Justin Raffa comes to the Tri-Cities from Tucson, where he received a master of music degree in choral conducting from the University of Arizona. At graduation, Justin received Outstanding Graduate Student Leadership Awards from both the Graduate & Professional Student Council and the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership, in addition to being nominated for the 2008 Arizona Governor's Arts Award. While in Arizona, Justin was an active member of the Arizona Music Educators Association and served on the Arizona Choral Directors Association state board as Repertoire & Standards Chair for Community Choirs. Justin served as Minister of Music at Rincon Congregational United Church of Christ and taught elementary school choral music in private schools.
Justin began his career as a teacher in Bisbee, AZ, where he oversaw the high school choral department and theatre arts curriculum, in addition to directing the Bisbee Community Chorus and serving on the board of the Bisbee Arts Commission. Originally from South Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ, where he received a bachelor of music degree in music education with a vocal concentration, having studied conducting and group vocal technique with James Jordan.
Justin has sung as part of the Berkshire Choral Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Voces Novae et Antiquae, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and continues to perform with both the Festival Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival and True Concord Voices & Orchestra in Tucson of which he is a founding member. As a member of the Westminster Symphonic Choir under Joseph Flummerfelt, Justin sang with some of the world's leading conductors and orchestras. Currently, Justin sings with Male Ensemble Northwest and Chor Anno, two regional ensembles made up of professional choral musicians in the Pacific Northwest, alongside his friend and voice instructor Reginald Unterseher.
Since his arrival in the Tri-Cities in August 2008, Justin has endeavored to build increased collaboration within the local performing arts community. In addition to his role with the Mastersingers, Justin served for five years as Orchestra Manager of the Mid- Columbia Symphony and Chorus Master of the Oregon East Symphony in Pendleton. Justin has also served as an actor, music director and board member with Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre, music director with Columbia Basin College Summer Showcase productions, and Music Director at All Saints Episcopal Church in Richland. Additionally, Justin has served as an adjudicator for local festivals and competitions for local music and theatre education associations. Justin currently serves on the Northwest regional board of the American Choral Directors Association as Repertoire & Standards Chair for Community Choirs and is beginning his third season as Chorusmaster of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.
Justin is a passionate advocate for the arts in the community, and the City of Richland Arts Commission honored him with its 2011 award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to the Arts. He is a board member with the Arts Center Task Force, whose goal is to build a much needed Performing Arts Center for the Tri-Cities. Justin is also a board member with Visit Tri-Cities, the Columbia Basin Badger Club, and is a member of the Tri-Cities Brand Implementation Leadership Team, and can be seen as a frequent performer and emcee for many charitable events across the community. He has been awarded as the Washington State 2013 Outstanding Emerging Choral Conductor, the Columbia Basin Music Educators Association 2014 Friend of Music, and is a graduate of Leadership Tri-Cities Class XIX. Justin lives with his partner Molly Holleran, singer and voice teacher extraordinaire, and their long-haired dachshund Coda.
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