Our conductors are not the only ones responsible for the smooth running of Ann Arbor Youth Chorale. The Board of Directors, Administrator, Choir Coordinators, accompanists and volunteers all work together to give our young singers unforgettable musical experiences.
Board of Directors
Beth McNally, president
Beth McNally recently retired as the K-5 Vocal Music teacher at Wines Elementary, having taught there for 12 years, and in Ann Arbor Public Schools for 17 years. In 2016, she was named by UMS as the DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year for her “passionate commitment to integrating the arts into the core curriculum of Wines Elementary School in Ann Arbor.”
Beth served as secretary of the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale Board of Directors for four years before assuming the presidency in May, 2016. Her primary goals as board president are to increase funding, help celebrate AAYC’s 30-plus years of excellence in choral singing and education, and help launch the choirs into future decades of successful music making.
Beth has enjoyed singing with the Grammy Award-winning UMS Choral Union since 1999 and currently serves as Alto Section Coach. Additionally, she is a member of the UMS Ambassadors (formerly the Advisory Committee), an organization that advances the goals of UMS through community engagement, financial support, and volunteer service.
Beth earned her Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Michigan and has a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College. She is originally an east coast/Jersey girl, but she wouldn’t trade living in Ann Arbor for anything. She is thrilled to serve on the board of AAYC and is especially proud of all her former Wines students who sing in Youth Chorale.
Melissa Bruzzano, vice president
Melissa moved to Ann Arbor from Georgia in 2008 with her husband Marco, and their son Nicholas. Marco works for DTE and Nicholas is in junior high and will attend Pioneer. They live in Burns Park. Melissa has been involved in music since she was in grade school and was involved both as a participant and as a leader in various church choirs. Currently, she is the lead singer of a funk rock band called Sweet Melissa. She has also been one of the official National Anthem Singers for the University of Michigan since 2010. Melissa is also a vocal music coach.
Melissa earned a Bachelor of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco School of Law. She has served on several non-profit boards both in the past and presently. As an attorney, Melissa regularly provides legal services and analysis for those non-profit organizations. Other skills she has provided to various non-profits include organizational, management, fundraising, PR, and motivation.
Stewart Knoepp, treasurer
Dr. Stewart Knoepp lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he serves as a staff pathologist for IHA at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor and as Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medical Director at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia. Stewart currently serves on the Board of Directors of EP2, a private real estate corporation in Ann Arbor and on the Board of Deacons of First Congregational Church in Ann Arbor.
In the past Stewart has served as treasurer of the South Carolina chapter of the US Green Party. Stewart is a life-long amateur musician, playing multiple instruments in various bands throughout childhood, college, and after. He currently studies piano along with his two children Charlie (age 8) and Anya (age 11), who is also a singer in the AAYC Descant Choir.
Amy Drummond, secretary and Descant Choir coordinator
Amy Drummond started in vocal music very early, being fortunate enough to be a kindergartener during Rick Ingram’s debut year as a music teacher. She hasn’t stopped singing since! She assisted and helped organize the auditions for the inaugural year of AAYC in 1987. Now that love of choir has rubbed off on her ten-year-old daughter, who is in her second year with Descant Choir.
While working as a Human Resources Administrator for a local company, Amy is also in her fourth year on the PTO Board at Dicken Elementary, and her second year as the PTO President. She is also the chair of several of the school’s fundraising efforts, including the Used Book Sale and the yearly Ice Cream Social. In addition, she was lucky to be involved in the selection process for the newest group of Ann Arbor elementary music teachers. She is a proud Ann Arborite and believes that music has the power to bring us all together!
Lynda Berg, board member
Lynda Weston Berg came to Ann Arbor to study voice at the University of Michigan in the mid-sixties, and like so many others. . . she never left our fair city. For many years, Lynda pursued an active singing career in opera, oratorio and recital. She became one of the leading sopranos in the Piccolo Opera Company of Detroit and soloist at many area churches and synagogues.
In the early 70’s Lynda discovered the magic of teaching and returned to U-M to attain certification in both classroom and music education. Combining her love of theater, music and children, Lynda taught elementary vocal music for over 25 years. In 1998 she became the Coordinator of Music for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, a position which under her leadership eventually evolved into the Department of Fine Arts and Physical Education.
Lynda officially retired from the Ann Arbor Public Schools in 2006 and continued her commitment to arts, culture and education in our community by joining the Boards of three local non-profit organizations: the University Musical Society, Arbor Opera Theater, and the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale. She served as President of AAYC from 2009-2014.
Currently, Lynda maintains a private voice studio in Ann Arbor and still sings professionally for special events. She is married to singer and stage director James K. Berg. Together they have four children and seven grandchildren who are the “lights of their life”. Their oldest grandchild, Amanda, has been singing with the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale since 2010.
Joseph D. Daniel, board member
Dr. Joseph D. Daniel is a free-lance musician whose reputation for musical excellence keeps him busy as a conductor, clinician, and accompanist throughout the state of Michigan. In addition to his musical endeavors, Dr. Daniel serves on the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) State Board where he promotes music education advocacy and social issues in the music classroom.
For six years, Dr. Daniel served as an adjunct faculty member at Washtenaw Community College where he taught voice, piano, musical theater, and music theory. He also founded and directed the WCC Chamber Singers, a comprehensive choral program comprised of five unique ensembles.
He is increasingly in demand as an orchestral keyboard musician with many local, regional orchestras. In 2012, he performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as part of the AVANTI Summer Program. He also performs with many local community theater companies as music director and as a pit musician.
Dr. Daniel made his professional performance debut in 2001 with concerts in France and Germany and has since played recitals throughout Michigan and Texas. He has also made appearances in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
Dr. Daniel completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Organ Performance at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as the final pupil of the late Dr. Robert Glasgow. Prior to his doctoral study, he earned dual master’s degrees in organ and carillon performance also from the University of Michigan.
He is a published composer whose works have been performed around the globe. He also maintains a private studio and adjudicates throughout the state for the MSVMA. Dr. Daniel is Artist in Residence at Christ Church, Grosse Pointe.
Nico Laudenberg, board member
This choir is truly international: Nico Laudenberg comes from Cologne, Germany, and moved to Ann Arbor in December 2015. Ford Motor Company called Nico’s husband for an assignment at the headquarter in Dearborn, and so the family of five hurled itself into the adventures of moving overseas.
All three girls (8, 12 and 14 years old) enjoy attending Ann Arbor Public Schools and meanwhile, two out of the three are members of the AAYC, so the ‘not-singing’ mom was happy to join the Board to be able to share the girls’ passion (well, she sang in her church’s choir a couple of years ago).
Nico earned her Master’s degree in Psychology and worked both as psychotherapist and management consultant before staying at home with her daughters. Back in Germany, she has served as president of several non-profit boards and PTOs, so she really missed being involved.
Sandra Lau Martins, board member
Sandra Lau Martins has performed internationally as soloist and collaborative pianist. Her performances include the Gina Bachauer Piano Festival in Salt Lake City; Museo de Bellas Artes in Mexico City; Teatro Sala Higinio Ruvalcaba in Guadalajara, Mexico; Palais de l’Athénéé in Geneva, Switzerland; the Budapest Museum; Thomaskirche in Leipzig; the Academic Community Hall in Hong Kong, and appearances with ensembles such as the National Repertory Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, and the International Chamber Ensemble in Rome, Italy. She has adjudicated the National Guild Auditions, the Royal Conservatory of Music examinations, the Royal Conservatory of Music Tom Thomas Competition, Los Angeles Chinese Music Teachers’ Association Piano Competition, and the Canadian JUNO Awards.
Sandra holds diplomas from the Juilliard School and Stanford University as well as two others in Keyboard Harmony and Counterpoint from the National Conservatory in France. As an undergraduate she received the Humanities and Science Prize from Stanford. She has lectured in theory at Stanford and the University of Michigan, piano and chamber music at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and has coached singers at the Universities of Toronto and Michigan. She has sung with the Hong Kong Children’s Choir, Stanford University Early Music Singers, American Choir of Paris, and the UMS Choral Union.
Joe Piffaretti, board member
Joe Piffaretti is the Senior Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) for Michigan Medicine. In this role, he creates, leads, and executes cross-divisional strategies to promote regional and nationwide corporate and foundation support of Michigan Medicine, including UM Hospitals and Medical School. As a member of the Michigan Medicine development function’s Senior Leadership Team, Joe provides strategic counsel to the Chief Development Officer, other institutional leadership and volunteer leaders to advance philanthropic support of Michigan Medicine. In addition to his CFR role, Joe oversees the comprehensive fundraising activity for nine Basic Sciences departments and the Institute for Health Policy and Innovation, a cross institutional policy institute composed of more than 450 UM faculty.
Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Joe served for ten years as Executive Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He holds a B.Sc. in Management Science from the University of Wales, Swansea in the UK.
Jamie Phillips, administrator
Originally from Skytop, PA, Jamie Phillips is excited to continue as the Administrator for the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale family. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan. After living several post-graduate years on the west coast, the amazing college town atmosphere of Ann Arbor drew her back in 2002. She, her husband, and their daughter now happily reside in Burns Park.
Jamie dabbles in instrumental music, having played flute/piccolo in concert and marching bands and orchestra throughout school. She is a self-taught brass instrumentalist and was a member of the trumpet section in the Michigan Marching Band during college. Ironically, Jamie claims to have little vocal talent, so much prefers listening to her daughter’s lovely voice.
Prior to connecting with Ann Arbor Youth Chorale, Jamie worked professionally in the pharmaceutical industry and public health sector as a study director and project manager, respectively. She is also an active community volunteer with local non-profit groups, having led several large events for the Burns Park Elementary PTO and The Creature Conservancy.
Laura Morris, webmaster, assistant Descant Choir Coordinator
Laura Morris has been involved with AAYC almost as long as her mother, Julia Chu. She enjoys singing, gaming, working with kids, and reading. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, studied web design and programming at Washtenaw Community College, and currently works at the University Hospital
Julia Chu, assistant webmaster
Julia Chu, born and raised in Ann Arbor, was educated at U of M in computer science, and has worked as a programmer for the department of epidemiology for many years. Julia first volunteered for AAYC when her younger daughter attended back in 1996, and she became a board member shortly thereafter. Her contributions to AAYC range from non-musical student support and supervision for the Descant choir to much email coordination, chairing the board’s website committee and directing and testing creation of the new website.
Karen TenBrink, Descant Choir accompanist
Karen TenBrink holds Bachelor and Master degrees in music education from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the University of Michigan, respectively. She teaches private piano and voice lessons in Ann Arbor and Jackson, and is in demand as a freelance accompanist and singer. Karen also directs the Ann Arbor Civic Chorus and is Assistant Conductor of the semiprofessional chamber choir, the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Ann Arbor.
Karen grew up in a musical family in Germany, attending a music and arts magnet school in Munich. Over the past twenty years, she has taught general music and directed choirs in Michigan public middle and high schools and she directed children’s, youth and adult choirs when she lived in Japan and Thailand, including as chorus master for the Bangkok Opera in Thailand. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and two children. Karen and her son, Leif, are excited to join the AAYC Descant Choir family this year!
Gail Jennings, Concert Choir accompanist
Gail Jennings has been the organist at Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Ann Arbor for twenty years. She teaches piano and enjoys playing chamber music and collaborating with other musicians.