The Austin Children’s Choir Artistic Staff
Samuel Parrott- Artistic Director
Samuel Parrott is excited to start his ninth year with the Austin Children’s Choir. Sam also serves as the Head Choir Director and Music Appreciation Teacher for Seguin High School. Prior to serving at Seguin High School, Sam taught for six years at AJ Briesemeister Middle School in Seguin ISD, serving as Head Choir Director, Cheerleading Coach, and Co-Musical Theatre Director. Before teaching middle school choir, Sam served as Music Specialist for Brooke Elementary School in Austin ISD from 2012-2014. In 2015, Sam premiered a work by Jack Wilds entitled “Three Waking Dreams” and conducted a collaborative performance of John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children” with The Hill Country Youth Chorus. Sam served as an Assistant Director for the collaborative performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” with an adult chorus comprised of singers from Conspirare, Chorus Austin, Panoramic Voices, and Texas State University, along with Ballet Austin and The Austin Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Peter Bay, conductor for the ASO. In 2019, Sam participated in the ASO and Chorus Austin performance of William Walton’s “Henry V” as part of their Shakespeare performances.
Sam received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Studies with an emphasis in Choral Music from Texas State University in 2011, his Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Texas State University in 2015, and his PhD in School Improvement from Texas State University in 2021. He has studied conducting under Dr. Jonathan Babcock, Dr. Joey Martin, Dr. Lynn Brinckmeyer, Dr. Matthew Oltman, and Dr. Craig Hella Johnson. Sam’s research topics surround student voice and choice in the public school system and his dissertation is entitled, “Teacher-Student Interpersonal Relationships: A Narrative Inquiry Study of the Characteristics of Educational Relationships in a Secondary School in Rural Texas.”
Emily Evans – Managing Director
Emily Evans is excited to begin her eighth year with the Austin Children’s Choir. Emily is the Assistant Choir Director and class Piano Teacher at Seguin High School in Seguin ISD.
Emily is a Kodály Certified music educator, a teaching philosophy which places emphasis on using familiar songs and folk music in order to teach music literacy to students. She specializes in teaching literacy to older beginners. She completed her Kodály certification in 2019 through the Hays CISD/Texas State Kodály Certification Program. She currently serves on the Kodály Educators of Texas Executive Board as the Secondary Representative.
Emily holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Studies from Texas State University and a Teaching Certification in Pre-K through 12th grade music. During her time at Texas State, she performed with such ensembles as University Singers, the Texas State Symphonic Choir, and Texas State Opera Theatre.
Cody Duff – Associate Director
Cody Duff is excited to start his first season as the associate choral director for the Austin Children’s Choir. Mr. Duff will also begin his first year as the head choral director of Shoemaker High School in Killeen, Texas. Prior to relocating to the Austin area, Mr. Duff led choirs in both Texas and Tennessee. Cody holds a bachelor of music education from Eastern New Mexico University and a master of music education from Boston University.
Choirs under Mr. Duff’s direction have consistently received superior ratings as well as several students placing in all state choirs. Most recently, Cody taught as an assistant director for Frenship High School who were selected as performing choir for the Texas Music Educators Association in 2021. Prior to that, Cody had the privilege of leading his middle school treble choir as a featured performing ensemble for the Tennessee Music Educators Association. Mr. Duff is often invited to judge, clinic, and consult other choir directors in Texas and Tennessee. Cody previously served as the community choir board chairman for the Tennessee American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) and has articles published in the ACDA Choral Journal, New Mexico Musician, and Southwestern Musician. Mr. Duff is excited to start his journey with ACC and looks forward to meeting everyone.
Nikki Birdsong – Accompanist
Nikki Birdsong has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a collaborative pianist, church musician, chamber music coach, and teacher in Austin for over 20 years. She has served as musical director with Once Ounce Opera (Thyrsis and Amaranth, A Miller’s Tale), Austin Summer Musical for Children (The Big Bad Musical), and Dede Clark’s KidsActing (Elf The Musical, Descendants 2, High School Musical, Wicked). Ms. Birdsong performs regularly with soprano Nicole Taylor, and with hip-hop ensemble Thee Phantom and the Illharmonic Orchestra, including a showcase at SXSW 2022.
Currently, Ms. Birdsong is adjunct faculty at Huston-Tillotson University. In addition to her work with Austin Children’s Choir, she is the pianist for St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Austin, and the assistant accompanist for the Austin Gay Men’s Chorus. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Louisiana State University, and a Master of Music degree from The University of Texas at Austin, and she is a proud alumna of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity.
Board of Directors
Austin Children’s Choir is actively seeking contributing board members. Please reach out to us if you are interested in serving on the board.