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 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, executive Director and Avanti Chorus Director
Kent Jue is an experienced choral conductor, music educator, and facilitator for lifelong learning in music. An energetic 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 also currently serves as Ragazzi’s Executive Director and will assume the role of General Director at a future date. Kent 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 San Francisco Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, Opera San Jose, and West Bay Opera. 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.
Travis Rogers, Young Men’s Ensemble Director
Travis Rogers has been a professional choral conductor for 42 years. He retired from Napa High School in June of 2018 after thirty-seven years of service as the choral music director. Mr. Rogers directed the activities of over 300 students (at least half of them boys) each school year in seven different ensembles at Napa High School. Choirs at the school traveled frequently nationally and internationally, performing in world famous venues such as Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center in New York City, St. Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals in Dublin, Notre Dame in Paris, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Westminster Abbey in London, Sagrada Familia and the Barcelona Cathedral in Spain. The Chamber Choir and Concert Choir at Napa High School won twelve first-place awards, the most by any high school in the state, under the direction of Mr. Rogers at the Golden State Invitational Choral Festival, California’s most prestigious high school choral competition. NHS ensembles also earned top honors at several national and international competitions in New York City, Hawaii, Australia, Austria, and England.
In 1981, during his second year of teaching at Napa High, Mr. Rogers began the school’s first Men’s Choir with 20 students. In subsequent years, as many as 220 men sang in one or more of three separate male ensembles. Typically each year, up to 80% of new enrolling males did so with no previous choral training yet earned “Unanimous Superior” ratings at area choral festivals for the quality of their performances. The 2016-2017 NHS Beginning Men’s Choir was the subject of the documentary film “Top Row” which chronicled the group’s preparation and subsequent performance at their first choral competition. Mr. Rogers has served the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) California Chapter in many capacities including repertoire and standards chair for high school and male choirs, summer conference chair and President. He is currently the President of the western division of ACDA. Travis Rogers has conducted over thirty honor and district choirs in northern and central California. He has been a choral competition/festival adjudicator and clinician for over thirty years as well as a frequent presenter at professional conferences for ACDA and CMEA. Mr. Rogers is not new to Ragazzi as he has worked with several groups as a guest clinician over many years. He is very excited for the opportunity to direct the Young Men’s Ensemble.
Ihang Lin, Concert Group Accompanist
As a a winner of the American Protégé concerto competition, Ihang Lin, Ph.D. 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.
Othello Jefferson, Avanti and Concert Group Accompanist, Chorus organist
Othello Jefferson holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a music teaching credential from San Francisco State university. An award-winning Choir Director while teaching at San Francisco’s Lowell High School for ten years, he is currently the Choir Director at Redwood City’s Sequoia High School and Minister of Music for the First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, in San Francisco as well as the Western Episcopal District. Othello received 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, and has completed the first level of the American Guild of Organist’s examinations for professional certification (Service Playing Certificate).
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.
Matthew Goulart, Premiere Director
Matthew Goulart was the 2018 long-term substitute for Genevieve Tep, Director of Choral Activities at Carlmont High School, in Belmont, CA. While there, he organized high school and local middle school students in performance at an annual festival in Belmont. Matthew has brought groups from Carlmont to festivals such as Real Men Sing, West Valley College Annual Invitational, and San Jose State University Annual Invitational, where he received critical feedback from artists in residence Dr. Jonathan Babcock and Dr. Kevin Fenton. He also invited local artists such as Betsy Wagner, Lou De la Rosa, and Dr. Jeffrey Benson, to workshop Carlmont choirs. Matthew received his BM in Vocal Performance from SJSU in May 2017. While there, he studied voice under Professor Joseph Frank, tenor, who had his Metropolitan Opera Debut in 1979. He sang in both Concert Choir and Choraliers under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Benson. Matthew was a part of SJSU Opera Theatre for three years. He sang roles such as Basilio from Mozart’s Le Nozze de Figaro, Amida from Cavalli’s l’Ormindo, and Orpheus from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, all under the direction of Professor Layna Chianakas. He also sang in the chorus for Opera San Jose’s production of Gounod’s Faust.
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.
Easther Ng, Premiere Accompanist
Easther Ng received her Bachelor Degree in Piano Performance from San Francisco State University where she studied with Dr. Victoria Neve. Immediately after graduating, she was interested in artistic administration as she likes to work behind the scenes. Easther is deeply rooted in the Korean Christian community and has been a choir accompanist for several churches in Monterey County and San Francisco. She is currently working in artistic administration where she helps with behind the scenes at Opera San Jose and currently is the accompanist and manager for their K-12 outreach program. Since January 2019, Easther has greatly enjoyed being an accompanist for Ragazzi Premiere ensemble.
John Collaros, Monday & Wednesday 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.
Nancy Whitecar, Tuesday Primary Director; Young Men’s Ensemble Accompanist; Primary San Mateo Admin Liaison
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.
Nathan Wilen, Primary Group San Mateo Director
Nathan Wilen teaches 5th grade choir in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, and teaches private voice lessons. He 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 Primary Group director, a regular counselor at Ragazzi’s summer camp and leading sectional rehearsals for the Young Men’s Ensemble. Nathan graduated from Chapman University with a B.M. in Music with a vocal emphasis. He performed regularly in the Chapman Opera program and also performed and toured with Chapman’s University Choir and University Singers. Nathan is currently enrolled in Holy Names University’s Master of Music Education with Kodály emphasis program. He 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, director of theory education, Tuesday Primary accompanist and Oboist
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.
Thomas Wade, Assistant Theory director, Vocal Coach
Thomas joined the Ragazzi faculty in the spring of 2017 as a vocal coach and currently runs the theory program at Ragazzi’s San Mateo location. After receiving his B.M. in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Thomas worked as a 5th grade choir teacher in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, and spent a year as Choral Fellow for the Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco, under the tutelage of Susan McMane. He also directs Ragazzi’s alumni group, Ragazzi Continuo. Thomas brings over a decade of choral experience, from singing with Ragazzi, Chanticleer’s LAB choir, and the SFCM Chamber Choir, to the theory program. In addition to teaching private voice and music theory, he maintains an active performance career. He appears regularly with SF Lyric Chorus, SF Renaissance Voices, and is on faculty for the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale. On Sundays, Thomas works as the Bass Section Leader at Trinity-St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Yongyu Gao, Tuesday Primary Palo ALto Accompanist
Music has been a part of Yongyu Gao’s life from a very early age. She began playing the accordion at age four, establishing a strong musical foundation for piano studies she began at the age of 10. In 2005, Yongyu won first place in the Beijing National Accordion Competition, and third place in the Beijing National Piano Competition. This experience helped her focus on piano, and in 2009, she graduated with a BA in South China University in Music Education with an emphasis in piano performance. After moving to the United States, she played for the Inna Opera Group at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. Yongyu continued her study in piano performance as a Walker Scholar at San Jose State University, earning her Master’s degree in 2013. She accompanies for the Burlingame School District, and is an active performer throughout the Bay Area. She is a member of the Music Teachers Association of California, and her piano students regularly participate in the Certificate of Merit and Royal School of Music programs and exams.
Marilyn Wells, Monday & Wednesday primary 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 gala auctions.
Dawn Horst Reyen, Music and Movement Director
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.
Maggie eggert, Music and Movement DIRECTOR
Maggie Eggert grew up in the Midwest and moved to the Bay Area just a few years ago. With a long history of musicians in the family, she knew she wanted to be a music educator at a young age. She received the John Phillips Sousa Award for superior musicianship in high school and went on to obtain a bachelor’s in music education from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, where she studied under Paul Doebler (West Point and Julliard). She holds a master’s degree in music education from Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois, where she studied choral, general, and instrumental music with some of the best educators in the Midwest. She holds an Orff Level I and II certification and continues to advance her music education studies with workshops and classes in the Bay Area. Maggie teaches at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School in San Mateo, and has been teaching young flute students for over 12 years. She performs with local community groups and other professional musicians whenever she can.
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.