Rodney Wynkoop is the founding director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Durham (VAE) and has served as the artistic director of the Choral Society of Durham (CSD) since 1986. He recently retired from Duke University, where he directed the Duke University Chorale for over 35 years, conducted the Duke Chapel Choir for almost 30 years, and served as the Director of University Choral Music. He also taught choral conducting and served as Director of Performance in the Duke University Music Department.
Dr. Wynkoop’s work has earned him critical acclaim for artistic excellence and innovative programming. He has led both CSD and VAE in invited appearances at national and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Locally, Dr. Wynkoop has received the James L. Nicholson award from the Durham Arts Council for his contributions in promoting the careers of local singers and composers, and the Lara Hoggard Award for Distinguished Service in Choral Music in North Carolina, presented by the North Carolina chapter of ACDA. In honor of his 35 years as their artistic director, the Choral Society of Durham recently established the Wynkoop Fellowship Program, dedicated to ensuring that membership in the group is equally accessible to everyone.
Workshops and Tours
As conductor of the Triangle Choral Exchange, Dr. Wynkoop has led international concert tours to Cuba, Russia, South Africa, Brazil, and Spain. He has led his Duke choirs on many tours as well, including annual domestic tours with the Chorale and international tours to China, Greece, and various parts of Europe with both the Chapel Choir and the Chorale. Dr. Wynkoop also served for one summer as the resident guest conductor of a professional civic chorus in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He as conducted his choirs in performances of Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem at Carnegie Hall in 2006 and again in Vienna in 2009 as part of the International Haydn Festival. They returned to Carnegie Hall in 2016 to perform Haydn’s Mass in Time of War. Domestically, Dr. Wynkoop has been the featured conductor at a variety of choral conducting workshops as well as all-state and all-district student choirs.
Premieres and Recordings
Dr. Wynkoop has conducted world premiere performances of contemporary works by composers such as James MacMillan, René Clausen, and Steven Sametz, as well as newly discovered works by Mendelssohn and Ives. VAE commissioned and performed a new work by Imant Raminsh (“Love Song”) for the group’s 10th anniversary, and in June 2022 will premier a new work commissioned from Daniel Elder (“I Love You”) in celebration of the group’s 25th anniversary.
VAE has released two CD recordings: “My Spirit Sang All Day” (on the Arsis label) and a holiday CD called “O Holy Night.” Other recordings of Dr. Wynkoop’s include a live-performance CD of Orff’s Carmina Burana by the Choral Society of Durham and numerous CD recordings of Handel’s Messiah by the Duke Chapel Choir. Under his direction, annual Messiah performances at Duke Chapel were twice streamed globally via Trans World Radio.
Education and Background
Dr. Wynkoop received his bachelor’s degree in music from Yale University, his master’s from the University of Wisconsin, and his doctorate from the Yale School of Music. Prior to coming to Duke in 1984, he held conducting positions at Yale, the University of Chicago, and Mount Holyoke College.