Dr. Ryan Holder has been named the Choral Director of the Year by the Arizona Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.
“All of the letters we received in support of Ryan’s nomination were unified in their praise,” Dr. Sharon Hansen, Membership Chair for the AzACDA, said while presenting the award. “Since I moved to Arizona, I’ve been hard-pressed to meet a single educator with as much commitment, sincerity, humility and dedication to his art and teaching.”
Dr. Holder said he is thankful for the award and to those who nominated him, especially because his introverted nature means he is rarely one to “toot my own horn at all, almost to a fault.”
“I want to serve with humility, so throughout my time here in Arizona, I’m always asking, ‘what can I do to help?’” he said during the award ceremony.
Dr. Holder is the Associate Director of Choral Studies at the NAU School of Music, where he directs the Women’s Chorale, Northern Voices and High Altitude vocal jazz ensembles. He is also the Director of Music at The Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona and the Artistic Director of the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers.
Dr. Holder said he has grown a lot since arriving at NAU in 2006. That includes learning how to better connect with those he’s teaching and directing.
“I’m willing to open myself up and talk about things that have affected me as a human being so they can in turn share their emotions, which makes us better musicians,” he said.
And that has proven particularly important in current times.
“I focused more on connecting with my students as people rather than as musicians, and making sure that everyone was okay,” he said.