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.
|Kristen Ellis Johnson
|Julia Kasten Sharp
Lawrence Abernathy is a choral artist based in Lawrence, Kansas, where he is in demand as a conductor, clinician and tenor. He is currently the Director of Choirs at Washburn University where he leads the Washburn University Chorale and VoxAura, and teaches courses in conducting, rehearsal techniques, music appreciation and diction. Lawrence enjoys an active schedule as a tenor and has performed as a soloist and ensemble member with leading organization such as Spire Chamber Ensemble, the Bloomington Bach Cantata Project, Bloomington Early Music Festival, Ars Longa Ensemble, and The Cecilia Ensemble. Lawrence is a candidate for the Doctor of Music in Choral Conducting at Indiana University, was the winner of the 2023 Dale Warland Prize in Choral Conducting presented by The American Prize, and holds a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of South Carolina.
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.
Matthew Bobela is honored to join Te Deum for its 2023-2024 season! Matthew is the Director of Sacred Music & Liturgy and the Elementary Music and Spanish Teacher at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church and School in Kansas City, Missouri. A St. Joseph, Missouri native, he is currently pursuing a Master of Music Education from Missouri State University. Matthew holds a Bachelor of Music Education with a Vocal Concentration from Missouri Western State University where he graduated summa cum laude and served as commencement speaker in May 2022. Matthew greatly enjoys sharing music throughout the Midwest in his parish ministry and in an active sacred and secular performance schedule. In addition to his involvement in vocal and choral music, Matthew serves as the Vice President of the St. Joseph Symphony Board of Directors where he is an active member of their Education and Strategic Planning committees.
Kayla Bradley, a new addition to Te Deum’s alto section, is elated to perform again in such a prestigious choir for the first time in several years. Throughout her school years, nothing brought Kayla as much joy as participating in activities like concert and show choirs, concert and marching bands, and school musicals. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Vocal Music Education at Northwest Missouri State University in her hometown, Maryville. Now, she is a third-year vocal music teacher at Smith-Cotton Junior High School in Sedalia, fulfilling a dream of directing her own show choir. Though opportunities to perform have been scarcer in recent years, Kayla recently played the role of Midge Mahoney in Sedalia’s 2023 community theater production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. When not directing or performing, Kayla enjoys a night of crocheting, anime, and snuggles from her two cats, Rona and Mimsy.
Clare Bryan is a soprano and music educator currently teaching in Auburn, Kansas at the elementary level. She received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where she studied voice with Dr. Ann Marie Snook, and is currently pursuing her master’s in music education at the University of Kansas. She has taught music at elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as Latin. An avid choral singer, Clare has sung with Topeka Festival Singers, the Oratorio Society (Syracuse, New York), and Schola Cantorum of Syracuse. In her free time, Clare enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, walks, and planning musical projects with friends.
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.
Zachary Cope is overjoyed to join Te Deum for the 2023-24 season. Zachary is a countertenor from Topeka, Kansas. He currently serves as the Associate Choirmaster at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, where he leads the Chorister program and assists with the Cathedral Choir as a director and singer. He is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, under the tutelage of Dr. Genaro Méndez, with a master’s degree in vocal performance. During his time at KU, Zachary performed the roles of Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Tolomeo (Giulio Cesare). Zachary is also an avid violinist and has served as concertmaster of the symphony and as a violinist in the honors string quartet during his undergraduate studies. Outside of singing, Zachary enjoys late-night horror movie binges, craft beer, all things Lana Del Rey, and a good ol’ Kansas thunderstorm.
Connor Davis is excited to join Te Deum for her first season. She received her bachelor’s degree in vocal music education from Missouri State University in the fall of 2021. During her time at Missouri State, she was a member of numerous choral ensembles, featured on three commercially released choral albums, and was selected to sing in the 2020 World Youth Choir. She will begin teaching at Discovery Middle School in Liberty, Missouri, this year, and was previously the choir director at Carl B. Bruce Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas. Outside of teaching middle school, Connor also teaches piano. She enjoys cooking, hiking, spending time with family/friends, and long walks with her fiancé, Ethan, and dog, Freya.
Jonathan Doram is thrilled to join Te Deum for its 15th season! He currently works as an artist model at the Kansas City Art Institute and as accompanist at Blue Valley High School. He is also a member of the Heartland Men’s Chorus and Madrigalia Bar Nonne choir in the Kansas City metro. He recently served as the choral director at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and Middle School in Kansas City, Missouri, and previously at Forest Heights STEM Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, and playing tennis. You may find out more at his website: https://www.jonathandoram.com/.
Paige Flenniken is thrilled to start her second 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.
Sofia Gillespie is joining Te Deum for her first season. She has a degree in International Studies and has lived in Latvia as a foreign exchange student and later as a Fulbright Scholar. While there, she sang in two chamber choirs and competed in the World Choir Games, winning gold in the folklore category in 2014. She works for Kansas City University as a Clinical Clerkship Coordinator and for the KC Current as an avid crew member. Outside of singing, her passions include quilting and biking around the city.
Tim Gorski is excited to be joining Te Deum for the 2023-2024 season. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Millikin University and a Master of Music Education from the University of Kansas. Tim has been teaching high school choir for five years and is in his second year as the choir director at William Chrisman High School in Independence. Tim and his wife, Christina, relocated to the Kansas City area from Northeast Illinois in the summer of 2022, so they enjoy exploring different parts of the city and completing DIY projects on their house. They live in Grain Valley with their adorable bully, Bishop.
Rupal Gupta, now in her 5th season with Te Deum, initially cultivated her lifelong love of choral music with the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum and Chamber Singers. Sacred music compels her in its capacity to connect humanity to the divine. She earned her undergraduate degree in History and Science at Harvard and her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. A board-certified pediatrician, Rupal was previously Interim Division Director of General Academic Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Medical Director of Operation Breakthrough Clinic. Currently, she is a Clinical Services Director with Kyruus, Inc., a Boston-based Health IT company that aims to connect patients to the right care. She loves baking, reading, and yoga and maintains pediatric ties through roles with the American Academy of Pediatrics. She resides in Leawood, KS with her husband and her favorite and most rapidly growing creative endeavors: their two children.
Abby Helt is excited to sing with Te Deum again this year. Abby is currently teaching third grade 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 and friends.
Jeff Jasperson is excited to be singing with Te Deum for a fifth 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. Jeff serves as the tenor section leader of the Trinity Lutheran Church Choir in Mission, Kansas, and works as a paraeducator at Shawnee Mission North High School. He has recently sung the national anthem for the Kansas City Royals, Sporting KC, and KC Current. Jeff and his golden retriever Berkeley live in south Kansas City. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys taking Berkeley on walks, distance running, honing his cooking skills, cheering on the Chiefs, Jayhawks, Royals, Sporting KC, and KC Current, 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.
Nanette Kraus is at her musical best when collaborating with others as a pianist and singer. From accompanying musicians at KU, Emporia State University, and Baker University, to school and honor choirs in Kansas and Missouri, from musical theater productions to church, synagogue and community choirs, Nanette enjoys working with each age and stage in the musical process. She currently assists the next generation of singers at Liberty High School and the lifelong learners of the Liberty Community Chorus. Nanette joined the Te Deum alto section in 2013 and serves on the Te Deum board of directors. A native Kansan, Nanette earned degrees from Bethany College and the University of Kansas and resides in the Northland with her husband Brian.
Lindsey Lauterwasser is so excited to be singing with Te Deum in her second season. She graduated from Benedictine College with a Bachelor of Music Education and is in her 2nd year as the choir teacher at Lakewood Middle School in Overland Park, Kansas. She also enjoys teaching piano lessons, and music classes for young children. Lindsey has always loved to sing, especially in a choir, most recently participating in various choirs at Benedictine, as well as leading the a cappella group. Outside of singing, she loves to read, go for walks, play board games, spend time with family and friends, and cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs with her husband, Kyle.
Ryan Layton is a teacher, singer, conductor, and collaborative pianist. Ryan currently serves as assistant choir director at Blue Springs High School and director of music at Barry Christian Church. He previously taught at Marshall High School (MO) and worked with the Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri, serving as conductor of the Columbia Chamber Choir and assistant director/accompanist of the Columbia Chorale. Additionally, he has accompanied numerous school, community, and honor choirs and conference reading sessions. Ryan is the KC Metro district representative and coordinator of the state sight-singing bee for the Missouri Choral Directors Association. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Music Education from the University of Missouri (2018) and recently started coursework for a Master of Music Education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ryan is an avid New York Times crossword solver, devoted Kansas City and Mizzou sports fan, and reluctant runner.
Cassandra Leon is a mezzo-soprano residing in Kansas City, Missouri. She is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University and while there attained a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music Performance. Some of her most notable solo performances were Lilacs by George Walker for voice and orchestra and Moses Hogan’s Deep River Collection. While Cassandra has a deep love for solo performance, she truly cherishes ensemble work. She has always had a deep passion for the choral arts. Being part of such a world-class ensemble, such as Te Deum, is a dream come true for her.
Josh Markley is thrilled to return to Te Deum. He holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in voice and has been recognized for his research on the development of the baritone voice in the 17th and 18th centuries, lauded as an “excellent resource” by the Metropolitan Opera Guild. On the opera stage, he has performed Marcello in Puccini’s La Boheme; Tarquinius in Britten’s Lucretia; Il Conte in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte; among others. His concert soloist experiences include Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8: Symphony of a Thousand; Haydn’s Creation; Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana; Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles; Vaughn Williams’ Sea Symphony; Handel’s Messiah; and the Requiem Masses of Mozart, Verdi, Faure. Currently, he is the Director of Music for the Barstow School – Upper and Middle Divisions, teaching choirs, music theory, music history, music in film and media, and musical theater. He and his wonderfully talented wife Diane, a former orchestra director turned high school administrator, are the proud parents of two amazing girls Nora and Samantha.
Benny Martinson is excited to join Te Deum this year. Benny previously sang with Khorikos in New York City, and in many choirs prior. He holds a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Butler University. Benny grew up in Eagle River, Alaska, and moved to Kansas City last year with his wife, his daughter, and his cat, Henry Purrcell.
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 her 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. Prior to teaching at KMS, Ann served as the vocal music teacher at Marshall High School (Missouri) for four years and was the director of 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.
Sarah Powers is so excited to make beautiful music with Te Deum again! She received a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from William Jewell College (2015) and has been singing in and around Kansas City ever since. During her time at Jewell, she was a Choral Scholar and sang in the Concert Choir and Schola Cantorum. She has appeared as a soloist with the Liberty Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, Midwest Chamber Ensemble and Musica Vocale. She currently sings with Cardinalis and has held a soprano section leader position at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church since 2015. When she is not singing, Sarah works as an Assistant Property Manager in Olathe, KS where she lives with her husband and son, and their family dog.
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 Vice President of Product & Application Engineering for Rondo, an energy storage company. He 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 two daughters.
Rafael Rodriguez has been a chorister since he was a little boy and brings a strong background and passion for early and sacred music. Rafael developed this musical skill and knowledge further while he attended Saint Mary’s College in Kansas and sang under the direction of Dr. Andrew Childs for over 8 years. 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 where he has become a valuable member of the Kansas City choral community, performing with Te Deum, Songflower Chorale, as well as the St. Vincent de Paul Church community where he directs Gregorian chant, sings in the choir, and teaches music. Rafael has sung with Te Deum since the winter of 2021.
John Ross is a bass with many years of experience singing in ensemble, choral, and opera settings in Kansas City and beyond. Some of the organizations John has performed with include Te Deum, KC Symphony Chorus, Johnson County Chorus, KC Singers, Cathedral Schola at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, BMACC/Black Musical Artists Community Chorus, Musica Sacra, Madrigalia Bar Nonne, Carolers of Note, KC Metro Opera, Lawrence Opera Theatre, Landlocked Opera and Sweet Accordes. His singing has taken him all over the KC Metro as well as New York, Austria, and Germany.
Sarah Schulte is excited to be singing with Te Deum for a fourth season! She is currently in her third 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!
Julia Kasten Sharp is excited to be starting her fourth season with Te Deum! A graduate of UMKC Conservatory, Julia holds a Bachelor of Music in both Vocal Performance and Music Theory. She can be found around KC singing with different choral groups such as Tallgrass Chamber Choir, Kantorei KC, and Cardinalis. Outside of music, her favorite hobbies include cuddling with her cat, Charlie, and road-tripping across the country with her husband, Jake.
Ben Wheeler joined 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.