B.M., Southwestern University
M.M., University of Texas at Arlington
D.M.A., University of Houston
The newest member of the Coe College Music Department faculty, Michelle Perrin Blair is one of 85 women nationwide to be recognized as a leader in her field with the prestigious 2014 PEO Scholar Award. Blair's other recent honors include the Richard and Nancy Schissler Fellowship in Orchestral Conducting and the Bernard Osher Scholarship (Monteux School). Blair holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Houston, where she studied with Maestro Franz Anton Krager and served as Assistant Director of the AURA Contemporary Ensemble for three years. Blair earned her Master of Music Degree from the University of Texas at Arlington under the tutelage of her lifelong mentor, Dr. Clifton Evans.
Blair is in demand as a guest conductor and clinician, and she is well known for her work with educational ensembles. While pursuing her doctorate, Blair split her time as the Conductor of the Houston Youth Symphony Sinfonia and Assistant Director of the St. Agnes Academy/Strake Jesuit College Preparatory Orchestra (Houston, TX). When Blair found herself in schools without orchestras, she built her own programs from scratch, leading her to found and direct the St. Louis String Program (St. Louis Catholic School, Austin, TX) and the String Academy (Arlington Classics Academy, Arlington, TX). Blair has been a regular clinician at both the middle school and high school levels for Fort Bend ISD, the Lone Star Youth Orchestra, and the Texas region circuit. Newly settled in Iowa, Blair is thrilled about her upcoming residencies with Linn-Mar High School in Marion and Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids.
As both a performer and an educator, Blair endeavors to discover exciting avenues for innovation. In the past year, Blair has spearheaded projects such as the 2015 TMEA clinic/performance, "United We Stand; Divided We Excel," the premiere of Houston Ballet II's new choreography for the Overture to La scala di seta, and most recently, the first annual Coe College All-State Strings Clinic. Blair’s 2015 dissertation entitled "Frederick Stock, Richard Strauss, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1895-1915)" launched a collaboration with Frederick Stock's great-granddaughter and biographer and yielded a unique performance of Stock's little-known Symphonic Variations; a summary of Blair's research and a report on her lecture recital has been slated to appear on the CSO blog in Fall 2015. One of Blair’s greatest passions is new music, and she relishes every opportunity to work closely with contemporary composers. Blair’s recent new-music collaborations include Hinge (Blake Wilkins), Memoir of Dong-Hak (Hee Yun Kim), Push (Rob Smith), Burn (Jeffrey Ryan), Of Shrapnel and Blood (Mark Buller), Amichai Songs (Daniel Asia), and The Crisis Engine (Joshua Zinn). The Coe College Symphony Orchestra is looking forward to performing Josh Reznicow's newest version of his original work, Joie de vive, in April 2016 under Blair’s baton.
Off the podium, Blair is an active violinist, and she holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Southwestern University. In November of 2014, Blair was invited to play in the Leipzig Academic Orchestra’s 60th Anniversary Concert, for which the orchestra performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite in the Gewandhaus. Blair studied violin under Andrzej Grabiec, Martha Walvoord, Eri Lee Lam, and Rodica Gonzalez. Blair has maintained a private violin studio for over a decade and is passionate about coaching chamber music and teaching string technique. When she's not playing, teaching, or conducting, Blair enjoys reading, arts-and-crafting, and going to concerts. Blair lives in Hiawatha, Iowa, with her husband, Aaron.