Ethan Bennett teaches at Ravenwood High School where he conducts the RHS choirs and teaches music theory. Previously, Ethan has sung with the Nashville Symphony Chorus, the West End Chancel Choir, the St. Peter’s Episcopal Choir, and the University of Mississippi Opera Theater. He has also previously conducted the Oxford Civic Chorus, a community group based in Oxford, Mississippi. Ethan holds a Master of Choral Conducting from the University of Mississippi and a Bachelor of Music Education from Lipscomb University. He lives in Franklin, TN with his cat, Beth, and enjoys a good board game.
Mary Biddlecombe is proud to be a multi-season singer in Vocal Arts Nashville. Mary has also performed with Portara, Music City Baroque, Collegium and Vox Grata in the Nashville area. Before moving to Nashville, Mary performed as a chorister and soloist with the Festival Singers of Florida, the Tallahassee Bach Parley, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, and the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Mary serves as the Artistic Director of the Blair Children’s Chorus at Vanderbilt University where she conducts five of the six sequential choirs. She is also the co-music director at Harpeth Presbyterian Church.
Tucker Biddlecombe (Ph.D.) is Director of Choral Activities at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, where he conducts the Vanderbilt Chorale and Symphonic Choir, and serves as Director of Music Teacher Education. He also serves as Director of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, the official vocal arm of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. A native of Buffalo New York, Biddlecombe is a graduate of SUNY Potsdam and Florida State University, where he completed doctoral studies in choral conducting and music education with André Thomas. He resides in Nashville with his wife Mary Biddlecombe, Artistic Director of the Blair Children’s Chorus..This season, Tucker made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 conducting Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna and will finish the year conducting the Nashville Symphony Chorus in Orff’s Carmina Burana at Smetana Hall in Prague, Czech Republic. He can be found most Tuesday mornings at Bellevue Diner with Matt Phelps discussing obscure choral music and solving various world conundrums.
Tenor and composer Scott Brons is thrilled to be a part of Vocal Arts Nashville’s 2018/19 season. He is graduating from Lipscomb University in the spring with a degree in piano performance. In addition to accepting a position with Second Stage Theatre as the season’s musical director, Scott is the music intern and tenor section leader of both choirs at West End United Methodist Church, where he was recently a soloist in their performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C. He was also the tenor soloist for Lipscomb University’s performance of Carmina Burana. Upcoming new works include film scores and musical theatre pieces.
Patrick Dunnevant is a composer, conductor, and baritone. He is a graduate of Belmont University (B.M. Music Education) and Westminster Choir College (M.M. Composition), where he was a member and soloist with several of their world-renowned choirs, including the Westminster Choir, Symphonic Choir, and the early music ensemble, Kantorei. His compositions, which have been praised for their “lustrous sonic colors,” (ArtsNash), have been performed by regional and All-State honor choirs across the country and the UK, and are published by Colla Voce Music and GIA Publications, Inc.Patrick currently serves as the Assistant Director of Portara Ensemble; recently, he has prepared and conducted the choir in performances of "Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot, BWV 39" by J.S. Bach, "i remember", a world premiere by Cortlandt Matthews, and "Mass" by Steve Dobrogosz. He is also a co-founder of the Nashville Chamber Music Series, an organization dedicated to creating intimate performances of contemporary classical and jazz music in non-traditional settings. When he's not making music, he also enjoys playing video games and baking with his wife Sarah, a Vocal Arts Nashville soprano.
Sarah Dunnevant is a lyric soprano and voice teacher based in the Nashville area. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from MTSU, where she studied with H. Stephen Smith. Since then, she has performed with local ensembles such as Portara Ensemble, Nashville Opera, and Nashville Symphony Chorus. In 2019, she could be found touring with the Nashville Opera’s educational outreach program of “Abrazo de Oso!”, a youth opera by Anna Young. She premiered some new works by Nashville area composers for local classical radio in 2020 and the Nashville Composer Collective in 2021. She also sings as a section leader at West End United Church, where she enjoys singing sacred works large and small. Sarah has a keen interest in vocal pedagogy, having recently attended the Westminster Choir College Vocal Pedagogy Institute, and enjoys teaching piano and voice students throughout the week. When she’s not making music, she also enjoys playing video games and baking with her husband Patrick, a Vocal Arts Nashville baritone.
Emma Jackson, soprano, is proud to be a founding member of Vocal Arts Nashville. A Lexington, Kentucky, native, she came to Nashville for college and found that she didn’t want to leave. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University (B.M., M.Ed. in music education), where she studied voice with Gayle Shay and was a founding member of the Vanderbilt Chorale under the direction of Tucker Biddlecombe. Since 2012, Emma has been a soloist and staff singer at West End United Methodist Church, singing in weekly services as well as in evensongs, concerts, and special holiday services. Emma has also sung with the Vanderbilt Symphonic Choir, the Lipscomb Community Chorus, Collegium, and as a soloist with the Vanderbilt Composer's Forum and with the W. O. Smith Community Orchestra. A lifelong love of choral singing made the decision to join Vocal Arts Nashville at its founding an easy one. Emma's other loves include her husband of six months, Clark, and their rescue terrier mix, Stella. When she's not singing, Emma is busy crafting exasperating puns.
Lesley Maxwell Mann is the Coordinator of Music Education at Belmont University, where she conducts the Women’s Choir and teaches a wide variety of music education, music therapy, and music theory courses. Previously, Lesley has sung with Collegium, a Nashville based chamber choir, The Tallahassee Bach Parley, the Festival Singers of Florida, and at Walt Disney World with the Voices of Liberty and Finding Nemo, the Musical! Lesley holds the PhD in Choral Conducting and Music Education from Florida State University. She lives in Franklin, TN with her husband Jason and children Cooper and Chloe. She enjoys running, hand lettering, and hiding in the bathroom to read books of all genres.
Derek Meler is an active performer and teacher and is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University (B.M. Vocal Performance). Derek has performed as a soloist with the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Opera, Tennessee Chamber Chorus and Music City Baroque. Derek was a finalist in the Orpheus Vocal Competition and a semi-finalist in the Charles Lynman Vocal Competition. He has held artist residencies at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh Scotland. In September 2019, Derek will be a featured singer in residency at Pelican Harapan University in Jakarta Indonesia. When he’s not performing, Derek is usually teaching others about music and singing. He manages a private voice studio and teaches shaped note music all across the southern United States. Derek is proud to be a founding member of Vocal Arts Nashville and share in the joy of music with our community.
Asha Moody, a native of Pulaski, TN, attended the University of Tennessee at Martin, majoring in Music Education. While there, she studied voice under Dr. Roberto Mancusi and performed in several operas. She has since been singing with the Nashville Symphony Chorus for the past three years and enjoys reading, singing in any capacity, and spending time with her friends and family.
Colleen Phelps is the host of Live in Studio C on 91Classical, found at 91.1FM in Nashville, TN. She is also the host of Keeping Score, a podcast produced by Nashville Public Radio. Colleen is an active performer of solo percussion and vocal music, as well as chamber music. She was 21cm.org's POP Pick for the month of September 2018. Her upcoming debut album, The Animal Ambassador Album, features new works for marimba dedicated to young zoo animals all over the USA. This project was the Nashville Arts and Business Council Periscope Pitch Night Audience Pick. She was also recently a featured performer on composer Cristina Spinei's album Music for Dance, released by Toccata Classics, and the soloist for the premiere of Rachel C. Walker's percussion concerto Spirea.Colleen is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, where she earned degrees in Music Performance, Music Education, and Conducting. She is on the artist rosters of Innovative Percussion and Majestic Percussion.
American bass-baritone Marques Jerrell Ruff has performed across the globe, gracing the stages of the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Weiner Musikverein in Vienna, the Rudolfinum in Prague, and the Mariinksy Theater in St. Petersburg. A former member of the Grammy® award-winning ensemble, Chanticleer, Mr. Ruff has traveled to dozens of countries concertizing with the ensemble, and has given numerous vocal and conducting masterclasses. He has distinguished himself as a versatile, dynamic performer who excels in oratorios, musical theater, music of the African-American experience, and choral conducting. Marques Jerrell Ruff has been the featured soloist on several recordings, including a world premiere by the talented young American contemporary classical composer, Nico Muhly, entitled ‘Three Moon Songs.’ The Hartford Courant marveled, “Ruff has a voice that has power, clarity and brilliant shades of color.”
As a conductor Mr. Ruff has had the privilege of conducting the Missouri Choral Artists in a wildly successful concert program entitled “Made in America: A Choral Tapestry,” as well as the Parkway All-District Honor Choir in St. Louis, MO. He has worked with several distinguished conductors including: Joshua Habermann, James Bass, Simon Carrington, and William Fred Scott. In addition to a 2010 recording of a song cycle, ‘Guided Imagery,’ composed by Staff Sergeant Daniel J. Campolieta, Marques also appears on the album ‘Sure on this Shining Night’ with famed American composer, Morten Lauridsen. A graduate of Central Connecticut State University, Mr. Ruff was the University Singers Scholarship recipient, under the direction of Dr. Pamela J. Perry. He also holds dual Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting (R. Paul Crabb) and Voice Performance (Christine Seitz) from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Currently, he is the interim Director of Choral Activities at Tennessee State University.
Mary Scheib is so pleased to be singing alto with this fine group. A native of Indiana, this Hoosier girl moved to Nashville for love almost 12 years ago after several years pursuing a singing career in New York. In Nashville, Ms. Scheib has had the privilege of singing with Portara Ensemble, Collegium Vocale, Vox Humana, Christ Presbyterian Church, West End United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, and the Nashville Opera. Her opera and oratorio career has taken Ms. Scheib across the country singing roles such as: Hanna Glawari – The Merry Widow, Second Lady – The Magic Flute, Nella – Gianni Schicchi, Fire/Princess/Nightingale – L’Enfant et les Sortiléges, and Sister Angelica – Suor Angelica. Ms. Scheib received a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan where she studied with Shirley Verrett, and her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Butler University. With a deep love of choral music and singing in community, Ms. Scheib has been a life-long chorister. Other great loves are her two children and husband, Kurt, who all enjoy singing dance parties in the kitchen before dinner.
Anighya H.D. Crocker is a Pianist, Organist, Conductor and Tenor living in Nashville. Currently, he attends the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, where he majors in Vocal performance. His career as a vocalist, conductor, and keyboardist has provided him with countless opportunities, both domestic and abroad. As a vocalist, Anighya has performed in a variety of venues from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center to Carnegie Hall. He has appeared in a variety of leading roles, recently including Brack Weaver in Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley and The Governor in Bernstein's Candide. Anighya is a regular performer in and around the Nashville area, where he annually appears as a soloist in dozens of Christmas Cantatas and sacred concerts, having included Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Saint Matthew’s Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Haydn’s Creation. Anighya’s endeavors have also carried him abroad. Anighya was a Young Artist in le festival lyrique international de belle-ile en mer and the Interharmony Musical Festival in Italy. In his time, Anighya has been fortunate to work with many key musical figures such as John Rutter, Franco Pomponi, and Martin Katz
As a conductor, Anighya has had the pleasure to lead several unique and versatile ensembles. Starting in 2014, Anighya began to work as the assistant director of the Willow Oak Center for Arts and Learning’s Adult Choir program. Also at Willow Oak, Anighya conducted the Willow Oak Children’s chorale and the Willow Oak chamber orchestra. Anighya continued his time at Willow Oak until 2017. In the realm of sacred music, Anighya is equally as active. In addition to conducting numerous cantatas and oratorios, he also regularly conducts local church mass choir events. In 2018, Anighya was hired as the Director of Music and Drama for the acclaimed Oak Hill Day Camp, hosted at First Presbyterian Church Oak Hill. Currently, Anighya serves as the Minister of Music at Ebenezer Baptist Church where he conducts the choir and orchestra. Anighya oversees all aspects of the Church’s musical and dramatic ministries.
Jeffery L. Ames serves as Director of Choral Activities, and is a Full Professor within the School of Music at Belmont University. His prior appointments include Assistant Director of Choral Activities at Baylor University and Choral Director at Edgewater High School and Lincoln High School in Florida.
As a choral clinician, Dr. Ames has conducted senior and junior high school mixed and male choirs at the state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educator’s National Conference, including the inaugural Florida Male All-State Chorus, and annually at Carnegie Hall with the National Youth Choir. He has performed and guest conducted internationally in the countries of Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, South Korea, and the Republic of Ghana.
An accomplished accompanist, he has performed and collaborated with well-known conductors such as André Thomas, Jo-Michael Scheibe, Lynne Gackle, and Anton Armstrong. Additionally he has collaborated with well-known celebrities such as Trisha Yearwood, Laura Bell Bundy, CeCe Winans, Connie Smith, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites, internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, Michael W. Smith, Kathy Mattea, Sheryl Crow, and legendary rock band the Rolling Stones.
With a reputation as a distinguished and well-respected composer and arranger, Dr. Ames’ music has been premiered by the Florida Music Educators Association, the Florida American Choral Directors Association, the Southern Division of ACDA, at National ACDA Conferences, and on the 2017, 2015, 2013, and 2011 telecasts of Christmas at Belmont. His compositions and arrangements are published with Colla Voce Music, Earthsongs, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Walton Music Corporation.
Professor Ames holds the Ph.D. in Choral Conducting/Choral Music Education and a Master of Choral Music Education degree from The Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Music degree, with a double major in Vocal Performance and Piano Accompanying, from James Madison University. He holds the honor of being the first recipient of the National ACDA James Mulholland Choral Music Fellowship, as well as being the first African American to represent the United States in the ACDA International Conductor Exchange Program. He lives in Nashville with his lovely wife and three children.
Bethany DiSantis is a lifelong choral singer and native Tennessean, hailing from Johnson City. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2021, where she received a B.M. in Vocal Music Education. She studied performance under Dr. Tyler Nelson and received the Magda & Julius Lachs Award in 2020 for excellence in opera performance for her portrayal of Zelda Fitzgerald in Mack & McGuire’s “The Ghosts of Gatsby". She was the alto section leader of the Vanderbilt Chorale under Dr. Tucker Biddlecombe, where she was also a featured soloist in the Mozart Requiem. She was the teaching assistant for the Vanderbilt University Singers, Vanderbilt Glee Club, and IRIS, where she prepared and conducted pieces in performance. Bethany is the current alto section leader of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, as well as the Music Intern at West End United Methodist Church where she sings alto in both the Chancel and Sanctuary Choirs and assistant-directs the Chancel Choir. She is currently pursuing her M.Ed at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and is expected to graduate in May of 2022. When she’s not singing, she enjoys playing Stardew Valley and hanging out with her cat, Buttercup.
Ryan is a Nashville-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who has called Nashville home since 2012. Originally from Wooster, Ohio, he found a love of music through singing three-part harmonies along to 50’s-60’s music with his family, who will always remain his biggest influence. He is a graduate of Ohio University where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication with a focus on Music Production.
His love of choral music was fostered at OU under the direction of Dr. Peter Jarjisian, where he was a member of the Singing Men of Ohio (SMO) and the Ohio University Singers for three years. While in SMO, he also arranged and performed music for the a cappella group Section 8, serving as producer/engineer for their 2012 release entitled “That’s Okay Here.”
Throughout his time in Music City, Ryan has been blessed to continue his love of singing in many different settings. He is currently in his eighth year as a member of the Nashville Symphony Chorus which has provided many once-in-a-lifetime moments, not the least of which was an opportunity to sing Orff’s Carmina Burana at Smetana Hall in Prague, the Czech Republic. He has had the pleasure of spending an equal amount of time singing and playing bass for the JC Andersen Band with regular stops in Ohio, Florida, South Carolina, Delaware, Las Vegas, and when time allows, Nashville. He currently serves as a cantor for the Downtown Presbyterian Church, is a part of Beer and Hymns Nashville, and is excited to be singing in his first season with Vocal Arts Nashville.
In his somewhat scarce free time, he enjoys baking, gardening, home improvement projects, and listening to way too many podcasts.
Christopher Mitchell, lyric bass, is a professor of music at Murray State University in Kentucky where he teaches voice lessons and directs the Una Voce Tenor Bass Chorus and EQ Blu, a contemporary a cappella ensemble.
As a professional chorister, he performs frequently with the Taylor Festival Choir in Charleston, South Carolina. Past honors as a soloist include selection as a national semi-finalist in the NATS Artist Awards and Midwest Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
As a conductor, Dr. Mitchell was recently honored to receive the 2021 Robert K. Baar Award for Choral Excellence from the Kentucky Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.
Dr. Craig Zamer is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Tennessee Tech University where he directs a non-auditioned Concert Choir and the Tennessee Tech University Chorale, Tennessee Tech’s top auditioned choir. Dr. Zamer also teaches undergraduate courses in choral conducting, choral literature, and secondary choral methods.
Dr. Zamer received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Virginia Tech University. He also holds the M.M.E. and Ph. D. degrees in Music Education and Choral Conducting from The Florida State University. Before his graduate work he taught high school choral music at Stone Bridge High School in Loudoun County, Virginia.
In 2018 Dr. Zamer debuted in Carnegie Hall conducting choirs from Tennessee and Mississippi in a performance of Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo with full orchestra. Dr. Zamer has been an invited clinician, conductor, and adjudicator in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Christopher Elliott is a master's student in Vanderbilt University's Blair to Peabody music education program. This is his first concert with Vocal Arts Nashville. He currently student teaches at Nashville School of the Arts and sings with the Nashville Symphony Chorus. He has previously sung and served as student conductor with the Vanderbilt Chorale and Vanderbilt Opera Theatre.
JP Paul, tenor, is the Director of Development for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the Honors
College at Murray State University in Murray, KY Kentucky. He raises major gifts in support of scholarships
and program support for each of the 6 departments within CHFA and for the 36-year-old Honors College.
He also leads fundraising efforts across these two units and drives strategies related to alumni and donor
As a professional chorister, he performed with newly formed groups like Appalachian Voices in Roanoke,
VA and The Paducah Singers in Paducah, KY. Past honors include selection being selected as a Young Artist with Opera Roanoke and a national finalist in the CS Music 2021 Fall Competition in November 2021. JP received a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music Performance from Murray State University in December 2014
and a Master of Music from the University in May 2017.