Join Ryan for a fun, sit-down, in-person, conversation with Dr. Amanda Quist, conductor of Westminster Choir College’s Chapel Choir (first year students) and Kantorei. Dr. Quist reminds choir nation how important your investment of time and energy is to the members of your musical community, especially individual students, pointing out the profound impact you can have as a teacher who invests.
Dr. Amanda Quist is Associate Professor of Conducting at Westminster Choir College, where she conducts the Chapel Choir, Westminster Kantorei, and teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting. Kantorei was selected to perform at the Eastern Division ACDA Conference in February 2014 for her “Building Sound” workshop, was invited to sing at the American Handel Festival the previous year, and was selected as a National Finalist for the American Prize. During her work with the Westminster Symphonic Choir she collaborated with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, and composers Ola Gjeilo and Tarik O’Regan. Dr. Quist recently served as Chorus Master for the North American premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s Matsukaze for Spoleto Festival USA and the Lincoln Center Festival. The New York Times and Charleston Post and Courier reviews described the chorus’ performance as “beautifully prepared,” “gripping,” with a “gossamer web of voices,” and “bridging the vocal and instrumental textures with perfect intonation.”
Dr. Quist is Director of the Westminster Vocal Institute, and she was previously Director of Choral Activities at San José State University. She was selected to be the 2014 recipient of Westminster of Rider University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and other honors include the prestigious James Mulholland National Choral Fellowship and the Audrey Davidson Early Music Award. Her research focus is voice science and pedagogy in the choral setting, and she recently presented an Interest Session for the National ACDA Conference in Salt Lake City. An active adjudicator and clinician, recent and upcoming appearances include the California All-State, Texas All-State, Delaware All-State, Tennessee All-State, and Vermont All-State honor choirs. She has also conducted honor choirs and served as an adjudicator in Arizona, Michigan, New York, Arkansas, Georgia, and New Jersey. She recently served as the Pennsylvania ACDA Summer Conference headliner, and as summer conducting faculty for Connecticut State University. An active mezzo-soprano, recent solo engagements include performances with the Monmouth Civic Chorus and Orchestra, Symphony Silicon Valley, Fuma Sacra, Princeton Pro Musica, and Princeton University. Dr. Quist serves as the National ACDA R&S Chair for Youth and Student Activities and ACDA Mentorship Co-Chair.
The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music
As a high school senior, Dr. Quist had a moment that she knew she would have music as a permanent fixture in her life when she was singing in an honor choir with Eph Ehly, singing Ralph Manuel’s Alleluia.
In college, she made the decision to do it professionally. She had auditioned for “Shades of Blue”, a vocal jazz ensemble that appeared with Bobby McFerrin and David Letterman, but it conflicted with basketball practice (and she wanted to be a basketball coach). She decided that if she made it, she’d take it as a sign. And she made it!
Worst musical moment and takeaway
When Dr. Quist was in community college, she had to make the choice as to what to do next. She was a vocal performance major for years in community college, but fell in love with music theory. She thought she wanted to be a high-level music theorist, and continued to Roosevelt College. She had a conversation with Dr. Marconi, her major professor, because she was feeling lost. He told her to get a Music Ed degree. She said she wanted to be involved with making music with people. She sat on his words for a week, then made the choice to move onto Western Michigan for Music Ed, adding extra time and money to her undergrad experience. For some reason she didn’t make the connection between her goals of being intimately involved in music making and a path towards the music ed degree.
The proudest musical moment
In Spring 2014, Dr. Quist had several self-affirming moments:
- A concert of the full Monteverdi Vespers with Westminster’s Kantorei with period instruments
- The class of 2014 chose her to be the commencement speaker
- She also won the Distinguished Teaching Award from Westminster Choir College!
Investing in individual students and giving your all as a director to help inform the decisions of young people’s musical journey.
Most excited about right now
Concerts with Kantorei (Handel’s Dixit Dominus, Bach’s Cantata 12 and Singet Dem Herrn), and Chapel Choir (Songs of Fate and Faith, featuring Brahms’ Schicksalslied).
Advice for your younger self
Live in the moment and be present, and not worry about the future.
What makes a great conductor?
Firstly, you must love making music with people and an appreciation for how music is put together (the score). Gesture is important, as it communicates a strong opinion of the score. Lastly the ability to connect with people.