Ronnie Sanders made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut on June 13, 2005. His expertise on the podium comes from instruction at the hands of Milton Katims who served as assistant conductor to Arturo Toscanini at the NBC Symphony Orchestra in New York City, Kenneth Fulton at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, Judith Clurman at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and Charles Hausmann of the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. He served on the Board of Directors for the Texas Choral Directors Association and served as the Artistic Director of the Corpus Christi Chorale and as the Director of Choral Activities at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. He has also been an instructor on the music faculties of Montgomery College in Conroe, Texas and Blinn College in Brenham, Texas.
He was one of five music faculty members serving on the music faculty when his school was awarded a Grammy Signature Award in May, 2010. Along with being a Grammy recognized school, Jefferson High School is where Sanders attended high school. "To be back at Jefferson is huge for me," says Sanders. "This is where I fell in love with music [and where] the teachers inspired me to pursue my dreams. Now I feel it is my turn to inspire the next generation of students."
Ronnie Sanders has been a choir director in Texas for over twenty-nine years. Highlights of his career include performances of Fauré's Requiem, John Rutter’s Gloria and Mass of the Children, Gian-Carlo Menotti’s opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, Beethoven's Egmont Overture, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn's Te Deum, Schubert's Mass in G, Luigi Cherubini’s Requiem in C Minor, Mozart's The Impresario and Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Sanders briefs the media prior to the Grammy Award Presentation, May 20, 2010.
As a composer, he was commissioned by the University of Texas at San Antonio to compose a choral work that was premiered by the UTSA Concert Choir and Concert Women's Choir conducted by John Silantien. He has composed numerous hymns and choruses for use in the local church.
His popular hymn arrangements and lush orchestrations are published by Bel Cantare, Music, Prism Music have been performed in churches across North America.
His "Margil Mass" for unnaccompanied voices, was met with critical acclaim. JW Pepper Music published, "Texas, composer Ronnie Sanders remembers the five beautiful, historic missions in San Antonio as a natural part of his heritage, upbringing and culture. On June 9, 2010, he once again toured the San Jose Mission, where he saw an exhibit displaying some of the history of the founding priest, Father Antonio Margil (1657-1726). Sanders saw Margil’s clerical garments and book of prayers containing scripture verses and prayers in Latin that Father Margil used in the mission almost 300 years ago.
Once inside the chapel, Sanders commented on his reflections. 'I began singing some chant-like music. Each note seemed to reverberate and echo inside this room.' Sanders marveled at the chapel’s 'gorgeous, cathedral-like acoustics.' It was at that moment he became inspired to compose a work that would honor this historic chapel and its founder, Father Antonio Margil.
Moved and motivated, Sanders returned to the exhibit and wrote down some scripture verses and prayers from Father Margil’s very own book of prayers that comprise the text of this new work. Sanders’ Margil Mass was written during the week of June 20 – 25, 2010." It was first performed in San Antonio's Mission Concepcion in February 2011. British composer Tarik O'Regan told Sanders, "I've enjoyed listening to [the Margil Mass] very much; I think you've struck exactly the right balance between compositional innovation, and liturgical functionality. Great work!"
Sanders' highly imaginative choral rehearsal techniques are published by Alfred Music Publishing Company, Southern Music Company and he has numerous reviews of choral music published in the Choral Journal, the official publication of the American Choral Director’s Association. In 2006, while searching for subject matter for his dissertation, Sanders was introduced to the choral music of composer Tarik O'Regan by John Rutter.
"The first piece of music I listened to was [Tarik O'Regan's] Locus Iste, and something about [that piece] captured an element of perfection in choral music that I had never heard before." Sanders now focuses much of his writing on scholarly, critical reviews and compositional techniques of O'Regan's music. Sanders contributed the entry on Tarik O'Regan to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Sanders holds degrees from Charter Oak State University, Southwestern Theological Seminary, the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in music education from Boston University. His research focused on the beliefs and opinions of highly successful choir directors concerning the teaching and learning of sight singing.
While studying at the University of Houston, he was assigned teaching and conducting responsibilities with the University's Men’s Chorus and Chamber Singers. He also assisted in the preparation of the Houston Symphony Chorus in critically acclaimed performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem, and Berlioz’ Requiem.
In January of 2003, Sanders attended the International Conducting Workshop in Macon, Georgia where he conducted the Macon Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven's Egmont Overture and portions of Mozart's Requiem and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony from memory. Maestro Adrian Gnam said, "Ronnie's [conducting] skill goes far beyond his technical abilities - he's an interpreter."
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Ronnie Sanders’ passion for the arts is communicated through his baton each time he leads an ensemble. “Ronnie Sanders brings something unique to the podium when he conducts,” says Dr. Charles Hausmann, Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston, "he not only brings musical talent but he also brings energy and this leads to enthusiasm in his choirs.”
“Conductors do not conduct notes,” Sanders says, “they conduct people. People respond positively or negatively to a conductor [as a person] well before he or she picks up a baton. I cannot stand boring rehearsals; so I try not to be boring!”
Texas Supreme Court Justice Judge Rose Spector (left) administers the official Oath of Office to Commissioner Ronnie Sanders, as wife Nancy hold the Bible.
In 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Mr. Sanders to serve on the Texas Commission on the Arts. Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte wrote, "Ronnie Sanders' record speaks volumes about his competence and commitment to strengthening the bridge between arts, education and economic development." State Representative, Trey Martinez Fischer told Governor Rick Perry that, "[Sanders'] education, experience and passion for the arts make him an exceptional commissioner."
His ability to recruit people in his ensembles over the years is nothing less than remarkable. In May of 2004, the Corpus Christi Chorale had 34 singers in the last concert before Sanders took over the reins. Using an aggressive publicity campaign that involved letters, television and radio appearances, interviews, posters and word of mouth - the Corpus Christi Chorale saw an incredible 107 auditioned singers at Ronnie's first rehearsal. In May of 2005, the Chorale's membership list exceeded 160 singers!
Singers and players under Sanders' leadership often comment about the difference they experience when performing with him. "The number of people [who attended the concert] speaks volumes about the enthusiasm that Chorale members have for the artistry, creativity and vitality of [Ronnie Sanders]. [His] energy and enthusiasm are infectious" The Corpus Christi Caller Times.
After directing the San Antonio Independent School District Treble Honor Choir, Carol A. Scarbrough, Choir Director at Page Middle School commented, "Dr. Sanders has an easy going but direct way of conducting that the students respond well to. While they found his examples humorous, they were able to make corrections with their tone production and how they performed their pieces."
Joyce Sullivan, Randolph Secondary Choir Director noted that, "Ronnie Sanders is an excellent musician, vocalist, conductor, and 'people person'. My middle school students have attended a Region 12 Choral clinic hosted and directed by Dr. Sanders for the last three years. His warm ups are fun, versatile, and he keeps the students interested and participating. Every year I have had students who attended the workshop make the various Region Choirs. Dr. Sanders models good singing posture, good vocal production, good diction, all while having a good time with smiles and humor."
“Dr. Sanders works very well with middle school students,” says Antoinette Harris, Choral Director at Wagner High School in the Judson Independent School District. "He volunteered to clinic my boy’s choir right before they went to their UIL Contest and Sight-Reading Competition. Dr. Sanders was able to give them that final 'finesse' that I could not achieve with them [and brought] out a beautiful sound that I had never heard before."
“When Ronnie is conducting,” says soprano Danica Dawn, “somehow he makes you sing with more intensity and focus.” Opera coach Dr. Roger Keele observes that, "Ronnie just simply has a presence when he conducts; I can't really explain it but I've seen it - I know it 's there."
University of Houston baritone Eben Geer says of Sanders, "He has a phenomenal ear; he can hear everything in the rehearsal - and when something is wrong he knows exactly how to fix it."
“I love watching Ronnie Sanders conduct,” says Mary Walker who sings with the Corpus Christi Chorale, “It is pure poetry. The way he takes a baton and coaxes an orchestra to full voice is magical in my eyes. His masterful use of his baton is a joy to behold. But, to me, it is when he lays the baton aside that the creative art is fully realized and its sheer beauty emerges.
"Using just his hands, with every subtle gesture and nuance, his fingers mold, create and sculpt that most basic of the elements – Air. He combines the art forms of sculpture and painting, for he paints the air with every motion, to create yet another art form: music. Ronnie Sanders doesn’t just conduct - he creates Music."
Patricia Furley, Principal Harpist with the Corpus Christi Symphony says Sanders is a very gifted musician. "I played three concerts with him. His rehearsals are well run and this makes the concerts very secure. I was most impressed that he memorized all of his music and gave wonderful cues. Being a harpist, this is how I judge a good conductor."
Robert Floyd, Executive Director of the Texas Music Educators Association and Sanders prior to the Grammy Award night, May 10, 2010.
As an educator, Sanders brings the same kind of enthusiasm from the podium into the classroom. He knows how to build teamwork, self-esteem and a tremendous sense of accomplishment and he strives to build these qualities in every ensemble.
His class syllabus sums up Sanders’ thoughts about what kind of level of dedication he expects from each person in his ensemble:
“The Thomas Jefferson High School Chorale has distinguished itself as a performing choir of excellence! Each member’s contribution must add to that pursuit of excellence. Each of you will be held to a high standard of music with rigid and exhausting rehearsals - but this is what it takes to be the best! When we cannot achieve perfection, we can be satisfied with excellence.”
Commissioner Sanders is a conductor with a purpose - whether he is conducting a full symphony orchestra, a great choral masterpiece or a simple hymn of faith, Sanders delivers sensitive, musical artistry fueled by his passion to communicate excellence in education through the arts.
Dr. Sanders is in demand as a Region Choir clinician, UIL adjudicator and is available for conducting engagements, commissions, conferences and workshops. For more information or for booking details please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.