Bradley Vogel, professor of music and director of choral activities at Tabor College, was awarded the Harry Robert Wilson Award at the annual convention of the Kansas Choral Directors Association July 14 in Topeka.
The Harry Robert Wilson Award is considered KCDA’s lifetime achievement award and is generally awarded closer to the recipient’s retirement. Vogel, who is 10 years short of traditional retirement age, said he did a double take when he was informed of the award.
“I’m the second youngest to receive it, so I have some time to either live up to it or really mess it up,” Vogel said. “It’s kind of an overall accomplishment – what you have done during your career, how you have contributed to choral music in the state of Kansas, and the different things you do.”
Nominations for the award are solicited from the KCDA membership. Criteria include: excellence in choral music training, performance, and scholarship; commitment to choral music in the state of Kansas; positive and supportive collegial interaction; active participation, leadership and service to KCDA; and must have a minimum of 20 years in the choral music profession.
“Service to KCDA is a big thing,” Vogel said. “I’ve been on the board for a good long time. I served as president and was the newsletter editor for 10 years. I just stepped down from that, which is sort of ironic because in the fall issue I always did an interview with the winner of the Harry Robert Wilson Award, so it would be a little embarrassing to interview yourself.”
Vogel, who considers Coldwater his hometown, credited two high school teachers and his piano teachers for nurturing his love of music during his formative years.
“I did a lot of instrumental music in high school, so I thought I’d be a band director,” he said.
After Vogel enrolled at Tabor College in 1981, he experienced an epiphany about vocal music while the concert choir was performing Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia” under the direction of Jonah Kliewer.
“That happened during my freshman year, and it became clear what I wanted to do,” Vogel said. “When I talked to (Kliewer) about that, he said, ‘I’d love to see you do it.’ He was a great encourager.”
After graduating in 1985, Vogel taught music in Inman and Haven schools. He returned to Tabor in 1997 as assistant professor of music and directed the women’s choir. After Kliewer retired the following year, Vogel began directing the Concert Choir in addition to teaching voice and a variety of courses. Vogel’s choirs have received six invitations to sing at the Kansas Music Educators Association’s annual gathering, and his voice studio has produced 10 finalists and four winners at national competitions.
In addition, Vogel has been a busy clinician and adjudicator, leading clinics and festivals in Kansas and four other states. He also has composed published works for choirs.
“For me, it’s humbling to be recognized by the people that you work with and admire,” he said of the award. “These are people who know who I am and have been encouragers for me.”
He added, “What a person does is sort of the result of the environment they’re in. I’m fortunate to be in a place where I’m allowed to do things throughout the state and beyond. Tabor gives me a platform to reach out and do things at a statewide level with high schools, with clinics and choral festivals.”