World Projects Faculty Member

Heather J. Buchanan

Australian-born conductor Heather J. Buchanan, PhD, is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Montclair State University (MSU) where she conducts choirs ranging in size from 24 to 170 voices. Choirs under her direction have won critical acclaim for their “heartfelt conviction,” “grace and precision,” “vibrant sound,” and for singing with the “crispness and dexterity of a professional choir.” During her 17-year tenure, MSU choirs have collaborated with a variety of renowned national and international performing artists and composers including Meredith Monk, Richard Alston Dance Company (UK), Chen Yi, Mícheál ÓSúílleabháin (Ireland), Tarik O’Regan, members of the Vienna Philharmonic strings (Austria), Music4LifeInternational, and conductors Neeme Järvi, Jacques Lacombe, Xian Zhang, George Manahan, Patrick Duprè Quigley, John Maucceri, and Jeffrey Schindler with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO). Her choirs perform choral-orchestral masterworks regularly with the NJSO. Notable performances include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mahler Symphony No. 3, Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azbakan, and Howard Shore’s Academy Award winning The Lord of the Rings Symphony, with Handel’s Messiah annually since December 2014. Her choirs have also sung on commercially produced recordings with Meredith Monk (Songs of Ascension) and the NJSO (Carmina Burana & Verdi Requiem), and in September 2019 the University Singers will release their CD recording I sing because… 2019-20 season highlights include the regional premiere of Craig Hella Johnson’s choral passion Considering Matthew Shepard in a semi-staged production for the annual MSU Crawford Concert, Messiah with the NSJO and guest conductor Roderick Cox, and a Danny Elfman/Tim Burton film screening with live music in a MSU Vocal Accord and NJSO collaboration.

Dr. Buchanan’s publications include Volumes 1 – 3 of the landmark GIA choral series Teaching Music through Performance in Choir, a book chapter “Body Mapping: Enhancing Voice Performance through Somatic Pedagogy” in Teaching Singing in the 21st Century (Springer), a DVD Evoking Sound: Body Mapping & Gesture Fundamentals, and choral octavos in the Evoking Sound Choral Series (GIA). Guest conducting and residency engagements are wide-ranging and include all-state and honor choirs in the USA and international festival venues. Highlights include Passion of Italy 2017 (Rome & Florence); The 2016 Fall for Dance festival in NYC; Firenze 2015 (Florence, Italy); the Voices across the Pacific choral festival in the Sydney Opera House & St. John’s Cathedral, Australia (July 2014); the Queensland Conservatorium’s 2014 State Honours Education Program (Australia); Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb with RADC for Peak Performances 10th Anniversary, again at Sadler’s Wells (London) for the RADC 20th Anniversary Season opening; the 30th Anniversary Pacific Basin Music Festival (Hawaii); CODA Festivals at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts; and headlining the 2017 Australian Choral Conductor’s Education and Training Summer School (Melbourne) where she returns in January 2020.

Dr. Buchanan holds degrees from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University (Australia), Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and the University of New England (Australia). A licensed Andover Educator since 2002 she specializes in the teaching of Body Mapping, a neuro-anatomical approach for enhancing music technique. In June 2017 she was awarded the Barbara Conable Teaching Award by Andover Educators in recognition of exemplary teaching, innovative ideas, support to colleagues, active involvement in Andover Educators & personal growth. A vibrant teacher, dynamic performer, and passionate musicians’ health advocate, Dr. Buchanan is in demand as a guest conductor, somatic educator, and choral clinician in the US and abroad.

Performance Tours

Music Festivals

New Music