Learn More About the Singers
Melissa Auvil, Soprano
Melissa Auvil, Soprano, is in her tenth season with SBCS. Originally from Midland, Michigan, Melissa earned her undergraduate degree in music education at Central Michigan University and her Master’s in voice performance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Conservatory of Music and Dance. Melissa Teaches at Southwestern Michigan College and runs a private voice studio working with area students from Elkhart, Mishawaka and Goshen. She has performed with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Metro Opera, Midland Music Society, Crosscurrents Theatre, six seasons with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Midland, Opera at the Acorn, Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, as well as the South Bend Civic, 574 and Elkhart Civic Theatres. She will appear in her first movie, “Moondance”, 2020. Melissa also enjoys directing, and has worked locally with the Beckwith, Barn Swallow and Elkhart Civic Theatres. She lives with her husband and two children in Goshen, Indiana.
Sharon Bain, Soprano Section Leader
Sharon Bain, Soprano Section Leader, first joined SBCS in 1997. She earned her undergraduate degree in American studies, with a minor in music, from the University of Notre Dame where she studied voice and French horn. Sharon also has a Master of Arts degree in social work from the University of Chicago. She is a married mother of three and works as a counselor at Family Psychology of South Bend, and at the Early Childhood Development Centers of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College.
Carrie Bjonback, Alto
Carrie Bjonback, Alto, returns for her twelfth season with SBCS. She has been involved in music for as long as she can remember. She was in concert band and sang in the Augustana Oratorio Society throughout high school and college. Wherever she has lived, she has sung in local music groups such as the Larimer Chorale in Fort Collins, Colorado, Ottawa Choral Society in Ottawa, Ontario, and the Regina Philharmonic Chorus in Regina, Saskatchewan. She was a founding member of Dr. Groovy and the Soul Surgeons in LaPorte, Indiana. Carrie is a retired family physician who enjoys her work as a medical acupuncturist in La Porte, IN. She is married to a retired professor who is still teaching for the joy of it, and has 2 grown children.
Dawn Bontrager, Alto and President
Dawn Bontrager, Alto and President of the South Bend Chamber Singers, is in her fifteenth season. A native of Northern Minnesota, She earned her undergraduate degree in social work from Goshen College, a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago and a Master’s of Divinity from the Chicago Theological Seminary. Dawn is a licensed clinical social worker, and is in private practice as a mental health therapist in Mishawaka, IN. Music has always been central to Dawn’s life, and she has been singing all of her life in church, high school and college choirs, as well as in small groups performing in local venues and for special occasions. Dawn lives in Mishawaka with her spouse and their 2 dogs and a cat. Her interests include travel, and being outdoors biking, hiking and kayaking. She also enjoys spending time with her two adult children.
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Jessica Carter, Alto, is a native of South Bend and is incredibly excited to be joining the Chamber Singers for her first season. Previously, she has been a part of the Saint Mary’s Women’s Choir, the Bethel University Concert Choir, and currently, the IU South Bend Chamber Chorale. A violinist by trade, Jessica has played with several different groups including the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra, the Bethel University Chamber Orchestra, the IU South Bend Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Mazurka String Quartet. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music where she studied violin and voice and Bachelor of Science in Biology from Bethel University, and as of December 2019 will have complete her Master of Music in Music Composition. As a composer, she had been described as having captivating lyricism and highly sophisticated intuition.
Kateri Chabot, Soprano, is so excited to join SBCS for her first season! She was born and raised in Mishawaka, IN and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2019 with a Bachelors in Mathematics and a minor in Theology. While at Notre Dame, she was a member of the University of Notre Dame Chorale and also studied voice. Kateri currently works as a Team Lead for the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County and also is one of the directors of the St. Stanislaus Parish Children’s Choir in her spare time. Growing up, Kateri took piano lessons for eleven years and still likes to play occasionally. She also was in several choirs in high school and has been in her parish choir since the age of nine.
Kendall Dahlstrom, Tenor
Kendall Dahlstrom, Tenor, has been with SBCS since its beginning. He earned a B.A. in psychology and a Master of Divinity in pastoral studies from North Park University and Theological Seminary. He is pastor emeritus of Covenant Community Church of South Bend, where he served from 1984-2005. Musical experiences include high school a cappella choir, barbershop quartet, church choirs, North Park College Choir, Nebraska Choral Arts Society, and Covenant Ministers’ Chorus. In the summer, Ken plays in the Senior Softball League. He has been the coordinator of Protestant worship services at St. Paul’s Retirement Center since 2013. He and his wife, Nancy, recently celebrated fifty-four years of marriage. They take advantage of every opportunity to visit their daughter and her husband, son and his wife, and their four grandchildren.
Stephen Drendall, Bass Section Leader
Stephen Drendall, Bass Section Leader, is in his thirtieth year with SBCS. He received music and music education degrees from Temple University, where he sang under renowned conductor Robert Page and was in the repertory choir for Masters in Choral Conducting students. He has been cantor at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. James and St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal (both South Bend), and choir director at Lydick United Methodist and St. Paul’s Episcopal (Mishawaka) Churches. He has soloed with the Elkhart and La Porte Symphonies, and was cantorial soloist for thirteen years at Temple Beth-el (South Bend). His “day job” is as a family and consumer lawyer in South Bend, where he also lives. Stephen’s two children are graduates of the University of Notre Dame. He serves as legal advisor to the South Bend Chamber Singers’ Board of Directors.
Jeffrey Feathergill, Bass
Jeffrey Feathergill, Bass, is honored to join the Chamber Singers this season after many years attending their concerts. He is a Cantor at St. Pius X Church in Granger, where he and his wife have been members of the Sunday Morning Choir for 12 years. Jeff and his wife, Susan, met at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology where they both obtained doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology. They own Feathergill and Associates, providing counseling and psychological services to adults, adolescents, and children. They have also worked as Adjunct Professors at The University of Notre Dame, and teach a seminar in marital counseling preparation to seminarians at The Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy. They have a Golden Retriever named Riley, and enjoy hiking, camping, film, and travel.
Matt Grothouse, Bass
Matt Grothouse, Bass, is ecstatic to begin his first season as a member of the South Bend Chamber Singers. Hailing from Warsaw, Ind., he earned his undergraduate degree in history and secondary education from Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. Professionally, Matt educates students and community members on issues of public health as a Community Health Coordinator with Beacon Health System. Music plays an integral role in Matt’s life, and he has been a part of a choir since he was eight years old. Growing up in the church, he’s been active as a cantor, accompanist, and choir member. He is also an avid pianist and composer. A recent transplant to the South Bend area, Matt is eager to become more immersed into the vibrant arts community found here.
Brandon Hagerman, Tenor
Brandon Hagerman, Tenor, is excited for his first season with SBCS. He holds baccalaureate degrees in Computer Information Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology from Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute. Prior to attending Purdue, he was a Music and Opera Performance major at Ball State University. Beginning in 2007, Brandon also served in the United States Air Force as an active duty Transmission Systems and Satellite Communications Engineer, separating as a Staff Sergeant in 2012. Brandon has been a member of the Ball State University Chamber Choir and Statesmen, and most recently was a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club, which toured in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. In his free time he enjoys video games, programming, electronics, bike riding, reading, and swimming. Brandon currently works as a Calibration & Test Fixture Engineer at Dwyer Instruments in Michigan City, and calls Long Beach, IN home.
Mike Hildreth, Bass
Mike Hildreth, Bass, is a Massachusetts native who has followed academia to the Midwest. After earning an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a Ph.D. from Stanford, both in physics, he and his wife and son spent five years in Geneva, Switzerland before returning to the U.S. where he and his wife joined the faculty at Notre Dame in 2000. He is currently Professor of Physics and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Notre Dame College of Science. His research focus is at CERN in experimental particle physics, which makes him one of those “atom smasher” guys. They enjoy cooking, travel, and outdoor activities, including sailing, cycling, and hiking. This is his eighteenth season with SBCS.
Megan Hire, Soprano
Megan Hire, Soprano, hails from Fort Wayne, IN. This is her sixth year in the SBCS, and she is very excited for the upcoming season. Currently, Megan works as a substitute teacher for Fort Wayne Community Schools. She received her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Saint Mary’s College, where she also sang in the Women’s Choir. Megan also spent 9 years as a singer in the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir under the direction of Fred Meads, former artistic director. In high school, Megan sang in show choir and participated in many of the school’s musicals. Megan’s other interests include traveling, swimming, and watching ND football.
David L. Homann, Tenor
David Homann, Tenor, has been with SBCS since its first full season. A full-time dad, with only one busy kid still at home, he is constantly on the move in South Bend, serving as a youth group leader, Sunday school teacher, cantor and member of the choir at his church, and managing several rental properties. In between all that, he maintains 12 acres, a large vegetable garden, reads and hits the road to visit his daughters. Dave’s passion is golf and while he’s spend more time on the golf course than ever recently, it has been watching his daughter, not playing. He hopes to add more golf to his bio soon!
Cecilia Horner, Soprano
Cecilia Horner, Soprano, is excited for her fourth season with SBCS. A freshman at Saint Mary’s, Cecilia studies voice with Dr. Laurel Thomas, and piano with Dr. Geena Kam. She took piano for 10 years with Kathleen Keasey, and voice with Danielle Svonavec in high school. Throughout her years of piano study, she has performed in a number of competitions: the Hartman Stickley Memorial Competition, Hoosier Auditions, Guild Auditions, the AIM festival, and the Gene Marcus piano competition at IPFW. Cecilia has sung as a chorus member in South Bend Lyric Opera’s productions of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” and “Die Fledermaus,” at LangLab in South Bend. She also had roles in two of Bethel College’s operas “Captain Lovelock” and “Little Harlequinade.” She’s looking forward to continuing her musical studies.
Laura Kiernan, Alto
Laura Kiernan, Alto, is excited to be joining the South Bend Chamber Singers for her first season! A lawyer living with her husband in Chicago, Illinois, Laura holds a B.A. in Voice Performance from Albion College, and a J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She has performed with groups including the Steiner Chorale and Albion Pro Choral, as well as various community theater groups.
Emily Klug, Alto
Emily Klug, Alto Section Leader, grew up in Michigan and sang with various ensembles in elementary school, high school and college. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business administration from Central Michigan University. She is currently Distribution Center Business Manager for AM General, and enjoys cooking, traveling, reading and running around with her dog, Bella. This is Emily’s thirteenth season with SBCS. She and husband, Brad, are residents of South Bend, and are proud parents of son, James, age four and a half. Emily serves as SBCS Vice-President.
Mary Ann LaPlante, Alto
Mary Ann LaPlante, Alto, chaplain at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth, IN, completed the Clinical Pastoral Education program at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center after serving as Pastoral Associate for Music and Liturgy at Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend for 30 years. She was born in Massachusetts, taught high school biology, chemistry and physical science, then changed careers by coming to St. Joseph College, Rensselaer, Indiana to earn a master’s degree in music and liturgy. She loves nature, which she enjoys with her horse, Lightning, and has Benny (her cat) at home. She has been with SBCS since their initial season. Mary Ann resides in South Bend.
Eric Lofgren, Tenor
Eric Lofgren, Tenor, is in his second year with SBCS. He hails from Peoria, Illinois where he graduated from Bradley University in 2004. Although his emphasis was in trumpet performance, after college he completed coursework on a masters degree in church music at Concordia University in River Forest, Ill., and went on to be a church musician and choir director. He is currently playing trumpet with the Lake Effect Jazz Big Band and the Andrews University Symphony Orchestra, and plays drumset for his church worship services. Eric is married with three children, who, thanks to having a musical dad, have been learning to sit quietly in concerts since birth. In his free time, Eric collects hobbies such as amateur astronomy, raising backyard chickens, woodworking, roasting coffee, and building model rockets.
Steven Mast, Tenor
Steven Mast, Tenor, has been singing with SBCS since 2000. A native of La Porte, Indiana, he was a Michigan resident for twenty-five year before recently relocating to New Carlisle. Steven earned undergraduate degrees in music and elementary education from Valparaiso University, an MA in reading and literacy studies from Western Michigan University, and an MS in counseling and human services from Indiana University. In 2016, he retired after teaching in the Dowagiac, Michigan schools for twenty-five years. During his career, he taught 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grades, as well as elementary music. Steven now serves as Director of Student Teaching in the Education Department at Saint Mary’s College, and is Finance Administrator for the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint James. Steven enjoys yoga, cooking, travel, and golf. He was a singer in the 2005 inaugural Chanticleer in Sonoma Choral Workshop, and is also Administrator for Epworth Forest Choir School, which he has attended since 1984.
Melaney Miller, Alto
Melaney Miller, Alto, is in her twelfth season with SBCS, and serves on the board as a member-at-large. She recently rejoined the 126 Army Band with the Michigan Army National Guard as a percussionist/pianist/vocalist, after a 19 year hiatus. She also plays percussion for the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra, leads the music team at Unity of Michiana, and works as a piano accompanist. She is a field service technician for Procter & Gamble. She enjoys golf, salsa dancing, travel, antiquing, and being home. Melaney lives in South Bend.
Andrew Nemeth, Tenor Section Leader
Andrew Nemeth, Tenor Section Leader, returns to SBCS for a seventh season. Andrew is a lifelong resident of South Bend. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in music education from Butler University, studying choral conducting with Eric Stark and Henry Leck, and earned his Master of Music degree in music education from Boston University. Andrew is Director of Choirs at Penn High School, where he co-teaches seven choirs. He is also Music Director at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in South Bend. In the little free time he has, he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, roasting his own coffee, and entertaining his cat, Zephyr. He would like to take flying lessons in the near future to attain a private pilot license. Andrew serves as secretary for our board of directors.
Kara O'Malley, Soprano
Kara O’Malley, Soprano, grew up in the Chicago suburbs, where she took part in a variety of choirs, musicals, and solo competitions. She attended Notre Dame for her undergraduate degree (B.B.A. in accountancy), and quickly followed it up with a master’s (M.A. in theology). Kara served in Catholic parish ministry for 9 years, and she currently ministers to her two children full time. She is also a freelance writer for Catholic publications. She is very excited to have the opportunity to sing with the Chamber Singers for a seventh year.
Betsie Pendarvis, Soprano
Betsie Pendarvis, Soprano, returns for her eighth year with SBCS. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory from Texas Christian University, as well as significant postgraduate study. She served as part-time church choir director in Fort Worth, Texas while raising four children, and for 21 years, served as Director of Music and Worship for her parish in Salem, Virginia. She and husband, John relocated to South Bend to be closer to family. In addition to their daughter in South Bend, Betsie and John have three other adult children in New Orleans, Dallas and New Hampshire. Betsie currently spends her time taking care of her grandchildren, volunteering for the Christ Child Society, knitting and gardening.
John Pendarvis, Bass
John Pendarvis, Bass, begins his eighth season with SBCS. A native of Houston, Texas, John received his BA from Texas Christian University and a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to moving to South Bend, he spent 33 years in executive leadership positions for Family Service agencies in Texas and Virginia. From his school years on, John has served as a music minister and song leader for a diversity of liturgies, prayer meetings, retreats and conferences, currently serving as a Cantor at St. Joseph Church. He also plays guitar and trumpet. John is a Tour Guide for Sacred Heart Basilica at Notre Dame, and serves on numerous nonprofit boards. He and his wife, Betsie, (also a member of SBCS) have four adult children in addition to their seven grandchildren.
Alissa Plenzler, Soprano
Alissa Plenzler, Soprano, originally from South Bend, returns to SBCS for her second season. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Dayton, and her Master of Music degree at Bowling Green State University. She is currently an adjunct professor of voice at Holy Cross College, Saint Mary’s College, and the University of Notre Dame. Last fall, she sang the role of Gretel in South Bend Lyric Opera’s production of “Hansel and Gretel.” She has traveled to Kamuela, Hawaii and Arezzo, Italy for young artist programs and has participated in master classes with such names as Jake Heggie, Dawn Upshaw, and the great African-American tenor, George Shirley. When she is not singing or teaching, she can be found researching and working with African-American composed music, her specialization. She is a member of the African American Art Song Alliance.”
Katelyn Pryzbylski, Soprano
Katelyn Pryzbylski, Soprano, is very happy to return for her second season with the South Bend Chamber Singers after taking a year off. She graduated from Saint Mary’s College with a degree in Music Education. In her time at Saint Mary’s, she was a member of the Women’s Choir, participated in four Madrigal Dinners, studied voice, and performed in the Operettas Gianni Schicchi and The Enchanted Pig. a lifetime member of the South Bend community, is currently working with Beacon Health System in the Transport department at Memorial Hospital.
Jon Sherry, Bass
Jon Sherry, Bass, graduated from Bethel College with a degree in Church Music in 1985. He and his wife, Jodi (deceased), served various congregations until 2011. In 2013 he started working as a Plant Supervisor for Triangle Rubber and Plastics at their Elkhart Plant. Jon has been an intermittent member of the bass section for 6 years.
Joseph Smith, Bass
Joseph Smith, Bass, sang with the South Bend Chamber Singers for fifteen years before 2008 when he moved to Louisville, KY. He returned to the Chamber Singers in 2014. Now retired from more than 30 years in hospital work as a neuro-diagnostic technologist, and more recently as a sleep lab technologist, and massage therapist. In high school, he got his start in performing music as a church musician and has continued throughout his life. He now resides in South Bend with his husband. Joe enjoys baking cookies or working outside in the yard when he is not singing.
Claire Stewart, Alto
Claire Stewart, Alto, is excited to return to the SBCS for a fifth season! She earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication studies and English Literature from Saint Mary’s College. During her four years of college, she sang in the Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir and participated in two Madrigal Dinners. As a member of Bellacappella (Saint Mary’s premier a cappella group), she developed a passion for arranging music. A native of the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, she currently lives in Fort Wayne, IN and works as an Assistant Manager with Enterprise Holdings, Inc.
Erin Wendt, Soprano
Erin Wendt, Soprano, is a second year choral conducting student studying at the University of Notre Dame as an Alice A. Martin Masters in Sacred Music Fellow. Currently she works with the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and as the music intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church in South Bend. Erin taught junior high and high school choir for five years in the Gilbert Public Schools system in Gilbert, Arizona after graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2012 with dual bachelor degrees in vocal performance and choral music education. While at NAU, she sang in the Shrine of the Ages choir and the select vocal jazz ensemble High Altitude, in addition to studying voice with Dr. Ricardo Pereira. In 2012, Erin was awarded the Outstanding Future Music Educator award by the Arizona Choral Directors Association and in 2014 she was awarded the New Choral Educator of the Year awards by the Arizona Choral Educators association. This is Erin’s first season with the Chamber Singers.
Doug Williamson, Bass
Doug Williamson, Bass, is a Montana native who has lived in South Bend for fifteen years, and has been with SBCS for 14½ seasons. Doug sang with Helena Symphony Chorale, Helena, Montana for ten years prior to moving to South Bend and has had much experience with musical theater and dramatic theater. Recently, Doug appeared in the South Bend Civic Theater’s production of Les Miserables, and has also played the role of Voltaire/Dr. Pangloss in Saint Mary’s production of Candide. Doug is a graduate of Carroll College, Helena, Montana (biology) and works for the South Bend Medical Foundation. His hobbies include landscaping, gardening, cooking, travel, and long walks.