Dr. Peter Dabrowski, Music Director
"A true concert leaves the audience and musicians on the edge of their chairs", says Peter Dabrowski, conductor, who in such a way leads his concerts. His interpretations, imbued with great expression, provoke, intrigue and excite, creating much emotion throughout the audience. Full of magnetism, charisma, and love for music, Peter Dabrowski is a conductor devoted to his art. Described by critics as exceptionally talented, his artistic personality wins over both audiences and musicians alike.
Great partnership with the soloist and orchestral musicians characterize Dabrowski's artistic work. Musicians under his baton are creative, involved and disciplined. As a conductor he is able to convey his rich and colorful musical interpretations with authority and scholarship. The final interpretations are not only the result of rehearsals, but are also due to the tremendous level of energy and concentration exerted during the concert. Dabrowski unifies the intensity and many talents of the musicians into one orchestral voice.
Musicians enjoy making music with Dabrowski. His passion and musical sensitivity empowers the orchestra. His goal is to create an atmosphere within the orchestra in which each musician feels like an artist. "I present attractive programs not only for the audiences, but, also for the musicians," says the conductor, for whom the role of concert programming is very important.
Dabrowski is the Music Director and Conductor of the Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorale in Edinburg, TX and the Associate Conductor of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra. He also served as the music director and conductor of the American University Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., the American Youth Concert Orchestra in Northern Virginia, and the Chicago Philharmonic. He is in demand as a guest conductor throughout Europe and the United States. He studied conducting at Northwestern University, the University of Utah, and the Warsaw Music Conservatory in Poland. He also participated in prestigious conducting courses at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, and in Budapest and Miskolc, Hungary.
Dr. David Means, Chorale Director
Dr. David Means is Director of Choral Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, TX and the conductor of the Valley Symphony Chorale. He is also organist at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edinburg and Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in McAllen, and recently founded Rio Grande Valley’s premier chamber choir, the Valley Choral Artists. Dr. Means came to south Texas from Austin where he was Head Choral Director of the Grammy Award winning Fine Arts Academy of Westwood High School in the Round Rock ISD. Means has also taught at the University of Southern California, Christopher Newport University, Hill College and has more than fifteen years’ experience successfully teaching public school choirs in Texas and California.
Dr. Means earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree in piano and voice from Howard Payne University (teachers included John Ratledge, Elem Ely, Linda Hibbs Dougherty, Alan Smith), a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Baylor University (teachers included Hugh Sanders, Robert Young, Karen Peeler, Joyce Farwell, Joyce Jones) and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Music from the University of Southern California (teachers included William Dehning, James Vail, Morten Lauridsen, Bard Suverkrop, Hans Beer). He was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Choral Student Award upon graduating from USC.
Means is active as a guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician, having taught and performed across the United States, Europe, Mexico, Canada and Japan. He is active throughout south Texas as guest conductor, adjudicator and workshop leader, and also regularly adjudicates TMEA and UIL events across the state. Last July he served on the international jury of the Preveza International Choral Festival in Preveza, Greece, and next March he will adjudicate the prestigious American Classic Madrigal Festival in San Antonio, TX. Also active as a baritone soloist, Dr. Means has sung as a featured singer with the internationally known Mark Morris Dance Group in two performances with the Virginia Waterfront Arts Festival, and has sung as a professional chorister with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, the Virginia Chorale and presently sings with the San Antonio Chamber Choir.
Means has premiered works by Morten Lauridsen, Z. Randall Stroope, David Childs and John Rutter, and studied conducting in masterclasses with Helmuth Rilling, Frieder Bernius, Robert Shaw and Paul Salamunovich. Means remains active as a conductor, singer and pianist, and has shared the stage with Quincy Jones, Liza Minneli and Michael Feinstein, and has performed for former president Ronald Reagan.
Dr. Carl Seale †
Dr. Carl Seale served as conductor of the Valley Symphony Orchestra from 1973 through 2000. In addition to his work with the VSO, he also directed music at the First Presbyterian Church in McAllen, and taught for 30 years at the University of Texas-Pan American, a legacy institution of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As a composer, Dr. Seale pursued collaborations with literary, visual, and other performing arts. He wrote ballets, operas, and choral works, often collaborating with his wife Jan, Texas Poet Laureate and former English instructor at UT-Pan American. He also successfully incorporated photographic displays into some of his compositions. In conjunction with Seale's scores, the images did not merely illustrate the music nor were accompanied by it; the result was a multimedia work of art. He was a founding member who helped establish the South Texas Symphony Association in 1976. Dr. Seale will be remembered for his tireless efforts to further music education and live classical performances in the Rio Grande Valley.
Dr. Christopher Munn
Dr. Christopher Munn served as conductor of the Valley Symphony Chorale from 1985 through 2013. During that time, the Chorale grew to more than 100 members, and twice performed in New York's Carnegie Hall. During his tenure the Chorale performed such works as the Verdi Requiem and the Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, as well as diverse works such as J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms. Handel's Messiah and Orff's Carmina Burana became frequent audience favorites.
Munn retired as Full Professor, Emeritus, at The University of Texas-Pan American in 2013, where he taught for 29 years. There, he conducted the University Choir and taught courses in Music History and Music Literature, Music Theory, Conducting, Research and Bibliography, several graduate courses, and supervised student teachers. A master teacher, he was particularly known for his ability to teach difficult music.
He received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from the West Texas State University; the Master of Music degree, with distinction, from Indiana University; and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma. His doctoral dissertation won the Julius Herford Dissertation Award from the American Choral Directors Association as the best dissertation in the field of choral music for 1991.
Munn is an expert in the historical performance practices of early music, specializing in performance treatises from 1500 to 1800. As a harpsichordist, he has appeared in performances with such famous musicians as Christopher Hogwood and Nigel Rogers. He has made both research and performance presentations at many professional meetings.
Munn has adjudicated numerous competitions at the state and national levels, and continues to be actively involved throughout this area in the activities of the Texas Music Educators Association and the Texas University Interscholastic League, through choir clinics, accompanying band, choir, and orchestra soloists and ensembles, and adjudication.