History

Melissa Downes, Previous Conductor

As a general music teacher in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District for over 20 years, Melissa Downes taught at various Fairbanks schools, including Barnette Magnet School, Immaculate Conception Elementary, Weller Elementary, Hunter Elementary, and Ticasuk Brown Elementary.

She earned her Bachelors Degree in Music Education with an emphasis in voice from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She taught voice through her private studio and adjudicated locally for the high school Regional Solo and Ensemble Competition and for the High School All State Honors Choir. She taught music theory and directed choirs at the Fairbanks Summer Fine Arts Camp at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and presented a lecture/demonstration with Northland Youth Choir for the statewide Alaska Music Educators Association at the University of Alaska.

Mrs. Downes studied with internationally recognized choral director and founder of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, Henry Leck. She completed Level One of the Creating Artistry conductor’s workshop held at Butler University in Indianapolis , Indiana and Level Two in Honolulu , Hawaii while attending the Pacific Rim Children’s Choral Festival in the summer of 2002. During her time at Butler University she also studied with choral conductor and composer, Ruth Dwyer.

In 2004 and 2005 Mrs. Downes acted as liaison and Host Choir Director for the summer Northern Lights Choral Festival held in Fairbanks . This is a joint effort between the Festival’s Artistic Director, Ruth Dwyer and the Northland Youth Choir to bring children’s choirs to Fairbanks from the United States and abroad for cultural exchange and choral performance.