Past Music Directors
Fall 2008 - Spring 2010 and Fall 2013 - Spring 2022
Jean-Marie Kent served as music director of Magnolia Chorale for a total of 11 years —from Fall 2008 through Spring 2010 and from Fall 2013 through Spring 2022. Those last few years included developing programs to be conducted over Zoom during the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2022 Jean-Marie was appointed Artistic Director of the Seattle Children’s Chorus and continues as the choir teacher at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. She completed her doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Washington, specializing in collaboration and community engagement. Recognized for her ability to get to the heart of singing, she is frequently sought after as a clinician for high school and community choirs. Before moving to Seattle, she taught music on Vancouver Island and in New York where she developed public school music programs for gifted children. She has conducted orchestras and choirs, including the University of Regina Chamber Singers, UW Women's Choir, Nanaimo Symphony Orchestra, and the Victoria Civic Orchestra.
Fall 2010 - Spring 2013
Julia Tai directed Magnolia Chorale from Fall 2010 through Spring 2013. She went on to become Music Director of Philharmonia Northwest and the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, and Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra. Previously she was the associate conductor of the Rainier Symphony, and the music director of the Concert Singers, Melodia Sinica Chorale, and the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, California. She was a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and collaborated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic frequently. Julia has conducted professional and youth orchestras around the world, including the American Youth Symphony, the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, and the Estonian National Youth Symphony, as well as made many guest conducting appearances. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Julia studied violin, piano, and voice from a young age, earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Arts Performance and Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she earned the departmental award of “Outstanding Graduate of 2004.” She earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Washington.
Fall 2007 - Spring 2008
Heather MacLaughlin Garbes served as the Chorale's music director for the Fall 2007/Spring 2008 concert series. She earned her Doctorate of Music Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of Washington, where she studied with Geoffrey Boers. As one of the teaching assistants for the choral department, she conducted the University Singers and the Summer Chorale. She received her M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington and her BME from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. With a strong interest in Baltic choral music, Heather has helped develop and maintain the Baltic Choral Library at UW, the first of its kind in the United States, and is wrote her dissertation on Estonian composer, Ester Mägi. Heather also has directed numerous musical theater productions at Youth Theatre Northwest, and became Artistic Director and Conductor at the Everett Chorale in 2021.
Spring 2000 - Fall 2006
Charles ("Butch) Zwicki directed the Magnolia Chorale from Spring 2000 through Fall 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Trumpet Performance and a Master of Arts degree in Vocal Performance, with an emphasis on Choral Conducting, from Northwest Missouri State University (now Truman University).
Spring 1997 - Spring 1999
Ron Haight replaced our first director, Don Austin at the podium in Spring 1997 and continued through Spring 1999. Ron was Music Director at the First Free Methodist Church on Queen Anne Hill for many years, where he directed a growing music program featuring choirs, instrumental ensembles, handbells, and drama groups. He is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University, directed the SPU Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and eventually became director of music technology at the school. Ron also served at Assistant Conductor for the Seattle Chamber Singers/Orchestra and has been the tenor soloist and interim Music Director at St Paul's Episcopal Church in Seattle. Previously he spent nine years teaching music in the Northshore School District.
Fall 1989 - Spring 1997, Fall 1999, Fall 2003
Don Austin, founding music director of Magnolia Chorale, directed the group from its inception through Spring 1997. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio in 1962 and a Master of Arts for Teachers degree in Music from the University of Washington, in 1971. Since 1983, Don performed frequently as interim choral director at the Magnolia United Church of Christ. He graciously stepped in to direct the Chorale for the Fall 1999 and the Fall 2003 concert series.