Artistic Director

Rodney Wynkoop has served as conductor and artistic director of the Choral Society of Durham since 1986. He is Director of University Choral Music, Professor of the Practice of Music, and conductor of the Duke University Chorale at Duke University, and served as the Director of Chapel Music and conductor of the Duke Chapel Choir from 1989 to 2018.


Dr. Wynkoop’s work as conductor of the Choral Society of Durham, the Duke University Chorale and Duke Chapel Choir, and the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Durham (an elite chamber choir that he founded in 1996) has earned him critical acclaim for artistic excellence and innovative programming. He has been honored for his artistic contributions by Triangle-area newspapers, including the Independent Weekly, the News & Observer. He has led both the Choral Society and the Vocal Arts Ensemble in invited appearances at the convention of the Southern Division of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and Vocal Arts Ensemble at the ACDA national convention in February 2005, in Los Angeles. In 2000, he was honored by the Durham Arts Council with the James L. Nicholson award for his contributions in promoting the careers of local singers and composers. In 2002, he received the Lara Hoggard Award for Distinguished Service in Choral Music in North Carolina, presented by the North Carolina ACDA.

Workshops and Tours

Dr. Wynkoop has directed conducting workshops across the state, including the Summer Organ Institute in Winston-Salem. Abroad, he served as resident guest conductor of a professional civic chorus in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, twice toured Russia with the Triangle Russian Choral Exchange, and made several tours with the Duke Chorale and Duke Chapel Choir, performing in Vienna, Eastern Europe, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Great Britain, and China. He conducted singers from all his choirs in a 2006 Carnegie Hall performance of Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem, in a 2009 performance of Dona Nobis Pacem and Haydn’s Mass in Time of War as part of the International Haydn Festival in Vienna, Austria and in a 2017 Carnegie Hall performance of Haydn’s Mass in Time of War.

Premieres and Recordings

Wynkoop has conducted the world premieres of many choral works, including those of Mendelssohn and Ives, as well as works commissioned by the Choral Society from Daniel Gawthrop and Steven Sametz and by the Vocal Arts Ensemble from Imant Raminsh. He also prepared the Choral Society for the world premiere of John Rutter’s Cantus. Choral groups under his direction have released numerous recordings, including a live-performance CD of Orff’s Carmina Burana by the Choral Society of Durham and two CD recordings of Handel’s Messiah by the Duke Chapel Choir. Most recently, the Vocal Arts Ensemble has released a CD recording on the Arsis label, entitled My Spirit Sang All Day, featuring works by Finzi, Barber, Rutter, Locklair, McCullough, Kodály, and other 20th-century composers.

Education and Background

Wynkoop holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Yale University and master’s degrees in choral conducting from Yale and the University of Wisconsin. A student of Robert Fountain at Yale and Wisconsin, he received his doctorate from the Yale School of Music.  Before coming to Duke in 1984, Wynkoop was Director of Choral Music at the University of Chicago, where he conducted the University Chorus and was Director of Music at Rockefeller Chapel. He previously held conducting positions at the Yale School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music and Mt. Holyoke College.

Dr. Wynkoop can be reached via email here.