Honorary Life Members

The National Collegiate Choral Organization proudly honors its honorary life members. NCCO selects Honorary Life Members to recognize a member of the choral profession who has devoted his or her life to the enhancement and artistic growth of the choral art. The award recognizes those leaders in our profession who have mentored young conductors, inspired singers, supported music educators in the arts and shared their talents and gifts in the United States and abroad.

Honorary Life Member award recipients are the collegiate and university conductors who have shared their love for choral music and have strived to instill this love and joy in their students. Their students often go on to become collegiate choral directors themselves and continue the work of teaching and training young musicians, inspiring the best of our profession.

Honorary Life Members pay no dues to NCCO and may attend all conferences free of registration fees. In this small way, NCCO’s hopes to show appreciation of and respect for those who have labored and taught to enhance our great profession.


2019 Honorary Life Members

Read below to learn about NCCO’s 2019 Honorary Life Members. In their own ways, each of these individuals has had a major impact on choral music and choral music education through their work at the college and university level. NCCO honors them for their dedication.

Joan Catoni Conlon

Joan Catoni Conlon taught at the University of Washington and the University of Colorado, retiring after more than 45 years of teaching at many levels. In Seattle, she conducted the Northwest Chamber Chorus for 25 years, whose singers performed all the Telemann choral cantatas she transcribed for her doctoral work—bless them!—in addition to major works. As director of graduate choral research at Colorado she worked with talented students, and enjoyed watching their curiosity and interests expand. In 2001, she published Performing Monteverdi: A Conductor’s Guide, pursuing an abiding interest in his outrageous daring. In 2009, she edited and contributed to Wisdom, Wit, and Will: Women Choral Conductors on Their Art (GIA), with colleagues Hilary Apfelstadt, Marguerite Brooks, Sharon Hansen, Ann Howard Jones, Doreen Rao, Kathy Romey, Harriet Simons, Beverly Taylor, Joan Whittemore, Lori Wiest, and Sue Williamson. On two sabbaticals, she studied Hindustani classical vocal music in India.

Lisa Graham

Lisa Graham has served as the Evelyn Barry Director of Choral Music at Wellesley College since 2001.

Active in the Boston musical scene, she has been the music director for the Metropolitan Chorale for sixteen seasons, touring annually with the Boston Pops for the past seven years, and working with the BSO organization. She has lead the Handel and Haydn Society in performance as well as enjoying a ten-year history of working with their educational outreach program. She is a founding member and former president of the National Collegiate Choral Organization, has served as a Choir Repertoire and Standards chair for the Massachusetts American Choral Director’s Association, and currently is on the ACDA Eastern Division Board.

She received her MM and DMA in Choral Music from the University of Southern California where she studied with William Dehning.

Karen Kennedy

Praised by the San Francisco Classical Voice for her “wizardry with voices,” Karen Kennedy recently retired as director of choral Studies from the University of Miami. She held similar positions at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Towson University. NAXOS will soon release 2 recordings with her ensembles, joining her featured choir performance on the Latin GRAMMY® award-winning album Juanes: MTV Unplugged. She also enjoyed her work with orchestras, including the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New England Chamber Orchestra, the Miami Symphony, the Boca Raton Philharmonic, and the Symphony of the Americas.

Dr. Kennedy treasures awards she received for teaching, including the University of Hawai‘i Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching, Arizona State University’s Manzanita “Top Prof” Award, and Butler University’s Faculty Distinction Award. Of her accomplishments, her students’ successes are the most cherished.

Buddy James

Buddy James is professor of music at California State University, East Bay, where he serves as chair of the Department of Music, was founding director of the School of Arts and Media, and was named the 2015–16 George and Miriam Phillips CSUEB Outstanding Professor. He also taught at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where he was named Professor of the Year in 2004. He was named Outstanding Doctoral Graduate at the University of Southern California and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California Irvine. He has held leadership positions in ACDA, NAfME, and IMC. He is currently the Bay Area Regional Representative for the California Choral Directors Association and was a founding officer and past-president of the National Collegiate Choral Organization. He is the artistic director for Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley and his teachers included William Dehning, Joseph Huszti, Edward Maclary, and Robert Page.

Jerry McCoy

Jerry McCoy is Regents Professor Emeritus for the University of North Texas, where from 2000–2015 he led the choral program to national and international acclaim. His graduate students serve at forty-two universities in the U.S., Mexico, and South Korea, and currently lead thirteen professional choirs. Dr. McCoy also served in positions at Baylor University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Arizona, and Nicholl’s State University. Since retiring from UNT, he has led twenty-five guest events for universities across the US. His work in the international choral community includes events in thirteen foreign countries. From 2007–2015 he was a member of the ACDA's national executive committee, serving as national president from 2009–2011. His commercial recordings include releases by Klavier Records and GIA Music, as well as the premiere recording of Jake Heggie’s Ahab Symphony. He wrote the forthcoming book Becoming the Choral Poet.

NCCO’s Honorary Life Members

Charlene Archibeque (’15)
William Bausano (’09)
Jerry Blackstone (’17)
Simon Carrington (’15)
Joan Catoni Conlon (’19)
William Dehning (’11)*
Randi Von Ellefson (’17)
Joseph Flummerfelt (’13)*
Kenneth Fulton (’17)
Vance George (’09)
Lisa Graham (’19)
Buddy James (’19)
Ann Howard Jones (’17)
Karen Kennedy (’19)
Jerry McCoy (’19)
Robert Page (’08)*
Alice Parker (’11)
André J. Thomas (’17)
Dale Warland (’06)

* deceased