Arnold Epley, Artistic Director & Conductor

In 2009 Arnold Epley formed Musica Vocale, a chamber choir of thirty-two singers and orchestra, which could also present itself as a smaller ensemble appropriate for early music or an expanded oratorio-sized chorus of sixty for larger works.

Arnold Epley is Emeritus Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at William Jewell College.  During his 27 year tenure, he led the William Jewell Choir in 26 American concert tours and to England and Scotland nine times, the last in 2009.  He began one of the region's most anticipated Christmas events, The City Come Again, an annual standing-room-only noonday service at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, with college president Gordon Kingsley.  His students from William Jewell College, Louisiana College, Kentucky Southern College and the University of Louisville have distinguished themselves around the country as university and college professors, secondary and elementary school choral teachers, church musicians, voice teachers, choral singers, and as professional singers and conductors.

In 2008 Epley stepped down as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus after a seventeen year tenure.  In appreciation for his service the Kansas City Symphony named him Conductor Laureate of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus.  He prepared the Symphony Chorus for over 70 works, heard in more than 200 performances with the Kansas City Symphony, in addition to the Symphony Chorus's guest appearances with other orchestras, international concert tours and their own concerts.

For its five seasons Dr. Epley was conductor of Chorale Francis Poulenc, a chamber choir of singers from many of Kansas City's best choral ensembles dedicated to the performance of Poulenc's difficult and rewarding choral works.

For five years he joined the Independence Messiah Choir as resident conductor to prepare the choir for their annual performances of Handel's Messiah, concluding with his appearance as conductor of their 89th annual presentation.  During this time the Kansas City Symphony joined with the Messiah Choir as co-sponsor, involving both the Symphony Chorus and the Kansas City Symphony.

Dr. Epley's peers honored him with the Luther T. Spayde Award, the Missouri Choral Directors Association's highest honor, in 1997.  He received the Carl F. Willard Distinguished Teaching Award and was elected Professor of the Year in 1999.

After a long career as a baritone soloist for symphonic, oratorio and recital performances, especially focusing on the choral works of J. S. Bach, he continues his work as a teacher of singing, his studio made up of some of the area's leading singers.

Ryan Olsen, Associate Conductor

Dr. Ryan Olsen is Director of Choral Activities at Baker University where in addition to directing the choral program he teaches undergraduate courses in music education, conducting, and music theory, maintains a private voice studio, and supervises student teachers. Previously, he served on faculty at Colorado State University as Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education and at Our Lady of the  Lake University in San Antonio, Texas as Director of Choral Activities. Dr. Olsen also taught middle school and high school choir and has been active in music education in Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Texas, and Colorado.

Dr. Olsen received his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Arts in Music with an emphasis in choral music education from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with a cognate in Music Education from Arizona State University.


Dr. Olsen is an active clinician, conductor, and presenter at state and national conferences for conductors and music educators. He has presented sessions on transitioning singers during transgender and adolescent voice change, mindfulness-based instructional strategies, audition for singers and choirs, and numerous other aspects of choral pedagogy. Dr. Olsen is passionate about the use of medieval andRenaissance polyphony as sight-reading and performance repertoire for young singers and has edited and arranged numerous examples of early polyphony that can be found on his website,

Dr. Olsen is also an advocate for living composers and innovative concert programing, having commissioned new works and collaborated with numerous composers in masterclasses and workshops.


Outside of music, he can generally be found outdoors, playing various tabletop or board games, or with a book in hand. He lives in the Kansas City metropolitan area with his wife Erin, a school counselor, and daughter Meredith.

Jay Carter, Artistic Advisor

Jay Carter has gained a reputation as one of the nation’s finest countertenors. A frequent collaborator with both period and modern ensembles, he is recognized as a leading interpreter of late Baroque repertoire and has been lauded for his luminous tone, stylish interpretations, and clarion delivery. Though a specialist in the earlier repertoire, Carter has premiered modern works by John Tavener, Augusta Read Thomas, Chester Alwes, and Anthony Maglione. As an avid recitalist he presents works from outside the standard countertenor repertory including works by Schumann, Poulenc, Wolf, and Howells. 

In recent seasons he has routinely appeared with acclaimed conductors Nicholas McGegan, Ton Koopman, John Butt, John Scott, and Matthew Halls. Highlights of the recent seasons include his Lincoln Center debut with Maasaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan in Bach’s Weinachtsoratorium, Vivaldi opera arias and Gloria with Nicholas McGegan and the Saint Louis Symphony, and Bach’s Johannespassion with Daniel Hyde and the Choir of Men and Boys at St. Thomas Church. In addition to concert appearances he has also served as a primary soloist with the Portland-based Bach Virtuosi Festival alongside faculty artists from Juilliard, Eastman, and Yale. 

As a scholar and clinician, Carter frequently presents masterclasses and lecture recitals for colleges, universities, and presenting organizations throughout the United States. He has a decade of experience in higher education, focusing intently on student-centered and career-centered studio work that is applicable to solo and ensemble application. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music where he was a pupil of Simon Carrington, Judith Malafronte, and James Taylor. He received his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College where he studied with Arnold Epley. He currently serves on the faculty of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where he teaches voice and leads Kantorei, Westminster’s early music chamber ensemble. 

Board of Directors

A Governing Board of ten members administer the work of Musica Vocale. Those board members are:

Matt Aberle, president

Steve Ameling

Melissa Carter

Sharon Cheers

Sonja Coombes

Arnold Epley, ex officio

Douglas Hartwell

Erica Miller, treasurer

Ryan Olsen, ex officio

Nancy Sparlin


Arnold Epley, Artistic Director and Conductor

Ryan Olsen, Associate Conductor

Jay Carter, Artistic Advisor

Sonja Coombes, General Coordinator

Melissa Carter, Artistic Coordinator

Steve Ameling, Designer and Program Editor
Douglas Hartwell, House Manger