Heather Mitchell, MM, DMA, Artistic Director
Heather was appointed artistic director of the Hopewell Valley Chorus in the summer of 2015. She also serves as the operations manager for the Manhattan Chorale, where she sings in the alto section. In addition she is an alto for the Manhattan Choral Ensemble and serves as a concert development associate for Manhattan Concert Productions (MCP). Last season, she served as Interim Artistic Director for the Celebration Singers, in Cranford, N.J., And in June 2019, as Conductor-in-Residence for MCP, she will conduct the Schumann Requiem in Carnegie Hall.
Heather was the author of “A Reconsideration of the Performance of the Chorales in J.S. Bach’s Passio secundum Johannem, BWV 245,” the featured article in Choral Journal April 2017:57(9). She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Arizona and a Master of Music degree in both choral and orchestral conducting from Saint Cloud State University, in Minnesota. She was a student of Dr. Bruce Chamberlain, Dr. Elizabeth Schauer, and Dr. Lee Nelson. She served as Repertory and Standards chair for the Arizona State American Choral Directors Association and as president of the Saint Cloud State Chapter for the Minnesota State American Choral Directors Association.
Heather earned the Emerging Conductor Award from the Minnesota Chorale and has received Outstanding Conductor and Outstanding Achievement in Choral Music awards. She has been sought out as a clinician and judge for many choral festivals and her broad conducting experience includes choirs and orchestras in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.
Stefanie has been the HVC pianist since 2013.
She enjoys active involvement in a wide variety of musical facets: as recital collaborator, educator, choral pianist, choir director, and church musician. She has recently performed in and organized recitals in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and her home state of Maryland. In addition, she has served as staff pianist for Lied Austria International, a month-long summer program Leibnitz, Austria that focuses on intense study of German art song and poetry.
A founding member of The Edwin Trio, a Baltimore-based chamber ensemble, Stefanie continues to be active in chamber music as a part of the Bennington Chamber Music Conference in Bennington, Vermont, and through performances in the New York City Bar Association’s Chamber Music Series.
Stefanie maintains a private teaching studio in Flemington, New Jersey, serves as staff pianist at The College of New Jersey and is music director at Emanuel Lutheran Church in New Brunswick. She holds an MM degree in Collaborative Piano from Rutgers University and a B.A. in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with a minor in Spanish. Stefanie lives in Highland Park, where her Persian cat, Sahara, rules the roost.
OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS 2018-2019
Christina Rowntree, Co-President
Christina, a 14-year member of the HVC, has “always, always, always sung,” and she keeps on singing. In fact, her mother-in-law gave her a mug that says, “WARNING: Owner is subject to spontaneous outbursts of song.” She also enjoys a variety of music-listening: folk, classical and choral music.
“Our chorus is a collection of lovely people with incredibly varied and accomplished backgrounds, who love to sing and are dedicated to making this chorus work,” she says. Having served two terms as treasurer and taken a break, Christina, has rejoined the board, first as co-secretary and now as co-president. “In a volunteer organization such as this, it is important that we each do our part so that the burden is not too large on any one of us. And having been on the board previously, I know that it is a way to get to know fellow choristers who you perhaps do not sit next to. I am in awe of many of them: their dedication and competence in doing what needs to be done to help this organization!”
“The reason I enjoy singing with the Hopewell Valley Chorus, this being my 9th year, is the enjoyment I get from learning new music, watching it evolve from an hysterical first try, to something we are excited to master and proud to share in our concerts. Working all week, Monday nights are a time set aside for “treating myself” to something I have always enjoyed since harmonizing at Girl Scout campfires, to high school and church choirs, and now amongst neighbors and friends!
“HVC has given me the opportunity to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” on the field at the Trenton Thunder games on Hopewell Valley Night, join in Christmas caroling in the streets of Pennington on the Holiday Walk, share the Stage with the Trenton Children’s Chorus, and relish two of the most spine-tingling nights of my life – singing the “Mozart Requiem” and “Haydn’s Creation” at Carnegie Hall!
“One of the grandest discoveries in my work with older adults, with Aging Advisors, my elder care consulting business, is that music is a connecting force! I work with families who are coping with debilitating strokes resulting in speech impairment, as well as those with dementia who have lost the ability to produce words. It is glorious when a set of headphones is placed on these clients and a smile appears to someone who seems to not be “connected” to the world anymore. Playing music with a rhythm grabs their attention and creates awareness where there seemed to be none. In those with strokes resulting in expressive aphasia (the inability to verbalize in a meaningful way), a person can SING! They cannot speak but the words come alive in a singing voice! Sometimes I can “sing” a question, and they can answer appropriately using the same short tune!!”
Irene Li, Vice President/Membership Director
Irene sang in choruses throughout her school and college years. After moving to our area, she was delighted to learn from her Bristol-Myers Squibb colleague, Katy Simonsen that there was a good chorus right in her new backyard. “I enjoy the singing, the music that Heather selects, and the fact that we strive for professionalism and excellence,” she says. “But at the same time we’re having fun.”
One of the Chorus’s newest members, Irene volunteered as co-membership chair in the spring of 2016, just a few months after joining. “I enjoy being involved in community service and hope that I can help the chorus grow.”
Lorraine Rose, Assistant Vice President/Membership
A lifelong singer, Lorraine has sung in choirs and frequently performed as a soloist. She joined the Hopewell Valley Chorus in the early 1990s, under the directorship of Ron Melrose. After a break, she came back to sing in our 50th anniversary concert and enjoyed it so much that she stayed on. Lorraine loves the companionship of her fellow Chorus singers and is delighted to be part of Director Heather Mitchell’s beautiful programs and superb leadership.
Julie Buehler, Secretary
A native Oregonian, Julie has been singing all her life. This is only her third year singing with the Hopewell Valley Chorus, and she looks forward all week to the blissful, child-free evening of singing, learning, and being with other music lovers . In addition to singing, she loves reading, dancing, gardening, baklava, swimming in fresh water, mummers, and Brussels sprouts. Julie lives in Yardley with her spouse and children.
Claire, a soprano, has always enjoyed singing, although prior to joining the Hopewell Valley Chorus she sang mainly in the car and shower. She moved to the U.S. in 2012 from the U.K. with her husband’s job. In 2016, she saw a Facebook post about open membership for the Chorus and decided to try it. The welcoming atmosphere and interesting repertoire, coupled with the enthusiasm of Heather, the director, soon made rehearsals one of the highlights of the week.
Claire, her husband, and two children live in Hopewell Township.
Lisa Ridge, Co-Concertmaster
Lisa was the middle child of a singing family. Her parents were very involved in barbershop and Sweet Adelines choruses and quartets, and the family spent many summers at barbershop camps and traveling to shows. The family had all the voices and sang in school and church choirs, for weddings and funerals.
Lisa moved to New Jersey in 2001, and she and her husband, Tim, a tenor, sang with the Mozart & Friends Opera Company in their production of Susannah. They joined HVC in September 2012 upon the recommendation of another Chorus member. A long-time soprano, she now enjoys singing in the alto section. Lisa joined the board in 2015 because she appreciates all of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to make events, like concerts, successful. She lives in Ewing with her husband and lots of cats.
Margret van Vuuren, Co-Concertmaster
Margret handles the challenging job of scheduling and reserving space for the Chorus’s rehearsals and performances. A chorus member since 2006, she is serving her first term on the Board of Directors.
Donna came from a singing family. “Not much different from the King Family,” she says, “except they were larger, poorer and didn’t have their own TV show,” But the family performed amongst themselves every Christmas. And back in the 1940s, her mom, aunt, and uncle won the family’s first television when they performed on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour.
Donna has been singing in groups since high school. She’s sung in many choirs in North Jersey, performed with a Big Band, and did some musical theater as well. This is Donna’s 3rd stint with the Hopewell Valley Chorus – first back in 1997; then with Marjorie Herman in 2010, for the 50th anniversary concert; and now. She really enjoys singing alongside the four other “female” tenors.
Vivian Shnaidman, Co-Director, Finance
Vivian Shnaidman has been singing since she could talk, but only joined the Hopewell Valley Chorus this past season, after a many-year hiatus since singing with her college chorale.
She has been so inspired by her time with this amazing group that she agreed to become an officer and undertake Finance Committee responsibilities. She’s gained plenty of useful experience running her own psychiatry practice (in other words, dealing with all sorts of personalities and financial obstacles!) and looks forward to implementing her ideas to enrich the coffers of the Chorus!
Carole Woodford, Library Director
Carole Woodford has been singing with vocal groups most of her adult life. Prior to joining the Hopewell Valley Chorus in 1983, she was part of a madrigal group and has been active with her church choir for more than 20 years. Carole has served as HVC librarian since 2000. Recently, Carole and her husband, Bob, a former Chorus treasurer, recently celebrated 37 years with the Hopewell Valley Chorus, 50 years of wedded bliss, and the arrival of their first grandchild.
Kate O’Neill, Public Relations Director & Spring into Song Coordinator
Kate joined the chorus in 1999 and sings with our tenor section. No surprise: she has always loved to sing and always sings the pants roles. At age 12, she was a sailor in HMS Pinafore and at 13, the father in Hansel and Gretel; next was Poo Bah in The Mikado. Kate has coordinated our Spring into Song concert since its launch in 2000 and enjoys volunteering with other HVC members in the Trenton Children’s Chorus’ after-school program. A French teacher-turned-freelance writer, Kate is in her fifth term as our public relations director. She has two grown sons, two adorable grandchildren, and two standard poodles. Kate’s husband, Tom, volunteers for the Chorus as its photographer extraordinaire
Lynn Ebeling: Fundraising Events
Scott Lundquist and Christine Piatek: Proposals and Grants
Valerie Nelson: Music Consultant/HVC Scholarship Committee
Carole Allison and Melissa Paloti: Program and Website Design
Susan Jane Thistle: Sunshine/Member Outreach