The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music is thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr. Francis Cathlina as the new Director of Choral Activities at the University of Memphis. He will guide the Choral Program of five ensembles through administrative leadership and vision, conduct the University Singers (the flagship SATB ensemble) and Mazi (treble choir), and teach graduate and advanced undergraduate conducting.
“Dr. Francis Cathlina is a deeply gifted educator and we are delighted to welcome him to the School of Music faculty as the Director of Choral Activities,” said Dr. Kevin Sanders, Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. “His talents will serve our students well in his new role and we look forward to the many exciting ways in which he will elevate the choral program and the vocal arts area.”
Since arriving at the UofM, Dr. Cathlina has reimagined choral ensembles making them more student-focused while raising the level of professionalism. His elevation of the University Singers as the premiere SOM choral ensemble has led to sell-out crowds and valuable partnership with regional choral arts departments. Driven by his commitment to student development, he has frequently visited local high schools leading clinics and working with students and teachers to advance the local music education community. Ever the ambassador for the University, he has also represented the School of Music at Southern ACDA, Southwestern ACDA, and music educator conferences in Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas during his role as the Visiting Director of Choral Activities.
Conductor-teacher Francis Cathlina is a Vietnamese-American whose work lies at the intersection of choral music and narrative. Within a concert experience, the musicians engage the audience in a story told through choral artistry. Such innovative programming connects the power of choral music to 21st-century students and audiences.
As a first-generation musician, Dr. Cathlina’s Eastern heritage shapes his teaching. He cultivates a collaborative and rigorous culture, which has yielded ensemble recognition at the national level during his tenure with the UNT Men’s Chorus and the Centennial High School choirs. Early in his career, he was designated the “Young Director of Distinction” by the Texas Choral Directors Association (TCDA).
An active guest conductor, Dr. Cathlina builds masterful technicians and creative communicators through inclusive pedagogy. Recent and future clinics involve choirs in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.
Dr. Cathlina’s scholarship focuses on vocal pedagogy, the development of choral tone, and artistic conducting gesture. In summer 2021, the American Choral Directors Association’s Choral Journal published his two-part article “7 Essentials for Developing Voices in Choir: Part I” and “Part II.” Additionally, he serves the profession as an adjudicator and coordinator and regularly presents interest sessions throughout the United States.
Dr. Cathlina holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting with a vocal pedagogy cognate from the University of North Texas, a Master of Music in choral conducting from Michigan State University, and a Bachelor of Music Education from Baylor University. Prior to his doctoral studies, he taught public school, working with elementary through high school-aged singers with diverse backgrounds.