Dr. Mark Bartel is in demand as a versatile conductor and music educator. After a 16-year tenure in the United States, he returned to Canada in 2019 to join the faculty at Ambrose University as Associate Professor of Music. Since arriving in Calgary, he has been appointed Artistic Director of the Spiritus Chamber Choir.
Bartel is known for his musical, educational, and community collaborations and has established a reputation as a successful builder of choirs and choral programs. He has conducted college and university choirs for over 20 years and has extensive experience leading a wide range of community choirs in both the United States and Canada. In addition to his interest in choral-orchestral works and choral music of the Baroque, he brings his expertise as a solo singer and teacher of applied voice to his work with choirs. Bartel is a passionate advocate of the impact of the choral experience in the lives of choristers, in communities, and society at large.
As Director of Choral Music at Friends University (Wichita, Kansas) from 2005-2019, Bartel oversaw a program of 170 singers and four choirs. Dr. Bartel also served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Wichita Chamber Chorale — the third artistic director in the choir’s 40-year history. From 2006-2011 he was the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Wichita Community Children’s Choir. While in Wichita, he led his choirs in numerous invitational performances and regional American Choral Directors Association conventions. He led the 70-voice Friends University Singing Quakers on annual tours throughout the United States, as well as Canada, Germany, Italy, and Costa Rica, and conducted the choir in Vienna with Mid-America Productions and the Symphonisches Orchester Wien in 2019.
A native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, his career has taken him to cities in the United States and Canada. He has held teaching positions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York; Western University in Ontario; and Canadian Mennonite University in Manitoba. In addition to choral music, Bartel teaches in the areas of applied voice, conducting, choral pedagogy, and music history. As doctoral fellow in choral conducting at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Bartel was the conductor of the Repertory Singers and Assistant Conductor of the Eastman Chorale and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus. His doctoral research centred on Baroque musical-rhetorical thought and the choral music of Bohemian composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. His current research focuses on how choirs around the world engage in active peace-building through the choral experience.
In the wider choral community Bartel is sought after as a clinician, presenter, and adjudicator. He is a frequent guest conductor for honour choirs and festivals for singers of all ages, with upcoming engagements in Texas and Kansas. He has held church music positions in both Winnipeg and Dallas and presents workshops on church music and worship. At Friends University he founded and directed the annual Sing It Vocal Festival, which brought together Kansas high school and university choirs to study and perform under the baton of internationally renowned specialists in choral music. He is the founder of the Wichita Chamber Chorale’s Kansas Choral Composition Prize, which promotes new choral music rooted in the state of Kansas. A longtime member of the board of the Kansas Choral Directors Association, he served as the President of KCDA from 2017-2019.
As a conductor of choral-orchestral works, he has led the Mennonite Oratorio Choir and members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and regularly conducted Friends University choirs and the Wichita Chamber Chorale. He has prepared choruses for performance with professional orchestras and worked with Maestros Bramwell Tovey, Timothy Vernon, Christopher Seaman, Daniel Hege, and Peter Tiboris. As an orchestral conductor he has been artistic director of several youth and community orchestras in Manitoba and Ontario.
Bartel was honoured with the 2018 W.A. Young Award for Teaching Excellence at Friends University and is a past recipient of the Canada Council’s prestigious Sir Ernest Macmillan Prize in Conducting. A graduate of the University of Winnipeg and Canadian Mennonite University, he holds masters degrees in music and sacred music from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a doctor of musical arts degree in conducting from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.