Episode 2: From the Other Side: Conducting and Composing with Ryan Heller & Carlos Cordero


Lesson Description: 
Audiences are used to seeing the back of a conductor and hearing the completed music of a composer.  This is your opportunity to see the other side of these two unique professions as Ryan Heller and Carlos Cordero offer a first-hand view into the world of the professional conductor and composer.

Materials Needed:
If you’d like, bring a conducting baton or a fun substitute, like an uncooked spaghetti noodle, unsharpened pencil, or a Harry Potter Wand.

Presenter Biographies:

Carlos Cordero, a recent University of Houston Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy of Rome, is an award-winning composer, including: First place in the International Choral Composition Competition Japan 2018, Inversion Ensemble’s Emerging Composer Competition, Vox Populi Winner in I International Choral Composition Competition Alberto Grau, as well as winner of the 2017 Chorus Austin Young Composer’s Competition. Cordero enjoys writing music mainly for the voice, having completed a 3-act operetta, Un Cuento de Luces y Sombras (A tale of Light and Shadows), with an original story and libretto. His pieces have traveled around the world, including America, Europe, and Asia!     

Originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, Carlos is currently residing in Austin, Texas with his husband Ryan Heller, after finishing his Master of Music in Composition at the University of Houston, with mentor Dr. David Ashley White. Cordero is a former singer with UH’s Concert Chorale under the direction of Dr. Betsy Cook Weber, winning the 28th Béla Bartók International Choral Competition. He is currently working on his educational project called Happy Composer while serving as composer-in-residence at Chorus Austin. Cordero is a former Choral Conductor and Music Educator at El Sistema, and holds a B.M. and a Specialization from Universidad Católica Cecilio Acosta.


Described as exciting, dynamic and charismatic, Ryan Heller leads the award-winning Chorus Austin as Conductor and Artistic Director, having joined Austin’s vibrant classical music scene in 2009.

Mr. Heller and Chorus Austin have received numerous awards, including the Dale Warland Singers Commission from Chorus America, a two-time American Prize finalist, and winner of the national Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award, given to recognize a chorus for programming recently composed music. The ensembles of Chorus Austin have been named one of the Top 10 Classical Musical Treasures by Robert Faires of the Austin Chronicle several times since Heller has led the organization.  

Mr. Heller has led ensembles across the United States with appearances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Symphony Hall. He has toured internationally in Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Finland, Estonia, Sweden and, China, where he led combined choirs from Texas at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

He served as Co-Founder, Conductor and Artistic Director of the Portland Vocal Consort, one of Portland, Oregon’s, premier professional choirs, and spent a decade as the Conductor/Artistic Director of the Southwest Washington Symphony. In 2001, he Co-Founded the Columbia Chorale of Oregon, a group he led until 2010. Ryan also served as Director of the award-winning Pride of Portland Chorus for 17 years, earning a Master 700 Director distinction in the Sweet Adelines International Competition. Today, in addition to serving as the Artistic Director of Chorus Austin, he is the Director of the Alamo Metro Chorus in San Antonio.

An Oregon native, Mr. Heller received his Master of Music degree in Conducting from Portland State University and his Bachelor of Music in Conducting from Chapman University. He is in frequent demand as a conductor, singer and coach.

Visit their pages for more information:
Carlos Cordero: https://thehappychoir.com/start-here/
Ryan Heller: https://www.chorusaustin.org/


Grades K-5 | Music. Historical and cultural relevance: Sing songs or play classroom instruments from diverse cultures and styles, independently or in groups; move alone or with others to a varied repertoire of music using gross and fine locomotor and non-locomotor movement.

Middle School 1, 2, 3 | Music. Music literacy: Explore health and wellness concepts related to musical practice such as body mechanics, hearing protection, vocal health, hydration, and appropriate hygienic practice; experience and explore exemplary musical examples using technology and available live performances; describe tonal and rhythmic musical elements using standard terminology such as instrumentation, voicing, intervals, solfège, absolute note names, rhythmic values, and counting systems; describe musical elements of rhythm, including whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, paired and single eighth notes, sixteenth notes, corresponding rests, and meter, including 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4, using standard terminology. Critical evaluation and response: Demonstrate appropriate cognitive and kinesthetic responses to music and musical performance.

High School 1, 2, 3, 4 | Music. Music literacy: Apply health and wellness concepts related to music practice such as body mechanics, hearing protection, vocal health, hydration, and appropriate hygienic practices. Historical and cultural relevance: Identify music-related vocations and avocations.

High School 1 | Languages Other Than English. Elements of language(s): Engage in different types of language learning activities; compare and contrast aspects of other languages to English and the student's native language; and apply basic communication skills in the target language(s), including listening, speaking, reading, and writing.