Murray State University music professor wins prestigious award for excellence

Murray State University music professor wins prestigious award for excellence

By Shawn Touney | Aug 20, 2021

Doctor Chris Mitchell

Dr. Chris Mitchell, Professor of Music at Murray State University, was recently awarded the Robert K. Baar Award for Excellence in Choral Music from the Kentucky chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

MURRAY, Ky. — Dr. Chris Mitchell, Professor of Music at Murray State University, was recently awarded the Robert K. Baar Award for Excellence in Choral Music from the Kentucky chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

Founded in 1959, the ACDA is a nonprofit music education organization whose central purpose is to promote excellence in choral music through performance, composition, publication, research and teaching. ACDA strives through arts advocacy to elevate choral music's position in American society. KYACDA is the Kentucky chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. This organization was established to promote the importance of choral music in the commonwealth of Kentucky.

The Baar Award is named in honor of Robert K. Baar, an outstanding master musician who retired from Murray State and developed KYACDA's Summer Choral Workshop. Any member of KYACDA is eligible to nominate a candidate for the award. The past presidents, current President and President-Elect of KYACDA select the most outstanding candidate from the nominees submitted by the membership. The award is presented annually at the Summer Choral Workshop.

To be nominated, a candidate must have a minimum of fifteen years of musical experience in the choral art, be a current member of ACDA, be an active participant in KYACDA/ACDA activities and conventions and be dedicated to promoting music education in the state of Kentucky.

Mitchell says he was honored to have received the award.

“I have been involved in the Kentucky Chapter of ACDA for around eight years, since I started directing Racer Men's Chorus here at Murray State (now called Una Voce Tenor/Bass Chorus),” said Mitchell.  “I think the reason I was nominated is because I began helping with a new project through this organization four years ago called the KYACDA Choral Conservatory, which is a program designed to train and inspire promising young musicians for careers as vocal music educators. It is a fantastic program and I look forward to serving on the faculty in the years to come.”

Genevieve White, a senior music business major from Madison, Indiana, was not surprised that Mitchell won.

 “Dr. Mitchell is a professor who’s very invested in his students and their learning experiences,” said White. “He always makes time for his students and goes out of his way to help them succeed. Dr. Mitchell has helped me become a better choral member and musician.”

Bailey Arnett, a senior music education major from Kevil, Kentucky, agrees.

“Dr. Mitchell cares about the success and well-being of his students,” said Arnett. “Singing is a vulnerable activity, and he makes his studio a safe place to learn and grow in the vocal arts.”

Mitchell says that while he was hired at Murray State to teach primarily one-to-one voice lessons to music majors, he has enjoyed the opportunity to hone his skills as a choral director and have an impact on a larger group of students. 

“Through Racer Men's Chorus and EQ Blu, our contemporary a cappella ensemble, I have gotten to work with passionate, energetic students from all across campus,” said Mitchell.  “I love the sense of community that is created when people come together to sing.”

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