2019 - 2020 Sacred Music Students
Fatima Anyekema (MSM Voice '20) is currently a Master of Sacred Music first year vocal performance student. She is a contralto who back home in Nigeria, where she is from, has previously worked as a soloist and chorus singer in the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Choir, Music instructor in a music academy, served as choir master in her parish, assistant choir director of the children's choir, and the leader of the Musica Casa Chorale that participated in the World Choir Games held in Pretoria, South Africa in July. She is passionate about teaching and performance and hopes to be a faculty member in a reputable Nigerian university.
Emily Bird (MSM Voice '20) is a soprano and graduate from the University of Western Ontario, with a Bachelor of Music honors specialization in Music Education. In January 2016, she started the Cantiamo program at the Mississauga Children’s Choir, a weekly music class for childrens ages four and five. In 2017 started the MCC’s second location in Port Credit, Ontario where she ran choirs for children ages four through ten. Emily has worked for a variety of children’s choirs including Bach Children’s Chorus, Toronto Children’s Chorus, and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company. From 2016-2018, Emily was the soprano soloist/section lead at Royal York Road United Church in Etobicoke, and in 2016-2018 was the director of their Junior Choir. Also in 2017-2018, she was member of the Schola Cantorum at St. Basil’s Catholic Parish, in downtown Toronto. In the summer of 2014, Emily made her operatic debut as Barbarina in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at Accademia Europea Dell'Opera in Lucca, Italy. In the summer of 2016, she participated in the Advanced Oratorio program at the Victoria Conservatory of Music Summer Academy, in Victoria, British Columbia. Emily is a founding member of Cor Unum Ensemble, Toronto's newest baroque ensemble, and served as their General Manager for their 2017-2018 season. Emily currently lives in South Bend, Indiana and is in her second year of the Masters of Sacred Music program, majoring in vocal performance.
Joshua Boggs (DMA Choral Conducting '20) is a third-year conductor and countertenor. He holds degrees in Conducting and Voice from the University of Notre Dame and Ohio Wesleyan University, respectively. Josh particularly enjoys performing early music and new works, whether it be as soloist, chorister or conductor. Beginning Fall ‘18, he will serve a one-year appointment as Instructor of Choral Music at Goshen College. Outside of music, Josh enjoys basketball, trying new cuisines, and contemporary art.
Mary Katherine Bucko (MSM Voice '21) is a soprano and a lover and performer of sacred early music. Hailing from Philadelphia, she graduated from Eastern University with a Bachelors in Music with a concentration in voice. She worked as a cantor and staff singer at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Philadelphia for four years, and participated musically in the liturgical life of several other Philadelphia-area churches during her undergraduate studies. In 2015, Mary Katherine sang in the Papal Choir for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. She also was a member of multiple choirs at Eastern University in addition to her solo vocal studies and performances. After completing the Master of Sacred Music, Mary Katherine looks forward to continuing her career as a solo vocalist and teacher to preserve and restore beauty in Catholic churches through sacred music.
Jeron Burney (MSM Voice '21) is a countertenor/sopranist from Chattanooga, TN. He received his BM in Vocal Music Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. As a first-generation student he has proven to be a walking success story; achieving his dreams even as life has thrown many curveballs. Although Jeron is a classically trained vocalist and pianist, he also enjoys performing in other genres such as jazz, pop and R&B. He has had the opportunity to work with acclaimed faculty artists at the Si parla, Si canta! summer opera program, where he also studied the Italian language in Italy. Jeron is a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America and has been active in numerous local choral groups. He hopes to continue his academic studies to earn a doctorate in choral conducting, and aspires to travel the world as an opera performer.
Roshan Chakane (DMA Organ '22)
Christian Copeley (MSM Organ '21) is a first-year graduate student from Concord, New Hampshire. He recently graduated from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he served as the organ scholar, majoring in music and graphic design. Over the summer, Christian worked at his home parish playing Masses there on Sundays. He also substituted for several other churches in New Hampshire. In addition to service playing, he has a passion for classical piano and polyphonic choral music. Every year, Christian organizes a summer recital at the Concord Community Music School where he showcases his skills in these areas. As for his hobbies, Christian enjoys making clay animations, arranging a cappella music, designing logos, taking photos, and solving puzzles.
Emmanuel “Eman” P. de Leon Jr. (DMA Choral Conducting '22) is a first-year DMA Conducting student in Sacred Music at Notre Dame. Eman obtained his Master’s Degree in Music (Major in Choral Conducting), Bachelor of Music, and Diploma in Creative and Performing Musical Arts (Major in Music Education) from the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Music, where he also formerly taught as lecturer in the Conducting Department and Extension Program. He served as Assistant Conductor of the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus (UPCC) and joined several international concert tours with the group from 2002-2012. In 2012, he conducted UPCC in winning several international recognitions in various competitions in Europe. Eman conducted the commissioned work for the 40th Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland during its inaugural concert in July 2012. He is an alumnus of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and won the grand prize in Arezzo, Italy in 2016 with the group. He is the former Music Director of the University of the Philippines Manila Chorale and led the group in concerts and competitions in Manila, Japan, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. In July 2019, the group participated in the 2nd Tokyo International Choir Competition and competed with 52 choirs coming from different countries. They bagged 1st place in the Sacred Category, 2nd place in the Mixed Choir Category, and declared as the Best Interpretation of the Japanese obligatory work. On top of the awards received, Eman was awarded as the Outstanding Conductor of the Tokyo International Choir Competition. Eman traveled all over the Philippines to adjudicate in national choral competitions and to teach and give workshops to choirs and conductors. Internationally, he has conducted workshops and served as jury in competitions in Indonesia, Germany, and Poland.
Howard Eckdahl (DMA Choral Conducting '21) is a second-year doctoral student at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches courses for the Department of Music. Prior to joining the graduate cohort, he established himself as an educator, performer and music director in the Chicago area and northern Illinois. He was Artist-in-residence at Augustana College, where he served on the choral, voice and theory faculties, arranged music for student ensembles, and led a group of students to perform at Carnegie Hall upon invitation. As a performer, Eckdahl has held leadership roles with several of the top academic choral ensembles in the region, and sings professionally as a chorister and soloist. Eckdahl has enjoyed a successful career as a sacred musician, celebrating his eleventh year of professional service in the field. Highlights include leading worship for Bishop Eaton’s visit to Gloria Dei Lutheran in Northbrook, IL, being selected three times as the organist for the ELCA’s Northern Illinois Synod Assembly, and performing as guest organist at Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden. He holds a B.A. in music cum laude from Augustana College, where he wrote his capstone on palindromes in serialism; an M.M. in voice and Performer’s Certificate in conducting from Northern Illinois University where he served on the Graduate Council and was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda honor society; and completed a year of conducting study at Northwestern University where he assisted with regional and world premieres of works by Pulitzer-Prize-winners John Luther Adams and David Lang and performed in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series.
James Goldrick (MSM Choral Conducting '20) was born in Manchester. James Goldrick received a Bachelor of Music (Organ) from the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, studying with Dr. Philip Matthias. While studying he was Organ Scholar of Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, and conductor of the award-winning University of Newcastle Chamber Choir. On returning to Sydney, James commenced at St Mary’s Cathedral as Postgraduate Organ Scholar, and was later appointed Assistant Organist, accompanying and conducting the cathedral’s daily schedule of Choral Vespers and Mass, as well as playing for large-scale liturgies, including the Dedication and Papal Blessing of Domus Australia in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI. During this time, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Education at the Australian Catholic University. From 2014-18 James was Cathedral Organist of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, and responsible for the training of the boys-and-men Cathedral Choir and the acclaimed St Stephen's Schola, and Director of Music of St John’s College, University of Queensland. He is a notable exponent of the art of improvisation at the organ, studying in France with Nigel Allcoat and in masterclasses with Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin. In 2018, James relocated to the United States to commence the Master of Sacred Music degree at the University of Notre Dame.
Christina Hera (MSM Voice '21))
Brandon Hollihan (DMA Choral Conducting '20) is currently a doctoral student in choral conducting in the Sacred Music Program at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to this he was a high school vocal music teacher and the music director for Northwest United Methodist Church, living in Columbus, Ohio. Brandon has dual Master’s degrees in vocal pedagogy and choral conducting from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor’s in voice from Notre Dame. In the summer of 2018, he participated in the Scholar program with the Chorus America Conducting Academy in southern California, and was also a conducting fellow in the prestigious Norfolk Chamber Choir and Choral Conducting Workshop in Connecticut. Major works recently conducted include Bach’s BWV 80, “Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott” (2017), Haydn’s The Creation (2017), and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (2016).
Heejin Kim (DMA Organ '20)
Mark Laseter (MSM Voice '20) is a tenor, enjoys a varied career of singing, accompanying, and teaching. Previous accompanist engagements include a year with the American Boychoir School, the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, the 2016 Tennessee All State Honor Choir, and the 2012 Southern Division ACDA Honor Choir. As a professional choral singer, Mark has appeared with Seraphic Fire and Grammy award winning ensemble The Crossing. This past year saw Mark in the United Kingdom where highlights include performances for Prince William Duke of Cambridge at Hereford Cathedral, for Charles Prince of Wales in a concert at Buckingham Palace, and for Pope Francis both in St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel. Mark received his bachelor’s degree in voice performance from Westminster Choir College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sacred music at the University of Notre Dame.
David Marshall (MSM Choral Conducting '21) hails from Dayton, OH and received a BA in Music from the University of Rochester where he had the opportunity to study conducting, voice, and piano at the Eastman School of Music. He also performed with the Eastman Schola Cantorum, UR Chamber Singers, and UR Gospel Choir. He has been on tour and has worked closely with Fr. Ted Ley's adult Schola Cantorum of the Pacific® and children's choirs as they build up and found a children's choir school in Los Angeles. Some of David's significant research initiatives include acoustical analysis of carillon bell restoration, musicological analysis and transcriptions of chants from the Münster Antiphoner of 1537, and ethnomusicological interpretations of the relationship between liturgical music and contemporary Catholic identity. He is interested in preserving the treasury of sacred music while also exploring innovative uses of sound to foster meditative and sacred atmospheres. David is in the process of discerning religious life and enjoys feeding people, caring for plants, and participating in Liturgy.
Leah Martin (MSM Organ '20) graduated from the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, where she studied organ performance with Dr. Janette Fishell. She was a Jacobs Scholar as well as an Indiana University Founders Scholar. In March of 2017, she was awarded first place in the American Guild of Organists’ Indianapolis Regional Competition for Young Organists. Her notable performance experiences include recitals at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and recitals on the Wanamaker Organ. She has served as organist at Fairview United Methodist Church in Bloomington, IN, for two years, and she is an assistant organist at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral in PA over summers. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organ and sacred music at the University of Notre Dame, where she is the assistant organist at St. Peter's United Church of Christ.
Lorraine Mihaliak (MSM Choral Conducting '21) is a first-year choral conductor and organist. Originally from Connecticut, she recently graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA as the Organ Scholar. Her skill as an organist has led her on two international tours of organs and has seen her participate in numerous summer programs at conservatories throughout the United States. Her experience working with choirs has given birth to a fascination with the human voice and a love for the community that is fostered through joint music-making.
Jude Nwankwo (MSM Choral Conducting '21) is a first-year choral conductor. Originally from Umunoha in Imo State, Nigeria, he has worked as diocesan choir coordinator for the Music Commission of the Catholic diocese of Nsukka, Nigeria and also as lecturer in the Department of Music, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is a composer whose compositions are very popular with choirs in Nigeria; the inaugural recipient of the Sub-Saharan Africa Commissioning Project of the Morehouse College Department of Music, Atlanta, GA; and also a 2018 Fellow of Art Omi: Music. He is the founder of the J-Clef Chorale, a chorale group dedicated to training choral music enthusiast in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and its environs in the art of choral singing. Jude is passionate about training and conducting choirs and is eager to collaborate with composers and across disciplines.
Emorja Roberson (DMA Choral Conducting '21) is a pianist, conductor, workshop coordinator, composer, arranger and vocalist in world of classical and gospel. He recently debuted “Let’s Just Praise the Lord” with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, from his live recording Rejuvenate Me with Rejuvenation Gospel Choir January 2017. Roberson graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance, where he studied with Krzysztof Biernacki. As a young artist, he held lead roles in Die Zauberflöte, The Consul, The Mikadoand La Bohèmewith the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and performed as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah. As of May 2017, Roberson was coined as the first African-American to graduate with a Master of Sacred Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, Roberson is studying with Dr. Mark Doerries as a Research Assistant to prepare for his studies as a future doctoral student in Conducting, in addition to piloting the Voices of Courage choir at Madison and Harrison Primary Center. Roberson serves as the Director of Music for Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Choir Director for the Indiana University South Bend Gospel Choir. January 2018, Roberson’s compositions, “I Need Your Presence” and “Lord, I’m Grateful” were debuted by the South Bend Symphony Orchestra under the batons of Dr. Marvin Curtis and Dr. Alastair Willis.
Benton Schmidt (MSM Organ '21) Originally hailing from the prairies of North Dakota, Benton Schmidt began studying piano at the age of five. In 2017, he received his Bachelor’s in Piano Performance from North Dakota State University, and directed music at Holy Family Catholic Church in Mitchell, South Dakota for the next two years. Benton is also a tenor with a passion for teaching congregations the greatest music of the Church: Gregorian chant. He loves studying literature in his spare time, especially J. R. R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, and C. S. Lewis. Last year, Schmidt made his theatrical début as Mr. Paravacini in a community production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
Daniel Schwandt (DMA Organ '21) is returning to Notre Dame after completing an MSM in organ in 2018. Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, Daniel received his Bachelor of Music degree in Church Music from St. Olaf College. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Daniel was an active church musician in the Twin Cities and in Chicago, where for twelve years he was the seminary musician at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and Cantor of Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park. Most recently he was the Cantor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Chicago and assisted with the Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir. His interests cover the spectrum of the church musician’s art, from conducting and composing, to liturgical theology and leading assembly song. His interest in the organ also extends to free reed instruments like the harmonium and American reed organ.
Benjamin Stone (DMA Organ '20) is a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance. He is currently finishing a thesis on the chorale-based organ works of Johann Ludwig Krebs and Gottfried August Homilius. He is Director of Music and Organist at First United Methodist Church in South Bend, and teaches music courses at St. Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame. Ben previously served as a graduate assistant at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame, where he worked with the Liturgical Choir, Chant Schola, Women’s Liturgical Choir, and Basilica Schola. Soon to be a “triple-Domer,” Ben’s previous degrees are also from Notre Dame, a Master of Sacred Music (2015) and Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in organ performance and theology (2013).
David Swenson (MSM Organ '21) is a first-year graduate student at Notre Dame. He attended the University of Notre Dame as an undergraduate and attained bachelor degrees in music and theology as well as a minor in philosophy. He is very excited to continue his education at Notre Dame and grow as a musician through his work at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. From Faribault, Minnesota, he works at the Cathedral of Saint Paul as a sacred music intern while on breaks from school.
Jared Swope (MSM Voice '20) is a second-year baritone studying vocal performance. Most recently, Jared performed as soloist & chorister with the JSB Ensemble under the direction of Hans-Christoph Rademann & Jos Van Weldhoven in Stuttgart, Germany as part of the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart's annual Bachwoche festival. Three times, he has been a member of the Weimarer Bachkantaten Akademie, performing cantatas & masses of J.S. Bach in the churches for which they were written, under the baton of Helmuth Rilling. In 2015, he joined emerging professional choral singers in the Carnegie Hall Chamber Chorus, presenting their Renaissance Masterworks program alongside the Tallis Scholars, conducted by Peter Phillips. Jared holds bachelor’s degrees in vocal performance & music education from Missouri State University, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Sacred Music-Voice at the University of Notre Dame. Aside from singing, Jared enjoys cycling, intramural sports, and perfecting his morning coffee routine.
This past summer, after 6 weeks of travel & study through Europe (Tbilisi to study Georgian Chant, SMND Tour through Northern Germany, NDCC England tour), he spent another 6 weeks at the Des Moines Choral Festival. As part of the festival, he sang as a member of the CORO Vocal Artists, performing 10 concerts throughout June & July. He was also a soloist for Mozart's Mass in C Minor, mentor for the young artist program, and was able to introduce Georgian chant to the choral conducting students at Simpson College in Indianola, IA.
Audrey Thomas (MSM Organ '20) is a second-year organist in the Sacred Music program. She studies with Dr. Craig Cramer and serves as a Graduate Assistant with the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. She graduated with a BM in Organ Performance from the University of Kansas in 2018, where she studied with Dr. Michael Bauer. During her last year at KU, Audrey was the Assistant Organist at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center. In 2018, she won second place in the Fort Wayne National Organ Competition. She attended the Haarlem Organ Festival in the Netherlands in 2016 and 2018, where she had the opportunity to participate in master classes with major European artists and perform in a student recital at St. Bavokerk. Audrey is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and remains the Assistant Organist at St. Monica’s Catholic Church while on academic breaks.
Thomas Valle-Hoag (MSM Voice '21) is an avid performer of opera, art-song, and chamber music from all time periods. Originally from Concord Massachusetts, he recently finished the double degree program at Oberlin College and Conservatory. At Oberlin, he earned a BM in vocal performance and a BA in Latin Language and literature, while serving as the music minister of the Oberlin College Newman Catholic Community. Thomas has performed with Apollo’s Fire in Cleveland, and Emmanuel Music in Boston. He also holds a cantor position at Holy Family Parish in his hometown. When he isn’t singing, he likes to play Dungeons and Dragons.
Joshua Wang (MSM Choral Conducting '20) is currently a student in choral conducting in the Master of Sacred Music Program at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to moving to South Bend, Josh was a resident artist for two seasons with the Toledo Opera (Toledo, OH). In this position he was primarily a pianist for educational outreach programs that reached over 20,000 children in regional school districts. Additionally, Josh collaborated with the Toledo Choral Society as pianist and organist for their concert seasons, most notably preparing for the Toledo Symphony Messiah concerts. Always a church musician, Josh served as the Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green, OH where, in 2016, he instituted an annual community sing-along of Handel’s Messiah. Josh is a proud member of the American Choral Directors Association through which he was awarded first place in the Wisconsin State Student Conducting Competition as an undergraduate student. He is also certified in service-playing from the American Guild of Organists. He holds a B.M. in Piano Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an M.M. in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University.
Erin Wendt (MSM Choral Conducting '20) Erin Wendt is a second year choral conducting masters student in the Sacred Music program at the University of Notre Dame. Currently she works with the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and as the music intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church in South Bend. Erin taught junior high and high school choir for five years in the Gilbert Public Schools system, in Gilbert, Arizona after graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2012 with dual bachelor degrees in vocal performance and choral music education. While at NAU, she sang in the Shrine of the Ages choir and the select vocal jazz ensemble High Altitude, in addition to studying voice with Dr. Ricardo Pereira. In 2012, Erin was awarded the Outstanding Future Music Educator award by the Arizona Choral Directors Association and in 2014 she was awarded the New Choral Educator of the Year awards by the Arizona Choral Educators association.