History of the Choir Department at ATU

Vocal music students have had a variety of performance opportunities since the beginning of the program. To begin the first academic year in 1910, the faculty included two music teachers, and throughout the University's 100-year history, a number of individuals have assumed leadership of the choral program. Since the tenure of Paul Shultz, beginning in 1936, choral conductors have included John H. Wainright, Walter Michels, Clarence Hefner, Rolland Shaw, John Guthmiller, Mark Bennett, Ray Wheeler, Gary Morris, Dr. Christopher Harris, Carlin Truong, and Dr. Benjamin Johns currently serving as Interim Director of Choirs.

Over the years various choral ensembles have comprised the vocal programs at Tech including:

  • Men's Quartet
  • Women's Trio
  • Glee Club
  • Madrigal Singers
  • Operetta Singers
  • Collegiate Choir
  • Community Choir

The choral program has been an ambassador and recruiter for the University. In 1937 eight members of the choral music department, an accompanist and Professor Shultz traveled to Chicago to provide musical entertainment at the National Convention of the Lions International. While in Chicago, the ensembles also performed at two Chicago night clubs and presented a 15 minute program over NBC radio. World War II drastically curtailed travel and took its toll on the choral program. Following World War II as enrollment at Tech increased, so did the enrollment in the choral music program. Today, the Arkansas Tech Choral Program is exceptional, with substantial enrollment growth in recent years.