Francis Cathlina

Director of Choral Activities

(901) 213-7441
MU 285
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  • D.M.A., Doctor of Musical Arts, University of North Texas, 2021
  • M.M., Master of Music, Michigan State University, 2019
  • B.M.E., Bachelor of Music Education, Baylor University, 2014


Conductor-teacher Francis Cathlina, D.M.A., is a Vietnamese-American whose work lies at the intersection of choral music and narrative. Within a concert experience, the musicians engage the audience in a story told through choral artistry. Such innovative programming connects the power of choral music to 21st-century students and audiences.

Currently, Dr. Cathlina serves as the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Memphis. He guides a comprehensive Choral Area of five ensembles through administrative leadership and vision; he leads the doctoral and master’s choral conducting program and mentors undergraduate students; and he conducts the University Singers (flagship SATB choir) and Mazi (SSAA choir). 

As a first-generation musician, Dr. Cathlina’s Eastern heritage shapes his teaching. He cultivates a collaborative and rigorous culture, which has garnered national recognition at the university (UNT Men’s Chorus) and high school (Centennial High School) levels. He is a 2023 GRAMMY Music Educator Quarterfinalist, and early in his career, the Texas Choral Directors Association (TCDA) designated him the “Young Director of Distinction.”

An active guest conductor, Dr. Cathlina builds masterful technicians and creative communicators through inclusive pedagogy. Upcoming engagements in 2022-2023 involve the Mississippi All-State High School Treble Choir, and region choirs in Texas, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania.

Dr. Cathlina’s scholarship focuses on vocal pedagogy, choral tone, and artistic conducting gesture. In summer 2021, the American Choral Directors Association’s Choral Journal published his two-part article “7 Essentials for Developing Voices in Choir: Part I” and “Part II.” Additionally, he serves the profession as an adjudicator and coordinator and regularly presents interest sessions throughout the United States.

Dr. Cathlina holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting with a vocal pedagogy cognate from the University of North Texas, a Master of Music in choral conducting from Michigan State University, and a Bachelor of Music Education from Baylor University. Prior to his doctoral studies, he taught public school, working with elementary through high school-aged singers with diverse backgrounds. Dr. Cathlina lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his husband, Kyle, and their dog, Coco.