Thomas Hales is Director of Choral Activities at East High School in Sioux City, IA, where he conducts the Men's Chorale, Varsity Women's Choir, Chamber Choir, teaches AP Music Theory, and is director of the nationally-recognized varsity show choir, The Headliners. He has also served as Music Director and Conductor for the EHS productions of Grease, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Little Shop of Horrors, and Beauty and the Beast. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Hales was Director of Vocal Music at Southeast Polk High School (Pleasant Hill, IA) and Associate Director of Choirs at Sioux City East, where he received the award for Best New Teacher, and during which time the Concert Choir grew in membership from 65 to over 140 singers. Upon his arrival in Sioux City, Mr. Hales instituted the Sioux City Men's Choir Festival (an honor festival involving young men from all four high schools and a guest ensemble/conductor), the first EHS male a-cappella ensemble, and the annual Dinner Theater. Show choirs under his direction have garnered Grand Champion or First Runner-Up awards in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Tom grew up in Davenport and is a graduate of Iowa State University, where he studied conducting with Dr. James Rodde, was President and Student Conductor of both the Iowa State Singers and the Iowa Statesmen, and was a recipient of the Robert McCowen Memorial Scholarship and the Barbara Jean Brown Choral Award. He served three years as Music Director of the a-cappella group, Shy of a Dozen, and continues to serve on the staff of the ISU Summer Choral Academy and Honor Choir. As a singer, he participated in performances at National Conventions of the ACDA and NCCO. He earned the M.M. in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University, where he was a Graduate Fellow and a student of Dr. David Rayl and Dr. Jonathan Reed. His graduate research focused on the motets of Brahms and Bruckner.
Mr. Hales has appeared as a conductor with the Ames Chamber Artists, Iowa State Singers, Iowa Statesmen, the Quad City Wind Ensemble, and on the Christmas Concerts of First Presbyterian Church-Davenport, one of the region’s largest and finest church music programs, which has twice been featured nationally on PBS. In 2019, he will guest conduct the Ninth Grade MetroFest Ensemble, a conglomeration of the Iowa-side Quad City high school choirs. He has been both a semifinalist (2009) and a finalist (2011) in the American Choral Directors Association’s National Conducting Competition, and was the 2006 winner of the St. Ambrose University Young Conductors Competition. Under his leadership, the EHS Chamber Choir has performed on the Morningside College Composition Competition Festival, the 2019 ICDA Choral Showcase, and in 2020, will be the featured high school ensemble at Luther College’s Dorian Festival.
Mr. Hales is also active as a show choir arranger and adjudicator throughout the Midwest. His arrangements have earned Best Band and/or Vocals awards in five states.
Nicole Yablonski is the Associate Director of Choral Activities at Sioux City East. She conducts the Raider Choir, Women’s Chorale, Varsity Women’s Choir, assists with seventh and eighth grade vocal music, and directs the award-winning show choir, New Sound, in addition to assisting with all aspects of a comprehensive vocal music program that serves more than 800 students in grades six through twelve.
Miss Y grew up in Dallas and Omaha, and received her degree in Music Education from Morningside College, where she studied with Dr. Ryan Person, Dr. Suzanne Hendrix-Case, and toured internationally with the Morningside College Choir. She spent two years as an assistant show choir director at East, and was also recently the Choir Director at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Dakota Dunes, SD.