Student Spotlight: Margaret Winchell D.M.A.'28

February 26, 2024

Who Are You?

I am Margaret Winchell, D.M.A. Choral Conducting ’28. I grew up in Houston, Texas, but I’ve spent most of my adult life in the Chicago area. I taught high school for several years there and have gone back for the last several summers to teach in summer education programming at the Goodman Theatre. I earned my M.M. in conducting from Western Michigan University, studying with another Yale ISM alum, Kimberly Dunn Adams.

What are you doing at the ISM?

I’m a choral conductor in the D.M.A. program! I’m the assistant conductor for Yale Schola Cantorum this year, so I get to work with them for several rehearsals each concert cycle. I mentor some brilliant, eager undergraduate students as they conduct the Yale Undergraduate Chamber Choir. I co-chair the ISM’s Student Life Committee, which puts on all kinds of community-building events. Like the other choral conductors here, I sing with the Yale Repertory Chorus and my colleagues’ recital choruses, and I had a conducting recital last fall filled with just about the best singers I know!

What does the ISM mean to you?

The ISM rounds out my musical education thus far with some of the most refined, high-level music making I have been a part of! My past experiences gave me a broad base of knowledge and skills. My time at Yale has been a gift in calibrating my ear to a really high standard, thanks to the exceptional quality of musicians here. I’m also so fortunate to have met fascinating, thoughtful people here. The faculty’s interests range widely and have shown me new elements of my craft from different angles, from hearing Prof. Chris Wiman break down a poem to learning how 17th century thinkers and composers understood music and the emotions with Prof. Markus Rathey. And singing alongside musicians with such varied backgrounds and motivations has given me a fuller picture of the musical landscape. The ISM’s resources have exposed me to world-class musicians, each of whom has shown me a different facet of what music can be.

What’s notable and coming up?

Schola Cantorum is about to start working on the Bach Mass in B Minor which I’ll do some of the choral preparation for as we look toward an April 27 concert in Woolsey Hall and a May tour to the UK! Shortly before that, I’ll travel with the other second-year conductors to Copenhagen to conduct the Danish National Vocal Ensemble. More immediately, I’ll lead a workshop called “The Values Audit” at the Eastern division American Choral Directors Association conference in Providence. The session aims to help conductors align the activities and allocation of resources in their choral program with their own values and those of the singers. On the academic side, I’m in the middle of revising my thesis and preparing to present and defend it, and I’m filling in as many knowledge gaps as I can as I look toward oral exams. Lastly, I’m in the midst of a job search. Hoping to find a great next home for music-making!

Photo below: Margaret Winchell pictured with Masaaki Suzuki, principal guest conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum.