The Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus Team
John Fleischman, Jr. — Founder & Director: Mr. Fleischman holds Bachelor and Master of Music Education degrees from the State University College at Fredonia, and has done graduate work in voice performance at SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Potsdam, and the Eastman School of Music. He is presently on the music faculty at SUNY Buffalo State, teaching Class Voice and conducting the Buffalo State Chorale. He is past president of the Erie County Music Educator’s Association and previously served as NY ACDA Repertoire and Standards Chair for Children’s Choirs. Mr. Fleischman is also a member of the New York State School Music Association and the National Association for Music Education. In 1995, he was awarded the Artist-Teacher diploma after completing Level III of the Choral Music Experience Institute for Choral Music Education under the leadership of Dr. Doreen Rao. In 1997, he was the recipient of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Erie County Council of Music Coordinators Award for Excellence in Choral Music Education.
Mr. Fleischman founded the Western New York Children’s Chorus, now the Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus. The Youth Chorus includes three ensembles, the Concert Choir, the Chamber Choir, and the Pop, Broadway, and Jazz Choir. The Youth Chorus has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, and has twice performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Four years ago, the Buffalo Niagara Choirs was formed with the addition of an adult choir, the Buffalo Master Chorale, for which John is the Associate Conductor. Mr. Fleischman also maintains a private voice studio in Orchard Park.
David G. Curtis — Concert Choir Accompanist: Mr. Curtis is currently the Director of Choral Activities at Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School, Organist at the Oakfield United Methodist Church, and is the former director of the Niagara County Community College Choir. Mr. Curtis is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo. He frequently conducts and accompanies All-County and Honors Choirs throughout New York State and has presented numerous workshops in Music Education and Choral Conducting to Music Educators. His choirs have earned numerous awards at festivals and competitions. The Niagara Wheatfield Choirs, under his direction, have performed for many conferences, workshops, and festivals, and has served as a model choir for students from the University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, and Houghton College. As a music educator, Mr. Curtis has received the Irving Cheyette Music Education Award from the University at Buffalo for excellence in Music Education.
James M. DesJardins — Concert Choir Director: Mr. DesJardins teaches in the Frontier CSD, where he instructs students in classroom music and chorus. He holds certifications in Orff-Schulwerk and Music Learning Theory. He is a board member of the Western New York Orff-Schulwerk Association and Classroom Music Festival Co-Chair for ECMEA. Mr. DesJardins has co-chaired honors choruses, adjudicated All-County auditions for Erie and Niagara counties, and has conducted honors choruses in New York and Pennsylvania. He has presented at the ECMEA Classroom Music Festival, ECMEA Professional Development Conference, and the NYSSMA Winter Conference.
James is a published composer with Carl Fischer Music, and he enjoys exploring his city with his wife, Julienne.
Heather Holden — Concert Choir Director: Mrs. Holden teaches elementary general music and chorus in the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District. Mrs. Holden holds music degrees from SUNY Fredonia and Temple University, as well as certifications in Music Learning Theory and Music Together. She mentors music education students from the University of Buffalo, Buffalo State College, and SUNY Fredonia, sits on the BPO’s Education Committee, and is a board member of NY-GIML. Mrs. Holden was the recipient of the 2014 Buffalo State College Classroom Music Educator Award and the 2012 BPO/ECMEA Award for Excellence in Music Education. She has presented music seminars for ECMEA, NYSSMA, NYGIML, and PMEA, District 9. She continues to perform locally and is the featured singer for the jazz big band, Buffalo Brass. Mrs. Holden resides in Tonawanda, NY with her husband, Jamie, and their much beloved son, Elias.
Cindy Ripley — Concert Choir Accompanist: Ms. Ripley is currently an educational consultant for iTheatrics and Music Theatre International and leads workshops with kids and teachers across the country. Cindy piloted the first Broadway Jr. production of “Annie Jr.” in 1995 and developed the first Director’s guide that same year. She presently is the “go to guru” for MTI’s online show support for the Broadway Jr. series.
Ms. Ripley was very proud to be selected for USA Today’s All Star Teacher team for 2005, and finds that a recipe comprised of young people, teachers, parents, music and enthusiasm is priceless!
Emma Steever — Concert Choir Accompanist: Ms. Steever received her Bachelor of Music Education from the State University of New York at Fredonia and her Master of Music with a teaching concentration at the University of Delaware in Newark, DE. While completing her graduate degree, Miss Steever taught K-8 general music at Newark Center for Creative Learning School and class piano at the University of Delaware. She also coordinated the University of Delaware Community Music School’s early childhood music program, Music for Young Minds. Back home in WNY, Miss Steever currently teaches K-5 vocal music at South Davis Elementary School in Orchard Park and is thrilled to be a part of the BNYC family!