Seth Houston

DMA, University of Southern California

Dr. Seth Houston, Associate Chair for Performance and Director of Choral Activities, joined the faculty of the University of California, Irvine, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, in 2015. He directs UCI Chamber Singers, teaches conducting and composition, and teaches courses in musicianship.

Under Houston’s leadership, UCI Chamber Singers is rapidly establishing itself as a leading collegiate choral ensemble in southern California. The ensemble has collaborated with professional organizations including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Donald Brinegar Singers; collegiate ensembles from the University of Southern California, California State University Long Beach, and Riverside City College; and Grammy-winning Tesoro High School. The ensemble has performed major works including the Brahms Requiem and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, presented the world premiere of Oscillations: One Hundred Years and Forever, by Ellen Reid, at Walt Disney Concert Hall; given a concert-quality "workshop performance" of dreams of the new world, by Ellen Reid, prior to its premiere by the LA Master Chorale; and hosted composers Morten Lauridsen and Moira Smiley for residencies and concerts of their works. The choir also hosts the annual AcaLove a cappella festival and will host the PSICA intercollegiate choral festival in 2019. In 2020, Houston will conduct the ensemble in New York's Carnegie Hall. Houston’s students have gone on to study at leading institutions including the Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Indiana University, University of Southern California, and California State University Fullerton.

As Associate Chair for Performance, Houston chairs the department’s nine-member Performance Council, oversees the department’s performance calendar of more than 80 concerts per year, serves as artistic director for collaborative concerts such as Celebrate Music at UCI and the Spring Soiree, and guides department policy in areas including marketing, production, and auditions. Houston also sits on the university’s Council on Educational Policy.

Houston’s choral compositions and arrangements, published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Inc., MusicSpoke, Walton Music (a division of GIA Publications), and Northern Harmony Publishing Company, are widely performed throughout the United States and internationally. Works such as Stars I Shall FindEmerald Stream, and The Reapers All with Their Sharp Sickles have proven especially popular in the contemporary choral repertoire.

Houston has presented papers at national conferences of the National Collegiate Choral Organization, American Brahms Society, and College Music Society, as well as regional conferences of the American Musicological Society and College Music Society. He has also contributed articles to two volumes of Teaching Music through Performance in Choir (GIA Publications). Houston’s research interests include the music of Brahms and Schumann, shape-note music, and choral tuning systems.

A committed educator, Houston taught middle school and high school choir for nine years. He also founded and directed the independent youth choir Big Sky, taught with Village Harmony, and served as ChiArts Partner Conductor with the Chicago Children’s Choir. He is in demand as a guest conductor, adjudicator, and composer in residence.

Houston holds a DMA degree in choral music from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, as well as earlier degrees from the University of Michigan and Oberlin Conservatory of Music. For more information on Houston’s choral activities, please visit


Assistant Professor of Teaching; Director of Choral Activities
109 Music and Media