Our Singers

Meet our Pride 2017 Singers!

Jeffry Blake Johnson
Artistic Director

Dr. Jeffry Johnson has performed professionally as a conductor, singer, actor, pianist, harpsichordist, organist, and music teacher for over 30 years. His conducting credits feature numerous premieres as well as extensive work with contemporary and standard repertoire. His stage credits include numerous operatic leading tenor roles and several years performing with the national musical theater touring company American Family Theatre in various leading and supporting roles. He has performed extensively as a piano accompanist throughout the United States and has served numerous churches and synagogues. Currently, Dr. Johnson is an adjunct instructor of voice and piano at Washington & Jefferson College.

William Larson
Accompanist

William Larson hails from Pittsburgh. He received a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center in 1989, and completed his graduate studies at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in 1992. As a choir director and organist, he has served various churches in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. He is Director of Instrumental Music at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh. In addition to his work with the Renaissance City Choirs, he has been choirmaster and keyboardist for the Undercroft Opera, and is a piano technician.

Athena's Fire
Guest Artists

We are a group of women who love to sing. Our repertoire is quite varied with an emphasis on songs raising awareness of peace and justice for all people and the whole planet! We make good music and have fun.

LisaAllen
Alto 2, 2008

Lisa is proud to be singing another spring concert. Hopefully her teeth will stay in through the entire performance.

Angela Anderson
Soprano 2, 2017

Angela is a scholar-activist, currently in GSWS at Pitt, and soon in medical sociology at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying chronic illness from an intersectional feminist perspective. Join/follow the #icantkeepquiet Pittsburgh choir on Facebook! Thanks to Heath Audre, who sings more beautifully, and incessantly, than Mama does.

Jeremy Ayers
Tenor 2, 2015

Jeremy has always loved singing and has greatly enjoyed his second year with the choir.

Tessa Barber
Soprano 2, 2015

Tessa is so happy to be singing with the RCC after singing in choirs from elementary school through college. In her spare time she memorizes Appalachian Folk Ballads and plays open mics with her band, Bitter Whiskers.

Stephanie Baverso
Alto 1, 2016

Stephanie moved to Pittsburgh in July and joined the RCC in August. She is thankful for the warm welcome to PGH. She must thank her California family for believing in her, her Pittsburgh family for helping with transition, and of course her beautiful wife for their wonderful life.

Sam Benek
Baritone, 2016

Sam has had a vibrant singing career through high school, participating in regional and national choirs. Now he’s studying computer science at Pitt, and joined the RCC this year to continue this passion in a safe place.

Raymond Blackwell
Bass, 2009

Raymond Blackwell is originally from Wilmington, Delaware. He came to Pittsburgh in 1996 to work for the Pittsburgh Opera. He now is a voice coach at Carnegie Mellon and a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. He is married to Jefferey Shiring and they live in Penn Hills.

Pam Bram
Soprano 2, 2009

Pam has been in the second soprano section of the choir since joining. Singing has become a favorite activity since then.

Rachel Brown
Soprano 1, 2017

This is Rachel’s first year singing with the RCC. The child of an organist/choir director and a music teacher, Rachel is no stranger to music, but is happy to be returning to singing after some time away. Rachel’s day job is as the licensed clinical social worker for the lung transplant team at UPMC Presbyterian. Other than singing, Rachel has a variety of interests and hobbies including making stained glass pieces and going to live theater productions.

Carol Chonoska
Soprano 2, 2004

Carol lives in Mars, Pennsylvania with her wife JoAnn and commutes to Bethel Park to teach special education in the middle school. She is very active as the chair of the Justice Committee and co-chair of the Mission Board right here at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. She also enjoys gardening, camping, and canoeing in her free time. RCC has been a vibrant expression of joy and affirmation in her life.

JoAnn Chonoska
Alto 2, Tenor 1, 2003

JoAnn is a retired high school math teacher who lives in Mars with her wife, Carol. She is a board member and the treasurer for the RCC and belongs to St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Shadyside. JoAnn enjoys working on their 115-year-old home, and camping and canoeing with Carol.

Caitlin Clever
Alto 1, 2014

Caitlin is an occupational therapist and also sings in the Pittsburgh Compline Choir. Caitlin can most often be found walking in Highland Park with her husband or making something interesting out of yarn.

Stephanie Dantzler
Alto 2, 2013

Stephanie moved back to Pittsburgh after the death of her parents, but she just couldn’t find her niche. RCC gave her the chance to live her dream of performing in front of an audience again just like she used to as a child in plays at school. The choir has become her home away from home. She would like to thank her choir sisters Cookie and Deb for introducing her to the RCC.

Sharon Davis
Soprano 1, 1995

Sharon is a founding member of the Renaissance City Women’s choir. She co-wrote the script for the RCC’s “Who’s Who” multi-media concert/game. She thanks her family and former band and choir directors for her musical education — which has been indispensable beyond words.

Morgan Hawkins Drain
Alto 1, 2010

A member of RCC since 2010 and current RCC board president, Morgan spends her days as a graphic designer at Pittsburgh Glass Center. In her spare time she can’t pass up a thrift store, yard sale, or karaoke night. Morgan lives in Swissvale with her husband (and middle-school sweetheart) Michael and daughter Emory.

Favonia
Tenor 2, 2010

Favonia came from the other side of the Earth to join the RCC in 2010. Incidentally, they are studying at CMU as a Ph.D. student.

Shira Feigelstein
Soprano 1, 2014

Shira is thrilled to be a Soprano 1 with the RCC. When she isn’t making lovely music, she can be found hurting the elderly as a geriatric home health physical therapist, or cuddling with her wife, Tamara; daughter, Cylvia; and their dogs.

Jeff Fritz
Tenor 2, 2015

Jeff has been singing with the Springdale United Presbyterian Church choir for many years. He also played the sax in his high school bands. In his spare time, Jeff loves spending time with his husband, Jason; his two daughters; and his two grandchildren. Jeff joined RCC in the spring of 2015.

David Goldstein
Tenor 1, 2012

Business executive by day, David is the husband of Artistic Director Jeffry Johnson, and is an award-winning composer of sacred choral music. He leads the Tikkun Chant Circle of Pittsburgh and is happy to be singing with RCC.

Aaron Gray
Baritone, 2014

Aaron has sung with the West Liberty University Chamber Choir and the Shadyside Presbyterian Community Choir in the past and is the Assistant Director of the KEYS Service Corps AmeriCorps program. In his spare time, Aaron can be found trying to outsmart a wily Vizsla named Dora.

Sarah Hansen
Soprano 2, Percussion, 2017

Sarah recently moved to Pittsburgh to support her role as director of programs for the nonprofit Pennsylvania Women Work. From her youth through a master’s degree in performance studies, Sarah has long held a passion for music. She is thankful for the support of her husband, Sean, and is thrilled to add her voice to the RCC!

Rick Harrison
Bass, 1995

Choral singing has been a joy of Rick’s life since from LaSalle/Bishop Walsh High School in Cumberland, Maryland to the University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of Puerto Rico, Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Camerata, and RCC. Rick works as a college librarian and has two cats, Mimi and Musetta. He loves Romance languages and Italian culture and enjoys karaoke.

Kurt Hirsch
Bass, 2004

Kurt returned to the RCC after living in Philadelphia in enemy territory as a Pittsburgh Pengiuns fan. He performed with the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus and sang the National Anthem for the Camden (NJ) Riversharks. Kurt enjoys going to sporting events around the country. He also loves karaoke and can be found singing at local bars.

Rachel Jacobson
Alto 1, 2014

This is Rachel Jacobson’s sixth season with the RCC. When not singing, Rachel works as an administrative assistant at Pitt to fund her fiction writing addiction. Occasionally, she does this while singing, too.

Lisa Kessler
Soprano 2, 2016

This is Lisa’s second season singing with the RCC and is thrilled to perform with this wonderful community. Originally from New Jersey, she has lived in Pittsburgh since 2009 and continues to love the city more each year, except for the Penguins. Lisa is a data analyst supporting homeless services at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.

Blaine Knupp
Tenor 1, 1995

Blaine has sung with the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, the McKeesport Symphony Chorus, and various local church choirs. He is a square dance caller for the Iron City Squares, Pittsburgh’s GLBT and friends square dance club. Blaine recently retired from his position as Public Services Librarian at Indiana University of Pennsylvania after 35 years of service.

Barbara Lebeau
Alto 1, 2015

Barbara sang in choruses at high school, college, and grad school. After a lengthy break, she is thrilled to be singing with the RCC. Between rehearsals, she may be found practicing yoga, meditating, making ceramic vessels and sculpture, or digging in her garden. She sends deep thanks to her husband, Tom Aspell, for his ongoing love and support.

Colleen Libertz
Soprano 2, 2015

Colleen is a returning RCC member. A singer since elementary school, she’s thrilled to be a part of the RCC community and create beautiful music! She currently works as a student affairs professional at Carnegie Mellon University.

Douglas McIntyre
Tenor 1, 2008

Douglas is thrilled to continue to be involved with the RCC, an organization that has generously offered joy, meaning, and friendship to his life. He lends his shrill high notes to the choir on the condition that they are returned in better condition than when they were offered.

Kathy McIntyre Seltman
Alto 1, 1995

Kathy loves to sing and loves her choir friends. She has been in RCC a long time and hopes to be in a lot longer. In addition to singing, she spends her spare time spinning (wool, with a spinning wheel, not exercise!)

Lydia McShane
Soprano 2, 2014

Lydia McShane has been studying voice and performing for several years with Jett Downey at the East End Song Studio. She performed in two RCC cabarets and has appeared in other community musical productions. She is most proud of her beautiful, sweet daughters, Julia and Alena.

John Mueller
Tenor 2, 2000

John, originally from Chicago, is a professor in the College of Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Outside the classroom and the choir, John enjoys world travel, home improvement projects, upcycling, and tending to his cats Calvin, Mason, and Eddie.

Matthew Page
Tenor 2, 2015

A fairly new transplant to Pittsburgh, Matt is a licensed psychologist specializing in neuropsychology. Matt is honored to be a member of the RCC and has come to realize that music is an invigorating, empowering, and essential part of life. He would like to thank his family, friends, and colleagues for their amazing support.

Michaela Page
Alto 2, 2012

Michaela Page has been singing most of her life — in Vermont, where she was born and raised, as well as Boston and Los Angeles, New Hampshire, and finally Pittsburgh, where she is thrilled to be singing with the RCC for her fourth season. Through various Madrigal and choir groups, musical theater performances, vocal jazz and her college a capella group, “the Noteables,” Michaela has found singing with a collective to be a life-force that creates joy instantly. She lives in Lawrenceville with her husband, her two “furry kids,” and her new baby!

Amanda Parrotte
Soprano 1, 2012

Amanda enjoys singing with RCC for the variety of music and the great company of its wonderful members. Being part of RCC is very meaningful to her, as this welcoming community provides so much positivity by coming together to make music. She loves to write original music under the name First Person SINGular, and also writes songs about Harry Potter in the wrock band Muggle Snuggle with Ms. Kait.

Marlo Perry
Alto 2, 2013

Marlo joined RCC in fall 2013, and soon thereafter developed a crush on her fellow Alto 2, LisaAllen. They are now living happily ever after with their three perpetually hungry cats.

C.E. Pino
Soprano 2, 2012

Child of God, mother, daughter, sister; musician, storyteller, early childhood music specialist; lover of all manner of group singing and dancing; collector of global music and instruments.

Eva Resnick-Day
2017

Eva is excited for her second season with the Renaissance City Choir, and to be part of such a warm and talented choir. In her free time she can be found in the Pittsburgh activism scene advocating for environmental justice and singing karaoke at Nico’s.

Julia Rippel
Soprano 2, 2016

Julia Rippel began singing with the RCC this summer and has enjoyed every moment so far. She couldn’t ask for better company to tackle the RCC’s challenging and amazing repertoire. She has lived in Pittsburgh her whole life and is excited to expand her musical community.

Maggie Ritchey
Soprano 2, 2000

Maggie is a “Fesbyterian Lemenist” and a “Great Peace Marcher” who loves to sing with the RCC and her church choir, too! She’s a native ‘Burgher who lived in L.A. for 25 years before coming home about 20 years ago. She’s been with the RCC for 16 years and hopes for many more to come!

Sarah Scherk
Alto 1, 2015

Sarah joined RCC in 2015 shortly after moving to Pittsburgh, and RCC’s welcoming, multi-generational “community that sings” certainly helps keep her here! She thanks her family for their love and support, and Repair the World for bringing her to the ‘Burgh and dropping her so close to ELPC!

Stacy Schermann
Soprano 1, Bass Guitar, 2008

Tech geek by day and music nerd by night, Stacy proudly returns to the RCC.

Peg Schmidt
Alto 1, 2013

Peg is happy to be singing in her fourth year with the RCC. They say that music soothes the soul and this coming year looks to be one when much soothing will be needed. Thank you RCC for being a welcoming space for us all.

Bud Scott
Bass, 2016

This is Bud’s second season with the RCC. He grew up in the Youngstown area, lived most of his adult life in Southern California and moved to Pittsburgh in 2014 to be closer to his family. He is a retired aerospace engineer and does volunteer work in the area. Bud loves life, enjoys meeting new people and has an extended Pittsburgh family that supports his interests, especially with the choir.

Brad Shiring
Baritone, 2017

Brad recently returned to Pittsburgh and is supporting his brother, Jeff Shiring, and Jeff’s husband, Ray Blackwell. It is his honor to be singing with such a fantastic group of people.

Jefferey Shiring
Baritone

Jefferey Shiring is delighted to be re-joining the RCC for the cabaret after a three-year hiatus to complete his master of social work degree at the University of Pittsburgh. He joins his husband, Ray Blackwell, and the rest of the choir in an effort to make this show especially memorable.

Kirsten Shriver
Soprano 2, 2015

Kirsten is a graduate student in Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. Originally from the Philadelphia area, she moved to Iowa, then Dallas, and now resides in Pittsburgh. She enjoys sunshine, cooking, and exploring quaint cafes and coffee shops. Kirsten is grateful to have found RCC this year and for this wonderful community of musicians.

Ronald Spiering
Tenor 2, 2007

An instrumentalist at heart, Ron has found singing with the choir to be a great new way to experience music. Ron has played the trumpet for 26 years and fills some of his free time playing for various local theater productions and in a community band.

Mari Storch
Soprano 1, 2009

Mari is a network engineer who also performs with other local groups. She is excited for another great season with RCC!

Kurt Summersgill
Baritone, 2014

Kurt had been singing as a tenor in church choirs for the past 19 years, and he finally come out of the closet as a baritone. What a burden lifted from his shoulders (and vocal cords)! <em>Shout out to my husband, Eric.

Alexandra Vansuch
Alto 2, 2004

Alexandra “Sandy” Vansuch has been singing with RCC since 2004. After a career including home renovation, being a crew member at Trader Joe’s, teaching at Penn State Shenango, and running a theater in Youngstown, Ohio, she is is trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.

Alyssa Warnick-Hesse
Alto 2, 2014

Alyssa moved to Pittsburgh in 2012, after four years in South Carolina failed to produce her Ph.D. but did produce her lovely wife. She enjoys traveling and “mothering” her rescue dog/fur tornado. She and her wife Stacy also seem to collect degrees — five between them and still counting.

Marissa Weaver Reinstein
Alto 2, 2015

Marissa is a recent graduate of Chatham University, receiving her B.A. in Music and Cultural Studies. She is thrilled to spend post-graduate life with her dog, her fiancee, and her new RCC friends.

Rebecca Weiss Endler
Soprano 1, 2013

Becca is trying her hand at Soprano 1 after singing with the mezzos for the past several years. She is a Pittsburgh native and lives in Wilkinsburg with her husband and the best baby boy ever.

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