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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.