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Last modified: Monday, September 10, 2012

Raymond Wise to direct IU's African American Choral Ensemble

Sept. 10, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Raymond Wise, a gospel music performer for more than three decades and an accomplished composer, will join the African American Arts Institute at Indiana University as director of the African American Choral Ensemble.

Wise has been appointed to a two-year position as a visiting faculty member in African American and African Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he will teach new courses in addition to directing the Choral Ensemble.

Since its founding in 1975, the IU African American Choral Ensemble has been devoted to performing the rich and varied traditions of African American choral music. It is one of three performing arts ensembles at the African American Arts Institute, which strives to promote and preserve African American culture through performance, education, creative activity, research and outreach.

A native of Baltimore, Wise began his musical career at the age of 3, singing gospel music with his family singing group The Wise Singers. He attended Denison University, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music. He later earned a master's and a doctorate in music education from The Ohio State University.

In his previous activities, Wise has a track record of teaching students of all ability levels, inspiring students to be excited about making music, and is an outstanding musician, said Charles Sykes, the African American Arts Institute's executive director.

"For many years, I thought I was a performer and I thought that's all I wanted to do," Wise said. "I realized that I had a gift for teaching. So when I approach choral conducting and developing choirs, I approach it as an educator. My goal is to try to equip students with the skills they need to be successful."

Wise completed additional study in opera, art and German at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria, and in African American history, music and dance at San Francisco State University. He also apprenticed in the business of gospel music recording at the Walter Hawkins Corp. in Oakland, Calif.

Wise has recorded 22 albums; performed with opera singers, orchestras, dance companies and professional recording groups; and toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, as a singer, dancer, pianist, composer, choral director, lecturer and teacher. He has penned more than 600 compositions, many of which are available through the Raymond Wise Choral Music series of sheet music. His "21 Spirituals for the 21st Century" has received national and international acclaim.

He has developed and implemented courses in African American gospel music and spirituals at The Ohio State University, Denison University, Trinity Lutheran Seminary and the Columbus School for Girls, all in Ohio.

Wise served as co-director of the Hampton University Ministers' Conference Choir Directors' and Organists' Guild, which provides intensive training in African American sacred music for church music ministers and college students preparing for service as church music ministers.

He is a faculty member at the Gospel Music Workshop of America, and a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Ohio Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education and the Ohio Music Education Association.