Stages of Life
Justin Zang, music director of the University of Maine’s Collegiate Chorale, has been involved in more than 400 performances as a student in the School of Performing Arts.
Zang of Wiscasset, Maine, is a third-year graduate student majoring in choral conducting and vocal performance, and expects to graduate in May.
Along with conducting the Collegiate Chorale, he is also a member of the Senior Skulls Honor Society; has worked with New Student Programs as part of Team Maine for the past six years; was the director of the UMaine Visitor Center for two years; and has been involved with many musical ensembles on campus, including Maine Steiners, University Singers and Black Bear Men’s Chorus. He has also had lead roles in UMaine theater productions of “Hair” and “Sweeney Todd.”
Zang has participated in so many performances that he estimates most of his time as a student was spent in rehearsals. He says music has always been one of his passions and he has been singing in choruses for 20 years.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with students, both young and old, to help them realize their potential in the musical community,” Zang says. “There is no better feeling than creating music with a group of individuals that are searching for the special moment that only a musical experience can provide.”
Zang initially wanted to be a music teacher, but grew interested in working with choirs after attending UMaine as an undergraduate. He then decided to enroll in graduate school for choral conducting.
“I came to UMaine because I felt at home here,” Zang says. “I knew from the moment I set foot on campus that I could spend the next four, five, six or even seven years of my life here. This community of people on campus is like no other — friendly, compassionate and caring.”
Zang says he has had the time of his life conducting the Collegiate Chorale and is proud of boosting the number of members from 35 to 95 in the past year.
“I never feel like I’m lost in a sea of students here,” Zang says. “I feel like I make a difference on campus as an individual and that I contribute to the overall community aspect of UMaine.”
One of Zang’s proudest moments of his musical career occurred during his first year of graduate school. He was chosen by Distinguished Concerts International New York to perform at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City with Grammy Award-winning composer Eric Whitacre. Zang says there were 220 singers in the choir, and he was one of 20 to be individually invited by Whitacre and Distinguished Concerts International.
“UMaine has made the biggest impact on my life,” Zang says. “It has helped me realize my potential, not only as musician, but as a human being.
“UMaine helped me realize that the only boundaries on success that exist are the ones that we build ourselves,” Zang says. “As long as you’re willing to have the determination to accomplish your goals, this university can help make your dream a reality through support of the staff, faculty and administration.”
Zang says he has worked with many professors that have contributed to the person he is today, but has worked closely with Dennis Cox, his conducting mentor, and Elizabeth Downing, who hired him at New Student Programs. He credits Cox with helping him improve his skills as a musician and director and credits Downing with allowing him to become an effective leader.
After graduation, Zang plans to work with Bangor-area choirs, as well as UMaine enrollment management and New Student Programs to continue promoting the university.
“I want to share my experience with prospective college students and help them create a bright future for themselves like I feel I have here at UMaine,” Zang says.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Image Description: Zang