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Copeland/Compher Choral Suite Dedication

On Friday, October 28, 2022 of Homecoming Weekend, we dedicated the Chamberlain chorus room after beloved Chamberlain Choral Directors, Jim Copeland, 1956-1981 and Danny Compher, 1985-2011.

1959 Jim Copeland
Danny Compher
Chorus Music Dedication Historical Slide Show 10-28-22
Choral Room Dedication Naming
Music Dedication Program Front 10-2022
Music Dedication Program Back 10-2022
Jim Copeland

Jim Copeland


In February of 1958, Jim Copeland was hired as the first Vocal Music Director at the then new Chamberlain High School. During his 24 years at Chamberlain, he established a foundation of musical excellence as evidenced by achieving 22 consecutive years of Superior ratings at District and State choral music festivals. This record was later honored by the Florida Department of Education.

During his tenure, Mr. Copeland’s choruses served as choral demonstration groups for every state university in Florida. The Chamberlain choruses were presented with unique and diverse opportunities for performance and enrichment, ranging from the inauguration of Governor Bob Graham, to performing at the Bayfront Center with Barry Manilow. They were invited by President Jimmy Carter to perform in the East Room of the White House for the meeting of the National Education Association. While in Washington, D.C., they also presented a concert of choral music at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In further recognition of his achievements at Chamberlain High School, Mr. Copeland was asked to provide his expertise to the larger music education and arts community.  He served on numerous boards and committees, including the Education Committee of the Florida Orchestra, the Music Committee of the Florida Council for the Arts, the Arts Council of Tampa/Hillsborough County, and the founding Board of the Hillsborough Youth Orchestra.

His reputation as a premier choral conductor placed him great demand as a featured conductor of Florida All-State Choruses, as well as All-County Choruses throughout the state. He was invited to adjudicate the Florida State Choral Festival on multiple occasions. In addition, he adjudicated music performance assessment (MPA) in every district of the Florida Vocal Association. 

In 1982, Mr. Copeland was elevated by the Hillsborough County School Board to the position of Supervisor of Secondary Music. During his tenure in this position, he worked to create a balanced music program which included vocal, band, and orchestra programs throughout the school district He helped design music suites and auditoriums for every new secondary school, beginning with Gaither High School, and ending with the Magnet Program for the Arts at Blake High School. One unique responsibility was his work with the organizers of two Super Bowls that provided students from throughout Hillsborough County the opportunity to perform at the half-time shows.


Mr. Copeland was inducted into the Chamberlain High School Hall of Fame, the Hillsborough County Music Education Hall of Fame, and the Florida Vocal Association Hall of Fame. In reflecting on his career, Jim realizes that he experienced his deepest joy during the years he spent teaching at Chamberlain. 

Mr. Copeland’s greatest legacy is the impact is the love for music, his high expectations and the impact he had on the hundreds of students who were privileged to experience in his music programs. It is for these reasons that the Chamberlain High School Legacy Alliance recommends to the Hillsborough County School Board that Mr. Copeland’s legacy of educational excellence be enshrined by naming the choral suite at Chamberlain High School in his honor.

Danny Compher

Danny Compher

As a student of Jim Copeland at Chamberlain High school, Danny Compher was inspired by his teacher and mentor to pursue a career in music education. Upon Mr. Copeland’s promotion to Supervisor of Secondary Music in 1985, Mr. Compher was selected to succeed Mr. Copeland as the Vocal Music Director at Chamberlain High School. For the next 25 years, Mr Compher’s choral groups received Superior ratings at the Florida Vocal Association Music Performance Assessments (MPA) and continued the level of excellence expected of the Chamberlain High School vocal music program until 2011.

In 1986, State Commissioner of Education Betty Castor recognized the Chamberlain Vocal Music Department as one of five organizations in the state recognized with her “Excellence in Education” award. She came to Chamberlain to present the award to the school and the choir during a school wide assembly. Chamberlain was the only school-based organization; the other four organizations were major corporations in the state. In 1999, The Chamberlain Chorus auditioned for and was selected by the Florida chapter of The American Choral Director’s Association to be a featured choir at the state convention as a model of choral excellence to over 200 choral directors.

Mr Compher’s program at Chamberlain competed against fifty-two choirs at the Opryland Invitational Choral Festival in Nashville, TN and placed second in the nation. His chorus at Chamberlain was further recognized in 2002, when they auditioned for and were selected by the Southern Division of The American Choral Director’s Association (eleven state region) to sing at the Southern Division Conference in Charlotte, NC as a model of choral excellence to an audience of 1000 choral directors. At the February 28, 2002, meeting, the Hillsborough County School Board recognized Mr. Compher and the Chamberlain Chorus for representing the district at the Southern Division Conference in Charlotte, NC. The Chamberlain Chorus auditioned and selected on two occasions to sing at the state luncheon of the Florida chapter of The American Choral Director’s Association at the Florida Music Educators State Convention. Only one choir is selected each year from choirs auditioning from the middle, high and collegiate levels.

In 2000 Mr.Compher was invited to make a presentation at the Florida Music Educator’s State Conference on how to present a madrigal dinner at the high school level. The Chamberlain chorus put on an interest session in the morning and a madrigal dinner later that evening to a sold out audience of 200 choral directors.

From 1987 to the present Danny Compher has adjudicated at dozens of district and state Music Performance Assessments for the Florida Vocal Association and served as a choral clinician throughout the state, again based on the accomplishments of the Chamberlain High School Vocal Music Department.

In 2017 he was inducted into the Florida Vocal Association’s State Hall of Fame for hisaccomplishments during his career (most of that at Chamberlain.) While it is an individual award, it is an acknowledgement of the accomplishments of the Chamberlain Vocal Music Department.

Former Chorus
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