Dirk Johnson, D.M.A.

Dr. Dirk Johnson is Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at West Virginia State University. He holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, a Master’s degree in Music Education from Brigham Young University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Choral Music Education, magna cum laude, from Brigham Young University. His conducting mentors include Earl Rivers, Dale Warland, Richard Sparks, Ronald Staheli, and Mark Gibson.

At WVSU Dr. Johnson conducts the Concert Choir, a large mixed chorus, and the State Singers, a vocal jazz ensemble. He also teaches applied voice, vocal pedagogy, conducting, and music education methods. Prior to teaching at WVSU, Dr. Johnson was a visiting professor of conducting at the University of Virginia where he directed the University Singers and Chamber Singers.


Before his doctoral studies at CCM, Dr. Johnson served as Director of Choirs at Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah, where he managed a choral program of 200 students and five choirs. During his tenure, the choirs engaged in performance tours to California and Oregon and were consistently awarded superior rankings at regional and state festivals. Dr. Johnson also taught choir and general music at Pleasant Grove Junior High School in Pleasant Grove, Utah and co-conducted Gallus Veges, a community chorus of highly experienced adult musicians. He loves working with choirs of all age levels and is strongly committed to music education in the public schools.

Dr. Johnson is an active choral singer and soloist. He sang for two seasons with the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, the region’s premiere professional chorus, and performed with Cincinnati’s acclaimed May Festival Chorus. He currently sings with the Tennessee Chamber Chorus. He frequently performs as tenor soloist and chorus member in the West Virginia Symphony Chorus.

An active composer and arranger, Dr. Johnson has recently received commissions from the Charleston Civic Chorus, Edgewood College Chamber Singers, the College of Idaho Chamber Singers, and WomanSong of Charleston, WV. He also regularly writes and arranges pieces for his choirs at WVSU. Through WVSU faculty grants in 2012 and 2014, Dr. Johnson completed two sets of arrangements, one of Appalachian folk songs and another of Shape-note hymns, that both use lesser-known but wonderful tunes. Dr. Johnson is also an experienced music theory instructor. At CCM he was awarded an assistantship to teach music theory courses. He has taught music theory at WVSU and AP music theory at Timpanogos High School.

In his scholarly research, Dr. Johnson currently investigates source materials of American folk songs and hymns for use in choral arranging and the choral rehearsal. He presented a poster session at the National Collegiate Choral Organization 2013 National Convention examining the history and contents of English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachian Mountains, a collection published by Olive Dame Campbell, Cecil Sharp, and Maud Karpeles in 1932. In February of 2015 he will present an interest session at the American Choral Directors Association 2015 National Convention on American folk song collections, their rich musical diversity, and their potential use in choral curriculum.
Dirk Johnson, D.M.A.
Chair of Music, Associate Professor & Director of Choral Activites
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