ARTISTIC & ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM

The National Children's Chorus is proud to offer its students instruction with some of our nation's finest musical and creative minds. Our visionary Artistic Team is most certainly changing the face of music through education and is here to be a resource for you!

NATIONAL

Luke McEndarfer - artistic director

Cristina Demiany - executive director

Dr. Pamela Blackstone - associate artistic director

Chelsea Morel - operations manager

Tucker Wheatley - marketing & development associate

Kurt Seilheimer - marketing & development assistant

Janai Cawley - member services coordinator

Kurt Cereske - kodály studies director

Michael Dean - vocal studies director

Dr. Ian Krouse - compositional studies director

Miki Shelton - grant writer

Mari Miller - assistant to the artistic director



LOS ANGELES

Alexander Lloyd Blake - principal assistant conductor

Emma Joleen - associate conductor

Lisa Fenderson - associate conductor & kodály instructor

Ryan Brown - associate conductor

EJ Harrison - assistant conductor

Arie Moriguchi - kodály instructor

Erik Garcia - kodály instructor

Kelly Adams - kodály instructor

Lavonne Barnett-Seetal - kodály instructor

Griffith Frank - private voice instructor

Dr. Elisabetta Russo - private voice instructor

Gustavo Hernández Garcia - private voice instructor

Dr. Vivian Liu - principal pianist

Dr. Hiroyo Hatsuyama - associate pianist

Dr. Hsin-Yi Chang - associate pianist

Rudolph Niemann - production coordinator

Christopher King - production assistant

Adam Romatowski - production assistant



NEW YORK

Nicholas Nicassio - associate conductor

Kaitlin Simonson - associate conductor

Hannah Carr - associate conductor

Madolyn Accola - associate conductor

Sarah Childers - associate conductor

Hannah Nacheman - assistant conductor

Ana Quintana - kodály instructor

Cynthia Macias - kodály instructor

Samantha Spiridellis - kodály instructor

Kristen Marchilena - kodály instructor

Stephanie Allison Nantell - kodály instructor

Dan Cohen - kodály instructor

Allison McAuley - private voice instructor

Diane Aragona - private voice instructor

Jamilyn Manning White - private voice instructor

Corey Battey - associate pianist

Dmitry Glivinskiy - associate pianist

Dura Jun - associate pianist

Alice Rogers - associate pianist

Aaron Jakubiec - production coordinator

Ras Dia - production coordinator

Eva Bennett - production assistant

Justin Bartoo - production assistant

Russ Jennings - production assistant



WASHINGTON, D.C.

Dr. Benjamin Hutchens - associate conductor

Dr. Ingrid Lestrud - associate conductor

Leah Murthy - associate conductor

Jenni Dunn - associate conductor & private voice instructor

Amanda Fink - private voice instructor

Camille Balleza - associate pianist

Dr. Jamila Tekalli - associate pianist

Danyel Reid - production assistant



Luke McEndarfer
artistic director

American conductor Luke McEndarfer is emerging as one of the most compelling forces in the choral world today, with a dynamic career shaped by ambitious innovation, artistic creativity and musical excellence. Currently, he serves as Artistic Director and CEO of the National Children’s Chorus, one of the largest and most successful youth arts organizations in the United States. His artistic collaborations include work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Youth Symphony, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Opera Company, New York City Master Chorale, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, Opera Parallèle, Kronos String Quartet, and Stephen Petronio Dance Company. Over the years, he has prepared choruses and soloists for Gustavo Dudamel, Grant Gershon, James Conlon, Stephen Layton, John Rutter, Helmuth Rilling, David Willcocks and the late Paul Salamunovich, among others.

McEndarfer assumed the helm of the National Children’s Chorus in 2009, when he co-founded the organization with Executive Director Cristina Demiany. Since then, the NCC has grown from only sixteen families in Los Angeles to over six hundred families in the cities of Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., offering its students cutting-edge training and extraordinary musical experiences. Under McEndarfer’s leadership, the NCC has built an unparalleled educational platform, mindfully leading young singers from the age of five, and guiding them through to the college level. Recent graduates from the program have been accepted at top music schools and universities across the country, including University of Michigan, Indiana University, USC, UCLA, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, the Curtis Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School. Additionally, NCC students are regularly accepted at celebrated music programs nationwide, including Interlochen Center for the Arts, Idyllwild Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Associate Composers program. McEndarfer's most advanced vocal ensembles in the NCC are among the most accomplished youth choruses, with recent performances at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Royce Hall, The Broad Stage and Walt Disney Concert Hall. International debuts have taken place in Oxford and London, England; Beijing and Xian, China; and sites throughout Italy, including the Vatican City. In the summer of 2018, students will visit and perform in Berlin, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest.
 
Though the National Children’s Chorus has been his primary focus the last several years, McEndarfer’s background and experience encompass numerous conducting appearances on both coasts featuring adult choral and symphonic masterworks. Future plans include a return to this genre of choral music as a natural extension of his expanding scope of work with the NCC, and deep passion for the full choral repertoire. Equally at home in the studio, he has worked on several motion picture soundtracks, such as Escape from TomorrowSnowmen, and Paramount Pictures’ feature film Imagine That, staring Eddie Murphy, where McEndarfer selected, arranged and conducted sections of the score, as well as appeared as the Music Teacher on screen. Television credits include conducting performances on CBS, and NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
 
Since the age of six, McEndarfer has studied piano extensively, winning competitions and musical honors with the Music Teachers’ Association of California. He is a two-time graduate of UCLA, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and a Master of Music degree in conducting, the latter with full scholarship under the tutelage of Donald Neuen. Studying privately, McEndarfer has been the conducting pupil of Kenneth Kiesler and Marianne Ploger at the University of Michigan, Lucinda Carver at USC, and the late Paul Salamunovich. September through June, McEndarfer manages a demanding bicoastal work and travel schedule that requires his presence in all three of the NCC’s cities of operation.

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Cristina Demiany
executive director

Drawing from a wealth of experience and an intense commitment to the arts, New York-based Cristina Demiany serves as Executive Director and President of the National Children’s Chorus (NCC). Having founded the organization in 2009 with Artistic Director and CEO Luke McEndarfer, the NCC has grown under her leadership to become one of America’s largest and most successful choral institutions, serving more than 600 families nationwide with world-class educational and performance experiences. Overseeing the bicoastal operations of a national team of more than 100, her work supports the musical development of children in our nation’s capital and two most populous cities, many of whom receive financial assistance from the NCC Scholarship Fund, an initiative she started and continues to champion. Over the years, she has pioneered a unique approach to arts management, fusing artistic innovation with administrative excellence. During her tenure, Ms. Demiany is credited with growing the NCC’s financial strength significantly, including the chorus' recent grant award from an anonymous donor in the amount of one million dollars—the largest single gift given to a children’s chorus. Equally versed in concert production and strategic marketing, she has overseen critically-acclaimed appearances at top venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Royce Hall, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. On-stage collaborations include work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera Company, Los Angeles Master Chorale, New York City Master Chorale and the American Youth Symphony, among others. In 2015 and 2016, Ms. Demiany launched the NCC’s 1st and 2nd international tours to England, Hong Kong and mainland China. Next summer, she will oversee performances in Venice, Florence and Rome, Italy.

A native of Southern California, Cristina attended UCLA and graduated summa cum laude in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history. In her freshman year, she auditioned into the UCLA Chorale and cultivated a strong passion for choral singing. Under the baton of Donald Neuen and also during her time studying at Oxford University in England, Cristina performed an extensive repertoire of major works. For three years, she assisted Maestro Neuen as part of a professional singing ensemble serving to train masters and doctoral conducting students, and with the Angeles Chorale, enjoyed the honor of singing under the direction of Paul Salamunovich. In 2006, Cristina began private vocal study with Michael Dean, Vocal Department Chair at the UCLA School of Music, and further developed her mezzo soprano.

Currently, Cristina spends the majority of her time in New York, with frequent trips to the NCC’s cities of Los Angles and Washington, D.C. Her noteworthy personal commitment and work ethic flow from her love for the choral art, and everything it stands to offer NCC students, audience members, and the larger global community. In partnership with Luke McEndarfer, building people through music comprises her professional focus and life's mission.

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Dr. Pamela Blackstone
associate artistic director

NCC Associate Artistic Director Dr. Pamela Blackstone is a renowned and respected conductor on the national and international choral scene, where her expertise and innovative approach to singing have empowered performers of all ages to achieve the highest level of excellence in musicianship, performance, vocal technique and artistic creativity. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Blackstone began her training as a pianist, violinist, singer and dancer. Exemplifying unique musical and technical mastery, she obtained her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and graduated valedictorian from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas (KU), under the tutelage of Dr. Jack Winerock and Claude Frank. During her time at KU, Dr. Blackstone attended the Aspen Summer Music Festival and School, studying piano and chamber music with Rita Sloan. Dr. Blackstone’s love for the choral art form led her to pursue a Master of Music degree in choral conducting from the University of Missouri- Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, under the direction of Dr. Eph Ehly. Following her passion for teaching, Dr. Blackstone became the Director of Choral Activities at Westark College in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and emerged as one of the Midwest region’s most sought-after choral clinicians, judges, and show-choir choreographers. Completing her formal education, Dr. Blackstone received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from the University of California Los Angeles with Dr. Donald Neuen. As part of her tenure, she won various competition and scholarship awards from organizations such as the American Choral Directors Association and the Choral Conductors Guild. Dr. Blackstone has served as the Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles-based Angeles Chorale, and has taught vocal and choral music at UCLA, Santa Ana College, and church organizations across the nation. Her conducting appearances include concerts at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Royce Hall and The Broad Stage, with international appearances in Oxford and London, England; Beijing and Xian, China; and Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy, including the Vatican City. This summer’s performances will include Berlin, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Throughout her career, her long-standing philosophy has been "performance excellence through personal excellence.” Combined with her expertise in the healing arts profession, Dr. Blackstone has advocated for an integrated, holistic approach to music education that embodies an eclectic array of modalities and methodologies, enriching her students mentally, emotionally and kinesthetically. In addition, Dr. Blackstone’s awe-inspiring energy revered as “positively contagious” has established her as an invaluable vocal instructor and in-demand performance coach on both coasts. Recent students have been accepted with scholarships at top-level programs across the country, including Indiana University, University of Southern California, University of California Los Angeles, Stanford, Harvard and the Manhattan School of Music. Her pupils have also enjoyed noteworthy success in the areas of film, theatre and the recording studio.

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Chelsea Morel
operations manager

Chelsea attended the University of California Los Angeles with a full academic scholarship and graduated summa cum laude in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in classical civilizations. In her last few years at UCLA, she became the manager of a local, academic tutorial office, and there supported the teaching and growth of students in a positive learning environment.  After college, she developed her passion for event production when she became an executive administrator and event planner for Sony Pictures Entertainment.  She organized events featuring such guests as Will Smith, Nancy Pelosi, and Queen Rania of Jordan.

While disciplined in administration and planning, Chelsea also developed her skills in the healing arts and became a licensed massage therapist in 2013.  Her knowledge in the mediums of massage, energy work, qi gong, and overall health infuse a creative and positive energy into her production work. 

In her spare time when she is not producing concerts or events, she enjoys martial arts, horseback riding, and traveling with her husband.

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Tucker Wheatley
marketing & development associate

Originally from Virginia, Tucker Wheatley has been a lifelong choral singer and musician. Tucker began his choral training in the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir in Virginia, and then joined the esteemed American Boychoir, based in Princeton, New Jersey, where he performed in many prestigious concert halls around the world with groups such as the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Tucker currently resides in NYC and leads marketing and development initiatives for the National Children's Chorus. In addition to this work, Tucker is the assistant conductor of NCC's Premier Ensemble in New York and is the Organist and Associate Director of Music at the Oratory Church of St. Boniface. He recently co-founded and conducted the NYU Alumni Choir, and has served as the music director of the choirs at Friends Seminary NYC, Camp Encore/Coda in Maine, the Lower East Side Prep School, and Holy Trinity Church Inwood. As an organist, Tucker has performed with the Musica Viva Orchestra, the NYU University Singers, Westchester Oratorio Society, and the Oratory Choir, and has given solo recitals in NYC, Virginia, and Italy. Tucker currently performs at Carnegie Hall annually with the Oratorio Society of New York and is featured on recordings of the American Boychoir, the New York Philharmonic, and on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's double-platinum record, The Lost Christmas Eve. Tucker is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where he received a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting with Kent Tritle, and New York University, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. Tucker is an active member of the American Choral Director’s Association, the American Guild of Organists, and is a certified Kodály instructor. 

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Kurt Seilheimer
marketing & development assistant

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Janai Cawley
member services coordinator

Janai Cawley, a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of Howard University. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history with a minor in education. She has over 15 years of experience as a paralegal in the Intellectual Property field and has assisted clients with obtaining patents all over the world. Dance and music has always been a part of her life. She has participated in various gospel choirs and church choirs in Pennsylvania and the Washington D.C. area. She has also received numerous awards in dance and currently serves as a choreographer for the Liturgical Dance Ministry at the First Baptist Church of North Brentwood, Maryland. She strongly believes that teaching through the arts, helps to develop the whole child. Janai enjoys going to the theater, traveling, volunteering at her church and spending time with her husband and daughter.

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Kurt Cereske
kodály studies director

Kurt Cereske is a passionate music educator who truly believes and promotes the philosophy of Hungarian composer, educator, author, and philosopher, Zoltán Kodály.

Originally from Michigan, Kurt received his Bachelor of Arts degree in science of education from Martin Luther College in 1990, and a Master of Music degree in music education in 1992 from Michigan State University. After teaching for five years in Wisconsin, Kurt accepted the position of music director and teacher at St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church and School in North Hollywood, California.

Under his leadership, Kurt’s Kodály-based program at St. Paul’s grew to three children’s choirs, three hand bell choirs, a tone chime choir, and a concert band, as well as offering instrumental and voice lessons. He also served as the head organist and adult choir director for the church.

Before coming to the National Children’s Chorus, Kurt taught Kodály-based musicianship and sight singing courses for the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. While receiving his Kodály training from the Kodály Association of Southern California (KASC), an affiliate chapter of the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE), he served on the board of KASC as Vice-President, President, Past President, and as the Certification Coordinator for KASC’s Music Education Institute. He also further promotes the Kodály philosophy by teaching pedagogy courses for both KASC’s Music Education Institute at Azusa Pacific University, and also for the West Texas Kodály Initiative in Lubbock, Texas. Kurt has given professional presentations at both regional and national conferences, and also for music educator workshops in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington. Additionally, he has proudly served on the OAKE Board, promoting, guiding, and representing Kodály educators on the national level.

Kurt is currently working on his Ph.D. degree in fine arts music education at Texas Tech University. While managing a full curriculum of classes, he also teaches undergraduate music education courses for both elementary and choral classroom settings.

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Michael Dean
vocal studies director

American bass-baritone Michael Dean has performed worldwide in both concert and operatic repertoire, appearing with many of the leading opera houses and orchestras of the U.S. and Europe. The New York Times lauded his “strong, appealing bass-baritone,” while the San Jose Mercury News considered him “the standout, his voice a penetrating wake-up call.”

He has made frequent appearances at New York City Opera, where he has performed the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, George in Of Mice and Men, Papageno in The Magic Flute, and Don Alvaro in Il viaggio a Reims. Other notable appearances have included Jason McFarlane in the “Live From Lincoln Center” broadcast of Lizzie Borden; the title role in Don Giovanni and Silva in Ernani at the Landestheater in Linz, Austria; Figaro in Antwerp, Belgium; and Colline in La Bohème in Strasbourg and Berlin. Mr. Dean has also received critical praise for his numerous recordings of baroque opera, including AgrippinaOttoneRadamistoGiustino, and Serse. The London Daily Telegraph called his performance on the Harmonia Mundi recording of Dido and Aeneas “one of the most beautifully sung Aeneases on disc.”

Mr. Dean made his debut with the New York Philharmonic in the world premiere of Aaron Kernis’ Garden Of Light, conducted by Kurt Masur, returning the following year for Street Scene, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. He has performed numerous concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., including Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, Haydn’s Creation, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Mr. Dean has performed Messiah at Carnegie Hall; Bach’s Magnificat with the Toronto Symphony; with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra he recently presented an evening of Mozart concert arias; he also appeared in Messiah with the San Antonio Symphony, Haydn’s Creation in Sarasota, and Mozart’s Requiem with the Buffalo Philharmonic. He was featured as Escamillo in Carmen with the Buffalo Philharmonic, and in an evening of Bach Cantatas at Disney Hall with Helmut Rilling conducting the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

In the 2007-08 season, Mr. Dean returned to the Pittsburgh Symphony for Messiah, a work he repeated with the Houston Symphony, conducted by Bernard Labadie. He performed both Haydn’s Creation and the Brahms Requiem in New Orleans under Carlos Miguel Prieto, with whom he also appeared in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Mexico City.

The 2008-09 season included Verdi’s Requiem in Denver; The Creation in Mexico City; Bach’s Weinachts Oratorium and Handel’s Messiah in New Orleans; Purcell’s The Fairy Queen in Los Angeles; Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass in Huntsville; and the St. Matthew Passion in Richmond.

This season, Mr. Dean will perform Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. He will also be appearing in Los Angeles in the St. John Passion with Musica Angelica, and in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Angeles Chorale at Royce Hall.

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Dr. Ian Krouse
compositional studies director

American composer Ian Krouse was born in 1956 in Olney, Maryland. Gramophone hailed him as “one of the most communicative and intriguing young composers on the music scene today,” while Soundboard described his music as “absorbing, brutal, beautiful, and harsh, all at the same time.” Though lovers of guitar music know him for his chamber music with guitar, especially his groundbreaking music for guitar quartet, and for such solo pieces as Variations On A Moldavian Hora, and Air, he has written in nearly every musical genre including opera, and his works are performed frequently and recorded by major artists worldwide. Throughout his career he has received dozens of awards, including an AT&T American Encores Grant, three opera development grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and several from the American Composer’s Forum and Meet the Composer, as well as those from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the Atlantic-Richfield Corporation. He has won the BMI Award and the Gaudeamus Festival Prize, was a semi-finalist in the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, and a finalist in the Barlow Competition, and Big Ten Commissioning Project. Dozens of his works have been commercially recorded on the Brain (Japan), Urtext Digital Classics, Koch, Delos, Naxos, RCM, Lisaddell, GSP and GHA labels, among others.

Early studies in guitar were with Richard Wisner, and subsequently with the late James F. Smith at USC. As a guitarist, he performed extensively and recorded with the de Falla Guitar Trio, a group he cofounded. The group’s debut LP “Virtuoso Music for Three Guitars” for the Concord Concerto label, was awarded “One of the Year’s 12 Best” for 1984 by Stereo Review. His principal teachers in composition were James Hopkins, Morten Lauridsen, and Halsey Stevens. Early studies in composition at Indiana University at South Bend with Barton McLean and David Barton were later augmented with those at USC with Earle Brown, William Kraft, and Leonard Rosenman, as well as master classes with Pierre Boulez and Witold Lutoslawski. Dr. Krouse holds a Bachelor of Music degree, and Performer’s and Composer’s Certificates from Indiana University at South Bend, as well as Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in composition from the University of Southern California. Additionally, he is Professor of Music at the University of California Los Angeles, where he served for several years as Music Department Chair.

In 2011, Dr. Krouse received one of the University of California’s highest honors, the Distinguished Teaching Award for Outstanding Contributions to University Teaching. Special mention was made of his mentorship of undergraduate students. Throughout his long career he has mentored several generations of young people, many of who have gone on to important careers in music and allied fields. Several of his students have won prestigious awards such as the Prix de Rome, and the ASCAP and BMI Awards to Student Composers, among many others. Today Professor Krouse is a seasoned and sought-after master teacher of composition, theory, musicianship, analysis, and conducting, with a thriving private studio to augment his work at UCLA. He resides in Southern California with his three children.

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Miki Shelton
grant writer

With more than 20 years of nonprofit fundraising experience, Miki Shelton has provided fundraising, brand development and strategic planning expertise for a variety of organizations, such as the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Ojai Music Festival, the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, Las Virgenes Unified School District and Challengers Boys & Girls Club, among others. In addition, she has created and written concepts for film, animated content and game shows for the Hollywood entertainment industry, and has developed and written scripts and content for themed entertainment experiences and attractions around the world. Miki holds an MFA equivalent from the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, and lives with her husband and two children in Sherman Oaks, CA.

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Mari Miller
assistant to the artistic director

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Alexander Lloyd Blake
principal assistant conductor

Conductor and choral arranger Alexander Lloyd Blake is the conductor of Tonality, a new choral ensemble focused on spreading a message of unity and peace through a culturally diverse choral setting. A third-year DMA Choral Music student at the University of Southern California, Blake formerly served as an associate conductor of the USC Apollo Men’s Chorus and currently instructs Choral Conducting I. As a 2014 MM Choral Conducting student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Blake served as a Teaching Assistant with the UCLA Chorale and the UCLA Symphony. Blake earned his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Vocal Performance at Wake Forest University where he served as President of both the Concert Choir and co-founded and conducted the Wake Forest Chamber Choir. Blake currently serves on the Choral Music Faculty of the North Carolina Governor’s School Choir, where he also guest conducts for the NC Governor’s School Orchestra. His latest arrangement of Wade in the Water was a featured arrangement at the North Carolina Music Educators Association convention in 2013 and is published with Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Blake recently attended the Sarteano Choral Conducting Workshop with world-renowned conductor Simon Carrington.  Aside from his current conducting studies at USC with Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe and Dr. Nick Strimple, he has previously studied with Donald Neuen, Dr. Brian Gorelick, Dr. David Hagy, and Dr. David Connell.  He has studied composition with Dr. Dan Locklair and choral arranging with Morten Lauridsen.


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Emma Joleen
associate conductor

Emma Joleen is passionate about music education and has devoted much of her career teaching at-risk youth. Emma brings a vibrant and optimistic quality to her students that inspire confidence and instill the importance of music education in social development. For Emma, representing Australia as the Music Director for the Australian delegation at the UAE Children's Peace Conference in Jordan was one of her most thrilling musical adventures to date. Another was winning Australian Songwriter of the Year and singing professionally as an opera singer with Opera Queensland, then touring with her own ensemble. In Los Angeles, Emma has sung with the Metropolitan Master Chorale, the Donald Brinegar Singers and the Kodály Choir of Los Angeles. Emma loves music and continues to share her talents as a Musicianship and First Experiences in Singing Instructor at the Los Angeles Children's Chorus. For many years, Emma was the Singing and Solfege Specialist, as well as Choir Director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Los Angeles at the Heart Of Los Angeles. Additionally, Emma has served as a Music Teaching Artist in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District for Public School Arts and continues to teach music full time. Originally from Australia, Emma graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music where she performed in the Opera School and studied classical voice with Dr. Margaret Schindler and Margreta Elkins, also contemporary voice with Dr. Irene Bartlett. During Emma's time at the Conservatorium, she participated in masterclasses with Dame Joan Sutherland OM, AC, DBE, and Joseph Ward OBE, amongst others. Emma also graduated from The University of Queensland studying music education and earning her Kodály certification under the tutelage of Dr. James Cuskelly and Judith Johnson. As an advocate for the Kodály methodology, Emma serves on the board of the Kodály Association of Southern California, as well as the Western Division of the Organization of American Kodály Educators. Emma maintains active memberships with the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, the American Choral Director's Association, Southern California Vocal Association and the California Music Educator's Association. Emma will graduate with her Master of Music in Choral Conducting in 2018 from CSULA where she has been studying with Professor Donald Brinegar, Dr. William Belan, Dr. John St. Marie, Dr. Joseph Schubert, Professor Robert MacNeil and Dr. Christopher Gravis. As a musician and educator, Emma encourages the philosophy that music builds bridges and transforms communities. Emma is excited to embark upon a new journey as Associate Conductor and Kodály Musicianship Instructor with the National Children's Chorus.

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Lisa Fenderson
associate conductor & kodály instructor

Lisa Fenderson is devoted to opening the minds of children to the joy and power of music. She focuses on cultivating musicianship and artistry, creating an environment in which the discovery and learning experience unfold in a natural way. She is dedicated to serving all ages who seek to grow in musical literacy through the Kodály method, for its strong foundation and elegance in building musicianship skills. A Los Angeles-area native, Lisa began studying the piano at an early age. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Southern California in 1981 and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting in 2009 from the California State University at Los Angeles Summer Choral Master of Music program. She earned her Kodály Certification in 2016 from the Kodály Association of Southern California and teaches Practical Musicianship at Azusa Pacific University. Most recently, Lisa was the conductor for the 21014 Kodály Association of Southern California Honor Choir Festival. She has conducted the adult and children’s choirs for the annual Festival of Worship at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Lisa maintains an active piano teaching studio in San Gabriel. She serves on the board of the Kodály Association of Southern California (KASC), is an active member of the Music Teacher Association of California, Pasadena Branch (MTAC), and of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

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Ryan Brown
associate conductor

Ryan R. Brown is a choral conductor and baritone living in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to serving as the Associate Conductor for the Sonata Level of the National Children's Chorus, he serves as Teaching Assistant at UCLA, and an Ensemble Artist with three professional choirs: Seraphic Fire, De Angelis, and Arete. Ryan is studying Choral Conducting with Dr. James Bass at UCLA. Some of his previous appointments include serving as Artistic Director of the professional vocal ensemble "Diamonds From The Dust," Artistic Director of the Wachusett Community Choir, Choral Director at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, MA, and as singer and conductor in "Triad: Boston's Choral Collective." In 2014, Ryan graduated as valedictorian at Westminster Choir College where he studied Music Education. As a lover of everything very old and very new he especially enjoys performing music of the renaissance, baroque, and contemporary periods. Some of Ryan’s recent performances include the role of "Pontifex" in Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion' with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and various modern operas with companies including the Spoleto Festival and Lincoln Center Festival.

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EJ Harrison
assistant conductor

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Arie Moriguchi
kodály instructor

Arie Moriguchi is a Kodály-trained teacher and Kodály-taught student for the past 13 years. She first encountered the Kodály method as a middle school student in Osaka International School (Japan), where musicianship was integrated with Asian folk arrangements. She then earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Azusa Pacific University studying musicianship under Niké St. Clair and voice under Dr. Melanie Galloway. She is currently completing a full Kodály certification with Dr. Katherine Hickey at Kodály Association of Southern California. When not teaching musicianship, she works as a theory instructor, music appreciation instructor, and women's choir director at Orange County School of the Arts.  She also has a private voice and piano studio working with students all over the San Gabriel Valley. As a life-long learner, she is continuing her education at California State University, Fullerton and participates with multiple ensembles in the L.A. county, including Angeles Chorale, Los Angeles Chamber Choir, and the Idyllwild Festival Choir. For her, the most important thing to remember about music is; "Of all the music that reaches furthest into heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart."

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Erik Garcia
kodály instructor

Erik Matthew Garcia is an elementary music educator from Los Angeles, CA. His career began as a contemporary pianist/keyboardist; recording on the soundtrack to DreamWorks "Shrek the Third," and "Megamind." He has appeared as a performer on Telemundo, Univision, The Oprah Show, and Dancing with The Stars. During his career in the music industry, Erik led a double-life as a youth enrichment instructor; teaching art, music, and physical education classes for various non-profit organizations. This work led Erik to find his true calling... music education. In 2015, he became a core member of the team at Education Through Music - Los Angeles (non-profit) where he teaches elementary school general music to over 800 students a week. In 2016, The National Children's Chorus recruited Erik as an independent contractor musicianship instructor.

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Kelly Adams
kodály instructor

Kelly Adams has been studying music since she joined her elementary school's French choir at age 5. She began her training in classical music at the San Francisco Conservatory, then progressed to musical theater and pop songwriting/performance. Kelly is a twice-over graduate of the University of Southern California; she received a Bachelor of Music in Music Industry, and a Master of Arts in Music Education. Kelly discovered Kodály in 2013 and immediately fell in love with its revolutionary methods and ideology. She studied under Dr. Kathy Hickey and Dr. Kurt Cereske, and continues to build Kodály-based curricula for Los Angeles music education programs. When she's not teaching, Kelly performs, writes and records with the band Karmina, and sings in feature films (Pan, The Lorax, The Hive).

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Lavonne Barnett-Seetal
kodály instructor

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Griffith Frank
private voice instructor

Griffith Frank s the current voice teacher at the Los Angeles Lee Strasberg Institute of Film and Television, a private voice teacher for the National Children’s Chorus, and the voice teacher at the legendary Westwood Music Center. Griffith has been trained by some of the most renowned voice teachers in the world including Juliana Gondek, Vladimir Chernov, Seth Riggs, and Elizabeth Howard. He is a graduate of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, with a degree in vocal performance, where he studied vocal pedagogy, stage performance, and Alexander Technique. Griffith is also the trained West Los Angeles Vocal Power Associate under Elizabeth Howard.

Griffith Frank’s teaching techniques combine the principles of Manuel Garcia’s ‘coup de glotte,’ modern vocal stylings for pop and musical theatre, and a foundation in the Alexander Technique. He is extremely focused on vocal health and sustainability with the emotional content of the text and lyrics being sung. The results of these techniques manifest incredible improvements in speaking and singing, a gained physical awareness of how and why the voice works, and huge improvements in performance.

Some of Griffith’s clients include Laura Weissbecker (Chinese Zodiac, Summer in Provence), Kelly Heyer (Raising Hope), Max Ehrich (The Young and the Restless), Jenna Leigh Hall (Pregnancy Pact, The Vampire Diaries), Kristen Sarkisian (SkateTeamUSA), and Anne-Christine Caro (Merci beaucoup Bradley Cooper).

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Dr. Elisabetta Russo
private voice instructor

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Gustavo Hernández Garcia
private voice instructor

Gustavo Hernández García, tenor, began his singing career through the Young Musicians Program of UC Berkeley, where he studied with David Tigner. He has been a featured soloist for the Young Musician’s Program, Bay Area Singers’ Forum, North Bay Opera, and the Oakland Youth Chorus, through which he performed for former president Bill Clinton. Hernández has sung lead tenor roles in Il Barbiere di Siviglia,Lucia di Lammermoor, and Norma, and secondary roles in Idomeneo, Tosca, Die Zauberflote, Carmen, and in USC’s West Coast Premiere of Miss Lonelyhearts. Hernández’s forays into oratorio include singing the tenor solos for Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Handel’s Messiah; Mozart’s Requiem, Coronation Mass, and Vespers; and Rossini’s Stabat Mater. Hernández recently sang with the San Francisco Opera Chorus in Götterdämmerung and with the Los Angeles Opera Chorus in Die Fliegende Holländer. After receiving his Bachelor of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory in 2005, Hernández received his Master of Music degree in vocal arts at the USC Thornton School of Music.

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Dr. Vivian Liu
principal pianist

Dr. Vivian I-Miao Liu, a native of Taiwan, is a versatile collaborative pianist and coach. She has worked with the Intimate Opera, Long Beach Opera, Opera A La Carte, Opera Idaho, Opera Nova, Opera Pacific, Repertory Opera, Sun Valley Opera, Classical Singers Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Wagner Society of Southern California, Boys Choir of Harlem, LA Opera Lounge, LA Tapestries, Merrywoode Singers, Bakersfield Symphony, Calico Winds, California Quartet, Mládí Chamber Orchestra, Pokorny Low Brass Seminar, Redlands Bowl, Riverside Philharmonic, and LA Music Center’s Education Program. She has played auditions for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Pacific Coast Opera. Additionally, she has participated in the Aspen Opera Center, and Tyrolean Opera Program in Austria as a fellowship pianist.

On the concert stage, Dr. Liu has collaborated with musicians from the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Vienna Philharmonic, as well as singers from the Los Angeles Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and New York City Opera. She has performed internationally in Taiwan, Russia, Austria, and the United States, and has appeared on radio and television broadcasts. In 1998, she toured as a Young Artist winner of the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan. In 2002, she gave her Carnegie Hall debut as a chamber music award recipient of Artists International.

Dr. Liu has earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts and a Master of Music degree in keyboard collaborative arts from the University of Southern California (USC), in addition to a Master of Music degree in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Her Bachelor of Arts degree in piano performance was earned at the Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan. In 2007, she directed and staged Poulenc’s monodrama La Voix Humaine at USC. Her teachers include Kevin Fitz-Gerald and Alan Smith at USC, Martin Katz and Graham Johnson at Songfest, Marc Silverman, and John Forconi at the Manhattan School of Music. With her passion for vocal repertoire, she is well versed in the diction of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, and Latin.

Dr. Liu has served on the faculty for Songfest’s Young Artist Program, Intimate Opera Company’s Summer Youth Vocal Workshop, and LA Opera Camp. She has served as a staff accompanist at Manhattan School of Music as well as an opera coach at USC, Azusa Pacific University, and University of Redlands. Since 2011, she has been principal pianist for the National Children’s Chorus. In addition, she is on the faculty at Chapman University, and works closely with Los Angeles Opera’s Education Program.

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Dr. Hiroyo Hatsuyama
associate pianist

A native of Japan, Dr. Hiroyo Hatsuyama began her piano lessons at the age of three. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Japan, Dr. Hatsuyama continued her music education studying with Professor Elena Shishko at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia, and Professor Kevin Fitz-Gerald at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.

As the recipient of a full-tuition dean scholarship and teaching assistantship at USC, she completed both degrees, Master of Music in piano performance and Doctor of Musical Arts in keyboard collaborative arts, with a focus on chamber music.

As a versatile pianist and harpsichordist, Dr. Hatsuyama frequently appears in recitals throughout the Los Angeles area. Her experience as an educator includes more than twenty years of teaching piano, chamber music, harmony, music history, theory, and aural skills in Japan and the United States. After teaching at the University of La Verne, she recently became a part-time faculty member at the Pomona California State Polytechnic University.

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Dr. Hsin-Yi Chang
associate pianist

Before entering San Francisco Conservatory of Music with full scholarship, South Korea born Chinese pianist, Dr. Hsin-Yi Chang, was featured on many occasions as soloist with several major city orchestras at a very young age. After getting her master's degree from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she earned a Doctorate Degree in Music Arts at the University of Southern California in 2005, majoring in Piano Performance, and a minor in Music History, Music Education and Keyboard Collaborative Arts. 

Although a classically trained soloist, Dr. Hsin-Yi Chang’s musical career has also included musical theater, voice and instrumental coaching, choir accompanying, and collaborating with dancers at CSUDH, El Camino College and Bethesda Christian, where she is currently working as a staff accompanist, adjunct lecturer and piano professor.

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Rudolph Niemann
production coordinator

Rudolph Niemann received his Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre production and performance from Chapman University, and has worked as a music director and individual vocal and guitar teacher in Orange County for nearly a decade.  His love for music and self-expression was nurtured from a young age by a musically-inclined family, which led him to perform in children’s choruses, chamber choirs, ensembles and boy bands.  Rudolph was introduced to the bel canto technique by Maestro Vaughan van Zyl of the Drakensberg boys choir, and later continued his training with Reinette Boshoff at The Perfect Voice Institute. He has performed as an opening soloist for Hugh Masekela and in festival choruses with the Vienna Boys Choir and the Drakensberg Boys Choir. His production work includes a strong focus on children’s musical theatre, and recent credits include positions as both Music Director and Technical Director at Center Stage Studio in Aliso Viejo, where he arranged, produced and directed many youth adaptations of musicals such as Legally Blonde and Wicked, in addition to teaching group vocal technique and acting classes. He is eternally grateful that he can pass on his passion for music and self-expression to so many talented students.


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Christopher King
production assistant

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Adam Romatowski
production assistant

Adam Romatowski recently graduated from Rutgers University where he studied Exercise Science: Sport Management along with Labor Studies, while also developing his love for working in live events and entertainment. Since relocating to Los Angeles, he works for a traveling production company as a stagehand working on some of the biggest events in the greater Los Angeles area. In his free time Adam enjoys reading, listening to music and is a huge fan of the New Jersey Devils, New York Mets and Manchester United. In the future, Adam wishes to explore his passion for writing along with eventually going back to graduate school to work towards becoming an academic advisor or teacher within higher education and high school. 

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Nicholas Nicassio
associate conductor

Conductor, composer, pianist and tenor Nicholas Nicassio is a well-rounded collaborative artist with a diverse musical background. He came on board with the National Children's Chorus in 2011 as an associate pianist, and since then has worked both with Junior Division and Senior Division ensembles. In addition to being on the Artistic Team of the NCC in New York, Mr. Nicassio is currently pursuing a D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) in conducting at Rutgers University with Dr. Patrick Gardner, where he works as an assistant director, conducting the Rutgers University Glee Club and the Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir. As a composer, Mr. Nicassio has been commissioned to write choral music for the Los Angeles Children's Chorus' Young Men's Ensemble. Works include settings of poems by James Joyce and Emily Dickinson, and these pieces have been performed in concerts in Los Angeles as well as on tour, and in choral workshops and masterclasses worldwide. Additionally, Mr. Nicassio has composed music that has been performed by the Artes Vocales of Los Angeles of the Pasadena Conservatory. He composed and orchestrated the original musical score for the feature film When the Moon Was Twice as Big. A skilled tenor, Mr. Nicassio received a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He has performed with the Los Angeles Master Chorale under the direction of Paul Salamunovich and Grant Gershon, and with the Los Angeles Opera Chorus. While singing with both organizations he has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in concerts and productions lead by such renown conductors as Zubin Mehta, Esa Pekka Salonen, and James Conlon.

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Kaitlin Simonson
associate conductor

Kaitlin M. Simonson serves as a Teacher Mentor for Education Through Music, an organization that provides music education to students in urban schools. Kaitlin holds a M.M. in Vocal Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a B.M. in Choral Music Education from Northern Arizona University. She recently relocated to New York from Las Vegas, NV where she taught choir at Canarelli Middle School. Under her direction, the Canarelli Middle School Advanced Choir performed at the ACDA Western Division Student Symposium in 2014. Kaitlin’s choirs have travelled throughout the Western United States to San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix and Flagstaff. Kaitlin has performed as a soloist with the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society and the San Diego Pro Arte Voices. In 2015, the Nevada Music Educator’s Association honored Kaitlin as the New Music Educator of the Year. She has served as the Event Coordinator and Southern Zone Representative on the board of the Nevada Music Educators Association. She is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and the Organization of American Kodály Educators.

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Hannah Carr
associate conductor

Hannah Carr is an Irish conductor, currently based in New York and New Jersey. She has worked with professional singers as Music Director of the University Church at Yale's 24-voice professional choir, Stratford Street United Church, Boston, and C4 Ensemble, New York, With C4, she serves as conducting chair, and was a featured conductor on C4's debut album launch: Uncaged. At Yale, Hannah conducted The Yale Repertory Chorus, Recital Chorus, Yale Camerata and won The Director’s Prize, awarded by The Institute of Sacred Music. Inspired by Kodàly methodology, Hannah has worked with youth choirs of all ages as choral director at Beaver Country Day School in Boston, The Dalton School, Diller-Quaille School of Music and Chapin School in New York.  She has been invited to various international masterclasses, and was a semi-finalist in the 2017 ACDA National Graduate Conductor Competition in Minneapolis. Hannah is currently a DMA candidate at Rutgers University, where she studies with Patrick Gardner. She holds an MM in choral conducting from Yale University and an Advanced Diploma in choral conducting with distinction from the Kodàly Institute of the Liszt Academy in Hungary, where she received the highest bursary prize awarded by the Irish Arts Council for travel and training, The Hungarian Scholarship Award, and the conservatory’s ‘red diploma’ for outstanding academic achievement. Prior to her graduate studies, she completed a BA in composition at Trinity College Dublin, where she won the Gerard Victory prize for the highest compositional portfolio, and co-founded the award-winning official music department chamber choir, Campanile Consort.

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Madolyn Accola
associate conductor

Madolyn Accola teaches general music and choir at Friends Seminary in Manhattan, New York. Prior to joining the Friends Seminary faculty, Madolyn worked at VOICE Charter School as a general music teacher, choral conductor, and piano/flute accompanist. Madolyn completed her Kodály Certification and Apprentice Student Training at New York University and her Orff Schulwerk Certification at Hofstra University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Madolyn has presented Balkan folk dance sessions for the Organization of American Kodály Educators at their Eastern Division and National Conferences.

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Sarah Childers
associate conductor

Sarah Childers, opera singer and music educator, is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. Sarah just completed a tour of Dvorak’s Rusalka in British Columbia where she played the Second Wood Sprite. She is currently working on two large contemporary works, Derek Cooper’s cantata What If? (Mary) and John Thomas’s O Pioneers (Marie). Previous credits include Mikado (Peep- Beau) with Tupelo Symphony Orchestra, Pirates of Penzance (Edith), and Die Zauberflöte (third boy) with Festival South. Other performance credits include Hansel and Gretel (Hansel),  Suor Angelica (Infermiera), Gianni Schicchi (La Ciesca), The Enchanted Child (Mama), The Little Prince (Rose), Cavalleria Rusticana (Lola), Bach B Minor Mass (2nd soprano soloist). Scene work includes Der Rosenkavalier (Octavian), Falstaff (Meg), and Carmen (Carmen), La Clemenza di Tito (Annio), Die Zauberflöte (Third Lady).

As an educator, Sarah has been a teacher in the public school system, teaching preschool through eighth grade. While at the University of Southern Mississippi, Sarah was heavily involved in music educational outreach where she toured various schools to promote classical music.  She was featured as a soloist for the University’s annual Linkup concert, bringing music into impoverished areas. 

Sarah Childers received her BM in voice performance at The University of Southern Mississippi under the tutelage of Dr. Maryann Kyle and MM in voice performance at The Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Cynthia Hoffman. 

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Hannah Nacheman
assistant conductor

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Ana Quintana
kodály instructor

Ana Quintana is a Soprano born in San Juan, Puerto Rico but currently living and teaching in New York City. Ana has been awarded two Master’s Degrees in Music; one by Manhattan School of Music and the other from Teacher’s College of Columbia University in Music Education. She completed Level 1 of the Kodály Workshop and will continue to complete the levels until certified. She has worked at Ethical Culture Fieldston and South Bronx Classical Charter School as a Music Instructor. She also worked at Manhattan School of Music's Distance Learning Division as a private voice instructor. She currently instructs at the National Children's Chorus - New York and teaches private voice lessons.

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Cynthia Macias
kodály instructor

Cynthia Macias has varied experience as a music director and educator. She has been music director of churches for fifteen years as is presently the music director at Most Precious Blood Parish where she plays organ, piano and directs the adult and youth choir. She formerly worked at the music specialized Louis Armstrong Middle School, where she taught chorus and general music with an Orff pedagogy focus. She received here certification in Kodály from New York University. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in Music and Music Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College with a vocal/choral focus. She also holds a Masters in Music in piano performance with a voice minor from Hunter College and a Bachelor of Music Degree in piano performance from Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. As a soprano coloratura Ms. Macias performs oratorio repertoire and is a substitute cantor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. She has maintained a private piano studio since 1998 and is the Chairperson for District 2 of the New York State Music Teachers Association. 

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Samantha Spiridellis
kodály instructor

Born and raised in New York City, Samantha Spiridellis grew up with multicultural music all around. Originally a pianist and violinist, it was during Samantha's travels and stay in Hanoi, Vietnam from 2012-2014 that extended her love and experimentation with her voice. In addition to the NCC, Samantha works in the Early Childhood Department at the Diller-Quaile School of Music as a piano accompanist and teacher, and has just begun her Masters in Community Music Education at New York University. As a Certified Kodály instructor, Samantha is excited to work at the National Children's Chorus.

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Kristen Marchilena
kodály instructor

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Stephanie Allison Nantell
kodály instructor

Stephanie Nantell is in her 6th year as a full-time elementary music teacher in New York City. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Rollins College, and her primary instruments are voice and trumpet. While living in Orlando, Stephanie worked as a trumpet player at Walt Disney World, and performed in local elementary schools in a show about positive character traits for Radio Disney. Stephanie also has two Masters from NYU; a Master of Arts in Music Education and a Master of Music in Trumpet Performance. While at NYU, Stephanie taught as a private trumpet instructor for NYU undergraduates (non-music majors), tutored with America Reads, and worked as a digitization assistant in the archives department of the New York Philharmonic. Since graduating from NYU, Stephanie has obtained her Level I Certification in Kodaly Methodology as well as Levels I & II in Orff Methodology. 


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Dan Cohen
kodály instructor

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Allison McAuley
private voice instructor

Canadian soprano, Allison McAuley, is both an opera singer and voice teacher in NYC. Having performed numerous operatic roles within the US, Canada and Europe, including Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Mme. Goldentrill (The Impresario), Noémie (Cendrillon), Charlotte Malcolm (A Little Night Music), Frasquita (Carmen), and Despina (Cosi fan tutte,) she was most recently seen as Mavis in Picker’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox with Emerald City Opera in Colorado. A graduate of both Queen’s University in Canada and New York University, Ms. McAuley holds degrees in both music performance and education and is also a certified high school teacher. Ms. McAuley is thrilled to join the staff of The National Children’s Chorus and is looking forward to a wonderful season together! 

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Diane Aragona
private voice instructor

Diane Aragona (soprano) is a classically trained singer and vocal instructor. Ms. Aragona has her Master of Music degree in Classical Voice from the Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University), where she studied under Judith Nicosia.  Past performances include Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera (Mrs. Peachum), Bernstein’s Candide (Paquette)and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Erste Knabe).  Ms. Aragona is an active recitalist in NY and NJ, and has most recently performed recitals at Rutgers University (2016), The Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield, NJ (2017), and the United Methodist Church at Milltown, NJ (2016).  In April 2016 Ms. Aragona performed in NYSTA’s Tribute Concert to composer Tom Cipullo at the National Opera Center in NYC.  An avid lover of contemporary American art song, she has had the pleasure of working one-on-one with prominent composers such as Tom Cipullo and Richard Hundley. 
 
Ms. Aragona is the founder & co-owner of His & Hers Music, a private music school in northern NJ, where she continues to teach voice and piano.  Aragona also has experience teaching collegiate level voice lessons for undergraduates and group vocal classes at Rutgers University.  Additionally, Ms. Aragona is on the Board of the NY Singing Teachers Association (NYSTA) for the 2017/2018 season, and has been an active member of the organization for the past 3 years. 


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Jamilyn Manning White
private voice instructor

Praised by The New Yorker as "agile and fiery", "vibrant and masterful" by Opera News, and "superb" by The New York Times, soprano Jamilyn Manning-White, is in high demand as stage performer, recitalist, and concert soloist. Past season’s highlights include Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Laurie in The Tender Land with Glimmerglass Opera, Eurydice in Charpentier’s La descente d'Orphée aux enfers with Gotham Chamber Opera, the world premiere of The Daughter of Capulet by Pasatieri with the Phoenicia International Festival, the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with Heartbeat Opera, The Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte with Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Musetta in La Bohéme with Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Utah Festival Opera, and Gilda in Rigoletto with MidAtlantic Opera.

Equally experienced on the concert stage and in musical theatre, Manning- White has sung with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, American Festival Chorus and Orchestra, Waterbury Symphony, Litha Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, as well as toured throughout Canada and the United States singing Phoebe in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Other credits include The Opera Singer in The Architecture of Becoming (Off-Broadway), Mrs. Nordstrom in A Little Night Music, Violetta in A Lover’s Tale with the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and has sung in recital with Alan Held, Richard Paul Fink, Mark Adamo and Stephen Schwartz.

A passionate educator, Manning-White has maintained an active private teaching studio for over 12 years. She serves as the resident voice instructor for the Yale University Glee Club and maintains a private studio in New Haven, CT as well as in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Utah State University, a Master of Music in Opera Theatre Performance from Arizona State University, and an Artist Diploma from the prestigious Yale School of Music. 

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Corey Battey
associate pianist

Vocal coach and pianist Cory Battey hails from the Pacific Northwest, where he studied music at the University of Oregon. This past season, he joined the music staff of Palm Beach Opera as a coach for the young artist program. While there, Mr. Battey also accompanied productions and led educational outreach programs throughout the region. Currently, he is in high demand as a répétiteur around the country with collaborations in Portland Opera, Opera Omaha, Wichita Grand Opera, and Hubbard Hall Opera. Previously, Mr. Battey worked with several major opera companies throughout the country; including Sarasota Opera, Nashville Opera, Kentucky Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, and Shreveport Opera. He also served on the music staff of Opera in the Ozarks for five seasons, the last two as senior vocal coach. In addition to that, Mr. Battey has had the privilege of working with young singers at the University of Memphis, Brevard Music Center, Seagle Music Colony, and the Astoria Music Festival training programs. This fall, he joins the music staff of the Manhattan School of Music, in conjunction with maintaining his private coaching studio.

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Dmitry Glivinskiy
associate pianist

Dimitry Glivinskiy is a Ukrainian pianist and accompanist. After settling in New York, he has participated in many festivals and performed in venues such as CAMI Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Ukrainian Institute and Bohemian National Hall, as well as others in Europe and China.

He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Mannes College of Music where he received his Bachelor of Music and the Peabody Institute where he received a Master of Music degree and held a Graduate Assistantship in accompanying. Among his teachers were Genya Paley, Pavlina Dokovska and Boris Slutsky.

Dmitry has worked with numerous opera companies as a répétiteur and made his debut as conductor with Secret Opera in New York City. He recently conducted The Barber of Seville in March 2015 with Regina Opera and Carmen  with The Secret Opera.

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Dura Jun
associate pianist

Dura Jun is a distinguished coach and pianist based in New York. She has appeared at music festivals such as IVAI, FSI, and the Savannah Voice Program. At the Manhattan School of Music, she has been coaching since 2012, where she earned her MM and PS degrees, studying with the famous vocal coach, Thomas Muraco. She recently performed the full opera Romeo et Julliet at IVAI with Met conductor Paul Nadler. She is booked with IVAI and Savannah Voice Program through 2018. 

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Alice Rogers
associate pianist

Alice Rogers serves as a Music Teacher Mentor with Education Through Music, a non-profit organization committed to fostering music education in NYC schools. An alumna of Ithaca College, she earned her undergraduate degree in Music Education on full scholarship, pursuing studies in piano and trombone. She went on to complete her M.M. in Musicology from Northwestern University while maintaining a graduate assistantship. A veteran educator, she has taught primarily in the public schools of Lake Placid, New York and Southwick, Massachusetts, and is an experienced music director and pianist for high school and children’s musical theater productions. She is currently pianist for musical theater productions at Manhattan College, and a music skills instructor at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains, NY. Alice looks forward to an exciting season with the National Children’s Chorus!

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Aaron Jakubiec
production coordinator

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Ras Dia
production coordinator

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Eva Bennett
production assistant

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Justin Bartoo
production assistant

Justin Bartoo is a New York City based composer, arranger and music director. A seasoned musician with nearly 15 years of studio and stage production experience, Justin brings together artistic and organizational skills. Justin has studied composition and film scoring at Berklee College of Music and at the Juilliard School. As a professional composer and arranger, Justin has provided music for films, games, podcasts, audiobooks and live stage performances.

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Russ Jennings
production assistant

Russ Jennings has built a long career on the production side of the creative arts world. After the fourteen year run of his radio program in Berkeley, CA (KPFA), he formed Russ Jennings Productions, an entertainment booking and concert production company, which produced over 3000 concerts and hundreds of special events over its twenty-seven years. In 2007, Russ moved to NYC to become Assistant Director of The Riverside Theatre. In this capacity, and later as a freelancer, he served as Technical or Production Director for dance festivals, community celebrations, large speaker-type events and conferences. Past clients include: Art & Soul (Oakland, CA), Oakland Symphony (production director), Daniel Beaty’s Through the Night, (NY), Cedars, Mirage Theater Co, (NY), and several large community events at The Riverside Church (NY).

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Dr. Benjamin Hutchens
associate conductor

Dr. Benjamin Hutchens is a native of Statesville, North Carolina.  He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Master of Music degree in violin performance from the University of Alabama, and the Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Furman University.  In addition to his work with the National Children's Chorus, he is the Director of Vocal Studies at Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.  There, he oversees a high choral program of more than 100 singers divided into 10 ensembles.  He is also Director of Music and Organist at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church where he conducts a semi-professional choir.  Ensembles under his direction have enjoyed a warm reception at national and international concerts and received top awards at the same.  He currently serves as president of the DC/MD Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.  He is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Pi Kappa Lambda, and Alpha Epsilon Lambda.

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Dr. Ingrid Lestrud
associate conductor

Dr. Ingrid Lestrud enjoys an active career as a conductor and educator. Equally at home with orchestras and choirs, she is currently an Associate Conductor for the National Children’s Chorus in Washington, D.C., and she has recently served as the Director of Choirs for the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and the Assistant Conductor for Symphony Nova in Boston, MA. Dr. Lestrud spent several years in Chicago working with underserved children and youth, and in Boston, she became very involved in the El Sistema community, working under the philosophy that social change is possible through music. While living in Chicago, Dr. Lestrud served as the Director of Choirs and Voice Department Chair for the Merit School of Music. She collaborated with the Chicago Lyric Opera and Renée Fleming to develop curriculum for Merit’s Solo Voice Program, and her choir performed both for and with Renée Fleming for special events. In 2013, Dr. Lestrud won 3rd place in the American Prize Conducting Competition with one of her Merit ensembles. Prior to her conducting studies, Dr. Lestrud earned a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Lawrence University. She holds her formal conducting degrees from Southern Methodist University where she studied with Paul Phillips, and Northwestern University where she studied with Victor Yampolsky.

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Leah Murthy
associate conductor

Leah Murthy is currently an elementary music teacher in Anne Arundel County Schools. The Air Force recently moved her family from California where she served as Music Director for St. John's Episcopal Church in Roseville. There she founded the children's chorus and directed both the adult and children’s choirs and played the organ. She also served on the board of the Sacramento Chapter of the American Guild of Organists as Member-at-large. Leah has presented teacher research at the Massachusetts Music Educators Association Conference, and been a guest speaker to graduate students at the Boston Conservatory on Carnatic (South Indian Classical) music. Leah's article "Affordable Music and Movement Props" was just published in the professional journal for church music directors "The Chorister" as a feature. Leah is a multi-instrumentalist who began with piano at 5 years old and later discovered her passion for singing while in children's choirs like NCC. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters in Music Education from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

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Jenni Dunn
associate conductor & private voice instructor

Jenni Dunn (soprano) is a classically trained singer and voice teacher. She holds a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Towson University. Favorite operatic roles include Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus), Mimi (La Bohème), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), and Cassie (The Outcasts of Poker Flat). Regionally, she has performed with companies such as Knoxville Opera, Young Victorian Opera Theatre, and Annapolis Opera. Additionally, she has performed as a soloist in concert works, including Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem, and Dubois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ. Jenni currently teaches Middle School music at Christ Episcopal School in Rockville, MD and is an Associate Conductor for the Prelude Level and Private Voice Instructor with the National Children’s Chorus in Washington D.C.

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Amanda Fink
private voice instructor

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Camille Balleza
associate pianist

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Dr. Jamila Tekalli
associate pianist

Pianist Dr. Jamila Tekalli has performed in concerts, festivals, and competitions throughout the United States, Canada, and Central and South America as a soloist and collaborative musician. Her awards and distinctions include finalist of the Stravinsky International Piano Competition, winner of the Indiana University and University Miami Concerto Competitions and National finalist in the Baldwin MTNA Competition. As an educator, Dr. Tekalli has served on faculty principally at Barry University in Miami and Camp Encore Coda in Maine, teaching piano, music history, working with musical theater and choral programs and leading workshops and masterclasses in solo and collaborative playing. Dr. Tekalli is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she received a doctorate in Piano Performance with Tian Ying, and holds degrees in Piano Performance from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music and the University of Central Florida, with studies with Evelyne Brancart, Arnaldo Cohen and Laurent Boukobza.

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Danyel Reid
production assistant

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