Te Deum Chamber Choir is an ensemble for highly skilled singers who volunteer their time to share, grow, and be inspired to create powerful choral music.
Te Deum Chamber Choir focuses its concerts to create a context for sacred music that evokes a penetratingly spiritual and musical experience for the audience. The deep meaning of the text and music drives every repertoire and musical choice as the Chamber Choir produces a unique choral experience.
Since its inception in 2009, Te Deum has grown both in reputation and in size. Attracting some of the finest voices in Kansas City to audition, this semi-professional ensemble is made up of elementary, middle, high school, and collegiate music teachers; professional singers, professional accompanists, private voice teachers, and music students at the undergraduate, masters, and doctorate levels.
*The ensemble for each concert is drawn from the complete roster below.
|Suzanne Anderson||Krista Childs||Tom Assel||Kyle Chamberlin|
|Lucy Conklin||Peggy Chilson||Nico Caruso||Andrew Childs|
|Katherine Dick||Kaitlyn Connolly||Josh Donaldson||Andrew Cunard|
|Paige Flenniken||Danielle Enriquez-Fowler||Hunter Eisenmenger||Jon Duncan|
|Julianna Fox||Rupal Gupta||Charles Everson||Ken Foley|
|Abby Helt||Julia Kasten||Micah Horton||Nick Gillock|
|Kristen Johnson||Nanette Kraus||Colin Riley||Jeff Jasperson|
|Natasha Olinetchouk||Ann Marzette||Rafael Rodriguez||Ryan Layton|
|Victoria Olson||Hilary Morton||Bryan Waznik||Josh Maize|
|Sarah Powers||Nicole Murray||Ben Wheeler|
|Sarah Schulte||Jenna Socha|
Suzanne Anderson is currently the music director at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and teaches piano and voice lessons privately. Before moving to Kansas City, Suzanne worked as a children’s choir director and professional singer on the east and west coasts. he holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. When not making music, she enjoys traveling, reading about history and politics and spending time with her husband, cat and bouncing dog.
Tom Assel studied vocal technique with Dr. Stephen Weber at Amarillo College, Texas. Tom earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical and computer engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. While there, he sang in the Conservatory Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. Charles Robinson, and University Singers under the direction of Dr. Ryan Board. He and his wife Julie own and operate Assel Grant Services, a grant consulting firm specializing in grant research and proposal writing in a variety of fields. Tom has been singing with Te Deum since fall 2010.
Nico Caruso is excited to be singing (even if it’s in a mask) in his 3rd season with Te Deum. Nico recently completed what remained of the coursework separating him and his bachelor’s degree of music education from the UMKC Conservatory and is now beginning to explore graduate school options to further his studies in vocal performance. Outside of his Te Deum responsibilities Nico is constantly busy being an exceptional and doting big brother to his younger sister.
Kyle Chamberlin has been singing with Te Deum since spring of 2014 and is thankful to be singing with them for another season. Kyle teaches music in the Shawnee Mission School District. He graduated from Emporia State University with a dual degree in vocal and instrumental music education. He received his Master of Science in Education Administration at ESU in 2019. While at ESU, Kyle appeared in many musicals and operas and presented solo recitals in South Korea and Mexico City. In the past 20 years, he has performed in numerous productions at Great Plains Theatre, a regional theatre in Abilene, Kansas as well as Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park. Locally, Kyle has sung with Spire, The Ancora Chorale, and Te Deum Antiqua.
Dr. Andrew Childs has served as Associate Dean and Professor of Music at St. Mary’s College since 2008. Previously, he taught at Missouri State University, the Yale University School of Drama, the Thames Valley Music School at Connecticut College, and served as Managing Coordinator of the Department of Voice and Opera at the Yale School of Music. He earned his Bachelor of Music from UC Irvine, and his DMA from the University of Washington. Andrew has sung nearly thirty operatic roles for Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Harrisburg Opera, The Center for Contemporary Opera, Amato Opera, and Springfield Opera among others. He has recorded for the Parma, Albany, Koch, and Centaur labels. The American Record Guide wrote of his 2006 solo disc of Charles Ives songs on Centaur, “…there is no better recording by a tenor.”
Alto Krista Childs earned both her Bachelor of Music in Education and Master of Music at Missouri State University, where she sang for five years under the direction of Dr. Guy Webb. A native of Sedalia, Missouri, Krista specializes in early childhood music education and is a certified Kodaly instructor. She has extensive experience as a choral conductor and singer in liturgical, educational, and professional settings. She conducted the Children’s Chorus of Southwest Missouri and taught previously in the Bolivar R-1 school district, and St. Mary’s Academy. She currently teaches at McEachron elementary school in Topeka. She and husband Andrew are proud parents of Sara, Patrick, Rebecca, Zachary, and Paul.
Lucy Conklin is pleased to once again be singing with Te Deum this season! She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Kansas. As a lifelong chorister, Lucy participated in numerous choral ensembles at KU, including Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Paul Tucker. Additionally, Lucy sings with KC VITAs Chamber Choir and is a founding member of Ignea Strata, an all-female vocal quartet specializing in genres spanning from medieval to modern. Lucy enjoys bringing sparkle to the lives of Kansas City residents as sales manager at Toner Jewelers in Leawood. She lives in Brookside with her husband, Dave Kaleba, and two wonderful (if a little tubby) cats.
Kaitlyn Connolly is over the moon to be singing in her first season with Te Deum. She has been a chorister since pre-school and is excited to be returning to the choral scene for the first time since The Shutdown. She is hoping to return to school this fall to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Outside of Te Deum, Kaitlyn is a server and the secretary for Tom’s Town Distilling Co. Kaitlyn enjoys cats, being a beer connoisseur with her husband Kyle, playing video games and role-playing games, and making Egg Sandies for her loved ones.
Andrew Cunard graduated in 2010 with a business degree from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. While there, he sang in several premier groups including the Wartburg Choir where he grew as a choral singer under the direction of Dr. Paul Torkelson, Dr. Weston Noble, and current director Dr. Lee Nelson. After returning to Kansas City, Andrew joined Te Deum Chamber Choir and has sung with several other ensembles including Te Deum Antiqua and Kantorei of Kansas City, while also remaining active in music at Atonement Lutheran Church. Andrew received a Master of Business Administration from Rockhurst University in 2016 and spends his days working as a Loan Officer on The Rome Team at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation.
Katherine Dick has been a member of Te Deum for the last five years. She’s been a chorister since 5th grade Jazz Singers, thanks to an inspiring elementary music teacher. In 2014, she received a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from the University of Kansas. While at KU, Katherine was an active member of Chamber Singers and performed in many opera/theatre productions throughout her college career. Most recently, Katherine portrayed Francesca in Theatre Lawrence’s production of the musical The Bridges of Madison County. Katherine spends her weekdays with elementary students at Raintree Montessori in Lawrence, Kansas. She enjoys collaborating with artists and friends in both the Lawrence and Kansas City communities. Katherine spends her free time with family and friends, with a good crossword, playing the piano, and, as of late, tap lessons! She is very much into petting dogs at sports games.
Joshua Donaldson has been a member of Te Deum since 2018. Currently, Joshua is the Interim Director of Choral Activities at Emporia State University. Previously, he was the long-term choir director at Blue Valley Northwest and the Director of Music at Council Grove High School. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Kansas, as well as a M.M. In Choral Conducting and a M.M. in Vocal Performance from Pittsburg State University. Josh is also a member of KC VITAs and is the worship leader at Red Bridge United Methodist Church, where he directs the choir and leads the praise band. When not making music, Joshua enjoys attending musicals and concerts of all types, finding new vegan restaurants, collecting succulents, and lounging at home with his boyfriend Jesse and their cat Winifred.
Jon Duncan is in his 9th season with Te Deum and is thrilled to serve as the new Assistant Rehearsal Director. Jon is the choir director at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas, and he previously taught at Indian Woods Middle School and Hocker Grove Middle School. Jon received his BME and MME both from the UMKC Conservatory. His teachers have included Charles Robinson, Ryan Board, Aidan Soder, Raymond Feener, Joseph Parisi, Dwayne Dunn, Elise Peterson, Erin Smith, Kathy Bhat, and Karen Flaschar. Outside of choral music, Jon enjoys taking care of his houseplants, raising Pokémon, completing puzzles of all genres, and enjoying the KC foodie scene with his partner Luke.
Hunter Eisenmenger is excited to continue with Te Deum as a tenor. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Benedictine College, studying voice under Dr. Kristin Newbegin. For three years, he taught high school music in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Currently, he is pursuing a master’s degree in vocal performance at the UMKC Conservatory. At the Conservatory, he is studying voice under the tutelage of Weston Hurt, and will be playing the role of Acis in Handel’s Acis and Galatea. Hunter has a deep love for sacred and choral literature, and has sung or played piano for services in Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri since he was a kid. In addition to singing, Hunter loves spending time with his wife and baby daughter, playing piano, traveling, and collecting plants.
Danielle Enriquez-Fowler is excited to be making a cameo appearance with Te Deum for Christmas Joy! Danielle is the director of vocal music at North Kansas City High School. She also serves as Coordinator for the KC Metro All District Treble Choir. Danielle received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of North Texas and her Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University. Danielle is a Kansas City native and proud mom of Caridad (8) and Jameson (6). Outside of music, Danielle teaches fitness classes at 3 local gyms. Special thanks to her husband, James, and grandma, Gloria “Googie”, for all their support – I couldn’t have done this without you!
Charles Everson joins Te Deum for his first season. A lifelong chorister, Charles began singing in the children’s choir at Village Presbyterian Church. He played French horn in middle school and high school and sang tenor in various ensembles in high school. Charles sang in several choirs at Ouachita Baptist University where he graduated with a degree in Biblical Studies and a minor in music. He worked in banking for 15 years, earning his Master of Business Administration from Baker University. He sang tenor at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church under Dr. Ken Walker for 10 years, eventually pursuing ordination as a priest. Charles serves as rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City where he enjoys singing the liturgy of the church each week. He and his husband Jay live in South Hyde Park.
Paige Flenniken is thrilled to start her first season with Te Deum! She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at Oklahoma State University where she performed the roles of Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Gilda (Rigoletto), Susannah (Il Segretto di Susannah), Nella (Gianni Schicchi), Isabelle/Madeline (Face on the Barroom Floor) and Aldonza (Man of La Mancha). Paige enjoys the competition circuit and has won multiple awards from the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She is active in the choral world as a soprano soloist for Messiah at OSU for 3 concurrent years, soprano soloist for Lord Nelsons Mass (Haydn), performed twice at Carnegie Hall with the OSU University Singers and soprano soloist for Mass in B Minor(Bach) with the Midland-Odessa Symphonic Chorale. She moved recently from Texas with her husband, Joe, and is excited to be involved in the thriving Kansas City music scene.
Ken Foley is in his third season with Te Deum. Ken is originally from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. He studied at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where he received a Bachelor of Music Education. He moved to Kansas City in 1995 to study with Eph Ehly at the UMKC Conservatory, where he earned his master’s degree in choral conducting. He is in his 33rd year of teaching choral music and his 11th year as Director of Choirs at Shawnee Mission East High School. Ken was a member of the Kansas City Chorale from 1998-2001 and is happy to be singing in a choir again. He lives with his wife Heather and daughters Bria and Jilli.
Julianna Fox was pleased to join Te Deum in the spring of 2015. She holds bachelor’s degrees in vocal music education and vocal performance from Missouri State University. While at MSU, she was privileged to sing in the Concert Chorale under Dr. Guy Webb. She was also active in the opera program, costuming many productions as well as performing. Julianna is an alumnus of the Kansas City Chorale and taught elementary music in Hickman Mills before working in insurance services for State Street Financial. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to her son Miles and daughter Eden.
Nick Gillock has been a member of Te Deum since fall 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Kansas State University (2014) and a Master of Music in Musicology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (2021). He recently completed a thesis entitled “Oh, When the Wiz: An Ethnography of Communal Music-Making in Kansas City Soccer Culture” and was named UMKC’s Muriel McBrien Kauffman Superior Graduate Teaching Assistant. Prior to his graduate studies, he was the choral director at Indian Trail Middle School in Olathe. He has studied voice with Prof. Dale Ganz and Dr. Bryan Pinkall, choral studies with Dr. Julie Yu and Dr. Joshua Oppenheim, and musicology with Dr. S. Andrew Granade, Dr. Alison DeSimone, and Dr. William Everett. When not singing, Nick enjoys hanging out with friends and cheering on Sporting KC, Tottenham Hotspur, and the KSU Wildcats!
Rupal Gupta joined Te Deum in 2017. She cultivated her lifelong love of choral music during her college years with the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum and Chamber Singers. Since that time, choral singing has played a critical role through her medical career, not only as a source of mindfulness and knowledge but also as a wellspring from which to learn the joy of creating a whole greater than each of its parts. A board-certified pediatrician, Rupal is Interim Division Director of General Academic Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital and previously served as Medical Director of Operation Breakthrough Clinic. She is engaged in clinical research on the intersection of health and early childhood education. She earned her undergraduate degree at Harvard and her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. When not singing or working, Rupal loves to laugh, read, bake bread, and play Uno or Spelling Bee with her husband and two children.
Abby Helt is in her second season with Te Deum. Abby is a first-year music teacher at St. Ann Catholic School. She graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. At K-State, she studied voice under Professor Cheryl Richt and sang in multiple choirs, serving as a section leader, under Dr. Julie Yu and Dr. Joshua Oppenheim. Abby performed as a soloist with K-State’s Concert Choir at the 2018 Southwest American Choral Director’s Association conference, Grand Chorus Rhapsody 2019, and Collegium Musicum. Abby has also worked with the Flint Hills Children’s Choir in Manhattan, Kansas. In addition to singing, Abby enjoys road-tripping, painting, and hanging with her family.
Micah Horton is excited to return to Te Deum for his fifth season with the choir. He teaches choir at Olathe North High School and serves as the Director of Worship Music at Second Presbyterian Church in Brookside. Micah also gigs on guitar, electric bass, and mandolin. Micah has a Master of Music Education from the UMKC Conservatory. He also holds Bachelor’s degrees in Music Composition and Psychology from Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. Micah recently served as the Resource Chair for Multicultural Perspectives for the Missouri Choral Director’s Association, and was the 2021 Prelude Award recipient for MCDA. He is a New Jersey native, proud dad & partner, and a Philadelphia sports fan.
Jeff Jasperson is grateful to be singing with Te Deum for a third season. Jeff graduated from the University of Kansas in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, voice emphasis. At KU, he performed with numerous choirs and was a four-year member of the KU Marching Jayhawks as a trumpet player. From 2017-2019, Jeff was a director of the spring choral variety show Encore at Free State High School in Lawrence. He currently sings for church services at Trinity Lutheran Church in Mission, Kansas, and works as a paraeducator at Shawnee Mission North High School. Jeff and his fiancée Kayla live in downtown Kansas City with their golden retriever, Berkeley. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys taking Berkeley on walks, distance running, honing his cooking skills, watching KC sports, and attempting to win his fantasy football league.
Kristen Johnson has been singing her heart out since before she could join the church and school choirs as a child. She played violin through high school, even though it meant skipping lunch to also sing in the concert choir. During college, Kristen fell in love with the Anglican choral tradition singing for Dr. Arnold Epley in William Jewell’s concert choir, then spent a year abroad cycling to Evensong services all over Cambridge. Kristen has been a soprano in the Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral choir since 2005, singing under Canon John Schaefer and Dr. Paul Meier. She is thrilled to begin singing again after the great pandemic-induced pause in choral singing. By day, Kristen is an attorney practicing administrative and regulatory law in the Environmental, Energy, Mining, and Transportation division at Stinson. She enjoys gardening, yoga, dancing, and spending spare time with her husband and three children.
Julia Kasten is excited to be singing her second season with Te Deum! A recent graduate from the UMKC Conservatory, she has a Bachelor of Music in both Vocal Performance and Music Theory. Julia works as a church musician and sings with Kantorei KC and the Tallgrass Chamber Choir. Outside of music, Julia loves her cats, Disney, and traveling.
Nanette Kraus joined Te Deum in 2013 serves as the Singer Representative on the Te Deum, Inc. board. Nanette collaborates in a wide variety of music projects as pianist and singer. She currently serves as staff accompanist for Liberty High School and Liberty Community Chorus, and in 2021 assisted the KCDA state treble honor choir, Northeast KMEA and KC Metro district honor choirs. From 2009-2016, Nanette served as staff accompanist and piano instructor at Baker University. In addition to Te Deum, she sings with KC VITAs Chamber Choir. She holds degrees from Bethany College and the University of Kansas. Nanette volunteers for the A Turning Point and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and enjoys cheering for Jayhawk basketball.
Ryan Layton is a singer, conductor, collaborative pianist, and teacher. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he studied voice with Dr. Steven B. Jepson, and performed with Hitt Street Harmony, the Bach Collegium Choir, and University Singers under the direction of Dr. R. Paul Crabb. Ryan worked with the Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri for five years, most recently as the accompanist and conductor of the Columbia Chamber Choir and assistant director of the Columbia Chorale. Additionally, he has accompanied numerous school and community choirs and conference reading sessions. This school year will be Ryan’s first as Assistant Choir Director at Blue Springs High School. Previously, he was the Director of Choirs and fine arts chairperson at Marshall High School as well as the assistant director of the Marshall Community Chorus. Ryan is an avid New York Times crossword solver, devoted Kansas City and Mizzou sports fan, and reluctant runner.
Dr. Joshua Maize is the associate director of music at Village Presbyterian Church. Since 2018, he served as director of music and the arts at First Presbyterian Church of Austin, Texas. He is an active conductor, organist, and vocalist, appearing on the rosters of Norfolk Chamber Choir, Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, Austin Schola Cantorum, Te Deum Chamber Choir, and Spire Chamber Choir. Additionally, he has served as assistant conductor of the Prague Choral Festival. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, a master’s degree in musicology and church music from the University of Kansas and a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting from UMKC. He was an Ellen Battell Stoeckel Vocal Fellow at Yale University.
Ann Marzette joined Te Deum Chamber Choir in the fall of 2009 for its first full season. She graduated from William Jewell College in 2009 with degrees in piano performance and church music with a vocal emphasis. In 2013, she completed a Master of Arts in teaching from the University of Central Missouri. She currently teaches at Kearney Middle School, where she serves as director of vocal music, teaches popular music courses, and assists with the high school vocal music program. Prior to teaching at KMS, Ann served as the vocal music teacher at Marshall High School (Missouri) for four years. She continues to direct the Marshall Community Chorus. Outside the music realm, Ann works at Anthropologie to support her dress addiction. She also runs a pie side hustle: Easy As Pie KC.
Hilary Morton joined Te Deum in 2019. Hilary recently moved to Kansas City from Lawrence to begin teaching choral music at Shawnee Mission North High School. She previously taught at Lawrence Free State High School in Lawrence and at Oregon Trail Jr. High in Olathe. A Lawrence native, Hilary attended the University of Kansas and sang under the direction of Simon Carrington. She dual-majored as an undergrad, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and in Theatre/Voice. She minored in French and holds a Masters of Choral Pedagogy from KU. She has been involved in theatre in Lawrence for almost 40 years, from sketch comedy productions to Broadway cabaret performances. When Hilary’s not singing or making others sing, she is nestled with her fur babies, watching scary movies whilst baking cookies and crafting specialty cocktails for her loved ones.
Nicole Murray is delighted to be singing with Te Deum for a fourth season. She also enjoys performing as a soloist, choir member, and choral conductor. As a soloist, she has appeared with the Kansas City Symphony, the Liberty Symphony Orchestra, the Northland Symphony Orchestra, the Heritage Philharmonic, and Kansas City Wind Symphony. Nicole is a member of the choral faculty at William Jewell College, and performs with their Cardinalis ensemble. She has also sung with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, the Kansas City Chorale, Musica Vocale and the American Guild of Organists’ Schola Cantorum ensemble. Her formal training includes music degrees from William Jewell College and the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. She works on her high notes each summer by riding roller coasters around the globe.
Natasha Olinetchouk is thrilled to join Te Deum for the first time for “Divine.” She has lived in Kansas City for 12 years and considers it home. In addition to her nursing degree from Stupino Nursing School in Stupino, Russia, Natasha received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Studies from Missouri State University and Master of Opera Performance from Wichita State University. Natasha has sung with many choral ensembles throughout the years, most recently with KC Symphony Chorus and KC VITAs, where she also serves as a board member. Natasha enjoys her position as event manager at KC Convention Center. When she is not chasing a toddler, she enjoys nature walks while listening to podcasts and audiobooks, cooking, supporting local arts (most definitely including the culinary) and nonprofits, attending live music and dance performances. She lives in South Kansas City with her husband Alex and daughter Katerina.
Victoria Olson is a versatile artist and an active collaborator in numerous concerts, recitals, and large-scale projects with ensembles such as Te Deum, Te Deum Antiqua, Kantorei, Spire, Missouri Choral Artists, and internationally acclaimed choral ensemble Red Shift. Her performance career has taken her through the Heartland to Eastern Europe as a prominent featured soloist. Her most notable roles included Königin der Nacht with Landlocked Opera of Kansas City and Heartland Opera Theatre, and Nella with the Varna International Music Academy. Victoria also holds a strong interest in music education and has served as a highly sought-after clinician, adjudicator, and private voice instructor across the Midwest. She received a Bachelor of Music Education (UNO), a Master of Music, and an Artist Certificate with an emphasis in Baroque Studies (UMKC).
Sarah Powers received a Bachelor of Science in Vocal Performance in 2015 from William Jewell College where she studied voice as a Choral Scholar. While working toward her degree she sang in various ensembles including the Concert Choir and Schola Cantorum, and held a church choir position at Asbury United Methodist Church. She has appeared as a soloist with the Liberty Symphony Orchestra and Midwest Chamber Ensemble and has performed chorally and as a soloist with Musica Vocale, AGO Schola Cantorum, Cardinalis, and Te Deum Antiqua. Currently, Sarah sings at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church as a choral scholar and works as an assistant property manager in Olathe where she lives with her husband and son.
Colin Riley joined Te Deum in 2019 after arriving in the KC area from Upstate New York. Colin performed with the nationally recognized chamber choir Ensemble Companio from 2014 to 2019 – serving as a tenor, officer, and board member. Colin graduated from Cornell University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. While there, he sang with the Cornell University Glee Club under Scott Tucker, with performances including Ein Deutsches Requiem in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong; the 2009 American Choral Directors Association National Convention; and a stage production of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. Colin is a Regional Product Manager with General Electric and also holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and a Master of Business Administration from Clarkson University. Colin lives in Overland Park with his wife and toddler, where he divides his time between home improvement projects and pretending to be a robot/dinosaur.
Rafael Rodriguez is thrilled to join Te Deum in his first season. A chorister for most of his life, Rafael originally hails from New York and brings a strong passion for sacred music. Rafael developed his musical skill and knowledge further starting in 2012 where he attended Saint Mary’s College in Kansas and sang under the direction of Dr. Andrew Childs for over 8 years. While living in the Manhattan, Kansas area, Rafael also sang several seasons with Collegium Musicum at Kansas State University led by Dr. David Wood, and the Masterworks Chorale led by Dr. Jeffrey Ward. Rafael and his family moved to Kansas City in the Summer of 2020. Since then, he has become a valuable member of the St. Vincent de Paul Church community where he directs the schola, sings in the choir, and teaches Gregorian chant to the high school students of St. Vincent’s Academy.
Sarah Schulte is excited to be singing with Te Deum for a second season! She is currently in her first year as Director of Choirs at Park Hill South High School, and was previously the Assistant Director of Choirs at Blue Springs South High School. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2018 with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Music Education, Summa Cum Laude. While there, Sarah was active with the University Singers and Show-Me Opera programs, singing abroad in China, Sweden, and Estonia. In addition to teaching in Park Hill, Sarah has previously sung as a section leader in St. Paul’s Episcopal Choir and with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus. Sarah loves hiking, house plants, craft beer, and her dog, Ollie!
Sydney Seratte has been a member of Te Deum for not one, not two, but nine whole seasons! Sydney teaches music at Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School in Shawnee, Kansas. Prior to joining the team at BJF, she taught music at Citizens of the World Charter School in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory. As a UMKC student, Sydney enjoyed singing in university choirs and vocal recitals. Her teachers have included Janeal Krehbiel, Cathy Crispino, Dr. Charles Robinson, Dr. Ryan Board, Dr. Aidan Soder, Corbin Trimble, Debra Raffety, Robert Relly, Joan Hildebrand, Terah Wieland, Nicole Ouwenga-Scott, and Patrice Sollenberger. Sydney teaches Simply Music piano lessons in the area, holds a master’s degree in education from MidAmerica Nazarene University, and a master’s degree in music education from UMKC. She loves softball, house plants, cooking, and her two (too many) cats, Del and Meret.
Jenna Socha is ecstatic to sing with Te Deum in her first season. She recently returned to Kansas City after 10 years, including 5 years in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Jenna is entering her eleventh year as a vocal and choral music educator, settling into her second year at the elementary level following postings in secondary and primary levels. She received a Bachelor of Music Education from Missouri State University where she studied voice with Dr. Andrew Childs and conducting with Dr. Guy Webb. Jenna earned a Master of Music Education from the University of Missouri where she was Teaching Assistant in choral music. In Scranton, Jenna enjoyed participating in Arcadia Chorale and founded and directed Voce Angeli, a women’s choral ensemble in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Jenna is happy to be back in Kansas City, closer to family, with husband Matt and daughter Lilly (2), who keeps her busy when not teaching or rehearsing!
Ben Wheeler is excited for his first year with Te Deum in 2021. He learned to love music as a Suzuki trained violinist under Alice Joy Lewis in Ottawa, Kansas from age 4 through 18. He has a Bachelor of Music in Music Theater from Oklahoma City University, where he studied with vocal teacher Larry Keller. He sang for 2 seasons with Light Opera Oklahoma in Tulsa and has performed in many musicals and operas in school and community theaters in Kansas and Oklahoma. He had a blast singing with the Central Standard Barbershop Chorus in KC from 2017-2019. He enjoys volleyball, skiing, live music, and racking up wins with his crew of fully grown adults on Call of Duty.