Artistic Directors

Michele Fowlin,
Artistic Director, Children of the Gospel Choir

Michele Fowlin (Artistic Director, Children of the Gospel Choir) has cultivated her love and passion for music from a young age. At the age of nine, Fowlin was accepted into the Juilliard School’s pre-college program for aspiring young musicians as a piano student. 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 focus on voice and conducting. She attended Howard University and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Vocal Performance/Pedagogy with a minor in piano. 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 and eventually became the Assistant to the Conductor for the University Choirs. Upon traveling with the choir nationally and internationally, 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 Sasae of Japan, and numerous others, and as part of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” campaign. She is the founder of the Arts and Culture podcast, The Muses Behind the Music.

Theodore Thorpe III,
Artistic Director, Men and Women of the Gospel Choir

Theodore Thorpe III (Artistic Director, Men and Women of the Gospel Choir) is one of the leading voices and contributors to the music field in the Washington Metropolitan area and throughout the country. His lifelong experience as a musician brings richness to his leadership, as he draws on celebrated talent as an Artistic director, conductor, vocalist, pianist, organist, composer, arranger, and choral master. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Thorpe holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in music with emphasis in vocal performance and pedagogy, and choral and orchestral conducting from Oakwood and Morgan State University respectively. He presently serves in his 7th season as Artistic Director for Washington Performing Arts Men and Women of the Gospel, his 14th season as Director of Choral Activities at Alexandria City High School, and his 18th season as Music Director and staff musician at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA.  Thorpe is also listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, presently serves as High School Music Repertoire and Resource Chair for the Virginia chapter of ACDA, and most recently was selected as one of the 40 educators nationally to be featured in the Yamaha “40 Under 40” Class of 2023 for his outstanding contribution to music education. He is also husband and father to the former Jennifer Alexander and Anaya Nicole who are his rock and heartbeat respectively. Thorpe believes strongly in excellence without excuses. He continues to look to make a difference in education while blazing a trail for upcoming musicians.

Anthony ‘Tony’ Walker,
Music Director, Men, Women, and Children of the Gospel Choirs

Anthony ‘Tony’ Walker (Music Director, Men, Women, and Children of the Gospel Choirs) recording artist, pianist, and composer, began his piano training in his native St. Paul, Minnesota, at age five, making his public debut at age ten. He received his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Temple University where he studied with the late Natalie Hinderas. His musical background in classical, gospel, jazz, and rhythm & blues has established Anthony in high demand as a solo artist, session musician, teacher, and producer. His sophisticated style is comparable to jazz icons Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, Ramsey Lewis, Bobby Lyle, and George Duke. His talent as a pianist has allowed Anthony to perform for audiences on five continents, sharing the stage with acts such as Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin, Raheem DeVaughn, Leela James, Kelly Price, Chaka Khan, Cynthia Erivo, Robert Glasper, The Yellow Jackets, jazz vocal group Take Six, gospel legend Richard Smallwood, Classical legend Renée Fleming, Donnie McClurkin, Maurette Brown Clark, Kim Burrell, Edwin Hawkins, BeBe & CeCe Winans, Vickie Winans, and T.D. Jakes and the Potter’s House Mass Choir. Walker is the Music Director at Hope Christian Church (Greater D.C. area) and as Music Director for the Washington Performing Arts Men and Women of the Gospel and Children of the Gospel Choirs. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Piano and Music at Eastern University in St. David’s, PA. Walker resides in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area with his wife, vocalist Bonita Walker and they are the proud parents of two children, drummer Joshua and flautist Lauren.

Karon Johnson,

Karon Johnson (Choreographer) is currently an educator in Prince George’s County. She is the dance director of the Gwynn Park Middle and High School dance program. Karon has been teaching dance for over 17 years. She has extensive ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, liturgical, pom pon, modern, and contemporary experiences. Karon is a graduate of Towson University, Towson, MD, and finishing her graduate studies at Loyola University in Educational Technology. She looks forward to developing social-emotional learning, wellness, and community building through a social justice lens while infusing art. Karon has a timeline of endless awards and recognitions for her choreography, performance, and pedagogy practices throughout the DMV. She is in her second season of working with Washington Performing Arts and is incredibly excited to connect with partners who service the youth.

Stanley J. Thurston,
Artistic Director, Emeritus

Stanley J. Thurston (Artistic Director Emeritus) led the choir with such well-known artists as BeBe Winans, Dionne Warwick, Kiri Te Kanawa, Denyce Graves, Kathleen Battle, the Canadian Brass, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and jazz legends Ramsey Lewis and Wynton Marsalis. He served as conductor of Washington Performing Arts and PostClassical Ensemble’s The Art of the Spiritual concert, and as music director for Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson 75th Anniversary Celebration, presented by Washington Performing Arts, conducting a 250-voice choir comprising choruses from around the D.C. area. He has been commissioned to compose and conduct two works for Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, including a musical tribute for President Obama’s Inaugural Prayer Service in 2009. Additional performances have included a recording of holiday music for Sirius Radio, guest appearances at Washington National Cathedral, Carnegie Hall, and NBC’s Today. Choruses under his direction have performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Royal Ballet, among others. As a conductor, he has appeared in concert venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center 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, the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Washington National Cathedral, and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. He has appeared as guest conductor with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, the Soulful Symphony, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Civic Symphony, Prince George’s Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra.

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