Kantorei Singers

Kantorei Singers

Kantorei draws its singers from state and national universities’ finest choral alumni, and most are professional musicians or have degrees in vocal music. Singers’ names link to brief biographies, below.

Kantorei Singer Biographies

Jill Brown, soprano,

Jill joined Kantorei in 2013. Jill lives in Blaine with her husband, Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, and three teenage daughters. She maintains her family roots in Paynesville, MN, with a lake cabin. For 20 years, Jill has managed a public relations consulting business.

Zoey Cook, soprano,

Maria Crea, soprano,

Maria graduated from St Ben's in 2013 and completed her masters in Econ at the university of Minnesota. She lives in northeast Minneapolis and loves checking out local restaurants and breweries with her husband, Jimmy, and puppy, Lola.

Regina Hanson, soprano,

Regina joined Kantorei in 2012. Regina holds a B.A. from the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University in English Literature, with minors in French and music. Regina works in arts management and marketing. She enjoys reading, traveling, trying out new recipes, and taking in the Twin Cities arts scene.

Greta Jennissen, soprano,

Greta is incredibly excited to be singing with Kantorei since 2017. After growing up in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, Greta attended St. Olaf College and graduated in 2016 with a sociology/anthropology degree, educational studies and linguistics concentrations, and an ESL teaching license. Greta is employed at Athlos Leadership Academy in Brooklyn Park as an Achievement Intervention Specialist for kindergarten-8th grade students. In her spare time, Greta enjoys staying active through playing tennis and biking, playing piano, singing for weddings, and spending time with her family and friends.

Brianna Miller, soprano,

Maryanne Poliseno, Soprano Section Leader,

Maryanne joined Kantorei in 1988 (a founding member). She is originally from Little Falls, MN, and has a B.A. in music with an emphasis in piano performance from the College of Saint Benedict. She is currently a Municipal Bond Trader at Wells Fargo, and enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, yoga, and spending time with friends over a good glass of wine.

Becky Schneider, soprano,

Becky joined Kantorei in January of 2016. She is originally from Grand Rapids, MN, and holds a B.A. in Psychology from the College of St. Benedict. Becky currently works as the Progressive Director for Mini-Hops Gymnastics, and enjoys being able to teach and help children. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, yoga, horseback riding, song writing, and spending time with friends, family, and her many cats.

Katie Ward, soprano,

Katie joined Kantorei in 2019. She is originally from the Washington, D>C> area and has a B.A. in Spanish and Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance from the University of Notre Dame. She moved to the Twin Cities in 2019 as a Teaching Fellow with the Alliance for Catholic Education and currently teaches fourth grade at St. John Paul II Catholic School in Minneapolis while earning her Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame. When not signing or lesson planning, she enjoys spending time at coffee shops and attending concerts and theatre performances.

Maggie Akhavan, Alto Section Leader,

A member of Kantorei since 1993, Maggie owns Worship Arts Company, providing textiles and appointments to congregations across the US. From Ridgewood, NJ, she and her husband Dariush have three adult daughters, a rescued Border Terrier named Piper, and season tickets to the Twins.

Whitney DeLong, alto,

Whitney joined Kantorei in 2015. After growing up in Northern California and living in Tucson for 10 years, she moved to Minneapolis with her husband and step-kids in 2014. Whitney attended the University of Arizona in Tucson where she majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and minored in Music, and now works as an environmental scientist and GIS specialist. When not working or singing, she enjoys yoga, cycling, running, exploring the great outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.

Marlene Dingmann, alto,

A member of Kantorei since 1998, Marlene is a music specialist with the Sartell School District and she is also the therapy dog trainer at the St. Cloud Hospital.

Katy Husby, alto,

Katy joined Kantorei in 2013. She grew up in Lino Lakes, but currently lives in Roseville. She was in the Chamber Choir at The College of St. Benedict/St. John's University for 4 years, graduating with a degree in Nursing. She is currently employed as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. In her free time you might find her singing in her church choir, reading a good book on her Kindle, or spending time with friends and family, including her twin brother!

Marianne (Mia) McCoy, alto,

Marianne is originally from Little Falls, MN. She received a B.A. from the College of St Benedict where she studied vocal performance. She now teaches elementary music at Ave Maria Academy and is involved in liturgical music at various parishes in the area. Besides singing, she enjoys reading, camping, classical ballet and equestrian sports---particularly dressage.

Anna McGee, alto,

Anna has been singing in various choirs around the Twin Cites her entire life.  When not singing or working as an architect in Minneapolis, Anna entertains herself by exercising, baking sourdough, hanging out with her husband and rescue dog, and working on the never ending house projects that come with a 110 year old house.

Ann Skemp-Cook, alto,

Ann is a founding member of Kantorei. She is from LaCrescent, MN, and has a B.A. from the College of Saint Benedict, a Teaching Certificate from Augsburg College, and an M.Ed. from Hamline University. She is currently a Language Arts teacher at Hopkins High School, and enjoys running, reading, skiing, helping her family build a cabin, and spending time with husband Tom, step-daughter Stella, and their Lab/Retriever, Angus.

Katie Steinke, alto,

CarlaJoy Strand, alto,

CarlaJoy is a middle school Latin teacher at Aspen Academy in Savage. Originally from Grand Rapids, MI, CarlaJoy is still learning her way around the Twin Cities but excited about the opportunities to partake in great food and great music. When she's not at work, she enjoys playing the violin and viola, reading, and spending time with her husband and two children.  

Kayla Ward, alto,

Kayla has been singing with Kantorei since 2011. She is a native of Cold Spring, MN< an alumna of the College of Saint Benedict and resides in St. Cloud with her significant other and their furry family members. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and works with people of all ages at Doctors Park Mental Health Center. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, friends, significant other, and her alpacas, watching hockey games and attending musicals and concerts.

Elizabeth Zobel, alto,

John Chambers Dunn, tenor,

John has been singing with Kantorei since 2012. Originally from Blaine, MN, John works and lives in the Minneapolis area with his husband, Shea, and their terriers, Linus and Ricky. When not singing in Kantorei, John enjoys cooking, Netflix, biking, and completed home projects.

Vernon Hamberg, Tenor Section Leader,

Vernon joined Kantorei in 2000. Vern has recently uncovered an energizing passion for musical theater. In 2012, he was music and/or vocal director for three Chameleon Theatre Circle productions. He also plays accordion, plays in a community band and, in his spare time, is a software developer. Degreed in both music and mathematics, he has a distinct approach to both the performing arts and to writing software.

Patrick Moe, tenor,

A Kantorei singer since 2013, Patrick is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Master of Architecture program. Patrick holds a BA in Studio Art from St. John’s University with a minor in Vocal Performance. He now works as an Architectural Designer at the Minneapolis office of Perkins + Will. Outside of architecture and singing, Patrick enjoys painting, cooking, backcountry camping, and traveling with his wife, Shelby.

Jonathan Posthuma, tenor,

Jonathan Posthuma is a freelance composer and musician living in Newport, MN. He graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Music Composition, and also studied Secondary Music Education: Choral/Instrumental at Dordt College in Sioux Center, IA. In addition to Kantorei, he sings with VocalEssence Chorus and works for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra box office. He is passionate about contemporary music and education, but outside music loves gardening, wine/beer tasting, cheese, and traveling. He grew up in Brandon, WI and remains a Wisconsite at heart, though loves living in Minnesota!

Alexander Shockley, tenor,

Alex is a board-certified music therapist, currently working through Alliance Music Therapy, LLC, in the Twin Cities. Originally from Cedar Falls, IA, Alex completed his undergraduate work at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA (where he was a member of various choral and singing groups), and subsequently completed a six-month internship with Institute for Therapy through the Arts in Evanston, IL. Among other things, he loves being able to utilize numerous instruments and styles with a wide variety of populations through his work. Alex also enjoys spending time exploring (preferably with dogs tagging along), and has traveled over a majority of the United States as well as a number of countries in Europe – he has had the pleasure of musically performing in many of these places as well!

Stefan Schwochau, tenor,

Stefan joined Kantorei in 2019. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2017 with a degree in nursing, and currently works as a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse. He enjoys being outdoors, traveling, exercising, and writing his own music in his spare time.

Philip Solyntjes, tenor,

Philip was previously in Kantorei for two seasons and just finished a seven year hiatus in Texas. He has been involved with several opera companies including Minnesota Opera, Operon the James and Fort Worth Opera He graduated from University of Minnesota Duluth with a Bachelor’s of Music and is currently teaching special education at Lionsgate Academy.

Andrew Blair, bass,

MIchael Karaman, bass,

Michael joined Kantorei in 2016. He is a graduate of Colgate University (Hamilton, NY), with an MBA from the University of Michigan. He is now retired from the frenetic healthcare IT industry where he led the development of innovative software solutions to improve patient care. Michael's "15 minutes of fame" occurred when he sang the National Anthem with the Colgate 13 in Super Bowl XIII. Beyond vocal music, Michael is an avid bicyclist, golfer, long-distance backpacker and soccer fan who is actively enjoying his retirement with his significant other, Ann.

John Kelly, Bass Section Leader,

John is a founding member of Kantorei, having joined in 1988. John is a pediatrician in Maplewood. Originally from Simsbury, CT, he enjoys travel, fitness, and anything by Ken Burns.

Mason McElvain, bass,

Mason is proud to be joining Kantorei for the 2018-2019 season. In 2017, Mason received his bachelors degree in chemistry and philosophy from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where he sang in the Chapel Choir. Since 2014, Mason has spent much of his time working to grow Riffs Smokehouse, his family's business in Northeast Minneapolis. In this time, Mason studied to become a registered Patent Agent, passing the Patent Bar early 2018. He is currently partnered with a Minnesota lawyer to help families and businesses grow and protect their wealth, assets, and intellectual property. Outside of work, Mason enjoys lively discussions, tennis, outdoor activities, and time with friends and family.

Joe Polta, bass,

Joe joined Kantorei in 1989, one year after the founding. He is from Willmar, MN, and has a B.A. from Saint John’s University. He is currently a legal professional at Prime Therapeutics. He enjoys baking bread by hand, and he is an avid bike commuter, riding his bike to work year-round. He is a retired Scoutmaster, and a trainer for the Boy Scouts. He enjoys spending time with wife Karen and sons, Dan and Tom.

John Sauer, bass,

John Sauer is a 1979 graduate of St. John's University and joined Kantorei in the early 1990s. As a priest of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester he is presently the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Owatonna and Holy Trinity Parish in Litomysl.

In addition to serving as the president of the Kantorei Board he serves on the board of the Glacier Park Foundation.

Gerry Schmidt, bass,

In his 20+ years in the Minneapolis music scene, Gerry Schmidt comes to Kantorei after 10 years as the assistant director, for Sonomento, an adult choral ensemble at MacPhail. Prior to that he sang for several years with Exultate and was the director of the chamber ensemble of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus for several years.

Gerry loves to cook, entertain, dine out, is something of a self-professed coffee snob, and loves to travel.

Mike Steiner, bass,

Mike joined Kantorei in 2005. He holds a B.A. in Choral Music from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Choral Music Ed from the University of Montana, and a B.F.A. in Furniture Design from the Kendall School of Design. Mike is a retired a choral director, now teaching string bass to young musicians. He is currently a self-employed landscaper and handyman. He is married to Barbara, a long-time piano teacher and they have a son, Sean, also a singer.

Thomas Friebe, bass,

Thomas joined Kantorei in 2015. He studied music vocal performance and composition at Saint John’s University. On top of music, he also loves travel, theater, and the outdoors.

Tyler Vidal, bass,

Tyler joined Kantorei in 2010. A native of Becker, MN, he studied vocal music education at Luther College, in addition to graduate coursework in sacred music at Luther Seminary and St. Olaf College. He teaches choir at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope.