In this episode, Cynthia Johnston Turner, Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia tells us about her commitment to get the music and artists of today into her college Band Room. She has been working on collaborative projects with Hip Hop artists in Athens, Georgia where her school is based and is supporting those artists and her students to create new musical experiences that brings together the best of both worlds. Cynthia's passion for an equal musical playing field is evident in this conversation, and she's right on the money with calling out how the narrow definition of what constitutes musical excellence is backing band programs and music schools into a smaller and smaller corner.
Cynthia Johnston Turner is Director of Bands, Professor of Music, and co-Artistic Director of Rote Hund Muzik at the Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia. Turner conducts the Hodgson Wind Ensemble, leads the MM and DMA programs in conducting, and oversees the entire band program including the 400+ member Redcoat Marching Band. She is "VIP Educational Clinician" with Conn-Selmer.
Before her appointment at the Hodgson School at the University of Georgia, Cynthia was Director of Wind Ensembles at Cornell University. Earlier in her career, Cynthia was a high school music educator, taught middle school beginning instrumental music in Toronto and choral music in Switzerland.
A Canadian, Cynthia completed her Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees at Queens University and her Master of Music in music education and conducting at the University of Victoria. Touring with her ensembles inspired her master’s thesis on the musical and personal transformations that occur on tours, and her D.M.A. thesis at the Eastman School of Music centered on the music of William Kraft, one of this generation’s leading composers. At Eastman, Cynthia was the recipient of the prestigious teaching award in conducting. She received the National Leadership in Education Award (Canada), the Excellence in Education Award (Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation), and the Marion Drysdale Leadership Award (also from OSSTF). She is also the recipient of the Donald A. Reick Memorial Award for research with wearable technologies and music pedagogy, grants from the UGA Willson Center for Creative Activities, multiple awards from the UGA career center, and the American Prize for innovative programming with wind bands.
Cynthia has commissioned numerous new works for wind band, contemporary music ensembles, and orchestra, and she continues to actively promote commissions by today’s leading and emerging composers around the world. Under her direction, the Cornell Wind Ensemble was invited to perform at the College Band Directors National Association’s Eastern Division Conference in 2007 and 2012, and the Hodgson Wind Ensemble performed at GMEA in 2015 and CBDNA National in Kansas City in 2017. In 2008, the Merrill Presidential Scholars at Cornell recognized Cynthia as an outstanding educator, and in 2009, she was awarded the Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship. Her performances have been praised by such composers as Steven Stucky, William Kraft, Steven Bryant, Marc Mellits, Nancy Galbraith, John Mackey, Peter Lane, Eddie Mora Bermudez, Dana Wilson, Roberto Sierra, and Karel Husa.
From January 2006, Cynthia led the Cornell Wind Ensemble on biennial performing and service tours to Costa Rica that included performances across the country, conducting masterclasses with Costa Rican teachers, instrument master classes for Costa Rican musicians, and the donation of over 250 instruments to music schools across the country. She led the Hodgson Wind Ensemble to Panama in January 2016 to teach, perform, and donate instruments.
Among other recent engagements, Cynthia has guest conducted the Thornton Wind Ensemble at the University of Southern California, Pacific Conservatory Wind Ensemble, National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain, the Syracuse Symphony (“Symphoria”), the National Youth Band of Canada, Concordia Santa Fe, the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Latin American Honor Band, the National Band of Costa Rica, the National Orchestra of Heredia, and numerous state honor bands and intercollegiate ensembles. Cynthia has been invited to present her research with teaching and technology, innovative rehearsal techniques, and service-learning and music performance at numerous conferences nationally and internationally. She is published in such journals as Interdisciplinary Humanities, International Journal of the Humanities, Music Educators Journal, NAfME "Teaching Music," NewMusicUSA.org, Journal of the World Association of Bands and Ensembles, Fanfare Magazine, and Canadian Winds, and has recorded CDs with the Innova and Albany labels.
Cynthia has served as a board member with WASBE and is an active member of CDBNA, Conductor’s Guild, College Music Society, Humanities Education and Research Association, the National Association for Music Education, and National Band Association. She currently serves on the board of the Western International Band Clinic (WIBC) and faculty at WIBC University. She is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi and a National Arts Associate member of Sigma Alpha Iota.