Australian born conductor Heather J. Buchanan is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Montclair State University, where she conducts choirs ranging in size from 24 – 185 voices. Choirs under her direction have won critical acclaim for their “heartfelt conviction,” “vibrant sound,” “grace and precision,” “eloquence”, and for singing with the “crispness and dexterity of a professional choir.” She has collaborated with a variety of renowned international composers and artists including Meredith Monk, Richard Alston Dance Company (UK), Mícheál ÓSúílleabháin (Ireland), Tarik O’Regan, Sarah Hopkins (Australia), Chen Yi, members of the Vienna Philharmonic strings (Austria), and conductors Neeme Järvi, Jacques Lacombe, George Manahan, John Maucceri, and Susie Beisel Seiter with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO). Her NJSO masterwork collaborations include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart Requiem, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, and Howard Shore’s Academy Award winning The Lord of the Rings Symphony.
Dr. Buchanan’s Guest conducting credits include the Dvořák Festival (Prague & Vienna 2007), Pacific Basin Music Festival (Hawaii 2005 & 2009), US East Coast Premiere of the new American symphonic oratorio Parables by Grammy Award winning composer Robert Aldridge (Dec 2011), the HÖRgenuss 2012 festival in Ottendorf (Austria), the US-Australian choral festival Voices Across the Pacific with performances in the iconic Sydney Opera House and neo-gothic St. John’s Cathedral, Brisbane (July 2014), Fauré Requiem for Firenze 2015 (Florence, Italy 2015), and the New York Metropolitan premiere of Alzheimer’s Stories (Dec 2015). She also conducted the MSU Singers with Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble for the recording Songs of Ascension on the prestigious ECM label under legendary producer Manfred Eicher (May 2011). This CD was included in the Producer of the Year section of the 2012 Grammy nominations. The MSU Chorale has two CD recordings with the NJSO – Carmina Burana (Sep 2010) and Verdi Requiem (Dec 2014). 2016-17 season highlights included a fourth Britten collaboration with RADC for the International Fall For Dance Festival (NYC, Sep 2016), Handel’s Messiah with the NJSO (Dec 2016), headlining the 2017 Australian Choral Conductor’s Education & Training Summer School (Melbourne), and conducting Vivaldi’s Gloria for the 2017 Passion of Italy choral festival (Rome & Florence).
Dr. Buchanan holds degrees from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University (Australia), Westminster Choir College of Rider University (USA), and the University of New England (Australia). A licensed Andover Educator, she specializes in the teaching of Body Mapping, a neuroanatomical educational technique for enhancing musical performance. She is the founding co-editor of the choral series Teaching Music through Performance in Choir Vols. 1 – 3 (GIA), has published a DVD-Video Evoking Sound: Body Mapping & Gesture Fundamentals and choral octavos in the Evoking Sound Choral Series (GIA), and a chapter “Body Mapping: Enhancing Voice Performance through Somatic Pedagogy” in Teaching Singing in the 21st Century (Springer, May 2014). A vibrant teacher, dynamic performer, and passionate musicians’ health advocate, Dr. Buchanan is in demand as a guest conductor, somatic educator, and choral clinician in the US and abroad.