Musical Direction

Dr. Julie Skadsem


Dr. Julie Skadsem is Associate Professor of Choral Music Education and Conducting at the University of Michigan where she conducts the Women’s Glee Club and teaches courses in conducting, choral techniques and vocal methods.  She has earned degrees in choral music education from St. Olaf College (B.A.), Florida State University (M.M.E.), and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (Ph.D.).

Before coming to Michigan in fall 2006, Skadsem was Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Alabama where she taught courses in choir, conducting and music education, and was the Founding Director of the Birmingham Children’s Choir.  She taught vocal music (7-12) in Ironwood, Michigan and is an active clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor.

She is a member of the VoiceCare Network and is certified in Dalcroze eurhythmics, Orff-Schulwerk and Kodaly. In addition to her choral work, Skadsem is also an active researcher.  Her research on choral conducting and rehearsal techniques has been presented at MENC, ACDA and the Southeastern Music Education Symposium, and is being published at the state, regional, and national levels.  She currently serves on the editorial board of the Southern Music Education Journal.

Julia Morris


Julia Morris is a conductor and vocalist from the San Francisco Bay Area, and she is thrilled to join the University of Michigan’s Women’s Glee Club this season as Assistant Conductor. She began her musical journey with the flute at age 7 and has since found her niche in song and the choral ensemble. Before moving to Ann Arbor to pursue her MM degree in Choral Conducting with Dr. Eugene Rogers at the University of Michigan SMTD, Morris worked closely with Ming Luke as Assistant Conductor for Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra (BCCO) from 2018-2021, a position designed as a mentorship program to guide promising young conductors.

In the summer of 2019, she had the pleasure of touring the Baltic countries with BCCO, and she made her international conducting debut in their final performance of Johannes Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem in the Konserthuset Stockholm in Sweden. From 2018-2021, Morris served as an inaugural member of the conducting staff for National Children’s Chorus’ recently established San Francisco chapter, where she conducted the Senior Division’s Debut Ensemble. As an Artist-in-Residence in the vocal department of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA), Morris enjoyed directing the treble ensemble Anacrusis, offering private coaching sessions to vocal performance students, and guiding student conductors. She is ever grateful to composer/conductor Eric Choate and the community at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin in San Francisco who offered Morris her first opportunity to study choral conducting with them as Conducting Scholar from 2017-2021.

Seeking additional growth as a choral director and educator, she has participated in two summer Choral Artistry Institutes at Eastman School of Music under the direction of Dr. William Weinert. She is delighted to have sung with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus from 2018-2021 under the direction of Ragnar Bohlin, where she continued to nurture her love of singing.

Morris graduated cum laude from Kenyon College in Ohio where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in music (graduated with departmental distinction) and psychology.

Gabriel Merrill-Steskal


Gabriel Merrill-Steskal is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance at the University of Michigan, where he studies with Logan Skelton. An avid performer and collaborator on both modern and period pianos, he recently won second prize at the 1st Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition and studies fortepiano with Matthew Bengtson.

Before completing his masters at the University of Michigan, he graduated summa cum laude from Whitman College, where he studied piano with David Hyun-Su Kim and completed a double major in music and chemistry, receiving honors in both majors and the Campbell Award for outstanding senior recital. In addition to his performance activities, Gabriel is an active teacher and scholar.

His most recent research project involves studying prolongational aspects of folk-based pitch structures in Bartók’s music. Aside from all things piano, he enjoys spending time outside running and rock climbing.