Chester L. Alwes (b. 1947) holds degrees in music from Hanover College (BA), Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music (MSM), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (DMA). Prior to joining the University of Illinois faculty in 1982, he held teaching positions at the College of Wooster (Ohio) and the University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music. At the University of Illinois, Dr. Alwes has taught graduate courses in choral literature (both MM and DMA) and seminars on the works of J. S Bach and Henry Purcell as well as graduate and undergraduate conducting. For twenty-seven years he conducted the Concert Choir (1982-2009), taking over the Women's Glee Club for the final two years of his tenure. In addition, he was a frequent conductor of the University's Oratorio Society and Summer Chorus and the Illinois Summer Youth Music Senior Chorus. Professor Alwes also was the chorus master for a number of productions by the Illinois Opera Theater (including cameos in several operas).
In 1996, he founded the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana (BACH), an ensemble of singers and players drawn from the University and local community that specializes in the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. As a choral conductor, Dr. Alwes is known for his innovative programming, his sensitivity to tone and musical line, and his dedication to the musical success and growth of his singers. Throughout his career, Alwes has been widely hailed as a teacher/mentor, scholar, editor, and composer.
He is currently awaiting the publication of his long-anticipated text, A History of Western Choral Music by Oxford University Press (Fall, 2011). He also is the author of Handel's Messiah: the Complete Solo Variants (Roger Dean Music, 2009) and has contributed a chapter on nineteenth-century choral music to the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Choral Music, edited by Andre De Quadros.
Hanover (IN) College: BA in Music (Vocal Performance/Musicology), 1969. Departmental Honors in Music
Union Theological Seminary, School of Sacred Music: Master of Sacred Music in Choral Conducting, cum Laude, 1971
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting and Literature, 1982
1973-1977: Instructor in Music, The College of Wooster (OH)
1980-1982: Assistant Professor, University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY
1982-1985: Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1985-August 2011: Associate Professor of Music (tenured), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Honors, Recognitions and Outstanding Achievements
1978-1979: Graduate College Fellowship, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1982: Recipient of the Julius Herford Dissertation Prize (awarded by the American Choral Directors Association for "the dissertation written in 1982 which has done the most to advance the choral art.")
1985: Co-Chair of the 30th International Heinrich Schütz Festival (held in Urbana under the joint auspices of the International Heinrich Schütz Society, the American Musicological Society and the International Federation for Choral Music)
1989: Hanover College Distinguished Alumnus Award
1995: Program Consultant for the Festival in Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Death of Henry Purcell (Urbana, IL)
2000: Graduate College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students"
2002: Recognition for 20 years of "teaching, conducting and scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign" presented by students, alumni and friends
2004: Recipient of the Harold A. Decker Award, given by Illinois State Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association in Recognition of a Lifetime Devoted to Choral Music in Illinois
2008: Thesis by advisee Margot Rejskind awarded the Nicholas Temperley Dissertation Prize