Director - DePaul Community Chorus
MM Northwestern University
BM University of North Carolina
DePaul Community Chorus
DePaul Community Chorus conductor Stephen Blackwelder has enjoyed an active and artistically diverse career since age 20, when he was invited to conduct the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra while assisting Eve Queler with a production of Cosi fan tutte. Now in his fourteenth season as Music Director of the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra, his 2013-2014 schedule includes four subscription concerts with the WSO, three concerts with the DePaul Community Chorus and annual appearances at the ever-popular "Christmas at DePaul" concerts.
Choral music has always been an active component of Blackwelder's musical life and he has led multiple performances of the Downer’s Grove Oratorio Society, Camerata Singers of Lake Forest, Waukegan Festival Chorus and various university, church and temple ensembles. Currently in his ninth season as director of the DePaul Community Chorus, he also directs a 40-voice adult choir at Glenview Community Church. While he was conductor of the early music ensemble Ars Musica Chicago, he led that group in numerous concerts and recordings over eight concert seasons. As a professional member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Aspen Chamber Choir, he performed frequently under such conductors as Robert Shaw, James Levine, Sir Georg Solti, Margaret Hillis and Claudio Abbado.
A former Music Director of the Hinsdale Chamber Orchestra, he continues to attract and delight audiences with fresh, innovative programming and an informal and appealing concert style. Highlights of past seasons include performances with celebrated flautist Carol Wincenc, Metropolitan Opera artists Jane Bunnell, Richard Leech and Nancy Gustafson, Chicago Symphony principals Ruben Gonzalez and John Sharp, and the NIU Philharmonic with soloists from the famed Vermeer Quartet. Guest conducting engagements include the Richmond, Bremerton and Sacramento Symphonies, as well as the Chicago String Ensemble, where he was praised for his "warmly expressive conducting" by Robert Marsh of the Chicago Sun-Times.
A native of North Carolina, Stephen Blackwelder was the first undergraduate to receive a Bachelor of Music in conducting and voice from UNC-Chapel Hill. During his studies for the Master of Music degree at Northwestern University, he assisted Grigg Fountain with the Alice Millar Chapel Choir in addition to his duties with orchestral and opera groups. Professional study includes four seasons with the renowned Aspen Music Festival and master classes with Sir Georg Solti, Max Rudolf and Erich Leinsdorf.