Chris Westover-Muñoz

An award-winning conductor/creator, Dr. Chris David Westover-Muñoz has conducted and curated programs for wind ensembles and orchestras nationally and internationally. He was award first prize by the jury of the 2019 Warsaw Wind Ensemble Conducting Competition, and his work has been described as “elegant, bold, vibrant, inspiring and centered” by Augusta Read Thomas. He is associate professor of music at Denison University and music director of the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra.

Westover-Muñoz sees his work as a conductor as equal parts collaborator, curator, and creator. He is primarily motivated by the social function of music-how music brings people together to engage with the challenging issues of our time through the collective act of music-making.

Prior to his current appointment at Denison, Westover-Muñoz led wind ensembles, orchestras, and operatic performances at Bethel College (Kansas), the University of Oklahoma, and the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. He has received acclaim for his performances with educational and professional ensembles in the US and abroad-since 2017 he was frequently awarded the American Prize for Conducting in the choral, orchestral, and wind ensemble divisions. He has conducted across the US and in the People’s Republic of China and continues his relationship with ensembles and conductors in Poland.

Westover-Muñoz maintains an active profile as a research scholar and has presented papers at Hong Kong Baptist University and conferences of the College Band Directors National Association and Internationale Gesellschaft our Erforschung und Forderung Der Blasmusik. In 2022 he was elected a member of the advisory board of IGEB.

Westover-Muñoz holds the Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Oklahoma, the Master of Music in Wind Conducting from the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, and the BA in Music from Western Kentucky University. He is a proud member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Starvation Army – Chris Westover-Muñoz, Harris Ipock, with Sing In Solidarity and The Brass Band of Columbus & Friends CD

SKU: StarvationArmyCD
Artists: Chris Westover-Muñoz, Harris Ipock, with Sing In Solidarity and The Brass Band of Columbus & Friends
Publisher: PM Press
Catalog No: PMA 024-2
Release Date: January 2024
Format: CD with booklet
Size: 5.5 x 5.5
Length: 47 minutes


Joe Hill is probably the most well-known Wobbly composer, but the story of the Little Red Songbook begins even before Joe Hill joined the IWW. As early as April 1908, fellow worker J.H. Walsh wrote about the Spokane Wobblies’ use of “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum.” Walsh seems to have been interested in music as a tool of class warfare before he arrived in Spokane. Though it is unclear how much the Spokane Wobblies were singing before his arrival, when Walsh came to town he brought his own group of Wobbly troubadours known as the “Overall Brigade.” At times during the Wobblies street meetings they would “sing note by note with the Salvation Army” [brass band], only while the Salvation Army’s words were “describing Heaven above” the IWW’s were talking about “Hell right here – all to the same tune!”

In their musical battles with the “Starvation Army” the Wobblies saw how the bosses were using the music’s power in an attempt to manipulate and control workers. The power of this religious and patriotic music was found not only in the text of the songs but also in the sheer sonic force of the brass bands that performed the as instruments of power in public space. From the July 1909 edition of the Industrial Worker, “With the number of military bands, among which is that at the army post at Fort Wright, and with the religious music of the masters from the pipe-organs of the churches up to the grand strains of the Salvation Army, the masters are availing themselves of the influence of music to stir up hatred for our Japanese and “foreign” brothers, and to lull to sleep the cradle cries of the infant revolution.”

Perhaps no one captured this better in song than Joe Hill in “The Preacher and the Slave” and “There Is Power in a Union.” Though Hill was not present in Spokane during the Free Speech Fight, he read about the fight in union press and contributed his first song to the fourth edition of the songbook. And while his song about “pie in the sky” became emblematic of the early songbook, modern listeners and fellow workers have never heard the songs that inspired Joe Hill–until now!

Conductor and creator of this recording project Chris David Westover-Muñoz states, “I made this album not because I felt we should sing these songs but because I became convinced that we need a renewed singing tradition. In this story and these songs, I find hope and inspiration–hope that we might learn to sing together again, and through singing together that we might remember that there is indeed power in our union.”


1.    Hellelujah (Hallelujah, I’m a Bum)

2.    Are You Washed? (from Band Music No. 1)

3.    The Roll Call

4.    Out in the Bread-line

5.    Sunshine in My Soul (and Hunger in My Stomach)

6.    Old Hundredth

7.    The Preacher and the Slave

8.    Salvation, or General William Booth Enters into Heaven

9.    Nearer My Job to Thee

10.  Covenant

11.  A Dream

12.  Are you Washed? (from Brass Band Journal No. 210)

13.  Dump the Bosses off Your Back

14.  Christians at War

15.  There Is Power in a Union

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