Changes Announced in Music Department

New directors announced for choir, orchestra

By: Becky St. Clair

Brandon Beck is the new director for WWU's orchestra. He has been directing ensembles for nearly 30 years.

Kraig Scott will take on the university's choral groups. He has been at WWU since 1986.

With the recent retirement of John Dennison, who had been at WWU for six years directing both the choral groups and the orchestra, the Walla Walla University Music Department has announced the new directors of these ensembles.  

Brandon Beck, Associate Professor of Music, and Kraig Scott, Professor of Music, are taking on additional leadership roles as directors of the WWU orchestra and choral groups, respectively.

Currently, Beck directs the Walla Walla University Wind Symphony, which he has been doing since he first began working at WWU in 2000.  In 2002 he began the university’s Steel Drum Band, the only steel drum group in an Adventist college or university in North America.  Beck also teaches private lessons on wind instruments.  He will continue to do these things in addition to directing the string orchestra.

“I am excited for the opportunity to direct the orchestra,” says Beck.  “It will give be a fun challenge.  We have wonderful string, wind, and percussion players at WWU that I am looking forward to working with in this ensemble.”

Beck’s 28 years of music teaching experience have given him the opportunity to learn violin and cello through private lessons, and he has performed in many orchestras with his primary instrument, the trombone.  

“We anticipate that the orchestra will continue to grow beyond its foundation as a string orchestra to perform more repertoire for full orchestra,” explains Karin Thompson, chair of the Music Department.

Scott has been teaching at WWU since 1986.  Currently, he is the university’s sole organ professor, and has performed around the world on various organs in multiple venues.  He will continue to direct the organ program in addition to taking on the University Singers and I Cantori, the university’s select choral group.

In addition, Scott has been conducting choirs outside of the Music Department for over 20 years.  For the last 16 years, Scott has served as Director of Music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walla Walla.  Prior to that, he conducted choirs at a Lutheran church for two years.  He has also been directing the Walla Walla University Church choir for the past three years, and served as a guest conductor of the Walla Walla Choral Society while the regular conductor was on sabbatical.

“I am honored and humbled to be asked to take on the leadership of the WWU choirs because there is such a long tradition of great choral music at this institution,” says Scott.  “I’m excited to undertake the challenge of keeping that tradition alive.”

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