Tabor announces performing arts leadership

Photo facing the front of the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts

The performing arts program at Tabor College is undergoing changes in leadership. Two current faculty are taking on new responsibilities, and two new faculty have been hired to lead the theater program. The changes take effect July 1, 2019.

Greg Zielke will continue as the performing arts director and assume the responsibility of providing leadership for the concert choir and choral ensembles. Zielke earned his bachelor’s degree from Tabor, a master’s degree from Wichita State University and a doctorate from the University of Missouri in Kansas City – all in the field of Music Education.

Zielke led the Grace University Concert Choir from 1991 to 2018. He also has been serving as artistic director and conductor for the prestigious Omaha Symphonic Chorus since the 2001-2002 concert season.

Sheila Litke will be associate performing arts director on a part-time basis, and will provide leadership in managing the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts. Litke achieved her doctorate in piano performance from the University of Kansas. Prior to that, she studied at Guildhall Conservatory of Music & Drama in London, and the Goethe Institute in Germany.

Tabor College President Jules Glanzer said the vision for the arts at Tabor is to expand and be sustainable.

“With a signature facility, we believe we can expand by growing student enrollment, increasing opportunity for student involvement, and providing creativity and variety in our programming,” Glanzer said. “Our hope is that this will bring a needed balance to the student body and help with retention, campus culture and sustainability.

He added, “We think the arts at Tabor should rival athletics as the face of the college. Both co-curricular departments greatly enhance the student experience and are vital to the mission and vision of Tabor.”

Meanwhile, Lauren Carlton will become the new theater program director and assistant professor of theater at Tabor. Carlton completed a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a self-designed minor in opera studies from the University of Alabama in 2014. In 2019, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in theater performance and pedagogy from Texas Tech University. Over a four-year span, Carlton directed 14 productions, ranging from the university level to children’s theater.

Austin Harleson will be the new technical director in support of the theater department and as assistant professor of theater. He has a bachelor’s degree in Musical Theater from West Texas A&M University and a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Performance and Pedagogy from Texas Tech. As an adjunct instructor, Harelson has taught classes in Theater Arts at West Texas A&M and Texas Tech from 2016 to 2019. He has numerous credits in both theater performance and theater technology.

These performing arts faculty will round out the program leadership team: Jen Stephenson will be Music Department chair, oversee academic music programming and continue as assistant professor of vocal music; Shawn Knopp will continue as director of instrumental music and associate professor of music; Brad Baker will continue as director of applied piano and collaborative piano; and David Martens will continue as director of contemporary Christian music.

Frank Johnson, executive vice president for academics, called performing and visual arts “part of the bedrock of a liberal arts education and experience.”

He added, “We have strategically positioned our programming in such a way that we not only continue, but leverage Tabor’s historic commitment to the arts. I look forward to seeing familiar faces as well as those new to Tabor concerts and productions in the coming days. It is our desire that these events not only are entertaining but enriching, elevating our spirits to a deeper understanding of God’s beauty.”

Rusty Allen, executive vice president for operations, said he is excited for the future of the performing and fine arts at Tabor College.

“We have launched a robust concert series featuring artists from within our institution as well as professionals from all over our region,” Allen said. “We are proud of our black-box theater, state-of-the-art auditorium and art gallery. As our reputation continues to grow, we believe so will enrollment in our arts programs.”