teaching positions in the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas. She has studied in workshops and masterclasses with Dr. James Jordan, Dr. John Alexander, Dr. James Meaders, and Vance George. She remains active as a professional chorister and mezzo-soprano soloist.

Gavin Ely

DMA, in progress, minor in Music Education
MM, University of Arizona
BA (Music), Grand Canyon University

Gavin Ely is currently the Interim Artistic Director of the Tucson Masterworks Chorale and is employed as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Arizona, serving as the Choral Music Librarian. Previously, Gavin was the Assistant Conductor of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus for the past two seasons, 2016–2018. An avid performer, he has been featured throughout the Tucson and Phoenix areas as both a tenor soloist and chorister.

Donté Alexander Ford

PhD, in progress, major in Musicology,
MSM, MM, MDiv, Southern Methodist University
BA (Music),  Pennsylvania State University

Donté Alexander Ford is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is a dynamic conductor, drummer, organist, pianist, and tubist in his own right. Donte’s many talents have afforded him the opportunity to serve as lead pianist, resident percussionist, opera chorister, student conductor, liturgist, lecturer, clinician, and Minister of Music. Donté serves as the assistant director of the James Abbington Church Music Academy and the founder/artistic director of Sankofa Chorale. Prior to moving to Tucson, Donté served on the music staff at First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park and teaching faculty of First Baptist Dallas School of the Arts.

He Huang

DMA, in progress
MM, Anhui Normal University (China)
BM, Anhui Normal University

He Huang is a choral conductor from Wuhu, Anhui, China. In the past 10 years, Mr. Huang directed numerous ensembles in different types, including children choirs, community choirs, symphony choirs, and university choirs. He also worked as a lecturer at Chuzhou University and founded and directed the Multi-Voice Choir (2013), which won several awards in China. Mr. Huang held concerts frequently and he co-hosted concerts with The University of Hildesheim (Germany), Tamkang University (Taiwan), Nanjing Academy of Fine Arts, and many other universities in China.

Timothy Klingler

DMA, in progress, minor in Vocal Pedagogy
MM, University of Northern Colorado
BMEd, Northern Arizona University

Tim Klingler is a DMA student in choral conducting, minoring in vocal pedagogy. Mr. Klingler has taught secondary school choirs in Austin, Katy, and Alief, Texas, for six years and is now teaching at Kempner High School in Sugar Land, Texas, while he writes his doctoral document on the polychoral compositions of Schütz and Scheidt. He also has a background in theatre arts directing, designing, producing, and playing roles in dozens of productions. Mr. Klingler has developed expertise in technology through theatre, vocal jazz, and a cappella ensemble productions

Chunghee Lee

DMA, in progress, major in Voice Performance
PS, Manhattan School of Music
MM, Manhattan School of Music
BM, Korea National University of Arts (South Korea)

Soprano Chunghee Lee is a DMA student at the University of Arizona under the tutelage of Yunah Lee.  Recent roles include Diana (Orpheus in the Underworld), Romilda (Xerxes) with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus) with the New Jersey City of University, and Mimi (La Bohème). Previous roles include Nedda (I Pagliacci), Anna (Anna Bolena), Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), and Adina (L’elisir d’amore).  Mrs. Lee won the IMKA Music Competition in 2018, the East Coast International and CAI Virtuoso Competitions in 2017, and the Ye-eum Music and Nationwide Music Competitions.

Mirae Lee

DMA, in progress
MM, University of Alabama
BM, Chung-Ang University (South Korea)

Mirae Lee is a conductor, composer, and pianist. She served as assistant conductor in University Singers, Chorus, and Men’s choir under Dr. Minear at the University of Alabama. As a composer, she won the grand prize in the An-dong Choral Festival, 2013, and the work was performed in 2019 at the ACDA convention in Kansas City. As a conductor and leader, Mirae taught in Kenya with the Jirani Choir. Inspired by this experience, she and several colleagues founded the Watoto Wangu Foundation in 2013 to build small libraries that provide music and art education to Kenyan children.

Anna Ziyun Li

DMA, in progress
MM (Choral Conducting), University of Arizona
MM (Music Education), University of Central Oklahoma
BMEd, Shanghai Conservatory of Music (China)

Ziyun Li is an insightful, pleasant choral conductor who comes from Changsha, Hunan, China. Li has worked with a variety of ensembles including elementary school choirs, high school choirs, university student choirs, and community choruses. Li has performed in many places around the world, including Hunan, Hubei, Shanghai, Macau, London, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Arizona. Currently, Li is an invited guest conductor of Nanxuan, a Chinese advanced high school choir that holds the 2013 World Peace Vienna Gold Award.


Yujia Luo

Nicky Manlove

MM, in progress
BA (Interdisciplinary Arts, emphasis in Music) Seattle University

Nicky Manlove is the founding artistic director of THEM Youth Ensemble, an LGBTQ+ and allied chorus in Tucson, AZ which prioritizes youth leadership and creating a safe, positive experience for transgender and non-binary singers. Nicky has previously worked as student conductor of the Seattle University Choirs and prepared singers for acclaimed Seattle harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Nicky serves as assistant conductor for UA’s University Community Chorus during their 2019–2020 season. An active scholar and presenter, Nicky was invited to co-present a workshop with Dr. Miguel Ángel Felipe at the 2020 World Symposium on Choral Music in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sunny Park

DMA, in progress, minor in Vocal Performance
MM, Westminster Choir College
BM (Church Music), Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea)

Sunny Park is the assistant director for the University of Arizona Community Chorus and the music director for Tucson Youngnak Church. Before moving to Tucson, she was the pianist for Saint Michael Roman Catholic Church in Trenton, New Jersey. A native of South Korea, she toured Spain, the United States, Japan, and Germany as a member of the Yonsei University Concert Choir and has taken part in worldwide choir competitions. She has studied conducting with Haeock Eunice Kim, Erin Hyunjin Cho, Joe Miller, James Jordan, Steve Pilkington, and Tom Shelton. Sunny enjoys skiing, swimming, and cooking up Korean dishes!

Erik Peregrine

DMA, in progress, minor in Historical Musicology
MM, University of British Columbia
BA (Music), Lewis & Clark College

Erik Peregrine is the artistic director of Ensemble Companio, an award-winning Northeastern chamber choir.  Peregrine has previously held a variety of conducting and teaching positions across North America, including with the Woodbury Chorus & Orchestra, One Voice Mixed Chorus, Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Vancouver Peace Choir, and numerous community ensembles. Passionate about the intersection of music and social issues, Peregrine has recently presented at the Chorus America (2018), ACDA Central/North Central Division (2018), and ACDA of Minnesota (2017) conferences about diversity in choral music, transgender vocal pedagogy, and creating inclusive ensembles for LGBTQ+ singers.

Sinamar Pascua Respicio

DMA, in progress
MM, St. Paul University Manila (Philippines)
BA (Church Music), Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music & Trinity University of Asia (Philippines)

Ms. Respicio’s conducting mentors include Mr. Jonathan Velasco, Mr. Joshibiah Butch De Juan, Prof. Oliver Rodriguez, and National Artist for Music Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano. She has taught as a part-time lecturer at the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music (AILM). Before coming to Arizona, Respicio was conductor and the music director of the Miriam College Middle School Chorus (Philippines) which won several awards from the Orientale Concentus Choral Festival in Singapore, the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the 1st Tokyo International Choir Compeition held in Tokyo, Japan.

W. Aaron Rice

DMA, in progress
MM, The University of Arizona
BA, Hendrix College

Aaron Rice serves as director of music at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Tucson, and artistic director of the Green Valley Community Chorus, Green Valley, Arizona. Previously, he served as music director for the Alpha Upsilon Men’s Chorus and the Saline County Community Orchestra, and he worked on the podium with the University of Arizona Middle School Outreach Honor Band before teaching his own middle school classes in the 2017–18 school year. Rice remains active as a composer of concert and theatrical music for the stage and screen and loves doing his best to ‘Fill the Silence.’

Todd Wachsman

DMA, in progress, minor in Vocal Pedagogy
MM, Queens College
BA (Music), Northern Arizona University

Todd Wachsman is the founder of the Forest Hills Choir, in Forest Hills, Queens. He has worked at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College as an adjunct instructor and served as an adjunct assistant professor at Hofstra University. He is currently the artistic director of the Green Valley Community Chorus. Wachsman has also worked with the Astoria Choir of New York and led several ensembles in the New York area.

Shekela Wanyama

DMA, in progress
MM, Temple University
BMusEd, University of Minnesota

Shekela Wanyama is a DMA student in choral conducting at the University of Arizona. Prior to beginning her studies, Shekela directed choirs in public, private, and international schools for over ten years. She has sung in ensembles in Seattle, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Berlin. Shekela takes particular interest in the music of the German Baroque era, communal singing traditions from around the world, innovative choral programming, and inclusive choral pedagogy. Her writing has been published in the International Choral Bulletin and in Wit, Wisdom, and Will: Women Choral Conductors on Their Art.