Australian born conductor Heather J. Buchanan is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA, where she conducts the 160-voice Chorale, 60-voice University Singers, and 24-voice Vocal Accord. Choirs under her direction have won critical acclaim for their “heartfelt conviction,” “new-minted enthusiasm and vibrancy,” being a “marvel of diction, tuning and rhythm”, “impeccable dynamics and diction,” “vibrant sound,” and for singing with the “crispness and dexterity of a professional choir.” Over the last decade the Montclair State choral program has developed an enviable reputation for artistic excellence and creative programming in the US and Europe. Dr. Buchanan’s choirs have collaborated with a variety of renowned artists and composers including Meredith Monk, Mícheál ÓSúílleabháin, Joseph Flummerfelt, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory Choir, the Studiochor of the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Graz, Austria, and composers Tarik O’Regan, Robert Livingston Aldridge, Chen Yi, Sarah Hopkins and Martin Sedek. The MSU Chorale’s masterwork performances with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra include Verdi Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mahler Symphony No. 3; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and Howard Shore’s Academy Award winning score The Lord of the Rings Symphony under the batons of Neeme Järvi, Jacques LaCombe, and John Maucceri. The University Singers recorded Songs of Ascension with Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble on the prestigious ECM label under legendary producer Manfried Eicher, released May 2011. This collaboration was included in the Producer of the Year section of the 2012 Grammy nominations.
Dr. Buchanan holds degrees from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Grifth University (Australia), Westminster Choir College of Rider University (USA), and a PhD from the University of New England (Australia). A licensed Andover Educator, she specializes in the teaching of Body Mapping and somatic pedagogy for musicians. Her guest conducting highlights include the 2007 Dvorák Festival in Prague and Vienna, the World Premiere performance of Madison’s Descent, preparing the opera chorus for the regional premier of Elmer Gantry, and the US premiere of a new production of A Ceremony of Carols with famed British choreographer Richard Alston and his dance company in December 2012 for Benjamin Britten’s centennial. Dr. Buchanan’s publications include co-editing the landmark GIA choral series Teaching Music through Performance in Choir, the DVD Evoking Sound: Body Mapping & Gesture Fundamentals, and octavos in the Evoking Sound Choral Series (GIA). A vibrant teacher, dynamic performer, and passionate musicians’ health advocate, Dr. Buchanan is in demand as a guest conductor, somatic educator, and choral clinician in the US and abroad. She resides in Princeton Junction, New Jersey with her husband Peter and daughter Paige.