Joseph Svendsen

Joseph Svendsen, D.M.A.

Division of Choral Studies, Director



Joseph Svendsen is the director of Choral Studies and associate professor of Music at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he conducts the UNLV Singers and Collegium and teaches graduate coursework in conducting and choral literature, working with students seeking the MM in Choral Conducting. During his tenure at UNLV the choirs have toured internationally and regionally and performed at professional conferences and festivals in the southwestern United States. The choirs host the Desert Rose Choral Festival, a one-day festival chorus of high school students drawn from across the southwest.

Svendsen is the artistic director of the Las Vegas Master Singers, a 90-voice volunteer ensemble that serves as the symphony chorus for the Las Vegas Philharmonic and provides the choruses for Opera Las Vegas’s main stage productions. The chorus regularly collaborates with Las Vegas and regional orchestras, choirs, and solo artists and commissions works about life in Nevada through its New Voices outreach program. Svendsen is also music minister at Faith Lutheran Church in Summerlin, Nevada, where the church’s choral scholars recently completed a residency at St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire, England. An active clinician, he has served as an invited conductor in eight countries and seven states, with choirs ranging from middle school through adulthood.

Svendsen is an advocate of critical pedagogy and agency building in the choral rehearsal, developing student musicianship, independence, and engagement through the teaching of diverse repertoire. He has presented on this subject for conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education, as well as several university and school district guest lectures and residencies. He is the 2023 recipient of the UNLV College of Fine Arts Outstanding Teaching Award.

Svendsen is a proud alumnus of Luther College, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Texas Tech University, from which he earned his DMA in Choral Conducting. From 2007-2013 he taught high school vocal music in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His choral mentors and teachers include Richard Bjella, Chester Alwes, Craig Arnold, and Timothy Peter.