Meet our Music Director
In 2020, Chicago Master Singers welcomed Music Director John C. Hughes, D.M.A. He is the third Music Director of CMS since its founding in 1979, following in the steps of Thomas Wikman and Alan Heatherington. His expertise in choral music, conducting, music history, and music education is extensive and he is proud to continue CMS's long tradition of presenting the best in choral music.
Hughes enjoys a multifaceted career as a professional conductor based in Chicago. In addition to serving as CMS Music Director, he is also the Director of Choral Programs at the Green Lake Festival of Music in Wisconsin, where he conducts the annual Choral Institute and is the founding conductor of the Composer Residency. He also frequently serves as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator.
Hughes is dedicated to performing a wide variety of repertoire, ranging from choral-orchestral masterworks to world premieres. He is recognized as an expert in pre-1600 Lutheran music, specifically Leonhard Lechner’s 1593 Passion setting, and also serves as a strong advocate for living composers. He has commissioned new works from Elaine Hagenberg and Dale Trumbore, and has premiered additional pieces by Tim Blickhan and Wayland Rogers. Since the Green Lake Composer Residency’s inception in 2018, he has collaborated with Ola Gjeilo, Shawn Kirchner, Morten Lauridsen, and Elaine Hagenberg.
Accompanying his busy performance schedule, Hughes is passionate about choral literature and scholarship. He has authored peer-reviewed articles in the Choral Journal, The Choral Scholar, and The Diapason, as well as numerous reviews of choral music, books, and recordings. For several years, he hosted Choir Chat, a weekly podcast of interviews with conductors and composers.
Prior to joining CMS, Hughes taught at Ripon College, where he served as Director of Choral Activities and chaired the Music Department. He also has experience as a church musician and a K-12 music teacher.
Hughes earned his undergraduate degree from Augustana College, M.M. from Northern Illinois University, and D.M.A. from the University of Iowa. He is grateful to his teachers Timothy Stalter, Eric Johnson, Jon Hurty, and Michael Zemek.
For more information, please visit his website: www.johnchughes.com.