Cynthia Johnston Turner is an active conductor, festival adjudicator, and clinician, in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Canada. Before joining the Cornell faculty in the fall of 2004, she taught at the University of Rochester, where she directed the Wind Symphony and served as Director of Music at Parkside High School, Dundas, Canada. Earlier in her career Cynthia taught middle school beginning instrumental music in Toronto and choral music in Switzerland. She currently serves as a faculty member with the summer Performing Arts Institute at Pennsylvannia’s Wyoming Seminary and as a guest conductor with the Syracuse Society of New Music and the Austrian Festival Orchestra in Salzburg.
A Canadian, Cynthia completed her Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees at Queens University and her Master of Music in music education and conducting at the University of Victoria. Touring with her ensembles inspired her master’s thesis on the musical and personal transformations that occur on tours, and her D.M.A. thesis at the Eastman School of Music centered on Dialogues and Entertainments by William Kraft, one of this generation’s leading composers. At Eastman Cynthia was the recipient of the Eastman Graduate Teaching Award in conducting, where she studied with Donald Hunsberger, Mark Scatterday, and Neil Varon. She was nominated for the Canadian Prime Minister’s Leadership in Teaching Award and received the National Leadership in Education Award (Readers Digest Foundation), the Excellence in Education Award (Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation), and the Marion Drysdale Leadership Among Women Teachers Award (also from OSSTF).
At Cornell, Cynthia was the Director of Wind Ensembles, overseeing the Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Chamber Winds, and other chamber ensembles. She also served as faculty advisor to CU Winds, a student-driven organization devoted to the promotion and performance of wind music, and Contrapunkt!, Cornell’s undergraduate composition student organization. Cynthia has commissioned numerous new works for wind band, many of which incorporate other artistic media, and she continues to actively promote commissions by today’s leading composers around the world. She worked closely with Cornell DMA candidates in composition helping them present their new works in concert. In 2008, the Merrill Presidential Scholars at Cornell recognized Cynthia as an outstanding educator.
In January 2006, Cynthia led the Cornell Wind Ensemble on a performing and service tour to Costa Rica that included performances across the country and the donation of over fifty instruments to a rural ‘escuela de musica.’ The Cornell Wind Ensemble returned to Costa Rica in 2008, donating over eighty instruments to three music schools. In 2010, Cornell donated 95 instruments to five music schools in Costa Rica, performed eleven concerts in twelve days, and gave master classes to over 300 music students across the country. The CU Winds/Costa Rica Project was featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
Among other recent engagements, Cynthia has guest conducted the Provincial Honour Bands of Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Latin American Honor Band, the Montclair State Wind Ensemble, and the Paris Lodron Ensemble in Salzburg. Cynthia is the guest conductor and artist-in-residence for the Canadian National Wind Ensemble in May 2011.
In 2014, Cynthia was named Director of Bands and Wind Ensembles and Full Professor of Music at the Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia.