About Our Conductors

Will Kesling

Music Director and Conductor of the Master Chorale

Dr. Will Kesling has conducted hundreds of choral ensembles and some forty professional symphony orchestras throughout the world. His talents for weaving together text and music, chorus and orchestra have garnered him international respect. A Washington Post concert review sums his abilities in two words, “clear professionalism.” A New York Daily News reviewer calls “Will Kesling’s conducting truly inspired and impeccably paced.” Dr. Kesling has conducted a number of engagements in Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as in major concert halls internationally. He served as the Associate Conductor of the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra, New York City, as the Principal Guest Conductor of the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Russia, and was the Music Director and Conductor of the Mountain West Symphony Orchestra, Utah for 18 years.  

Since his debut in 1991, Dr. Kesling has become one of the Soviet Union’s (now Russia) most popular American guest conductors. He has returned to conduct nine of the country’s top orchestras: Moscow State Academic Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Moscow State Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Petersburg Radio & Television, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra Classika, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra Congress, and St. Petersburg Mozarteum Chamber Orchestra. One of the highlights of his career came in 1992 when he conducted the Moscow State Chamber Orchestra and Bolshoi Opera Chorus in the first professionally produced performance of Handel's Messiah since the institution of Communism.

Dr. Kesling has also conducted professional concerts in Brazil (Orquesta Sinfonica Brasiliera), Canada (Vancouver and Victoria Symphonies), the Czech Republic (Czech National Orchestra, National Theater Orchestra of Prague, Brno Philharmonic, Bohuslav Martinu Symphony Orchestra, Czech Virtuosi), Hungary (Budapest Chamber Orchestra), Keyna (Nairobi Symphony Orchestra), Korea (Chanwon Philharmonic), Mexico (Orquestra Sinfonica Naçional), Uruguay (Orquestra Sinfonica del SODRE), Poland, and several sold out performances at the Festival Internaçional de Música in Cambrils, Spain

Professor Kesling is featured annually as conductor for the Mezinárodní Hudební Musica Ecumenica in Prague, Czech Republic. In June 2002 Maestro Kesling opened this international festival with a performance of the Verdi’s Requiem and closed the festival with the Dvoøák’s Te Deum and Orff’s Carmina Burana, both concerts in Smetana Hall with the National Theater Orchestra of Prague and Czech Philharmonic Chorus. On this same series in 2003 he conducted the Verdi Hymn of Nations and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Czech National Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Chorus. During the summer of 2004 Kesling celebrated the centennial of Dvozák’s death leading a rare performance of the composer’s Requiem in Prague.

Maestro Kesling is making his mark in Canada as well. He made his debut with the Victoria Symphony in April 2005 and has logged eight appearances with the Vancouver Symphony.

Domestic orchestras conducted are the Honolulu and San Diego Symphonies, the Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans and the Connecticut and National Chamber Orchestras, to name a few. He has also guest-conducted the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir on a national CBS broadcast. He has several commercial recordings available on both the Integra Classics and Shadow Mountain labels, and conducted the feature film scores, The Silence of Speed and The Two Sisters.

Dr. Kesling is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Florida.    Over the past twenty-five years his choirs have received international attention and have made multiple appearances at both national and divisional conventions for the American Choral Directors Association. In March 2002, his Utah State University Chamber Choir appeared before the combined Western and Northwestern Division Convention of the College Band Directors Association. That same month, the Utah State University Combined Choirs were featured in the Opening Ceremonies of the Paralympics on NBC. 

In seven years at the University of Florida, his choirs have appeared with the San Diego Symphony, the Kronos String Quartet, the Three Italian Tenors, and the Posaune Voce Trio of Birmingham, England and made a first ever American Choral Directors Association convention appearance.

On September 11, 2004 Maestro Kesling made his debut with the National Philharmonic in Constitution Hall, Washington, DC premiering the new Revolutionary War oratorio, A Prelude to Glory.   This past June 2005 in Prague Dr. Kesling conducted the Czech National Orchestra Choir Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Carmina Burana, joined by the Prague Chamber Choir. 

Dr. Kesling has conducted numerous All State choirs and festivals. He has published scholarly choral editions and compositions with a number of publishers and has penned a number of academic articles for professional journals. Dr. Kesling serves on the International Editorial Board for Scientific Journals International and the Journal of Culture.

In recognition of these achievements Dr. Kesling was awarded The Congressional Order of Merit by the Congress of the United States of America in September 2003 and the Ronald Regan Gold Medal in November 2004. In March 2006, Professor Kesling was awarded the Congressional Medal of Distinction for his contributions to the cultural life of the citizenry. 

Phillip J. Klepacki

Associate Conductor and Conductor of the Choristers

Phillip J. Klepacki is the Assistant Director for Distance Education for the College of Fine Arts, overseeing active and upcoming degree and certificate programs offered through online education. He also serves as an adjunct lecturer in the School of Music, and is an experienced instructor in the classroom and online. He was chosen to develop and teach the online Introduction to Music Literature course through the Provost E-Learning Initiative, and in 2010 was named an Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant.  Phillip had been a graduate assistant with the College of Fine Arts Graduate Admissions Academic Programs office since 2004, guiding prospective students through the application process, preparing welcome materials, assisting with new student orientations, and serving as a college representative at UF graduate student fairs.

Phillip's academic interests include conducting, twentieth and twenty-first century music, queer musicology, popular musicology, and literary theory. A doctoral candidate and past fellow at the University of Florida, he is currently writing his dissertation on the art song cycles of American composer David Del Tredici. Phillip is also an active conductor, serving as associate conductor of the Gainesville Civic Chorus, conductor of The Choristers (GCC's chamber choir), and music director at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church in Newberry, FL. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Choral Directors Association, the College Music Society, Tau Beta Sigma, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and the American Musicological Society.

Before coming to the University of Florida, Mr. Klepacki worked as Music/Vocal Director and principal pianist on a number of musical theatre productions with the Gainesville Community Playhouse and Stagedoor Theater Arts Resource (STAR) Center. In 2001, he received the Gainesville Community Playhouse "Golden Apple" award for Outstanding Musical Direction for Once on This Island. In addition to his graduate studies, Mr. Klepacki is the interim choral director at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church of Gainesville. He is an alumni member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Tau Beta Sigma, and a member of the Conductors Guild, the American Choral Directors Association, and the American Musicological Society.

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