A native of Frederick, South Dakota, Chris Maunu is a conductor and music educator based in the Denver-Metro area. He is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Anima Chamber Ensemble and Director of Choral Activities at Arvada West High School. A GRAMMY® nominated music teacher, Maunu was twice named a top-10 Finalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award. He was also winner of the prestigious CMA® National Music Teacher of Excellence Award in 2019. Since taking over the Arvada West choral program in 2006, the department has grown from 120 to 340 students and has received international acclaim. Arvada West choirs have performed at 12 National, Regional, and State conferences of ACDA and NAfME since 2009. Arvada West’s Vocal Showcase performed at the 2017 National ACDA Conference in Minneapolis, won the 2017-2018 American Prize® in Choral Performance, and is the 9th American high school choir in history to be invited to the Champions Competition of the World Choir Games in 2020. His treble choir, Company West, will be performing at the Southwest ACDA Conference in Little Rock, AK this coming season as well.
Chris was voted “Best of the Best” teacher by Colorado Community Media in 2019. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Northern State University where he delivered the 2018 Commencement Address. Maunu was also a recipient of a Commendation from the House of Representatives for his work as a choral educator. Chris has enjoyed serving as a clinician for state and regional honor choirs in numerous states, including a recent appointment to the faculty of guest artists at Manhattan Concert Productions/Carnegie Hall in New York. An active member of NAfME, CMEA, and ACDA, Chris currently serves as the High School Chair for Colorado ACDA and is a past member of the CMEA Vocal Music Council. In addition to working with Anima Chamber Ensemble and teaching, Mr. Maunu sings professionally with various Denver-based ensembles. Such groups include St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, Evans Choir, and Colorado Bach Ensemble. He has also performed with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Central City Opera, and Opera Omaha. Chris holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelor of Music Education from Northern State University in South Dakota. When not on the podium or singing in an ensemble, Chris enjoys sharing his life with his beautiful wife Aleisha, awesome son Bodhi, and their pets, Paavo and Ligeti. Visit http://www.chrismaunu.com for more.
Nathan Payant is a devoted conductor, educator, and professional singer who strives to cultivate long-lasting connections with others through the choral arts. He is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Anima and has experience working with choral ensembles at the middle school, high school, college, and professional levels. Currently, Nathan is an Instructor of Music at Colorado State University, where he directs the Concert Choir, is the Director of the Summer Master of Music Education–Conducting Specialization degree program for working music educators, mentors student teaching candidates, and teaches Voice Skills for Music Therapists. He is also on the choral faculty at the University of Denver and conducts the Lamont Women’s Chorus and works with graduate conducting students.
A dedicated advocate for choral music education, Nathan is fervently involved in NAfME, CMEA, ACDA, and CoACDA, placing special emphasis on encouraging lifelong singing. He is frequently invited to present lectures and reading sessions at state conferences, as well as visit and clinic at local high schools throughout the Front Range in Colorado. He has served on the Colorado All-State Choir Board, the Vocal Music Council of CMEA, and the Colorado ACDA Council as the Women’s Choir R&R Chair. He fully believes in promoting standards of the choral repertoire, as well as discovering and supporting newly composed works.
Nathan is a very active member of the professional choral community in Colorado. In addition to Anima, he is the Music Director of Laudamus Chamber Chorale, General Manager of Colorado Bach Ensemble, and sings professionally with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir and Colorado Bach Ensemble. Nathan also enjoys regular opportunities as an honor choir clinician and music festival adjudicator throughout Colorado and surrounding states. Most recently, he discovered a new passion for composing/arranging and was honored to have his first several arrangements published through Hal Leonard as part of the Andrea Ramsey & Henry Leck Choral Series.
A native of South Dakota, Nathan is a proud alumnus of Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree. He received his Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Colorado State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Literature from University of Colorado, Boulder. Outside of his professional responsibilities, Nathan enjoys traveling and spending time with his beautiful wife, Natalie, and three daughters, Faythe, Ava, and Lilian.
Elise Greenwood Bahr
Elise Greenwood Bahr has been active in the Denver choral music scene since moving to Colorado in 2011. She is thrilled to be singing with Anima Chamber Ensemble again this season. She also sings with the Colorado Bach Ensemble, Saint Martin’s Chamber Choir, and has performed with Singers Chamber Choir, Vittoria Ensemble, and with other local community and church choirs. Before moving to Denver, she appeared in various productions around the country, including serving as a Principal Singer with the Bach Society of St Louis, lead roles with Hartford Opera Theater, and a singer with the Alabama Symphony Chorus in Birmingham. She holds a Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Utah. Elise is also a fine violinist and has performed in professional, church, community, and university ensembles in 3 different states. When not involved in musical activities, she enjoys running marathons, and trying to keep up with her four wonderful children. Sometimes it feels like the same thing.
Praised for her sensitivity and style, mezzo-soprano Ingrid Johnson captivates from soaring high notes, to intimate, emotional portrayals that feel unapologetically authentic.
Born and raised in Colorado, Ingrid is a recent graduate of McGill University where she attained a Master’s degree in Music with a focus on Early Music Performance. She is an alumnus of Colorado State University where she graduated in 2017 Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Music and a minor in Fashion Merchandising. During her time at McGill, Ingrid portrayed Miss Todd in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief and Rosmira in Handel’s Partenope. In 2020, Ingrid won 1st prize in the University: Voice category in the Boulder Bach Festival’s “World Bach Competition”, and would have covered the role of Damon in Opera McGill’s 2020 production of Acis and Galatea. Ingrid currently sings with the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul and has performed with McGill’s Cappella Antica, the Orchestre Philharmonique et Choer des Mélomanes for their performance of Handel’s Messiah, sang as the mezzo soloist in Dvořak’s Mass in D with McGill University and Vanier College choirs, and joined the Colorado Music Festival chorus for Mahler’s Symphony no. 3.
Ingrid’s experience and skill singing in concert settings has landed her in many groups as both a soloist and ensemble member. She has joined the Colorado Bach Ensemble for three seasons, sung with the Denver based Anima Chamber Ensemble, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, was a professional chorister at St. John XIII in Fort Collins until the summer of 2019, and in December 2018, Ingrid was the mezzo soloist for the Plymouth United Church of Christ’s concert of SaintSaëns Oratorie de Noël.
While her roots are in choral singing, Ingrid is no stranger to opera. Her commitment to character, informed acting choices, and propensity to think outside the box, makes her a soughtafter performer. In 2018, Ingrid performed the role of Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and in 2017 she portrayed Arsamene in Handel’s Serse as a guest alumnus performer at CSU while preparing to cover Jo in Mark Adamo’s Little Women at the University of Northern Colorado. Previous operatic roles include Cherubino in Boulder Symphony’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro, Desiree in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Mrs. Page’s cover in Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Prince Orlovsky in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Cherubino in CSU’s production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Hänsel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, La Primera Cercatrice in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, and the Sixth Spirit in Massenet’s Cendrillon. In addition in 2016, Ingrid won 1st place in CSU’s Singer of the Year competition and joined Steamboat Opera’s Young Artist Program as the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, cover of Agnes the Digger in Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and chorus in Daniel Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas.
Emily Keelan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She has 13 years teaching experience and loves helping people of all ages find their musical passion and potential.
In addition to teaching, Emily has been the head accompanist for the choirs at Arvada West High School for 9 years. In 2018, she performed with Arvada West “Varsity-West” Choir at Carnegie Hall. She has performed at National ACDA 2017 in Minneapolis, Southwest Regional ACDA in Little Rock in 2019, and numerous CMEA honor performances throughout the years. Emily also accompanies local professional choirs, and has performed with them at CMEA and regular season concerts. In between it all, Emily has co-authored two piano method books for young children, Maestro Music Methods, and plays music for High Tea at her local farmer’s market.
Emily enjoys baking bread, knitting, trying to garden, and of course playing piano. Her “desert island” music (provided there was a piano on the island) would be a book of Chopin Nocturnes, but she also enjoys playing Debussy, Bach, and for more recent music: she loves hits from the 40’s.
Emily’s husband Chris is a Theory Professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver where he has taught for 6 years. Together they enjoy camping, biking, chill-kayaking, eating pizza at Right Coast Pizza (the best), being music nerds, and watching Netflix together with their two cats Randy and Snape.
Chelsea Kendall is thrilled to be singing another season with Anima. Additionally, Chelsea is a staff singer at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral and a member of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir and Kantorei. Chelsea earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Anderson University in Indiana. She then taught secondary band and choir for three years before pursuing her Master of Music in Choral Conducting at Colorado State University. She now works as an Administrative Business Partner at Google in Boulder. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and snuggling with her dogs, Shortcake & Pippin.
Kate Klotz is almost a Colorado native, having lived here since the 2nd grade. Currently, she is the Director of Choirs at Monarch High School in Louisville, CO. Prior to teaching at Monarch, she taught elementary general music and served as the Artistic Director for the Boulder Children’s Chorale. Kate holds a Master’s of Music with Kodály specialization from Colorado State University and received her undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has been a guest instructor, clinician and choral adjudicator for the Boulder Valley, St. Vrain, Spokane and Omak School Districts, as well as the Aspen Music Festival and School. Kate has presented at numerous local and regional conferences and has performed with the Boulder-based Cantabile Singers, Colorado Conductor’s Chorale, and the Spokane Symphony Chorale. Kate is also the Treasurer and Secretary for the Colorado Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. She resides in Louisville with her husband and enjoys yoga, gardening and soaking up the Colorado sunshine.
Dr. Cody Laun is a native of the Denver-metro region, where he received his undergraduate training (Colorado State University — Fort Collins), and where he began his journey as a performer and music educator. He received his graduate training from the University of Florida and The University of Southern Mississippi, where he was awarded an MM and DMA, respectively. Since completing his graduate work, he has served on the faculty of several colleges and universities, including Colorado State University, Front Range Community College, and New Saint Andrews College, and has appeared as a guest lecturer and clinician across the US. He is in high demand along the Front Range, where he is frequently seen as a soloist with various opera companies and other organizations, and also participates in several chamber music ensembles throughout the area, including Colorado Bach Ensemble and Anima Chamber Ensemble. He enjoys collaborating on newly composed works, as well as performing operatic and choral standards. In addition to his work on the Front Range, he has been seen with a number of regional organizations, including Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Mississippi, and The Muses Creative Artistry Project, among others, and has a number of competition credits to his name, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (district winner/regional finalist), and NATSAA (national semi-finalist).
His students have appeared with a number of different companies and organizations across the country and in the Denver area, including Ohio Light Opera, Opera Kansas, Boulder Opera, Loveland Opera, KOR Productions, and Opera Fort Collins, among others, have won and placed in numerous competitions, including Inland Empire NATS, CO/WYO NATS, and the Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition.
He currently divides his time between Idaho, where he is on faculty at New Saint Andrews College, and Colorado, where he maintains a large private studio. His obsessions include his new wife, Mackenzie (who happens to be in the stellar soprano section), his beautiful daughter, hiking, gluten-free baking, and exploring both his Colorado and Idaho homes, with all the culture and scenery they have to offer.
Mackenzie Laun is thrilled to be joining Anima this season. She is currently the Choral Director at Ralston Valley High School, where she has taught for seven years and is a proud alumna. Her choirs have been recognized at the local and state level for excellence. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado and is currently pursuing her graduate studies in Music Education and Conducting at Colorado State University. While at UNC, Mackenzie sang with the Concert Choir and Chamber Choir, and was an active part of the UNC Opera Theater department for four years. She was the president of the student American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) chapter at UNC, and currently remains a member of ACDA and NAfME. In addition to Anima, Mackenzie performs with Elus Vocal Ensemble, St. Martin’s Chamber Chorale, and as a section leader for several other local groups. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys spending time with her husband Cody (a member of the fabulous Anima tenor section), leading worship at her church, and snuggling her pitbull, Pringles.
Lexie Orvin is a native of Colorado just now returning to her roots after six years living in Virginia with her husband and two kids. While in Virginia, she participated in several choirs, including the Master Singers of Virginia. No matter where she feels pulled to be, Lexie seeks out ways to participate in excellent music and share her love of that music with friends and family. This love began under the piano while listening to her older sister practice and continued through the years as she developed her own musical skills at the piano, on the flute, in ballet, and with singing. She considers it a great gift that she was able to keep pursuing her love for music in piano, flute, and dance but most especially in singing while attending Brigham Young University. There, she was able to associate with incredible directors and musicians in various audition choirs while pursuing her English degree. These past experiences have taught her important lessons for life and music that she now focuses most on sharing with her son and daughter…and anyone else who wants to listen. She is simply amazed that she can continue to associate with incredible musicians and directors such as those in this ensemble.
Dean Rieger is currently a second year Graduate Student in Choral Conducting at Colorado State University. Before pursuing his masters, Dean earned his Bachelors of Music degree from Colorado State University where he studied Voice and Music Education. After graduating, he taught high school and middle school choir for three years on the Western Slope of Colorado, and co-directed a yearly musical theatre production. Dean is an active member of the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and attends the Colorado Music Educators Association clinic and conference each year. He is very excited that he is joining Anima for his first season, and in addition to Anima, Dean sings with Colorado Bach Ensemble, St. Martins Chamber Choir, The FOCO Chorale, the NOCO Singers, CSU’s Chamber and Concert Choirs, First United Methodist Church Sanctuary Choir in Fort Collins, and St John XXIII Schola in Fort Collins. He also started his own small chamber ensemble at CSU and takes Pipe Organ lessons with Dr. Joel Bacon. Dean loves to sing and make music with friends and is thankful to have the opportunities in music that he has had so far. Dean spends his free time with his friends and family, his dog Milo, his girlfriend Blair, and eating as many Palisade peaches as humanly possible.
Westin Sorrel is currently the Director of Choral Music at Dakota Ridge High School. He earned his Bachelors of Music degree from the School of Music at Colorado State University where he studied Vocal Music Education following the Performance Enhancement Track. During h is time at CSU, Westin sang with the CSU Chamber Choir, University Chorus, Men’s Chorus, and the Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center with which he held several lead roles. He also spent 3 years singing with the Fort Collins community group Laudamus Chamber Chorale. While at CSU, Westin was involved with the Collegiate National Association for Music Educators (CNAfME), Students National Association for Teachers of Singing (SNATS), and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Westin currently remains an active member of both NAfME and ACDA. In the summer of 2015, Westin had the honor of spending two weeks in Italy at the Sarteano Chamber Choral Conducting Workshop where he got to work with world renowned conductor, Simon Carrington. In the past, Westin has worked with students at Fort Collins High School, Rock Canyon High School, and Bear Creek High School. In addition to singing with Anima, Westin currently sings with the Colorado Bach Ensemble, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, and Bethany Lutheran Chancel Choir.
Joshua South, bass, sang professionally in New York City for 15 years. Some career highlights include performances with 50 Cent, Paul McCartney, Kelli O’Hara, Kelsey Grammar, and Brian Dennehy at various venues like Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He has been a member of several world class vocal ensembles, including The Clarion Choir (2017 GRAMMY nomination for Best Choral Performance), St Thomas Men and Boys Choir, New York City Opera Chorus, New York Choral Artists, the Bard Opera Chorus, and has sung on numerous SAG/AFTRA major motion picture soundtracks.
Joshua’s Carnegie Hall debut was the role of Riff in the New York Philharmonic’s West Side Story Suites. He also appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the critically-acclaimed staging of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, directed by Sir Jonathan Miller.
He has performed in Brazil, Italy, Austria, and gave a 2-week recital and masterclass tour in China, with performances in Shanghai and Xiamen.
Joshua feels very fortunate to be a member of this amazing ensemble, Anima!
Laura Tribby hails from Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she earned degrees in both trumpet and voice performance at Western Michigan University and lived in her father’s violin shop. Called by the mountains and sunshine, Laura moved to Colorado in 2014 and has since then performed with the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, Colorado Bach Ensemble, Colorado Opera Chorus, Colorado Symphony Chorus, Denver Pro Chorale, Canto Deo, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Choir, Wellshire Presbyterian Sanctuary Choir and Celebration Singers, Denver Jingle Singers, Vittoria Ensemble, Opera On Tap, Colorado State University Conducting Seminar choir, Temple Emmanuel choir, Voices of Light Chamber Choir, CSU Summer Masters Lab Choir, St. John’s Cathedral Choir, Kantorei, and the Anima Chamber Ensemble. She directs a children’s choir and youth choir and sings in the Sanctuary Choir at Bethany Lutheran Church. Outside of her thrilling chorus life, she is an active freelance musician and teaches voice lessons. She is occasionally a Colorado Honor Band instructor, as well, and enjoys working with younger students. Laura is in her fourth year of teaching general music at Maple Grove Elementary in Golden. In her free time, she can be found riding a bike, reading a book, or watching the clouds.
Following in the steps of his twin sister, Andrew was fresh to the music scene as a 5th grade boy when he began singing in Centennial Children’s Choir, based in Fort Collins. From there, he found his passion, going on to sing in musicals and choir throughout junior high and high school. He then pursued a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Music from Colorado State University, where he continued his love for performing in the University’s opera performances, and by being a part of Chamber Choir, under the direction of Dr. James Kim. After graduating in May of 2018, Andrew found his next and current musical endeavor, a professional acapella group called Collide Vocals, where he sings bass. Andrew is currently living his life-long dream, serving as the upper school musical theatre and choir director at Liberty Common High School in Fort Collins. Andrew is excited to now be a part of Anima Chamber Ensemble, where he gets to exercise his passion for chamber music. Andrew is a fun-loving, downright silly guy. His favorite TV shows are The Office and Breaking Bad. In his free time, Andrew likes to run and spend as much time with his friends as possible. This is not surprising, considering he received ENFJ from the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test, and group 1 wing 2 from the Enneagram. He serves as the junior-high youth group leader at his church, and prefers Chick-fil-A sauce over Raising Canes sauce. He insists that this is a crucial and defining detail.
Matthew Weissenbuehler has been involved in Colorado music for many years. From his early days with the Colorado Children’s Chorale to the present he has performed often as soloist or part of a choral ensemble. He has appeared in roles with Opera Colorado and Colorado Opera Troupe. He has performed the roles of Horace Tabor (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Marcello (La Boheme) and Guglielmo (Cosi fan Tutte) at the Black Box Opera Workshop in Aurora. He studied music at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where he performed as a soloist with the Wartburg Choir and Chamber Orchestra of Iowa. Other solo opportunities have been varied, from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, to the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, to the national anthem at a Rockies baseball game. Mr. Weissenbuehler has performed in recital a number of times in Denver. Choral music remains his favorite performing opportunity, however. He has sung as a member of the Colorado Symphony Chorus, Opera Colorado Chorus, and in the chorus of the Colorado Bach Ensemble, where he serves on the Board of Directors. He also has been part of Kantorei since its first season, serving as bass section leader for 16 years. Singing with the level of musicians in Anima is a great honor for which he is grateful.
jane burgchardt wright
Jane Burgchardt Wright was born in Fort Collins, CO, where she discovered her passion for choral singing as a small child. She sang with many ensembles along the Front Range until relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010. There, she performed with Opera San Jose for three seasons, as well as participating in their school outreach program, and with several local choirs. Jane was also a performer with the Colorado Bach Ensemble. Since moving back to Colorado in 2017, she is able to perform more frequently with CBE, and is delighted to be joining Anima for the first time. In addition to singing, Jane loves to read, practice yoga, and spend time with her husband, John, and their dog, Rikki, at their home in Boulder.
John Wright, recently back in Colorado after seven years in the San Francisco Bay Area, has performed in several choirs along the Front Range, including the Colorado Bach Ensemble, Laudamus Chamber Chorale, and Abendmusik. John also enjoys singing tenor in barbershop quartets. Outside of music, John’s passions include software engineering, bicycling, and outdoor photography.