A native Iowan and a Drake alum, Greg Sojka is delighted to join the Drake and Des Moines music communities as conductor of the Drake University Community Chorus! Sojka spent most of his professional career in the Pacific Northwest, where he was active as a performer, university/private voice instructor, conductor, clinician, writer, and administrator; he recently returned to Central Iowa, where he teaches voice at Central and Grinnell Colleges.
Sojka has sung professionally with several organizations and opera companies (most notably Seattle, Tacoma, and Kitsap Operas), been a soloist with Rainier Family Opera, Tacoma Symphony/Master Chorale, Dorian Opera Theatre, Missouri Symphony, several churches, and been a featured soloist and clinician for the internationally-renowned Seattle Men's Chorus, singing to sold-out crowds of thousands in Seattle's Benaroya Hall. He taught for several years on the voice faculty of Pacific Lutheran University, where his students were featured soloists and competition winners (student Tyler Gubsch was a four-year recipient of the esteemed Mary Baker Russell Scholarship, the highest honor of PLU's Music Dept.). While pursuing doctoral studies in voice and conducting at the University of Oregon, Sojka taught studio voice, class voice, conducting, and lyric diction, mentored graduate teaching fellows in their pedagogy, coordinated the 100-level voice program, and conducted/performed with UO ensembles (including the internationally-acclaimed UO Chamber Choir). Greg served as chorus master for Eugene (OR) Opera company to highly-praised productions of Barber of Seville, Beatrice et Benedict, and Lucia di Lammermoor. Additionally, he has taught voice at Stephens College and the University of Missouri-Columbia; he was featured in several roles with Missouri's Show Me Opera and was named a Tom Mills Scholar at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
As Director of Music Ministries at Eugene's First Congregational and Seattle's Lake Burien Presbyterian Churches, Sojka led large, vibrant, inter-generational communities of volunteer and professional musicians. He conducted several ensembles and supervised immensely talented music staffs. Highlights included conducting several choral/orchestral masterworks, as well as musical styles including Taizé, gospel, jazz, Appalachian/Southern Harmony, contemporary, classical, and more. He has collaborated with some of the NW region's most notable musicians and ensembles.
In 2015, Sojka was named conductor of the Eugene Women's Choral Society; he led this 100-voice chorus in choral/orchestral works (Mozart's Missa Brevis in B-flat, Kean's American Mass, Schubert's Mass in G, Porpora's Magnificat, and pieces by Michael Haydn), selections from Broadway musicals, and in choral works from classic composers to contemporary masters. Sojka's programming choices for the WCS ranged from tributes to the late Lesley Gore, Leonard Cohen, Debbie Reynolds, and Aretha Franklin, to 1930s jazz cabaret, 1940s pop/theater (featuring Eugene legend Siri Vik), mid-century American songbook love songs (featuring international jazz sensation Halie Loren), to a 2016 inauguration weekend concert exploring various aspects of the American Dream (through works notable American musicians and wordsmiths Carly Simon, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Irving Berlin, Sojourner Truth, Emma Lazarus, and Susan B. Anthony).
Professor Sojka's students have gone on to be successful at some of the nation's top graduate schools, and as performers, teachers, composers, conductors, and music enthusiasts across the country. He now teaches voice on the music faculties of Central and Grinnell Colleges, and conducts the Chancel Choir at Des Moines' Grace United Methodist Church. His pedagogical mentors include Susan See, Robert Youngquist, Leanne Freeman-Miller, Aimee Beckmann-Collier, Chiu-Ling Lin, Ann Harrell, David Rayl, Julian Patrick, Erich Parce, Eric Mentzel, Royce Saltzman, and Sharon Paul (among others).