Get to know some of our Outstanding chorus members.
These remarkable choristers have seen the chorus change and adapt through the years and we celebrate their commitment to musical excellence!
member since 1985
Dedicate a gift in honor of Susan
Susan has been key to the development and success of The Collegiate Chorale/MasterVoices for over three decades, in her roles as singer, Singers Council President, and officer on the Board of Directors. Although the trajectory came as a surprise to Susan, it has proven to be fulfilling to both the organization and herself.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Susan learned piano and sang in her high school chorus. In her early career Susan held various positions with New Jersey state agencies and Rutgers University and sang in a community choir. But when she joined The Collegiate Chorale in 1985, Music Director Robert Bass saw something special in Susan, and thus began a close partnership that enabled Mr. Bass’s vision to grow the organization from a financially pressed member-run chorus trying to mount performances of choral classics to the robust, multifaceted organization that is MasterVoices today. Susan recalls that “Bob was a brilliant, creative, and visionary talent.”
Professionally, Susan has had a successful career as a fundraiser for not-for-profit arts organizations including Carnegie Hall and Caramoor, and she has applied those skills and experience on behalf of MasterVoices as both a member of the Board of Directors and as President of the singing membership.
Susan has participated in all but one of MasterVoices’ travel programs. She especially remembers the thrill of performing numerous times in Verbier, Switzerland with conductor James Levine. Her vision for the future of MasterVoices is “to continue its creativity in programming that distinguishes it from other choral organizations in the City.” Susan says that her time with MasterVoices has been “the most meaningful thing in my life.”
Member since 1999
Dedicate a gift in honor of Jonathan
Jonathan joined the chorus after attending The Collegiate Chorale’s 1999 performance of Verdi’s Nabucco and thinking “I want to join this group!” With a lifelong passion for opera inspired by his elementary school music teacher and cultivated by his uncle, Jonathan was thrilled to be part of a group that sings great choral masterpieces.
As a member of the Bass 2 section, Jonathan is well aware that the lowest voices don’t often get the melody, but he loves being part of the foundation of the whole harmonic structure. His favorite performance with MasterVoices was singing Mefistofele at Carnegie Hall, with Placido Domingo in the audience!
Jonathan grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee and attended high school in New York City, studying classical piano and flute. With the goal of following his father into optometry, Jonathan studied science at NYU but also took music electives every semester and played flute with the university orchestra. When it came time for graduate school, Jonathan knew that music was his true calling. He attained a Masters in Musicology at Queens College and a doctorate in Music Education from NYU.
For 26 years Jonathan was a music teacher at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx and became skilled in making opera accessible to high school students. He created over 100 study guides for the Metropolitan Opera where, now in his retirement, he serves as a tour guide. Jonathan also teaches opera classes to other retired teachers with the United Federation of Teachers. Along with Susan, his wife of 51 years, Jonathan is the proud parent of 3 children and 12 grandchildren.
Member since 1993
Dedicate a gift in honor of Shelly
Shelly started as a voice major and graduated from the drama department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She also studied with several voice teachers, especially crediting the coach from the Mannes School of Music. She moved to New York to become an actor and performed on the regional theatre circuit, traveling all over the United States for twenty years and appearing in many stage plays and shows such as Man of La Mancha and Sweeney Todd.
Shelly has had a number of opportunities for solo singing and acting with MasterVoices, notably the role of Grandma Joad in the 2010 production of The Grapes of Wrath at Carnegie Hall, one of the first featured roles given to a chorus member. “I was on stage with Nathan Gunn, Jane Fonda and other cast members, a truly magical experience”. She has also been in many of the small semi choruses in performances: The White House Cantata, The Firebrand of Florence, Knickerbocker Holiday, and Orfeo ed Euridice. Participating at the Verbier Festival four times has also been a highlight, personally as well as musically.
Shelly and her husband Paul, who recently retired as Senior Vice President for finance at Memorial Sloan Kettering, moved to Florida in 2020 where they spend part of the year (as well as in Ohio to see their grandchildren). But Shelly has kept active musically and recently was accepted by the Naples Philharmonic Chorus. MasterVoices is still dear to her, and she arranges to come to New York to participate with MasterVoices whenever possible. That includes singing in The Lord of the Rings and the Hisaishi films.
Her solo work continues, singing at weddings and funerals, in churches and synagogues. “I love singing and want to do it as much as possible before I have an ‘old lady voice’. I stumbled upon MasterVoices all those years ago and have been a member for much of my adult life. It’s given me so many opportunities, memories and friendships.”
Member since 2005
Dedicate a gift in honor of Mimi
Mimi is enjoying her recent professional retirement from her home overlooking the Hudson River near Kingston N.Y, after a trailblazing career in medicine. In 1989, Mimi founded Medical Imaging of Manhattan with a focus on Women’s Imaging, in a practice that went beyond the traditional role of the radiologist, with a person-to-person holistic approach to her patients, and she also introduced double reading of images by a second physician. “These practices saved many lives”, Mimi reflects – and it also earned her the 2020 Albert Einstein College of Medicine award for Distinguished Alumna in Clinical Practice.
Mimi raised three wonderful children and has five fabulous grandchildren. Never one to sit idle, she also sings with the Bard College Symphonic Chorus, studies at Bard, and enjoys salsa dancing and hiking.
Mimi recalls singing the Verdi Requiem in Israel under Ricardo Muti as one of the transformative experiences of her two decades with MasterVoices. She states: “Singing with MasterVoices feeds my soul”.