Recently named as one of the top 30 professionals by Musical America, Dr. Rod Vester is an educator, researcher, entrepreneur, pianist, organist, composer, conductor, and producer who excels in gospel, jazz, classical, and contemporary music. He has performed with numerous artists, across genres, including Grammy Award winners Kirk Franklin, CeCe Winans, the late Aretha Franklin and Stellar Award winners Richard Smallwood, Tye Tribbett, Kurt Carr, Smokie Norful and many others. Dr. Vester most recently performed, as guest artist, at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Music Center at Strathmore for A Candlelight Christmas with The Washington Chorus. As a composer, Vester continues to commission works for various instrumental and choral ensembles with the latest being the Grammy Award winning ensemble Conspirare, under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson. Vester is the founder of Fully Vested Music, a full music production company that provides innovative and excellent production services ranging from performance tracks, jingles, mixing, to recording project consultation. Credited with over thirty albums, he continues to work with independent artists across the United States.
Dr. Vester currently serves as Director of Contemporary Music, Assistant Professor of Music, and Coordinator of Conservatory in the Community at Shenandoah Conservatory. At Shenandoah Conservatory, he has created a new Bachelor of Arts program (with an embedded minor in Entrepreneurship program) called Contemporary Musicianship and Entrepreneur Development, affectionately known as CMED. The CMED program prepares students to not only be exceptional musicians but to also develop technological, business, marketing, and entrepreneurial skills as well – essential skills needed to thrive in the 21st century music industry. CMED students also perform in the newly formed CONTEMPO Ensemble (also created by Vester) an ensemble whose mission is to educate, entertain, and inspire as they use music for positive social change. The ensemble’s repertoire represents a wide variety of styles and genres including popular music, soul, electronic, alternative, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, and original compositions by ensemble members. Vester holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a master’s degree in Counseling, a master’s degree in Musicology, and a Ph.D. in Music Education.