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William Dehning

William Dehning was Chairman of the Choral Music Department in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California since 1992-2007. An award-winning ensemble under Dehning’s direction, the USC Thornton Chamber Choir, won three prizes at the 1999 Gyorgi Dmitrov Choral Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, including Best Conductor and the Grand Prize. They won four prizes at the 2001 Florilege Vocal in Tours, France, including a shared prize for Best Renaissance Performance and the Grand Prize. The ensemble was a Finalist at the competition for the 2000 European Grand Prize of Choral Singing, held in Spain, and is a Finalist for that competition to be held in June, 2003, in France. In 1994 they were among five choruses worldwide selected to perform at the biennial World Choral Festival in Seoul, Korea. They also performed at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Western Division Conventions in 1996, 2000 and 2004, as well as at National Conventions in 1997, 2001 and 2005, where they received standing ovations. In 1997 the ensemble toured Poland under the auspices of the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, and toured East Asia in 2006, with concerts in Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul. In addition to its concert and touring schedule, the ensemble frequently appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, conducted by Helmuth Rilling and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Dehning received the first annual Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003, and in 2007 received the Thornton School highest honor, the Ramo Music Faculty Award.

As guest conductor in Europe and Asia, Dehning has had engagements with the Karlovy Vary Symphony in the Czech Republic, as well as the professional Bucheon City Chorus and National Chorus of Korea, where he has also given week-long conducting master classes. For ten years, he was the founder-conductor of the California Choral Company, a chamber chorus of professional calibre that acquired a reputation as an excellent and innovative ensemble in Europe as well as the United States. Their performance was one of the highlights of the ACDA national convention in 1991. 

Prior to his appointment at USC, he was Director of Choirs at the University of the Pacific for twenty years, where he was recipient of the university’s Distinguished Professor Award and its Commencement speaker in 1991. He earned his doctorate from USC with highest honors in 1971. He has done post-doctoral studies in England and Germany, and has lectured at Munich’s Hochschule für Musik. 

Dehning enjoys a reputation as one of today’s more evocative, musical and versatile choral conductors, as well as a master teacher. He is noted on three continents for the profound sense of integrity and balance he brings to the craft, the musical score and the student.

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