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Faculty Members

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Betsy Cook Weber

Madison Endowed Professor of Music

Director of Choral Studies

Director Emeritus, Houston Symphony Chorus

Courses Taught: Concert Chorale, Graduate Conducting Lessons, Graduate Choral Conducting Seminar, Undergraduate Conducting

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Betsy Cook Weber (Choral Conducting, Division Head) is active internationally as a conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer. In the summer of 2013, Weber became the thirteenth person and first woman to receive the Texas Choral Director Association's coveted Texas Choirmaster Award. She is editor of the Betsy Cook Weber Choral Series with Alliance Music Publishing.


Weber also served for eight seasons as Director of the Houston Symphony Chorus, during which time she prepared choral-orchestral masterworks for some of the world's greatest conductors, including Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Christoph Eschenbach, Juraj Valcuha, Jane Glover, and Nicholas McGegan, among many others. 


Choirs under Weber's direction, including the Moores School Concert Chorale, have been featured at multiple state (TMEA 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2017) and national conventions, including the American Choral Directors Association national convention in Miami in 2007 and Minneapolis in 2017. Concert Chorale was also a featured choir at the national convention of the National Collegiate Choral Organization in the fall of 2017. Internationally, Weber has led Chorale to top prizes and acclaim at prestigious competitions in Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, and the Netherlands. Concert Chorale looks forward to collaborating with the Grammy-Winning Houston Chamber Choir this fall..  


Weber has prepared singers for Da Camera, for early music orchestras Ars Lyrica and Mercury Houston, and is also routinely called upon to prepare singers for touring shows, including Josh Groban, NBC's Clash of the Choirs, Telemundo's Latin Grammys, Star Wars in Concert, Andreas Bocelli, Legends of Zelda, It's a Wonderful World, Dreamworks, and Final Fantasy.


Before coming to the University of Houston, Weber taught vocal music (K-12) in public schools. She holds degrees from the University of North Texas, Westminster Choir College, and the University of Houston.

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Alex Koppel
Visiting Assistant Professor of Choral Music
Courses Taught: Resonance, Soundscape, Rehearsal Techniques, Graduate Conducting Lessons, Graduate Choral Conducting Seminar
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A native of the central coast of California, Alex Koppel is the Visiting Professor of Choral Music at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. Alex holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from San Jose State University and has completed coursework towards the Doctor of Music in Choral Conducting at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Alex’s undergraduate studies were completed at California State University Fullerton in Music Education with a vocal emphasis.  


Known for his inclusive pedagogy and community-oriented process, Alex has been a part of numerous award-winning programs. His ensembles have received national acclaim, regularly receiving unanimous superiors at national adjudications and festivals. Recent conducting engagements include Beethoven’s Mass in C, Haydn’s Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, Faure’s Requiem, and concertizing the program To the Stars – a collaboration with the IU Five Friends artist Dr. Lynne Morrow. As an Associate Conductor for the Jacobs School of Music, Alex prepared works including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Poulenc’s Gloria, and the world premiere of Shulamit Ran’s opera Anne Frank. Alex is also an accomplished high school educator, previously serving as the Director of Music at Kirby Preparatory School, being on staff at the renowned Arrowbear Music Camp in Southern California, and being an in-demand adjudicator and festival conductor.  


Alex is passionate about creating collaborative and supportive experiences in his choirs, and his graduate research has centered around applying these concepts. He has prepared presentations on these topics for regional choral education conferences. His dissertation (forthcoming) focuses on contextualizing Beethoven’s Mass in C in in the lineage of the choral orchestral canon, as well as a conductor's guide and analysis.  


Alex has studied conducting, piano, and music pedagogy with greats including Betsy Burleigh, Dominick DiOrio, Walter Huff, Cheryl Anderson, Chris Peterson, and Robert Istad. He has performed under the baton of artists such as Eric Whitacre, Thomas Wilkins, Arthur Fagen, John Williams, Michael Tilson Thomas, Carl StClaire, and Gustavo Dudamel, as well as performing on stage with Josh Groban, Deborah Voigt, and Andrea Bocelli.  

Franco Basili
Doctoral Teaching Fellow
Courses Taught: University Chorus

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Franco Basili is a second-year DMA student in Choral Conducting at the University of Houston under the instruction of Dr. Betsy Cook Weber and Dr. Jeb Mueller. Originally from Tandil, Argentina, Franco is a choral director, pianist, and singer. Before moving to the United States, Franco worked as Artistic Director of the Chamber Choir of the National University of Mar del Plata, Director of Laprida’s Children Choir, and Conductor Assistant of the Coro Estable de Tandil. He also taught Choral Singing, Music History, and Choral Literature at the Conservatorio de Música “Isaías Orbe” in Tandil and was committed to educating younger generations by teaching Choral Singing and Aural Skills at middle and high school levels.

Franco completed his Master of Music in Choral Pedagogy at Carthage College under the tutelage of Rick Bjella and Dr. Eduardo García-Novelli, and his Bachelor's degrees in Choral Conducting and Piano Pedagogy at the Conservatorio de Música “Isaías Orbe” (Tandil, Argentina) under the tutelage of Pablo Banchi and Miguel Ángel Pesce. 

As a singer, Franco has performed multiple times in high-level choral projects in Buenos Aires, joined the Coro Nacional del Bicentenario in 2014, and was selected to represent Argentina in the World Youth Choir in the summer sessions of 2016 and 2018, respectively. In the US, he sang with and was the student conductor of the award-winning Carthage Choir and joined the choir of “La Fille de Regiment” at the Kenosha Opera festival in the summer of 2021. 

Kaitlin DeSpain

Senior Doctoral Teaching Assistant

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Kaitlin DeSpain enjoys a varied career as an educator, conductor, performer, and clinician. As an educator, Kaitlin has served as the Choral Director at middle schools and high schools throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, and Texas, where she has directed concert choirs, pop choirs, and taught courses in music history, music theory, and piano. Kaitlin also frequently appears as a clinician and presenter for teachers and music education students. As a conductor, Kaitlin has worked with a wide variety of ensembles including the University of Houston University Chorus, University of Houston's Soundscape, the University of Kentucky Chorale, University of Kentucky Women's Choir, the Houston Symphony Chorus, and the Symphony of Southeast Texas Chorus. As a performer, Kaitlin has extensive experience with an array of ensembles including collegiate, community, church, and symphony choirs. Kaitlin has sung with the Marshall University Chamber Choir and University Chorus, the University of Kentucky Chorale and Women's Choir, The Renaissance Singers, The Lexington Singers, the West Virginia Symphony Chorus, the Symphony of Southeast Texas Chorus, the Houston Symphony Chorus, and most recently with the University of Houston Concert Chorale. 

Kaitlin DeSpain is beginning her second year of doctoral studies at the University of Houston studying with Dr. Betsy Cook Weber and Dr. Jeb Mueller. She received her Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Kentucky under the tutelage of Dr. Jefferson Johnson and Dr. Lori Hetzel and her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Marshall University.


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Kirstie Lisk-McCallum
Graduate Teaching Assistant

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Kirstie Lisk-McCallum is a first-year MM student in Choral Conducting at the University of Houston under the instruction of Dr. Betsy Cook Weber and Mr. Koppel. She grew up in Cypress, Texas and has already attended the University of Houston for her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education where she was a recipient of the Terry Foundation Scholarship. At UH, she became the Student Director of Concert Chorale for a semester, and was the director of one of the student-led ensembles, Floreat, for two semesters. After receiving her Bachelor’s, she became the Assistant Director at Langham Creek High School in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. During her four years there, she directed several choirs that performed in the community and received superior and excellent ratings in various competitions and festivals.

As a singer, Kirstie has had the opportunity to sing with University of Houston’s Concert Chorale at TMEA in 2016 and 2017, ACDA and NCCO in 2017, and travel to Hungary for the Bela Bartok International Choral Competition in 2018 where they awarded the Grand Prix prize. She is currently a staff singer at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston, and she has sung with Cantare Houston and Suono Chamber Choir in the Houston area.

Lauren Suchy
Graduate Teaching Assistant

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Lauren Suchy is a second-year MM student in Choral Conducting at the University of Houston under the instruction of Dr. Betsy Cook Weber and Dr. Jeb Mueller. Originally from Northwest Arkansas, she obtained her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Arkansas. Concurrently with her undergraduate studies, she gained experience as the assistant director of the University of Arkansas Children's Choir and the director of the Haas Hall Academy Springdale Choir. She then moved to Kansas City to start her career as the head choral director at Bonner Springs High School. During her four years there, she directed several choirs and taught a music appreciation course. Her choirs performed locally in the community frequently and received superior ratings at statewide competitions.


As a performer, Lauren has sung with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas Singers, the University of Arkansas Schola Cantorum, the University of Arkansas Inspirational Chorale, the University of Arkansas Chamber Choir, and the University of Arkansas Women's Chorus. Additionally, she was selected to perform in the American Choral Directors Association National Collegiate Honor Choir in 2017 as well as the Arkansas Choral Directors Association Collegiate Honor Choir in 2016. 

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