Ryan J. Barber
With two degrees from Midlands Technical College drafting and Mechanical Engineering received in 1978, Ryan works for a Columbia based Mechanical Engineering Consulting Associates, Inc. (MECA). My earliest musical training came during middle school where I participated in Band for 2 years playing trumpet. I started singing in 1978 with my church choir being invited to "try it" and absolutely fell in love with the music and people. “My interest includes singing, playing guitar around a camp fire, golf, working in the yard, camping and spending time with my family. I enjoy singing with the Sandlapper Singers because of the versatility of the group and friendship of all the singers. I believe music can be used to open the hearts and souls of all people to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Music and singing is a ministry for me.”
Piper R. Barber
Piper lives in Chapin, South Carolina and has been happily married since 1978 to J. Ryan Barber - also a member of the Sandlapper Singers. Piper and Ryan have two children, daughters Jessica and Kimberly. Piper, who graduated Chapin High School with an emphasis in Choral Singing, comments, “I remember going on vacations with my family to the mountains and other locations and singing to the crowds when invited by the bands. My entire family played and sang music at home and with groups.” Currently, Piper holds positions of Mom, homemaker and part-time sales associate with Beverly’s Merle Norman located in Columbiana Place located on Bower Parkway. A natural people person, Piper really enjoys meeting people and sharing life stories. Other interests include crochet, shopping with her girls, camping and spending time with family. Singing with the Sandlapper Singers has allowed Piper to expand her knowledge of music and allows her the chance to meet many Sandlapper “followers”. Piper continues, “Music and singing are food to the soul, telling rich stories about our lives. It seems every word I speak or hear reminds me of a song.”
Monica Boothe came to Columbia from Indianapolis, Indiana. She has degrees in Classical Studies and Latin but has always felt that music is her true passion. Currently she feeds that passion both as a member of Sandlapper Singers and as a percussionist for Palmetto Concert Band. Monica is well-traveled as a musician, having performed in Canada, England, Scotland, France, Germany, and Italy. When relaxing at home, Monica indulges in reading books, watching movies with her cat Jet, and knitting. She confesses, however, to occasionally channeling her inner belly dancer and “hip-dropping it” to the hits of Outkast and Lauryn Hill.
Audrey Brown, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, holds a degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. In addition to her work with the Sandlapper Singers, Audrey is an avid (rabid?) Gamecock fan – sadly, one who lives in a “house divided” - and is a confessed college football junkie, found most Saturdays from September through November either in Williams-Brice Stadium or seated in front of a big screen TV watching ESPN. This former church choir director has been singing “since birth” with a strong musical background that began with her violin lessons at age 8 and progressed to piano at age 13.As one of the founding members of the Sandlapper Singers, Audrey has enjoyed participating in premieres of many choral works commissioned and performed by the Singers. Audrey believes singing is a gift that should be shared with others and has the following quote posted in her office: “Singing is the voice of angels.”
Recently transplanted to Columbia, South Carolina, Myrtella is a mother of three, grandmother of four, retired nurse and lifelong music lover. For her, music is storytelling that brings inspiration, laughter, solace and peace to both listener and singer. Her love of choral music began in the musical town of Berne, Indiana, where Dr. Freeman Burkhalter devoted his life to the teaching of choral and instrumental music. She moved to Burke, Virginia, in 1973, where she directed the choir of Burke United Methodist Church for 10 years and sang in it for many more. She has also sung with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus, the Bluffton College choir, the Wesleyan Singers of Virginia, the Fairfax Choral Society and the fun-loving Church Ladies ensemble of the Burke Church.
Native Tucsonan, Mona Elleithee, has sung in choral ensembles throughout the United States. Fusing her love of music and leadership, Mona has served as president of the Flowing Wells High School Choralaires and The University of Arizona's Symphonic Choir. As a U of A Wildcat she also performed in an a cappella vocal jazz sextet called Half Dozen of the Other and a vocal jazz nonet called nUAnce. Additionally, Mona has enjoyed community choral experiences with The Arizona Repertory Singers of Tucson and The Northwest Choral Society of Chicago. Mona has also worked as a back-up singer for Grammy Award winning artist Linda Ronstadt, performed Haydn's Theresienmesse at Carnegie Hall with the Mid-America Combined Chorus, recorded a children's album entitled Zingers & Swingers for Young Singers, and performed as the vocalist in a jazz combo called Satin Dolls. Although she minored in vocal music as an undergraduate, Mona holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Master's degree in Secondary Education. She is a National Board Certified English Teacher at Dreher High School where she also serves as the Student Council Advisor. She is married to a Richland County Deputy Sheriff and has a two year old son. Her family is expected to grow with the arrival of a baby girl in October 2012.
Connie Gray, born and raised in the Midwest, moved to the Columbia area when her husband, Donald, began teaching Voice and Opera at USC. Now retired from teaching Elementary Music in Richland One she was also Teacher of the Year at A.C. Moore and District Chorus Director for several years. Connie has directed children's choirs at Eastminster Presbyterian and still sings in the Chancel Choir there. She enjoys singing, volunteering and traveling, especially to visit her three children and five grandchildren. Majoring in flute and piano at Simpson College in Iowa, she became interested in choral singing and there met her husband, who is now semi-retired. She has sung with various choral groups through the years, and she is thrilled to now be singing with the Sandlapper Singers.
Rochelle Renee Green
Rochelle Renee Green, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, graduated from Columbia College in 2001 with dual bachelor's degrees in Music and Psychology, obtaining her Masters of Social Work degree in 2007 from USC. When not working as a Review Board Coordinator with the Children's Foster Care Review Board, she enjoys singing with the Trenholm Road United Methodist Church Choir. Rochelle began taking piano lessons in elementary school and moved on to playing the clarinet in her high school band. Surprisingly, she didn't start singing until her sophomore year in high school when she became a member of the Burke High School Concert Choir and the "Blue Notes". While Rochelle enjoys choral singing, she has eclectic musical tastes. When exercising, she listens to Rap, RandB, House, and Reggae music. When working, she listens to show tunes and when relaxing at home, she enjoys classical, jazz, and adult contemporary music. While singing, Rochelle experiences an almost surreal out-of-body experience that creates an awesome sense of overall well-being! Singing with the Sandlapper Singers has become a transforming and rewarding experience for Rochelle. She's not only able to express herself musically, but is creating music with some of the finest musicians in Columbia!
Donald H. Holland
Donald H. Holland, a native of Suffolk, Virginia, credits Chopin's Polonaise in A-Flat for his life-long love affair with music. After hearing it as a child he just had to learn to play it! That dream was fulfilled during his undergrad senior piano recital at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina's beautiful Albemarle region. In addition to singing bass with the Sandlapper Singers, Donald enjoys singing with the Shandon Presbyterian Chancel Choir and is Director of Choral Activities at Dreher High School. In his spare time, along with decorating his new home in southeast Columbia, he enjoys satiating his eclectic musical palette by attending concerts around the Columbia area and listening to recordings by some of his favorite artists, including Nina, Jessye, Dinah, Etta, Luciano, and Marvin.
Fredna Lee As an educator, Fredna, attained a Masters of Music Education from USC. In Lexington school District 2 she taught in elementary schools in from 1981/88, moved to second grade teacher in 1988, and in 2003 Lexington 2 offered her the opportunity to become an early childhood/elementary literacy staff development presenter. In 2003 Fredna also earned her National Board Teacher Certification in Early Childhood Education. When she retired from education in 2008, she accepted the full-time/part-time position as Director of Music Ministries at Eastminster. Previously at Eastminster, Fredna was choir soloist and children's choir director. classroom Fredna was married to Michael Lee for 33 years an airline pilot and a classical pianist. An admirer of the Sandlapper Singers for years, Fredna is delighted to become a part of this wonderful group.
Cody Lidge, a native of Dillon, South Carolina, graduated from USC in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and completed his master's degree in Public Administration in 2006. When not glued to www.cnn.com or working as a family court representative for the South Carolina Judicial Department, Cody enjoys playing the French horn with the Five Points Brass Quintet. His earliest musical memory is singing with his sisters when he was four years old, and he's been singing ever since. Although Cody is most fond of music from the Romantic era, he receives great pleasure singing with the Sandlapper Singers and enjoys their very eclectic mix of choral repertoire. Cody sadly admits that he has become quite a fan of network and cable TV lately, following nearly seven to ten HBO, Showtime, NBC, and ABC original series per year. Still, he finds time to volunteer for the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council, where he currently serves on the Board of Directors.
Anne McNair started life in Raleigh, North Carolina, but has been a resident of Columbia since 1988. She holds music degrees from St. Andrews Presbyterian College, from Georgia State University, and completed a PhD in Music Education at the University of South Carolina. Her earliest musical memories, age 3, were formed while singing in church choirs - a pursuit she has continued throughout her life. After a twelve-year professional detour away from music education, obtaining a degree in Statistics and pursuing an actuarial career, Anne returned to teaching music in 2005 and currently directs five choirs for children and youth at Shandon Presbyterian Church. She loves having the opportunity to teach music to children and youth in various musical settings, and hopes to share her joy of singing with them. After several years of avidly attending Sandlapper Singer concerts as a member of the audience, Anne decided to join forces with the group during the 2008-2009 season. She enjoys the eclectic mix of musical styles and the creative programming on the Sandlapper programs.
Beth Mears, hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of South Carolina in 2001. Currently, she is the Director of Music at Forest Lake Presbyterian Church. Her most sublime musical experience was singing Mendelssohn's Elijah under the direction of Robert Shaw in Carnegie Hall. However, she is certainly enjoying her time singing with the Sandlappers. Aside from being a vocalist, Beth also plays the piano and spends several afternoons a week giving private instruction in piano and voice. The remainder of her time is spent with her two beautiful daughters, Carey and Delia.
Jan Merchant, a Columbia native, recieved her degree in music performance from the Universtiy of South Carolina. She studied and sang under the direction of Arpad Darazs and Evelyn McGarrity, then moved to New York City to pursue a career in performing. Jan sang and danced on Broadway in the hit show, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas", and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Studio and the Metropolitan Opera extra chorus. She has worked in shows with Betty Grable, Joel Grey, Carol Lawrence, Fannie Flagg, Robert Merrill, Tommy Tune, Roman Polanski, appeared on t.v. in "Kojack" with Telly Savalas and can be briefly seen in a movie starring Sean Connery. Jan and her husband moved to Europe in 1985 where they performed in opera and musicals for 21 years. She currently is soloist with the Washington Street Methodist choir and proud new member of the Sandlapper Singers.
Barry Mobley, originally from Lancaster, South Carolina, joined the Sandlapper Singers in January, 2001. Coincidentally, that's about the time he stopped trying to learn to play bluegrass banjo. He believes the events are related. Berry doesn't remember but has been told his first musical memory should have been needing his bassinet moved from in front of a blaring stereo playing the soundtrack to West Side Story. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to help him learning Robert Edgerton's arrangement of "Somewhere" for a SLS concert, but he managed. Berry feels very fortunate to have been born in the current - okay, semi-current - musical era. Berry explains, “ While I'm able to hear Beethoven's 9th Symphony today, no one from the Classical period can enjoy hearing the passion of Fiona Apple or Nickel Creek's mesmerizing style in concert, let alone both of them together” - one of Barry's favorite recent concert experiences! Berry's personal, eclectic musical tastes run the gamut, leading him to regularly surf through the first 30 channels or so of the satellite radio in his car; however he never, ever stops on the Elvis channel. Sometimes, but not often, he even lets his children, Caroline, 18, and Lewis, 15, pick the music.
Emily Monk is a native of Florence, South Carolina. After completing a degree in Vocal Performance at Presbyterian College in May 2010, Emily came to Columbia to pursue a master's degree in music history at the University of South Carolina, which she will complete in December 2012. Her passion for music was nurtured by early experiences in her hometown of singing in the church chancel choir, singing with Masterworks Choir, playing violin in the Florence Youth Symphony Orchestra, and studying piano performance. Emily is excited to further pursue her passion for choral singing with the Sandlapper Singers.
Dave Quackenbush originally from Grand Haven, Michigan finished UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in pharmacy. Dave's varied background has taken him from regional manager of a national drug chain, to self employment then back to pharmacy - all while regularly performing in many vocal venues. Dave's interest in music was instilled in him early when he was encouraged to take violin lessons at the age of 3; however, after a family move to Norfolk, Virginia at the age of 15, he found no opportunities to play. This turn of events led him to find his voice, discovering his joy and talent for singing. Dave commented, Dave's performances range from on stage in operas and musicals from Columbia Lyric Opera, USC Opera, Charlotte Opera and local theaters and as soloist with choral and orchestras throughout South Carolina. A founding member of The Sandlapper Singers, it is truly a strong love and commitment for him even though he is first and foremost "husband in service" to our Artistic Director, Dr. Lillian Quackenbush.
Karen Fowler Shevenell has been a member of the Sandlapper Singers since the Spring of 2007. Karen is a native of Columbia, SC. She is a graduate of Columbia College, with a Bachelor of Music degree, with an emphasis in Church Music and Vocal Performance. She earned a Masters in Church Music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with an emphasis in Vocal Pedagogy. Karen has served in various churches in IN, MD, and SC, in the capacity of Minister of Music, or organist. She is currently serving as a substitute organist/pianist. In addition to her organist duties, she teaches voice lessons at the Carolina Music Academy, and she is also a Free Lance Seamstress. Karen is married to Joe Shevenell, and they have 2 children: Isaac, age 12; and Miriam, age9. Isaac sings in the Young Sandlapper Singers. In her spare time, Karen loves to grow herbs, cook, walk, play Table Tennis, and sew. Karen is the Secretary of the Greater Columbia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, a post that the has held since May, 2010.
Joe Simoneau is a native of Camden, Arkansas, who arrived in South Carolina back in 1961. Joe enjoys having an opportunity to sing with the Sandlapper Singers, but has been singing since at least fifth grade where he remembers singing Mary Poppins' songs with his school chorus. In addition to voice, Joe “...plays piano by the 'hunt and peck' method”, but he finds it helpful in learning more difficult SLS music prior to rehearsal. When not working in his own business or preparing Sandlapper music, Joe can be found listening to contemporary Christian music, a personal favorite! Joe doesn't have far to travel these days to make it to a Sandlapper concert, but he has made a countrywide trek to hear a single concert in the past - he traveled to Seattle to hear his son's high school band perform! Way to go, Joe!!
Dean is the son of a Midwestern preacher. His earliest musical memory is of lying in a pew listening to hymns and choruses. In the mid-seventies he moved his family south to teach at the University of South Carolina and to learn a bit about living the gracious life. He has had no formal vocal or instrumental training, but he has always been active in choral music, singing in college choruses, various church choirs and the Carolina Chorale. His most meaningful musical experience is having sung a mass at St. Peters Basilica at the Vatican with the Palmetto Mastersingers of which he is a twenty-five year member. Rehearsals three nights each week leave little time for other leisure activities, but he says he would rather be singing than fishing, golfing or carousing. He especially enjoys the challenging American choral music performed by the Sandlapper Singers.
Rusty Sox was born in Columbia, South Carolina and grew up in the Irmo area. His earliest memory of enjoying music is playing Christmas albums on the family hi-fi while decorating for the holidays - all of the classics including Perry Como, The Little Drummer Boy, and Ken Griffin on the Mighty Wurlitzer! Rusty's mother pushed (encouraged) him to sing in public at an early age, and his favorite quote about performing is "Smile!" which his mom would always silently shout from the audience. When he's not rehearsing or performing with the Sandlappers, Rusty is active with local neighborhood and historic preservation issues. He also loves listening to music from great (and some not-so-great) Broadway musicals -- his most guilty musical pleasure. He was a student of the late Richard Veale, whose mentorship Rusty misses very much. Rusty joined the Sandlapper Singers in the group's second season, and enjoys the privilege of making music with good friends every week.
Bret Swan-Kloos has been singing all of his life. One of his earliest musical memories is singing along to the John Thompson piano series and correcting the notes for his parent's students. Hailing from Minneapolis, MN, Bret has had the opportunity to sing in choral groups with Dale Warland, Kenneth Jennings, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Other singing highlights include being a soloist at a church where Charles Ives was the organist (although we didn't overlap) and getting paid to sing with Kenny Rogers - not bad work for a graduate student. He makes his living as a Psychology Professor at USC studying how social environments can affect functioning - probably an interest nurtured by all of his years singing. Bret is married and has two daughters and as a result his musical interests range from Raffi to Coldplay, Renaissance to Romantic, Baroque to Dylan. His musical guilty pleasures are Weird Al Yankovic and PDQ Bach. Before he leaves the earth, he wants to sing Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem one more time.
Felicia Torres was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. She graduated from Columbia College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. She currently lives with her Husband Edwin and their two children Edwin II and Elijah Torres. Felicia was exposed to music from a very early age, she always knew her life would be surrounded by and filled with music. While not singing with the Sandlapper Singers Felicia maintains a private voice studio as well as teaching voice at the Carolina Music Academy. Felicia also enjoys singing in the Shandon Presbyterian Chancel Choir.
Charles Walvoord, a native of Muskegon, Michigan Graduated from Northwestern University McGaw School of Medicine with an M.D. in 1971 and completed a residency in Ophthalmology at Northwestern in 1975. After a two year stint as staff ophthalmologist at Ft. Jackson, Dr. Walvoord opened a private practice in ophthalmology in 1977. In 2007, this practice merged with the USC School of Medicine Ophthalmology Department where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology. In addition to his work with the Sandlapper Singers, Chuck has a great passion for International Adventure and Travel and his grandchildren.
Part of growing up in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania meant singing in church and school choirs for Tim. He became enthralled with choral music as a possible career option after attending a high school summer choir camp at Westminster Choir College by his church as part of a program for promising young singers. Tim indeed did attend and graduate from Westminster with a music education degree, but a full time career in choral music would have to wait until after serving in the US Air Force and then working in higher education in the Human Resources field. During this time Tim did manage to direct church choirs or provide music support part-time in nearly every denomination, including military chapels in southern California, Washington DC, Hollywood FL, and overseas in Thule, Greenland and Saudi Arabia. Tim is grateful to the Sandlapper Singers for warmly and eagerly welcoming him back to choral singing after a long break while working as a traveling consultant. The repertoire is a challenging and informative supplement to his studies at the University of South Carolina where he is a candidate for a masters degree in choral conducting. Tim is Director of Music at Main Street United Methodist Church, and lives in the Irmo/St Andrews area.
Elizabeth Woodard, a native Virginian but has been in SC since she was ten. Her first musical memory is of Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic performing Peter and the Wolf. “I was in the first grade but I can still see Bernstein's lanky, hunched-over figure acting as the wolf while pretending to sneak up on Peter - we all screamed!!” Elizabeth didn't start singing until high school because of an overly-protective Mama who insisted she and her brother start with voice lessons. During college at USC, she studied with Gene Ferguson and Laury Christie and sang in Concert Choir under Arpad Darazs. She is a member of Shandon Presbyterian and is thrilled to now be a part of the Sandlapper Singers. When not rehearsing (which she hates), she listens the "oldies" radio station, works in telecommunications, and attempts to keep up with her wonderful daughter - Georgia.