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Milwaukee Children’s Choir Staff

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Artistic Staff

Emily Crocker 

Founder and Music Director Emeritus

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Emily Crocker earned the Master of Arts in Music Theory from Texas Woman’s University and the Bachelor of Music Education from University of North Texas. Further studies have included Conducting and Voice-Building at Westminster Choir College and Kodaly Techniques at Sam Houston State University.

Ms. Crocker taught public school music at all levels for 15 years in Texas. In1989, she joined the music publishing industry and served as Vice President of Choral Publications for Hal Leonard Corporation in Milwaukee. She founded the Milwaukee Children’s Choir in 1994 and served as artistic director until 2009. Under her leadership the choir grew from 35 members to over 400 and received acclaim for performances with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, the American Choral Directors Association, Present Music, an MENC national convention and at international festivals around the world. She is a nationally recognized expert in children’s and youth choirs and maintains an active guest conducting schedule.

Ms. Crocker’s compositions have been performed across the globe. She has received ASCAP awards for concert music since 1986. She is well known for her work in developing choral instructional materials and is an author of Experiencing Choral Music, a choral textbook series for grades 6–12 published by McGraw-Hill/Glencoe, and Essential Elements for Choir, a choral textbook series for grades 6–12 published by Hal Leonard.

The Civic Music Association of Milwaukee awarded her the Excellence in Youth Music award in 2002 and, in 2009, the Distinguished Citizen Award—Professional in the Arts. She has been named a Distinguished Alumna by the Texas Woman’s University Department of Music and an Honored Alumnus by the College of Music of the University of North Texas.

She maintains membership in the American Choral Directors Association (Life Member), Wisconsin Choral Directors Association, Music Educators National Conference, ASCAP, Chorus America, ΣΑΙ music fraternity, (Iota Omega)—Member Laureate, ΠΚΛ national music honor society.

Rachel Maki

Artistic Director
Conductor, Lyric Chorale and Milwaukee Youth Chorale

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Rachel Maki has educated students of all levels throughout Michigan, New Jersey, and Wisconsin in both schools and after school choral organizations. As an advocate of music education, Rachel led a Wisconsin school to receive the 2014 GRAMMY Select Schools Enterprise Award, an award given to high schools music programs that are retaining their music programs among continued budgetary limitations.  In the Milwaukee area, she is the music educator at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Brookfield, WI and was a selection leader for Bel Canto Chorus in 2019-2020, voted best Choral group in 2019 from the Shepherd’s Best Of Milwaukee.

Ms. Maki served as the Associate Artistic Director of Milwaukee Children’s Choir for three years and conducted the Lyric Choral for the ending of the 2020 season.  Rachel is thrilled to be leading the artistic vision as our Artistic Director in the 20-21 season.  She is very excited to continue making music with our singers at MCC and at her school in Brookfield. 

A native of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Ms. Maki has performed with many notable groups including the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, and Vienna Philharmonic while under the direction of internationally renowned conductors Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniele Gatti, Jacques Lacombe, Alan Gilbert, and Vladimir Jurowski. While at Westminster Choir College, Ms. Maki twice travelled to Oxford, England as a member of the GRAMMY nominated Westminster Williamson Voices where the choir performed as artists in residents for the Oxford Choral Institute. She has also performed with Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra at New York’s City’s Apollo Theater, for the visitation of the Archbishop of Loreto at St. John’s Church, Orange, NJ, and Julian Darius Revie’s Mass of the Divine Shepherd at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.  

Rachel Maki holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan and a Master of Music in Music Education from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. While at Westminster Choir College, she studied conducting with Dr. James Jordan and voice with Robin Leigh Massie.

Jessica Marks

Associate Music Director
Music Explorers

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Jessica Marks recieved her BM Vocal Performance, Millikin University, Decatur, IL and her MM Music Education University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Ms. Marks has taught general music and chorus (Pre-K-5th) at the Academy of Accelerated Learning (Milwaukee Public Schools) since 1999. Also, Ms. Marks has been the District Elementary Choir Conductor for the MPS Biennial Music Festival (2012, 2014, 2016, 2020).

As a professional educator, Ms. Marks has led numerous teacher training sessions, presented as a clinician, collaborated with community Arts organizations, and is a mentor to new teachers. In addition, Ms. Marks also teaches group voice classes and advanced choir and has served on several production teams as music director for Spotlight Youth Theater/CYT Chicago.

Previous awards include General Music Excellence Award (Civic Music 2004, 2016) and WJZI Teacher of the Month (February 2007), and the Jerry Award Nominee (2018, Peter Pan).

Corynn Nordstrom

Associate Music Director
Conductor, Introductory Choir

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Corynn Nordstrum received the Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance and music education from the University of Michigan. She also obtained the Master of Music Education from the same institution with a focus on curriculum and choral directing for young voices.

Ms. Nordstrum is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching young children for 14 years. She currently teaches Kindergarten through 2nd grade general music for the School District of Menomonee Falls. She is Level 1 certified in Music Learning Theory and Kodaly.

In 2009, she received the Michigan Music Educators Association Hilda Humphreys Award for service to music education early in her career. Ms. Nordstrum is currently the Early Childhood Chair for the Wisconsin Music Educators Association and writer for the Wisconsin School Musician magazine.

Kaila Bingen

Associate Music Director
Conductor, Preparatory Choir

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Kaila is a vocalist, violinist, music teacher, and director living in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She is a double alumnus of Carthage College, first receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and then receiving her Master of Music in Music Theatre Vocal Pedagogy. 

Kaila taught middle school choir in West Bend, and also taught beginning orchestra during her first year of teaching and during the summers. Kaila works as a clinician and adjudicator throughout Southeast Wisconsin. She has studied at the Kodály Institute of Vocal Pedagogy in Kecskemét, Hungary, and her self-designed curriculum has been published on the Wisconsin Music Educators Association website. 

In addition to her passion for education, Kaila is very involved in theatre. She has music directed and composed for theater companies throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, co-founded the West Bend Theatre Company and the Kenosha Opera Festival, and she has served on several theatre company boards. 

Kaila has also performed on stage and in the pit orchestras of numerous productions in the past several years, including being the violinist for a new musical performed at the Chicago Musical Theater Festival and the New York Musical Theater Festival (off-Broadway). Kaila and her husband, Rick, are particularly fond of seeing and acting in Shakespeare plays, and their favorite annual tradition is to attend the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.

Charmaine Siagian

Collaborative Pianist
Preparatory Choir

 

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Charmaine Siagian received her BM and MM degrees in piano performance from Youngstown State University (Ohio) and her DMA in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma. Originally from Sabah, Malaysia, Charmaine recently authored and arranged the Malay Folk Songs Collection published by Hal Leonard, where she works as editor of educational piano. 

Brendan Fox

Collaborative Pianist
Lyric Chorale and Milwaukee Youth Chorale

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Brendan Fox is a pianist and composer from Wilton, CT. He received a Bachelor of Music in Composition and in Piano Performance from Wheaton College (IL) and a Master of Music in Composition from Ithaca College. In Milwaukee he has performed with groups including Camerata Milwaukee, DIY Chamber Music, Festival City Symphony, and Milwaukee Chamber Choir. His compositions have been played by the Milwaukee Philharmonic and Tontine Ensemble. Brendan currently works as a classical music editor at Hal Leonard. He occasionally writes classical music reviews for Urban Milwaukee. A frequent side project has been a lecture-recital of Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata, which he has performed in cities including New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Milwaukee. 

Administrative Staff

Bill Busch

Executive Director

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Bill joined the Milwaukee Children’s Choir team in September of 2019 as General Manager, and moved into the Executive Director position in February of 2020.    Prior to coming to MCC, Bill served for 18 years as Director of Music Ministries at Hales Corners Lutheran Church.  

Bill did his undergraduate studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He has served as music director/conductor for numerous theatre companies in the Midwest, including Children’s Theatre of Madison (CTM), Madison Theatre Guild, MATC Theatre, First Stage, Sunset Playhouse and the Marriott Linconshire.   Bill’s favorite role is that of father to Emily & Adam and husband to the lovely and talented Rhonda Rae.

Tasha Sorenson

Director of Development

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Tasha Sorenson joined the MCC as Development Director in July 2018. She is a native of Wisconsin and has worked in the Milwaukee nonprofit community for the past fifteen years.

In 2004, Ms. Sorenson received a BS in Art History, History and the Study of Comparative Religions from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After graduation, she found herself working in the nonprofit field. It’s during this time that she fell in love with nonprofits and developed a deep passion for charitable work. This lead Ms. Sorenson to get her MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership with a focus on philanthropy from UW-Milwaukee in 2012. Since, she has worked in fundraising roles in various nonprofit fields, including education, media arts, community activism and more. Currently, she volunteers her time as a Board of Director with the Brady Street Area Association and member of Echelon Milwaukee for the Salvation Army.

Ms. Sorenson appreciates the performing arts and what the MCC provides to youth as a music student herself. As a child and young adult, she studied piano for ten years and the alto saxophone for seven. She understands the benefits children receive and wants to see both this generation and the next have the same opportunities.