About the Conductor
Christopher Samuel, a native of Virginia, attended James Madison University, the Royal School of Church Music, and Westminster Choir College, from which he received Bachelor of Church Music and Master of Music in Choral Conducting degrees. While at Westminster, he was the associate conductor of the Westminster Oratorio Choir, and served on the faculty of Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. In 1998, he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Arizona State University.
As a member of the Westminster Choir, Dr. Samuel sang in Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall (New York City) and the Kennedy Center (Washington DC) under the batons of Christian Badea, Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Wilhelm Ehmann, Christopher Keene, Rafael Kubelik, Erich Leinsdorf, Zubin Mehta, and John Nelson. From 1978 to 1982, Dr. Samuel participated as composer/conductor, solo organist, rehearsal accompanist, and chorus member in the Spoleto Festivals in Charleston, South Carolina and Spoleto, Italy.
From 1982 to 1987, Dr. Samuel served as organist and director of music at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah, Georgia. He returned to the Charleston Festival in 1985 and 1986 as conductor of the Savannah Counterpoint Madrigal Singers; under his direction, this community group also performed at the Georgia State Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in 1986. That same year, he was invited to be the associate conductor of the United Methodist Festival Choir and led in performances of that group in New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii.
Dr. Samuel assumed leadership of the Valley Chamber Chorale in 1988. This ensemble was invited to perform at the Arizona State Convention of the Music Educators National Conference in 1991 and 1994, the Western Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists in 1995 and 2009, and the “World’s Largest Organ Concert” in 1996 along with internationally-known artist, Joan Lippincott. The group’s compact disc of Renaissance motets and madrigals, O Sing Joyfully, was released in 1996, and can be found in bookstores locally and in select cities nationally.
Dr. Samuel's biography-based dissertation, Warren Martin: Westminster Choir College's Professor of Music, received the 1998-99 "Outstanding Dissertation Award" from the Council for Research in Music Education. It was also a finalist document for the American Choral Directors Association's distinguished "Julius Herford Prize." His commissioned work, A History of Westminster Choir College, was published in 2001 as a part of that institution's seventy-fifth anniversary celebration. His music tapes for the Maximal Learning System, "Listen and Learn" (1993) and "Quick Break" (1994) are published by Learning Consultants, Phoenix, Arizona, and his choral and organ compositions are available through JSAX Publications, Blacksburg, Virginia.
For three decades, Dr. Samuel has served variously in area churches and schools. In the late 1990s, he established and subsequently oversaw an ancillary outreach program (“Arts Alive!”) that integrated solo vocal, instrumental, and choral performances with the work of community service agencies. As a choral clinician, he has conducted workshops in Arizona, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming; as a church organist and recitalist, he has performed throughout the United States, England, and Italy. Dr. Samuel is a past Dean of the Central Arizona Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and currently serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ.