Recently appointed the first Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music, Allen Hightower is a Professor of Music at Luther College, where he serves as conductor of the renowned Nordic Choir and Artistic Director of Christmas at Luther. As Luther's Director of Choral Activities, he gives leadership to a choral program that includes four conductors, six choirs, and over 500 singers.
Prior to joining the faculty at Luther, Dr. Hightower served as Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. During his tenure, the SHSU Chorale performed for the 2007 National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, the 2010 Southwestern Division of ACDA, and the 2003, 2006, and 2010 conventions of the Texas Music Educators Association. Prior to his appointment at Sam Houston, Allen was the conductor of the Chamber Choir at California State University, Long Beach. From 1992-1996 he was Director of Choirs at Odessa Permian High School, and led the PHS Kantorei and Chamber Orchestra in performance at the 1996 Texas Music Educators Association convention. In March of 2014, Dr. Hightower conducted the Nordic Choir in performance at the North Central Division of ACDA.
From 2005-2010 Allen was Artistic Director and Conductor of the Houston Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra, with whom he led performances of many of the most significant masterworks of the choral-orchestral repertoire. As a church musician, he has served Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches in Texas and California. He served as the Duesenberg Concert Choir Chair for the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival during the summers of 2007, 2011, and 2013. Allen presently serves as a Worship Pastor at the Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester, Minnesota.
Allen earned an undergraduate degree in music education from Sam Houston State University, a master’s degree in choral conducting from the Eastman School of Music, a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Baylor University, and a doctorate in conducting from UCLA, where he served as graduate assistant to Donald Neuen. He pursued further orchestral conducting studies at the University of Southern California; and in 1993 and 2000 was a member of the conducting class of Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival. Allen was first-prize winner in the graduate division of the ACDA Conducting Competition in 1997; and from 1997-2000 he served as assistant to Paul Salamunovich, conductor the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Since joining the Luther faculty in 2010, performance, guest conducting, and teaching opportunities have taken Dr. Hightower to 24 states and 3 European countries. Dr. Hightower recently completed residences at the University of Alabama, Michigan State University, Colorado State University, Vandercook College of Music, and Pepperdine University. Allen and his wife, Dr. Kristin Hightower reside in Decorah, Iowa with their daughters Caroline and Julianne.