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Dr. Jace Saplan

9th-10th Grade SATB

Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan (they/he) serves as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning & Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University where they oversee the graduate program in choral conducting, conduct the ASU Concert Choir, and teach courses in choral literature and pedagogy that weave decolonial and critical theories with communal vocal practice. Recently, Dr. Saplan was named as the third Artistic Director of the  Choral Arts Society of Washington (Choral Arts DC).

In addition to their work in academia and classical music, Dr. Saplan is known as a national thought leader and consultant in enacting social change and equity-driven practice through the choral arts. Dr. Saplan is an Obama Asia-Pacific Leader through the Obama Foundation for the 2022-2023 year. They also serve as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Belonging consultant for arts organizations throughout the country, such as Choral Arts Northwest, The Phoenix Chamber Choir, and The Guitar Federation of America. 

As a Kanaka Maoli advocate, artist, and culture bearer, Dr. Saplan is also the artistic director of Nā Wai Chamber Choir, a vocal ensemble based in Hawaiʻi dedicated to the preservation,  propagation, and innovation of Hawaiian choral music. Under Dr. Saplan’s direction, Nā Wai recorded a Global Music Award-winning album entitled Eō Liliʻuoklani under the Mālama Music label and performed for the 2021 Chorus America Summer Conference, the 2021 National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Conference, and the 2020 ACDA Western Region Conference in Salt Lake.

Prior to their appointment at Arizona State University, Dr. Saplan was the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Hawai’i and conductor of the UH Chamber Singers. Under their direction the UH Chamber Singers sang as an auditioned choir at the 2022 ACDA Western Division Conference in Long Beach. The ensemble also performed at the Musica Pasifika Festival in Tahiti in 2020, and at the Pasifika Choral Symposium in Guam in 2019. 

Dr. Saplan’s research focuses on the performance practice of Pasifika choral traditions and Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions; decolonial approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the choral classroom; intersections of choral pedagogy, gender, and sexuality in communities of color; and trauma informed practice and boundary building with BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian)  music educators. Their scholarship on these topics has also led them to lead clinics at the state, regional, and national level for the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the LGBTQ Studies in Music Education Conference.

A prolific author, their research can be found in Red Ink: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities, The Choral Scholar, and Pacific Asia Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Dr. Saplan has also contributed chapters in Choral Reflections: Insights from American Choral Conductor-Teachers (Hal Leonard), and The Choral Conductor’s Companion (GIA Publishing). Forthcoming chapters will be included in The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Queer Studies in Music Education, From Disruption to Discovery: Music Teacher-Educators' Stories of Pandemic Teaching and Visionary Futures (Lexington Books), and Choral Repertoire by Women Composers (GIA Publishing).

A champion for new works and BBIA and queer composers, Dr. Saplan is the editor of their own choral series under Earthsongs publishing. 

Dr. Saplan is a frequent clinician and adjudicator for state, regional, national, and international conferences and festivals. They have conducted honor choirs and all-states in more than 15 states, and will be the 2022 National ACDA Conference Native and Indigenous Peoples Immersion Choir Conductor. Dr. Saplan also serves as Festival Director for the Aloha State Choral Festival for Choirs of America. They make regular appearances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and abroad with their engagements with National Concerts, World Projects, and KI Concerts.

Dr. Saplan received their Bachelor of Arts in Hawaiian Music from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, their Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland, their Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, and their Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with cognates in Music Education and Ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. They are the student of Dr. Maya Hoover, Mrs. Wanda Gereben, Dr. Sharon Paul, and Dr. Karen Kennedy.

Dr. Jace Saplan
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