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 Francesci ACQUISTA
Short biography for admission to Sacred Music Today:
Francesco Acquista has studied Piano, Composition, and Choral Conducting at the Conservatorio S.Cecilia in Rome. He has also studied Organ and Gregorian chant at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music (PIMS), Cantor training at Ersta-Sköndal University College, and Orchestral Conducting at the Royal College of Music (KMH) in Stockholm.

He has dedicated himself to Renaissance and contemporary repertoire, conducting premieres of various works by composers from around the world. He conducted the world premiere of "Solitude" by Andreas Nilsson and the Scandinavian premiere of the oratorio "La Passione" by Domenico Bartolucci, the cantata "Le sette parole di Gesù sulla croce" by Giovanni Geraci, and the chamber opera "Bip" by Teresa Fantasia. He currently conducts the Norrlands Nations Chamber Choir in Uppsala and serves as organist and conductor at St. Tomas Church in Vällingby.
Kristina BOGATAJ (HELSINKI / Finland)
conductor, singer, pianist, interdisciplinary artist, and educator

Kristina Bogataj has graduated from the Academy of Music in Ljubljana with an award-winning choral concert in 2017, starting her conducting master studies at the Sibelius Academy in the same year. A pianist from an early age, she was attending competitions, playing in duos, chamber groups, and orchestras.

Based in Helsinki, Kristina is active as a chorus master in opera productions, choral projects, and workshops. She has conducted or collaborated with several choirs in Helsinki and nearby, such as EMO Ensemble, Akademiska damkören Lyran, Sibelius Vocal Ensemble and others.
She is the conductor of her own female vocal group 
Lyckokatter, female choirs Riiarinna and NaisSound, and the mixed choir Cantus Mercurialis.

Kristina continues to follow the inspiration in both high level and heartfelt music-making, combining classical choral repertoire with folk heritage and collaborations with contemporary composers from the popular music scene. In addition to her choral conducting activities, she is also a teacher at the International School of Music Finland.
Sammy EL GHADAB (France)
From his young age, the young Franco-British conductor Sammy El Ghadab has always been fascinated by orchestras and choirs. He conducts the Paname Symphony Orchestra, the Maîtrise de Saint-Christophe and is the founder and musical director of the EOS XXI vocal ensemble.

After his clarinet studies, Sammy studied choral and orchestral conducting, orchestration and chamber music in conservatories in Paris. In 2014, he finished his bachelor (cum laude) in music and musicology in the Sorbonne University. In 2019, he started a bachelor at the CNSMD (National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance) of Lyon with Lionel Sow as his professor. He founded the EOS XXI vocal ensemble during the COVID crisis with the goal of offering more choral music concerts in rural parts of France and in Europe. His enthusiasm and high expectations for excellence build a healthy work environment for the musicians with whom he works, allowing him to share his passion with the audience.
Pierre-Louis DE LAPORTE (France)
Pierre-Louis de Laporte began his musical education as a violinist and child chorister, before turning to choral conducting at the age of 15. He graduated from the National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance of Lyon in 2020, where he studied with Lionel Sow. His artistic identity was shaped by encounters with prominent figures such as Nicole Corti, Raphaël Pichon, Grete Pedersen, Sofi Jeannin…

Passionate about the art and science of choral sound - especially in the a cappella repertoire - and their transmission, he started a doctoral program after obtaining his Masters in choral conducting and pedagogy. His research, supported by and carried out alongside his own artistic experiences, aims to explore the links between singer placement and choral sound. Now in charge of several ensembles in Paris and Lyon, his musical life leads him to perform regularly alongside renowned professionals, such as the Concert Spirituel (conducted by Hervé Niquet), in prestigious venues in France and abroad (Philharmonie de Paris, Musikfest de Bremen...).

Semi-finalist of the 2021 Eric Ericson International Competition, he will make his debut as a guest conductor with the Radio France Choir and the Dijon Opera Choir in 2022.

conductor, organist, teacher, singer
Bloomington, Indiana-based conductor, organist, teacher, and tenor John Morrow received an M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Oklahoma in 2018. He is currently pursuing further study in organ, sacred, and choral music from Indiana University and serves as Organist Choirmaster at Roberts Park UMC in Indianapolis, IN. John has also retained his position as an assistant, accompanist, and singer for the Richard Zielinski Singers, a professional chorus based out of Norman, OK.

While in Norman, OK, he served as the Associate Director of Music Ministries and Principal Organist for McFarlin Memorial UMC, directing the high school Chapel Choir and Bell ensemble and overseeing the entirety of the music ministries.

John was awarded The American Prize in conducting for a community/sacred ensemble in 2019 and attended the 2019 Sacred Music Today workshop in Stockholm, Sweden. He is an advocate for new and under-represented composers, most recently playing part of Elfrida Andrée’s Organ symphony in b minor for the first time at Indiana University (February 2022).

In the fall of 2022, John has organized and will be leading a benefit concert performance of downtown Indianapolis churches in a performance of Joseph Haydn’s Mass in a Time of War, to benefit the United Methodist Committee on Relief in Ukraine.
Brian STEVENS (Webster/ USA)
Teacher & Conductor
Dr. Brian M. Stevens is Director of Choirs at Nazareth College, where he directs the Chamber Singers, and the Treble Choir. He is founder and artistic director for the upcoming 2022 debut season of Vox Eius, a regional premiere women’s chamber choir based in Western New York focusing on contemporary advanced repertoire for treble voices composed by living female composers.  Brian is an active clinician and festival conductor, serves as NY-ACDA Repertoire and Resource CoChair for Treble Choirs, and has a passion for teaching, scholarship, and establishing vibrant choral communities. He is a sought-after guest clinician, presenter, and conductor.  Brian has conducted on award-winning international choir tours to England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Poland. Brian has a deep commitment to contemporary choral music. He is a frequent commissioner of new music and enjoys exploring new works by emerging composers with his ensembles.  He is keenly interested in championing compositions by contemporary female choral composers around the world and is actively contributing to enlarging the professional resources available to support their work. His research areas include Scandinavian choral music, contemporary female choral composers, advanced repertoire for female choirs, developing progressive and diverse choral programming, and specifically, the choral music of Swedish composer Fredrik Sixten, and of the late Armenian American composer Alan Hovhaness.

Brian completed his doctoral studies in choral conducting at the University of Connecticut and holds graduate degrees in choral conducting and choral music education from Houghton College, and the University of Buffalo. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music theory and composition from SUNY Geneseo. 

Shino YAMASAKI  (Japan/Sweden)
Shino Yamasaki (1992*) started to study choral conducting with Chifuru Matsubara in 2014. Since 2017, she is learning choral conducting with associated professor Andris Veismanis in the Bachelor’s Study Program of Choir Conducting at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. After graduated from the program in 2021, she has started to learn in the Master’s Study Program of Conducting at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music where she learns Choir Conducting with Andris Veismanis and Orchestra Conducting with Viesturs Gailis. From September 2022, she will study in the Royal College of Music in Stockholm as exchange program. Besides her studies, she participated in choral conducting masterclasses under Josep Vila, Erik Westberg, Cecilia Rydinger and Kaspars Putniņš.

As a conductor, S. Yamasaki has granted the 2nd prize in the 2nd International Choral conducting competition AEGIS CARMINIS (Slovenia), where she has been awarded also a special prize for the best performance of a Slovenian piece. She has collaborated in a concert with Latvian Radio Choir in 2022. Besides she worked with the Latvian Radio Choir as an asistant of the recording project of Latvian composer Santa Ratniece’ album “War.Sum.Up” in 2019. She worked several projects as an assistant of the professional choir Riga Chamber Choir AVE SOL since 2021. 


The seven students who had been selected to take part in the International Masterclass 2022 for Choral Conductors  “Sacred Music Today” were:

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