Dr. Eric Stark
In a dynamic career that combines performance, scholarship and collaborative leadership, conductor Eric Stark has established himself as a choral-orchestral specialist.
In May 2012, Stark led over 300 musicians in an acclaimed performance of the massive Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem) by Hector Berlioz with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Butler University Chorale (“The discipline of the choir’s preparation was evident from the start….the ‘Dies irae’…is one of the most thrilling episodes in the chorus-orchestra literature, and Stark managed it with aplomb.” Indianapolis Star). He made his podium debut as guest conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in a 2008 presentation of Handel’s Messiah(“galvanic performance….the Choir sang excellently throughout.” Nuvo Newsweekly). His December 2007 Washington, DC debut with the Washington Chorus was also met with critical and popular acclaim (“Eric Stark had the chorus singing crisply and brightly….its rich, close harmonies shimmering.” Washington Post).
Stark has led performances of the Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts, Britten’s War Requiem and Saint Nicolas, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bach’s Mass in B minor, the Weihnachts-Oratorium and numerous cantatas, Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt, Zipoli’s Te Deum, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass and Requiem, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, the Poulenc Gloria, Fauré’s Requiem, and Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. He has prepared choruses for such notable conductors as Nicholas McGegan, Raymond Leppard, Jahja Ling, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Mario Venzago, Carl St. Clair, Erich Kunzel, Krzysztof Urbanski and Jack Everly. His choruses are heard on multiple compact discs, including Mendelssohn’s Elijah (2011); From East to West (2005) a holiday compilation with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir; The Harmonies of Hoosier History, (2001) featuring works by Indiana composers performed by the Indianapolis Arts Chorale; and A Festival of Carols (1997) with the Muncie, IN Masterworks Chorale.
Stark’s work as artistic collaborator and community leader has been both broad and unique. Under his leadership, his choirs have performed with such groups as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana Repertory Theater, Indianapolis Children’s Choir, American Pianists Association, Jordan College Academy of Dance, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Clowes Memorial Hall, Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) and Butler University.
He has conducted in the Oriental Art Center Concert Hall in Shanghai, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, MD, and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. He has made conducting appearances in Greece, Italy, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay, and has led choirs on domestic tours in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa. In 2012, Stark served as chorus master for the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, featuring Madonna, Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj and LMFAO. He was honored with a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis in 2005.
A firm believer in the power of music to connect diverse audiences and enrich lives, Stark has led a revitalized program of innovative educational outreach programs since joining the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in 2002. In-Choir-ing Minds is an interactive discussion/performance featuring engaging dialog interspersed with live musical examples. Hallelujah—What’s It to Ya?! is a light-hearted musical inspection of the greatest musical work of all time, Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus. The in-depth Choral Colloquium focuses on the contextual issues surrounding the great works for chorus and orchestra, and has featured such notable participants as composers Morten Lauridsen and Kyle Gann, scholar/performers Vance George, John Shirley-Quirk, Nick Strimple, Byron Adams and R. Larry Todd, and theologians Richard Hamilton and Frank Burch Brown.
In addition to his duties as Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Stark is also Professor of Music, Director of Graduate Studies and Assistant Chair of the School of Music at Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts. There he conducts the Butler Chorale, teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting and choral literature, and serves as coordinator of the vocal and choral areas. His former conducting students have received appointments at leading choral positions around the United States, including Stetson University, Princeton University, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Los Angeles Opera, Fort Wayne Children’s Chorus and the University of Wisconsin. In 2003 and 2009 he taught a Butler University honors course he designed, Putting Wings on Dreams—the First 100 Years of Powered Flight, using the dramatic stories of aviation pioneers as case studies in human determination and innovation. He has served on the faculties of Christian Theological Seminary, Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne and Earlham College. He received the doctoral degree in choral conducting from Indiana University, where he was a student of Jan Harrington, Robert Porco and Thomas Dunn. A 1988 graduate of Wabash College, he is also a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, a non-profit network of pilots providing free air transportation for those with medical needs.
Dr. Michael Davis
Interim General Manager/Assistant Artistic Director
Originally from northeast Arkansas, Michael Davis’ work as a conductor, singer, teacher, and clinician brings an eclectic 30+ years of professional performing experience in genres from bluegrass, jazz, popular, and Western-swing to the standard repertoire of opera, choral, orchestral, and choral-orchestral masterworks.
In addition to his work with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir as assistant artistic director, his current musical endeavors include performing as pianist for Smooth Country (a Western-swing band based in Nashville, Indiana), playing dobro for Shiloh Bluegrass Band (Indianapolis), and as a guitarist in A-Team Swing at the Hedgehog Music Showcase in Arcadia, Indiana. As his primary vocation, Davis serves as Vice President Mortgage Consultant for Salin Bank.
Dr. Davis’ former conducting positions include director/producer of the critically acclaimed Ball State University Singers, “Indiana’s Official Goodwill Ambassadors,” as well as founder/conductor of Das Neue Kapellorchester and Cantabile!/Indy VoiceWorks, artistic director of Westminster Orchestra, associate conductor of the Ball State Chamber Choir, and assistant conductor for Indianapolis Arts Chorale.
Dr. Davis has taught on the music faculties of Manchester College and Ball State University. Having first performed at Carnegie Hall with Robert Shaw in the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in 1996, he has regularly been involved in the Professional Training Workshops presented by Carnegie Hall where he has also performed with notable conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Neville Marriner, Andre Previn, Robert Spano, John Rutter, Vance George, Donald Neuen, James Conlon, and Peter Shreier. He made his New York City conducting debut at Carnegie Hall with Manchester College’s A Cappella Choir in 2001. In addition to degrees in conducting and vocal performance, Davis holds the Doctor of Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Higher Education Administration and Leadership from Ball State University.
Joining the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in May, 2016, Andrea brings a wide and diverse swath of experience in development across Indianapolis specializing in education, a nationally recognized health organization and youth sports. Developing and sustaining relationships is Andrea’s trademark and passion. Leading an education foundation to notable growth and sustainability, developing systems and long-term relationships, her tenure as Executive Director with the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation was noted by expanding grant awards by 260%, and more than doubling the endowment assets. Expanding the American Heart Association’s Indianapolis Heart of Gold Ball in attendance and philanthropic giving by more than twofold, the gala became one of the most entertaining and robust events in Indy… next to the Symphonic Choir’s Gala Bel Canto of course!
As a recent student of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Andrea completed the Certificate for Fund Raising Management in May, 2016. Beyond her non-profit accomplishments, Andrea is a professional figure skating coach, having earned her Master Rating through the Professional Skaters Association and Gold test medals in the United States and Canada. She continues to coach skaters of all ages in the Indianapolis area at another historic Indianapolis institution, the Winter Club of Indianapolis.
When not enjoying the arts or the ice, Andrea values most her faith, family and friends. Happy to return to home of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir’s office and her alma mater, Butler University, Andrea received her degree in Radio/Television Broadcasting and Secondary Education. A life-long traveler, scuba diver, open wheel racing enthusiast and adventure junkie, Andrea hopes to pass on those traits to her son, Alexander. Her husband of more than 20 years, Alex, is along for the ride!
Kate Housman began working with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in February of 2016 as its Operations Manager. Previously, she worked with the Falmouth Chorale (Falmouth, MA), as its first General Manager. During her time at the Falmouth Chorale, Kate worked on a number of projects including guiding the Board of Directors through its first strategic planning process and streamlining the organization’s day-to-day operations. Her work with fundraising and development doubled the organization’s unearned income during her tenure and her unified marketing strategy increased audience attendance by 25%. As “chief cook and bottle-washer”, Kate could also be found answering phones, hauling risers, and the myriad of other daily tasks necessary to running a successful performing arts organization. Other notable achievements include starting an area children’s chorus under the Falmouth Chorale umbrella, managing the first joint choral performance of the Falmouth and Chatham Chorales singing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Simon Sinfonietta and Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. Kate graduated cum laude from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s of arts in music performance.
David Duncan began playing the piano at age six and the organ at age eight. These early beginnings prepared him for the diverse and busy musical life that he enjoys today as pianist, organist, conductor and choral arranger. His experience and extensive musical background has made him one of the most sought after musicians in the Indianapolis area.
He received both his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Piano Performance from the Indiana University School of Music. He was fortunate to study under gifted teachers who nurtured and supported his love and interest in a wide range of musical styles and genres. He has served on the faculties of both Taylor and Anderson University where he has conducted and arranged for both men’s and women’s choral ensembles and taught classes in classical and jazz piano, improvisation and choral arranging.
As a pianist David has worked with many of the finest musical organizations in the area including The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, The Great American Songbook High School Vocal Competition with Michael Feinstein, Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Encore Vocal Arts Ensemble. He has also done extensive work as a pianist/conductor for many local theatre companies including the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Indiana, Civic Theatre, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre and the Bose Lyric Theatre at Anderson University where he was music director/conductor for twelve productions including Into the Woods, Music Man, Children of Eden and Seussical.
Until recently David was Director of Music/Organist at Geist Christian Church in Indianapolis where he served for 23 years. His work for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was recognized on an international level in 2013 when he served as Music Director for the denomination’s General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. He will serve in this capacity once again in Columbus, Ohio in 2015.
David is passionate about working with high school students to further their love and appreciation of music and the arts. He has worked closely with the Indianapolis Cabaret Theatre at the Columbia Club, accompanying the Cabaret Conservatory Master Classes given by current Broadway artists. In addition, David is the staff accompanist and choral arranger at Franklin Central High School where he works with nine different choral ensembles including the Franklin Central Singers, winners of the Indiana State School Music Association Concert Choir Championship for the past 3 years.
Dr. James Plenty
James Anthony Plenty is a conductor, clinician, and scholar from Central Alabama. He is a musician who is equally at home in sacred, popular, and classical music. Distinguished for his musical mind and spirited performances, Dr. Plenty is frequently invited to serve as a guest clinician, accompanist, and competition adjudicator. Plenty’s professional achievements include serving as a contributing composer in the newly published Total Praise Hymnal. Dr. Plenty is Co-Executive Producer of a CD project titled Plenty Good News Presents…When Pastors Meet. Additionally, Dr. Plenty holds an appointment as the Music and Worship Arts Education Director of the Music Auxiliary in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and served as a guest lectionary liturgist for the African American Lectionary, a collaborative project of The African American Pulpit and American Baptist College of Nashville.
As a scholar and practitioner in sacred music and the arts, Dr. Plenty has served in church administration as a director of music and youth programs, consultant, and teacher. In 2007, Plenty began serving at Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama as the youngest Music and Arts Director in the history of the megachurch. An established academician, Plenty has also served as a member of the faculties of J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Alabama A&M University, H. Councill Trenholm State Community College, and Alabama State University.
James is a 2006 cum laude graduate of The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Technology. In addition to completing his studies in Birmingham, he also holds the Master of Church Music degree from Lee University and the Doctor of Education degree in Leadership, Policy, and Law from Alabama State University where he was a doctoral fellow of Abernathy College of Education. Plenty is also a graduate of the University of Alabama Community College Leadership Academy. He is currently a Master’s of Music choral conducting student at Butler University.