Our conductors are not the only people responsible for the smooth running of Ann Arbor Youth Chorale. Our Board of Directors, administrator, accompanists, and volunteers all contribute to the hundreds of things that allow us to give young singers a wonderful experience.
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 (individual, business and foundation) to help celebrate AAYC’s 30 years of excellence in choral singing and education, and to 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. Additionally, Beth was recently invited to serve a three-year term with the UMS Ambassadors (formerly the Advisory Committee), an organization that advances the goals of UMS through community engagement, financial support, and volunteer service.
She 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. Beth 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 Wines students who sing in Youth Chorale.
Holly McNett, vice-president
Maureen Schafer, treasurer
Liz Grapentine, secretary
Liz Grapentine is a proud product of the Ann Arbor Public Schools and alum of the choral program.
After graduating Huron High School in 2009, Liz has been involved with choral music in numerous settings. With a degree in music from Oakland University, Liz sang with the OU choirs for 5 years, and also has experience in the Choral Union as well as currently singing with the choir of First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor. Liz is also heavily invested in the Ann Arbor community. She is currently both an employee with the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop (benefitting the A2 Public Schools), and also a Desk Clerk at the Ann Arbor District Library.
Liz considers herself a long-term supporter of the arts, and music especially. She looks forward to working with AAYC and continuing to encourage young artists.
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.
Melissa Bruzzano, board member
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. She has 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.
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.
Pam McGuinty, board member
Jessica Sendra, board member since Fall 2015
Jessica Webster Sendra is the host of “The In Crowd” on WEMU-FM and the food and dining reporter for The Ann Arbor News and MLive.
A 25-year resident of Ann Arbor, Jessica has been deeply involved in the Ann Arbor music scene. She served on the board of directors of The Ark, worked at the legendary Schoolkids’ Records, acted on theThe Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival talent committee, was the national jazz buyer for the Borders Books & Music chain, and studied jazz saxophone with Dr. Morris Lawrence.
Jessica is a passionate, but not especially talented, amateur musician, and can be found playing drums, flute, or one of her multiple saxophones on any given night.
As the mother of a middle school-aged son, Jessica is an enthusiastic believer in the power of music.
Susan Bass, Concert Choir Coordinator
Julia Chu, Descant Choir Coordinator, 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.
Jamie Phillips, administrator
Originally from Skytop, PA, Jamie Phillips is the newest member to 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 (new to the Descant Choir this year!) 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
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.