Dr. John R. Orr

Artistic Director


Dr. John R. Orr was born and raised in a musical family in Nashville, Tennessee where he began singing at an early age in school and church choirs.  Beginning in grade school, he was a professional studio vocalist, recording children’s choir tracks for various Nashville children’s music publishers. He attended John Overton High School where he sang under the direction of Knoxville native and Tennessee choral music legend David Spencer who he credits with lighting a spark of passion for choral singing and life-long music making as a career.

Dr. Orr continued his music education in choral/vocal music and percussion, attending William Jewell College in Liberty MO where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Theory, Composition and Church Music. He also holds a Master of Music from Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where he did research on the effects of aging on the amateur singing voice.  Dr. Orr has studied choral conducting with Dr. Arnold Epley, Dr. John Dickson, Dr. Sandra Willetts and Dr. John Ratledge.

Dr. Orr’s career has always been a blend of church and community music making.  He has served as a church musician in four different states and four different Christian denominations.  In each setting, Dr. Orr has found a way to be involved in community music making through experiences such as directing a school of fine arts in Montgomery, Alabama to conducting a home-school youth choir in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  As a graduate student at Alabama, Dr. Orr served as Assistant Director for the Tuscaloosa Community Singers and created a University Chamber Singers ensemble. He has created Fine Arts concert series at three separate churches and currently directs the concert series at the Community Church in Tellico Village where he serves as Pastor of Music and Worship. Dr. Orr has written two units of children’s choir curriculum for Celebrating Grace publishing and will complete a third unit in 2018.

Dr. Orr joined the Knoxville Choral Society as a singer soon after moving to Tellico Village in 2010.  In 2013, he was appointed conductor of the Knoxville Chamber Chorale and Assistant Director of the Knoxville Choral Society. He was appointed Artistic Director in 2018.