Artist Bios

K i r k  A v e r i t t

  • B a s s

Kirk Averitt is a conductor, vocalist and music educator located in Los Angeles, CA. Before moving to LA in August 2019, Kirk served as Director of Choral Music at both Beaver Country Day School and The Congregational Church of Weston in Boston, MA. He has worked with educational and professional choral ensembles around the globe. In 2019, his choirs from Beaver Country Day shared a week in residence with choral ensembles at Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Additionally, Kirk conducted and performed with the Viatores Mundi Choral Workshop in Bol, Croatia, an organization he cofounded in 2019.


Kirk has held positions on the board of Massachusetts American Choral Directors Association and NAfME. He holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Bachelors in Vocal Music Education from Lipscomb University. 

S t e v e n  B e r l a n g a

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Bass-baritone Steven Berlanga resides in Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA where he teaches choir at Youth Orchestra Salinas, maintains a private studio, and works with local wineries. He is finishing his doctorate in Choral Conducting at Indiana University, and has also studied at College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, California State University – Long Beach, and Cabrillo College. In the genres of opera, oratorio, musical theater and concert repertoire, Mr. Berlanga has worked with Cabrillo Stage, The Opera Institute at CSULB, IU Opera, New Voices Opera, the IU Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Cabrillo Summer Chorus and Orchestra, and the Santa Cruz Symphony. As a choral artist, he has sung with professional chamber choirs in the United States, such as Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The Thirteen, Kinnara, Exigence, Chorosynthesis, Brevitas, the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, and BorderCroSsing of Minneapolis. As a conductor and educator Mr. Berlanga served as director and assistant conductor to the Williston Northampton School Choirs, Indiana University Choirs, University of Cincinnati Cabaret Singers, CSULB Bel Canto Chorus, and Cabrillo Youth Chorus. He has served as guest conductor for the Fairfield County String Festival and for the Summer Music Clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


R y a n  R.  B r o w n

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Ryan R. Brown is a conductor and Grammy award-winning baritone based in Los Angeles, California. He currently serves as a Teaching Fellow at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and as Choral Director at California School of the Arts San Gabriel Valley. Previously, Brown served as an Associate Conductor for the National Children's Chorus, Artistic Director for the professional vocal ensemble "Diamonds From The Dust" and as Choral Director at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, MA.

Brown regularly performs with professional vocal ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Voces8, Seraphic Fire, Red Shift, De Angelis Vocal Ensemble, Areté, and Concora. As a soloist he has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. 

Brown is a doctoral candidate in Choral Conducting at UCLA with Dr. James Bass. In 2014, Brown graduated as valedictorian at Westminster Choir College where he studied Vocal Music Education.

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B i l l e  B r u l e y

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Praised by the Huffington Post for his “ringing high notes,” Texas-born tenor Bille Bruley has garnered attention for his strength and versatility in operatic repertoire from baroque to contemporary. A 2018-19 William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation Award and Career Grant  winner, Bille is currently engaged in his second year with the Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio, where his upcoming role assignments include Louis Sullivan in Shining Brow, Bern Venters in Riders of the Purple Sage, and Brighella and Bacchus (cover) in Ariadne auf Naxos.

He has taken home prizes from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as a winner of the Gulf Coast Regional Finals and as a finalist and winner in the Lois Alba Aria Competition. Most recently, he was named a 2018-2019 winner of The William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation Award and Career Grant.


Mr. Bruley received his undergraduate training at Baylor University, where he studied under Robert Best, and completed his graduate work at Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Carol Vaness. A native of Montgomery, Texas, Mr. Bruley is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.


J a c o b  G i l b e r t

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Jacob Gilbert is a conductor, organist, and singer living in Prescott, Arizona. Originally from North Carolina, he earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studied voice under Dr. Robert Bracey. After graduating in 2016, he began working at Prescott United Methodist Church as the Director of Music. He also serves as the Assistant Director of the Prescott Chorale, a large ensemble located in Prescott, Arizona that primarily performs major works. Jacob has performed with a wide variety of ensembles, such as Bel Canto Company, The Josquin des Prez Chamber Ensemble, Camerata Chamber Singers, and has held several different positions in churches. Mr. Gilbert is a member of ACDA, NAfME, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

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J o s h u a  H a r p e r

  • A r t i s t i c  D i r e c t o r

Dr. Joshua Harper is a composer, conductor, and tenor passionate about the choral arts and new music based in Prescott, Arizona. His work leads him to the intersection of the vocal arts with relevant topics of today's world, considering how music can not only enhance the discussion but contribute to the conversation. Over the last ten years, he has led seven world premieres and six regional premieres of prominent composers such as Caroline Shaw, Alex Berko, and Nilo Alcala. Harper can be found on Parma Recordings 2019 release "Preach, Sister, Preach" featuring soprano Katherine Jolly, where he conducted the premiere recording of Katherine Bodor’s Absent an Adjustment.  In January 2016, he made his Canadian debut as one of the five conductors in North America invited to participate in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir's "Emerging Conductor Symposium" where he conducted the Grammy-nominated Elora Festival Singers and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Joshua was selected as a Conducting Fellow at the Yale University Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in 2015 studying with Simon Carrington, where he also sang as a tenor. His scholarly edition of Franz Schubert’s Die Einsiedelei, D.337 is published by Colla Voce Music, LLC and was featured on the company’s 2015 reading session at the National ACDA Convention in Salt Lake City. As a singer, he has performed professionally with Novi Cantori (Springfield, MA) and the Grammy-award-winning Nashville Symphony Chorus (Nashville, TN) where he has been a featured soloist. He has prepared choruses for conductors such as Krzysztof Penderecki, Franz Welser-Möst, Betsy Burleigh, and Dominick DiOrio. He joins the Arizona Philharmonic as a Guest Conductor in the '20-'21 season.
Dr. Harper is the Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Choral Music at Yavapai College where he directs the Chamber Singers, Master Chorale, Vocal Ensemble, and Community Chorale and serves as Musical Director of many of the school’s productions. His scholarly research focuses on composer Caroline Shaw and her Pulitzer Prize-Winning work Partita for 8 Voices. His most recent article on her work was published in the Fall 2020 issue of The Choral Scholar. A native of Huntsville, Alabama, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance and Music Composition from Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN), the Master of Music degree in choral conducting from UMass Amherst, and the Doctor of Music degree from the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University with a minor in Music History and Literature. 

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T a y l o r  J a c o b s 

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Taylor Jacobs is active as a choral artist and soloist in Southern California. Highlights include Dr. Nick Strimple’s 70th birthday concert with the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale as featured soloist, solo movements from the USC Visions & Voices performance of Craig Hella Johnson’s work Considering Matthew Shepard, and a solo feature in Choral Arts Initiative’s premiere performance of Jeffrey Derus’ From Wilderness. Taylor has prepared French for multiple USC productions including Hippolyte et Aricie for The Chamber Opera and Chamber Singers’ National ACDA performance of Henk Badings’ Trois Chansons Bretonnes. He currently serves as tenor soloist at Westwood United Methodist Church.


H a n n a h  R o s e  L e w i s

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Hannah Lewis is a singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and educator. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she comes from a family of professional musicians, actors, and artists and began her musical journey with 13 years of classical piano lessons. She attended California State University, Northridge and received a Bachelor of Music in Commercial and Media Writing, with an emphasis in voice. She has performed in a variety of venues and contexts, including Carnegie Hall, Shenzhen Concert Hall, the Ojai Music Festival, and multiple private recording studios. She coaches and arranges for two all-female a cappella groups at the high school level, teaches piano and voice privately, and is a Vocal Arts faculty member at the California School of the Arts. She regularly composes, arranges, and performs within a number of styles including pop, jazz, folk, and classical.

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V e r a  L u g o

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Vera Lugo is a vocal artist and composer from San Juan Capistrano, California. She earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from California State University, Northridge in 2015 and has since worked as a freelancer in various musical settings in the Los Angeles area. Active in many ensembles throughout Southern California, Ms. Lugo works as a professional chorister, session singer, and jazz vocalist. She performs with many ensembles including social justice choir Tonality, the Arroyo Singers, and the non-profit Contemporary Choral Collective of Los Angeles (where she holds two board positions). In her spare time, Vera can be found singing harmonies with The Beatles and arranging songs on a dinky toy piano.

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C l a i r e  P e n n e a u

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Mezzo-soprano Claire Penneau has most recently toured Germany as featured soloist in the Schumann Liederfest. She has performed solo and ensemble work throughout Europe. Locally, she actively performs as a soloist in concerts and recitals. Recent operatic roles include: as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte, as The Mother in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors Phoenix Opera; as Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte and as Mimi in a mini production of Puccini's La Bohème with Three Oaks Opera. Ms. Penneau has sung as soloist with the Arizona Bach Festival, Phoenix Opera, Musica Nova, Canticum Novum, Solis Camerata, Arizona Musicfest, San Tan Performing Arts, North Valley Chorale and many others. She teaches music and also holds a private voice studio.

K a t h e r i n e   R o s e n f e l d

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Katherine Rosenfeld graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2019 with a degree in choral music education. Her time at NAU was marked by leadership roles including serving as the President for both the NAU chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and the Shrine of the Ages Choir. After finishing her student teaching in December of 2019, Katherine accepted a position teaching 7th and 8th grade choir at Arizona School for the Arts, began running a private voice studio, and accepted a position as the soprano soloist at Pinnacle Presbyterian church. Katherine has sung with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers, and Phoenix Singing. She is thrilled to be performing with Quartz Ensemble.

S a r a h  S m i t h

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Sarah Smith holds a Master of Music from ASU and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Making her professional debut as a soloist with the Phoenix Symphony in 2010, Sarah has continued her concert work throughout the valley, last appearing in 2019 as the soprano soloist in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with the Symphony of the Southwest at Mesa Arts Center, and in Handel’s Messiah with the North Valley Chorale and chamber orchestra. Sarah has also been a featured soloist with the Arizona Bach Festival, Colorado New Music Ensemble, Classical Revolution Phx, and Concerts on the Desert at St. Barnabas Church in Scottsdale. With a deep passion for choral repertoire, Sarah has served as soprano section leader for the St. Barnabas Choir, North Valley Chorale, AZ Masterworks Chorale, and the Arizona Musicfest Chorus; and has participated as a chorister in many all professional ensembles including: Arizona Bach Festival, the Arizona Opera Chorus, Inspirare Nova, Canticum Novum, and Solis Camerata.


E m i l y   S p e n c e r

  • S o p r a n o

At age 18, Emily Spencer was selected by a panel of judges that included opera stars Blanche Thebom and William Warfield to participate in the Rosa Ponselle Foundation’s Annual Winners Showcase Concert.  This cemented her desire to pursue classical vocal studies, which led to her completion of a Vocal Performance and Pedagogy degree from Brigham Young University.  She later went on to complete a Master of Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy at the University of Iowa.

Ms. Spencer’s solo concert credits include J.S. Bach's St. John Passion, Magnificat, and Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227, Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and Mass in Time of War, Mozart's Vesperae solennes de confessore, Brahms' Neue Liebeslieder, Caldara’s Stabat Mater, and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.  She was the recipient of a scholarship to study with opera coach Timothy Shaindlin, who has served on the music staffs of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Washington National Opera.  She has also studied with Jamie Johns, former Skylight Opera Theatre Resident Music Director and Associate Musical Director with The Phantom of the Opera National Tour.

Ms. Spencer resides in Prescott, AZ with her husband and five children.

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