After a national search and audition process, Gregg Mauroni has been appointed as the artistic director and conductor of Penn State’s Essence of Joy.
Mauroni is a longtime resident of central Pennsylvania. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Penn State and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in residence on the University Park campus. His graduate research delves into the possibilities for life-long music-making.
He currently serves as artistic director and conductor of Voices of the Valley, the renamed Lebanon Valley College Alumni Chorale, and assistant conductor of Monumental AME Church in Steelton, PA. Prior to those appointments, he enjoyed tenures as a high school choral director at Roxbury High School in Succasunna, NJ and Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg, PA. In addition, Mauroni has served as music director for Theatre Harrisburg and Open Stage of Harrisburg.
He has been an invited accompanist for the New Jersey All-State Chorus, Harrisburg Singers, Susquehanna Youth Chorale, and PMEA Songfest with conductor Nick Page. In addition, Mauroni is a sought-after choral clinician and is a commissioned arranger for several ensembles, including the award-winning gospel choir, “Urbane.”
Mauroni was a member of Essence of Joy as an undergraduate student, and served as assistant director of the ensemble in 2017-18.
Retiring artistic director Anthony T. Leach said of Mauroni’s appointment,
“I have absolutely no doubt that (Gregg) will take the ensemble forward positively as they chart new directions. This also comes at the right time for him as he begins to wrap up degree requirements and seriously considers the next phase of professional development in choral music and music education.”
Created in 1991, Essence of Joy sings sacred and secular music from the African and African American choral traditions. Annual University Park events include fall and spring concerts, as well as the "African American Music Festival" (February) and "Our Gift in Song" (December). The choir also regularly collaborates with other Penn State ensembles, including a performance of the Leonard Bernstein Mass in 2013. Involving undergraduate and graduate students from all academic programs at Penn State, Essence of Joy has performed throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, and Illinois. The choir has been invited to perform for conferences of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (1995, 1997, 2003), the eastern division of the Music Educators National Conference (1997, 2003), the eastern division of the American Choral Directors Association (2002, 2006, 2014, 2017), the national American Choral Directors Association (1999, 2003, 2005, 2011), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (2000). In addition, they have presented concerts at the Schomburg Museum of Black American Culture in New York City (1998, 1999, 2001). The choir has released four compact discs: "The Soul and Spirit of Essence" (1998), "Essence 'Live'" (2000), "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and "The Light" (2003). The choir made its first European tour in 2001 with concert performances in Poland and the Czech Republic. Recent tours have taken Essence of Joy members to South Africa, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Canada, Spain, and France.