Dr. Leslie Blackwell Named Interim Director of School of Music
KENNESAW, Ga. (May 24, 2019) — Leslie J. Blackwell has been appointed interim director of the School of Music at Kennesaw State University, effective July 1, 2019. Dr. Blackwell has been with the School of Music since 1998 as professor of Music and Music Education and director of Choral Activities. “I am confident that Dr. Blackwell’s experience as a collegiate educator, history with the School of Music, and record of artistic excellence as a conductor will ensure her success as the next leader of the School of Music at Kennesaw State University,” said Dr. Ivan Pulinkala, dean of the College of the Arts.
Dr. Blackwell conducts the KSU Men’s Ensemble, KSU Chorale, and KSU Chamber Singers; she also teaches advanced choral conducting and literature. A native of Georgia, she received the Bachelor of Music in Music Education from West Georgia College (1984), Master of Music from Georgia State University (1991), and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of Kentucky (2002).
Choirs under Dr. Blackwell’s direction have performed at national, regional, and state conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) as well as numerous Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) state conventions. In 2010, Dr. Blackwell presented Songs of South America for ACDA with the KSU Chamber Singers, featuring music of South America based upon her choral research and work in Argentina. In October 2013, the KSU Chamber Singers were selected to perform at the National Collegiate Choral Organization fifth national conference. Most recently, the KSU Chamber Singers performed at the 2018 GMEA state convention and have been selected to sing at the ACDA Southern division conference in March 2020.
Recognized for her work with men’s voices, Dr. Blackwell is sought after as a guest conductor for All-State Men’s Choirs. Conducting engagements include the 2013 Georgia All-State Men’s Chorus, 2016 Alabama All-State Men’s Chorus, 2017 Tennessee All-State Chorus, and in 2018, both the Kentucky and South Carolina Men’s All-State Choirs. Dr. Blackwell served six seasons as the Artistic Director of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, and at KSU established the annual KSU Male Chorus Day, bringing almost 200 high school students to campus. Under Dr. Blackwell’s direction, the KSU Men’s Ensemble, a non-auditioned ensemble, has achieved prestigious accomplishments locally, regionally, and nationally, appearing at the ACDA Southern Division Conference in 2014, 2016, and at the ACDA National Conference in Dallas, Texas, 2013.
Influential musicians with whom Dr. Blackwell has worked include Robert Shaw, Ann Howard-Jones, Yoel Levi, Norma Raybon, John Haberlen, David Maslanka, Ola Gjeilo, Ethan Sperry, Brian Schmidt, and Jefferson Johnson. In addition to her commitments at Kennesaw State University, Dr. Blackwell is active as a clinician and adjudicator and holds memberships in MENC, GMEA, and ACDA. She has served as the Repertoire and Standards Chair for Men’s Choirs, Georgia ACDA. Currently, Dr. Blackwell is the artistic director and founding director of the Kennesaw State University Community & Alumni Choir.