Dr. Brent Ballweg, Burton H. Patterson professor of music and director of choral activities at Oklahoma Baptist University, was recognized last week with the 2016 Exemplary Teacher in Higher Education award from the Oklahoma Music Educators Association. The OMEA is the state affiliate of the National Association for Music Education, or NAfME.
The OMEA website describes the award as a recognition of the mastery of music education displayed by the state’s most exemplary teachers. This mastery can manifest through music organizations or individual students. Qualifications of eligibility for the award include 15 years of active service in the field of music, with at least 10 of those years occurring in Oklahoma. The individual must have been a member of OMEA or NAfME for a minimum of 10 years. The recipient must also demonstrate excellence in the area of education, with supporting evidence coming from competitions, awards, peer or administrator statements and a track record of personal and academic growth as a music educator.
The OMEA recognizes select people from all levels and areas of music education with “exemplary” awards. Nominations are submitted by music peers in the area.
“It is incredibly humbling to be among those who have been bestowed this honor by OMEA,” Ballweg said. “To know that your peers consider you and your work of a high caliber is deeply gratifying.”
Ballweg, a longtime member of OMEA/NAfME, currently directs OBU’s University Chorale. The Chorale maintains an active performing schedule throughout the state, region and campus. The renowned mixed chorus ensemble features more than 40 excellent vocalists and is in its 52nd year. Recent tours include California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas.
Ballweg has received recognition at both the state and national level. In 1986, he won first place in a national choral conducting competition held in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1996, he was invited to represent the United States as a participant in a conducting masterclass held in Sydney, Australia. In January 2008, he made his NYC Carnegie Hall conducting debut with MidAmerica Productions. Ensembles under his direction have toured to Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Mexico and Russia. He has served as president of the Oklahoma Choral Directors Association, and that organization recognized him with the “Director of Distinction” award in 2012.
Ballweg credits those around him for their contributions to his success as one of the most distinguished music educators in the state.
“My initial reaction [to receiving this award] is to be incredibly grateful that I have been surrounded by a supportive wife, music faculties and above all some of the most talented and caring students that anyone could ask for,” he said. “I am very blessed!”
In addition to directing the University Chorale, he also teaches courses on the history of music and the art of conducting.