Joyce Keil, Artistic Director and Co-founder
Joyce Keil has served as panelist, adjudicator and guest conductor for music teachers and choirs throughout the Western United States. An experienced teacher, she has served on the faculties of the College of Holy Names, Notre Dame de Namur University, and Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. She holds a B.A. from Occidental College, where she studied with Howard Swan, known as the “Dean of Choral Music”. She holds M.A.s from the New School for Social Research and California State University Northridge, where she studied with John Alexander. Ms. Keil has prepared choirs for San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony, for conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Robertson, Donald Runnicles, Raymond Leppard and James Conlon. She is the founder of the choral program and Advanced Placement Music Theory curriculum at Crystal Springs Uplands School, where students received unanimous superior ratings for their ensemble and solo work. Ms. Keil has served as the Western Division and California State Chair of the Boychoir Committee for the American Choral Directors Association, and has sat on the College Board for Advanced Placement Music Exams. Ragazzi Boys Chorus, under Joyce Keil’s leadership, received a GRAMMY award in 1999 for participating in the San Francisco Symphony’s recording of Stravinsky’s Perséphone. Under her baton, Ragazzi was named a CBS Best Choir of the Peninsula in 2013, made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2014, and has been cited by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of four elite youth choruses in the Bay area. At the 2016 Western Regional Conference of American Choral Directors Association, Ragazzi was acclaimed for its innovative programming and moving performance. Recognized nationally and internationally, Ms. Keil’s leadership has built Ragazzi’s stellar reputation among American boys choruses.
Kent L. Jue, Associate Artistic Director and Avanti Chorus Director
Kent Jue is an experienced choral conductor, music educator, and facilitator for lifelong learning in music. An inspiring adjudicator, guest clinician, workshop presenter and mentor, Kent is known for building high-level musicianship skills through his engaging style and rapport with students. He has a passion for uncovering the full artistic and expressive potential for individual choristers in an ensemble setting. As the Associate Artistic Director, Kent conducts Avanti and oversees the program’s training department. He has toured extensively with the Ragazzi program and has led his choruses to numerous festivals. An avid collaborator, Kent has prepared his ensembles for performances with organizations including Symphony Silicon Valley, the Bay Choral Guild and the Redwood Symphony. Kent has also conducted youth choruses at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and performed and recorded with the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus and the Gay Men’s Choruses of San Francisco and Boston. Kent earned his Master of Music Education, Kodaly Emphasis degree from Holy Names University, Bachelor of Music, Music Education degree from University of the Pacific, and completed his Orff-Schulwerk certification. In addition to his Ragazzi responsibilities, Kent currently serves as the Director of Choral Programs at the San Francisco Friends School.
Jesse Buddington, Young Men’s Ensemble Director
Jesse Buddington began singing at the age of 6 with the Ragazzi Boys Chorus. He participated in several Ragazzi recordings as a soloist, first as a treble and later as a tenor. Through Ragazzi, Jesse helped co-found an acappella quartet, the Quartertones, which recorded two CDs and toured nationally. Jesse went on to pursue his degree in vocal music from UC Santa Cruz, with an emphasis on early music. A veteran of UCSC’s acclaimed opera program, Jesse regularly performs in operatic roles as both a tenor and countertenor. He currently sings with Ragazzi’s alumni ensemble, Continuo. Jesse maintains a private voice studio and has taught workshops in vocal sight-reading and early vocal techniques. When he isn’t singing or talking about singing, Jesse oversees the music licensing operations of Loudr.fm. Jesse is an avid Tuvan throat singer and vocal percussionist.
Nancy Whitecar, Assistant Director of Young Men’s Ensemble and Accompanist
Nancy Whitecar is a professional musician and music educator with over 25 years of experience. She teaches general music classes at The Music School at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian church, and accompanies for instrumentalists and choirs throughout the Bay Area. Nancy has directed children’s and youth choirs, and taught piano to students of all ages in her private piano studio. She served as accompanist and assistant director of the BeckRidge Chorale in Southeast Michigan for over 20 years, and as Associate Director of Music at the First United Methodist Church in Plymouth, Michigan. Nancy is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, and the California Association of Professional Music Teachers. She graduated from the University of Illinois, and holds a Piano Teacher Certificate from Schoolcraft College in Michigan.
Kaori Nakano DeNoia, Ragazzi Premiere & Assai Director
Kaori Nakano DeNoia graduated from Japan’s prestigious music school, Kyoto Horikawa Music High School, where she studied vocal performance. She earned her BA from Kobe College and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with an MA in vocal performance, having studied with Herman Leroux and received a first place prize in the American Art Song Competition. She received preschool and teaching credentials from San Francisco State University, studied pipe organ with Wyatt Insko, and has Kodály training from Holy Names University. Kaori is passionate about teaching and has served as a choir director, pianist and organist for many organizations. These include the San Francisco Girls Chorus (20 years), A.P. Giannini Middle School choir, Christ United Presbyterian Church, and her very own children’s choir Kirakiraboshi Children’s Choir in Japantown. She currently teaches over 1,000 K-5th grade students in the Millbrae School District. When she is not teaching, Kaori enjoys spending time with her family and practicing karate. She is very excited to be a part of the Ragazzi family and to continue sharing the love of teaching music to talented young musicians.
Peter Bassford, Assistant Premiere Director and Accompanist
Peter Bassford’s earliest memories include music and during his childhood was always singing. He began to study piano at age 8, but when he started learning clarinet through the public school music program, music became the primary focus of his life. At San Francisco State University, he focused his music study on piano and took degrees in Piano Performance and Music Education. Peter worked for Band of America while pursuing music through church work as an organist and choir director and through community theater both as an actor/singer and music director. Peter taught music in the Burlingame public schools for fifteen years. As well as his work with Ragazzi, he is organist at First Presbyterian Church of Burlingame.
John Collaros, PRIMARY GROUP DIRECTOR
John Collaros has had the pleasure of working with elementary and middle school choirs in Arizona, New Mexico, and the Bay Area for over a decade. He is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a Bachelors Degree in Choral Music Education and a Masters Degree in Education, Curriculum and Instruction. While at NMSU, John sang with the Dona Ana Lyric Opera, the University Singers, and was selected as the guest student conductor for the Jack Ward Choral Invitational Festival. John has taught middle school choirs in Tempe, AZ and Las Cruces, NM. His choirs have participated in competitions at Disney Magic Music Days and constantly received superior ratings at regional festivals and state competitions. He has also served as a state officer for the New Mexico National Choral Directors Association. He has adjudicated elementary and middle school choral festivals, and directed several musical theater productions and summer camp programs. John currently is a Music Specialist with the Burlingame School District, directing elementary and middle school choirs and teaching K-2 general music.
Mark Fish, PRIMARY GROUP DIRECTOR
Mark Fish teaches music at all elementary schools in the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District. He has also taught music at the San Francisco Conservatory (Preparatory Program), the Nueva School, the Palo Alto Unified School District, and at the Bayside STEM Academy. Mark conducted choir and orchestra at Hillsdale High School, where he was nominated for a GRAMMY Music Educator Award. He has also coached and conducted groups including Masterworks Chorale, Peninsula Girls Chorus, Viva la Musica, San Jose Youth Symphony, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, and the Peninsula Young Artists. His composition, Ferdinand the Bull, was recorded for an award-winning CD performed by the Minnesota Orchestra. teaches music at all elementary schools in the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District. He has also taught music at the San Francisco Conservatory (Preparatory Program), the Nueva School, the Palo Alto Unified School District, and at the Bayside STEM Academy. Mark conducted choir and orchestra at Hillsdale High School, where he was nominated for a GRAMMY Music Educator Award. He has also coached and conducted groups including Masterworks Chorale, Peninsula Girls Chorus, Viva la Musica, San Jose Youth Symphony, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, and the Peninsula Young Artists. His award-winning composition, Ferdinand the Bull, was performed by the Minnesota Orchestra. He also serves as composer-in-residence for the Peninsula Girls Chorus and Music at the Mission, and frequently performs as a professional violinist and violist around the Bay Area.
Nathan Wilen, Primary Group Director
Nathan is a music teacher in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, and Ragazzi’s former Chorus Operations Administrator. Nathan is a veteran of the Ragazzi program, himself, having been a chorister from age 8 to 18. He has enjoyed passing on Ragazzi traditions as a regular counselor at Ragazzi’s summer camp. He graduated from Chapman University with a B.M. in Music with a vocal emphasis. Nathan performed regularly in the Chapman Opera program and also performed and toured with Chapman’s University Choir and University Singers. Nathan worked as a Recital Manager and Office Assistant for Chapman’s Music Conservatory. He was tenor section leader for a local church during his Junior and Senior year. Nathan performs with Ragazzi Continuo and appears as a professional soloist and chorister around the Bay area. He is the tenor section leader of the Chancel Choir and the Oratorio Society at First Congregational Church, Palo Alto.
Carol Panofsky, Theory Director, accompanist and Oboeist
Directs Ragazzi Boys Chorus’ theory program, which serves to teach choristers to read music and to understand the theoretical foundation of the music they are singing. Carol can be heard in performances of the Albany Consort, the Santa Cruz Chamber Players, and, on occasion, with the Santa Cruz County Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, Magnificat, and Ragazzi. She is an active free-lance musician, which has provided her with opportunities to perform on both coasts as well as in Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, China, and Korea. She received a Master of Music in the Performance of Early Music from the New England Conservatory of Music. She performs and teaches early music, modern oboe, and piano, and has been on the faculties at the Music School of the University of Idaho and at U.C. Santa Cruz. She has many private music students, both children and adults. Carol serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony and is President of the Santa Cruz County Branch of Music Teachers’ Association of California.
Othello Jefferson, Accompanist
Othello Jefferson is a native of San Francisco. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree in Voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Single Subject Music Credential from San Francisco State University. As Choir Director at his alma mater, Lowell High School, he worked with Michael Morgan (Oakland East Bay Symphony), The King’s Singers, and Chanticleer and won performance awards in the International Children’s Culture and Art Festival in Shenzhen, China. Othello is the recipient of a Gospel Music Award from San Francisco’s Academy of Gospel and a Negro Spirituals Heritage Keepers Award from the Friends Of Negro Spirituals in Oakland. He is the Choir Director at Redwood City’s Sequoia High School, Minister Of Music at First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (San Francisco), and Minister Of Music for the Western Episcopal District, and San Francisco. Othello has completed the first level of the American Guild of Organist’s examinations for professional certification (Service Playing Certificate).
Ihang Lin, Accompanist
As a a winner of the American Protégé concerto competition, Ihang Lin was invited to make her Carnegie Hall debut in 2012, performing solo piano works by Maurice Ravel. Dr. Lin received a special recognition award in 2012 at the San Antonio Piano Competition and First Prize in the 2009 Aaron Richmond Piano Competition. She has been invited to international piano competitions, including the Virginia Waring, Cincinnati World, and Nena Wideman competitions. Dr. Lin taught at Boston University and was a piano faculty member and accompanist at South Shore Conservatory. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Taipei National University of the Arts, a Master of Music from New England Conservatory, and Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University. A Ragazzi Boys Chorus accompanist since 2014, Ms. Lin is also the rehearsal pianist at Opera San Jose, where she has participated in numerous productions.
Marilyn Wells, Accompanist
After graduating from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in choral education, Marilyn taught high school music and humanities in Tempe before moving to the Bay Area in 1984. Marilyn created and implemented the music curriculum for a magnet school in the area, teaching all grades from K-8, and has taught elementary music at the Ocean Shore School for the past 15 years. She has also directed adult and children’s choirs including a swing choir of college students and has a private piano studio. Marilyn’s three sons all joined Ragazzi and she has accompanied the various groups as her boys moved through the program. Her other passion is quilting and sewing and to the delight of many, she has generously donated her handwork for many Ragazzi auctions.
Dawn Horst Reyen, Music and Movement Teacher
Dawn Reyen received her BA in Music from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont and her masters degree in Choral Conducting from Loyola University in New Orleans. She has conducted children’s choirs and taught elementary music for many years, and currently teaches preschool through middle school music at St. Raymond. She is the founding conductor of Palo Alto-based Aurora Singers, is the assistant conductor and accompanist of the Schola Cantorum, and interim director of music at UUFRC. Dawn has accompanied professionally since the age of 12, and enjoys working in many different musical styles and genres. Dawn also enjoys her freelance work as pianist and coach.
Karl Kuehn, Choreographer
Karl began his dance training at Deborah Morgan Dance Studio in Turlock, CA., and continued his dance education at Santa Clara University (BA), Atlas School of Dance, The Edge Performing Arts Center, and The Millennium Dance Complex. He has won various dance convention scholarships, traveled the world dancing for Carnival Cruise Lines, and has taught throughout the United States and Japan. Additional credits include Disney, NBA development league’s Lady Bighorns, So You Think You Can Dance, the Miss California Pageant (dance captain), and University of the Pacific’s Tiger Dancers. Currently, Karl is the director of the upper school dance program at The Harker School, the choreographer for Ragazzi Boys Chorus, and an instructor at Dance Effects.