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Cynthia Johnston Turner joins UGA music faculty as director of bands

Cynthia Johnston Turner

Athens, Ga. – Cynthia Johnston Turner, currently director of wind ensembles at Cornell University, has been named new director of bands at the University of Georgia.

Turner succeeds John P. Lynch, who has been director of bands in the university’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music since 2007.

“UGA has one of the strongest, most prestigious band programs in the nation, a result of decades of leadership at the highest level,” said Hodgson School director Dale Monson. “We are extraordinarily fortunate to have secured Dr. Turner, among the most innovative and creative band directors in the country, to take over this position, leading us into our future.”

Turner’s appointment is effective starting fall semester 2014.

“The Hodgson School is a highly focused musical environment with a strong balance between pedagogy and performance, which is extremely attractive and important to me,” Turner said. “I am excited to explore the wealth of band traditions here, from the wind ensemble to the Redcoat Marching Band, an award-winning ensemble in its own right.”

In addition to conducting the UGA Wind Ensemble, Turner will oversee the entire UGA band program and serve as head of graduate wind conducting.

Turner holds bachelor’s degrees in music and education from Queens University and earned her master’s degree in music education and conducting at the University of Victoria. Her doctoral degree in conducting is from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied under Donald Hunsberger, Mark Scatterday, Brad Ludman and Neil Varon.

She has been at Cornell University since 2004 and during that time has been invited to take the Cornell Wind Ensemble to the College Band Directors National Association’s Eastern Division Conference in 2007 and 2012. Since 2006, she has organized biennial trips with the ensemble to Costa Rica, where they perform across the country and lead local conducting and instrumental master classes. They also have donated more than 250 instruments to Costa Rican music schools. She has led tours to inner-city schools in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia and plans to continue her commitment to service-learning at the Hodgson School.

Prior appointments include the University of Rochester and Parkside High School of Dundas, Canada. Turner’s early career included middle school beginning instrumental instruction in Toronto and choral music teaching in Switzerland. In the summer, Turner currently serves as a faculty member at the Performing Arts Institute at Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Seminary and also conducts the Syracuse Society of New Music, the Austrian Festival Orchestra and the Paris Lodron Ensemble in Salzburg.

She is the winner of Canada’s National Leadership in Education Award, the Excellence in Education Award (Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation) and the Marion Drysdale Leadership Among Women Teachers Award, also from OSSTF.

During her time at Cornell, the Merrill Presidential Scholars recognized Turner as an outstanding educator, and she was awarded the Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship in 2009. Her work with ensembles has drawn praise from a wide variety of composers including Steven Stucky, William Kraft, Steven Bryant, Dana Wilson, Roberto Sierra and Karel Husa.

Turner’s conducting invitations include the Provincial Honor Bands of Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, as well as the National Youth Band of Canada, Concordia Santa Fe, the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Kentucky Honor Band, the New Jersey Honor Band, the Latin American Honor Band, San Jose’s National Band of Costa Rica, the National Orchestra of Heredia, the Montclair State Wind Ensemble, SUNY Fredonia Wind Ensemble and numerous state honor bands.

She is an advocate of the 21st-century classroom, having expressed her views on technology in music education in such publications as USA Today and on American Public Media’s Performance Today.

“The incredible number of students, faculty, alumni and local music educators welcoming me to the university has been heartwarming,” Turner said. “It speaks not only to Southern hospitality, but also to the degree of affection and care people have for this school.”

Hugh Hodgson School of Music
The Hugh Hodgson School of Music at UGA is home to approximately 250 graduate and 350 undergraduate students, with 65 world-renowned faculty members. The school offers a broad array of degree programs, sponsors hundreds of hours of community outreach in the Athens area and hosts nearly 350 public performances annually. For more information, see