Our Directors

The Blackhawk Chorus singers would like to congratulate Director Ken Abrams on winning the California Choral Director's Association's (CCDA) Choral Director of the Year 2022 award! This prestigious award highlights Ken's decades-long achievements as a choral director working with singers from age 8 through 80+.

In addition to teaching at San Ramon Valley High School for 36 years and working with the Danville Girls Chorus for nearly 30 years, Ken also served on the state board of CCDA for 16 years in nearly every position possible, including state president. He also served on the Western Division Board of ACDA for another 8 years.

The Blackhawk Chorus is proud to call Ken Abrams our Director and to help continue his tradition of choral excellence for years to come.

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Ken Abrams, Director

Ken Abrams was the beloved choral director at San Ramon Valley High School for 36 years.  And since 1992 he has also been the artistic director of the Danville Girls Chorus - a community children’s choir with over 150 singers in five separate levels with a staff of nine professionals.  He is a graduate of California State University, Hayward, where he majored in vocal performance and graduated cum laude.  He received his Master’s Degree in choral conducting from the University of Illinois in 1990 and graduated magna cum laude.  The SRVHS choirs were noted for their commitment to excellence and for their outstanding ranking at competitions and festivals as well as 16 first place awards at the prestigious Northern California Golden State Choral Competition.  

 

Mr. Abrams was selected as "Teacher of The Year" for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in 1996, at San Ramon Valley High School in 2002 and by the Danville Chamber of Commerce in 2006.  He was also awarded Volunteer of the Year for the town of Danville in 2007.  Touring was an important component of the curriculum at SRVHS and his choirs made two domestic trips annually as well as eight international tours -- Central Europe, the British Isles, Australia/New Zealand, Spain, the Baltics with Russia, Costa Rica, Argentina/Uruguay and Italy/Slovenia/Croatia.  The latter trip featured performances at the Vatican and at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice.  In addition, he undertook “Rebuild and Renew” tours to NYC in 2002 after the 9/11 tragedies, New Orleans in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina, and Houston in 2018 after Hurricane Harvey.  

 

Ken is the past-president of the California chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), and he also served as the High School Representative for the ACDA Western Division Region (California, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah and Arizona).  Lastly, Ken’s groups were featured at two prominent ACDA Western Division Conferences - Los Angeles in 2008 and Tucson in 2010.  He is eager and excited about his partnership with the Blackhawk Chorus and is grateful to founding director, Diane Gilfether, for her wonderful leadership and vision over the past thirty years.  Ken looks forward to “continuing the traditions” so well established with this family of singers.

Michael DiGiacinto, Assistant Director

Michael is currently the choir teacher at San Ramon Valley High School and the principal conductor of the A-Sharp Chorus of Silicon Valley. Michael is an active conductor, composer, and pianist in the Bay Area. He has held the position of Music Director of the Winchester Orchestra of San Jose and Bay Shore Lyric Opera, as well as Music Director of the Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theater at San Jose State University (SJSU). In addition to SJSU, Michael has served on the faculties of West Valley College, Hofstra University, and the Manhattan School of Music. He received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education from New York University and his master’s degree in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music.


A tireless advocate for arts education, Michael is an active member of the National Association for Music Education and has been involved with numerous efforts to bring music to schools and communities in need. Through the Outreach Department at Manhattan School of Music, he coordinated programs including group lessons and presentations on the orchestra, opera, and jazz at schools where arts programs are chronically underfunded or do not exist. Abroad, Michael has worked with community centers in Bethlehem, Palestine to bring arts education to the children of the Al Azza Refugee Camp.

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