Director of Choral Activities
Mr. Willenham Cortez Castilla is Director of Choral Activities at Jackson State University, Jackson, MS, having joined the faculty in 1994. He received the B. A. degree in Music Education from Millsaps College, Jackson, MS and the M.A. degree in Music and Ethnomusicology from Fisk University in Nashville, TN. Castilla furthered his study at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS, The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and Kent State University in Kent, OH. He is currently completing the Ph.D in Music Education at The University of Mississippi, in Oxford, Mississippi. Castilla came to Jackson State University from Provine High School where his choirs and ensembles (SATB, TTBB, SSA Choir, Sextet, Quartet and Madrigal) received superior ratings in festival at local, district, state and national competitions. For nearly ten years, he was Music Supervisor with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, Choctaw Agency. The JSU choral ensembles have maintained high standards of choral excellence through the years and Castilla continues this tradition. Under his leadership, the JSU Chorale has been featured in two PBS Specials in Las Vegas, NV, performed with the Mississippi Chorus and Mississippi Symphony on several programs singing such works as Belshazzar’s, Feast, Carmina Burana, the Choral Works of William Grant Still and God’s Trombone. The JSU Chorale was featured in a command performance for National Transportation Civil Rights Conference in addition to three major appearances as the featured choir for the American Guild of Organists’ Southeastern Regional Convention. In 2007, The JSU Chorale toured Milan, Verona, Venice, and Rome, Italy. Under Castilla’s direction, the JSU Chorale was awarded the Silver Trophy in the prestigious “Days of International Choir Music in Verona” Competition held in Verona, Italy. In this festival of choirs, thirty two of the world’s best choirs competed for the top awards. The JSU Chorale continues a tradition of touring the United States through its annual Spring Tour. A treasured highlight came in 2010 when the JSU Chorale, under Castilla’s direction, was selected to sing a center stage concert at Carnegie Hall, in New York, NY. This performance was met with a standing ovation. Castilla has received many awards and recognitions throughout his musical career. One award among the recent awards received was the 2011 “Champions of Leadership Award”, recognizing his service as part of the Regional Conductors Team, presented by the 105 Voices of History HBCU National Concert Choir. In September 2012, Castilla served as a National Conductor of the 105 Voices of History National Choir in a concert performance at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, in Washington, D.C. He is active in several professional organizations including ACDA, MENC, NATS, MTNA, MEA, and NEA. Mr. Castilla is an ordained minister in the Church of Christ (Holiness) USA and completed 21 years of service as National Minister of Music for the Churches of Christ (Holiness) USA in 2012. He is married to Dr. Kathy Castilla and they have four children, William, Isaiah, Kathlyn, and Matthew.