New Choral Director Sets the Bar High

There’s a new choir director at Saint Viator, but he’s no stranger to teaching choral students. Dr. John C. Hughes joined the staff this year, bringing an impressive background that includes leading collegiate and adult choral ensembles as well as teaching.

“I’ve always loved teaching – and inspiring the next generation of singers,” Dr. Hughes says.

He will be directing the Concert Choir, Treble Choir, Music Ministry ensemble, and Chamber Singers, an auditioned group that meets after school.

In addition to teaching at Saint Viator, Dr. Hughes is also the music director of Chicago Master Singers. The acclaimed Barrington-based group is a 90 to100-voice choral ensemble, which has performed major choral works throughout the Chicago area since 1979. Dr. Hughes is its third director, taking over in 2020.

This week is quite busy for him—he begins working with Saint Viator students and held his first in-person rehearsal with the Chicago Master Singers after a year of virtual practices and performances because of the pandemic. 

Before taking over Chicago Master Singers, he served as director of choral activities and ultimately music department chair at Ripon College in Wisconsin. Previously, he led high school choirs in Rochelle and DeKalb, Illinois, as well as church music programs throughout the Midwest.

In the summers, Dr. Hughes leads the Choral Programs at the Green Lake Festival of Music. There, he conducts the Choral Institute and is the founding director of the Composer Residency. Both of these programs draw dedicated singers from across the country. 

Even though he has vast experience of working with adult choral groups and professional musicians, Dr. Hughes says his approach to teaching is the same regardless of level. “I like to think I have a gentle touch – but high expectations for every group,” he says.

Dr. Hughes intends to introduce Saint Viator singers to music from a wide variety of genres, but this much he knows: “I want the students to have a strong foundation in choral music.”

Saint Viator High School

Located in Arlington Heights, IL, Saint Viator High School is a private, co-ed, Catholic school for grades 9-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.