2015 Swan Award Winner: William Dehning


DehningWilliam Dehning retired in 2007 after fifteen years as Chairman and Professor of Choral Music at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where he conducted the USC Chamber Choir and taught choral conducting.  For twenty years prior to his appointment to USC, Dehning was Director of Choirs at the University of the Pacific, where he was recipient of the university’s Distinguished Professor Award and its Commencement speaker in 1991, and where he was honored by the alumni for his years of service.  Under his leadership, the Thornton Chamber Choir won seven prizes in international European competitions and the ensemble also appeared to standing ovations at six ACDA conventions.

From 1985-1995 he was the founder-conductor of the California Choral Company, a professional-caliber chamber chorus that attained a fine reputation in Europe as well as in the U.S., where its performance was a highlight of the 1991 ACDA National Convention.

Dehning has served as guest conductor of the Karlovy Vary Symphony in the Czech Republic and has conducted and given presentations at eleven ACDA division and national conventions, and he won the Judges’ Conducting Prize at the 1999 International Choral Competition in Bulgaria.  In 2003, the Thornton School awarded him the first annual Dean’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, and he was also the 2007 recipient of the Ramo Music Faculty Award, the Thornton School’s highest honor, “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to music and education, to the School of Music and the University of Southern California, and to humanity.”  He is the author of Chorus Confidential and A Matter of Choice: Interpreting Choral Music, as well as past president and one of four founding officers of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.

Dr. Dehning holds a B.A. degree in music education from UCLA, where he sang with Roger Wagner and Paul Salamunovich, and the M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in church music from USC, where he was a student of Charles Hirt, James Vail, Ingolf Dahl, and Halsey Stevens.  Dr. Dehning is a past president of California ACDA.