Music professor wins prestigious teaching award

May 07, 2008

Professor of Music and Choir director Margaret Boudreaux received the Distinguished Teaching Award May 4 at McDaniel College’s Honors Convocation.

The annual award and $10,000 prize recognizes inspired classroom work and dedication to students and honors the beloved emeritus faculty member Ira G. Zepp, who taught full time in the department of Religious Studies for more than 30 years.

“It’s an incredible honor to get this award. What's particularly meaningful and moving to me is the fact that Ira Zepp's name is attached to the award. He has been an incredible inspiration to me the entire time I've been here, and this will inspire me even further to carry his example in my heart as long as I teach,” said Dr. Boudreaux.

“I'm also grateful for the energy and love of learning the students bring with them every day. That has been keeping me in love with learning myself over all these years.”

As both music philosopher and choral director, Professor Boudreaux teaches her students to find their voice, whether they aspire to professional careers as musicians or for the sheer enjoyment of choral singing. She joined the College faculty in 1989, sparking a renaissance in Levine Hall that invigorated the Music Department and created a crescendo of song captivating audiences on the campus hilltop, the region’s concert halls, and even across the seas.

As Department Chair from 1991-2005, she lead her colleagues in introducing diverse classes like “Art and Music of African-American Women,” “Middle Eastern Music,” a first-year seminar, “Music and Words,” and an interdisciplinary course, “Music, Mind and Brain.” Student enrollments have soared.

Dr. Boudreaux also edits, arranges and performs choral music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods as well as folk-song, popular music, vocal jazz, and musical theatre. She has published numerous articles and translations in the professional journals of the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, and the International Federation of Choral Music.

Currently, she serves as president of the Maryland Colleges and University Music Educators Association. Formerly, Dr. Boudreaux served as the Repertoire and Standards Chair for Ethnic and Multicultural Music for the Maryland/D.C. chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. Since 2002, she has served as artistic director of the Masterworks Chorale of Carroll County, who with the College Choir in collaboration with the Columbia Symphony, performed “Beethoven’s 9th Symphony” in Columbia, Md., this past April.

A frequent clinician and conductor throughout the region, Dr. Boudreaux has performed with her choirs at conferences and special presentations at the Kennedy Center, the National Cathedral, the Discovery Channel, and other major Baltimore-Washington venues.

In 2005, she conducted a choir at the Festival 500, “Sharing the Voices” International Choral Festival (a combination of Masterworks Chorale of Carroll County and the McDaniel College Choir) in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Her publishing company, Voices of Training, carries a number of scores combining a variety of voice levels and styles, including Lorraine Whittlesey’s new choral work, “Einstein’s Dreams (it’s about time…)” based on the novel “Einstein’s Dreams,” which Dr. Boudreaux conducted in its 2006 premiere at McDaniel.

She holds degrees in music from the Universities of Arizona in Tucson, Oregon in Eugene, and Colorado in Boulder. She studied conducting with Helmuth Rilling and Donald Neuen.

In a Baccalaureate address she delivered to the Class of 1997, Dr. Boudreaux invited them all to become singers. “Singing is just a fancy way of breathing,” she said. “The Latin word for breath, spiritus, is the root of the word spirit. When you take a breath you become inspired, you take that spirit inside you. Then, if you can communicate that spirit with those around you by practicing the attitudes of singing, those who hear you will be inspired as well.”

Two additional faculty, Dr. Julia Jasken and Ms. Suzanne Seibert, both of the English department, received the Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant to support the design of a Departmental Writing Fellows program to further the Writing in the Disciplines initiative, part of the new McDaniel Plan comprehensive program for undergraduate education. Under the McDaniel Plan, an additional writing requirement in the junior year will be taught within a student’s major discipline.