The Grosse Pointe South Choir Department is comprised of four choral ensembles that involve 130 students in grades 9 – 12. Students perform major workshops, concerts and competitions throughout the school year. Every other year the choral department travels internationally. Past performance tours include Spain, Italy, Greece, England, France and upcoming in 2016, Ireland!
The Grosse Pointe South Choir Department is one of the most successful choral programs in Michigan earning awards for choral sound, choreography, technical assistance, costuming and shows. The four choirs build an atmosphere of family in the large South High School community.
Alumni of the choral program have gone on into fields in music education, business, medicine, law and are widely acclaimed actors and actresses on Broadway, television and in motion pictures. Whether students pursue a career in the musical arts or follow another path, the choral department strives to create life-long learners and supporters of the performing and musical arts.
The Choral Department of Grosse Pointe South is supported by the Grosse Pointe South Choir Boosters, comprised of parents and supporters of the choral department.
Christopher D. Pratt is a 1995 graduate of Center Grove High School. He obtained a BS in Music Education (2000) from Ball State University and a MS in Educational Leadership (2011) from Indiana University.
During college Chris spent three years performing with Millikin University’s Singing Blue; was President for two years and organized Millikin’s Big Blue Show Choir Invitational. At Ball State he spent a year performing with Indiana’s Official Goodwill Ambassadors, The Ball State University Singers. In addition, Chris was also employed in Ball State’s Office of Admissions where he worked in University Relations.
Before coming to Grosse Pointe South, Mr. Pratt was Director of Choirs at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, IN. At Center Grove he directed five of the nine choirs, including the award-winning show choir CG Sound System and chamber choir, CG Singers. CG Sound System has been named Grand Champion Show Choir at SHOWSTOPPERS Show Choir Invitational and FAME Show Choir Invitational in New York City, Branson, Chicago and Orlando.
In addition, CG Sound System was recognized by Indiana’s Governor for their outstanding achievements at the Regional and National competitions. Collectively, his choirs have won over 120 Grand Champion awards. As a first year teacher, Mr. Pratt was a proud recipient of Danville District 118 (IL), David L. Fields Outstanding Teacher of the Year.
With a foundation in choral music and choreography, Chris has also worked extensively with choirs and students throughout Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
Richard Wolf has served as the accompanist for Grosse Pointe South High School Choirs since August 2004. Prior to Grosse Pointe South, he served for 9 years as the accompanist at Rochester High School. Prior to his work at Rochester, he also served for one year as accompanist at Adams High School in Rochester Hills. In previous years Richard has also served as accompanist for the Troy Community Chorus and the Symphonia Chorale (based in Romeo, Michigan).
Richard is a 1992 graduate of Ball State University, where he studied choral music and piano, and a 1988 graduate of Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township. In addition to his work as an accompanist, he has also maintained an active interest in musical theatre. For four years he served as musical director for Pontiac Theatre IV, providing direction for 6 shows during his tenure. Additionally he has worked with Rochester Community Schools Summer Musical Theatre program for 9 years in various positions, as well as played for performances of Grosse Pointe Summer Stock. Richard also served as vocal director for 12 musical theatre productions at Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights. Two shows for which he provided direction at Stevenson were selected to perform at the International Thespian Society conventions, and two shows were selected to perform at the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association One-Act Theatre Finals. Most recently Richard has had the opportunity to branch out into the world of opera – he served as the staff accompanist for the Michigan Opera Theatre Summer Opera Camp in 2012 & 2013.
Richard has also served as a member of the Full Board of the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA). From 1999 to 2003 he served MSVMA as District 16 Manager, where he supervised all District-level Solo & Ensemble Festivals and Choral Festivals for schools in Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair, and Wayne Counties (including Grosse Pointe). From 2003 to 2006 he served the organization as Region C and TTBB High School Honors Choir Supervisor, where he coordinated and supervised high school Honors Choir auditions for 7 counties in Southeast Michigan, as well as supervise the men’s High School State Honors Choir each January. Richard has also served MSVMA as its resident sight reading composer from 1999-2005 – all students and choirs who sightread at Honors Choir auditions, District Choral Festivals, and State Solo & Ensemble Festivals have sung his sight reading exercises at those festivals. in past years he wrote the High School Honors Choir Supervisors’ Manual and co-authored the District Managers’ Manual for the organization, as well as served as editor for MSVMA’s online edition of its Membership Handbook and Directory. Most recently Richard served MSVMA as Awards Supervisor for all Honors Choir, Solo & Ensemble Festivals, and Choral Festivals throughout the state from 2006 to 2013.
Church music is another of Richard’s active interests. Currently Richard serves as organist at First Congregational Church in New Baltimore, where he has served since October 2012. From 2004-2012 he was the Director of Music, organist, and adult choir director at Trinity Lutheran Church in Richmond, where he led music at all worship services (both contemporary and traditional worship), rebuilding the Adult Choir after the choir’s absence in the congregation for many years, and beginning a contemporary praise team. Previously he served as Director of Music at Abiding Presence Lutheran Church in Rochester Hills for 7 years, where he served on the Organ Committee and assisted in the selection of that church’s new organ in the fall of 1997. He has also served Lutheran and Catholic congregations in Shelby Township and Troy. Richard has also served on the Worship Committee for the Southeast Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, where he assisted in the planning of Synod-wide worship events.
As a choral singer, Richard has served as tenor section leader for the international award-winning Detroit Concert Choir (where he has also served as an associate accompanist), and has sung with the traveling competition choir (most recently competing in Gorizia, Italy in July 2004). He has also sung for 3 seasons with the Meadowbrook Festival Chorus (the summer chorus for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra) and with the Gil Jackson Chorale. He has sung and played under the direction of such noted directors as Gordon Nelson, Thomas Sheets, Steve Zegree, Charlene Archibeque, Neeme Jarvi, John Morris Russell, and Leonard Slatkin. He has also had the opportunity to participate in High Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on two occasions – as a singer in July 2004, and playing the organ in February 2012.
Richard currently lives in Harper Woods, and is equally at home with all types of musical genres, including classical, pop, musical theatre, and jazz, as well as MIDI programming and music composition software. Outside of the music world, Richard enjoys cooking, and maintains an active rooting interest since childhood in the Chicago Cubs.
Anita Adams is a graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. She received her Bachelors Degree in Management Information Systems from Oakland University in 1998. Anita worked at General Motors/EDS/HP as an Information Specialist until 2009. During the tax season, she works as a Tax Preparer for H & R Block where she has earned her Enrolled Agent certification.
Having a child participate in the South choir program has given Anita many opportunities to volunteer with the choir and given her a love and deep appreciation for the program and the young men and women that participate in choir. Anita began working as the Choral Administrative Assistant in the Summer of 2016. She enjoys working behind the scene, helping the choir continue to be all it can be!
Andy Haines has been a free-lance Choreographer for the past 33 years. After finishing a BA from Ohio State University, he began a career as a performer and choreographer in musical theater productions as well as choreographing Miss America State Pageants. Andy has been quite active on the show choir circuit for a number of years. Center Grove High School “CG Sound System,” Findlay High School “First Edition,” Grosse Pointe South High School “Pointe Singers,” are groups currently performing his choreography. These groups have all been consistent finalists in top competitions around the country, and at one time or another, have been named Grand Champions of Showstoppers National and International Competitions eight times in the past nine years.
Jason is a show choir choreographer based out of Richmond, VA. He has studied dance and performance techniques for 25 years. He is well versed in many different dance styles including Tap, Jazz, Swing, Ballroom, Hip Hop and Theatre (Broadway). As a performer, Jason has performed in operas, musicals and professionally in various theme park shows. Obtaining a Bachelors of Music from James Madison University with a vocal concentration has given him the unique insight and knowledge of vocal production/technique that is rare to find in accomplished show choir choreographers. Jason continues to refine his choreography, dance and performance skills through various dance classes and performances. He currently choreographs and designs shows for mixed and women’s show choirs. Throughout 15 years as a show choir choreographer, his groups have captured many best choreography and show design awards. His groups have consistently placed in the top of their division and have garnered Grand Champion awards. Jason’s energy and love for what he does is infectious and inspires students to work at their greatest potential.
From Durham, NC, Annette Layman is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has completed work in dance education at UNC-Greensboro and Meredith College. In 1989 she was hired to establish and direct the dance program at C.E. Jordan High School in Durham for 9th through 12th grades. After three years in public education, Annette began a freelance career in 1992 and has choreographed and adjudicated for schools and other educational organizations from coast to coast including the Brightleaf Music Workshop in North Carolina, Showchoir Camps of America in Illinois and Ohio, the Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival, FAME Events of Arizona and the Butler Summer Showcase in Kansas.
In addition, she served as staff choreographer for Goingbarefoot Productions as well as adjudicator and clinician for various showchoir festivals around the county and choreographer of the Durham Public Schools’ auditioned group, “Spotlight.” In March 2001 she was privileged to make a presentation on choreography for the middle school/junior high school choir at the American Choral Directors’ Association national convention in San Antonio.
Annette’s work involves kids from 7 to 70 and has included other projects such as “The Duke Children’s Hospital Celebrity Classic” with honorary chairman, Perry Como, and then Jeff Foxworthy, the re-opening celebration of Durham’s historic Carolina Theater, directing past years productions of the “Duke Show” and working on other events for the Duke University Medical Center. Currently she is busy working on her new organization, Arts Mission, a non-profit dedicated to enriching lives through the positive impact of the arts. Its two main projects are the summer music workshops “Sing Out” for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, and “Next Stage,” for middle through high school aged students, both in Durham.
Nick Kuhl has been a professional musician and freelance vocalist throughout the Detroit area for over a decade. Nick has received numerous awards for singing, including the National Showstoppers Vocal Competition in Disney World and the Toronto Vocal Competition for Classical Singing. He has been a featured soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Michigan Pops Orchestra, and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra. Nick has performed and recorded in New York and Nashville under Warner Music Group, performed in X Generation and other Tangerine Moon Productions acts, and currently performs in Nick Kuhl and the Gang, one of Detroit’s leading wedding bands.. He has worked for several years as a private vocal instructor and freelance choral director for Grosse Pointe Public Schools, and is currently the co-director of vocal music at Seneca Middle School in Macomb, Michigan, where he has the pleasure of teaching nearly 500 choir students each day.
Bass-Baritone Tobey Miller is proud to be teaching some of the most talented voice students of GPS. In the past three years at South, his students have been accepted and granted scholarships to some of the most prestigious music schools across the country. Some of these schools include his alma mater, The Juilliard School, The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (CCM), The Manhattan School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern University, New York University, Boston Conservatory of Music, and The University of Michigan. His studio has also performed with great results at MSVMA Solo and Ensemble Festivals throughout the years where he has had two students named as MSVMA Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF) state finalists as well as two alternates. He feels very thankful that he can pass on to his students the wonderful voice instruction of W. Stephen Smith and the wonderful coaching of some of the best coaches in the world such as the late Nico Castel, Martin Katz, Brian Zeger, and Margo Garrett.
Tobey also brings a wealth of performance experience to his voice studio. Since graduating from The Juilliard School with his Master of Voice degree and having sung principal roles in the Juilliard Opera Theater, Mr. Miller has been contracted to sing at the Santa Fe Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, and Minnesota Opera. Some of his opera credits include: “The Emperor” in Tan Dun’s American premier of Tea: A Mirror of Soul, “Fourth Shepard” in Strauss’ Daphne, “Customs Officer” in Puccini’s La Boheme, “Calchas” in Gluck’s Iphigenie au Aulide, “Mercurio” in Cavalli’s La Calisto, “Betto di Signa” in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, “Leporello” in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, “Melchior” and “Belthazar” in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors “Giuseppe” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers and “Guglielmo” in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte.
Tobey has been contracted to sing at many recital halls across the United States, most notably the prestigious Carnegie Hall to sing in the American Premier of Imant Raminish’s “The Peace of Wild Things” and Alice Tully Hall singing Ibert’s song cycle “Don Quichotte.” Mr. Miller has also been heard as a soloist for Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Dvorak’s Requiem, Faure Requiem, Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio,and Mozart’s Requiem throughout the United States.
Mr. Miller was born and raised in Clinton Township, MI and completed his Bachelor of Music degree with university honors from The University of Michigan in 2004. During his time at the University of Michigan he was featured in the small ensemble of William Bolcoms’ Grammy winning recording of “The Songs of Innocence and Experience,” conducted by the DSO’s own Leonard Slatkin. During his undergraduate coursework Tobey also appeared on stage with Sarah Brightman as part of her “La Luna” tour, Carlos Santana as part of his “Smooth” tour and performed the role of “Dr. Neville Craven” in The Secret Garden with many singers currently performing on Broadway today.
Soprano Nicole Joseph received her Masters and Specialist Degree in Voice from the University of Michigan, and Bachelors in Voice from Pacific Lutheran University. Ms. Joseph will make her debut with Kentucky Opera this season as Beatrice in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. Other opera credits include Gretel (Hansel & Gretel) with Opera Modo, Papagena (Magic Flute) with Motor City Lyric Opera, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (Sugar Creek Opera), and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro and Musetta in La Bohème (University of Michigan Opera Theatre). As a concert soloist in the Detroit-area Nicole has performed with Motor City Lyric Opera, Flint Symphony, Oakland University, Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings, and Southern Great Lakes Symphony. Nicole has also performed with various regional festivals and orchestras in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and New York. As a member of the Austin-based choral group Conspirare, Nicole was a featured soloist on their 2015 Grammy award-winning recording Sacred Spirit of Russia, and was also heard singing to critical acclaim the role of Mary/Carrie Kipling in John Muehleisen’s Pietà. Nicole has also been the winner of numerous awards and competitions, including the Met Opera Auditions (MI), James Toland competition and Career Bridges Foundation award.
In addition to performing, Nicole maintains a full voice studio in Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills. She is a staff singer and soloist, as well at the Associate Director for Children’s Choirs at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church in Bloomfield Hills. She is proud of all the students she has had the pleasure to work with over the years, many of whom have gone on to major in music at well-respected schools around the country. Nicole’s students have often received top rankings at the MSVMA District, State and Musical Theatre Solo & Ensemble festivals, and one student was chosen as a MYAF Finalist. Nicole’s goal is to help all of her students achieve their best sound with a healthy technique, and encourage them in their artistry through musical preparation, diction and language fundamentals, and dramatic coaching.
Soprano Christina Swanson is pleased to return to her alma mater to teach students from one of the state’s best vocal programs. Christina received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan, where she studied under Dr. Scott Piper, and graduated with University Honors. A master of interpreting French opera and art song, she also completed a minor in French language, and received the award for Academic Achievement from the Department of Romance Languages and Literature for her translation of Jean Baptiste Lully’s Opera, Proserpine.
Known for her expressive interpretation, Christina has performed many roles with the University of Michigan Opera Workshop, including Baby in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Marie in La Fille du Regiment, and Norina in Don Pasquale. Other roles include Phyllis in Iothanthe (University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society,) and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana (Fresno Opera & Orchestra Academy). No stranger to the musical theatre and jazz, Christina received extensive training in both genres, performing both contemporary and golden age musical theatre, and was a featured vocalist in the new movie musical Liberty’s Secret.
Christina is a believer in artistic collaboration, and regularly performs at art galleries in the Detroit area. In addition to Grosse Pointe, she teaches at Third Wave Music in Detroit’s midtown neighborhood. This summer, she will make her debut with the Outvisible Theatre (Allen Park, MI) singing Angela in the musical Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens.
Christina’s goal is to empower her students with confidence, a solid technique, and tools to build flexibility in the sound.
11 Grosse Pointe Boulevard Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236 Phone (Choir Room): 313-432-3638 (Click for map)
(primary performance venue) Located at Grosse Pointe North High School 707 Vernier Road Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236 (Click for map)
(secondary performance venue) 260 Chalfonte Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236 (Click for map)