Claude Westfall Presented Luther T. Spayde Award

Claude WestfallClaude Westfall has been making an encouraging and progressive impact on Central Methodist University vocal students since he first joined the University in 2008.

Friday, July 20, he was honored for his expertise and talents with an impressive award.

Westfall, director of choral activities and associate professor of music at CMU, was given the Luther T. Spayde Award of Excellence during the Missouri Choral Directors Association (MCDA) 40th Annual Conference at Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.

This prestigious award is presented annually to one outstanding member of MCDA who demonstrates excellence by choral music training, performance, and scholarship, and who also displays a long-standing commitment to choral music in Missouri, positive communication with colleagues, and active participation through service and leadership in MCDA.

“Winning this award as a professor at the same university where Luther T. Spayde taught is beyond humbling. Professor Spayde basically started the MCDA and his legacy is known across the state,” Westfall said. “I am incredibly honored to be the recipient. There are so many worthy teachers and I accepted this award with all of them in mind.”

Since joining Central Methodist, Westfall has enhanced CMU’s choir, the Chorale – broadening its repertoire and challenging the range and passion of the students who comprise it.

For the first time since 1984, the Chorale was recently honored with a prestigious invitation to perform at the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) Conference. They also were invited to the National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Convention as one of six choirs in Missouri to sing for the 40th anniversary celebration of the Robert Ray Gospel Mass.

Over the last few years, the choir has sung at impressive locations such as the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., the Nashville Symphony, and many United Methodist churches across the nation.

Along with directing the Chorale at CMU, Westfall teaches academic music education courses including Elementary Music Education, Guitar Class, Choral Conducting, Choral Literature, and Choral Techniques.

Westfall is a Centralia native. He has nearly 42 years of experience teaching music. His ensembles have performed at state and national conventions, and have traveled extensively, performing in Germany, Austria, and Italy.

In addition to the Luther T. Spayde Award, Westfall has been the recipient of many honors over the years. In 1997, he received the John Schnell Faculty Dedication Award. In 1998, he was given "USA Today's" All Teacher Academic Award for contributions to the advancement of Music Education. He received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Missouri State University in 2005, and in 2006 and 2007, he was recognized for his excellence in teaching at the University of Missouri.

Westfall is active as a clinician and conductor for district and regional choirs. His co-authored research has appeared in the "MENC Journal of Research in Music Education."

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