K.O. Knudson Chorale
The K.O. Knudson Chorale consists of seventh and eighth grade students who auditioned to be a part of this ensemble. These students are actively sought out in the Las Vegas Community to perform, just recently performing for an NFL Event prior to the Super Bowl. The students in this ensemble continue to receive Superior Ratings at Festivals and the majority continue their music education at one of the Arts Academy's in Las Vegas for high school.
Amy Symes just completed her 17th year as choral director at K.O. Knudson Academy of the Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. She graduated from The University of South Dakota where she received a Bachelor of Music Education degree, vocal performance emphasis and a 2013 graduate of Lesley University with a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, emphasis in Arts Integration. Her choirs are continuously sought out for performances throughout the Las Vegas Valley, and continuously receive Superior Ratings at Festivals.
In addition to supporting her school community, Mrs. Symes is the current President for the Nevada Music Educators Association.
Bridgewater College Chorale
Dr. Ryan Keebaugh
The Bridgewater College Chorale has a long history of excellence in performance and has appeared alongside professional ensembles such as the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Roanoke Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, and Chanticleer. The Chorale has been invited to perform at multiple conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and has toured throughout China, Lithuania, Brazil, Germany, England, France, and Russia
Ryan Keebaugh, Director of Choral Music and Assistant Professor of Music at Bridgewater College, has been hailed by the Washington Post as an “energetic, expressive, concise, insightful, and sensitive” conductor. Ryan’s versatile and vibrant musicianship is well known for his expertise embracing singers of all ages, from young children and emerging choirs to university, community and professional choruses and has distinguished him as a leading music educator, guest conductor, and clinician to choral and ensembles throughout the United States. As an inspiring teacher, popular workshop clinician, conference presenter and adjudicator at choral festivals and educational workshops, he has presented workshops and master classes both nationally and internationally. Ryan’s collaboration work with American contemporary composers has distinguished him as an advocate for interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, alternative venues, and new commissions. His choral ensembles have been invited to perform at international and national festivals, conventions, conferences, and historic locations including Radio City Music Hall, The Washington National Cathedral, St. John the Divine, New York University Steinhardt, The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Canterbury, and Edinburgh Cathedrals. Aside from his duties as a conductor and pedagogue, Ryan is an active member of the VMEA Creativity Council and was recently selected to serve The College Music Society's Mid-Atlantic Chapter as President Elect for 2022-2023.
Sycamore Springs Middle School Choir
Dawn- Marie Schafer
The Sycamore Springs Middle School Choir hails from Dripping Springs, Texas outside of Austin. Students in this choir consistently receive Superior ratings at contests and festivals. They commissioned and premiered a new piece called "What If?" by Kara Stacy Bedwell in November, 2023. In December, 2024 they will perform the premiere of "That Magical Feeling" for Choir and Orchestra written by Taylor Smith.
Dawn-Marie Schafer is the Co-Director of the Austin Children’s Choir in Austin, Texas as well as the Region 18 Texas Music Educators Association’s Middle School Vocal Chair and the Choir Director at Sycamore Springs Middle School in Dripping Springs, Texas. Her choirs have a long history of Sweepstakes awards at the University Interscholastic League’s Choral Contest. In 2023, her choirs presented the World Premiere of What If? by Kara Stacy Bedwell.
Schafer taught middle and high school choir for 9 years in New Jersey before moving to Georgia, where her choirs consistently received Superior ratings at Large Group Performance Evaluations. She has conducted several District Honor Choirs in Georgia. Throughout her 25-year career, many of her singers have been selected to regional and state honor choirs. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from The Hartt School of Music, and her Master’s Degree in Music Education from Boston University. In 2020, Schafer self-published a three book children’s series, The Valiant Quests of the Knights of Musical Acres, which promotes music making with young children. Inspiring middle school singers to change their lives and others through music is her life’s passion.
McGill Choral Society-SSMU
The McGill Choral Society-SSMU (MCS) is a non-profit student organization formed in 1924 and evolved into one of the most active and important parts of McGill University’s musical tradition. After the passing of Mary Jane Puiu in 2023, who served as a director and conductor for the last 43 years, the choir is now directed by Louis Desjarlais, a montreal based musican with a true passion for choral music. As one of the largest student groups on the McGill campus, MCS gives members the chance to explore and enjoy the experience of making music together.
Louis Desjarlais, master degree holder in music composing at Université de Montréal, is a young montreal based musician specialised in choir music. He works, all at the same time, as a professional singer (Orchestre Métropolitain, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Voces Boreales), as a composer (Marie-Bernard award in 2021), and as a choir director (McGill Choral Society, Ensemble Choral St-Eustache F.A.C.E. school). His passion and his omnipresence in the choral environnement for 15 years gave Louis a highly specialised expertise of anything choir related: understanding of the voice, vast knowledge of the repertoire, teaching and communication in a choral context, etc.