Faculty Profiles

200x300 Conservatory prof

Jerry Blackstone, D.M.A.

Visiting Professor of Music

On Faculty since 2022

Grammy® Award winner Jerry Blackstone is a leading conductor and highly respected conducting pedagogue.  He currently serves as Visiting Professor of Music at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music where he conducts the Women’s Chorale and the Men’s Glee Club, an ensemble in which he sang as an undergraduate. He is also Professor Emeritus of Conducting at the University of Michigan School of Music Theatre & Dance, where he served as Director of Choirs and led the graduate program in choral conducting. In February 2006, he received two Grammy® Awards (“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”) as chorusmaster for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The Naxos recording of Milhaud’s monumental L’Orestie d’Eschyle, on which Blackstone served as chorusmaster, was nominated for a 2015 Grammy® Award (“Best Opera Recording”). Opera Magazine reviewer Tim Ashley wrote: “the real stars, though, are the University of Michigan’s multiple choirs, who are faced with what must be some of the most taxing choral writing in the entire operatic repertory. Their singing has tremendous authority and beauty, while the shouts and screams of Choéphores are unnerving in the extreme. Their diction is good too: the occasions when we don’t hear the words are Milhaud’s responsibility, rather than theirs. It’s an extraordinary achievement, and utterly mesmerizing.”

The University of Michigan Chamber Choir, conducted by Blackstone, performed by special invitation at the inaugural conference in San Antonio of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO) and presented three enthusiastically received performances in New York City at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).  As conductor of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club from 1988-2002, Professor Blackstone led the ensemble in performances at ACDA national and division conventions and on extensive concert tours throughout Australia, Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States.

In 2017, NCCO presented him with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Membership Award and, in 2006for “significant contributions to choral music,” he received the ACDA-Michigan chapter’s Maynard Klein Lifetime Achievement Award.  From 2003-2015, Dr. Blackstone served as conductor and music director of the University Musical Society (UMS) Choral Union, a large community/university chorus that frequently appears with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and the Ann Arbor Symphony and presents yearly performances of Handel’s Messiah and other major works for chorus and orchestra. Choirs prepared by Blackstone have appeared under the batons of Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Leonard Slatkin, Hans Graf, Michael Tilson Thomas, John Adams, Helmuth Rilling, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Peter Oundjian, and Yitzak Perlman.

Professor Blackstone is considered one of the country’s leading conducting teachers, and his students have been first-place award winners and finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of ACDA’s biennial National Choral Conducting competition.  His 2016 rehearsal techniques DVD, Did You Hear That? (GIA Publications) deals with the conductor’s decision-making process during rehearsal.  Santa Barbara Music Publishing distributes Blackstone’s acclaimed educational DVD, Working with Male Voices and publishes the Jerry Blackstone Choral Series.

Blackstone is an active guest conductor and workshop presenter and has appeared in forty-two states as well as New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sicily. In the summer, he leads the Adult Choir Camp at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Recent appearances have included Handel’s Messiah with choir and orchestra in Shanghai, a concert in Virginia with the US Army Chorus, headlining the 2022 Illinois American Choral Directors Association’s summer conference, and serving as a guest faculty member in the Choral Masterworks session of the Summer Conducting Institute at the Eastman School of Music.

Professor Blackstone holds degrees from the University of Southern California, Indiana University, and Wheaton College.

Doctor of Musical Arts, Choral Music (1986)
University of Southern California
Outstanding DMA graduate in Choral Music

Master of Music, (with high distinction) Choral Conducting (1975)
Indiana University School of Music Cognate field: voice

Bachelor of Music, (with honor) Piano Performance (1974) 
Wheaton (IL) College Conservatory of Music
Minor field: voice

Additional Study

  • Aspen Summer Music Festival Orchestral Conducting Program (1983)
    Paul Verine!, master teacher of conducting
  • Workshops: Robert Shaw, Julius Herford, Helmuth Rilling, Howard Swan, John Alldis, Gustav Meier