Tony Thornton

President, Choral Planet LLC

Author | Editor

Award-winning educator, conductor, and author, Tony Thornton received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Voice from Westminster Choir College, his Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Historical Musicology from the University of Arizona. He studied conducting with Bruce Chamberlain, Joseph Flummerfelt, Kenneth Fulton, Frauke Haasemann, Margaret Hillis, and Donald Neuen.

As a guest conductor and clinician active nationally and internationally, Dr. Thornton has worked with over 400 mixed, treble, and tenor/bass choruses in public and private schools, colleges, churches, community ensembles, and professional organizations in 25 states, Japan, and throughout Europe.

Trained first as a singer, Thornton has performed as a tenor soloist throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. As a member of the Westminster Choir, he performed at the Spoleto Festival in Italy and the United States, and he has recorded with Leonard Bernstein, Riccardo Muti, Robert Shaw, Claudio Abbado, and Zubin Mehta. He sang for six years as a member of the Grammy Award-winning Robert Shaw Festival Singers.

Thornton is the author of The Choral Singer’s Survival Guide and he maintains a choral series in his name at Colla Voce Music. He was Director of Choral Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for thirteen years before joining the faculty at Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2022 as Director of Choral and Vocal Studies and the Doug and Nickie Burns Endowed Chair in Choral Music. He is Artistic Director of the Sarteano (Italy) Chamber Choral Conducting Workshop and the Founding Artistic Director of Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble.

Dr. Thornton holds active memberships in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO). He is Past President of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, and he recently completed his term as the Collegiate R&R Chair for the ACDA Eastern Division.

Kirin Nielsen

Copy Editor - In Perfect Harmony

Two threads of excellence and pursuit in Kirin Nielsen’s professional work are clear: words and music. Whether one or the other or both are prominent, elements of the two inform the expertise she offers and the intellectual and creative approaches she brings to solutions. As an editor, copy editor, writer, teacher, and writing coach, Dr. Nielsen has a keen eye and ear for clarity, accuracy, and tone. She is a patient, supportive editor who maintains high standards for the author and herself in many contexts. Her persistence and curiosity combine to make her an able researcher of ideas, information, and reliable sources as an author, editor, and fact-checker.

Most recently, Nielsen was an associate editor at GIA Publications, where she edited more than fifty books on a variety of topics in music education, resources for professional choral musicians, resources for church musicians, and textbooks for undergraduate and graduate-level students of music education. In addition, she was a proofreader of musical scores as they went through the engraving process.

Nielsen’s exceptional training as a musician, both as practitioner and teacher, gives her the ability to consider many ideas and circumstances at the same time. She has been a professor of music at the college level, contributing the most when in the context of teaching and mentoring individuals and small ensembles. Also, her work as a conductor required her creativity, deep knowledge of her subject, organizational skill, ability to work with a broad variety of individuals and groups, and talent for building ensembles whose individuals respected one another.

Dr. Nielsen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Cornell University, where she also pursued her interests in art history and studio art. She completed her Master of Music degree with a concentration in choral conducting at the renowned Westminster Choir College. Finishing at the top of the class, she was made a member of the national music honorary society, Pi Kappa Lambda. Finally, Nielsen earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and with it, membership in Phi Kappa Phi national graduate honor society. Her most notable accomplishment was the national Herford Prize for Excellence in Research, which is presented by the American Choral Directors Association to at most one doctoral dissertation per year.

Kirin Nielsen’s further interests include art history and museums, travel, international cultures, languages, politics, and her spoiled cat. For those interested in her professional qualifications, please see her LinkedIn profile at or contact her at