Conductors and Staff

STEVE STEVENS: Founder-Artistic Director

Columbia Choirs founder-artistic director, Steve Stevens, started the choirs in February, 1984. He is one of the most experienced conductors of community based children’s choirs in the United States.  A native of Texas (Fort Worth), Mr. Stevens is a professional singer, conductor, adjudicator, clinician, arranger and composer. He holds a BA (voice and all-level music education) from Houston Baptist University and a M.Mus. in Choral Conducting from Southern Methodist University. He has conducted the Texas Boys Choir (1971-77), the Northwest Boychoir (1977-84), founded and conducted the Northwest Youthchoir (1982-84). He founded the Columbia Boys Choir (1984), Columbia Girls Choir (1988) which he joined together to become the Columbia Children’s Choir in 1993.  In 1989 he founded the Columbia Vocal Ensemble, in 1999 the “Con Brio” Women’s Choir, and in 2009 he founded Concord Chamber Choir. Choirs under his direction have consistently won international acclaim for their high standard of singing artistry and musicianship. His choirs have performed in United States, Australia, British Isles, Canada, Europe, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and Scandinavia. They have also appeared on national network television in the U.S.A., Europe, Japan and Russia and have sung for a President of the U.S., the Pope, and for members of the British Royal Family. Contact Steve Stevens at artisticdirector@columbiachoirs.org.

DORI BAUNSGARD: Con Brio Conductor

Dori is a Pacific Northwest native who recently returned to Seattle after conducting choirs and teaching music for many years in Tokyo, Japan. In Tokyo her choirs were known for not only their beautiful sound and excellent musicianship, but also for their interesting and innovative repertoire. Ms. Baunsgard has an avid interest in multiple styles and genre of music, including world music. Since Dori’s return to Seattle she has held a variety of music positions and most recently worked as the Interim Choral Director at University Presbyterian Church. Dori is also an accomplished pianist and accompanies for many local groups and soloists. In her accompanying career she has played for many top conductors, including Henry Leck, Edith Copely and Elena Sharkova. She has also worked extensively in musical theater, and has been the musical director for numerous shows, including coaching and performing Bulgarian choral music for a production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the Tokyo International Players. Dori holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Seattle Pacific University and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting with a minor in Theater from Western Washington University. She is excited to be a part of the Columbia Choirs organization!

JENNIFER FAUL: Lyrica Conductor

Jennifer Faul has been making music with Columbia Choirs since 1998. She currently directs Lyrica, and formerly accompanied the Cantabile Vocal Ensemble and Con Brio Women’s Choir for many years. Mrs. Faul earned her bachelors degree in music education in 1998 from the University of Washington, and her masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction shortly thereafter. She also enjoyed earning her Level 1 Kodaly certification at Seattle Pacific University. Her teaching experience includes elementary general music in the Bellevue School District for five years, Children’s Choir Director of Magnolia Presbyterian Church for nine years, and ongoing private piano and voice instruction.

KELLY MECHLING: Interim Harmonia Conductor

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Mrs. Kelly Mechling is thrilled to be returning to Columbia Choirs this year as the Harmonia director. She directed for 5 years with the organization from 2011-2016 before taking a few years off to have time with her young daughter. Mrs. Mechling is beginning her 18th year teaching in the Bellevue School District. 13 of those years have been at Tyee Middle School teaching choir and drama and 10 of those years include teaching general music in Seattle Public Schools, various Bellevue schools and a two-year contract at the American School of Madrid in Spain.  A National Board Certified Teacher, Mrs. Mechling graduated from the University of Washington in Vocal Performance and Music Education, and completed Minor coursework in Theater and Speech. She also received a Master’s Degree in Vocal Pedagogy and Music Education from the Hartt School in Hartford, CT with focus on the Kodaly pedagogy. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, cooking, attending live theater/music productions and spending time with her husband, Andrew, and sweet 5-year-old daughter, Varenna, at home.

ERIN ROBERTS: Harmonia Conductor

Erin Roberts joined Columbia choirs in 2014 as a vocalist in Con Brio and as an accompanist for Ragazzi boys choir. She currently is a music specialist, where she offers classroom instruction to grades 1 through 8, and is also director for the afterschool music program at Hamlin Robinson School (HRS) in Seattle. Prior to HRS Erin worked as music teacher for The Little School in Bellevue and Toronto Montessori Schools in Ontario Canada. Erin holds a B.Ed in music education from the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario, Canada, as well as a HBA in music from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, where her honors thesis project focused on choral conducting and chamber choirs. While in Ontario Erin actively volunteered with the New Apostolic Church, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, as a choral conductor, organist and director of the children’s music program.

ALY HENNIGER: Ragazzi Conductor

Aly Henniger is currently working in the Northshore School District, teaching choir at Northshore Middle School and general music at Woodmoor Elementary. In her time working there, she has started a fifth grade choir at Woodmoor Elementary and will be starting a before school jazz choir at Northshore Middle School this fall. She also coordinated the “Northshore Sings” 5th Grade honor choir and will continue to do so this next school year. Aly is a Central Washington University Graduate with a double major in Music Education and Vocal Performance. She has a passion for creating a safe and fun rehearsal environment where students can learn healthy techniques for using their voice. Aly is very excited to be joining the Columbia Choirs team and working with talented, young musicians.

RACHEL BRACKETT: Melodia Conductor

Rachel Teigen Brackett is the K-5 General Music Teacher and Choir Director at Lakeview Elementary in Kirkland.  Rachel is in her 17th year of teaching and has been with Lake Washington School District for the past 13 years, previously she taught in Bethel and Seattle School Districts.  She also teaches education and arts integration courses at Northwest University and Seattle University.  In addition to these assignments Rachel has instructed private voice, piano, guitar and ukulele.  She received her Bachelor of Music Education from Pacific Lutheran University in 2002 and her Master’s in Creative Arts and Learning from Lesley University in 2005.  She received her National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Music in 2009.  She has been singing and performing all her life and has immense passion and enthusiasm for bringing the joy of music to children!  Rachel plays the music teacher “Miss Melody” in the children’s music curriculum “First Note” and frequently performs at preschools and birthday parties as a musical entertainer.  She lives in Seattle with her husband and five-year-old daughter.  She is thrilled to be joining the staff at Columbia Choirs this year!

HEATHER ARNOLD: Prima Conductor

Heather Arnold currently teaches music at Sunrise Elementary in the Northshore school district. She has taught elementary and early childhood music for over 25 years. She earned her Bachelor of Music with a vocal emphasis from Old Dominion University, her Masters of Education from Lesley University, and is a National Boards Certified Teacher. She has also completed Level 1 Kodaly Certification as well as Level 1 World Music Drumming. She enjoys performing with local community choirs and church choirs as a soloist. When not teaching, singing, or conducting she loves to go camping and paddle boarding. She has lived in the PNW for 20 years with her husband and has two boys ages 11 and 15. Heather loves sharing her joy of music with her students and especially bringing that love of music to the Prima Choir!

VICKI NURRE: Bel Canto Accompanist

Vicki Nurre (BM University of Kansas, in composition, MM University of Kansas, in flute performance), has had a wide-ranging career in music, covering over 40 years,in chamber music, church music, teaching (both privately and in private schools) and children’s choirs. She spent 8 years working with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir before coming to Columbia Choirs in 2003. She has several original published works and arrangements for children’s choir. In addition to her work with the choir, she teaches music theory and maintains a private studio for flute and piano instruction.

GENEVIEVE PEASLEE: Cantabile, Con Brio Accompanist

Genevieve Peaslee earned a B.A. in Piano Performance from Scripps College and has also studied at the Colburn School in Los Angeles and the Accademia Internazionale della Musica in Milan. Her collaborative piano experience began with the choirs at her junior high school and now includes chamber music and vocal accompaniment studies at Scripps, work with advanced voice students at Chapman University’s Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music, and dance accompaniment at the California Institute of the Arts, Pomona College, and Pacific Northwest Ballet (among many others).

BARBARA JOHNSTON: Harmonia, Ragazzi Accompanist

Barbara’s long relationship with the piano includes several notable milestones. She took first place in her high school’s annual state competition during her graduation year. In college, she was selected to represent her school in summer performance groups and was the principal pianist for her college’s choir for three years. Upon graduation she has put her skills to use primarily as a sacred music ensemble member at her church demonstrating proficiency in piano, organ, and keyboard. Barbara has worked with Columbia Choirs since 2007 accompanying the Melodia & Harmonia in Redmond. She has enjoyed watching her two youngest children grow as members of Columbia Choirs since 2008.

CATHY LOWELL: Concord Accompanist

Cathy is a Bellevue, WA native and holds a BA of Economics from the University of Washington. Her experience as a collaborative accompanist has spanned over 40 years, starting in the 3rd grade with her elementary choir and orchestra. She has worked professionally as a church organist, freelance performer, accompanist, dance rehearsal pianist, studio musician and music educator and tutor for Bellevue Christian, Northshore School District and Everett School District. Currently Cathy teaches elementary strings and accompanies for several choirs in the Northshore School District. In 2007 she founded Foothills Music Academy in Woodinville, a music studio specializing in private lessons with opportunities for collaborative musicianship to teach young musicians the art of accompanying. When not teaching, she is principal pianist and ensemble cellist for Sammamish Symphony.

JULANN FARIS: Lyrica Accompanist

Julann started playing piano at the age of 6 and shortly after was introduced to the world of accompanying at the insistence of her mother. It didn’t take too many bribes for her to realize that she actually enjoyed it, and today it is one of her most favorite things in the world to do. The confidence of her elementary music teacher inspired her to start playing for her school choir and she continued to develop a passion for accompanying through junior high and high school. In college she was able to travel around the world playing for choirs, performing in Russia, Ukraine, Spain, and Israel. She holds degrees in Music Education from The Master’s University and the Crane School of Music. Today she enjoys both helping kids discover their own musical gifts at the piano and contributing her part to make great music with soloists and choirs. 

ANNA STEPHENS: Melodia Accompanist

Bio coming soon!

KATHRYN DAINES: Choir Administrator

Kathryn Daines graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Music with a vocal focus. She has been singing since the age of 11 and has been singing with Columbia Choirs for over fifteen years. She is a member of the Concord Chamber Choir and formerly sang with the Con Brio Women’s Choir. Kathryn works as a paralegal and office manager for a small law firm in Seattle. She lives in Mill Creek with her husband, Ben and two young girls, Ellie and Keira. Kathryn has been on the Columbia Choirs staff since 2011 Contact Kathryn Daines at admin@columbiachoirs.org.

ASHLEY NICHOLSON: Marketing & Program Coordinator

Ashley Nicholson was singing even before she knew how to talk. Whether she was taking voice lessons, singing in a choir, competing with her high school show choir, or performing in musical theater and dance, music has always been a part of her life.  Her favorite musical memory was when she had the chance to sing in an ice cave in Iceland! Ashley has been singing and touring with the Con Brio Women’s Choir since 2015.  She was honored to join the Columbia Choir staff in 2019.   Contact Ashley Nicholson at membership@columbiachoirs.org.