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IN UNISON Chorus Director & Staff


Kevin McBeth, Director

Kevin McBethKevin McBeth was appointed Director of the IN UNISON Chorus in 2011. McBeth is the Director of Music at Manchester United Methodist Church in suburban St. Louis. He serves as full-time administrator for the Music Ministry, which includes 18 choral and handbell ensembles, involving nearly 500 children, youth, and adults. Kevin has also served as Adjunct Professor in Choral Music at Webster University. Over the past 20 years, he has conducted honor, festival, and touring choirs (choral and handbell) in the United States and Canada. Previous appointments include Assistant Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and Music Director of the St. Louis Metro Singers. His 30-year career in church music has included appointments in churches in Houston, Texas, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

McBeth is a graduate of Houston Baptist University, and has done graduate studies in Choral Conducting at the University of Houston. In addition to being a published composer and author, he was also choral music editor for Abingdon Press. McBeth has served on the board of the Iowa Choral Directors Association, the Missouri Choral Directors Association, and the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. He was also the Repertoire and Standards Chair for the Southwest Division of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Influential teachers in conducting have been David Wehr, Robert Linder, and John Yarrington. A strong advocate for training future conductors, McBeth has presented several workshops and interest sessions at the state and national levels.

McBeth has conducted concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Choirs under his direction have also performed at regional and national gatherings for choral and handbell music, including both state and division ACDA conventions, and at the American International Choral Festival. McBeth has prepared choruses for performances with Sarah Brightman, Josh Groban, John McDaniel, Andy Williams, Billy Porter, Take 6, Larnelle Harris, Jenifer Lewis, Wintley Phipps, and Hugh Smith. In the fall of 2002, the National Religious Music Week Alliance named him as one of the top ten Church Music Directors in the country. In the church music field, he has collaborated with Mark Hayes, John Leavitt, Hal Hopson, Joseph Martin, Howard Helvey, John Purifoy, Michael Burkhardt, Craig Courtney, David Morrow, and Jeffery Ames.

His orchestral conducting credits include performances with the Indianapolis Symphony, Houston Civic Symphony, the New England Symphonic Ensemble, and with members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in a concert featuring Garrison Keillor. Most recently, McBeth conducted a Festival Chorus in his first European concert tour to Great Britain, and prepared choruses for a concert at Lincoln Center.

McBeth is the proud father of two talented sons, Cameron and Austin.


Joseph Welch, Accompanist

Joseph WelchJoseph Welch has musical versatility and supportive collaborative spirit have made him a highly valued pianist, coach, and teacher. A sensitive and supportive collaborator, Welch has a thriving career in the vocal arts.

He trains young singers through the Opera Theatre of St. Louis Artists-in-Training program and performs in concert with Opera Edwardsville. As choral accompanist, he will begin playing for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s IN UNISON Chorus in September 2021. Other recent choral accompanying credits include the SLSO’s Holiday Festival Chorus and St. Louis Children’s Choirs Young Men’s Chorus. Since 2019, Welch has served as Assistant Music Director for Variety Theatre, a one-of-kind company featuring an inclusive children’s ensemble.

Additionally, he is the founder and artistic director of St. Louis Art Song. Welch serves as Visiting Professor of Music at Blackburn College, where wrote the curriculum for a new B.A. in Music.  The course of instruction is artist-centric and prepares pianists and singers to launch successful music careers. Welch was a 2021 Intern with the National Association of Teachers of Singing. He has been named Gateway Arch East Illinois State Music Teachers Association Member of the Year and Adjunct Instructor of the Year at Blackburn College. Continuing an active presence in the communities he grew up in, Welch serves on the boards of Southern Illinois Young Artist Organization and Bunker Hill Education Foundation.

 


Michelle Byrd, Manager

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Michelle Byrd started her musical experience in public schools of St. Louis. She contributes all her musical success to former SLSO IN UNISON Chorus Manager, the late Delores Greathouse, and retired music educator Patricia Spencer.

Byrd received an Associate of Music degree from St. Louis Community College–Florissant Valley in May 2014. In 2018, she graduated with honors from the University of Missouri–St. Louis with a Bachelor's in Music Education, K-12 certification, emphasis in voice. Byrd was an SLSO IN UNISON Scholar throughout her years at UMSL. She became the SLSO IN UNISON Arts Administration Fellow in 2017 and was tapped to coordinate the SLSO Holiday Festival Chorus that same year. She became a member of the SLSO staff in February 2018 as Interim IN UNISON Program Coordinator, and became the IN UNISON Programs Coordinator and Chorus Manager upon her graduation from UMSL.

Byrd continues to perform as second soprano with the chorus and is the proud parent of two wonderful daughters, Tremayia and Micayia.