John Rakes, Director2019-07-10T03:19:43+00:00

Artistic Director

John Patrick Rakes

John Patrick Rakes is a versatile conductor, choral musician, music educator, and collaborative pianist whose dedication to artistic excellence is evident in his conducting, teaching, and performing. He is the Artistic Director of the Downers Grove Choral Society, a community ensemble that continues to celebrate a long-standing tradition of choral excellence. Recent performances include Mozart’s Requiem, J.S. Bach’s Christ lag in Todesbanden, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Dr. Rakes also teaches as an Adjunct Professor at both Wheaton College and Kishwaukee College while serving as Choir Director at Hinsdale Covenant Church.

Dr. Rakes earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy (D.M.A.) from the University of Iowa, where he was privileged to study under Dr. Timothy Stalter and Dr. David Puderbaugh. At Iowa, he served as a graduate guest conductor and performed as an accompanist to the choral department while singing in the University’s elite choral ensemble, Kantorei. His doctoral thesis, “A critical edition of Missa Gratiarum in C by Antonio Caldara (ca. 1671-1736)”, was an international research and editorial project.

Before being granted a full assistantship to study at the University of Iowa, Dr. Rakes was a public school music teacher and an active church musician throughout suburban Chicago.

Dr. Rakes earned a Master of Music (M.M.) with an emphasis in Music Education from Northern Illinois University. At Northern, he studied choral conducting, arranging, and choral literature under Dr. Eric Johnson. He also completed an action research thesis entitled “The Effect of Harmonic Accompaniment on the Pitch Accuracy of First and Fourth Grade Students Learning a Singing Task.” Dr. Rakes was selected to present this research at the Illinois Music Conference Poster Session in 2011. Dr. Rakes also earned a Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.) from Wheaton College. At Wheaton, he studied conducting under Dr. Paul Wiens and Dr. Daniel Sommerville, while completing studies in piano and organ under Mr. John Zimmerman and Dr. Edward Zimmerman, respectively.

Why do you love to sing?

Melody, harmony, rhythm. It takes me away from normal life and absorbs all my attention. There’s so much joy in making a thing of beauty.

What is your favorite thing about singing with DGCS?

The amount of volunteer time and effort that many members are willing and able to give to ensure the present and future of DGCS.

Why do you love to sing?

Because I feel needed

Music provides a pleasant escape from my busy life.