VINCE PETERSON – ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Vince Peterson is a respected choral conductor, composer/arranger, and teacher of music in the United States. His 20-year hybrid career spans the worlds of choral music, theater, sacred music, and music education. He has, however, established himself most prominently in the world of choral music, notably having founded the “shape-shifting” vocal ensemble Choral Chameleon in 2008. Under his leadership, Choral Chameleon has premiered more than 150 works since its nascence and has won critical acclaim in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The New York Concert Review, I Care If You Listen, The Examiner, and other publications. In 2015, the ensemble was awarded the prestigious ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming. In 2017, the group was named the first vocal ensemble artists-in-residence at NYC's undisputed new music hub, National Sawdust.
A native of San Francisco, Peterson's professional work in music began at the unusually early age of sixteen when he became the organist and music director of his home parish. He studied piano from age six, and organ from age eleven. In high school, he toured internationally as a choral accompanist, appearing in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Philippines, and throughout Italy, where he also appeared before Pope John Paul II and played for mass inside of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. During his college years, he apprenticed under the inimitable Joseph Jennings. A colleague he met through Joe would eventually write of him:
"Already, his brilliance as an arranger, accompanist and conductor were evident. He studied seriously, argued brilliantly, and soaked up all the knowledge and experience imparted by his Bay Area mentors. He also gained an appreciation and understanding of the rare (at that time) “professional choral musician.” It is little wonder that he would relocate to a place as musically rich, and yet dynamically challenging as New York City (Brooklyn, to be precise) to begin his own musical enterprise: one that focused on the well-being of the choral singer as a professional, the creation of new choral music, and the development of a multi-generational audience ready, willing and able to accept whatever new concoction Vince would throw at them."
In 2003, Peterson earned the BM in Composition from San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of celebrated vocal music composer, Conrad Susa. He has also studied composition with David Conte, Elinor Armer, and Philip Lasser. In 2007, he earned a Double MM in Composition and Choral Conducting from Mannes College of Music where he studied under pioneer conductor, Mark Shapiro as well as the composer, David Loeb. Upon receipt of his Master's Degree, he was also awarded the singular Music Teacher's League Award for 2007.
As a prolific arranger, Peterson has received seven commissions to date from the multi-Grammy:registered: Award-winning ensemble, Chanticleer, whose YouTube videos of his work have garnered over half a million views. Several of his choral arrangements and original compositions have become staples for choirs across the United States. Distinguished performance venues include Chicago Symphony Hall, San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, Bartok National Concert Hall in Budapest, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Hall, among others.
A recognized thought-leader in the music world, The New York Times called Peterson "authoritative beyond his… years," and The Brooklyn Eagle praised his work as "a stunning symphony of the spiritual and secular," while hailing him as a solo performer "with depth and vigor" who "provided a universal context which resonated with his audience.”
In 2018, Vince Peterson was awarded the Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal by Chorus America, a lifetime distinction he shares with only fourteen of the most influential choral musicians in the United States. When endorsing his candidacy for this award, another cherished colleague wrote:
"Vince Peterson’s record speaks more eloquently for him than I can ever do. I will conclude by saying that after my many years now as a choral conductor, singer, and teacher of some accomplishment, I have been running low on sources of inspiration and hope; but when I look to Vince Peterson, I am always refreshed again. That is the impact of his work on me. He is clearly the artist this award is meant to recognize and support. It has been my privilege to nominate him today."
In addition to his work with Choral Chameleon, Peterson is overjoyed to serve as Artistic Director of Empire City Men’s Chorus whom he has ushered through its 25th Anniversary Season; and Music Director of Regis High School - the only tuition-free Jesuit high school in the United States and consistently ranked #1 among Catholic secondary schools.
For more information, please visit vincepeterson.com
SEAN FORTE – Principal pianist
Sean has been a pianist since he started taking lessons at 10 years old. He then continued at the University of the Pacific's Conservatory of Music where he studied with Frank Wiens, Dr. Rex Cooper, and Dr. Sonia Leung. He also extensively studied conducting, voice, diction, and acting through song while at college. He graduated in 2010 with his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance magna cum laude. After living in San Francisco for 3 years teaching, musical directing shows, and performing, he packed up his life and moved across the country to New York City to pursue a career in musical direction for musical theater. He's been in the city for two years and is thankful for the opportunities that New York has offered him, including working with the Empire City Men's Chorus. Credits include: Broadway: A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder (Rehearsal pianist). Royal Caribbean Productions (Pianist/Conductor for Cats). Regional: La Cage aux Folles, Seussical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cinderella, Sweeney Todd, Rent, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Nine.
Board of Directors
WESTLEY TODD HOLIDAY – Board PRESIDENT
Westley was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida. He fell in love with music the day his parents played him his very first Michael Jackson song at 3-months old and he attempted to sing along. Westley's earliest training in vocal music came from attending Dreyfoos School of the Arts high school and he holds a BFA in Music Theatre from the University of Central Florida. Westley has worked professionally on Broadway (ROCKTOPIA, Original Cast) and in various regional theaters, theme parks, and cruise ships. Currently, Westley works as a Project Coordinator at Columbia University and part-time as a vocal/audition coach. He is also a Founding Member, Music Director and Vocal Arranger for the vocal quartet, Bending Threads. Westley joined ECMC in 2014 and he is proud to perform such exciting music repertoire with his ECMC brothers. And he is even more proud to serve as President of the Board of Directors!
RODRIGO ERNESTO BOLAÑOS - board vice president
A resident of NYC since 2006, Rodrigo is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor in Architecture and a minor in Theatre Studies. He started his choral performance career in the children's church choir in his native El Salvador. After moving to Southern California at the age of 10, he continued performing in school musicals well into high school. There he joined the Madrigal Choir, performing as a bass, then moving up to Tenor when joining the PolyPhonics in college. He and his husband Mark-Eugene Garcia have continued the love for the performing arts by collaborating in the production of several plays and musicals, since moving to NYC. This is Rodrigo's sixth year with ECMC and fifth as a member of the board.
craig goodwin-ortiz de leon - board treasurer
Music has always been a part of Craig’s life. He started singing in choir in fifth grade and won many awards in high school for outstanding choral singing, including the NJ Governor’s Award in Vocal Music and the National School Choral Award. He studied voice with the late Lindsey Christiansen and choral conducting with Dr. James Jordan at Westminster Choir College. Craig holds a BA in Liberal Studies from Thomas Edison State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree in Nonprofit Management at the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration. He met his husband, Arturo, in 2007 and they have been married since 2013. Craig is proud to serve as a leader for ECMC as the organization continues to grow and thrive, bringing outstanding men’s choral music to the community.
Scott michael Brown - board secretary
A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Scott couldn't have guessed how profound an influence ECMC would have on him when he joined in 2009. He is especially passionate about performing chamber ensemble music after more than 15 years of choral singing. His primary role on the Board is to support ECMC external relationships and internal management and policies. Scott holds degrees in Music and Physics from Centenary College of Louisiana and in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University in New York, where he now works as a research assistant in the Ocean-Climate Physics division. In his spare time he enjoys tennis, science and cosmology documentaries, and live performance.
Ben Donahoo, board director, Analytics & finances
Benjamin hails from the sheltered frozen north of Pocatello, Idaho, where he obtained his B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Theatre at Idaho State University. A passionate singer, Benjamin performed all thru high school and college, before convincing himself to embrace the draw of the Big Apple and move to the city back in 2013. After a less than stellar first year in the city (rite of passage), he took a friend's suggestion to join ECMC and has never looked back. Now in his 3rd season with the group, he is so happy to be stepping into the role of Treasurer and joining the Board of Directors. When he isn't singing his ta-tas off, he can be found at the Gap, leading and inspiring others to fashion excellence.
Edward angelo Enrique – board director, marketing strategy
Edward first sang with the Empire City Men’s Chorus in 2002 for several years then returned in 2012. He joined the board of directors in July 2013 and serves as the Chair of Digital Media and Marketing. Edward is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and has been living in New York since 1994. He has a B.A. from Vassar College. In 2001, Edward founded TAF Buying Service, a fashion consulting company assisting international department stores with their buying activities in the U.S.
Eric PulSIPHER – board director, Government relations & grants
Eric first joined and sang with ECMC in 2008-2011 and returned in 2015, joining the board in July 2016. He enjoys music and grew up in Utah playing clarinet and tenor saxophone as well as singing in church and school choirs along the way. Eric moved to New York in 2002 and has called it home since then. He has a B.A. in Criminology, an MBA focused in Technology Management and works in IT Management at a law firm. Eric is enjoying his return to ECMC with an appreciation of the chorus’ musicality, diversity, fraternity and vision; and he looks forward to ECMC’s future efforts to contribute art through music to the community.
CHRISTOHER JAMES – board director, CONCERTS AND EVENTS
CLAY MORRIS – board director, library & music
Clay began piano studies at the age of five. He completed a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance at Willamette University in 1968. He continued with a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees in Theology at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and the Graduate Theological Union in 1971 and a PhD in Theology in 1986. He was ordained priest in the Episcopal Church in 1972 and spent 23 years serving churches in the Diocese of California, variously as priest and organist/choirmaster. In 1991, he accepted a position at the Episcopal Church Center in New York where he staffed the Office for Liturgy and Music. Recently retired, he writes and consults in the fields of worship and church music. He is pleased to serve as chair of the Membership Committee on the Board of the ECMC.