14th Annual

Our Performers for 2009

Performer Archives

Click on any of the links below to learn more about our performers.

Alex & Virginia Britton, and Family Amy Burr
Arlene Kole, singer/guitarist Bell Canto, Hand Bell Choir
Bill Boetticher Bonnie Graeve
Carole Journell Carolyn Freeman Champ and Friends
Cathy Cheney Channelaire Chorus
Chris DeKlotz Cindy Wight
Craig Mathias Dante Gamucio
Darlene Findlay Edward Francis Piano Studio
Elaine Litster First Take
Gayane Pogosyan Hilary Nordal
Jacquelyn Levy Kindred Carolers
Leah Boice Linda Foster
Marina Pogosyan Mary Predmore
Matthew Ream Mitch Schuster
Paul Bartlett Royal High Chamber Singers
Sandra Nielson Shawna Page
Simi Valley Stake Youth Choir Susan Baker
Three Piggy Opera Virginia Stewart

Alex & Virginia Britton, and Family

      Alex is a native of Medellin, Colombia. He has an extensive performance resume which includes lead roles worldwide. He is the artistic director of El Dorado Opera as well as the Technical Director for Center Stage Opera. His favorite job is being husband to his love Virginia and father to his 5 girls.

Amy Burr

Amy Burr

      Amy was born in Simi Valley, and has lived here most of her life, with a few exceptions. Just recently she returned from the Dallas area, where she was given many opportunities both to sing and to play violin. The two years she lived in Texas she was a recitalist for the Nativity pageant there. She had a double major in college, voice and violin, and has played with the Moorpark Symphony, the late Santa Susana Symphony, and several local community theater productions. As a vocalist she has performed with the Moorpark Opera department and the Classical Singers of Pasadena, among others. Her future plans include a degree in choral conducting.

Arlene Kole

Arlene Kole

      Arlene Kole was a little girl who dreamed of nothing but singing, but life has a way of changing one’s path. The responsibilities of marriage and family came early for Arlene but she took it in stride, worked hard, and like most of us, put her aspirations aside while her family took precedence. Her mantra; “one day…”. Her unwavering commitment to a lifelong goal has been rewarded. This wife and mother haas just released a magnificent piece of work while being the odds-on favorite to be totally overlooked. It is her hope that her story will inspire others who have “a dream on hold.”

      After years of wedded bliss…cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, waitressing, retail sales, singing at weddings, studio sessions, and any other paying job, Arlene Kole felt her window of opportunity had closed. With the kids grown and mass media perpetuating the idea that there is value only in youth, Arlene, as most women eventually do, sought to reinvent herself ... to find a lost identity and write a new chapter in her life. This record is that chapter. It chronicles the life of a wife, parent, and the eventual plight of us all: growing older in a society that prizes youth. Most importantly, as the title implies, Arlene sends an inspiring message of hope to those who have given up on their dreams, whatever the reason. The dedication on her record says it all: "This music is dedicated to women everywhere. To wives, mothers and girls like me…those seeking to redefine themselves while being told that their best years are behind them. To all who have dreamed of “one day…” This is that day. This is one day."

      Early reviews by industry veterans have been stellar, the finely crafted songs, passionate performances and pristine production culminate in a masterful work, an incredible debut album by any standard.

Bell Canto, Hand Bell Choir

Bell Canto

      The Bell Canto Ringers were established in 2008 under the direction of Jodi Ream. The ten ringers come from Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agoura Hills, and Westlake, CA.

Bill Boetticher

Bill Boetticher

      Pipe Sergeant Bill Boetticher has been a professional bagpiper for over 22 years and serves the Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles county areas. He is a founding member of the Gold Coast Pipe Band, a competitive pipe and drum band based in Camarillo. His musical credits include the Sandra Bullock & Jesse James wedding, a surprise birthday party for Cheers star John Ratzenberger, the soundtrack for the Academy Award winning "Dead Poet's Society", the London Philharmonic at Abbey Road CD, plus numberous TV and radio appearances and hundreds of public performances throughout central and southern California. Bill is always in demand for weddings, funerals, parties and civic event, please visit his website at www.piperbill.com.

Bonnie Graeve

      Bonnie Graeve has been teaching choral music for the past 23 years. She is currently teaching at Royal High School in Simi Valley, CA where she directs five choirs and teaches piano. Her teaching career includes experience at the Elementary, Junior High, Secondary, Church and Community College settings. Her choral groups and jazz ensembles have received numerous awards and honors having performed at festivals throughout California, the United States and Canada. In 2006, Royal High School received the “Downbeat” award for outstanding high school vocal jazz ensemble in the United States.

      Mrs. Graeve is a graduate of Northern State University with degrees in instrumental and vocal music education. She received an MA from Azusa Pacific University in Educational Administration.

      Mrs. Graeve’s choirs have performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Orchestral Hall, The National Cathedral, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as Disneyland and SCVA choral workshops. Bonnie is a past board member of the Southern California Vocal Association and the California American Choral Directors Association; having served as Repertoire and Standards Chair for Jazz and Show Choirs for each organization. During this tenure, Bonnie started the SCVA Vocal Jazz Workshop and the SCVA Show Choir Festival. Bonnie has also taught on staff at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Music Camp as well as presented interest sessions at ECCO summer music workshop, MENC, SCVA and reading sessions for ACDA. Bonnie received the “Outstanding Educator . Award” at the 2008 Annual Spotlight Awards. Mrs. Graeve is a member of The International Association of Jazz Educators, Technology Institute for Music Educators, American Choral Directors Association and Southern California Vocal Association. She lives with her husband Joe, and her daughter, Lauren, in Simi Valley.

Carole Journell

Carole Journell

      Carole Gerber Journell began playing the piano at the early age of three years old.  She began teaching at the age of thirteen, and at sixteen worked in a recording studio.  After attending Bible college, she became a Minister of Music for 26 years, specializing in producing and directing children, youth and adult musicals.

      She and her husband, Larry, reside in Simi Valley with their two dogs, Muffin and Cupcake, and are real estate agents with Century 21 Hilltop.  They are both active in their church, Calvary Community, in Westlake Village.

Carolyn Freeman Champ and Friends

Carolyn Freeman

      Carolyn Freeman Champ is a voice over actor, singer and musical theatre performer in Los Angeles and Ventura County, having performed Light Opera & Broadway music for many years. She holds a BA in Theatre Arts and Music from the University of North Texas, and has completed two national tours with BRAVVO! Productions in their popular USO musical, IN THE MOOD. She currently collaborates on original musical works with the Academy for New Musical Theatre in North Hollywood, through which she has performed in various concert musicals as well as a one-person cabaret show. Carolyn also records audio books as a volunteer with Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.

Cathy Cheney

Cathy Cheney

      Catherine has served as a Choir Director for her Church many times in many places (Southern and Northern California, Utah, Oklahoma, Germany) over the past 37 years, and has served as Children's Music Director similarly. Having sung in school, church and community choirs since age 7, Mrs. Cheney has a special love for choral music whether singing or directing. Another favorite musical pastime of hers has been teaching and performing with the children of Township Elementary School where she has been the Music Specialist since 1994. Now she has limited her teaching to the Third grade, but loves going each week to teach songs about Native Americans, Cowboys, and Pioneers culminating with a wonderful program in the spring to include 18 songs and a square dance which she teaches as well.

      Mrs. Cheney is currently serving as the Music Chairwoman for the Simi Valley Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints where she is preparing an adult choir of 50+ voices for their annual Choir Christmas Concert to be performed on Dec. 6 at 7:00pm. She is also busily preparing a group of 30+ talented children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old for their first annual Children's Choir Concert to be presented Dec. 5 and 9.

      "Music has always touched my soul, and I can tell by the faces of the singers in both choirs I am privileged to conduct, that music fills their souls as well." Plato put it very well when he coined the following: "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

Channelaire Chorus
Directed by Bobbette Gantz and Judy Ashmore

Channelaire Chorus

      For more than 40 years, the award-winning Channelaire Chorus has been sharing its exciting barbershop sound, performing throughout Southern California (Ventura County area) for civic and charitable organizations, private groups, churches, community events, and fundraisers.

      Attend a Tuesday night rehearsal, and you'll find 100+ women with energy to burn. Some are true beginners… enthusiastic and hungry for the knowledge and experience that this championship chorus has to offer. Others are seasoned singers… with confidence and lively exuberance that flows down off the risers.

They love to sing for visitors and, of course, are thrilled to meet prospective members!

Chris DeKlotz

      Christine received her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the University of Southern California. She plays with local chamber music ensembles and accompanies soloists in recitals throughout the Southland. She derives much joy from accompanying the Los Robles Children's Choir (with whom she performed at the Canterbury Cathedral in the 2003 International Choir Festival) and the Village Voices of Westlake Village (with whom she sang in Carnegie Hall in summer of 2001). She is the minister of music at her church in Newbury Park, both playing the organ and directing the choir. She also teaches piano and recorder.

Cindy Wight

      Cindy fondly remembers the year she started first grade, because every Monday afternoon she got off the school bus at her married sister's house for piano lessons. Over the next 8 years, she enjoyed taking piano lessons --and yes, folks! Even enjoyed practicing! -- until her feisty mother got into a big fight with a piano teacher. Lessons ended abruptly and never quite started up again. Fortunately there were still many opportunities for learning and practicing. Playing the piano for Primary at age 12 was Cindy's first experience with accompanying, and later she was able to be the accompanist for her high school choir. Those four years were the time she worked the hardest and learned the most. Today she still enjoys many experiences as an accompanist.

      Cindy grew up in Sun River, Montana and has attended both Ricks College and BYU-Provo. She has been married to Darrell Wight for over 23 years. They have lived in Simi Valley for almost 21 years and are parents to 8 children. Cindy is happy to be an accompanist, as well as a friend and fan of Paul Bartlett. She is also grateful for the chance to work with and learn from Cathy Cheney and all the other great friends in the Simi Valley Stake Choir.

Craig Mathias

      Craig Mathias has been playing the highland bagpipes since 2000.  He enjoys playing pipes both as a hobby and as in honor of his Scottish heritage.  He has played regionally at several Memorial Day, 4th of July and other commemorative gatherings.  He is a member of Clan Buchanan Society International. 

Dante Gamucio

Dante Gamucio

      Mr. Gumucio sings with Opera Pacific at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, where he has appeared as a chorister in Porgy and Bess, Carmen, La Bohème, Die Zauberflöte, Susannah, Opera Under the Stars (gala), Il Barbieri di Sivigilia, and the Grapes of Wrath.. In 2008 he also debuted with Center Stage Opera in Los Angeles as Count Monterone in Rigoletto, and with Inland Valley Opera in Riverside County as Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte, where he will also appear in 2009 as Dr. Bartolo in Barber of Seville and Figaro in Marriage of Figaro.

      Mr. Gumucio has performed extensively with the Saddleback Master Chorale and Concert Singers, including numerous solo appearances. He has also appeared as soloist for Handel’s Messiah in Orange and Riverside counties, and for Lex de Azevedo's Hosanna with the Anaheim Mormon Chorale. In addition, he has performed leading musical theatre roles, including Joseph in He is Born, Ezra in Journey Home, and Emil de Becque in a concert performance of South Pacific with the Fullerton Symphony Orchestra. He also had the pleasuring of singing with his daughter in Jordan Gumucio and Friends: A Night of Opera and Song for the Orange County Philharmonic Society. Mr. Gumucio studies voice with Dr. Peter Atherton at Chapman University.

Darlene Findlay

      Darlene Findlay has enjoyed accompanying various choirs and soloists for many years, both as a pianist and organist. She graduated from California State University, Northridge with a degree in music performance. Her favorite activities are teaching piano to young children and trying to be a good Nana.  Her greatest hope is that any performance she participates in will move the listener to recognize God's hand in the creation of beautiful music, especially during this wonderful Christmas season.

Edward Francis Piano Studio

Edward Francis

      Edward Francis leads a versatile career in music as a pianist, educator, arts advocate and administrator. He holds degrees in piano performance from California State University, Northridge, and also attended the Aspen Festival & School of Music. He has performed solo recitals and has been a featured guest artist with many symphony orchestras. In addition to his solo work he has performed extensively with two established chamber music groups: the Westlake Chamber Ensemble, and the DeCesare/Francis Piano Duo, on stage, radio and television. He maintains a private piano studio of award winning students in Thousand Oaks, California.

      He currently holds faculty positions at Moorpark College and Pepperdine University. A busy clinician and master class teacher, he frequently lectures on a variety of pedagogical subjects, has written and presented several monographs at various conferences, and has given master classes at the Colburn School in LA, UC Riverside, Whittier College, the Art City Music Academy in Utah, for the Sara Compinsky Master Class, the Ventura Music Festival, Pepperdine University and for many MTAC branches. He was named a “Featured Artist-Educator” on the World Wide Web by the Piano Education Page, as well as Piano Forte News. His students have performed and won honors in many local, state, national and international competitions. Many have gone on to matriculate and then receive under-graduate and graduate degrees from the most prestigious music schools in the country.

      The Thousand Oaks Arts Commission presented him with its “Encore Award for Excellence in the Arts,” given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the cultural community of the city. He was presented the 2006 Presidential Scholar in the Arts Teacher Recognition Award by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in June 2006 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium and the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington DC. He founded and remains executive director of the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, a non-profit educational organization, which produces concerts featuring the Philharmonic with exceptional young artists as soloists.

      He is currently the President of the MTAC Conejo Valley Branch, and served a four-year term as state Vice President for the MTNA-California Assn. of Professional Music Teachers. He is on the artistic committee for the Ventura Music Festival and is also a member of the Education Committee of the New West Symphony. His article on the 2005 International Chopin Competition was published in the professional journal The California Music Teacher.

Elaine Litster

      Elaine Pack Litster, harpist, performs and freelances throughout Southern California. Elaine serves on the National Board of the American Harp Society (2003-present), and is past president of the Los Angeles Chapter (2000-2002). For the past 11 years, Elaine has organized and directed "Harp Extravaganza," California's largest "spontaneous" holiday harp ensemble, averaging 25 harpists. Elaine has taught choir and harp at a private Christian junior high/high school in Los Angeles (2000-2008). She is principal harpist for the Valley Symphony Orchestra and has played with many other orchestras including the New Valley Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony, the West Coast Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, etc. Her solo album, The Moonlit Harp,and her harp and flute album, Captured Moments, have been well received. She has appeared on the recording and soundtracks of many projects. As Miss Idaho 1984, Elaine received a special award in the Miss America pageant for her harp performance. Elaine has studied harp with DeWayne Fulton, Paul Hurst, Sarah Bullen and Susie Hussong. She has a Masters degree in Urban Planning from UCLA, and a Bachelors degree in Economics from Brigham Young University. Elaine resides in Simi Valley with her husband Greg and their five children.

First Take

First Take

      When lifelong musician/performer Bruce Gardner invited his brother Mike, his son Brian, and family friend Dan Burdick into his living room one fall evening, the group was pleased to discover a meshing of musical talent, giving birth to a Capella doo-wop quartet First Take. Named for the average number of times required for the group to pull off a new cover, First Take performs vintage hits in their purest form, using only their voices to transport audiences back to the era of tube radio, hoola-hoops and poodle skirts.

      The quartet is comprised of First tenor Bruce Gardner, second tenor Brian Gardner, baritone Dan Burdick with Mike Gardner providing bass. Bruce and Dan are residents of Simi Valley, while Mike lives in Northridge and Brian hails from Palmdale. Utilizing vintage style microphones and 50's era wardrobes, the group’s upbeat presentation appeals to fans of all ages, causing toes to tap and fingers to snap as their rich harmonies bring down the house. In preparation for seasonal performances, First Take has customized a number of Christmas classics to fit their a Capella doo-wop style, guaranteed to get Santa swinging and reindeer rockin’!

Gayane Pogosyan

Gayane Pogosyan

      Gayane emmigrated from Armenia (former USSR) 33 years ago with her family. She received her music education in Armenia, where she taught violin at a   music school. After moving to Los Angeles Gayane did not play violin for 23 years since she was raising her two daughters, working outside the home and learning English.

      Nineteen years ago Ms. Pagosyan lost her sight and decided to pursue a new career  and  earned  BA  (summa cum laude) and a Masters in Counseling and Guidance at California Lutheran University. Currently she is working as a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the blind, helping people in Ventura and LA counties who have  visual impairments.

      Nine years ago, with her daughter Marina's encouragement, Gayane again picked up the viola and violin and started to perform with Moorpark College/Community Orchestra playing the viola.  With the violin she is performing at retirement homes, hospitals and social gatherings.

Other things Gayane loves to do  include ballroom dancing, swimming, listening to books on tape and  spending time with her grandchildren, Lauren, Emily and Jake.

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Hilary Nordal

      Hilary Nordal is currently in her 28th year of teaching choral music in the Simi Valley Unified School District. Mrs. Nordal started her musical career at age 3 when she started playing the piano. Having won numerous piano competitions by the age of 6, music was a natural choice as career. Mrs. Nordal received her Bachelor Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Redlands, her Masters in Piano Performance at CSUN and her teaching credential from CLU.

      Mrs. Nordal’s vocal groups at Sequioa Jr. High and Valley Middle School have been awarded numerous Superior Performance awards at variety of Choral Festivals and Competitions. Her top group, the Vocal Ensemble is a yearly recipient of the Choral Musical Excellence Award at the Central Coast Choir Festival held at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. With over 100 participating choirs, less than 5% of the groups garner this accolade.

       Mrs. Nordal enjoys a full and varied palette of activities and hobbies including cooking, exercising, reading, knitting and taking care of her 3 boys (Colin, Christian and husband Corey.) She has also played the organ in churches since the age of 12.

Jacquelyn Levy

Jacquelyn Levy

      Jacquelyn is a Los Angeles Native, who has performed extensively in the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County areas. She has been a member of Co-Real Artists Repertory Co.; the late Virginia Capers’ Lafayette Players West, whose production of A Slice of Life in Black, Brown and Beige was a nominee for the NAACP Image Award and the Orange County Black Actors Theater, whose production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ was the recipient of the that same award, the same year, in the same category. She was also involved with the Fullerton Civic Light Opera’s Dramalogue Award winning production and Westchester Playhouse’s concert version of that same musical. Jackie is especially honored to have been featured in the Orange County Register with a full-page profile for her portrayal of Lena “Mama” Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. The Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse voted her “Best Actress” for the season in their first (her 4th) production of Nunsense.

      Other theater credits include: FAT GIRLS, Jesus Christ Superstar, Showboat, Kiss Me Kate, Godspell, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf’, Working, the Musical Masterpiece and Barnum. Film and television credits include: Honey - I Blew Up the Kid, Original Intent, The Women of Brewster Place, MAD Tv, Arli$$, Dirt and The Riches. She can be seen in the Richard Simmons Sweatin’ To The Oldies III video and you may have heard her voice in commercials for Rustoleum, Taco Bell, Hallmark and Pierre Cardin.

      Having recently performed at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo and formerly voted “Cabaret Favorite” at Long Beach Playhouse, her solo cabaret act has also been seen at The Gardenia and Europa Supper Clubs in Los Angeles. 2007 found her performing in the popular, annual production of The Colors of Christmas at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, sharing the stage with Ben Vereen, Oleta Adams, Peobo Bryson and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.. Since completing her debut demo, “Greatest Hits (for now)” CD and CD single, A Daughter Remembers featuring the popular, “What A Wonderful World”, a new CD is currently in the works, entitled “Lady With A Song”.

      A graduate of the U.S.C. School of Journalism and Columbia School of Broadcasting (specializing in voice-overs) and the proud niece of the late, jazz artist – Nellie Lutcher, Jackie maintains: “I have fought a good fight… I have kept the faith… and I still believe I can fly!

Kindred Carolers

      Once upon a time, a musically talented man married a musically talented woman. They raised 5 musically talented children, and some of those children married into and raised other musically talented families. Bits and pieces  of all these families have come together (with a few friends close enough to be considered family) to form the Kindred Carolers, a noisy group of merry music makers from the Burdick, Burr, Cheney, Page, Smith, and Wood families. Making music together is a joy, and the Kindred Carolers hope to share that joy with you this Christmas.

Leah Boice

      She has been playing piano under her mother’s thumb nail since she was a little girl. She accompanies her mom, (Linda Foster), whenever her mother can enlist her. Leah and Linda live in the same ward, some two miles apart, where Leah accompanies the choir and Linda directs it. They have much fun and grow closer together as they share in making music

Linda Foster

      Linda Foster has been a soloist for many years –far too many to count. (Last month she had an important birthday which makes her officially unable to ever sing with the Tabernacle choir!) Some of her highlights in music involve multiple performances at the annual Camarillo Stake Messiah sing along. Sacred music that bears testimony of the Savior and His divinity are her most treasured experiences. On one such occasion she sang “The Holy City” at the BYU Jerusalem center in the Holy Land, where she was accompanied by Michael Moody. “Christ is the Lord” is the testimony she loves to share in her singing!

      Linda is well known to audiences in Ventura County as a soloist with the Ventura Master Chorale, Los Robles Master Chorale, Ojai Camerata, Gold Coast Chorus, and many local churches. Some of her favorite works include the singing in Brahms’ Neue Lieberslieder, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Mozart’s Requiem. Linda loves the singing of the sacred masses including Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Dvorak’s Mass in D Major, Amy Beach’s Mass in E-Flat, Kenneth Helm’s Mass Anno Domina 2000, and Beethoven’s Mass in C. Her operatic roles include the Third Lady in Magic Flute, Bertha in Barber of Seville, Mrs. McLean in Susannah, Katisha in The Mikado, Mrs. Noah in Noah’s Flood, and the mothers in Tenderland and Amahl and the Night Visitors. Linda lives with her beloved husband at the beach and enjoys music and the easy life.

Marina Pogosyan

Marina Pogosyan

      Marina is a professional musician, educator and composer whose varied musical interests have led to performances in venues ranging from concert halls and houses of worship to major rock venues, recording studios and coffee houses. She is also a much sought-after accompanist for vocalists, choirs and instrumentalists of all genres of music. Ms. Pogosyan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from California State University, Northridge and a Master of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts.

Mary Predmore
C flute, Bass flute, Piccolo

      Mrs Predmore is an active performing musician, teacher, clinician, conductor and advocate for music for everyone. The originator of the recital series, “Flute Salad,” 2008 marks this series’ 16th anniversary. “Flute Salad” was founded to provide performance opportunities for flutists of many ages and abilities and to inspire young flutists. In 2006, Ms. Predmore commissioned two flute choir pieces, one featuring only alto flutes and bass, and one featuring contra and double contrabass flutes with flute choir. Mrs. Predmore is principal flute with the Gold Coast Wind Ensemble, she regularly performs with Pipe Dream Flutes (formerly Flauto Badinage), and conducts the NWLA Flute Choir, an advanced reading group in the northern L.A. area. She has also performed with the NFA American Directors Flute Orchestra in Columbus, American Flute Orchestra in Atlanta, Flauto Badinage in Las Vegas, Fresno and Albuquerque, South Bay Flute Choir in San Diego, and the first NFA-assembled convention flute orchestra in Phoenix under the direction of Mark Thomas. Locally, Ms. Predmore has performed with the Stanley Wind Ensemble, Topanga Symphony, Moorpark Symphony, Royal Oaks Chamber Orchestra, local theater, Los Robles Master Chorale and performed in the West Coast premiere of Ed Lojeski’s Missa Americana in 2006.

Matthew Ream

      Matthew is a student at Brigham Young University where he is majoring in physiology with a minor in music. Matthew has been playing the piano for over 10 years. In his spare time he enjoys composing and arranging music. He is a resident of Oak Park, CA.

Mitch Schuster

      Mitch Schuster is the Instrumental Music Director at Valley View Middle School in Simi Valley, California. Valley View has enjoyed a long tradition for outstanding music programs and Mr. Schuster’s String and Band ensembles have been receiving “Unanimous Superior” festival ratings for the past 24 years. Mr. Schuster comes from a musical family. His father John Schuster and his mother Hazel Schuster were respected music educators in the Bay Area where Mr. Schuster grew up. His primary instrument is trumpet but he also plays piano to accompany his students in class. Graduated from Petaluma High School in 1975, received his A.A. from Santa Rosa JC in 1977 and after a time of professional “gigging” he completed his Bachelor’s in Music with honors from CSUN in 1983. Mr. Schuster is now a well known and respected music educator in Southern California. He is a long time member of SCSBOA (Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association) where he has been a festival adjudicator for the past 15 years. He was voted “Best Music Teacher in Simi Valley” in the Ventura County Star’s People’s Choice Awards in 1995. He was the recipient of the Lew Roth “Teacher of the Year” for the Simi Valley Unified School District in 2008.

Mr. Schuster has been married to his wife, Vicki for the past 23 years and they make their home in Simi Valley. They have four children, David 21, currently serving as a US Marine in Afghanistan, Amy 19 a college student at Moorpark College, Anna 17 a high school senior and violist at Simi High and Joshua 15 a freshman at Simi High who plays quarterback in the football program.

Paul Bartlett

      Paul is a local actor and musician who loves the stage. His recent credits include the broadway shows; Jekyl and Hyde, Ragtime, The Mystery of Edmond Drood, Bye Bye Birdie, Christmas Carol, and Songs from the Tall Grass.He is currently working on It's a Wonderful Life (the musical) at the Simi Cultural Arts Center. When he is not performing, He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, camping and trout fishing. Paul would like to thank Linda Smith for giving him the opportunity to share his gift with the community, and Cindy Wight for unselfishly providing her talent on the piano. He would like to wish everyone in the world a Merry Christmas.

Royal High Chamber Singers

      The Royal High School Chamber Singers consists of auditioned 9-12 graders. The group sings a variety of choral repertoire ranging from Renaissance to Contemporary music. The Chamber Singers has received numerous Superior and Sweepstakes ratings at local, state and national festivals. The group follows a rigorous schedule of performances including concerts, festivals and tours throughout the school year.

      The Royal High School Madrigal Singers consists of 10-12 graders. The group, formed this year, also sings jazz. This spring they will host the 6th annual RHS Vocal Jazz Festival. In addition to singing, the students are very active in the high school participating in band, theatre, leadership, Advanced Placement classes, jazz ensembles and athletics.

Sandra Nielson

      Sandra has loved music from her earliest years. Her mother, an accomplished accompanist, imbued her daughter with that love; and when Sandra was ready to learn to play the piano, her mother became her first teacher. Sandra was raised in Utah and attended Utah State University. After living on the East Coast and in the Mid-west, she and her husband made their home in Simi Valley, where they reared their five children.

      Deriving deep satisfaction from helping children develop musically, Sandra has played for elementary, middle, and high school choirs and soloists at music festivals and concerts. She also enjoys accompanying community choral groups and soloists. Additionally, Sandra plays for her Church choir and presently serves as the Children's Choir accompanist. She is particularly grateful for this opportunity. "Hearing the sweet, angelic voices of the children singing about the Savior has a profound effect on me. I doubt any form of music could be more pure or more beautiful," says Sandra.

Shawna Page

      Shawna started piano lesson at the young age of four. She would get up every morning at 5 AM to practice the piano before school. She always enjoyed playing the piano and piano lessons. She started taking organ lessons at the age of 10. Her mother would drive her up to Oxnard twice a month for organ lessons. She became the ward organist at age 11, leaving primary early to play prelude for Sacrament meeting. Throughout her junior high and high school years she accompanied the school choirs and church choirs. She has performed at the Los Angeles Visitor's Center in their annual plays as the accompanist. Shawna enjoys teaching piano lesson to many young ones here in Simi Valley. She has been teaching for the last 12 years and currently has 25 students.

      Shawna grew up in Simi Valley. She went to Valley View and Royal High School. She attended California State University, Northridge with a BA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in music. She is currently working on her Elementary Education Teaching Credential. Shawna enjoys her time spent, accompanying for the Simi Valley Stake Choir.

Simi Valley Stake Youth Choir
Robert Erickson Director and Kaleb Erickson and Jessica Asplund, Accompanists

      In August of 2008 Linda Smith asked Robert Erickson to organize a youth choir to perform during the Simi Community Christmas Celebration. This time youth singers from all over Simi Valley were invited to participate. The combined choir of youth – ages 12 to 18 years old - has been practicing since August in preparation for this performance. Conductor Robert Erickson comes from a rich musical background and has led various youth choirs over the last decade. This choir is made up of youth from many different Simi Valley Schools. 

      Our principal accompanist is Kaleb Erickson a Sophomore at Simi Valley High School. He has been studying piano for 8 years. Jessica Asplund also helps out on the piano playing the ivories for three of the numbers. 

      These youth have spent many hours preparing for this program. Our music celebrates the sacred story of Christ’s birth and in addition we sing a few fun songs to share the joy of the season, including a Calypso number with maracas. Mary’s contemplation’s of her Special Son is remembered with “Mary Did You Know?” The wondrous season of Christmas is highlighted as a child wishes for “Chocolate in His Christmas Stocking” and we all get to have fun with “Christmas Round.” The program concludes with Janeen Brady’s majestic anthem “We Have Found The Savior.” We hope you enjoy this performance of the Simi Valley Mormon Youth Choir.

Susan Baker

      Susan Baker, soprano, enjoys bringing music to life through performing on stage in recitals and community concerts. While living in Los Angeles, she performed for Los Angeles Music Theatre Company and Long Beach Opera as well as for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Her roles include Musetta in "La Boheme" ( a role which she reprised in Shanghai for the Chinese National Opera in a cultural exchange), title roles in "Rita" and "The Ballad of Baby Doe". She played the role of the mother in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" many times, as well as oratorio roles in "The Messiah" and "Elijah" and many other musical theater and opera credits. Her favorite role ( and favorite aria) has remained Olympia in "The Tales of Hoffman". For many years she performed the national anthem for both the Dodgers and the Clippers sports teams. She has been invited to perform for many religious denominations and her greatest joy comes from singing sacred music. She is a graduate of California State University Northridge. She now lives with her family in Logan, Utah where she presents community concerts at the Logan Tabernacle.

Three Piggy Opera

      This is not the story that you know! Our story starts after the wolf has blown down the pigs’ houses. The pigs are living with their mom, up to their chinny-chin-chins in insurance claims and decide to seek remedy in the legal system. Both parties hire lawyers to represent them, and the court case commences…

      The mission of Once Upon An Opera is to ignite a passion for classical music and promote intellectual growth and development through the literary arts. Founder Virginia Stewart, sought to inspire her own children to love the arts. In doing so, she has created a unique art form featuring clever lyrics set to the greatest hits of classical music that kids and their parents love to sing over and over again.

Virginia Stewart

      Virginia is a alumna of Interlochen Arts Academy and The University of Michigan School of Music. She spent some time as an executive at Universal Studios but realized music is her true love. She has written several children's operas with the intention of using them to spark an interest in classical music in children. She is the proud mother of Zoe, Reese, Danika, Alenia and Claire and adoring wife to Alex Britton.

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