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Artistic Directors

Stanley Thurston
Michelle Fowlin

Michele Fowlin (Artistic Director, Children of the Gospel Choir) has cultivated her love and passion of music from a young age. At the age of 9, Ms. Fowlin was accepted into the Juilliard School’s pre-college program for aspiring young musicians. She won a variety of piano competitions and awards and participated in many festivals both nationally and internationally. Her musical pursuits eventually led her to focusing on the voice and conducting.

She attended Howard University and earned her Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance/Pedagogy with a piano minor. While at Howard, she studied with renowned opera singers Regina McConnell, Carmen Balthrop, and Charlotte Holloman. Under the tutelage of Dr. James Weldon Norris she was introduced to conducting. Ms. Fowlin eventually became the Assistant to the Conductor for the University Choirs. Upon traveling with the choir nationally and internationally, Ms. Fowlin conducted many concerts and eventually became one of the lead soloists. These opportunities led her to performances in Russia, England, Spain, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She has performed for dignitaries including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, former President Obama, former Vice Presidents Biden and Gore, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Ambassador Sasea of Japan, and numerous others, and as part of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” campaign.

After Howard, Ms. Fowlin continued her vocal career while expanding her skills as a music teacher in the public school system. Her desire to motivate students musically has extended from the classroom into the community. Ms. Fowlin has worked with Washington Performing Arts’ Children of the Gospel Choir as a director and vocal coach, is the Director of Choral Programs at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, and has conducted various church youth choirs in the area. She continues to hold clinics for vocal health and wellness, voice and piano master classes, and guest directorships for gospel music workshops. Ms. Fowlin has been recognized with various awards including the Mayor’s Award, a Certificate of Recognition from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Who’s Who Among American Teachers.

 

Stanley Thurston
Theodore Thorpe III

Theodore Thorpe III (Artistic Director, Men and Women of the Gospel Choir) serves in his first season with Washington Performing Arts’ Men and Women of the Gospel Choir. His lifelong experience as a musician brings richness to his leadership, as he draws on celebrated talent as a conductor, musical director, vocalist, pianist, organist, composer, arranger, and choral master.

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Theodore Thorpe III began his musical training studying piano at the age of four. In May 2006, Theodore received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Oakwood College, now Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL, serving as president, student accompanist, soloist, and conductor of the renowned Aeolians under the tutelage of Dr. Lloyd Mallory Jr. In 2009, he also received his Master of Arts in music with emphasis in choral and orchestral conducting from Morgan State University; serving as the sole graduate conducting assistant to the chairperson and director, Dr. Eric Conway. Mr. Thorpe’s musical talents have been recognized for exemplifying musical excellence throughout the years. He was the former music director for the Washington Youth Choir, a nonprofit music program which served all high school students in the DC metropolitan area. He has composed and arranged songs that have been published and recorded by renowned distributer GIA including a set of “Three Choral Responses” that include The Lord Bless You and Keep You, He is Lord, and Until We Meet Again.

Mr. Thorpe also completed his ninth season as assistant director to Joyce Garrett in the Kennedy Center Honors and Christmas in Washington televised productions on CBS and TNT respectively. Over a decade of working artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Diana Ross, Norm Lewis, Mariah Carey, the Backstreet Boys, Janelle Monae, Sheryl Crow, and others, he has continued to shape, sharpen, and cultivate his musicianship. He serves in his eleventh season as music director and staff musician at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA, and his eighth season as Director of Choral Activities at TC Williams High School. The choir was recently selected to be the showcase high school choir for the 2017 Virginia Music Educator Conference (VMEA) in Hot Springs, VA. Mr. Thorpe and the TC Williams Choir were featured in performance at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Theodore is also a member of the Virginia Music Educators (VMEA), the American Choral Directors (ACDA), and Chorus America professional musician associations.

Stanley Thurston
Stanley J. Thurston

Stanley J. Thurston (Artistic Director Emeritus) has appeared as conductor in concert venues including Carnegie Hall, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall, the U.S. Capitol; The Music Center at Strathmore, Carter Barron Amphitheater; DAR Constitution Hall; Arena Stage; the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland; the Washington Hebrew Congregation; Washington National Cathedral; and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, in Baltimore, MD. He has appeared as guest conductor with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, the Soulful Symphony, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Civic Symphony, Prince Georges Philharmonic, Washington Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Choruses under his direction have performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Washington Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Festival Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Royal Ballet. Mr. Thurston is well known as a pianist, composer, and arranger. His orchestral arrangements have been performed by the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, New Jersey, and the National Symphony Orchestra. He recently served as Panelist for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, was guest conductor with the Choral Arts Society of Washington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert. As Artistic Director for Washington Performing Arts Society’s Men, Women and Children of the Gospel Choirs... he has appeared with such well-known artists as Denyce Graves, Kathleen Battle, the Canadian Brass, Sweet Honey in the Rock and jazz legends Ramsey Lewis and Wynton Marsalis, as well as NBC’s Today Show and was commissioned by the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee to compose and conduct a special musical tribute for President Obama’s National Prayer Service sung by the WPAS choir at the Washington National Cathedral. He is the founding Music Director of The Heritage Signature Chorale.

A graduate of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, he made his European opera conducting debut in Verdi’s La Traviata with Romania’s Opera Constanta, returning to conduct Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Previous positions have included Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra’s NSO In Your Neighborhood concert series, Choirmaster, Sixth Presbyterian Church; Interim Music Director of National City Christian Church, Music Director for The Gospel at Colonus, Georgetown University; Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.; Principal Conductor of the Municipal Opera Company of Baltimore; and guest clinician for D.C. Commission on the Arts “DC Choral Masterpieces” workshop. He currently serves as the Director of Music at Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.