The American choral conductor and music pedagogue, Christpher (Chris) Shepard, received his Bachelor of Music degree in music education from the Hartt School of Music in 1987, and his Master of Music degree in choral conducting from the Yale School of Music in 1992. He received his Ph.D. in musicology from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the University of Sydney (Australia) in 2012, where he worked under the direction of Dr. Kathleen E. Nelson. He was awarded the 2012 Julius Herford Dissertation Prize for his dissertation, “Evolution and Revolution: J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor, BWV 232 in New York City, 1900-1980.” The prize is given on behalf of the National Research and Publications Committee of the American Choral Directors.
Christopher Shepard’s career has been closely associated with the choral music of J.S. Bach. In 2001 he founded the Sydneian Bach Choir & Orchestra in Sydney, Australia, the biennial Sydney Grammar School Bach Festival and from 2005 to 2008 was Music Director of Sydney Grammar School: Bach 2010, a project to perform all of J.S. Bach’s choral cantatas. Under his direction, the ensemble performed over seventy-five cantatas, as well as the two Passions (BWV 244, BWV 245), the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), and the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). A Sydney reviewer wrote of the cantata series that “these well-attended events, using a fine choir and perceptive soloists, are high points in our musical terrain.”
In addition to the music of J.S. Bach, Christopher Shepard has conducted many staples of the choral-orchestral repertoire, and he has commissioned and premiered a number of new choral works in both Australia and America. Chris serves as Music Director of the Worcester Chorus in Worcester, Massachusetts, the third-oldest community choir in America, and of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford, Connecticut. He is also the conductor of the Great Waters Festival Chorus in New Hampshire. Since returning to America, Chris has been a guest conductor at Emmanuel Church in Boston, a church renowned for its three-decade Bach cantata project (Emmanuel Music: Sunday Cantata Series).
Christopher Shepard joined The Dessoff Choirs in 2010 as the group’s 8th Music Director. Under his leadership, the group has launched an annual Midwinter Festival, performed in Mexico City and London, and expanded its focus on contemporary music as well as established masterpieces.
A committed music educator, Christopher Shepard was guest choral director at the College of the Holy Cross from 2011 to 2013. From 1996 to 2008, he served as Director of Music at Sydney Grammar School, one of Australia’s most prominent high schools, and before moving to Sydney, he led the choral program at the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. Since 2004, Chris has been Music Director of the Hotchkiss Summer Portals Chamber Music Program, an intensive chamber music program for advanced young players and singers from around the world. He has appeared with Alice Parker as a judge for Together in Song, a choral festival broadcast live on western Massachusetts public television.
With SBS-TV, an Australian national public television network, Christopher Shepard presented two documentaries: Bersnstein’s Chichester Psalms and From Mozart to Morrison with eminent Australian jazz musician James Morrison. The Melbourne Age recommended the Mozart documentary as a “novel, thoughtfully produced hour.” In 2000, Chris was chorusmaster with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs for their performance in the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Throughout his years in Sydney, Chris worked with a wide range of school and community choirs as conductor and clinician.