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Rita Gigliotti is currently pursuing her Doctorate (PhD) in Music Education at George Mason University and most recently earned a Graduate Certificate in Music for Well-Being in May, 2022. Alongside her studies, Rita is currently teaching undergraduate music courses and is the director for the Healing Arts Ensemble and instructor for the Music for Well-Being coursework. Originally from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she began her professional teaching career in 2001 with middle school chorus and general music. Previously she earned a Master of Music in Music Education from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh (2005). Her Masters thesis entitled Virtual Choral Laboratory focused on creation and application of web based music technology curriculum and resources for Choral Music Education. Rita earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education with a concentration in Voice/ minor in Piano and dual endorsements in Instrumental and Choral Music Education from Seton Hill University Greensburg, Pennsylvania (2001). While at Seton Hill she was awarded the Program in Music Award for outstanding achievement and excellence in music. Rita graduated Magna Cum Laude from both Duquesne and Seton Hill.

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Rita has been singing since she was four years old and formally studying piano since she was seven. Music has always been her passion and she knew at age ten that she wanted to make it her lifelong career. Currently a licensed teacher in Virginia, Rita has spent over two decades as a teacher in the public school system gaining a wide variety of experiences in K-12 Music Education. Rita most recently served as the Choral Director at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA (Fairfax County Public Schools). During her seventeen year tenure there  she directed five choirs, mentored and sponsored three student run a cappella groups, developed a non-profit parent booster organization, directed, produced, chaired, and hosted countless county, state, and international music events, concerts, and musical theatre productions and co-sponsored the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Choirs under her tutelage consistently earned superior ratings at state and national assessments and were regularly invited to perform with a wide range of professional artists, university choirs, at state and national music festivals, and for WNBA and NBA games. Rita’s choirs received honorable opportunities, by audition, to perform at the Virginia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference, Carnegie Hall, and for the Candlelight Processional, narrated by Neil Patrick Harris at Epcot in Walt Disney World. Under Rita’s leadership the South Lakes Choral Department was awarded the 2011 American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) Inclusion & Diversity in the Arts Award. AAPD is the largest non-profit cross-disability organization in the United States. Rita has been nominated for FCPS Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for SEPTA Secondary Co-Curricular Teacher of the Year.

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Rita is very passionate about music’s role in the community. Over the years she has retained various community music roles as a church choir director, solo performer, private music instructor, presenter for community music programs, and a director and producer of many community music related events across various genres. Most notably, Rita volunteered her time as a co-producer and host of SingStrongDC for nine years (2009-2016). This international a cappella music festival brought some of the world’s best a cappella artists, across all genres, to collaborate, enrich, inspire, entertain and educate our community. Headlining artists included: Pentatonix, Street Corner Symphony, Ten, MAXX Factor, Afro-Blue and The Vanderbilt Melodores from
NBC's TV show, "The Sing-Off;" Grammy Winner, Ben Bram, Rob Deitz (with Level), American Idol's Blake Lewis, and Nate Tao (with The Funx); Ball in the House and The Edge Effect from “America's Got Talent;” viral YouTube sensation and Austrian overtone singer, Anna-Maria Hefele; Stiletta, GQ (Girls Quartet), Blue Jupiter, the haunting, Eastern European sounds of Slaveya and Zulal; comedic a cappella legends, The BOBS; international touring acts, The Swingle Singers (England), The Essentials (Canada), The Glue (Switzerland), Fii (Austria), Vocaldente (Germany), VocalLine (Denmark), Ensamble Fenix (Venezuela), Voco Novo (Taiwan); The Alexandria Harmonizers, barbershop multi-medalists; beatboxers, Mandible (VocaPeople), Ben Mirin (TED Talks), Kalia Mullady (Freestyle Love Supreme) and dozens more. This festival raised thousands of dollars for the fight against Alzheimers with annual donations to
Cure Alzheimer’s and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Rita is a professional member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA), International Symposium for Music Education (ISME), American Psychology Association Division 10 (APA), College Music Society (CMS), Chorus Americaand A Cappella Education Association. She is past-president of the Fairfax County Choral Directors Association, and has served VMEA as the Chorus Representative for District XII and as a member of the Government Relations Committee. Rita was newly elected to the the board for the Friends of Mason Music in May, 2023 where she will spend a three year term collaborating and leading events and fundraising initiatives that support music students at George Mason University. Rita is also serving ACDA VA on the Region Special Projects Committee. 

Rita has always had an interest in music, well-being, and the mind, body, voice connection. After her extensive battle with Cushing’s Disease she felt even more drawn to pursue studies in the healing power of music, because it was clear that music enabled her to float through some of the darkest days of her own recovery and journey back to restored health. While completing the Music for Well-Being Graduate Certificate at GMU, Rita also earned her Pranayama Certification with Maryam Ovissi at Beloved Yoga and Certificates in Level 1, 2, and 3 of Healing Touch through the accredited Healing Touch Program. Through this work Rita has implemented methods to engage, elevate, and empower™ her students in practice and performance in the classroom, on stage, and in her private studio, Melodia.

As a performer Rita continues to study voice privately and has been active as an accompanist and vocal recitalist around the metro area and beyond. She has vast experience in performing repertoire in classical voice and musical theater and is cross trained in bel canto and contemporary methods of vocal pedagogy. She has completed her Level 2 Certification in Contemporary Commercial Music pedagogy at the CCM Institute. Notable vocal performances include Handel's Messiah, Mezzo Soprano Soloist; Mozart's Regina Coeli, Mezzo Soprano Soloist; Schubert's Mass in G, Soprano Soloist; Vivaldi's Gloria, Mezzo Soprano Soloist; Miss Saigon (Ellen), The King and I (ensemble), Richard Crittendon's Opera Workshop.

When she’s not making music, studying or teaching Rita loves spending time in nature, doing yoga, cooking, traveling, snuggling with her shih- tzu, Holly and hanging out with her supportive and amazing husband, Francesco.

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