Artistic Director / Conductor
It gives us great pleasure to announce that Fort Worth Chorale has chosen Dr. Karen Kenaston-French as our new Artistic Director! We are eager for her to both push our musical boundaries even further and help us build exciting new bridges. She began her tenure as Artistic Director in April.
Dr. Kenaston-French is in her 10th year as Associate Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Texas Arlington, where she conducts the A Cappella Choir, teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting, and heads the Vocal Area. Under her direction the UTA A Cappella Choir has performed at TMEA, SWACDA, and national ACDA conventions and has made appearances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Texas Ballet Theatre, and the Rolling Stones.
Prior to her arrival at UTA, Dr. Kenaston-French served as Director of Choral Activities at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, where she led the Chamber Singers in two appearances at the Tennessee Music Education Association state conference, and in master classes with Chanticleer, Cantus, and Libby Larsen. She taught conducting at Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas, and was director of music ministries at Plymouth Park United Methodist Church in Irving, Texas from 1986-1998. Dr. Kenaston-French has been guest conductor for choirs in Colorado, Michigan and Tennessee, for numerous TMEA region choirs, for the American Festival of the Arts (AFA), and is a frequent clinician and adjudicator of high school choirs across the state. She serves as artistic director of the highly successful All-State Choir Camp, One Last Look Workshop, and the Area Workshop at UTA, which collectively attract more than 500 students each year. She continues to share her experience in church music as a faculty member for SMU’s Church Music Summer Seminar and as clinician for church choirs.
Dr. Kenaston-French holds a B.A. in vocal performance from West Virginia Wesleyan College, M.M. and M.S.M. degrees in choral conducting from Southern Methodist University, and a D.M.A. in choral conducting from the University of North Texas, where she was named outstanding graduate student in conducting and ensembles and the Pi Kappa Lambda outstanding doctoral student. She studied conducting with Jerry McCoy, Mel Ivey, Lloyd Pfautsch, Jane Marshall, and Larry Parsons, and in 2011 was a conductor for the Choral/Orchestral Master Class of the Oregon Bach Festival, under Helmut Rilling and Jeffrey Kahane. Vocal studies include graduate work with Lynn Eustis at UNT and Linda Baer at SMU. Her article “The Teachings of Jean-Antoine Bérard” was published in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Journal of Singing in November 2009. She sang in the Dallas Symphony Chorus from 1993-2003, and was selected by national audition to sing in the first Robert Shaw Festival Chorus at Carnegie Hall in 1991.
Dr. Jerry McCoy's concluded his eleventh and final season as Artistic Director/Conductor of the Fort Worth Chorale and Chamber Choir in April 2019.
The 2013 winner of the Texas Choral Directors Association’s prestigious Choirmaster Award, he is also Regents Professor of Music Emeritus for the University of North Texas, where between 2000 and 2015 he led the UNT choral program to national and international acclaim while serving as Director of Choral Studies and conductor of the A Cappella Choir. In 2016/17, he was honored to serve as Visiting Professor of Music at Baylor University where he conducted the Baylor A Cappella Choir and taught graduate choral conducting.
Dr. McCoy has just been announced as one of the Legacy Conductors for the 2019 national American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) conference to be held in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition, Dr. McCoy has been nominated for a $10,000 grant as part of the national TIAA Difference Makers Program. And, earlier this year, portions of his 2010 TMEA performance with the UNT Cappella Choir were used as a sound track for a new short film titled Combination Fried Rice. The award winning film was part of Tropfest 26 (2018), Australia’s largest and most popular short film festival.
From 2007 to 2015 he served as a member of the National Executive Committee for the 20,000-member ACDA, serving as the organization’s national president from 2009 to 2011. Under his leadership, the ACDA reestablished its International Conductors Exchange Program, which affords vetted, rising American choral conductors opportunities to visit other internationally recognized choral music states across the globe while reciprocally welcoming foreign conductors to the USA to gain an understanding of the American choral music scene.
His graduates have been named to faculty positions in choral music at forty-two universities in the U.S., Mexico, and South Korea, and currently lead fourteen professional choirs in the U.S. and South Korea. Other of his graduates lead outstanding high school programs across Texas and the USA. Many of his graduates hold national, regional, and state positions within the ACDA
Dr. McCoy's work in the international choral community includes appearances in Austria, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Great Britain, Germany, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, and Venezuela. He has been a guest conductor/clinician/adjudicator in forty-one U.S. states. He currently serves on the honorary advisory board of INTERKULTUR (World Choir Games) and has served as the headliner for the national conference of the Korean Federation for Choral Music (Gyeongju), as Jury Panel Chair for the Pusan (South Korea) International Choral Festival, as a member of three jury panels for the World Choir Games (Shaoxing, China; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Graz, Austria) and for Alberta Choral Fest South (Calgary, Canada). He also has served as guest clinician/lecturer for Music I Vasternorrland (the Swedish Choral Directors Association, Sundsvall, Sweden).
His choirs have been featured in vetted performances for the Association of British Choral Directors national conference (Chester, England), the Daejeon (South, Korea) International Choral Festival, the Taipei (Taiwan) International Choral Festival, four national ACDA conferences, the national conference of the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the national conference of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators. They have also been featured in vetted performances for conferences of the Southwestern Division of ACDA, the Texas Choral Directors Association, the Texas Music Educators Association, and the American Guild of Organists.
Guest engagements for 2018 and 2019 include work with the choral music programs of Baylor University, Kansas State University, Missouri State University, Texas Christian University, the University of Southern California , the University Texas at Arlington, and the University of West Florida, as well as leading the Salem, Oregon All-City Choir.
His commercial recordings and publications include releases by Klavier Records, GIA Music Publications, Santa Barbara Music Press, and the premiere recording of Jake Heggie’s Ahab Symphony, released on CD Baby.