Singing in Prescott

Yavapai College gets new master chorale Director; Yavapai Youth Choirs expands for upcoming season

Darrell Rowader is the new director of Yavapai College's Master Chorale.

Courtesy photo

Darrell Rowader is the new director of Yavapai College's Master Chorale.

Darrell Rowader is Yavapai College’s new master chorale director — again.

Master chorale is an advanced singing group. It typically consists of about 45 members and includes full-time YC students, members of the community and, occasionally, some talented high school students, said Craig Ralston, the college’s dean of arts and humanities. Membership is determined through auditioning.

The program has had several directors in recent years.

Rowader had been the director from 2006 to 2012, when he was laid off from the position following a change of leadership within the music department.

“[The new dean at the time] felt it necessary to change personnel throughout the whole department, as anybody can and would do sometimes when they come in,” Rowader said.

Since then, Ralston took over leadership of the department and two master chorale directors have come and gone.

“One started a different group and the second moved to Phoenix,” Ralston said.

The position was then temporarily filled by Yavapai College employee Arlene Hardy while the college searched for a new director this last spring. Rowader was the first candidate Ralston reached out to.

“We’re delighted to have him back on board,” Ralston said. “He’s just a very enthusiastic visionary musician and he’s exactly what we need at Yavapai College to take those next steps.”

Rowader has had extensive experience as both a performer and a conductor.

After a somewhat sporadic opera career, he began teaching regularly in the mid-1990s.

Since leaving the YC master chorale position in 2012, he has taken on the responsibility of choir director at Solid Rock Christian Fellowship Church in Prescott and has done some acting and singing locally as well as out of state.

Rowader will begin his comeback to the master chorale position in August. Enrollment for the program will be open until the first day of class on Aug. 21. Auditions for the chorale will take place at the college on Aug. 17.

Yavapai Youth Choirs

Yavapai Youth Choirs (YYC) has expanded its services as it prepares to enter its third season.

At its inception in 2015, the tuition-based organization offered two choirs for girls ages 12 to 18.

Starting this August, there will now be a third choir for both girls and boys ages 9 to 11.

Arlene Hardy and Amy Van Winkle founded the organization with the help of Yavapai College.

“The community really needed something for our youth that gave them an additional educational outlet that’s a little more in-depth in the music education part of it,” Hardy said.

Van Winkle is currently on sabbatical. To fill the gap and manage the additional choir, Hardy has brought on two new staff members, Scott Neese and Michelle Grubert.

Neese, an adjunct professor at Yavapai College, will take over as the new music education specialist.

Grubert will be directing the 9-to 11-year-old choir.

To schedule an audition for their children, parents must contact Lorrie Vodika at 928-776-2045 or While tuition-based, the organization does offer scholarships to those in need of financial assistance.