5 Questions With Festival at Carnegie Hall Choral Conductor Jeffery Ames

In our new series, “Five Questions,” you will get to know our renowned music professionals a little bit better.

This weeks Five Questions features Jeffery Ames, choral conductor in our Festival at Carnegie Hall program and Director of Choral Activities at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Dr. Ames will conduct our National Youth Choir event scheduled for April 29 – May 2 in 2016.

WorldStrides: Tell us about a music educator that had a big impact on you as a student.

Jeffery Ames: There are three individuals that had a huge impact on my life as a student, and the reason why I am a conductor today. The first is Craig Jessop, who was the guest conductor of the Virginia Honors Chorus my junior year in high school (at the time he was Col. Jessop, conductor of the USAF Singing Sergeants). I was so impressed by his strong sense of musicality. The second is the late W. Francis McBeth, who was the guest conductor of the Virginia Honors Band my senior year in high school. His technique and precision while conducting his own “Beowulf” and the band transcription of the Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition” literally blew my mind. The third is David Watkins (aka “Daddy Dave”), who was the Director of Choirs at James Madison University for 30 years. His passion for teaching and mentoring students continues to inspire me today!

WS: How did it feel the first time you took the stage as a conductor at Carnegie Hall?

JA: I was humbled. Being able to conduct on the same stage that famous conductors and performers of all races, colors, and creed have graced will always be a humbling experience.

WS: What advice do you have for students that want to have a career in music?

JA: A formal education should be your priority. Talent, passion, and ability may take you far, however when coupled with a degree in music, you become a well-rounded, and informed musician.

WS: What’s the last album you purchased?

JA: Mendelssohn-Bartholdy; Psalm 42; Hora est; Dvorak: Te Deum; Helmuth Rilling conductor.

WS: Who is your favorite composer of all time?

It changes; and, quite often! At this moment in time, my favorite composer is Karl Jenkins. He is a creative genius, in my opinion, who beautifully melds the Western Art tradition with multiculturalism. His music touches my soul in a special way.