Director of Choral Studies
Office: School of Music, Room 114
Phone: (920) 427-6929
Director of Choral Studies at Texas Tech University, Richard Bjella has distinguished himself as a conductor, clinician, choral pedagogue and choral arranger. In 2014 Bjella was appointed Artistic Director of the San Antonio Chamber Choir, the only professional choir in the San Antonio area. Previous to his appointment as Full Professor at TTU, Bjella served as the Director of Choral Studies at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music for 25 years, leading the Concert Choir in an acclaimed performance at the 2009 National ACDA Convention. The Texas Tech University Choir has been recognized for its excellence most recently in Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall, at the 2012 and 2016 TMEA conventions, and at the 2013 ACDA National Convention in Dallas.
His choral graduate students have gone on to achieve success at LSU; Texas A & M; Southeast Missouri State University; The Ohio State University; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of Alabama, Huntsville; Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusettes; and Henderson State University in Arkansas. Bjella’s graduate conductors also received finalist recognition in conducting competitions at two of the most recent National ACDA Conventions and one was awarded the Julius Herford Dissertation Prize.
Bjella has presented workshops at several ACDA and regional conventions, has been Artist in Residence at Westminster Choir College, Iowa State University, Southwest Missouri State University, and the University of Delaware. He has been a headliner for countless events from Alaska to Florida for teachers and students alike. It has also been his honor to conduct and present masterclasses outside the United States in Medellín, COLUMBIA; Leogane, HAITI; Seoul, KOREA; Vilnius, LITHUANIA; Paris, FRANCE, Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC; Lucerne, SWITZERLAND, London, ENGLAND and over 400 festivals and workshops in 32 states including several appearances at Lincoln Center, Orchestra Hall, and Carnegie Hall. Next season he will be conducting upcoming All-State choirs in Florida, Nebraska, and Texas.
An active choral arranger, Bjella’s settings have been performed in over 35 states, and in several countries around the world. He is also active in the promotion of creative choral programming and is a contributing writer for the upcoming book (2017 publication),The Oxford Handbook of Choral Pedagogy with his chapter The Art of Successful Programming: Study, Selection, and Synthesis.
Bjella also served as President of the WCDA (Wisconsin) and was awarded the prestigious Lawrence Excellence in Teaching Award (2007) and the Morris Hayes Lifetime Achievement Award (2013) from WCDA. Most recently at TTU, Bjella was the recipient of a 2017 Professing Excellence Award. This award is given to outstanding faculty who go above and beyond, both inside and outside the classroom, to impact students' learning and academic success.