Our Fearless Leader (Dr. Arianne Abela)

Arianne Abela is the newly appointed Director of the Choral Program at Amherst College. A graduate of Smith College, Abela is delighted to return to the Valley. Abela recently served on conducting faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and is founder and director of the Detroit Women's Chorus and Detroit Justice Choir, ensembles dedicated to social-justice and community empowerment. She directed Detroit's historic Fort Street Chorale, conducted choirs at University of Michigan, and the UMS Choral Union. Focusing her efforts on community building through song, Abela founded The House of Clouds and has worked closely with Musicians Take a Stand to organize over a dozen benefit concerts for charities and various causes across the country. 

In the realm of opera, has guest conducted opera productions with various Michigan-based opera companies including Detroit's OperaMODO, and serves as music director for Vancouver-based opera company, Re:Naissance. Prior to her time in Detroit, Abela lived in Connecticut where she served on faculty at Wesleyan University, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, The Westover School and Notre Dame High School in West Haven.  In 2012, Abela was featured conducting on NBC's Today Show and was a semi-finalist in Season 8 of America's Got Talent as director of Connecticut-based 3 Penny Chorus and Orchestra. The ensemble later recorded for the soundtrack of Hollywood film Walk of Shame starring Elizabeth Banks. 
 
Abela received her doctorate in conducting from the University of Michigan with Jerry Blackstone and Eugene Rogers, holds a master’s degree in choral conducting from Yale University with Marguerite Brooks, Jeffrey Douma, and Simon Carrington, and bachelor of arts from Smith College. Abela sings professionally in ensembles across the United States and Canada such as Yale Choral Artists, sounding light, Etherea Vocal Ensemble, Arkora, and Audivi. Originally from the San Francisco bay area, she sang with the San Francisco Girls Chorus for many years.
 
CHORAL AUDITIONS: To sign-up for choir vocal placements, please email aabela@amherst.edu.
 
Arianne Abela conducting the Concert Choir at the Mead Art Museum
 

Q & A with Dr. A:

Q: What are some things you dream of doing with Choral Society in the next five years?
Dr. A: I want to have students meet and work with as many living artists as possible in the choral and singing field. There is nothing like working with a composer, or professional singer. I also dream of us singing on some major stages like Lincoln Center, Carnegie, and other prominent locations, as well as simply out in the Valley. I see us branching out in many ways. 

Q: What do you enjoy about conducting/teaching and working with Amherst students (and our friends from the five colleges)? 
Dr. A: I love the passion the students have for singing and for creating art. Singers come because they care deeply about sharing musical experiences with one another and with audiences.  

Q: A thought for someone new to singing who wants to join Choral Society? 
Dr. A: Don't be scared or nervous! We welcome everyone who wants to sing and I will do my best to find a singing home for anyone who wants to take part. 

Q: Favorite things about living in/returning to the Pioneer Valley? 
Dr. A: Herrell's ice cream in Northampton... but also, discovering all the other ice cream places all over the area! There are lots! 

Q: Now that you've been here for two semesters, do you know where Ludwig resides? 
Dr. A: I'm so confused. 

Q: Atkins donut or Herrell's ice-cream? 
Dr. A: I think my answer (above) is pretty clear....!