HONOR CHOIR CONDUCTORS
High School Honor Choir
Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan serves as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning & Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University where they oversee the graduate program in choral conducting, conduct the ASU Concert Choir, and teach courses in choral literature and pedagogy that weave decolonial and critical theories with communal vocal practice. In addition to their work in academia and classical music, Dr. Saplan is known as a national thought leader and consultant in enacting social change and equity-driven practice through the choral arts. Dr. Saplan is an Obama Asia-Pacific Leader through the Obama Foundation for the 2022-2023 year. They also serve as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Belonging consultant for arts organizations throughout the country, such as Choral Arts Northwest, The Phoenix Chamber Choir, and The Guitar Federation of America. As a Kanaka Maoli advocate, artist, and culture bearer, Dr. Saplan is also the artistic director of Nā Wai Choral Collective, a vocal ensemble based in Hawaiʻi dedicated to the preservation, propagation, and innovation of Hawaiian choral music. Under Dr. Saplan’s direction, Nā Wai recorded a Global Music Award-winning album entitled Eō Liliʻuoklani under the Mālama Music label and performed for the 2021 Chorus America Summer Conference, the 2021 National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Conference, and the 2020 ACDA Western Region Conference in Salt Lake. Prior to their appointment at Arizona State University, Dr. Saplan was the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Hawai’i and conductor of the UH Chamber Singers. Under their direction the UH Chamber Singers sang as an auditioned choir at the 2022 ACDA Western Division Conference in Long Beach. The ensemble also performed at the Musica Pasifika Festival in Tahiti in 2020, and at the Pasifika Choral Symposium in Guam in 2019. Dr. Saplan’s research focuses on the performance practice of Pasifika choral traditions and Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions; decolonial approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the choral classroom; intersections of choral pedagogy, gender, and sexuality in communities of color; and trauma informed practice and boundary building with BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian) music educators. Their scholarship on these topics has also led them to lead clinics at the state, regional, and national level for the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the LGBTQ Studies in Music Education Conference. A prolific author, their research can be found in Red Ink: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities, The Choral Scholar, and Pacific Asia Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Dr. Saplan has also contributed chapters in Choral Reflections: Insights from American Choral Conductor-Teachers (Hal Leonard), and The Choral Conductor’s Companion (GIA Publishing). Forthcoming chapters will be included in The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Queer Studies in Music Education, From Disruption to Discovery: Music Teacher-Educators' Stories of Pandemic Teaching and Visionary Futures (Lexington Books), and Choral Repertoire by Women Composers (GIA Publishing). A champion for new works and BBIA and queer composers, Dr. Saplan is the editor of their own choral series under the publishers Earthsongs and Nā Mea Publishing. Dr. Saplan is a frequent clinician and adjudicator for state, regional, national, and international conferences and festivals. They have conducted honor choirs and all-states in more than 15 states, and will be the 2022 National ACDA Conference Native and Indigenous Peoples Immersion Choir Conductor. Dr. Saplan also serves as Festival Director for the Aloha State Choral Festival for Choirs of America. They make regular appearances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and abroad with their engagements with National Concerts, World Projects, and KI Concerts. Dr. Saplan received their Bachelor of Arts in Hawaiian Music from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, their Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland, their Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, and their Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with cognates in Music Education and Ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. They are the student of Dr. Maya Hoover (she/her), Mrs. Wanda Gereben (she/her), Dr. Sharon Paul (she/her), and Dr. Karen Kennedy (she/her).
Middle School Honor Choir
Dr. Olga Perez Flora is a modern renaissance woman as the head of the voice area and opera director at the University of New Mexico, conductor, and an international mezzo-soprano. She was named the first prize winner of the American Prize: Women in Oratorio and Song in 2022. Recent conducting programs include All-State conductor for the treble choir in New Mexico (2022), Rio Grande high school honor choir (2021), and the Northern Nevada high school honor choir (2020). Dr. Flora is an Artistic Co-Director of the Idyllwild Festival of the Arts Choral Intensive where she conducts programs at Disney Hall in Los Angeles and Lowman Hall in Idyllwild. An active member of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Dr. Flora is the headliner for the Hawaii ACDA conference in Honolulu along with Professor James Flora in the Fall of 2022. Dr. Flora recently presented “Inclusive Vocal Pedagogy for the Choral Classroom” with her colleagues Professors Désirée LaVertu and Lori Marie Rios for the 2022 Western ACDA conference. Dr. Flora has performed with opera companies and symphonies across the country and internationally and is best known for her sultry Carmen, which she has performed numerous times, including her debut with Amarillo Opera. Opera roles include but are not limited to performances with Opera Southwest/Frida, Opera Company Middlebury/A Streetcar Named Desire (Eunice), Opera Columbus/Madama Butterfly (Suzuki), Erie Chamber Orchestra/Die Zauberflöte (Third Lady), Arizona Opera/La Cenerentola (Tisbe), Opera in the Heights/Don Giovanni (Zerlina), Opera Company Middlebury/Eugene Onegin (Olga). Dr. Flora was featured in Michael Ching’s Completing the Picture (November 2020 release) which was recorded and filmed remotely during the pandemic, for Opera Company Middlebury. Internationally known as a recitalist, Dr. Flora has performed several recitals with companies across the United States, Cuba, and in Italy. She has most recently created a Cuban Song Recital named Canciones de mi Isla: Songs from my Island, featuring Cuban composers, poets and collaborators that has been enthusiastically received by audiences. Last Spring, Dr. Flora travelled to Havana, Cuba to perform in two concerts with Cuban composers José María Vitier and Leo Brouwer in her first visit to her families’ homeland. She has been featured on the album Gratitude in 2022 with composer Dr. Brian DeMaris and just recorded her debut album Canciones de mi Isla: Cuban Songs in December of 2022. Dr. Flora holds the Doctorate in Musical Arts from The Ohio State University, the Master in Music in opera theater from Arizona State University and the Bachelor in Music in vocal performance from Northern Arizona University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of New Mexico, Artistic Co-Director at the Idyllwild Summer Arts Festival Choral Intensive, and the Artistic Director of the Gobbi Villa summer young artist program in Rome, Italy. For more information: olgaperezflora.com