Adult Guest Director 2023

Emily Williams Burch

Dr. Emily Williams Burch began teaching in 2007, including directing community choirs, teaching in public schools, training in professional development settings, and as a professor at the university level. Currently the Coordinator of Music Education and Professor at the University of South Carolina, Aiken, Dr. Burch is also the Founder/Artistic Director of RISE Chorales (LLC) and RISE Outreach (a 501(c)(3)). Both RISE organizations provide community choirs and music programs to the city of Savannah, GA. On the side, Dr. Burch is an active clinician, adjunct music faculty at Savannah Technical College, choral content creator for QuaverEd, and serves as chair for the ACDA National Standing Committee for Advocacy and Collaboration. A published author, Burch co-wrote “The Business of Choir” in 2022. Catch Dr. Burch on her podcast “Music (ed) Matters” or co-hosting the “Illuminate” podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, or follow her adventures running and pacing marathons at @elevatedrunningandpacing.

Burch holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with doctoral minors in music theory and music history from the University of South Carolina, where she directed the University Women’s Chorus, taught Introduction to Music, and developed a course on the history of rock and roll. With a background in education, including a bachelors in music education from Louisiana State University and a masters in music education from Florida State University, combined with business classes from HBX, Harvard’s online business school, Burch has a passion for exploring and sharing innovative and effective teaching techniques and strategies and making music with choirs of all ages, as heard on her podcast “Music (ed) Matters.”

Dr. Burch has served in various service positions for the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) at the state, regional, national level in a variety of roles, including co-programming chair and honor choir coordinator for the Southern Region ACDA Conferences since 2014. Additionally, she has served as the Southern Region Children’s and Youth Repertoire & Resources Chair and as Youth Coordinator. Currently, Dr. Burch is the chair of the ACDA National Standing Committee for Advocacy and Collaboration.

Choirs under Dr. Burch’s direction have performed regionally, nationally, and internationally including appearances at the Georgia Music Educator’s In-service Conference and the 23rd Anal Concors Internazionale Di Canto Corale, an international choir competition in Verona, Italy, where they received a gold award. That event sparked a passion for travel and the value in cultural exchanges in Dr. Burch which resulted in her being selected to travel to Sweden as part of the International Conductors Exchange Program in 2015.

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