SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has named a guest conductor to lead its choral studies program after last week's unexpected resignation of Brady Allred.
The university had been using graduate students to fill in for Allred after he took a month's personal leave and then resigned for "unexpected personal and family circumstances." On Nov. 1, conductor, pianist and teacher Barlow Bradford will step in as a visiting professor of choral studies at the U.'s School of Music.
Like Allred, Bradford will be responsible for leading the University of Utah Singers and the A Cappella Chorus and will supervise the graduate choral conducting program as well as other teaching duties. Bradford co-founded the Utah Chamber Artists in 1991 and is its current artistic director. He was also music director of the Orchestra at Temple Square in Salt Lake City and associate director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir until 2003.
Allred's departure meant the canceling of a few concerts, but Robert Baldwin, the interim director of the University of Utah's School of Music, said he was determined to keep the quality of the experience for the students. "I'm very optimistic. I'm actually really excited about the opportunities that (the change) provides," he said. "It does open opportunity to things that can be, frankly, revolutionary for the coming year. It will be a different experience for the students … a really positive experience."
Part of that positive experience involves recruiting well-known guest teachers like Bradford.
While the search for a permanent replacement for Allred continues, Bradford will conduct for scheduled December and February choral programs and assist with two planned guest residencies. One of those guest residencies is conductor James Jordan. A prepared statement from the UU. said Jordan was "one of the most influential conductors in America" and the author of 17 textbooks and recordings. He'll visit the school in January and again in the spring. The other guest residency is pending.
Edgar Thompson, an emeritus faculty member, will teach the graduate choral conducting class this fall. Bradford and Jordan will teach the spring classes and seminars. Candidates to replace Allred will come to the UU. in March for interviews and also a mini-performance. Baldwin said students would be heavily involved in choosing Allred's successor.
Baldwin remembered a similar situation when he attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. to study under a specific conductor only to have that conductor retire after one semester. That professor's leaving opened up opportunities for Baldwin to study with a variety of conductors. "For me it was an incredible experience."
Baldwin is confident that the guest conductors will do the same for Allred's former students.
Last week, former students of Allred expressed shock an disappointment that he resigned, but said he had their continuing admiration and support.
"We haven't been told anything about his resignation," said Kat Kellermeyer, avocal performance major. "The only thing I do know is that he is a fabulous teacher; he is the reason I came to this school. Everyone is sad to see him go."