Chorus Spotlight

Get to know members of the MasterVoices chorus

Spanning from enthusiastic high school students to seasoned singers with over 30 years of participation, our chorus is a testament to a collective dedication to the sheer joy of musical expression. As part of our commitment to sharing the stories behind the voices, we have undertaken an ongoing project to present spotlight interviews with our talented members. Every quarter, we take pride in featuring four spotlight interviews, offering an intimate glimpse into the lives and passions of these remarkable chorus members.

Deb Poppel

Member since 2016

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Deb’s passion for musical theater and her special niche as a lyricist may seem like an unlikely path for a Tufts math major with a thirty-year career as an actuary with John Hancock Life Insurance Company. But even while Deb was working in Boston she started Overture Productions, a not-for-profit theater group that mounted three musical theater productions with top Broadway talent.

After retirement, with her son and two grandchildren settled in Tennessee, Deb relocated to New York City and has continued to develop her craft as a lyricist, studying at Juilliard and with BMI Musical Theater Workshop. “Back in 2016 when I discovered there was a chorus in New York City that performed a mix of theater, opera, and classical repertoire, led by the legendary Ted Sperling, I thought I must have dreamt it up myself. What could be better? –Being invited to join! Singing with MasterVoices is one of the biggest joys of my musical life.”

From her first season, which included Babes in Toyland, Deb has been fully engaged in a great many MasterVoices activities involving musical theater – so much so that if you look thru this MasterVoices website, you will find David Garrison performing a unique and very clever patter song video, as part of MasterVoices’ 2023 fundraising efforts, with the notation, “Lyrics by Deb Poppel.”

Joan Reisman-Brill

Member since 1988

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Joan was looking for something to “feed her soul” and found it with The Collegiate Chorale. She will always remember her first concert – the Richard Tucker Awards at Lincoln Center, with Luciano Pavarotti and the young award winner, Renée Fleming.

While she moved from public relations to marketing, a condition of employment was always the ability to make rehearsals, daytime sitzprobes, and dress rehearsals. She did miss a few concerts when she got married, and then handling two children and running a household forced her to take a break from the chorus. Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” brought her back.

Joan loves the variety MasterVoices offers: opera, Broadway, and the best of classical music. She is convinced that the quality of the group has been improving as new singers with incredible musical talent and experience join the chorus. She also affirms that she has improved as a result.

When she’s not singing, you can find Joan gardening in Central Park and spotting fellow choristers Adèle Talty and Ellen Resnick as they jog by.


Member Since 2023

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When Maria , a native New Yorker, saw MasterVoices’ production of Dido and Aeneas in 2016, she didn’t realize we were a volunteer chorus she could join. But by 2023, she was in the chorus of O How Good as a first soprano.

Music is an important part of Maria’s life and work. With a degree in Music (Fairfield University) and an MFA in Creative Writing (NYU), she is a freelance arts journalist who worked for Opera News for ten years and now works in global communications for Estee Lauder. She’s kept her voice in tune over the years by taking private voice lessons and evening courses at Juilliard. She also performs professionally as a liturgical musician serving as cantor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Since joining MasterVoices, a cherished experience so far has been performing in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe. The show marked her Carnegie Hall debut; not only was setting foot on that stage “the most amazing thing ever,” she found her classical lyric soprano voice was very well-suited to the repertoire. Overall, her experience singing with MasterVoices has been “ challenging and rewarding, allowing me to sing works that are different from what I usually sing.”

In addition to her musical pursuits, Maria is a volunteer tutor for Minds Matter, helping high school students improve their writing skills and assisting them as they prepare for college.


member since 1988

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Marcy came to serious music in her twenties when love of Pavarotti drew her to opera; and then while attending The Collegiate Chorale concerts when a friend sang, longed to be a part of making great choral music. Since joining The Collegiate Chorale in 1988, Marcy has found the experience to be a “thrilling, meaningful gift in my life.” A highlight was traveling with the chorus to the Verbier Festival, and singing American spirituals at a church in the Czech countryside. Marcy has mentored three Side-by-Side students.

After completing her Master’s In Public Administration degree at SUNY Albany, Marcy began her professional career in state and local government, and in the 1980’s was Director of Real Estate for the MTA. She also served for over 25  years on her Brooklyn Community Board. She then moved into the private real estate sector as a senior executive with LeFrak, playing a key role in the development of the company’s Newport project in Jersey City, New Jersey. Recently retired, Marcy serves on the Boards of New York City Audubon and Audubon New York,  working to protect birds and the places they need to thrive.

Interested in joining the chorus?

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