Francis Cathlina

Director of Choral Activities

(901) 213-7441
SFPAC 2133
Office Hours
Email for an appointment
Faculty Picture


  • 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


Francis Cathlina, D.M.A. (he/him) is a distinguished Vietnamese-American conductor and educator known for his innovative programming that seamlessly weaves choral music with narrative. His transformative concert experiences invite audiences into a world where choral artistry becomes a powerful storytelling medium.

A two-time GRAMMY-nominated educator, Dr. Cathlina is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. He provides visionary leadership for the Choral Area, oversees the Doctoral and Master’s Choral Conducting program, and conducts the University Singers (flagship SATB choir) and Mazi (SSAA choir).

As a first-generation musician, Dr. Cathlina’s Eastern heritage profoundly shapes his teaching. His dedication to collaboration and rigor has earned international recognition, including being named a 2023 National Finalist for The American Prize: Dale Warland Award in Choral Conducting (College Division). The UofM University Singers, under his direction, have been selected to perform at the 2024 Tennessee Music Educators Association Conference. Early in his career, the Texas Choral Directors Association (TCDA) designated him the “Young Director of Distinction.”

Dr. Cathlina’s teaching philosophy centers on developing masterful technicians, creative communicators, and responsible citizens. His former students successfully led programs at diverse institutions—universities, public schools, prominent churches, and community choirs. Driven by a passion for human connection, he finds great inspiration as an honor choir conductor. Upcoming and recent engagements involve the International Mu Phi Convention Chorus, Mississippi All-State Treble Choir, UofM Symphony Orchestra, and honor choirs nationwide.

A recognized authority in vocal pedagogy, Dr. Cathlina's research focuses on choral tone and conducting gestures. He has published articles in ACDA’s "Choral Journal" and has presented over 50 interest sessions across the globe. In 2023, he co-led two Conducting Masterclasses in Greece with the University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki) and Ionian University (Corfu). In 2024, he is set to be the Choral Headliner for the Alabama Music Educators Association Conference.

Dr. Cathlina holds a D.M.A. in conducting with a vocal pedagogy cognate from the University of North Texas, an M.M. from Michigan State University, and a B.M.E. from Baylor University. Before his doctorate, he taught in Texas public schools, working with elementary through high school-age singers. He is deeply grateful for the steadfast support of his husband, family, and friends, who embrace his unique blend of Vietnamese culture and Western upbringing. Dr. Cathlina, his husband Kyle, and their fur baby, Coco, proudly call Memphis, Tennessee, their home.