Artistic Director/Conductor

Paul Laprade is Full Professor of Music and Director of Choral/Vocal Activities at Rock Valley College.   At Rock Valley College, Laprade conducts the Concert Choir, Women’s Choir, and Chamber Singers, teaches courses in music theory, choral conducting, lyric diction, and voice.  He advises the college’s MENC chapter, is a field supervisor in Music Education at Luther College and is also the Director of Music at First Presbyterian/Second Congregational Church (Rockford, IL) where he conducts the Sanctuary Choir.   He is also a former member of the editorial board for  Choral Journal,  the journal of the American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA), where he served as the Choral Reviews editor.

An active adjudicator and clinician throughout the eastern United States, Laprade has frequently appeared as a guest conductor for county, district, regional, and symphonic choruses.  Ensembles under his direction have performed throughout North America, and have been invited performers at the White House for Presidents Clinton (1994), Bush (2001) and Obama (2009). As a teacher, he has worked extensively with many levels of students, from middle school select male voices, high school women’s voices, to both university and professional choirs.   His pedagogical interests focus heavily on the relationships between music perception, movement, and choral rehearsal processes.  His research interests emphasize score analysis and rehearsal technique.  His articles and reviews have appeared in several journals, including The Journal of Music Theory, Theoria, and The Choral Journal. He has presented papers for the Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association, IMEA, and for national conventions of ACDA, Society for Music Theory and American Musicological Association.  He is honored to have served as the National Repertoire and Standards Chair for Two-Year Colleges with the American Choral Directors’ Association. His new book, Building Musical Understanding, will be published in early 2014.

A graduate of Rhode Island College, Eastman School of Music, and Westminster Choir College, with degrees in Music Education, Music Performance, Music Theory, and Choral Conducting, Laprade studied choral conducting under Joseph Flummerfelt, Allen Crowell, Donald Neuen, and in seminars with Robert Shaw. He lives in Rockford, IL with the lights and loves of his life, his sons Nathaniel and Jonathan.

Valerie Blair is the collaborative pianist and assistant director for ElysianVoices.  She is also an adjunct faculty member at Rock Valley College, where she is accompanist for the college’s auditioned choirs and teaches piano.  She holds a B.M. in Music Education, and a M.M. in piano, both from Northern Illinois University, where she studied piano with William Koehler and Donald Walker, and accompanying with William Goldenberg.  She has accompanied in voice studios, played for opera and musical theater productions in Buffalo, NY, the Chicago suburbs, NIU, and at Rockford College.  Recently, she began studying the pipe organ with Greg Gyllsdorf, was a recipient of a 2012 AGO scholarship to further her organ studies, and is working toward earning the AGO Service Playing Certificate.
Valerie is also an early childhood music instructor, having taken training with the Center for Music and the Young Child (of Princeton) and with Musikgarten.  She offers the Musikgarten  curriculum through the RVC Community Education Dept.


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