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Department of Music

College of Arts & Sciences

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Join us for the second annual festival!

Mary B. Martin Auditorium, Seeger Memorial Chapel, Milligan College
March 16 and 17: Rehearsal for festival singers (schedule below)
March 17, 7:30 p.m.: Finale Concert, $10 Suggested Donation

The festival will focus on female composers throughout history. 

NO preparation is necessary - all music will be learned during the festival!


Featuring Joan Szymko, Festival Conductor

Joan Szymko

Joan Szymko is a composer and conductor from the Pacific Northwest. With a catalog of over 100 published choral works, her music is performed by ensembles across North America and abroad. Abundant lyricism, rhythmic integrity and a vigorous attention to text are hallmarks of Szymko's diverse and distinctive choral writing. Fresh and inspiring, her text selections are as notable as her music. Especially significant is Szymko's contribution to the body of quality literature for women's voices. Her music is frequently heard at regional, national and international choral festivals and competitions. Since 2003, her music has been performed at every National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. The ACDA recognized Szymko's lasting impact on the choral arts in America by selecting her as the recipient of the prestigious Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission in 2010.

Composing for vocal ensembles is an extension of Szymko's creativity as a choral director. She has inspired community and church choirs in Seattle and Portland for over 30 years. Her passion for the singing voice, an embodied approach to sound, a dedication to craft and artistry, and her insistence on quality texts—all relate to her experience as a conductor and are reflected in her choral compositions. In addition to her own self published works, her music appears in the catalogs of Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Roger Dean Publishing, Walton Music, earthsongs,Treble Clef Press and Yelton Rhodes Music. She is a founding member of the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative.   

Szymko compoesed her first large-scale work for chorus and orchestra when commissioned by Eugene Vocal Arts to both create the libretto and compose a work focusing on those faced with the tragedy of Alzheimer's dementia. ”Shadow and Light” for mezzo-soprano, tenor, soprano, SATB chorus and 30 piece chamber orchestra was premiered in April 2016 to great critical acclaim. This notable hour-long addition to the choral-orchestral repertoire will be made available by Joan Szymko Music in 2017.

Szymko continues to live and work in Portland, Oregon. She served on the choral faculty at Portland State University as director of Vox Femina (2013-15) and has continued as Artistic Director of Auroa Chorus.  As a visiting artist, and clinician she has workshopped her music with choirs in a variety of educational settings across the US and most recently, in the Netherlands. 


Hosted by the following ensembles and conductors

East Tennessee Belles, Dr. Matthew Potterton, conductor, East Tennessee State University

Milligan College Women's Chorale , Dr. Noah DeLong, conductor

Cantemus Women's Chorus, Patty Denmark, conductor

MECCA Bella Voce, Jane Morison, conductor, Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy

Seymour High School Women's Chorus, Jean Burkhart, conductor


  • All festival participants must pre-register (click on the link below)
  • The $10 registration fee can be paid prior to the festival at registration or mailed to

East Tennessee State University
Department of Music, Attn. Dr. Matthew Potterton
PO Box 70661
Johnson City, TN  37614

  • Checks should be made payable to East Tennessee State University




The Festival Choir Rehearsal Schedule:

Friday, March 16, Seeger Memorial Chapel at Milligan College

5:30-6:00 p.m.   Registration (Payments Accepted)
6:00-8:00 p.m.  Festival Choir Rehearsal

Saturday, March 17, Seeger Memorial Chapel at Milligan College

1:00-2:30  Conducting Masterclass with Joan Szymko
2:30-5:30  Festival Choir Rehearsal
5:30-6:30  Dinner at Milligan cafeteria
6:30-7:30  Break/Soundcheck for participating choirs
7:30 p.m.   Festival Finale Concert




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