Jennaya Robison

Raymond R. Neevel/Missouri Associate Professor in Choral Music and Director of Choral Studies

Dr. Robison is one of the leading choral directors in North America, and is consistently in demand as a clinician both nationally and internationally. She has presented at ACDA and NATS conferences and is a national leader of choral artistry, pedagogy, and innovation. She has held previous positions at Luther College, the University of Arizona, and the University of New Mexico, and has an active performance career as a soprano soloist and chorister.

Dr. Robison is in demand as a conductor, clinician, and soprano throughout the United States. She has conducted orchestras at the University of Arizona, Luther College, and as well as community orchestras in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. As a public-school educator, she has taught in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

As a soprano, she has sung as a soloist with the Grammy award-winning True Concord, Tucson Symphony, Arizona Opera, Scottsdale Arts Orchestra, Scottsdale Symphony, St. Andrews Bach Society, Phoenix Youth Symphony, Tucson Masterworks Chorale, Rochester Choral Arts, and Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque.

Her primary area of research is in the field of vocal health within the choral ensemble. She has been an invited conductor and clinician at numerous festivals including All State Choirs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, Wisconsin Middle Level Honors Choirs, Texas Collegiate Women’s Honor Choir, Montreat Music Conference Festival Choir and various regional and state honor choirs in Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Arizona, Master of Music in conducting and voice from the University of New Mexico, and Bachelor of Arts in music from Luther College. She is the coordinator of Collegiate Repertoire and Standards and director of Student Activities for the North Central chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. Her choral series is published with Pavane Music.


Charles Robinson

Professor of Choral Music Education, Choral Music 

Charles Robinson is professor of choral music and music education at the UMKC Conservatory, where he conducts the Conservatory Concert Choir, supervises graduate research, and teaches choral/vocal pedagogy and methods, choral conducting, and graduate courses in music education. Robinson earned undergraduate and doctoral degrees in choral music education from Florida State University and a master’s degree in choral music from California State University, Long Beach. For many years, he taught choral and general music in middle schools and high schools in Florida, and has worked with singers of all ages, including children and senior citizens. Robinson is an active conductor/clinician for honor choruses throughout the United States and a frequent presenter of workshops for music educators. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, he has served as Southwestern Division chair for Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives, College and University Choirs, and Research, and he has served as president of the Missouri Choral Directors Association.

Robinson’s music research has focused on choral performance evaluation, music preference, choral conducting, and inclusion in music settings, and has been presented and published at regional, national, and international levels. Robinson is a past editor of the Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education and currently serves on its editorial review board. He is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society, and is a recipient of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Excellence in Teaching Award (1991 and 1999) and the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Excellence in Faculty Service Award (2006 and 2013) from the UMKC Conservatory. The Missouri Choral Directors Association presented Robinson with the 2000 Luther T. Spayde Award of Excellence for significant contributions to choral music in Missouri.


Graduate Students


Gabe Lewis-O’Connor

Gabe Lewis-O’Connor recently returned to the Midwest from Seattle, Washington, where he was an active singer, conductor, and choral clinician. Currently a doctoral student in choral conducting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with Dr. Jennaya Robison, Gabe received his master’s degree from the same institution, studying with Dr. Robert Bode. Prior to graduate school, Gabe sang for four years with the professional vocal ensemble Chanticleer. When not making music with others, Gabe tries to spend as much time outside as possible around his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas with his wife Lauren, fishing-obsessed 9 year-old son Eamon, and fiery 7 year-old daughter Celia.


Matheus Cruz Paes de Almeida

Matheus Cruz Paes de Almeida, perspective-doctoral student in Music at the University of Missouri (UMKC), Kansas-City campus, completed his Masters in Music at the University of Missouri (MIZZOU), Columbia campus under the guidance of Dr. Crabb where he works as assistant conductor. In 2018, Cruz completed his studies in English and music at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) where he participated as a tenor in the concert choir. Matheus completed a postgraduate course in choral conducting at the State University of Londrina-Pr (UEL-BR) and a degree in Music Education at the State University of Maringá-Pr (UEM-BR). He had his article on choral singing published in the magazine of Associação Brasileira de Educação Musical (ABEM) edition 2014 and the magazine Musica Hodie edition 2016. In recent years he has dedicated himself to the study of conducting singing, participated in festivals throughout Brazil. His last works were with children’s, youth, adult and senior choirs, at the Cascavel Music Festival (2016–20), and at In Concert in Pato Bragado (2017–20).


Alex Piazza

A native Kansan, Alex is in his first year as a master’s student in choral conducting at UMKC where he helps lead Conservatory Concert Choir and University Singers. Alex received a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Kansas in 2013 and comes to UMKC with seven years of public school experience, having taught vocal music at Jardine Middle School (Wichita, KS) and El Dorado Middle and High School (El Dorado, KS). Dedicated to working with young and developing singers, Alex earned his Level III Kodály Certification from Wichita State University and has served as Assistant Director of the Newton Community Children’s Choir and guest clinician for Bethany College’s annual Real Men Sing.

Kellyn Button

Kellyn is a native of the Kansas City metro, graduating from Shawnee Mission East in 2012 and then obtaining her BME from Kansas State University in 2016. She taught in the Fort Osage School District at Osage Trail Middle School for three years before beginning work on her Masters of Music in Choral Conducting in the fall of 2020. She is an alumnus of Allegro Choirs of Kansas City and has been on staff with the organization for four years. She also sings with KC VITAs Chamber Choir, a new music ensemble. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, dog, and cat at their home in Merriam, KS.