Dr. J.D. Burnett
Director of Choral Activities
Conductor | Concert Chorale
Associate Professor of Music & Choral Conducting
J.D. Burnett is Director of Choral Activities as the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin where he leads the UT Choral Program as conductor of the University of Texas Concert Chorale, and teaches Graduate Conducting and Choral Literature. Before being appointed at the University of Texas, Dr. Burnett was Associate Professor of Music and Associate Director of Choral Activities at the University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music. He is the founding Artistic Director of Kinnara Ensemble, Atlanta’s premier professional chamber choir and was appointed as the Artistic Director of the Orpheus Chamber Singers in Dallas, TX in 2021.
Formerly, he served as Assistant Director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus, conductor of the New Jersey Youth Chorus Young Men’s Ensemble, Associate Conductor of the Masterwork Chorus of New Jersey, and Acting Director of Choral Activities at Montclair State University. Earlier posts include Interim Director of Choral Activities at San Jose State University, Artistic Director of the New Jersey Chamber Singers, Music Director of the Houston Masterworks Chorus, and Founder of Men’s Consort Houston. He also served as Choral Editor at McGraw-Hill, Inc.
As a professional choral singer, Burnett has performed and recorded with the Stillwater Chamber Singers, Cantare Houston, Fuma Sacra, Robert Shaw Festival Singers, Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street, Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and Conspirare.
Dr. Burnett did undergraduate study at Stanford University and received a Bachelor of Music in Choral Music Education from Oklahoma State University. He holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the Westminster Choir College and earned his Doctor of Music Arts degree in Choral Conducting with a cognate in Vocal Studies from the University of North Texas.
Dr. Suzanne Pence
Assistant Director of Choral Activities
Associate Professor of Music and Human Learning / Choral Conducting
Suzanne M. Pence is Associate Professor of Music and Human Learning and Interim Director of Choral Activities, at The University of Texas at Austin where she has been teaching since 1996. Dr. Pence is the conductor of the Butler Chamber Treble Choir and has previously conducted the Women’s Chorus and the Choral Arts Society. She teaches undergraduate conducting, choral arranging, secondary choral methods, supervises student teachers in secondary choral music education, and teaches graduate courses in choral music education.
Under Pence’s direction, the Concert Chorale has toured throughout the southern United States, performed for the regional conference of the Southwest American Choral Director Association, and performed in New York at Carnegie Hall. From 2003-2007, Dr. Pence held the administrative position of Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Butler School of Music, and from 2007-2012 she served the School as Director of Admissions, responsible for organizing recruitment and admission activities for both graduate and undergraduate students.
Dr. Pence held the position of Director of Choral Activities at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina from 1994-1996. She received the DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1993 where she studied with Drs. Eph Ehly and Charles Robinson. She holds a Masters of Music Education degree from Wichita State University where she studied with Dr. René Clausen and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois where she studied with Richard Hoffland. Before pursuing the DMA, Dr. Pence was Director of Choral Music at Neosho High School in Neosho, Missouri for six years. She has enjoyed over 30 years of experience as a Director of Music in various protestant churches throughout the United States. Dr. Pence is active as an adjudicator and clinician/festival conductor throughout the country, and has been an invited conductor with the MidAmerica Productions Choral Festivals at Carnegie Hall. She is a member of MENC, TMEA ACDA, and TCDA. She is currently serving as the College & Community Vice President for the Texas Choral Director’s Association.
Doctor of Musical Arts Student in Choral Conducting
Conductor | University Treble Chorus
Assistant Conductor | Concert Chorale
Cody Parrott, a native of Central Texas, is a singer and conductor who has enjoyed an established musical career throughout the United States over the past two decades. He is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of Texas at Austin where he studies conducting with Dr. JD Burnett. Cody serves the Butler School of Music Choral Area as the Conductor of the University Treble Chorus which, under his direction, was named a National Finalist for the 2023 American Prize in Choral Performance. His doctoral research is focused on contemporary discoveries in vocal pedagogy and voice science and their applications to the leadership and development of the modern choral ensemble.
Cody continues to maintain a passion for classical singing and performing opera, oratorio, and in recital. His singing career has taken him to opera companies and concert venues in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, California, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., Texas, Italy, France, Austria, and the United Kingdom. Some of his stage credits include the roles of Arturo in the Donizetti masterpiece Lucia di Lamermoor, Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Captain Macheath in Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera, Joe Brennan in the Florida premier performance of Richard Wargo’s Ballymore, Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Belmonte in Mozart’s Die Enfurüng aus dem Serail and the title roles in Massenet’s Werther and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet.
Mr. Parrott holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music with concentrations in Vocal Performance and Music Education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX. He has been a presenter with the Texas Choral Directors Association as well as a past Section Leader for the TMEA All-State Tenor/Bass Choir. Cody is an active participant, clinician, and adjudicator in state-wide UIL, TMEA, and TAPPS contests, and holds professional memberships with TMEA, TMAA, TCDA, the American Guild of Organists, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Choongwoo (Steve) Ko
Doctor of Musical Arts Student in Choral Conducting
Conductor | University Tenor/Bass Chorus
Graduate Assistant | Choral Conducting
Choongwoo (Steve) Ko is beginning his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin after several years teaching in Florida schools. Ko holds the Master of Music in Choral Music at the University of Southern California, where he studied with Drs. Jo-Michael Scheibe, Nick Strimple, Cristian Grases, and Tram Sparks. He holds a B. S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where he first performed major choral-orchestral works with Dr. Jerry Blackstone. Following his passion in music, Ko earned a second bachelor’s degree, in music, at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At EMU, he studied voice with Dr. MeeAe Cecilia Nam, piano with Dr. Hyun-jin Lim, and conducting with Dr. Beth Everett and Mary Schneider. Ko also has studied conducting with Drs. Jerry Blackstone, Eugene Rogers, Simon Carrington, Rodney Eichenberger, Jamie Hillman and Hilary Apfelstadt. Ko holds his teaching certificate in K-12 vocal music in the State of Michigan and Florida and from ACSI.
As a vocalist, Mr. Ko performed as countertenor and tenor soloist on Baroque cantatas and oratorios and choral masterworks with numerous church choirs, including First Presbyterian Church Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor Hope Church, and St. James United Church of Christ. Also, Mr. Ko has performed German Lieder, American Art Songs, and Korean sacred music. As a choral singer, Mr. Ko performed as an ensemble member with various choirs, such as the University of Michigan Choral Union, and Chamber Choir at EMU, and Chamber Singers at Thornton School of Music at USC. He has sung under the baton of Hans Graf, Peter Oundjian, Jeffrey Kahane and many others. As a member of USC Thornton Chamber Singers, Ko sang at the American Choral Directors’ Association 2015 National Convention in Salt Lake City under the direction of Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe.
Ko is also a prolific composer. He composes based on his biculturalism, his Christian faith, and his choral music education emphasis. As a composer, Ko has published his composition through Seoul Chorus Center in South Korea since 2021. His composition teacher includes Dr. Morten Lauridsen, Profs. Hyowon Woo, Byunghee Oh, and Hyunchul Lee. Many of his compositions were premiered by Keswick Christian School Concert Choir while he was teaching. Ko is also actively giving online seminars about American choral music and choral music education through Choral Composition Academy at Seoul Chorus Center.
Eric Newell begins his first year pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the Butler School of Music where he will study conducting with Dr. J.D. Burnett. Eric comes from Santa Cruz, California where he is Director of Choirs at the Kirby School and is the Music Director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek. He is an experienced professional singer, often performing with Volti in San Fransisco and the American Bach Soloists.
Eric holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Emory University and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Georgia at Athens. He loves jazz, cooking and baking, and is excited to get to know the students at the Butler School of Music and to experience all the Austin has to offer.
Master of Music Student in Choral Conducting
Associate Conductor | University Tenor-Bass Chorus
Graduate Assistant | Choral Conducting
Michael Follis is pursuing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the Butler School of Music. He returns to the Forty Acres having completed his Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance in 2020 where he studied voice and conducting with Drs. Cynthia Morrow and Suzanne Pence, respectively. During his undergraduate career, Michael was an active member and section leader in Texas Choirs and regularly performed with the University of Texas Chamber Singers, Concert Chorale, and as a soloist in the Bach Cantata Project under Dr. Jim Morrow. He also serves as director of the Longhorn Singers, the university’s official show choir. Michael is the founder and director of the Southwestern Chorale, a collegiate-level ensemble in his hometown of Katy, Texas.
Michael served as Instructor of Voice and Associate Director of Choirs at East View High School in Georgetown, Texas for two years. Students under his direction have earned sweepstakes awards at UIL Concert and Sightreading, received placement in TMEA All State Choirs, and been awarded superior ratings at Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest. In 2021, Follis was named Director of Music Ministries at Shepherd of the Hills Christian Church in Austin, Texas where he oversees the Chancel and Handbell Choirs.
Aside from being a choral conductor, Michael continues to be an active performer in the Central Texas choral music scene. He regularly sings in a number of professional ensembles including the Ars Longa Ensemble, San Antonio Chamber Choir, Texas Early Music Project, Texas Bach Festival Chorus, Austin Cantorum, and Inversion Ensemble. Follis was also selected to sing and conduct at the Yale School of Music’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival under world-renowned conductor Simon Carrington.
McKenna King is thrilled to be returning to the University of Texas where she is pursuing the Master of Music in Choral Conducting where she will be studying with Dr. J.D. Burnett. Ms. King has taught Secondary Music in Bastrop ISD where she was privileged to re-invigorate the Bastrop Middle School choir department with growth and success. Her choirs have received Superior ratings at the University Interscholastic League evaluation and during her tenure the program nearly doubled in size.
During her undergraduate studies at the University of Texas, McKenna studied piano with Dr. Andrew Brownell, conducting with Dr. Suzanne Pence, voice with Professor William Lewis, and vocal accompanying with Dr. Miguel Campinho. She has sung professionally in the Central Texas area with the Austin Masterworks Singers and the Capital City Chamber Choir as well as with Chorus Austin’s collaborations with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
King holds a Bachelor of Music in Choral Music Studies from the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also earned a Texas EC-12 Teacher Certification. She holds professional memberships with TMEA and TCDA, and in her free time, she loves to coach lacrosse, explore the city, and cheer on the Texas Longhorns!