Amalia Castonguay has been singing in choirs since she was 7 years old. In that time, the longest break she has taken from choral singing was 2 years after moving to los Angeles. Singing is a way of life. It feeds the soul while she pursues her other goals which include personal music projects, filmmaking, gaming, and completing her chemistry degree. She spends her days at school as well as working at a non-profit environmental and health sciences research laboratory. Amala currently sings with the Cal State Los Angeles Chamber Singers under Dr. Jean-Sebastien Vallee. Amalia has been with Nova since its first concert in 2012.
Yayra Sanchez is a Puerto Rican soprano who got a B.A. in Literature and Languages in her hometown before moving to Boston, Massachusetts, where she earned a B.A. and a M.M. in Vocal Performance at The Boston Conservatory. Now in Los Angeles, CA, she is an active performer of operas and concerts, performing both traditional and contemporary works. She has joined the music scene as a member of the Nova Vocal Ensemble and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Opera company, and works as a Teacher for Ladybug Music. Her voice has been described as a “bright and clear tone with effortless coloraturas and high notes.” Currently serving as Artistic Director of Nova Vocal Ensemble’s Recital Series, she is also a published writer and translator.
Described by the Long Beach Grunion Gazette as “astonishing, a large, gleaming soprano secure from top to bottom and thrilling to hear” in the role of Vitellia from Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Melinda Ehrlich is quickly establishing herself as a voice to hear in Southern California and beyond. Most recently, Melinda appeared in New Orleans as Mme. Herz in Mozart’s Impresario, and was a guest artist in Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in Spring 2014 opera program after returning from the off-Broadway musical premiere of Columbia: The Life and Death of Rospo D. Oro. In 2013, she sang Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata with Repertory Opera Company and Papagena in The Magic Flute in with Pacific Symphony as part of its family concert series. In 2012, she made her international debut as the soprano soloist in Dvorak’s Te Deum with the OCSA choir and orchestra in England after premiering the West Coast production of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar with Long Beach Opera in May. She has also appeared numerous times as a concert soloist with Westwood Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles and Bayshore Community Church of Long Beach.
Soprano Cara Kowalczyk is a native of Chicago and graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a B.A. in Vocal Music and Secondary Education. Prior to moving to the West Coast, she sang with the Grant Park Festival Symphony Chorus in Chicago for five years. She has sung with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and is currently a member and frequent soloist of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale. She has been a soloist for a number of major works including Handel’s Messiah, Faure’s Requiem, Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and Rejoice in the Lamb. She has also sung in the chorus and as a soloist in more contemporary works such as Karl Jenkin’s The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. In addition, Cara has had the pleasure of singing under the direction of such renowned conductors as Leonard Slatkin and Zubin Mehta. Next spring, she will be performing at Carnegie Hall as part of the East Coast premiere performance of Kevin Memley’s Magnificat under the direction of Allan Petker.
Sharon Goldstein, soprano, was born in Chicago, lived most of her life in New York City, and is now established in Los Angeles. She has a BA in vocal performance from Queens College, where she helped found the Opera Workshop, now a permanent part of the curriculum. She has sung with the Gregg Smith Singers and with Anthony Newman at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Sharon was the vocalist with the jazz sextet Tranquility Base, is a founding member of the 80s Ladies, a comedy/singing group, and has performed music ranging from Renaissance to contemporary. She is presently a member of Vox Femina of Los Angeles, sings regularly at All Saints Church (Pasadena), and is a staff substitute at First Congregational Church. She is a founding member of Danger Zone, an improv/sketch comedy troupe. Sharon is a Jeopardy! Champion.
Ella Reed is proud to come from a long line of dedicated singers. She has consistently participated in chorus performances since the age of 8 and is excited to continue this streak with Nova. She has a passion for singing opera and had the honor of staring as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute, performed at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, from where she graduated. Ella also enjoys volunteer singing at festivals and events.
Stina Pederson has been singing in choirs since she was eight years old, starting with the Seattle Girls’ Choir. She sang with the University of Washington Gospel Choir while studying for her B.A. in Creative Writing, and after graduation, sang with the Magnolia Chorale. While teaching English in Germany for one year she sang with the Magdeburg Kammerchor. Stina studied voice with Peggy Kurtz in Everett, WA and continues her education today with the talented vocal instructors at Los Angeles City College. Stina is a writer and the volunteer director for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, but had been missing choir until she joined Nova in 2015.
Sherry graduated from Towson State University in Baltimore, Maryland with a Bachelors Degree in Music Performance. Upon graduation she traveled the United States with a Christian pop/rock band for two years and has performed a variety of styles of music in multiple venues. Some of Sherry’s fondest musical memories are of singing at Carnegie Hall in New York, performing at a Presidential Inauguration and singing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She has performed in Cosi fan Tutti, Cavalleria Rusticana, Tosca, Falstaff (Nanetta cover), Orpheus ed Eurydice (Persephone), Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Mikado (Peep Bo and Pitti Sing), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Berta cover), Die Fliedermaus (Ida), Gianni Schicchi (Ciesca), and H. M. S. Pinafore. Currently she enjoys singing with Nova Vocal Ensemble, the Charles Dickens Carolers, for several Los Angeles-area opera companies, and in local choruses, including a renaissance group
Samantha Katherine Merevick is an active and versatile Soprano – Mezzo, Lyric, Coloratura – within the Southern California Opera Network and performs opera and choral music internationally. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts from Loyola Marymount University in May 2010 with emphases in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting and was the 2010 recipient of the Paul Salamunovich Award for Choral Excellence for her exemplary participation in the LMU choruses throughout her time at the university. Samantha has performed at esteemed concert venues such as the Sistine Chapel, the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano, the Votivkirche and, most recently, Disney Concert Hall and has traveled with the LMU Choruses on their international tours of Italy, Germany, Austria, and most recently, France in June 2015. Recent projects include singing the alto solos from Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.
While earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music at Cal State University, Northridge, Angel studied voice, focusing on Opera, with Judy Scott and worked in ensembles under the leadership of top directors in the fields of Choral (Paul Smith), Vocal Jazz (Matt Falker) and Musical Theater (Rahn Coleman). Currently, Angel can be seen performing as a lead singer and keyboardist with several Top 40 and Dance bands along the west coast. Angel also lends her voice to choral groups such as the Metropolitan Master Chorale and the Cal Phil Chorale, with whom she has enjoyed performing at venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In addition, Angel works as a studio session singer, a professional caroler during the holiday season and you may have seen her work on-camera for television shows, Modern Family and Parks and Recreation as well!
Sara Chang discovered the wonderful world of choral music when she was in high school–during a side job of playing piano for a choir, she found out that she’d much rather be singing in one. Ever since then, she has been involved in some kind of vocal ensemble or another. Sara currently works as a pharmacist, passing away the hours counting pretty pills. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and reading fantasy novels. Sara has sung with the USC Thornton Concert Choir, USC Madrigal Singers, and the San Gabriel Valley Choral Company. She graduated with a minor in piano from the University of Southern California.
Amy Gordon is an active singer and composer throughout the Los Angeles area. She is currently the composer-in-residence for Nova Vocal Ensemble. She has been singing in choirs for her entire life and usually sings alto or soprano 2. Her favorite musical experience is sight-reading a lot of difficult music in an a cappella setting. In addition to singing in Nova, she is a singer/songwriter and music educator. She earned her M.M. in Music Composition from California State University, Long Beach and her B.A. in Music Composition from Loyola Marymount University. Amy also sings in groups such as C3LA and has composed music for Nova Vocal Ensemble, the Los Angeles Belles, and the South Bay Chamber Singers, among other groups in Los Angeles.
Mezzo-soprano Alice Dryden has loved to sing since she could speak. She is an alumna of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music (B.M. in voice performance and music education) and CUNY Brooklyn College (M.M. in composition). Passionate about choral composition and new music, she was Composer in Residence for the Brooklyn College Chorale and has had works premiered in several states and abroad in Paris and Milan. In addition to singing and composition, Alice is a believer in the importance of music education; she runs the kindergarten-8th grade music program at Everest Value School in Los Angeles and directs their chorus. She is excited and proud to sing with Nova!
Vera Frances Lugo is a young vocal artist from San Juan Capistrano, California. Active in many ensembles throughout Los Angeles and Orange County, she is currently exploring finding work as a session singer and professional chorister and has sung with L.A. Choral Lab and Tonality.
Vera enjoys utilizing her large vocal range in a variety of musical settings. She is currently an alto in the elite professional core of Los Angeles based choir Nova Vocal Ensemble, she is entering her second year as Soprano Section Leader/Soloist at Mission Lutheran Church in Laguna Niguel, and she is a caroler in Dickensian garb with The Other Reindeer Carolers. She also performs in various settings as a jazz singer alongside her partner, guitarist Ross James Sellers.
In her spare time, Vera can be found singing harmonies to her favorite recordings and playing a dinky toy piano.
TR was born in small town Michigan where he planned to go to college to become a teacher but after his first year of college he was given an audition for a management company in Los Angeles. After they agreed to sign him he moved immediately, leaving everything behind but a TV and a weeks worth of clothes. T.R. has been active in the musical theater scene in Los Angeles, with breakout roles in the Hollywood Fringe Festival production of the new musical adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo and in a presentation of scenes from The Music Medicine Show, an interactive choral-spiritual-theatrical performance piece by Los Angeles composer Mimi Seton. He will played featured role in The Big Oak Theater’s production of the new musical Annabella in 2016. TR has performed in a wide variety of venues, including the Whiskey a Go Go and even the Warped Tour. When he has nothing better to do, he likes to go on hikes to get away from it all. TR has been singing with Nova since the fall of 2014.
Christopher Jones is a 28 year old bass-baritone who graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a BA Degree in music, concentrating on voice, studying with Prof. Janet Smith. He was given the Cal State Fullerton Opera Area Undergraduate Award for having been a part of the opera program every year for four years. He has worked with the Celestial Opera Company in South Pasadena, where he sang in the chorus for productions of Merry Wives of Windsor, Tosca, La Traviata, Dido and Aeneas, Lucia de Lammermoor, and played the role of the Sarastro in The Magic Flute. He was also the recipient of the company’s academic scholarship. He’s performed in Cal State Fullerton’s operatic scenes with lead roles in Amahl and Night Visitors (Balthasar) and Albert Herring (Superintendent Budd) and supporting roles in Gianni Schicci, The Consul, The Ballad of Baby Doe, and La Sonnambula. Mr. Jones also appeared in the school’s fully staged operas including The Elixir of Love, The Mikado, and The Gondoliers. He’s worked with Pacific Opera Project, singing chorus for their productions of Marriage of Figaro and Carmen, performed the role of Sparafucile for Vineyard Touring Opera’s production of Rigoletto and chorus in Independent Opera Co.’s production of Tales of Hoffmann and their most recent production of Midsummer’s Night Dream as Snug. In his 14+ years of vocal training, Christopher has amassed considerable performance experience in solo and group recitals, benefit concerts and choirs. He has worked with the Charles Dickens Carolers the last two seasons, under the direction of Kevin St. Clair.
Dylan is a bass baritone from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a degree in music composition and theatre, where he sang in the Nordic Choir under the baton of Dr. Allen Hightower. Dylan portrayed the role of Simone in Luther College’s production of Gianni Schicchi. He has sung as a section leader with Faith Presbyterian Church in Valley Village and currently sings as a paid singer at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. He appeared in Angel City Opera’s production of Don Pasquale, playing the role of Carlino.
Dylan currently works as a sound designer, freelance composer, and comedian in the Los Angeles area. His works have been premiered by instrumental and vocal ensembles throughout Los Angeles and the Midwest. If you would like to hear some of his music, feel free to take a look on his website here: www.dylanjiles.com
Eugene Carbajal, Baritone is an active member of the Camerata of Los Angeles, Cal Phil Chorale, Golden State Pops Orchestra Chorale, Pasadena Conservatory of Music Artes Vocales of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Korean-American Musicians Association, Bridges Chorale and was a member of the Pasadena Master Chorale, Occidental College Chorale, and L.A. Chinese Music Ensemble Chorus. He is the Bass Section Leader at the First Congregational Church of Pasadena. He has performed with the El Dorado Opera Company, L.A. Metropolitan Opera, Independent Opera Company, Vineyard Touring Opera Company, and Casa Italiana Opera Company as the Priest in Magic Flute, Count Monterone/Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Frank in Die Fledermaus, Captain Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, Betto / Guccio in Gianni Schicchi, King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Don Bartolo in Marriage of Figaro, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm in A Little Night Music, and Njegus in Merry Widow.
David Conley is a composer, conductor, singer and educator in Los, Angeles California and was recently appointed as the Director of Choral Activities at Marymount High School in Los Angeles, California. He is the composer of Fuerta Dance’s film series En la Mente and is collaborating with violinist Marisa Curcio to create a fully-improvised soundtrack. David was the composer for Coqui Pictures’ Forgotten Plague, hailed by the Huffington Post as “a must-see documentary” and he is currently scoring an upcoming short film for Electric Puzzle Studios.
David has sung with internationally-renowned ensembles including the Westminster Choir, the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Kantorei, The Hodgson Singers, and the professional choir-in-residence of the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC. He has performed with the New Jersey Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York, Vienna, & Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, Julliard415, and the Westminster Festival Orchestra.
David has held conducting positions including Assistant Conductor of the Westminster Choir, Conductor of Choirs at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Princeton, NJ, Artistic Director of The Princeton Consort, and Intern Conductor at Athens First United Methodist Church in Athens, GA.
David received a B.A. in Vocal Performance from the University of Georgia and a M.M. in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College.