Westminster Choir College welcomes new faculty


Westminster Choir College began the 2018-2019 academic year with three new full-time faculty members: Susan Shiplett Ashbaker, Sangmi Kang and Jason Vodicka.

Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Westminster Opera Theatre Susan Shiplett Ashbaker has more than 30 years of experience in the performing arts.  She is active in the opera and vocal world as an artistic advisor/consultant, master class presenter, lecturer, and an opera/vocal coach.  Her experience on both sides of the opera industry gives her a rare and comprehensive approach to the key elements of career advancement for singers as well as a unique vantage point in the administration of opera companies, arts organizations and institutions of higher learning.

Ms. Ashbaker is also artistic director for Tri-Cities Opera, and she was affiliated with the Opera Company of Philadelphia for 16 years, the last 11 as director of artistic and music administration, leading the casting practices and reestablishing the company as a pioneer in identifying and offering opportunities to young singers before they achieved national or international recognition.  She has also served as artistic advisor and master vocal coach for The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College since its inception in 2005.

Assistant Professor of Music Education Sangmi Kang joins the Westminster faculty after teaching music education courses at the University of Florida as well as pre-K to 12th grade general music in South Korea and the United States.  Dr. Kang’s research interests include world music pedagogy, intercultural approaches in music education, technology for music learning and creativity in music composition. She has written articles for Journal of Research in Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, Psychology of Music, Music Educators Journal, General Music Today, and Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. She has also presented her work at international, national and regional conferences, such as the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference, the International Symposium on Assessment in Music Education (ISAME), the Asian-Pacific Symposium for Music Education Research (APSMER), the Society for Music Teacher Education (SMTE) conference, American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference, and the Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA) conference.  She is a pianist and a professional performer on the Gayageum, a traditional Korean stringed instrument.

Assistant Professor of Music Education Jason Vodicka is also music director of the Harrisburg Choral Society and Orchestra, a community ensemble founded in 1895. Prior to his appointment at Westminster, Dr. Vodicka was coordinator of music education at Susquehanna University, where he taught undergraduate courses in music education, conducted the University Chorale and founded the Susquehanna University High School Choral Institute, now in its fifth year.  For nine years, Dr. Vodicka was a vocal music instructor at Pennsbury High School in Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Vodicka is in frequent demand as a clinician, and he has conducted Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District and Regional choruses, the Dauphin County Music Educators Association Honors Chorus, the Central Dauphin Honors Chorus, the West Shore High School Honors Chorus, and the American Choral Directors Association of Pa.- endorsed “Vocal Thunder” workshop for young male singers. He has presented research and professional development sessions at state, regional, and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education, and for school districts across the Northeast.  He has contributed to the books Planning Instruction in Music by Frank Abrahams and Ryan John, the Oxford Handbook of Choral Pedagogy, and James Jordan’s Inside the Choral Rehearsal: A Harmonically Based Application of the Music Learning Theory of Edwin Gordon.