Skip Teel, Chair
Skip Teel first felt the thrill of performing when he was eight years old, as a member of the chorus in a children’s production of Big River. Since then, he has had the pleasure of performing in a wide variety of musicals as diverse as L’il Abner, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, and Kiss of the Spiderwoman. In high school, Mr. Teel fell in love with choral music as a member of chamber and madrigal choral ensembles, and was able to perform in gorgeous venues from Mexico to Italy. Mr. Teel earned a B.A. in music from New York University, and an M.A. in Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University. He is a web developer at Contently.
A baritone in the NYCMC since 2007 and a member of the Board of Trustees since 2009, Mr. Teel is proud and honored to be a part of such a talented and dedicated group of musicians.
Esther Lee, Vice Chair
For over 10 years, Esther Lee has been an educator in public and independent schools in New York City. She currently is the Director of Admission at the Village Community School. An advocate for the arts in schools, Ms. Lee has worked closely with the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Manhattan School of Music in order to bring opera to students of all ages. In 2000, Ms. Lee co-opened a specialized public middle school in East Harlem for high performing students. Through her efforts, Ms. Lee’s students were the first in Harlem to travel to France at no cost; performed with Opus 118 (the string program featured in the film Music of the Heart); appeared in the city’s local evening news for being the first school in East Harlem to participate in charitable literacy through Charity Checks; and participated in arts workshops designed for students and parents.
A lyric soprano, Ms. Lee formerly began her music training at the age of 4. At age 15, she independently researched and hired her first voice teacher. Three months later, she was the youngest conductor of the Los Angeles Hanmi Children’s Opera Chorus in Los Angeles and winner of the prestigious Spotlight Awards in classical voice. Ms. Lee earned her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music (NY) and is a graduate of the Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences (CA). She has performed in New York, Los Angeles, Italy, Korea, Singapore, Brazil and Germany. Master classes with various artists include Sherrill Milnes, Betty Allen, Sumi Jo, Erie Mills, Mikael Eliasen and Henry Mancini. Previous teachers include Jae Woo Lee, Natalie Bodanya, Hilda Harris and Joan Patenaude-Yarnell. She currently studies with Scott Rednour and Dr. Thea Kano. A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Ms. Lee speaks Portuguese, Korean, Spanish and French fluently.
Nora Thomson, Treasurer
Originally from the Chicago area, Nora Thomson has been performing since the age of 6. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Choral Music Education from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and began her teaching career as a middle school music teacher and theater director. After relocating to New York, Nora spent several years teaching “mommy and me” music classes to children aged 6 months-3 years. This experience with young children and their families led her to her current field, early childhood education. She is employed as the Director of Preschool Admissions at Dwight School, where she also sings with the faculty choir. Nora, an alto, joined NYCMC in 2012.
James S. Longo, Secretary
A born and bred New Yorker, Jim has been a member of the New York City Master Chorale since 2007. In addition to his responsibilities as a member of the NYCMC Board of Directors, Jim served for three years as the Chorus President. In his spare time, Jim also sings with two other ensembles, and is a self-described “compulsive cook”, frequently bringing cookies for our mid-rehearsal breaks!
Charley is an operations specialist who most recently served as Director of Operations for Out Leadership, a global LGBT+ business advisory organization. Prior to that, he was Director of Operations for the World Scholar’s Cup, an international educational tournament, where he oversaw events in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Charley and his husband, Craig, are avid travelers, having been to nearly 50 countries together. Charley joined the Master Chorale in 2013.
Debbie Farson, Advisory
Debbie Farson obtained a B.A. in English from Arizona State University in 1986 and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1989. She is a member of the Virginia and Washington, DC bars and practiced law with the Virginia office of DC-based Jordan Coyne and Savits LLP before having children. She stayed home full time with her children until she started her company HomeWise Referrals in 2001.
Ms. Farson studied piano beginning at the age of six, studied voice in high school and participated in choruses as a singer and accompanist through college. Ms. Farson’s musical involvement presently includes singing with community choruses for special events and acting as piano accompanist for elementary, middle and high school soloists and ensembles. She joined the NYCMC Board of Trustees as a full member in 2005 and now serves on its advisory board.
James Gandre, Advisory
Dr. James Gandre, an educator and musician with a deep commitment to students and the development of American conservatory learning, returned to Manhattan School of Music to assume the presidency in May 2013. He had served the School for fifteen years (1985–2000), most recently as Dean of Enrollment and Alumni. In 2000, Dr. Gandre became Dean of Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he went on to serve concurrently as the Interim Dean of the College of Education, and ultimately as the University’s Provost and Executive Vice President.
As a performer, James Gandre has appeared as a tenor soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, London Classical Players, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and members of the San Francisco Symphony. His professional choral engagements include more than 175 performances with the New York Philharmonic, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (The Netherlands), Israel Philharmonic, Warsaw Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, American Symphony, Opera Orchestra of New York, and Voices of Ascension, and more than 20 commercial recordings and television appearances on EMI/Angel, EMI/Capital, Teldec, Delos, MusicMaster, Warner Records, and on NBC’s The Today Show, PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center, ABC, and CBS. In these performances, he has worked under such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Sir Colin Davis, James Levine, Mstislav Rostropovich, Riccardo Chailly, Robert Shaw, Edo de Waart, Christopher Hogwood, Roger Norrington, John Nelson, Carlos Kalmar, Giuseppe Patane, Dennis Russell Davies, and Eduardo Mata.
A Wisconsin native, President Gandre earned his Bachelor of Music degree with honors from Lawrence University, a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and his Doctor of Education from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He also attended the Harvard University Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and pursued postgraduate music study at the Blossom Festival School of Music/Kent State University. He is married to Dr. Boris Thomas, a psychotherapist and executive coach in private practice.
Stephanie Germeraad, Advisory
Stephanie Germeraad is a public affairs executive who brings over 10 years of nonprofit leadership experience to NYCMC. She has served as both a board member and board staff for a variety of entertainment, philanthropic and issue advocacy projects, including the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music. Ms. Germeraad is a past Chair of the New York City Master Chorale Board of Trustees. Her work with nonprofits has garnered the Crystal Award of Excellence from the National Communicator Awards, the PRism Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America, and the PRo Award from the Public Communicators of Los Angeles.
Ms. Germeraad is a graduate of the Greater Los Angeles Board Fellows Program, and completed a board internship with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Over the past decade, she has been active in a variety of arts, community and civic organizations in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. Ms. Germeraad earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication.
Thea Kano, Advisory
Dr. Thea Kano, a Northern California native, became active in the arts at an early age. She started playing piano at age four and began taking ballet soon after, a background that has a strong influence on her conducting. Dr. Kano’s graceful yet commanding presence on stage and the robust performances she obtains from her musicians has basis in her formal training as a dancer.
In 2005 Dr. Kano founded the New York City Master Chorale and has served as its Artistic Director from 2005 to 2019. The 70-member group is recognized as one of the finest vocal ensembles in New York City and has performed to sold-out audiences on two continents. Dr. Kano is known for her expressiveness and dynamic conducting and her Chorale has been praised for its balance and richness in tone in performing a variety of musical styles. Under her direction, the Chorale made its debuts at Lincoln Center (2006) and Carnegie Hall (2009), as well as its international debut in Paris, France (2011).
In addition to her work with the New York City Master Chorale, Dr. Kano has conducted an extensive range of repertoire with the Angeles Chorale, The Washington Chorus, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, for which she serves as Artistic Director and directs its acclaimed chamber ensemble, Rock Creek Singers. Dr. Kano has prepared choruses for Zubin Mehta, Esa-Pekka Solonen, Emil de Cou, David Hayes, Craig Fleischer, Victor Vener, and Paul Salamunovich. Dr. Kano’s various ensembles have performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Disney Hall, Église Saint-Sulpice (Paris), and on the National Mall for the 2008 Inaugural ceremonies.
A champion of music education, Dr. Kano has devoted countless hours to students of all ages and backgrounds. She believes in the power of music to nurture and believes that classical music should be accessible to all. Dr. Kano’s substantial experience in this arena includes: building partnerships with organizations serving disenfranchised adults, hosting workshops with at-risk youth, leading youth arts programs of all sizes, as well as directing award-winning high school and collegiate choruses.
Dr. Kano received her doctorate in choral conducting from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2004. At UCLA, Dr. Kano studied under Donald Neuen, her professional mentor. For her dissertation on Duruflé’s Requiem, Dr. Kano completed research with L’Association Duruflé in Paris and studied privately with Paul Salamunovich. Dr. Kano holds a Master of Music degree from UCLA and a bachelor’s degree in choral music education and piano performance from Arizona State University.
Julie Rulyak Steinberg, Advisory
Julie Rulyak Steinberg is proud to serve as the Executive Director at Turtle Bay Music School. Previously she served as the School’s Development and Marketing Manager after joining the TBMS family in 2005. Prior to working with TBMS, Ms. Steinberg acted as Managing Director of Cynthia Glacken Associates, a leader in not-for-profit communications strategy and design. Ms. Steinberg brings a wealth of experience in brand identity and continuity, strategic planning, and best practices for fundraising and development. She has also had the opportunity to present and discuss relevant topics in fundraising and organizational strategy at national, state, and local conferences and panels.
Deeply committed to the growth of community music, Ms. Steinberg has also worked with Third Street Music School Settlement and the National Guild for Community Arts Education (formerly the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts) while developing curriculum for a Community Music Education Master’s Degree Program at New York University. Ms. Steinberg holds a B.M., summa cum laude, and M.A. from New York University’s Steinhardt School for Culture, Education and Human Development. Ms. Steinberg is a past Chair of the New York City Master Chorale Board of Trustees.
Morten Lauridsen, Honorary
Music by Morten Lauridsen occupies a permanent place in the standard vocal repertoire of the Twentieth-Century. His seven major vocal cycles–Les Chansons des Roses (Rilke), Mid-Winter Songs (Graves), Cuatro Canciones (Lorca), A Winter Come (Moss), Madrigali: Six “Firesongs” on Renaissance Italian Poems, Nocturnes (Rilke, Neruda and Agee) and Lux Aeterna–and his series of sacred a cappella motets (O Magnum Mysterium, Ave Maria, O Nata Lux and Ubi Caritas et Amor) are featured regularly in concert by distinguished ensembles throughout the world. O Magnum Mysterium, O Nata Lux (from Lux Aeterna) and Dirait-on (from Les Chansons des Roses) have become the all-time best selling choral octavos distributed by Theodore Presser, in business since 1783.
The recent book, Choral Music in the Twentieth Century by Nick Strimple, describes Lauridsen as “the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic (whose) probing, serene work contains an elusive and indefinable ingredient which leaves the impression that all the questions have been answered…From 1993 Lauridsen’s music rapidly increased in international popularity, and by century’s end he had eclipsed Randall Thompson as the most frequently performed American choral composer.”
His works have been recorded on over a hundred CDs, three of which have received Grammy nominations, including O Magnum Mysterium by the New York-based ensemble, Tiffany Consort, led by Nicholas White, and two all-Lauridsen discs entitled Lux Aeterna by the Los Angeles Master Chorale conducted by Paul Salamunovich (RCM) and Polyphony with the Brtitten Sinfonia conducted by Stephen Layton (Hyperion). His most recent commissions have been from Harvard University, the San Francisco Bay Brass and the Raymond Brock Memorial Commission for the American Choral Directors Association’s 2005 national convention in Los Angeles. A sixth all-Lauridsen CD, Nocturnes and Rose Songs, will be released in 2006 on the Hyperion label. His principal publishers are Peermusic (New York/Hamburg) and Peer’s affiliate, Faber Music (London).
Mr. Lauridsen (b. 1943) served as Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale from 1995-2001 and has been Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music for the past thirty-five years. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he worked as a Forest Service fire-fighter and lookout (on an isolated tower near Mt. St. Helens) before traveling south to study composition with Halsey Stevens and Ingolf Dahl. Mr. Lauridsen now divides his time between Los Angeles and his summer cabin on a remote island off the northern coast of Washington State. Further information regarding Mr. Lauridsen may be found at mortenlauridsen.com.
Donald Neuen, Honorary
Donald Neuen, conductor and artistic director, has defined the artistic vision and performance standards of the Angeles Chorale since 1995. We’re proud to have the leadership and dedication to excellence of this internationally-acclaimed director, who has been referred to as “…the great choral conductor of his generation” by musicologist Julius Herford.
In additon, as Distinguished Professor and Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, Don Neuen heads one of the most respected graduate choral conducting programs in the U.S. Prior to UCLA, he served for twelve years in the same position at the Eastman School of Music.
Hailed by Don Hinshaw as “the driving force of choral music education in America,” Neuen also conducts the Crystal Cathedral Choir at the landmark Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, and appears weekly on their internationally-televised “Hour of Power” broadcast.
A student and protégé of Robert Shaw, Neuen went to Atlanta in 1970 at Shaw’s request to create the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and to serve as Assistant Conductor and Director of Choral Activities for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Neuen has made it his personal mission to build on the standards of excellence set by Shaw.
Neuen has served on the faculties of the universities of Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ball State, and Georgia State University. In addition, he has conducted orchestras from around the world, and has led conducting clinics in Europe, Asia, Mexico, Canada, and nearly every state in the United States.
Laurence C. Boylan, Esq.
Leslie Ann Lopez
Paul Salamunovich (1927 – 2014)
Debra K. Unger
Marion S. Wise
Dusty Francis, ex officio
Ras Dia, ex officio
Craig Chu, Chorus President, ex officio