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Meet the 2017 Lake Junaluska Singers

Mary Huff

Mary Huff

INTERIM DIRECTOR

Mary Huff graduated cum laude from Furman University in 1999 and received a Master of Music degree in 2001 from Yale University.  She furthered her post-graduate studies in music education at Westminster Choir College, specializing in the training of children’s choirs. She is the founding director of the New York City Children’s Chorus and associate director of Music at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. Her choirs have performed in Carnegie Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, as well as for national broadcasts on Good Morning America, the TODAY Show, and CBS Sunday Morning. She also plays the organ for liturgies, accompanies and conducts the Church Choir and Saint Andrew Chorale, and manages the church concert series. 

Kathy Geyer McNeil

Kathy Geyer McNeil

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

McNeil received a Bachelor of Music in education and a Master of Music in organ performance from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. McNeil presently directs the choir for Grace Church in the Mountains and also serves as an organist for Lake Junaluska. She has given numerous recitals throughout the New York metropolitan area and in Western North Carolina, and she is in demand as an accompanist for soloists and choral groups. McNeil is also the choir director for the Haywood Community Chorus in Waynesville, NC.

Sherami Harris

ALTO

Sherami is a vocal performance major at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Originally from Spartanburg, SC, she joined the Lake Junaluska Singers because her church, Saint Paul's United Methodist, spoke highly about the program. Before she became a trained singer, she was also a violist.

Sherami Harris
Thomas Gruenthal

Thomas Gruenthal

TENOR

Thomas is a senior of the State University of New York at Fredonia. Originally from Port Jefferson Station, NY, he is a double major in vocal performance and music education. Thomas has performed with The Fredonia College Choir, The Fredonia Chamber Choir, The SUNY Fredonia Masterworks Chorus, and The Fredonia University Chorus. Thomas has also performed small roles and in ensembles for The Hillman Opera, The Western New York Chamber Orchestra, and the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series. He plans to attend graduate school in choral conducting and vocal performance. 

Laura Hutchins

SOPRANO

Laura is from Winston-Salem, NC, and a recent graduate of High Point University in High Point, NC. While at HPU, Laura had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad studying opera in Prague, Czech Republic, and has toured throughout the U.S. with the HPU Chamber Singers. She has performed in several Opera Scenes and Musical Theatre Scenes productions, performed numerous solos with the HPU Jazz Ensemble, and served as the HPU Chapter President of Mu Phi Epsilon - a professional music fraternity. In the fall of 2016 Laura appeared in the role of "Georgia Hendricks" in HPU's musical theater production of Curtains, was chosen to perform in San Jose, Costa Rica through the Promising Artists of the 21st Century program as "Woman 1" from Songs for a New World, and won 1st place in the 3rd Annual HPU Concerto Competition.  She is a member of the North Carolina Opera chorus in Raleigh, NC where she has appeared in Madama Butterfly, Eugene Onegin, and The Pearl Fishers. In the fall Laura will attend East Carolina University to pursue her Masters of Music in vocal performance and vocal pedagogy.

Laura Hutchins
Jacob Plaisted

Jacob Plaisted

BASS

Jacob is a vocal performance major at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. Originally from Charlotte, NC, he sang with his high school's Chamber and Concert Choirs and was president of the Men’s Ensemble his senior year. At WCU he has been a member of the University Chorus, Catamount Singers & Electric Soul, Opera Scenes, and Early Music Ensemble and is a member of the Concert Choir. He serves as an intern in Highlands First Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir. Jacob also plays guitar.  

Emily Arbour

SOPRANO

Emily is a vocal performance major at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Originally from Apex, NC, she has an associate’s degree in music and music education. Emily performs in the University Singers, Chamber Singers, Opera Workshop, early music group, and woodwind chamber ensemble. She has served as a leader in her church's middle school youth program, high school women’s group, and as a retreat leader. She is currently a choral scholar at First Baptist Church, Boone, NC. Emily also plays the flute.

Emily Arbor
Ben Adamo

Ben Adamo

TENOR

Ben is a senior vocal music major at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. Originally from Greenville, Tenn., he has been in choirs his entire life.  He participates in the ETSU Chorale, the Opera Workshop, and the Asheville Lyric Opera Company, as well as serving as president of the BucsWorth Men’s Choir.  He was the co-founder of The Swashbucklers men's acapella ensemble. Currently, Ben works as an intern in the Johnson City First Presbyterian Choir. Upon graduation, he plans to become a high school or middle school director and work towards a master's degree in choral conducting.

LaDejia Bittle

ALTO

LaDejia is a rising senior vocal performance major at Wingate University in Wingate, NC. Originally from High Point, NC, she has sung in her church youth choir, youth praise and worship team, college and young adult praise and worship team, as well as the liturgical dance and mime team. She is a member of the Wingate University Singers and Chamber Choir, as well as the director of the United in One Gospel Ensemble. She has performed the lead mezzo roles as Hansel, Le Prince Charmant (Prince Charming), and Cherubino in Wingate's opera productions.
 

LaDejia Bittle
Patrick Brett

Patrick Brett

BASS

Patrick is a musical theater major at State University of New York at Fredonia in Fredonia, NY. Originally from Rochester, NY, Patrick participates in SUNY Fredonia mainstage productions and is in the University Chorus. He also plays the trombone. He looks forward to spending the summer focusing on his voice and vocal technique.

Kayla Brotherton

ALTO

Kayla graduated from Greensboro College in Greensboro, NC, as a voice performance major and will attend UNC Greensboro in the fall as a graduate student. Originally from Greensboro, NC, she was the section leader during her time at Greensboro College. She frequently performs in musicals and operas locally with Greensboro Opera. She has worked as a vocal counselor at North Carolina United Methodist All State Youth Choir Camp. Kayla is currently a section leader at Jamestown Presbyterian Church. 

Kayla Brotherton
Collin McCrea

Collin McCrea

BARITONE

Collin is a vocal performance major at State University of New York at Fredonia in Fredonia, NY. Originally from Syracuse, NY, he has been in numerous musical and operatic productions, and he also sings jazz on the side. Collin has sung in church choirs all his life, including four semesters at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church. He also plays the euphonium, trombone and piano. 

Julianna Grabowski

SOPRANO

Julianna, a native of Syracuse, New York, is a senior at the State University of New York at Fredonia. She studies both voice and piano and will graduate with degrees in music education and vocal performance. Julianna has performed with several Fredonia School of Music choirs, the Hillman Opera Company, and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra. She was also a student conductor for Fredonia's University Chorus. In addition, as a member of the National Association for Music Education, Julianna has served as the Collegiate Province Representative for the Western New York area.

Julianna Grabowski
Brandon Mecklenburg

Brandon Mecklenburg

BARITONE

Brandon is a vocal performance major at State University of New York at Fredonia in Fredonia, NY. Originally from Hamburg, NY, he has performed in a church choir since a very young age, including being a section leader at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church in Buffalo. Brandon has performed with various Opera companies including Buffalo Opera Unlimited, Nickel City Opera, and The Hillman Opera. He has performed with the New York All-State Choir and Buffalo Choral Arts Society.

Kathleen Valonis

ALTO

Kathleen is a music and political science major at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Originally from New York, NY, she has been singing in choirs since age 5. She spent four years in the New York City Children's Chorus and seven years in the Saint Ignatius Loyola Children's Chorus. Among her favorite performances were on the stage of Carnegie Hall and in Mozart's church, the Salzburg Dom, in Austria.  She is keenly interested in studying civil rights and French, as well as in continuing her music studies.

Kathleen Valonis
Erik Rasmussen

Erik Rasmussen

TENOR

Originally from Brentwood, NY, Erik obtained his Bachelor of Music in vocal performance in 2017 from the Fredonia School of Music in Fredonia, NY. He has performed with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, Nickel City Opera, the Hillman Opera, and the Fredonia Chamber Choir, to name a few. Erik also takes interest and has experience in arts administration and photography, and plans to pursue a career as a professional opera singer.‚Äč

 

Nicole Brendel

SOPRANO

Nicole is a recent graduate of the State University of New York at Fredonia earning degrees in voice and arts management. From West Seneca, NY,  she has performed with Women's, Chamber, and Masterworks choirs within the Fredonia School of Music. Nicole has performed in many productions with the Hillman Opera Company and Western New York Chamber Orchestra. She was an avid member of jazz and pop acapella groups during her undergraduate years and was a Young Artist at Rocky Ridge Music Center in Estes Park, Colorado in 2016. She plans to continue her studies in vocal performance on a full scholarship as a graduate assistant.

Nicole Brendel
Mark Shelton

Mark Shelton

TENOR

Mark is a music education and voice performance double major at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. Originally from Mount Carmel, TN, he is a member of the ETSU Chorale, BucsWorth Men's Choir, Appalachian Men's Ensemble, Opera Workshop, and Greyscale, a popjazz fusion group. In his time at ETSU, he has served as section leader in multiple ensembles as well as being president of the American Chorale Directors Association student chapter. He currently serves as a choral scholar at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church.

Learn more about the Lake Junaluska Singers and  GET TICKETS for upcoming performances!