Richard Nance, Conductor

Past Conductors

Joseph Edwards

  • 1925–1937

Gunnar Malmin

  • 1937–1964

Maurice Skones

  • 1964–1983

Richard Sparks

  • 1983–2001

Kathryn Lehmann

  • 2001–2006

Richard Nance is Director of Choral Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where he conducts the Choir of the West, University Singers and Choral Union. He also teaches the choral conducting sequence and supervises student teachers. Prior to coming to Pacific Lutheran, Dr. Nance taught at Amarillo College and in public schools in Texas and New Mexico. Nance holds bachelors and master’s degrees from West Texas State University and the DMA degree from Arizona State University. He has studied conducting with Hugh Sanders, Douglas McEwen and David Stocker, and studied composition with Joseph Nelson and Randall Shinn.

Dr. Nance is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, and has served as ACDA President for the state of Washington, President of the Northwestern Division, and as the Choral Reviews Editor for the Choral Journal. Eight choirs under Nance’s direction have been selected to appear at ACDA regional conferences, most recently the Choir of the West at the 2022 NWACDA conference in Spokane, Washington. Nance conducted the PLU Choral Union in performance at the 2001 ACDA National Convention in San Antonio and the Choir of the West at the 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas. Choir of the West was selected to be a featured choir at the 2015 National Collegiate Choral Directors Association Conference, and presented a concert under the direction of conference headliner Simon Carrington. Dr. Nance’s choirs have toured Europe on several occasions and have appeared at prestigious festivals, winning Gold awards at the 2011 Harmonie Festival in Lindenholzhausen, Germany (Choir of the West) and the 2014 Florence International Choir Festival (Choral Union Tour Ensemble). Under Nance’s direction the Choir of the West and PLU Chamber Singers won Gold certificates and first place in three categories at the 2015 Anton Bruckner Choir Competition in Linz, Austria, and Choir of the West received the “Anton Bruckner Award” for winning the entire competition. In the summer of 2019, Choir of the West was selected to be one of fourteen choirs competing at the prestigious Marktoberdorf Chamber Choir Competition in Germany.

Nance’s PLU choirs regularly take part in important premieres of new works, most recently the North American premiere of Sven David Sandström’s Matthauspassion (2016 – in collaboration with the PLU Choral Union and University Symphony Orchestra), and the North American premiere of the Nordic Light Symphony by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds (2017). On both of these occasions the composers were present for the premieres. Choir of the West has produced several published recordings through PLU multimedia recordings, and in April of 2018 recorded a disc of unaccompanied works by Ešenvalds entitled There Will Come Soft Rains, which was released worldwide on the Signum Classics label in January of 2020. Ešenvalds and producer Adrian Peacock spent a week at PLU working with students during the recording process, and the album has been recognized in several prominent classical music publications.

Richard Nance has been recognized for his work as conductor and scholar, having received the 2011 and 2013 “American Prize” for Choral Conducting, the “Outstanding Conductor” award at the 2014 Florence International Choir Festival, and the 2013-2014 K.T. Tang Faculty Excellence Award for Research from Pacific Lutheran University. He has twice been granted Regency Advancement Awards at PLU. In July of 2010 Dr. Nance received the Washington State Leadership Award from the American Choral Directors Association, and in 2016 he received the ACDA Northwestern Division Leadership and Service Award.

Dr. Nance served as Director of Music at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Lakewood from 1996-2009, and is an active clinician and adjudicator. His compositions have been published by Hinshaw Music, Colla Voce Music, and Walton Music (in the “Richard Nance Choral Series.”) Dr. Nance was chosen to write a commissioned work for the Washington All-State Choir in 2002, and wrote the 2002 Raymond Brock Memorial Composition for the American Choral Directors Association, one of the highest honors to be awarded to a composer of choral music. Recipients of this award include: Samuel Adler, Daniel Pinkham, Eric Whitacre, Gwyneth Walker, René Clausen, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Morten Lauridsen, Mack Wilberg, Steven Sametz, Dominick Argento, Alice Parker, Ola Gjeilo, Chen Yi, JAC Redford, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Tarik O’Regan, Jake Runestad, and others.