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President's Concert

Penn State Symphonic Wind Ensemble practicing in a large recital hall.

The 16th Penn State President’s Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, in Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, Pa. The concert, the first to be hosted by Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi, will include the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Tonya Mitchell-Spradlin, and Essence of Joy, conducted by Dr. Anthony T. Leach. The annual event is sponsored jointly by the Penn State Alumni Association and the School of Music, with a reception for alumni and friends beginning at 6:00 p.m. in Heinz Hall.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble will perform the works of Óscar Navarro, Florence Price, Ryan Lindveit, and include the world premiere of Remembering by Assistant Professor of Music (composition), Dr. Baljinder Sekhon. The program finishes with a tribute to gospel music and the Hammond organ on Omar Thomas’s Come Sunday – winner of the prestigious Revelli Prize for music. Essence of Joy will open the concert with a variety of choral selections of the African and African American Gospel music traditions.

The performance closes with the combined ensembles and audience singing the “Penn State Alma Mater” conducted by Emeritus Professor of Music and former Director of the Penn State Blue Band, Dr. O. Richard Bundy, Jr.

The annual President’s Concert series provides an opportunity for Penn State students to present concerts in the most renowned performance venues on the East Coast. In its history, Penn State ensembles have traveled to Heinz Hall (Pittsburgh), the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Carnegie Hall (NYC), the Kimmel Center (Philadelphia), Capital One Hall (Tysons, VA), the Strathmore Centre (Bethesda, MD), and the Forum Theatre (Harrisburg, PA).

Penn State President’s Concert

Wednesday, April 05, 2023
Reception: 6:00 p.m.
Concert: 7:30 p.m.


  • Works of Óscar Navarro, Florence Price, Ryan Lindveit
  • World Premiere: Remembering – Baljinder Sekhon
  • Come Sunday – Omar Thomas
  • Sacred and Secular Choral Music from the African and African American Choral Traditions – Essence of Joy

The performance closes with the combined ensembles and audience singing the Penn State Alma Mater.

Know Before You Go – Visiting Heinz Hall


Reception + Concert

At 6:00 p.m., please join Penn State alumni and friends for a pre-concert reception in Heinz Hall, hosted by Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi and the Penn State Alumni Association. Those attending the reception will be escorted to reserved seating for the President’s Concert. Admission to the reception plus concert is $30 for Alumni Association members; $15 for students (ages 6–17); and $45 for non-members. Children under 5 are free. Business attire is recommended. Those wishing to attend the reception and concert, must pre-register using the online pre-registration form.

Concert Only

If you are unable to attend the Alumni Association’s pre-concert reception but would like to attend the 7:30 p.m. performance, please visit the event page on the Heinz Hall website to purchase tickets.

Complimentary Student Tickets

Concert tickets for students interested in the Penn State School of Music and their guests are provided free of charge by the Penn State School of Music. To reserve complimentary tickets, please use this 2023 President’s Concert Complimentary Ticket Request Form.

Essence of Joy singers each wearing black formal suits arrayed on performance stands.

Directors + Ensembles

2023 Penn State President’s Concert | Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh | Wednesday, April 05


Anthony T. Leach

Anthony T. Leach, emeritus professor of music/music education, is director and founder of Essence of Joy. He served as conductor of the Penn State University Choir from 1994 to 2015 and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in choral music education. Currently, Leach teaches a graduate music education seminar and coordinates the African American Music Festival at Penn State. Leach returned in the 2021–2022 academic year from retirement. Leach holds a Ph.D. in music education and master’s degree in conducting from Penn State, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania. During the 2009–10 academic year, Leach served as Penn State Laureate. Leach taught music in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York City for fourteen years. His choirs have performed at festivals throughout the United States and Canada, as well as tours of England, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Spain, France, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, St. Thomas/U.S. Virgin Islands, and South Africa. He has appeared as guest conductor for choral festivals and workshops in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina, New York, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Massachusetts. He has also served as guest conductor for festivals in France, Japan, Venezuela, and the Czech Republic. In 2004, Leach was co-conductor of the World Youth Choir sponsored by the International Federation of Choral Musicians (IFCM) in South Korea and Japan. In addition to his responsibilities at Penn State, Leach serves as conductor of the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers and Essence 2 Ltd. He also serves as chair for Lifelong Music for the Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association.

Tonya Mitchell-Spradlin

Tonya Mitchell-Spradlin is director of wind band studies and assistant professor of music. In addition to conducting the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, overseeing the graduate wind conducting program, and teaching courses in wind band literature and wind conducting, she oversees all aspects of the concert band programs at Penn State. Her appointment at Penn State follows three years as assistant director of bands and associate director of athletic bands at the University of South Carolina. Prior to her tenure at the University of South Carolina, Mitchell-Spradlin taught at Valdosta State University as director of athletic bands and was director of bands at Chamblee High School in Chamblee, Georgia. Mitchell-Spradlin has a diverse background as a clinician, adjudicator, educator, and speaker. She is a frequent guest conductor, and has presented regionally at the South Carolina Music Educators Association Conference, nationally at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, internationally at the International Society for the Promotion of Wind Band in Austria, and has served as Tau Beta Sigma’s local and national Women in Music Speaker. As a proponent of new music, she is engaged in building the wind band medium. She led the consortium and premiere of Aaron Perrine’s “Beneath a Canvas of Green” for wind ensemble and percussion quartet, which was also the source of her doctoral dissertation. Additionally, she is active in a number of premieres and consortiums for new music. Mitchell-Spradlin serves as the national vice president of professional relations for Tau Beta Sigma: National Honorary Band Sorority. She also holds memberships in Kappa Kappa Psi, the College Band Directors National Association, National Association for Music Education, and Women Band Directors International.


Essence of Joy is one of the seven choral ensembles offered by the School of Music. Directed by Dr. Anthony T. Leach, the choir focuses on the performance, education, and appreciation of scared and secular music derived from African and African American choral traditions. This auditioned ensemble consists of both undergraduate and graduate students from many academic programs. Since its founding in 1991, the choir has continued to create a welcoming, familiar, and educational environment for all members and alumni. The ensemble has performed throughout the eastern, southern, and mid-western regions of the United States. International tours to Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, France, South Africa, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan have provided wonderful opportunities to collaborate with other choirs and musical organizations around the globe. Annual on-campus events include a fall concert, a spring concert, A Celebration of African American Music Festival (February), and the seasonal Our Gift in Song concert (December).

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble is the premier wind/percussion ensemble in the School of Music. This highly select forty-member ensemble includes the finest wind and percussion instrumentalists on campus. It performs a variety of repertoire ranging from chamber music to literature that utilizes the full ensemble. It concertizes extensively both on and off campus and is open to all students, regardless of major, by audition.