Billy Orton now takes on the role of Emeritus Artistic Director, having served as HCCA Artistic Director from 2002 to 2019.
During his tenure as Artistic Director, Billy Orton brought great energy and creativity to HCCA, conducting the auditioned 150-voice Symphonic Chorus and the highly select 30-voice Chamber Chorale, which he founded in 2004. Under Billy’s direction TheChorus grew in numbers as well as artistic impact upon the region, often collaborating with area groups of various genres. Concerts by TheChorus are characterized by a wide-ranging musical repertoire and stirring programming.
Billy has been the minister of music and worship at Huntsville’s First Baptist Church since 1998, where he administers a growing program of music ministries including multiple choirs, instrumental groups and ensembles. In addition to his role as a worship leader, he also conducts three choirs (youth, adult, and senior adult) and the orchestra of the church. The special presentations by FBC’s Music Ministry such as the Living Christmas Tree and the Spring/Easter concerts are enjoyed by thousands in the region.
Rev. Orton is active as a musician in our city and region in addition to his leadership roles with HCCA and FBC, serving as bass trombonist of the Huntsville Brass Band, chorus master for the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, and a local chamber music performer. He has been conductor for numerous performances of North Alabama arts organizations, including a ballet with Pointe Station, opera and stage musicals with Ars Nova School of the Arts, and feature concerts with the Huntsville Brass Band. Billy has conducted church and community music groups in performances of such major works as Messiah, Die Schopfung, Elijah, Brahms’ A German Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Hodie. Artists under his direction have premiered new choral and orchestral works, have been featured on national television and radio networks (NPR, NET, and ACTS) and have produced professional recordings. His versatility and creativity is evident in the programming that resulted in the FBC Sanctuary Choir presenting the Brahms Requiem in May of 2009 and a program entitled Bluegrass and Stained Glass in May of 2010.
In his role as chorus master, Mr. Orton has prepared groups for conductors Gregory Vajda, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Anton Armstrong, James Paul, and Joseph Lee in highly acclaimed performances of Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Requiem, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, Mahler’s Symphony No.3, Debussy’s Trois Nocturnes, Holst’s The Planets, Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, and, of course, Beethoven’s Symphony #9.
Billy is frequently requested for various leadership roles in church music circles, including conductor for Baptist All-State groups, teacher for retreats/clinics/camps, and brass performer. He has served as elected national vice president for the Baptist Church Music Conference and in various capacities for several Baptist state conventions. Prior to Huntsville FBC, he was Minister of Music and Worship at Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, VA, at FBC Bowling Green, KY, and at Northwest Baptist Church in Winston Salem, NC. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Jane, who is the clinical director of the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville.