Orville Timothy Lawton, Ph.D.
Dr. Orville Lawton’s involvement with music education and the arts is rich and varied. A native of West Palm Beach, Dr. Lawton retired as the Dean of Music and Director of Keyboard Studies at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. School of the Arts in West Palm Beach in 2009.
Currently organist at St. Ann Catholic Church in West Palm Beach, Dr. Lawton is a former tenor soloist with The Clarion Singers, a professional chorus based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. As a concert artist, he has been heard as a soloist in major concert and oratorio works, including Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Harmonie Messe, Mozart’s Requiem, Mass in C Minor and Coronation Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s Magnificat in D Minor. In addition to his vocal performances, Dr. Lawton is an accomplished pianist and is frequently called upon to accompany vocalists and instrumentalists in both solo performances and recitals. He is also a certified piano adjudicator with Florida State Music Teachers Association.
Dr. Lawton has presented numerous workshops and has presented a pre-concert lecture on African American Composers of Symphonic Literature: An Historical Perspective as part of the University of Florida Symphony Orchestra’s performance in celebration of Black History Month. Additionally, he has presented workshops on church music with special emphasis on the church hymn, anthems, and the Negro Spiritual.
Dr. Lawton has received numerous citations and awards for community service and his commitment to the arts. Some of his achievements are: Selected from hundreds of applicants to sit on the distinguished National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Music Committee which determines music teaching standards for music teachers seeking National Board Certification; Selected as a performing artist for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Gala, held in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Recipient of Delta Delta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Spirit Award for outstanding service to the fraternity and to the arts; Selected as one of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Men of Excellence for contributions to the arts; Selected by the Black Educators of Palm Beach County to receive the Ineria Hudnell Award as Arts Educator of the Year; Received the award from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority for Excellence in the Arts, to name a few.
Dr. Lawton’s desire to keep alive an awareness of the African American heritage is fostered through two programs in which he is directly involved. As Founder/Director of the Ebony Chorale of the Palm Beaches, Inc., his desire has been to have a choral ensemble dedicated to the preservation and performance of the Negro Spiritual, a song that grew out of the African American slavery experience. The Ebony Chorale through its numerous performances has distinguished itself as one of the finest choral ensembles throughout the state. A testament to the Chorale’s excellence, the Chorale was invited to participate in the West Africa Choral and Performing Arts Festival in Ghana, West Africa in November 2006 and in April, 2008 the Chorale participated in the Days of International Choral Music in Verona, Italy and received a Silver Award in the folk-song competition. The Chorale received critical acclaim for its performances at the Cantus Salisburgensis Festival in Salzburg, Austria, July 2010.
As Artistic Director for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s An Evening With Black Artists, his goal is to present African American artists outstanding in the field of performing arts, a showcase of talent rarely seen on a single stage. This program has been in existence for 29 years and proceeds from this program assisted Alpha Phi Alpha’s Educational Foundation in awarding over $700,000.00 in scholarships to area students to date.
Through his work with the Ebony Chorale in its presentation of concerts and other performances dedicated to the African American experience, and the presentation of An Evening With Black Artists, he has helped to raise, as well as reaffirm, the great tradition and contributions made to American music by African Americans, thereby fostering a continuing legacy and commitment to excellence in the arts.
Dr. Lawton received the Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance from Bethune-Cookman College (University) in Daytona Beach, Florida, graduating cum laude; the Master of Arts degree in Vocal Music Education from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music History and Literature from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. Additional studies in piano pedagogy and accompanying were taken at Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. He has studied organ with Leigh Conover, Willis Bodine and Hal Pysher.
Dr. is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., (Life Member), the American Choral Directors Association, the Florida Vocal Association, the Florida State Music Teachers Association, Music Educators National Conference, National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM), National Association of Black School Educators (NABSE) and is listed in The International Directory of Distinguished Leadership. In addition, Dr. Lawton is a member of The Community Relations Board of the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and formerly served on the Advisory Board of Directors Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County.