At this time of year, I am honored to recognize members of the Choir of Saint James who mark milestones in their time with us. It also gives me joy to share these incredible people with you, our congregation: to get to know them better and to appreciate their wonderful and diverse talents.
First, I am happy to introduce to you the newest members of the choir who began their ministry among us this past September: Sopranos Jennifer Paz and Kathryn Shuman, and Baritone Michael Miersma. We are so happy to have these remarkable and gifted musicians among us, and we hope, for many years to come!
Now, on to anniversaries (in 5- year intervals):
Celebrating 5 years of membership: Soprano Anna Cave, Counter-tenor Scott Belluz, and Tenor Joseph Twist.
Celebrating 10 years of membership: Tenor Thomas Croyle, and Basses Brett McDermid and John Peterson.
Jumping to a celebration of 25 years: Soprano Christina Koh (wife of our beloved Fr. Aidan Koh). Christina is also celebrating her recent retirement from an exciting and vigorous 31-year career with AT&T. We heartily congratulate Christina on both counts!
To all of these people, I extend my deep appreciation and sincere congratulations. Having completed my 25th season at St. James myself this past December, I am humbled by the joyous company of these faithful people, and so many more! They bless us all with their inspiring music-making, and for me, they have enriched my life in countless personal and professional ways. We are a tight-knit family, and we are proud to consider ourselves part of the larger family that is St. James. To our entire congregation: we thank you for all you do to sustain us and to make our ministry a meaningful one! We love you with all our hearts and wish you peace and renewed health in spirit, mind and body as we journey together through these perilous times.
See below to find out more about the choir members highlighted above.
Canon James Buonemani
Praised for his “warm, rich voice and impeccable coloratura” (La Marseillaise) Countertenor Scott Belluz brings consummate musicianship and remarkable versatility to his performances of repertoire ranging from 17th century to newly composed works.
Scott has received great acclaim for his “bravura vocal performances” (Now Magazine) in the world premieres of numerous Canadian operatic works as well as his vivid characterizations of principal roles in the standard operatic repertoire of Handel, Monteverdi and Britten with companies such as Chicago Opera Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, Tapestry New Opera, Soundstreams and Chants Libres.
A frequent soloist on the oratorio/concert stage, Scott’s repertoire runs the gamut from Bach, Handel, Pergolesi and Vivaldi, to more contemporary works by Ades, Cage, Kagel, Schoenberg and PDQ Bach — including recent appearances with the Jacaranda Music Series, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and the Aradia Baroque Ensemble. Scott performed in ‘Salsa Baroque: Music of Latin America and Spain’ with Ensemble Caprice, a program which has also been released on CD by the Analekta label.
As a professional chorister, Scott has enjoyed singing with an illustrious array of international ensembles including: La Chapelle de Quebec/Les Violons du Roy, Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal and is thrilled to now be part of the choir at St. James’ in the City.
Please visit: www.scottbelluz.com
Anna Cave is an American soprano originally from Texas. Her early studies led her to Interlochen Arts Academy and on to a B.M. in Classical Vocal Performance from Mannes College the New School for Music in New York City.
Over the last decade and a half, she has enjoyed a variety of musical opportunities in New York and Los Angeles, recently appearing with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the LA Phil under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel and Grant Gershon for performances of Maher’s Symphony #8 (recorded for Deutsche Grammophon), Beethoven’s Symphony #9, and a world premiere of Yanga by Gabriela Ortiz. During her studies in New York, she was part of a 12-voice professional choir at St. James’ Madison Avenue for a decade, performed as the lead in Orpheus in the Underworld, a workshop by Jonathan Dawe, and can be heard on recordings of Ike Sturm’s Jazz Mass and Alexis Cole’s The Greatest Gift.
Cave is a member of The Choir of St. James in the City and can be heard on their 2018 album, O Beauty Ever Ancient Ever New as well as a recent recording of the music of composer Scott Perkins. She also performs frequently throughout the Los Angeles area with groups such as Ensemble Vocatrix, LA Schola, The Perfect Fifth, the choir of St. John’s Cathedral, and The Clarion Singers – notably during two summer residencies at Canterbury Cathedral. She has also appeared as part of The Golden Bridge since 2016, performing renaissance classics partnered with world premieres by Morten Lauridsen, Dale Trumbore, Julia Adolphe (soloist), Shawn Kirchner, Jasper Randall, Christina Whitten Thomas (soloist), Matthew Brown, Reena Esmail, Ariela Quintana, Melinda Bargreen, Cristian Grases, Nick Strimple, Alex Shapiro and Billy Childs.
Tom Croyle was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and started singing in choirs at an early age. After graduating from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, he moved to Los Angeles. He has sung in the Los Angeles Master Chorale with Roger Wagner and Grant Gershon and the Saint Charles Borromeo choir with Paul Salamunovich. He joined the choir of Saint James’ in 2010 and is very glad to be a part of the Saint James’ family.
Christina Koh has been singing with Choir of St. James since 1995. She came to Saint James when her husband Aidan joined Saint James Church and School Clergy staff in 1991. She loved singing when she was young and started singing at church choir since her college days.
Christina was born in Korea and moved to the United States in 1986. Recently retired from AT&T where she had worked for 31 years and had a great career, she now enjoys her free time traveling and spending more time with her son. Her husband Aidan is a school chaplain and senior administrator at St. James School. Their son Paul is working at Water Conservation District in Phoenix Arizona.
Brett McDermid holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN. After graduation, Brett spent several years touring in the US and internationally with various choirs. He has performed with The Concordia Choir, Kentucky Opera, Cornerstone Chorale, the Pallas Ensemble and the Cardinal Singers.
Brett currently sings with the Clarion Singers, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LASchola, De Angelis Vocal Ensemble, Horizon Chamber Choir, Pacific Bach Ensemble and LA Chamber Singers. He is also a member of the early music ensemble Tesserae, and was recently the solo vocalist in a concert of works for period instruments and basso profundo. In addition, Brett works as a TV and internet voice-over artist.
He is an original member of the male vocal ensemble Chanson who have released four studio albums.
He can also be heard as a session vocalist for movies, TV and other media as both a singer and voice-over artist. Michael is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AGMA and is originally from Portland, Oregon.
Jennifer Paz, soprano, is new to St. James, having joined the choir in 2019. Jennifer currently sings with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and teaches piano and voice. Having graduated from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State Long Beach in 2018, Jennifer sang in the top choir for the entirety of her college career and served as soprano section leader for 3 years. During her time as section leader, the Bob Cole Chamber Choir participated in and won the title of Choir of the World in Llangollen, Wales in 2016. Jennifer also sang in Seraphic Fire’s Professional Choral Institute in Aspen, Colorado in 2018.
Recent solos include the soprano solos in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and the Choral Tales Project by Ludwig Tuman: The Happy Man’s Shirt and Lord of the Cranes.
John Peterson has a BA in Oboe Performance and Music Education from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN, but his lifelong fascination with the acoustics and mechanics of musical instruments has led him to a career of repairing oboes, rather than playing them.
He has worked at RDG woodwinds in Los Angeles, CA since 1989. Although he has never formally studied musical acoustics, he has actively pursued his interest in the history and physics of the oboe, clarinet, and pipe organ. He has built several instruments, including the oboe he still plays on. Besides repairing, he keeps busy building clarinet barrels and oboe bells, and maintaining his collection of historical oboes.
While John no longer performs much on the oboe, he still maintains an active and rewarding musical life as a choral singer.
Soprano and composer Kathryn Shuman performs regularly as a soloist and an ensemble singer. As an avid explorer of the voice, she is continually finding ways of implementing found techniques in performance – from Baroque and contemporary classical, to opera, experimental, and improvisatory music. Most recently, Kathryn performed her main stage LA Phil solo debut in Meredith Monk’s opera “ATLAS” at Walt Disney Concert Hall, where she was featured in multiple prominent solo roles. Other recent concert solo highlights include Earl Kim’s Where Grief Slumbers, numerous Bach cantatas, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. She has premiered works by John Luther Adams, Henry Mollicone, Rand Steiger, and Carmina Escobar. Shuman has performed with such distinctive organizations as the avant-garde opera company The Industry, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and LA Opera. Shuman’s ecology-inspired original music has been performed at venues and festivals from California to Quebec, Canada.
Kathryn received a MFA degree from California Institute of the Arts, and a Voice Performance BM degree at CSULB. She is also a committed educator on voice faculty at Pasadena City College.
Upcoming notable solo performances include: a leading role in the premiere of Du Yun and Raven Chacon’s opera, Sweetland, with the Industry this coming Spring season (2020); and a soprano solo role in the premier of Juhi Bansal’s opera, We All Look to the Stars, with LA Opera February 2020.
Australian composer Joe Twist is a versatile and eclectic musician based in the United States. Straddling both film music and concert music arenas, his music crosses genres ranging ancient vocal music, opera, contemporary orchestral music, jazz, musical theatre and cabaret. Twist has received wide acclaim for his music for film and television, and his concert works are performed frequently by many professional ensembles around the world, including the Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, Victorian Opera, Gondwana Voices, The Song Company, The Australian Voices, Adelaide Chamber Singers, the Southern Cross Soloists, JACK Quartet, Chanticleer, The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and many others. Credits include original music, arrangements and orchestrations for The Wiggles, (The Wiggles Meet The Orchestra), New York Music Theatre Festival (Clinton: The Musical) and Twist’s own album Dancing With Somebody.