14th Annual

Our Performers for 2012

Performer Archives

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

Arlene Kole, singer The Bell Canto Ringers, hand bell choir
Chad Metcalf, organ ChannelAire Chorus, women's barbershop music
The Chordinators, men’s quartet The Conejo Slides, trombone ensemble
Craig Mathias, bagpipes Elaine Litster, harpist & Shelia Zimmerman, flute
First Take, men’s quartet Friday String Quartet
Gold Coast Pipe Band, bagpipes Hillside Middle School Chorus
Mark & Jennifer Sherwood, vocalists Moorpark College Studio Jazz Ensemble
Once Upon an Opera Royal High School Choir
Santa Susana High School Orchestra Santa Susana High School Vocal Ensemble & Women's Choir
Seraphim Ensemble, singers of early and sacred music Simi Valley Community Children’s Choir
Simi Valley Community Choir Simi Valley High School Jazz Combo
Simi Valley High School Vocal Ensemble & Jazz Choir Sinaloa Middle School Mixed Choir
Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Conservatory Soloists St Rose of Lima Catholic Church Choir
Valley View Middle School Concert Strings Valley View Middle School Vocal Ensemble

Arlene Kole

Arlene Kole      Arlene Kole is no stranger to Simi Community Christmas. She is a captivating performer not only because her voice and musical choices are fabulous but also because her songs are excellent, melodically and lyrically.  When she is on stage every audience loves her immediately.

The Bell Canto Ringers, hand bell choir

Donna Young      The Bell Canto Ringers are thrilled to return for a fifth season at Simi Community Christmas following their debut performance here in 2008. The Bell Canto Ringers are a handbell choir consisting of eleven musicians from Agoura Hills, Moorpark, Newbury Park, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks under the direction of Jodi Ream. Following her eight years as a youth vocal and handbell choir director in Santa Monica, Jodi Ream and her sister, Sally Walter, organized The Bell Canto Ringers in 2008 as a tribute to their parents for the support and encouragement of their daughters' musical pursuits. The Bell Canto Ringers have performed throughout Ventura Co. and will be featured performers at the Los Angeles Temple Visitor's Center on December 17th. Handbell music brings a distinctive sound to traditional Christmas carols. Be sure to look and listen for the various techniques used by the ringers to create their unique tone and blend.

Chad Metcalf, organist

Chad Metcalf      Chad Metcalf has been an organist and an accountant in the Los Angeles area for several years.  He studied organ performance with Parley Belnap at Brigham Young University and Darwin Wolford at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho).  He is a member of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and the former chair of the program committee of the Los Angeles Chapter of the AGO.  He has also been employed as an organist in several churches in Southern California representing several denominations. 

Channelaire Chorus

ChannelAire Chorus      The ChannelAire Chorus is comprised of women who love to sing and share their passion for music. For over 50 years, this chorus has been sharing their exciting sound, performing throughout Ventura County and other Southern California venues. Under the direction of Bobbette Gantz, a Master Director, Certified International Sound Judge as well as a coach for many choruses and quartets throughout the Sweet Adelines organization,ChannelAire has not only entertained audiences near and far, but has also participated in dozens of competitions including winning first place in this region’s Sweet Adelines event, thus advancing to the International Competition in Hawaii in the Fall of 2013. ChannelAire, as seen on “Good Morning, America,” were regional champions in 1987, 1991, 1994, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and now 2012.

For more information, visit www.channelaire.org or visit ChannelAire's Facebook page.

The Chor'd'inators, Christmas music from yesteryear

      A male quartet featuring barbershop styles from years past, the group consists of Steve Ganowsky (tenor), Lex Olorenshaw (lead), Del Steele (baritone), and David Sardoni (bass). Sit back and enjoy songs that will hopefully make this season a little bit brighter and draw you closer to Christ. If you like what you hear tonight you can enjoy a full hour of Christmas and other music with the Chordinators at the Los Angeles Temple Visitor Center on Thursday, December 27th at 7:30 pm

The Conejo Slides, a trombone choir

Art KharnsA trombone choir directed by Art Kharns

      The CONEJO SLIDES return to perform for a third season at Simi Valley Community Christmas 2012.  Members come from Simi Valley, Camarillo, Agoura, and neighboring communities. We draw from local organizations including the Moorpark Symphony, Gold Coast Wind Ensemble, Late Nite Big Band and numerous community bands, jazz bands, and church organizations.

      Art Kharns graduated from Pacific Union College near the Napa valley in 1978 with a degree in Music Education with an emphasis in low brass. He taught elementary music for 6 years. Art has also directed a community orchestra and a brass ensemble, has performed with several big bands, with Gold Coast Wind Ensemble, with area community bands, and has played as a featured artist accompanying a dramatic presentation of "God's Trombones" at La Sierra University. He enjoys writing/arranging music and performing on low brass, guitar and like instruments. Art makes his living as a Systems Analyst in the health insurance industry.

Craig Mathias, bagpipes

Craig Mathais      Craig Mathias of Clan Buchanan has been playing the highland bagpipes since 1999. He performs throughout the year at community events throughout Southern California including Memorial Day observances, dedications and flag raisings. He has closed every evening of the Simi Community Christmas celebration since its inception.

      During the nights of Simi Community Christmas, several pipe tunes will close each evening including Amazing Grace, Going Home and an assortment of traditional Christmas songs. "Piper Craig" will also accompany the choir Saturday night playing "The Water is Wide" (a traditional Welsh tune) as an introduction to "Thou Gracious God."

      Piper Craig will wear traditional 19th century attire including kilts of Clan Buchanan in both modern (reds and yellows) and hunting (greens and blacks) tartans. His clan medallion shows an arm holding the crown of Scotland, signifying the role of Clan Buchanan in saving the Scottish crown in several battles of the 15th through 17th centuries.

Elaine Litster, harpist

Elaine Litster      Elaine Litster is an active performer and freelancer. She has played with many orchestras in Southern California, from the Asia American Symphony Orchestra and the American Freedom Orchestra, to the West Coast Symphony and Bakersfield Symphony.  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.  Her harp music has brought hundreds of wedding couples down the aisle from secluded affairs (Scott Hamilton-the ice skater and a few friends), to a live wedding performance on “The Bold and the Beautiful, viewed in countries around the world.

     Elaine served on the national board of the American Harp Society (AHS) from 2003-09.  From 2006-08 she served as 2nd Vice President of the American Harp Society.  She is currently on the AHS Foundation Board, serving as secretary.  She was president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the AHS from 2000-02, and 1st vice president 1998-00.  Her chapter was awarded Chapter of the Year at the national convention in 2002. 

     For the past 15 years, Elaine has organized and conducted “Harp Extravaganza,” California’s largest “spontaneous” holiday harp ensemble, averaging 25 harpists.  From 2000-08, Elaine taught choir and harp at Centers of Learning (a private junior high/high school).  Elaine was invited to present a workshop at the 2005 National ASTA Conference, “Establishing a Harp Program with No Instruments and Little Money.”   Additionally, in 2005 Elaine presented workshops at the American Harp Society Summer Institute discussing harp ensemble literature and building harp programs in the public schools. 

     Formerly from Idaho, Elaine was principal harpist for the Boise Philharmonic and the Idaho Falls Symphony.  As Miss Idaho 1983, 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, where she enjoys accompanying for Royal HS choir.

Sheila Zimmermann, flute

Shelia Zimmermann     Flutist and General Manager of Elegant Music, Sheila has free-lanced throughout Southern California for 22 years.  Performances include the Redlands Symphony, Vivaldi Dreams Ensemble, Descanso Gardens’ "Under the Oaks Festival" & Valley College Recital series to name but a few. She has recorded several albums with husband and pianist Eric Zimmermann as well as a Flute and Harp album with Elaine Litster entitled "Captured Moments."  Sheila is very active in providing private flute and piano instruction to a variety of students throughout Los Angeles. She is a graduate of The Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College NY and former studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Illinois State University.  She resides in Altadena with husband and pianist, Eric Zimmermann, and their two children, Sara & Lance.

First Take, men's do-wap quartet

First Take      Hearkening from the Golden Age of Radio, west coast doo-wop sensation First Take proudly returns to the Simi Community Christmas.  The quartet is destined to warm the hearts of listeners during the frosty first days of winter, with Mike Gardner laying a foundation of low notes, first tenor Bruce Gardner and second tenor Brian Gardner sharing the leads, and baritone Dan Burdick rounding out the signature tones of an era marked by hot rods, soda shops and poodle skirts.

      Performing old standards as well as an original or two, First Take is the perfect musical medicine for anyone seeking a kick-start into the Yuletide season.

Could Santa get any jollier?  He will be after swingin’ to singin’ of the hottest a capella group south of the North Pole!

Friday String Quartet

Friday String Quartet      The Friday String Quartet was formed almost two years ago as a group of musicians who enjoyed the dynamics of a string quartet and each other’s company.

      Mary Ann Marx, first violin, played for the California Lutheran University Symphony for 30 years. She is currently playing with the Sedalia Ragtime Orchestra of Thousand Oaks and the Interlude Quartet.

      George Fraser, second violin, plays with the Happiness Strings Quartet of Camarillo, and the Simi Valley Senior Strings.  Additionally, he plays cello in the Silver Strings of Thousand Oaks and, in the past, he played cello in the Pacific Pearl Symphony Orchestra and the Moorpark Symphony and Community Orchestras.

      Stuart Thomson, viola, returned to the instrument after retiring. He has played with the Silver Strings of Thousand Oaks, the Moorpark Community Orchestra, the Center String Quartet, and the Simi Valley Senior Strings.

      Carolyn Linhart, cello, has served the community for many years as church organist, piano accompanist, and violinist with the former Conejo Symphony.  A new-found love affair with the cello has found her playing with several local string ensembles, and she especially enjoys collaboration with The Friday String Quartet.

Gold Coast Pipe Band

Gold Coast Pipe Band      The Camarillo-based Gold Coast Pipe Band is a competitive pipe band that was formed by a group of award winning pipers to encourage and educate band members and the public in the finest tradition of Scottish Highland music in the Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles areas.

      The band performs throughout Southern California at many events from St. Patrick's Day, commencements, birthday and anniversary parties and golf tournaments to fire and police functions.  They regularly perform on stage with the world famous Chieftains during their US tours.  Some of their more notable appearances include the wedding of Sandra Bullock and Jesse James and the soundtrack of Robin Williams’ movie “The Dead Poet’s Society’.  The band recently surprised "Cheers" star John Ratzenberger on his 60th birthday and have appeared on numerous TV, radio and CD recordings.  Pipe Major Jack Daly and Drum Sergeant Norm Riley lead the Gold Coast Pipe Band who proudly wear the Wallace tartan.

      Contact the Gold Coast Pipe band on their website:  www.goldcoastpipeband.com  or call 805-484-7570 for information or bookings.  New members are always welcome.

Gold Coast Pipe Band

Hillside Middle School Chorus

      Toriann Garner has been a choir director for the Simi Valley Unified School District since February 2004. This is her third year at Hillside Middle School and is having a great time with the middle school students. There are three choirs, including a Glee Club, at Hillside Middle School, and all three choirs are award-winning choirs. The beginning choir, Mixed Choir, is comprised of 6th and 7th grade students. This is the choir that will be performing for the Simi Community Christmas. The Winter Choral Concert at Hillside Middle School will be on Tuesday, December 18th at 7:00 pm in the Hillside Middle School GYM. Please come join the Hillside Hawks for some holiday cheer

Mark & Jennifer Sherwood, vocalists

Mark & Jennifer Sherwood      Mark was winning singing competitions as a boy soprano at age 9 throughout Canada. Jennifer grew up competing and performing as a vocalist in numerous bands and vocal groups. It should come as no surprise that it was music that would bring them together. Mark and Jennifer met while performing at the 1984 Worlds Fair in New Orleans. They continued their musical journey together touring and performing Broadway musical reviews all over the world to over 26 countries. Queen Noor at the Jerash Festival in Amman Jordan, as well as Premier Li Peng of the People's Republic of China were just a few of the dignitaries they were privileged to entertain. Featured in the international documentary: "Jerash, A Bridge to Understanding", they also toured the South Pacific and Europe participating in both television and radio broadcasts. After earning her degree in Music, Jennifer and Mark settled in the greater Los Angeles area to raise their family. While in Southern California, they have recorded numerous CD projects for Columbia Records, releasing music in both Japan and Europe. They continue to perform and do studio work throughout the LA area, recently releasing a CD project, entitled "A Spiritual Note."

Moorpark College Jazz Band

Moorpark College Jazz Band      The Moorpark College Jazz Program, under the direction of Brendan McMullin, has established itself as one of the premiere college jazz programs in the Ventura and Los Angeles County areas. Their award winning jazz ensembles regularly perform around town for community events, college functions, and school outreach. They also travel every year performing at events such as the Reno Jazz Festival. Jazz greats are regularly invited to give clinics to the students and perform as featured artists with the jazz ensembles. Some of these artists include Bill Watrous, Ed Shaughnessy, Josh Nelson, Bob McChesney, and Karl Hunter (from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy). This program prepares students, ranging from high school students to college music majors, for the rigors of a university jazz education. Many of these students have successfully transferred to universities such as CSUN, UCLA, USC, and the Berklee School of Music to further their music studies.

Once Upon an Opera

Once Upon An Opera      Virginia Landis Stewart founded Once Upon an Opera in 2008 with the mission to ignite a passion in children for classical music and to promote their intellectual development through the literary arts. http://onceuponanopera.net/

      A long-time resident of Los Angeles, Virginia is originally from Adrian, Michigan and attended Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan School of Music with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance (opera). She has toured Europe playing the cello and performed in a series of concerts throughout Europe as a vocal soloist alongside world-renown organist Marilyn Mason. In New York City, Virginia premiered several leading roles in several Off-Broadway musicals and in Los Angeles she has sung lead operatic roles with Lyric Opera of Los Angeles Casa Italiana Opera Company, Repertory Opera of LA, and El Dorado Opera.

      From January 1995-2006 she worked in the Hollywood film industry in post-production for Universal Studios. During this time she developed a series of educational theatrical presentations for the Los Angeles County and Tampa, Florida schools with her sister, Elizabeth Stewart. Education, music and autism-related causes have always been close to her heart as evidenced by her lifelong history of volunteering at hospitals, churches and organizations serving children and adults with special needs. Autism was an ever present reality of her childhood as she helped care for her sister afflicted with the disorder. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors of Rockwood Farm, a non-profit rural enrichment and living option for adults with autism.

      Virginia is the proud mother of five daughters and amidst the chaos, she continues her work with non-profit and special needs service organizations while working to help children gain exposure to and develop interest in the Arts.  

Royal High School Choir

Bonnie Graeve      Bonnie Graeve has been teaching choral music for the past 25 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.

Santa Susana High School Orchestra
Directed by Dr. Kathryn Kuby

The Santa Susana High School Symphony Orchestra is comprised of students from grades nine through twelve. The musicians exhibit a high level of musicianship in rehearsal and performance. The ensemble's repertoire includes all styles of orchestral music, including classical, Baroque, modern and pop. The group performs at local and regional festivals, including their own festival, which is held every March in the Performing Arts Center on the Santa Susana High School Campus. The Symphony Orchestra looks forward to entertaining you this holiday season.

Santa Susana High School Orchestra

Santa Susana High School Vocal Ensemble & Women's Choir

Santa Susana High School Vocal Ensemble      The Santa Susana High School Vocal Ensemble and Women's Choir are part of the award winning Vocal Music program at Santa Susana High School. These choirs perform throughout the community and at local and national festivals and competitions. Performing music that ranges from Classical to Contemporary, the students experience a broad variety of musical styles. We are honored and excited to be a part of the Simi Community Christmas this year. 

The Seraphim Ensemble
Singers of old and sacred music

Sri SilvaSri Silva, Music Director

      The Seraphim Ensemble is an ecumenical choral group comprised of singers of various faiths, musical experiences, and professional backgrounds.  The group is dedicated to preserving the ancient art of sacred Christian music through historically-informed performances.  The Seraphim Ensemble will be performing selections from the medieval to renaissance eras, including pieces composed by the 12th-century abbess, mystic, and recently-proclaimed "Doctor of the Church," St. Hildegard von Bingen.  The Ensemble is led by conductor Sri Silva, a teacher of chant techniques based on the scholarly study of ancient notation systems.  


Simi Valley Community Children's Choir

Cathy Cheney      Cathy Cheney, director of both the Simi Community Choir and Children’s Choir, has been married to her Sweetheart, Don, for 42 years and is the mother of their 5 children.  Their ‘prolific’ children have made them the very proud grandparents of 23 exceptionally adorable grandchildren.

      Cathy’s love of choirs began when was in the 3rd grade  and she sang in her first one.  This love continued through school and beyond to include performing in community choirs in Oklahoma and Southern California as an adult. 

      She has been a choir director for 40+ years for her church in each place she has lived, which includes California, Oklahoma, Utah, and in Augsburg, Germany.

      Cathy worked as the Music Specialist at Township Elementary School for 16 years teaching songs and producing music programs she wrote for the different age groups.  She cherishes those experiences.

      In addition to choral directing, Cathy has dabbled in music composition, of which 6 have been performed by choirs or soloists.

      Directing adult and children’s choirs has been a joyful challenge to her throughout the years.  Working with both in association with Simi Community Christmas has truly filled her heart.

Simi Valley Community Choir

Cathy Cheney

      Cathy Cheney, director of both the Simi Community Choir and Children’s Choir, has been married to her Sweetheart, Don, for 42 years and is the mother of their 5 children.  Their ‘prolific’ children have made them the very proud grandparents of 23 exceptionally adorable grandchildren.

      Cathy’s love of choirs began when was in the 3rd grade  and she sang in her first one.  This love continued through school and beyond to include performing in community choirs in Oklahoma and Southern California as an adult. 

      She has been a choir director for 40+ years for her church in each place she has lived, which includes California, Oklahoma, Utah, and in Augsburg, Germany.

      Cathy worked as the Music Specialist at Township Elementary School for 16 years teaching songs and producing music programs she wrote for the different age groups.  She cherishes those experiences.

      In addition to choral directing, Cathy has dabbled in music composition, of which 6 have been performed by choirs or soloists.

      Directing adult and children’s choirs has been a joyful challenge to her throughout the years.  Working with both in association with Simi Community Christmas has truly filled her heart.

Simi Valley High School Jazz Combo
Directed by Daniel Pracher & Ryan Gooch

The Simi Valley High School Jazz Ensemble is a year round class that teaches the Jazz Idiom to students of all levels.  It includes members who have been playing their instrument for many years and some who are outstanding beginners.  This class focuses on improvisation, transcription, ensemble techniques, and the rich history and diversity of one of America's own true art forms.   

Simi Valley High School Vocal Ensemble & Jazz Choir
Directed by Kathi Copans

      Simi Valley High School 's Vocal Ensemble is comprised of eighteen women members. The Jazz Choir is slightly larger, and blends both men's and women's voices. Both groups, along with an additional choir are led by director, Kathi Copans. This is Ms. Copans' second year at Simi Valley High School. She previously taught and directed the choir program at Hillside Middle School. Ms. Copans has an extensive musical background, and is schooled in both voice and instrumentals (piano, flute, and clarinet). SVHS choir auditions are held annually in May. Those interested in participating may email Ms. Copans at kcopans@simi.k12.ca.us

Sinaloa Middle School Mixed Choir

Virginia Starling      Virginia Starling, Choral Director, received her B.A. in Music from CSUN and her Teaching Credential at California Lutheran University. Mrs. Starling is currently in the process of completing her Master’s in Education at CLU. She is enjoying her 5th year of teaching Choir and has recently started a successful string program at Sinaloa. 

      Prior to beginning her career as a public school music teacher, Mrs. Starling spent over twenty five years in involved in retail sheet music as a manger and a buyer. The last eleven years was spent as a sales representative for Alfred Publishing, Co., Inc.  Mrs. Starling is an accomplished violinist and guitarist. She has received many awards for her vocal performances as well as songwriting. Mrs. Starling was a member of High Hills, an all-female bluegrass band. The group’s albums can be heard on iTunes.

Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Conservatory Soloists

      The Thousand Oaks Philharmonic was founded in December of 2000 as a California registered non-profit educational organization, with its foremost purpose being to provide exceptional music students an opportunity to be featured as soloists with a professional orchestra.  

Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Conservatory Soloists Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Conservatory Soloists Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Conservatory Soloists Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Conservatory Soloists Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Conservatory Soloists

      When Edward Francis (the current board chairman), started the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, it was an idea and a dream which would bring opportunities to these area students as well as other members of the local community. In order to do this, a performing group had to be available, so a professional orchestra was formed.  The music director and conductor is Dr. John Roscigno.  All board members serve as volunteers. 

      The Ventura County area is rich in talent, with an unusually high concentration of young artist-level musicians living in our midst. Perhaps it is no coincidence that our schools graduate some of the highest-ranking and well-prepared students in the state, and their level of achievement in other fields mirrors those results.  Three years ago a pre-college conservatory training program was started.  This program, called “Appassionata!” provides outstanding collaborative opportunities of higher-level learning to enrolled students, including: Master classes by the finest artists from around the world, lectures and seminars on many related subjects, a recital series that brings talented youth into many areas as a community service, and of course the ultimate opportunity to be featured as a soloist with the orchestra.   Learn more by visiting: www.tophil.org 

St. Rose of Lima Traditional Choir

      The St. Rose of Lima Traditional Choir is composed of talented parishioners from our church.  All the members of the group are very dedicated and devote their time and talent in the music ministry at St. Rose.   We lead the congregation in song and prayer every Sunday at the 9:00 Mass. This enthusiastic group is directed by Clare Delto and accompanied by Rachel Yoon.

St. Rose of Lima Traditional Choir

      The director, Clare Delto is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston where she received her Bachelor degree in Music Education.  She also earned her Master of Music degree in Conducting from San Diego State University. Clare has been featured as a solo vocalist and conductor at prestigious venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Chartres Cathedral, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the King’s Chapel in Versailles, St. Chapelle, Melbourne Scots’ Church, Sydney Town Hall, and the Sydney Opera House.

      St. Rose of Lima Parish choir would like to thank Simi Community Christmas organizers for inviting us to sing this year.  If you would like to hear more from our group, our Epiphany concert is on January 4th starting at 7:30p.m.

Valley View Middle School Concert Strings
Mitch Schuster, Instrumental Music Director

Thousand Oaks Philiharmonic

      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 26 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 24 years and they make their home in Simi Valley. They have four children.

Valley View Middle School Vocal Ensemble

      Hilary Nordal is currently in her 31st year of teaching choral music in the Simi Valley Unified School District. Mrs. Nordal started her musical career at age 4 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.

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