The American choiral conductor and baritone singer, Arnold Epley, became the artistic director and conductor of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus in 1992 and continued through 2008. In his 17-year tenure, he prepared the Chorus for over 70 works heard in 200-plus Symphony performances, in addition to the Symphony Chorus' guest appearances with other orchestras, concert tours and independently produced concerts. During his association with the Symphony Epley was involved in as many as 15 performances each season. He participated in dozens of major symphonic works in collaboration with the Kansas City Symphony. In addition to Symphony conductors William McGlaughlin, Anne Manson and Michael Stern, Epley had the opportunity to collaborate with many noted guest conductors including Raymond Leppard, Klauspeter Seible, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Henry Smith, Jahja Ling, Roberto Minczuk and David Lockinton. The internationally renown conductor Nicholas McGegan said of the ensemble under Epley's direction, 'This is a terrific symphony chorus.' In July 2008, Arnold Epley stepped down as artistic director and conductor of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus and has been named Conductor Laureate for the ensemble. Kansas City Symphony conductor Michael Stern praised Dr. Epley's legacy in a recent Kansas City Star interview. 'Arnold accomplished extraordinary things. His excellence is unquestioned.'
Arnold Epley was professor of music and director of choral studies at William Jewell College, retiring this past year (2008?). He conducted the William Jewell Concert Choir, the Chapel Choir, the Chamber Singers, and the Grand Chorus. He has led the William Jewell Choir in 26 American tours, and to England and Scotland for 9 concert tours, including performances in the cathedrals of St. Giles, Ely, Lincoln, Durham, Coventry, Southwell and York, concerts in Grantham and Oxford, at Westminster Abbey, and in 2003, St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London.
After two years as rehearsal conductor, Arnold Epley joined in 1994 the Independence Messiah Choir as their resident conductor for the 89th annual performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah. This rich music tradition is being continued through the support of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus and the Kansas City Symphony.
William Jewell College honored Dr. Epley with the Carl F. Willard Distinguished Teaching Award, and as Professor of the Year in 1999. He has received the Luther T. Spayde Award, the Missouri Choral Directors Association's highest honor.
Musica Vocale in Kansas City, MO, promises to be the next in a long history of successful choral ensembles under the direction of Artistic Director / Conductor Arnold Epley. Musica Vocale is an ensemble with professionalism of the highest order that aims toward performances of choral/orchestral literature that is often not performed in the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area. The ensemble will perform a mixed variety of programs as it contains a core Chamber Ensemble of approximately 40 members and has the capacity to expand to an ensemble of approximately 60 members with full orchestra and soloist to present major oratorio works. The ensemble will be comprised of volunteer members from the region's musical community, selected by rigorous auditions. Most of the choral artists bring extensive music education and experience as performers and teachers, and are engaged throughout the region as soloists and conductors.
Arnold Epley has appeared several times with the Kansas City Symphony as Baritone Soloist. After a long career as a baritone for symphonic, concert and recital performances, he continues his career as a teacher of singing. His private vocal studio is made up of some of Kansas City's leading singers.