Voices of Solaris

Soprano

Karen Chickering

Brianne Keith

Kathleen Messier

Lindsey Rusnock

Linda Wheeler

Gail Whitehouse

Alto

Jenny Berschling

Molly Moerdyk

Patricia Norton

Nan O’Leary

Becky Peterson

Toby Rockwood

Katherine Wayman

Dawn Willis

Tenor

Cameron Brownell

Matt DeDiana

Dean King

Jeffrey Pierce

Skip Potter

James Stewart

Bass

AJ Banach

John Buck

Karl Naden

Steve Olson

Caleb Roman

John Trackey

AJ Banach, bass

AJ graduated with a degree in music education in 2018 from the University of Vermont. He currently teaches Chorus and Media/Audio Recording at Enosburg Falls High School. He joined Solaris in 2019. He can also be seen playing trumpet in various groups throughout Vermont and is a new member of the Heritage Brass Quintet.

Jenny Berschling, alto

Jenny has been hooked by choral singing since her high school glee club’s ambitious performance of Mozart’s Requiem. A charter member of Solaris, she is also a member of Bella Voce, and enjoys the musical challenge of both groups. She works as an environmental analyst for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

Cameron Brownell, tenor

Solaris Assistant Conductor

Cameron, a native Vermonter from Colchester, graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music with degrees in Music Education and Voice Performance. He went on to earn a master’s degree in Sacred Music from the University of Notre Dame where he received the Sacred Music Program’s Academic Achievement Award.

After living in Utah for three years, where he worked as a chorus teacher and parish music director, and sang with the Utah Chamber Artists under the direction of Dr. Barlow Bradford, Cameron moved back to Vermont to accept the job as Chorus Teacher at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg in 2020. In February 2022, he took on the additional role of Music Director at Charlotte Congregational Church in Charlotte.

John Buck, bass

John is a graduate of the University of Vermont, and spent his career as a Wildlife Biologist for the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife. He has been involved in music since his elementary school days, was a member of the Vermont All-State Chorus, is currently a member of the Waterbury Congregational Church choir & Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and is a charter member of Solaris.

Karen Chickering, soprano

Karen Chickering is a Vermonter by choice, having arrived here in 1987. A charter member of Maple Jam (close harmony a cappella jazz), she has sung with many groups over the years including the VSO Chorus, Aurora (Oriana) Singers, Vermont Choral Union, Melisma, Bella Voce, Counterpoint & Friends, Musica Propria, and the Bluegrass Turkeys. After earning a degree from Northwestern University in church music and organ, she promptly applied her skills in multiple restaurants in the Chicago area and Vermont, including 5 years of owning her own restaurant in Chicago. Having been raised in the restaurant biz, she can say that “resistance is futile!” Her other passions include biking, hiking, cooking, kayaking, gardening, and traveling to New Zealand for quality time with her brother the cellist, and his son..

Matt DeDiana, tenor

Matt is a graduate of Allegheny College (PA) with degrees in Computer Science and Music. Prior to joining Solaris in 2015, he sang with the Master Chorale of Washington DC, the Vermont Choral Union, and the Burlington Choral Society. Matt is a software engineer for Fluency, Inc. a Burlington based startup. He lives in Williston with his wife, Kristin, and two daughters, Maris and Selene.

Brianne Keith, soprano

Brianne has been involved in choral ensembles for the majority of her childhood, resulting in her pursuit of a Music degree along with her studies in Chemistry from Saint Michael’s College in 2014. Described as effervescent and stunning in her vocal performances at Saint Michael’s College, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church of Saint Albans, VT, and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, VT, Brianne has a vast, 3-octave voice range that she loves sharing with an audience. She has been a member of Solaris since 2016, and when she’s not singing, you can find her experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen or curled up with a book and a cat.

Dean King, tenor

Dean joined Solaris in 2016. He previously sang with the Mad River Chorale and is a long-time member of the Waterbury Congregational Church choir. Dean is recently retired after a long career as an actuary with National Life Insurance Company. He and his wife reside in downtown Burlington.

Kathleen Messier, soprano

Kathleen grew up loving Classical music and studied organ and piano in middle school and high school. She graduated from college with a BS in biochemistry and a minor concentration in mathematics. While in college she pursued her interest in singing as a member of the St. Michael’s College Chorale and Madrigal Singers. Since then Kathleen has studied voice with Jill Hallett Levis and sung with the Colchester Community Chorus, Green Mountain Mahler Festival, Burlington Choral Society, Oriana Singers, and Vermont Choral Union. Her favorite periods of music to study (and sing!) are the early to late Renaissance and Baroque. Kathleen is the archivist at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington and lives in Essex Junction with her husband and three children. As well as singing, she enjoys baking, cooking, graphic design, and gardening.

Karl Naden, bass

Karl’s earliest memory of being washed away by the joy and beauty of choral music was formed when he sang his first requiem (Fauré’s) in high school. Since then, he has performed 5 more requiems (by Mozart, Verdi, Brahms, du Caurroy, and Victoria). If only a film had been made out of the Pittsburgh Symphony’s 2009 performance of Mozart’s Requiem that included John Lithgow reading letters written by Mozart, then Karl, as a member of the choir, would have left computer science graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University with an Erdős/Bacon number. Karl has sung a wide range of accompanied and a cappella works with choirs across the country including the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Musica Sacra of Cambridge, MA, Vermont’s Counterpoint Vocal Ensemble, and the Chordination barbershop quartet. By day, Karl works as a Healthcare IT consultant from his home in Vermont’s Mad River Valley.

Molly Moerdyk, alto

Molly was born into a musical family, her mother a bassoonist for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, her father a pianist and vocalist for several choral groups over his lifetime. Exposed to a wide background of music, she developed a love for vocals across all genres. Most recently she has been singing with Aurora Chamber Singers and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington’s Community Choir. Many of her adult years were dedicated to the study of dance, drum, and the occasional vocals, of Guinea, West Africa as a student and member of Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater or Burlington, Vermont. The fall of 2023 is Molly’s first season with Solaris Vocal Ensemble and is thrilled to be part of this dynamic and talented group of artists.

Patricia Norton, alto

Patricia moved to Burlington from eastern Vermont in April of 2022, and joined Solaris in the fall. She is an experienced facilitator of group vocal improvisation, and has studied circle singing with Bobby McFerrin and Rhiannon. Patricia songleads in the oral tradition as well: online Pocket Songs, a new Burlington program called Flow Singing, and anytime with her podcast, A Breath of Song. With her husband, Tom, she is delighted to be close to their daughter’s family, with extra time for composing, discovery walks, and reading.

Nan O’Leary, alto

Nan was introduced to many musical genres at an early age, instilling in her the desire to continue singing in choruses throughout her life. Nan joined Solaris in 2014, is one of the founding members of Bella Voce (since 2004), Cantiamo (since 2009), and formerly with the VSO Chorus (for 16 years). This keeps her very busy musically, while gardening at her home in Essex, VT fulfills her love of nature’s beauty during our too-short (and now too-hot) summers. Nan loves spending time with her family and their two Cockapoos, Brydie & Binx.

Steve Olson, bass

Steve is the Director of Music at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne. He received degrees in Music Education from Florida State University, and in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. In 2014 had the honor of directing the world premiere of Sam Guarnaccia’s “Emergent Universe Oratorio” here in Vermont.

Becky Peterson, alto

Becky loves singing, especially in choral ensembles. She has sung with Solaris since its beginning, as well as with Bella Voce (since 2004), Cantiamo (since 2009), and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus (since 1996). She retired from a long career at Champlain College, and now works part time as a substitute teaching in South Burlington schools. When she is not working or singing, she can be found reading, hiking, biking, boating on Lake Champlain, and spending time with her family.

Skip Potter, tenor

Skip lives in Barre and has been employed by Maplefields for the last 20 years as its IT Manager. He sings regularly with the Vermont Philharmonic, Mad River Chorale, Burlington Choral Society and many other groups throughout Vermont, as well as with several church choirs. He also has a love for the stage, performing often with Lyric Theater, Stowe Theatre Guild, and Unadilla Theatre. He became a member of Solaris in 2018.

Toby Rockwood, alto

Toby is excited to be joining Solaris this year as an alto. A native Vermonter, she lives in Williston. She has been singing since high school days: All State chorus, South Burlington Community Chorus, Williston Federated church choir, VSO, Bella Voce, Cantiamo and now Solaris! She is a Trauma nurse at UVM Medical Center. In her free time, she loves to cook, read, golf, snowshoe and spend time with her family.

Caleb Roman, bass

Caleb joined Solaris in Fall of 2017. He is currently in his senior year at Saint Michael’s College as a Theatre and Music dual major. Caleb often participates in college mainstage productions and has actively contributed to on-campus musical projects including the Saint Michael’s Chorale and Concert Band. An asset of living and studying in Burlington is its rich and nurturing artistic community, and Caleb feels exceptionally fortunate to have had the opportunity to become involved with inclusive local projects both inside and outside of his academic pursuits, these including Solaris.

Lindsey Rusnock, soprano

Lindsey’s love of singing and music began at a very young age, and she’s been taking voice lessons for about 10 years and has been involved in choirs for 12. She is a senior music education major at the University of Vermont and aspires to be a chorus teacher. She also sings with and assistant conducts UVM’s Concert Choir, and sings with the UVM Catamount Singers. Lindsey enjoys playing the piano and teaching herself guitar when she’s not in a choir rehearsal or at school.

James Stewart, tenor

James joined Solaris in 2017, and he may be familiar to many as a host on Vermont Public Radio Classical. He has sung in choirs since he was a child, and has been a choir director since the age of fifteen. James is active as a composer of diverse musical genres, and among other accomplishments, holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from The Hartt School of Music (Connecticut) in composition.

John Trackey, bass

Jake, who joined Solaris in 2018 was active in several choral and instrumental ensembles while at Saint Michael’s College, including the College’s Chorale, Liturgical Choir, and Jazz Band; he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Classic Languages there. He is currently absorbed in translating texts in classical Latin, Greek, and French, and has an avid interest in Medieval and Renaissance music.

Katherine Wayman, alto

Katherine received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Vassar College and an M.Phil in musicology from the University of Cambridge, studying voice and 16th century music. A native Washingtonian, her love of choral music was fostered in the Gospel and Madrigal choirs of the DC public schools she attended. She sang with the Choral Arts Society of Washington before going to medical school at the University of Virginia. She is a neurologist with the University of Vermont Medical Center. She joined Solaris in 2018.

Linda Wheeler, soprano

Linda has been active in choral singing since her school days, and has studied vocal technique with several teachers, most recently with Sarah Cullins. In addition to being a charter member of Solaris, Linda also sings with Bella Voce (since 2004), Cantiamo (2009), Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and College Street Congregational Church

Gail Whitehouse, soprano

Gail has been singing since childhood. Growing up in Burlington, VT, she was active in the Children and Adult Choirs at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception as well as Concert and Polyphonic Choirs at Rice High School. She earned a Bachelor if Arts in Music from Mercyhurst University, where she realized her passion for opera and performed leading roles in several opera productions. While new to Solaris this season, she sings with Vermont Choral Union (since 2009) and studies voice with Sarah Cullins.

Dawn Willis, alto