Dr. David Schildkret
Artistic Director & Principal Conductor
Inspiring excellence through artistic mastery, discipline, and musical integrity.
David Schildkret was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1956, and grew up in Willingboro, New Jersey, where he attended public schools. He earned the B.A. in music from Rutgers University in 1978 and went on to earn the Master of Music degree and Doctor of Music degree (both in choral conducting) from Indiana University. His principal teachers at Rutgers were David Drinkwater and F. Austin “Soup” Walter; at IU, his primary teachers were Robert Porco and George Buelow. In addition, he studied with Jan Harrington, Alan Harler, Margaret Hillis, and Julius Herford.
In 1983, Schildkret joined the faculty of the University of Rochester, where he conducted the Glee Clubs and the Concert Choir. He was also music director of the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra. From 1992 to 1995, Schildkret was a visiting professor at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he taught Humanities, music theory, music history, and conducted several choirs. He then went on to become the dean of the Salem College School of Music in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He continued to conduct and teach alongside his administrative work, leading the college’s choirs and guest conducting concerts with the Piedmont Chamber Singers (he later served as Interim Music Director for PCS in the 2009 – 10 season). He joined the faculty of the Arizona State University School of Music in 2002 as Director of Choral Activities and retired from ASU in May 2023, when he was named Professor Emeritus. He has also been the music director of the Mount Desert Summer Chorale in Maine since 1999, conducting his first concerts in 2000. He served as Music Director at Scottsdale United Methodist Church from 2003 – 2014 and from 2017 – 2019. Since September 2019, he has been Director of Music Ministries at Dayspring United Methodist Church.
Schildkret has published articles in a number of journals (see the curriculum vitae for a complete list). He is best known for his work on the music of the eighteenth century, having written on Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Haydn. He has served on the board of the National Collegiate Choral Organization and was the founding editor of its journal, The Choral Scholar. For the American Choral Directors Association, he served on the Herford Prize Committee and reviewed books for publication in ACDA’s monograph series.
He has conducted numerous major works for chorus and orchestra, including the Requiems of Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, Fauré, and Duruflé, Bloch’s Sacred Service, Bach’s B-Minor Mass, and Haydn’s The Creation, among many others. He has also conducted such major orchestral works as Bernstein’s Jeremiah, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and “Scottish” Symphony, along with standard symphonic works by such composers as Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann. He has taught and conducted internationally, primarily in South Korea and in Venezuela, where he visited twice as a Fulbright Senior Fellow. During his second visit, he was stage director and conductor of the Venezuelan premiere of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in a bilingual production (songs in English, dialog in Spanish).
Schildkret’s varied interests include a passionate love of the visual arts and literature, and he frequently lectures on the connections among them. As a member of the Arizona Speaks roster through Arizona Humanities, he has spoken about comedy, the history of opera, and his main focus, the meaning of gardens in various works of art, literature, and music. His lifelong love of acting and singing has led to several appearances with Arizona State University’s Music Theatre and Opera, along with performances with the Bar Harbor Music Festival and many others.
At Arizona State University, Schildkret conducted numerous ensembles: the Chamber Singers and the Concert Choir, both primarily made up of music majors, the Choral Union, a combination of students, faculty, staff and community members that performed major works, Canticum Bassum (the university’s tenor-bass ensemble) and the Barrett Choir, which he founded in 2011. Barrett Choir under his leadership brought together undergraduates from all over the university to sing a highly varied repertory mostly chosen by the members of the choir. In 2018, he founded Euphony Ensemble, a project ensemble of professional musicians from the Phoenix area, most of whom hold music degrees from ASU.
Schildkret is committed to inquiry across disciplines and organized numerous festivals and events at ASU that brought together people from a variety of areas. In 2015, he spearheaded The Creation Project, a semester-long series of lectures, symposia, and performances that included scientists, humanists, musicians, and artists of all kinds exploring various aspects of creation and creativity. The series culminated in a monumental production of Haydn’s oratorio The Creation with a choir of over 300 singers and dynamic imagery designed by a team from ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre and projected in real time during the performance. In the fall of 2018, he organized a series of events to complement the November performances of Bernstein’s Mass.
Schildkret has been married to Susan Griffin, an award-winning dance teacher at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona, since 1978. Together, they have two daughters. Elizabeth holds the Ph.D. in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and is Director of School & Family Programs at Portland Ovations in Portland, Maine. Before that, she served for five years as a manager of the Theater for Young Audiences department at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Miriam holds the DMA in voice from ASU’s School of Music and is a freelance teacher and performer. She appears regularly with Arizona Opera, where she is also a teaching artist. Together with her husband, Ted Zimnicki, she owns High Note Performance, a fitness and training program for singers and other performers.