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.
2017 Honorary Life Members
The following honorees were celebrated at NCCO7, our 2017 Baton Rouge conference. Each individual was introduced by a former student or colleague and given a plaque.
Jerry Blackstone is completing thirty years on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance where he serves as director of choirs. In February 2006, he received two GRAMMY® Awards—“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”—as chorusmaster for the Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
In 2006, he received the ACDA-Michigan Maynard Klein Lifetime Achievement Award. GIA Publications recently released his video, Did you hear that? dealing with the conductor’s decision-making rehearsal process.
Blackstone has appeared as conductor and presenter in forty-two states, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. From 2003–2015, Blackstone served as conductor and music director of the University Musical Society (UMS) Choral Union. Choirs prepared by Blackstone have appeared under the batons of Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Leonard Slatkin, Hans Graf, Michael Tilson Thomas, John Adams, and Helmuth Rilling.
Randi Von Ellefson
Randi Von Ellefson was appointed both Director of Choral Activities at Oklahoma City University and Artistic Director of Canterbury Voices in 2004. He was taught at the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Chapel as well as Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He has served as president of NCCO and the Northwest and Central Divisions of ACDA. Randi has taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich and at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Kenneth Fulton retired in 2012 after 48 years of teaching including appointments at the University of Illinois, Texas State University, and LSU where, after 26 years, he was named as alumni professor emeritus.
Under Fulton, LSU performed for three national and eight divisional ACDA conventions, a national MENC convention, and professional societies both in the US and abroad. He conducted choral performances in Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, the Kennedy Center, Disney Concert Hall, the Mozarteum, and the Brucknerhaus.
Fulton was conductor for the Linz International Choral Festival for nine years and led the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus for 15 years. His invitational clinics included all-state and honor choruses, and workshops in 44 states, South America, and Europe. While at LSU, he founded the graduate conducting program (DMA and MM), producing over 90 graduates in choral conducting. He is a past-President of TCDA, LCDA, and the ACDA Southern Division.
Ann Howard Jones
Ann Howard Jones is professor of music and director of choral activities emerita at Boston University where she was responsible for a highly-regarded graduate program in choral Conducting.
Widely recognized for her conducting, leadership, and teaching, she received the Robert Shaw Choral Award from the American Choral Directors Association (2011) for distinguished professional accomplishment and service the and the Metcalf award (2014) from Boston University which acknowledges exemplary teaching. Jones has written on score preparation, rehearsal, and healthy singing in the choral rehearsal.
Dr. Jones worked with the conductor Robert Shaw in the Atlanta Symphony Choruses and the Robert Shaw Institute.
André J. Thomas
André J. Thomas, the Owen F. Sellers Professor of Music, is director of choral activities and professor of choral music education at Florida State University, a previous faculty member at the UT, Austin.
Thomas is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director globally and his international conducting credits are extensive.
Since 1988, he’s served as artistic director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger. He has produced two instructional videos What They See Is What You Get with Rodney Eichenberger, and Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice with Anton Armstrong. His recent book Way Over in Beulah Lan’: Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual has quickly become a major source in this area of study.
He has received distinguished awards from The African Diaspora Sacred Music and Chorus America. In March of 2017, ACDA presented Thomas with its highest honor the Robert Shaw Award.
Past Honorary Life Members
William Bausano (’09)
Jerry Blackstone (’17)
Simon Carrington (’15)
William Dehning (’11)
Randi Von Ellefson (’17)
Joseph Flummerfelt (’13)
Kenneth Fulton (’17)
Vance George (’09)
Ann Howard Jones (’17)
Robert Page (’08)
Alice Parker (’11)
André J. Thomas (’17)
Dale Warland (’06)