The Choral Arts Society of Washington Welcomes New Artistic Director, Jace Kaholokula Saplan, DMA


The Choral Arts Society of Washington welcomes Jace Kaholokula Saplan, DMA (they/them) as its new Artistic Director effective September 1, 2022. A strong advocate of the classical arts, Dr. Saplan will advance the choral arts by reinventing the classics and ushering in a new generation of innovative programming with global influence.

“After extensive research conducted by the Board of Trustees in partnership with Arts Consulting Group (ACG), the Choral Arts Board and Search Committee are delighted to welcome Dr. Saplan to Choral Arts and look forward to musically and culturally they will bring to the organization,” said Craig Miller, Chairman of the Board, Choral Arts. “As we envision the future of choral arts as a premier arts institution plan here in the nation’s capital, we are confident they will take us to new heights while fulfilling our mission to awaken the human capacity for wonder through the power of choral music.”

“I am honored to be part of Choral Arts,” said Dr. Saplan. “The organization has an extremely important role to play not only in the DC area, but as a broad bastion of the classical arts. I consider it my job to advance choral music as a community art and to make it accessible and intertwined with realities It is fairness – not as a weapon to passively erase one story for the benefit of another – but rather as a way to create a more welcoming and understanding space that acknowledges all our contributions to the evolution of art.

“Having Dr. Saplan join our DC choral community is exciting because we look forward to pushing the boundaries of classical music while welcoming a new generation of singers and choral patrons,” remarked Tad Czyzewski, Executive Director of Arts. choirs. “I’m confident in their ability to develop the choral arts and we couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.”

Dr. Saplan is Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning and Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University. Dr. Saplan enjoyed an acclaimed career in their native Hawai’i, as a cohesive voice and advocate for the choral arts, modeling the relevance of choral craftsmanship in a culturally responsible way while amplifying the nation’s legacy of choral excellence. ‘State. They were recently named Obama Asia-Pacific Leader through the Obama Foundation for the year 2022-2023.

Prior to their appointment at Arizona State University, Dr. Saplan was director of choral activities at the University of Hawaii and conductor of the UH Chamber Singers. Dr. Saplan is the artistic director of the Nā Wai Choral Collective, a vocal ensemble based in Hawai’i. Since forming Nā Wai in 2009, Nā Wai Choral Collective has won two Global Music Awards, toured throughout the Pacific, and performed at regional and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association.

“When we are culturally sensitive, we open the canon to people like me who would otherwise be excluded,” Dr. Saplan remarked. “And that’s how we make sure Bach doesn’t just survive, but thrives in the future. And he won’t be alone – he’ll be joined by voices from the past and future that would otherwise be excluded.”

Dr. Saplan is a prolific author, speaker and champion of new works, including works by LGBTQIA+ and BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous and Asian) composers. Their research focuses on the practice of performing Pasifika choral traditions and the choral compositions of Queen Lili’uokalani; decolonial approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion in the choral classroom; the intersections of choral pedagogy, gender and sexuality in communities of color; and trauma-informed practice and boundary building with BBIA music educators. Their knowledge and scholarship on these topics has also led them to lead clinics at the state, regional, and national levels for the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and LGBTQ Studies in Music Education. Conference.

Dr. Saplan earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, his Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland, his Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from from the University of Oregon and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting with background in music education and ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

Dr. Saplan’s first performance with Choral Arts will begin this fall.

At Choral Arts, we sing the music we love as a balm to frenetic days, an antidote to loneliness, a union in an often fractured world. We sing for a city with little time and high expectations, which forces us to turn an evening into an unforgettable memory. Founded in 1965 by Norman Scribner (1936-2015), Choral Arts has a rich history of bringing the power of the human voice to audiences large and small, advancing the history of choral music by partnering with a myriad of musicians, composers and ensembles . To stay up to date with the latest news from Choral Arts, follow @ChoralArtsDC on Instagram and Facebook, YouTube, or visit


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