Janet Galvan, professor of performance studies in the James J. Whalen School of Music, has been chosen as the new director of choral activities, replacing her friend and colleague Lawrence Doebler, who retired in May. In addition to conducting the Ithaca College Choir and Women’s Chorale, Galvan is the artistic director for the Ithaca Children’s Choir and founder of the Upstate New York Chorus — more commonly known as UNYC — pronounced “unique.”
Sage Daugherty, online news editor for The Ithacan, spoke with Galvan about her new role in the School of Music and her numerous activities.
Sage Daugherty: Tell me about yourself and your music background.
Janet Galvan: I did my degree work in a way that I never recommend to anyone else — I did three degrees in one place, [University of North Carolina at Greensboro], and I taught in public schools between my degrees. I have been at Ithaca for 30 years. My undergrad was music education, and then my master’s and doctorate I got in choral and music education with cognates and vocal pedagogy.
SD: What activities, music or otherwise, are you involved in at the college?
JG: I founded, and I’m still the faculty adviser for, the Student Association of the American Choral Directors Association, and I love that work because basically it’s allowing the students to run their own professional organization and to strike the groundwork for when they’re out in the profession. It makes me very excited that they started that idea of professional engagement in their professional association here at Ithaca College — and as a matter of fact, the last four times that they’ve given a national award for the best student chapter, our chapter has won. The other big involvement that I have is the Ithaca Children’s Choir, a comprehensive choral program for children and youth.
SD: What does being the new director of choral activities mean to you?
JG: I’m excited about the added responsibility. I’m excited to continue on the excellent tradition that we’ve had at Ithaca College on choral music and to look to the future, to continue building. I’m excited to be working with our new people and continuing to move forward in the choral program. It’s a slight change in responsibility. I’m doing the choir this year, and that’s a different set of repertoire, so that’s exciting. I am honored and thrilled to step into the director of choral activities title now, and it’s very rare to have a team that has been together as long as Larry [Doebler] and I were together, but I’m very excited about the future.
SD: Do you have any special memories of traveling with the Ithaca College choirs?
JG: One of the big highlights was going to Ireland when we went on tour, and that was really meaningful just for the fact that they got to explore a new culture. We went into a school for children who had multiple, severe physical and mental challenges, and I worked with the music ed. students who were on that tour, and for them it was so meaningful. In fact, one of my performance majors that day said, “When we get back, I’m changing my major to music ed. I want to do this with my life. I want to reach people in this profound way,” and she’s still teaching. She totally changed her mind, so that was a very significant trip. We’ve also been to Lincoln Center in New York on a number of occasions, and it’s always so exciting to watch the students enter a space where literally every major performer has walked through those stage doors and then for our students to have that experience of singing in one of the world’s great halls.