Odds were against Cynthia Johnston Turner becoming a musician let alone a professor of music and conducting in higher education. Born in a small town in Ontario, Canada, no one in her family played an instrument or sang, although there were rumors that her great paternal grandfather was a mean mandolinist. Cynthia asked for a piano for Christmas when she was 8 years old, and because it was all her parents could afford, she received a toy electric keyboard from which she was pretty much inseparable until she started the ukulele in grade school. When she picked up the clarinet and saxophone in middle school, a love affair and a career were born.
The first in her family to attend university, Cynthia received her B.Mus and B.Ed from Queen’s University, a M.Ed. at the University of Victoria and a D.M.A. (Conducting) from the Eastman School of Music. She has received numerous teaching, research, and leadership awards in Canada and the United States.
Cynthia was appointed Dean—Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, July 1, 2021. She leads a school of approximately 500 undergraduate and graduate music majors with programs in traditional conservatory programming coupled with innovative programs such as the Bachelors, Masters, and PhD in Community Music, and Artist Diplomas in Opera Performance, Chamber Music, and the soon to be launched, Masters of Music in Collaboration, Creation and Curation (MMC3). She also oversees the Laurier Academy of Music and the Arts, a community-based school serving hundreds of children and their families in the region.
Before her appointment as Dean, Cynthia was Director of Bands, Professor of Music, and Artistic Director of “CCE” at the Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia where she conducted the Hodgson Wind Ensemble, led the MM and DMA programs in conducting, provided strategic leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives as well as innovative curriculum, and oversaw the entire band program including the 400+ member Redcoat Marching Band. The Hodgson Wind Ensemble performed at the CBDNA National Convention in 2017. She is a sponsored clinician with Conn-Selmer.
Cynthia has guest conducted bands, new music ensembles, and orchestras at several universities and conservatories as well as state honor bands in the United States and abroad. She continues to actively promote commissions by today’s leading and emerging composers around the world with a focus on underrepresented voices. She has been invited to present her research with teaching and technology, innovative rehearsal techniques, and service-learning and music performance at numerous conferences nationally and internationally. She is published in such journals as Interdisciplinary Humanities, International Journal of the Humanities, Music Educators Journal, NAfME "Teaching Music," NewMusicUSA.org, Journal of the World Association of Bands and Ensembles, Fanfare Magazine, and Canadian Winds, and has recorded CDs with the Innova and Albany labels.
Cynthia has served as a board member with the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) and is an active member of College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), Conductor’s Guild, College Music Society, Humanities Education and Research Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the American Bandmasters Association. She currently serves on the board of the Western International Band Clinic (WIBC) and is faculty at WIBC University. She serves on the advisory boards of the Institute for Composer Diversity (composerdiversity.com), Lift Music Fund (liftmusicfund.org), and United Sound Music (unitedsoundmusic.org). She is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi and a National Arts Associate member of Sigma Alpha Iota.
Turner has been invited to present her research with teaching and technology, innovative rehearsal techniques, and service-learning and music performance at numerous conferences nationally and internationally. She is published in such journals as Music Educators Journal, Interdisciplinary Humanities, International Journal of the Humanities, Journal of the World Association of Bands and Ensembles, Fanfare Magazine, and Canadian Winds, and has recorded CDs with the Innova and Albany labels.
Recent and upcoming conducting and guest teaching engagements include:
Languages spoken: English