Jennifer Beach-Buda has been an active singer for over thirty-five years. As a member of the Masterwork Chorus in the greater New York City area she contributed to many performances given at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. After moving to Des Moines and starting a family she enjoyed singing in the chorus of Des Moines Metro Opera productions and in DMMO Guild fundraisers. She was a frequent soloist with the Des Moines Choral Society and St. Paul’s Music Academy. She is one of the original Howells Scholars at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Des Moines and was the soprano section leader at St. Paul’s from 1996 to 2013. She was the High Holy Days Quartet soprano at Temple B’nai Jeshurun from 1997 through 2010. Jennifer served on the DMVAE board for six years and has supported DMVAE’s online presence since 2006.
Hannah Buto joined the Ensemble in 2016. She attended Augustana College in Rock Island and sang in the Augustana Choir. Hannah earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and is currently in her second year of teaching. She teaches K-6 general music and 5th and 6th grade band in the Colfax-Mingo School District. Hannah lives in Ankeny with her wonderful boyfriend, Ben.
Tommy Castle joined DMVAE as a tenor in the fall of 2014. He graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, IA with degrees in both Music and Public Relations. Tommy is an Account Manager for an Information Technology company here in Des Moines. In his free time, Tommy enjoys swimming, biking, running, and has completed 30 + triathlons over the past 5 years including two Ironman Races. He lives with his wife Alice in West Des Moines, IA.
Emily Chafa began singing with the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble during the 2010-2011 season. She also sings in the Plymouth Church Chancel Choir and the Chorale. For many years, Emily was a singing member of the Des Moines Choral Society and served 2 years as President of that organization. During the day, Emily is an administrative law judge (ALJ) for the State of Iowa’s Department of Inspections and Appeals. Emily and her husband Brad live in Johnston with their son Shane. She spends her free time attending Shane’s baseball games, Iowa Cubs games and enduring Cyclone football. She served on several state and local nonprofit boards over the years, and is currently Vice President of the Polk County Bar Association and Secretary of the DMVAE Board of Directors. She occasionally sings the national anthem for Iowa Cubs games and other events.
Barbara Cortesio grew up in Centerville, Iowa and was her high school’s principal accompanist. She was Simon Estes’ first accompanist and they have remained friends for over sixty years. She minored in music at UNI and later opened a private piano studio, teaching piano for twenty-three years. In 1990 Barbara was appointed Director of Music Ministry for St. Augustin Catholic Church, retiring in 2009. That same year she finished her Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame, earning a graduate certificate in theology. She currently volunteers in liturgy and music for the Diocese of Des Moines. Barbara and husband John have four children and twelve grandchildren and enjoy traveling to family events around the country, often attending performances in Boston where a daughter is a professional musician. She is honored to be a seven-year member of Des Moines Vocal Arts.
Lori Fenton is a native of northwest Iowa, growing up in Sioux City and attending Buena Vista College. She has lived in Des Moines since the fall of 1994 and has held several positions within the Life Insurance industry, currently working for Global Atlantic Life & Annuity Company. She is a member of Plymouth Congregational Church where she sings with the Chancel Choir and rings handbells with Plymouth Bells. She also sings regularly with the St. Paul’s Howell’s Scholars and has been a featured soloist with the Des Moines Community Orchestra. Lori joined the ensemble in the fall of 2007 and previously served 4 years as Board President and 4 years as Treasurer.
Jade Fox joined DMVAE as a soprano in the spring of 2009. She graduated from Simpson College in 2008 with a Music Education degree and currently teaches K-5 General Music in Urbandale and directs the adult choir at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in West Des Moines. She also has a private oboe and voice studio. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Choral Music Education at the University of St. Thomas. Although music is a huge part of her life, she enjoys kickboxing, riding horses, and running, although not simultaneously, and has high aspirations to go skydiving before she turns 30. She lives with her adorable cat, Lucy, who is mildly obese and has an obsession with flickering lights (and yes, lives WITH the cat, as Lucy thinks she is head of household).
Mary Giese has been a member of DMVAE since the 2010-2011 season, and sings in the alto section. Mary graduated from Iowa State University with a minor in music. She was a section leader with the Iowa State Singers, a member of the Chamber Singers, and performed in several musical productions on campus. Before moving to Central Iowa, Mary sang with the North Iowa Choral Ensemble in Mason City. She is currently active in the choir at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, and is a member of Tuesday Musical study club. Mary also plays the violin, and enjoys playing in string quartets. Mary is retired and lives in Marshalltown with her husband David. They have two sons and four grandchildren.
Jeff Hauser is from Tama, Iowa. His love of music began in Middle/High School where he was involved in Choir, Band, Theatre, and Musical Productions. He graduated from South Tama County High School in 2011 and then continued his education at Simpson College. While at Simpson, Jeff majored in Music Education and took part in many ensembles such as: Chamber Singers, Symphonic Band, Madrigal as well as multiple opera productions. He was also an active member of Kappa Theta Psi Fraternity. In 2015 he graduated from Simpson College with a bachelor’s degree in music. He currently resides in Norwalk, Iowa.
Paul Hayes is a member of the bass section and has sung in the Ensemble since 1991. Prior to that he sang in the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus. A CPA and investment manager, Paul enjoys the opportunity to do something very different from his day job. “Rehearsals are a learning experience . . . Concerts are an opportunity to share with family, friends and the community.”
Sue Hoss has been singing with DMVAE since her arrival in Des Moines in 1998. Originally from California, Sue went to college in Minnesota, sang with the Gustavus Choir, and has made it her mission to sing wherever she has lived (including Tokyo, Japan). Sue is co-owner of Main Dish Media, a food media company based in Des Moines, and co-founder of Look, Cook, and Eat, a digital cooking magazine designed to help people with intellectual disabilities learn to cook and be more independent in their daily lives. She lives in Beaverdale where she is subservient to her two cats, Toe and Gus.
Clay Hulsey is originally from the San Francisco Bay area, earned his degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Redlands (CA) and received his Artist Diploma from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Adept at both opera and musical theatre, the baritone has performed roles with The Opera Company of Philadelphia, Greater Buffalo Opera, Artpark, Chautauqua Opera, and AVA Opera Theatre and served as apprentice artist with Santa Fe and St. Louis Operas. Clay resides in Urbandale and recently joined DMVAE in the fall of 2017.
Melanie Keiper joined DMVAE as an alto in 2014. She grew up in Cedar Rapids and Benton County and was in the A Cappella Choir and Chamber Singers at Central College. She previously sang with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra Chorus in Birmingham, The City Choir of Washington – performing at the Kennedy Center and A Capitol Fourth on PBS, the Montgomery Chorale, and numerous church choirs. Melanie has recently returned to Iowa after living around the world and is currently an Assistant Federal Defender with the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
John Kelly received music degrees from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and the University of Iowa. He has taught in high school and college, and has directed the Keesler (AFB) Male Chorus, MS, 314th Air Division Male Chorus, Osan, Korea, Des Plaines Park District Senior Citizens’ Chorus, IL, Heartland Singers, Mitchellville, IA, River City Mixed Chorus, Omaha, Des Moines Men’s Chorus, Za-Ga-Zig Shrine Chanters, Des Moines, Des Moines Concert Singers, church choirs in Chicago, Altoona, Ames, and Des Moines, and was music director for Timberlake Playhouse, Mt. Carroll, IL. He has also directed several musicals including Trial by Jury, Company, South Pacific, Bye Bye Birdie, and Guys and Dolls. He has sung with several choruses including the Des Moines Choral Society and the Drake University Community Chorus. John joined DMVAE in 2011.
Ben Knapper joined the Ensemble in 2016. He attended Augustana College in Rock Island and sang in the Augustana Choir. Ben earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and is currently in his second year of technology consulting at RSM. Ben lives in Ankeny with his wonderful girlfriend, Hannah.
Karen Kraemer joined DMVAE in 2012 after having sung with the Des Moines Choral Society for three years. She moved to West Des Moines in 2007 from Fort Smith, Arkansas where she sang with the Fort Smith Chorale for over 8 years and served as president of the board for 3 years. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in deaf education, and a master’s degree in Audiology before majoring in music “for fun.” She plays the saxophone, clarinet, and piano, and directs the choir and handbell choir at First Unitarian Church. Karen is a part-time audiologist and enjoys playing tennis and composing a little music on the side. She and her husband have three children.
Emma LeValley joined the ranks of DMVAE sopranos in the fall of 2015. Her love of music began at Waukee High School, where she was involved in the A Cappella Choir, show choir, jazz choir, band, musicals, and any and all other singing opportunities. She continued her studies at Simpson College, where she performed in a number of operas, traveled to Europe with the Madrigal Singers, and sang under Dr. McMillin’s direction in the Chamber Choir. She graduated in December 2014 with a degree in music education and now teaches K-3 general music and directs the 5th grade chorus at Prairie City-Monroe Schools.
Josh Locke Throughout his life Josh has enjoyed singing. In High School he was part of the Chamber Choir and Varsity Show choir. He performed in several contests and competitions. His love for music led him to DMVAE in fall of 2014. Outside of choir, Josh is an avid sports fan. He enjoys watching his favorite teams, studying nature, and going on hikes.
Madison McCarney joined DMVAE as an alto in 2015. Madison has been singing in choirs since the age of 9, and has been a member of numerous ensembles including church choirs, the Treasure Valley Children’s chorus in Oregon, the Vandaleers Concert Choir at the University of Idaho, and the Oshkosh Chamber Singers in Wisconsin. During high school she sang at ACDA conferences in Idaho, Utah, and California. Madison is also a pianist, holding a B.S. in Applied Piano, and a M.M. degree in Piano Pedagogy from the U. of Idaho. She runs a private piano studio full-time, and has been teaching since 2004. In her spare time she enjoys sewing, reading, crafts, and spending time with her husband and dog.
Sarah McDougal is a member of the soprano section and has sung with DMVAE since 2004. A lifelong musician, Sarah minored in voice and violin at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She previously sang with the Nebraska Choral Arts Society and the Clarion Chamber Chorale, and is currently a member of the Howells Scholars at St Paul’s Cathedral. Outside of singing, Sarah enjoys a career at The Principal Financial Group, Husker football and living in Beaverdale with her cat Tosca. Sarah served on the DMVAE board for ten years.
Jonathon Moldovan is a Graduate of Simpson College and a Tenor in the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble. Jonathon has participated in eight Operas during his time at Simpson as well as several Choir, Orchestra, and Band performances. Jonathon has performed with the Des Moines Symphony as a Chorus member for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as well as the 2015 Memorial Day performance of the Des Moines Symphony. Jonathon also plays Trombone, currently playing for the Simpson College Community Orchestra. When not singing, Jonathon also enjoys writing in Fantasy and other genres of stories.
Dan Montgomery joined DMVAE in the 2008-2009 season and has moved from singing baritone to low bass, concurrent with the ensemble’s need for low voices and an abnormally warm room that let him sing a low B on the day that Dr. Tim conducted auditions for section membership. He and his wife Jana live near downtown and have enjoyed all that the City of Des Moines has to offer urban residents, in stark contrast to the dearth of restaurants and trails when he moved to the City in the 70s. Among his favorite DMVAE memories are singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus at the Scottish Rite Temple, premiering Rene Clausen’s Benediction and appearing as Kermit the Frog at the annual Cabaret. Dan has degrees from Iowa State and Drake University and serves as cantor at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in West Des Moines.
Shawn Mullen is in his eighth season with the DMVAE. As a percussion performance major at Drake University, he graduated with a degree in music business. After completing a two-year management internship with the Des Moines Symphony, he went on to serve as Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Louisville Orchestra in Louisville, KY for two and a half seasons. Returning to his hometown of Hastings, Nebraska, in 1985 to join his family’s business, he was active as principal percussionist, and was a board member of, the Hastings Symphony Orchestra. Since returning to Des Moines in 1987, he’s been active as a member and musician at Grace United Methodist Church. He is President and Chief Energy Officer of Protex Central, Inc. and serves as chair of DMVAE’s marketing committee while in his fifth year as a member of the board. Shawn and his wife, Sharilynn, are the parents of four wonderful children and one purebred puggle, Tucker Biff. Shawn is also an active Rotarian and serves as an officer on the board of the Rotary Club of Des Moines.
Chloe Murphy joined DMVAE in the spring of 2016 as a Soprano. She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Choral/General Music Education in the spring of 2015. Currently, she is enjoying being the music teacher at Park Avenue Elementary in the Des Moines Public School District, and teaches vocal/guitar lessons on the side. In her spare time, she loves to play guitar, bike, and travel.
Carol Palmer became a member of DMVAE in 2010. She is an audience favorite at many local theaters around town having appeared in numerous musicals since the early 80’s. Carol and her husband, Dan Chase, are professional actors for Jest Murder Mysteries and perform in a five state area. She is a regular singer with the Howells Scholars at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and works at Principal Financial Group. Carol and Dan’s daughter, Madeline, is a vocal performance graduate student at UNC and they enjoy watching and supporting her growth as a performer.
Pat Palmer has been singing with DMVAE since 2004. Pat attended Luther College and sang in the Nordic choir. She completed her bachelor of music education at Drake and taught vocal music in the DMPS for 26 years. During that time she sang in the Plymouth Chancel choir for many years. She and her husband live in West Des Moines and have one daughter, Brooke.
Eric Pike is a Tenor/Lyric Baritone. He studied vocal performance at Appalachian State University with Sharon Papian, Dan Murielo and Julia Pedigo. He has appeared as Pish Tush in The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan, Dr. Zubrinski in Fools by Neil Simon, as well as a cast member in The Palace Show at Tweetsie RR in NC. He has performed with Iowa Bass/Baritone Don Mulholland in the Seven Last Words Of Christ. Eric is a recent transplant to Iowa and has been able to enjoy singing with the DMVAE since 2014.
Susan Prattis, a member of the Soprano section, has been singing in choirs since her very first church choir as a child. A recent transplant to greater Des Moines, Susan joined DMVAE in fall 2017, and sings with Des Moines Choral Society. Susan has lived predominantly on the East Coast, graduating from Germantown Friends School and Amherst College, where she first became immersed in large scale vocal choral music. Since then, she has been singing wherever she has studied or worked. She has engaged in private voice and piano study, singing with church choirs and other ensembles of various size and focus including the Boston’s Masterworks Chorale; North Carolina’s Choral Society of Durham; and within the New York metropolitan area, the New Amsterdam Singers, Cecilia Chorus of New York, Julliard Choral Union, New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera Chorus, and Oratorio Society of New York. As a result, she has performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center; Merkin Concert Hall; Wadsworth Athenaeum; and other beautiful and acoustically sound regional churches and synagogues. Susan was a regular Berkshire Choral Society summer choral singer over the better part of a decade, and was chosen to be a national choir member with eligibility for enhanced repertoire. Among her fondest memories of those experiences were singing under the batons of Robert Page, and Gary Thor Wedow, respectively. Her love of travel has also led her to overseas employment, and singing in England and Lebanon, where she studied classical voice for one year in the National Conservatory of Lebanon, and enjoyed luxuriating in the sounds of other students learning the oud, and classical Arabic vocal performance music. She has enjoyed singing with DMVAE and exploring Iowa to learn of all that this region has to offer. When she is not humming or singing in the car, she is serving pets, working animals and their people as a professional veterinarian and veterinary scientist, or volunteering in museum arts. Her own two dogs enjoy listening, and sometimes taking part in, a wide spectrum of music when with her, or at home alone.
Alex Redding began singing choral music in high school with the hope to obtain a more healthy technique to bring to his rock band. From there his passion for this sort of music grew, which led him to attend Luther College to sing with the Nordic Choir. He graduated from Luther in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in music. After returning to his native Des Moines, Alex began looking for an ensemble that would allow him to continue his passion for musical excellence and joined DMVAE in the fall of 2013. He works by day as an analyst at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, and is also pursuing a graduate MBA from the downtown chapter of the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Management.
Sara Schultz joined DMVAE in 2011 after moving back to the Midwest from North Carolina. She is originally from St. Joseph, MO and received her bachelors in biology from University of Central Missouri in 1999. She sang in the Piedmont Chamber Singers for 8 years in NC, the St. Joseph Community Chorus as well as various University choirs, church choirs, the Christian group New Generation Singers, and a barbershop quartet. After years in the animal healthcare field she now works as the Nursery Coordinator for Lutheran Church of Hope WDM. Sara and her husband Jeremy reside in Waukee where she raises her three young daughters and cares for her plethora of pets!
Jacie Simon joined the alto section of DMVAE in January 2017. She currently teaches 6th-12th grade Vocal Music at Woodward-Granger. Jacie is also a proud member of the French Horn section in the Karl King Municipal Band based in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Jacie graduated from Simpson College in 2015. While at Simpson she was a member of the Chamber Singers, College Choir, Symphonic Band, and the Simpson Community Orchestra.
Chuck Smith is an actuary and worked for Principal Financial Group for many years. He attended Oberlin College in Ohio where he sang with the Oberlin College Choir. Since moving to Des Moines he has been singing bass in the Plymouth Congregational Church Chancel Choir and Chorale. He joined DMVAE in 2004. He is the Secretary for the Ensemble and a member of the Board. In his spare time he enjoys ballroom dancing, piloting airplanes, and traveling.
Dylan Smith earned his bachelors degree in Music Education at Montclair State University in New Jersey with a concentration in Voice. While in school he was appointed student director of the 120 voice Montclair State Chorale. Dylan has performed in choirs with the New York philharmonic and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared at Lincoln Centre and Carnegie hall. An Iowa native, Dylan has grown up with music since birth. His parents both play in a band, and his brother fronts a popular local group called The Maytags. Dylan’s love for choral music led him to the Des Moines Vocal Arts in 2014.
Paul Stageberg has been a choral singer since childhood, growing up in a Lutheran church with a strong choral tradition. He currently sings with the St. John’s Lutheran Cathedral Choir in addition to the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble. He has also sung locally with the Howells Scholars. In his professional life he holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Administration and is recently retired from the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning in the Iowa Department of Human Rights.
Susie Stageberg has been singing in choirs since her school days in Champaign, Illinois. She moved to Des Moines in 1988 and has had the privilege of singing with several choral groups in Central Iowa. Susie joined DMVAE in 1992 and is a past Vice President of the organization . She currently sings with the St. John’s Lutheran Church Cathedral Choir. Since her 2013 retirement from her position as Reader Advisor at the Iowa Library for the Blind, she has more time to read, cook, knit, and spend time with her grown children. Susie and her husband, Tenor Paul Stageberg, live in Clive and share their home with Susie’s new Seeing Eye dog, Levi.
Becky Strope has been a member of DMVAE since 2008. She served on the ensemble’s board for five years as President and Vice President. She has been singing in auditioned and unauditioned ensembles of various types and sizes since second grade, from premier chamber ensembles to 100-voice community choruses. She spends her days working as an associate consultant for RSM LLP, in Technology and Management Consulting.
Gloria Thielking is a founding member of DMVAE which performed their first concert in the spring of 1991. Over the years, Gloria has served as treasurer, librarian, and is still on numerous committees. Before DMVAE, she was also an original member of the Des Moines Choral Society in 1979. She has also enjoyed singing in the chorus of several productions with the Des Moines Metro Opera. In real life, Gloria and her husband, Armin, have two adult sons, Garrett (Anne) and Aaron. She is a physician assistant at Heartland Dermatology.
Tim Vermillion joined DMVAE in 1997. Tim grew up in Omaha and studied piano and accompanied his school orchestra and choir, but did not discover serious choral music until high school, singing under Dr. James Elsberry. He presently sings with Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble and Des Moines Choral Society. He assists with liturgy and music at Hope and St. John’s Lutheran. As a Howells Scholar he sings evensong vespers at St. Paul’s. Tim is a retired mechanical engineer. He and wife Bobbie, have four grown children and 13 grandchildren.
Lauren Voss has been a member of DMVAE since August 2008. She grew up in a very musical family in Cedar Rapids and continues to sing whenever she gets the chance. She graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa with a degree in Vocal Music Education. Currently, she is the K-5 music teacher at Woodland Hills Elementary in the Waukee school district and teaches piano on the side. She lives in Ankeny with her husband, Preston. They love to spend time watching ISU basketball. GO CYCLONES!.