Jason Max Ferdinand
Jason Max Ferdinand is Director of Choral Activities at Oakwood University, a position he has held since 2008. A 1999 honors B.A. graduate in piano performance at Oakwood College, now University, Ferdinand attended Caribbean Union College, now the University of the Southern Caribbean, before transferring to OC in 1997.
The son of T. Leslie and Mary Ferdinand, teachers at CUC, Jason thrived in the musical atmosphere that prevailed at the college while enrolled in its pre-college programs. His growth and success in music during those early years led to his appointment as director of the college choir when he enrolled as a college student in 1995. In his two years at CUC, he also formed a thirty-member choral ensemble that was highly praised at the annual Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival in 1997.
While at OC, Ferdinand studied conducting with Lloyd Mallory, Jr., and served as student conductor as well as student accompanist and arranger for the world famous OC Aeolian choir. At the end of his two years at OC, he received numerous awards, including Most Musically Inclined, Most Hard Working Member, Most Dedicated Band Member, and Most Valuable Member in the Aeolians. He also received the Alma Blackmon Music Scholarship, an award given in recognition of academic excellence and evident musical potential.
Following graduation from OC in 1999, Ferdinand completed an M.A. in choral conducting with high honors at Morgan State University in 2001. As a member of the MSU choir, he performed with the New York Philharmonic, Montreal Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, Concordia College, Czech Republic Symphony, and other orchestras. He also served as assistant choral conductor and conducted MSU’s choir when MSU's regular conductor, Nathan Carter, was ill.
During his study at MSU, he accepted a position at Pine Forge Academy in 2000, where he taught for the next seven years. Under his leadership, the choir toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, appearing as an honored group at numerous significant events. His PFA choir also made several recordings, the last being an acclaimed professional level production with a 45-piece orchestra that featured the works of Cedric Dent, Take 6, John Stoddart, and James Lee III.
During his time at PFA, Ferdinand successfully auditioned for acceptance in the D.M.A. program at the University of Maryland, where he began his doctoral studies in the 2005-2006 schoolyear. The sole invitee selected from the several who auditioned, he studied under Edward Maclary, a protégé of the late Robert Shaw. He also has had opportunity to study and collaborate with Helmuth Rilling, Margaret Hillis, and Robert Page. He completed a D.M.A in choral and orchestral conducting at UM in 2015.
While at UM, Ferdinand directed the UM Chapel Choir, assisted in direction of the UM Chamber Singers and the Maryland Chorus, and taught undergraduate conducting classes. Additionally, he also served as staff director under Minister of Music Nolan Williams, Jr. at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where he directed two productions of the Messiah.
Under his leadership, the OU Aeolians have won in national and international choir competitions, including several HBCU (Historically Black College and University) competitions. In 2017, the Aeolians participated on the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod in Wales where it won the festival’s highest choral prize, the 2017 Choir of the World Pavarotti Trophy, on July 9. Ferdinand received the first ever Gwobr Jane Davies Prize for Outstanding Conductor at that time.
Ferdinand is married to the former Koretta Samuel. They met as students while attending CUC.
Sources: Information provided by Jason Max Ferdinand, 2009; Karen Benn Marshall and Pat McBean Pates, “Oakwood University Aeolians Named 2017 Choir of the World,” Southern Tidings, September 2017, 29; Other online sources.