The Denver Children’s Choir staff create a supportive learning environment where all participants feel welcome. Music staff are accomplished musicians and gifted educators who nurture the singers and encourage musical and vocal growth. They teach music literacy, set high standards, instill confidence, and promote self-esteem.
Leslie Britton, Artistic Director and Founding Music Director (contact Leslie)
Leslie Britton is responsible for developing and implementing the choir’s unique mission that partners musical excellence with commitments to inclusiveness, multiculturalism, diversity, and outreach. Leslie directs the Fourteeners and Thin Air, and teaches a musicianship class to choir members. Ms. Britton was the former Music Director and conductor for the nationally renowned Chicago Children’s Choir. With thousands of children in its program, the Chicago Children’s Choir is the largest choral performance and training choir of its kind in the nation. Leslie holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Dartmouth College and a Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting from Northwestern University. She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda music honorary society and the American Choral Director’s Association.
Lisa Cameron, Music Director (contact Lisa)
Lisa Cameron was instrumental in the audition and selection of the choir’s original music staff, and then joined the staff in 1997. Ms. Cameron has conducted every choir level from Montane to Altitude. Her primary responsibilities include fulfilling the Choir’s mission of outreach to the community, and ensuring musical excellence, multiculturalism, diversity, and a nurturing environment. She oversees our Neighborhood Choir Program and is involved in setting up In-School choirs in under-served neighborhoods. Before becoming Music Director, Lisa taught music at Stanley British Primary School for many years, and was busy raising three daughters, all of whom are choir alumnae. Ms. Cameron received a Bachelor of Music degree from Iowa State University and a Master of Music Education degree with an emphasis in Children’s and Adolescent Voices from Northwestern University, and while there was elected a member of the music honorary society Pi Kappa Lambda.
Jane Ripper, Principal Accompanist
Jane Ripper has been the principal accompanist with the choir since its beginning, and currently accompanies Fourteeners and Thin Air. For many years, she was the Associate Director of Music and Organist at Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver. Ms. Ripper performs concerts and workshops for the American Guild of Organists, American Choral Directors Association, Music Educators National Conferences, and Choristers Guild Festivals, as well as vocal and instrumental recitals, master classes, and musical theater productions. Just think about the number of notes Jane has played with two hands (and two feet)!
Ms. Ripper received a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance and a Master of Sacred Music degree from Southern Methodist University. Jane was selected for the music honorary society Pi Kappa Lambda while attending SMU. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Simpson College.
Corie Brown, Conductor
Corie Brown joins the Denver Children’s Choir this year working with the Fourteeners, and directing and developing in-school programs in the Harvey Park and Park Hill neighborhoods. She earned her Master’s in Choral Conducting at the University of Oregon and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Conducting at the University of Colorado Boulder. She recently worked with the Renaissance Project in Boulder and prior, with the national music organization Fundacion Batuta in Colombia, South America. Corie has taught music in Chicago Public Schools, and throughout Michigan.
Juliane Dowell, Conductor
Juliane Dowell currently conducts the Summit Singers with the Denver Children’s Choir. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Westminster Choir College. She has since taught music at the primary and secondary levels and has sung with several semi-professional vocal ensembles in the area, including Ars Nova in Boulder, Kantorei, and the Anima Chamber Ensemble in Denver. Juli completed her master’s at Johns Hopkins University, served as the Children’s Choir Repertoire and Standards chair on the Colorado ACDA board, and currently directs the children’s and youth’s music programs at Bethany Lutheran Church.
Kali Paguirigan, Conductor
Kali Paguirigan is a recent Denver transplant. She was a choir parent first and happily joined the conducting team. Kali teaches music at the Kent Denver School. She received her BM in vocal performance from the Eastman School of Music and an MFA in vocal performance from CalArts. In addition to conducting for the Choir, she sings with Kantorei and Impromptu choirs, and works as a soloist in Denver. When Kali isn’t singing or working with kids, she enjoys playing the piano, violin and the guitar, cooking, eating, practicing yoga and spending time with her family.
Megan Wick, Conductor
Megan Wick joins the Denver Children’s Choir as a Timberline conductor in the Hilltop and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, and directing and developing the in-school program at the Dora Moore school. She is currently a full-time PhD Music Education student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has 6 years of experience teaching music in the public schools, and absolutely loves sharing and making music with her students. Megan currently lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and 2 dogs.
Yuko Hata, Conductor
Yuko Hata conducts the Timberline choir in Park Hill, assists and accompanies with the Park Hill Alpine choir, and directs the in-school program at Roots Elementary School. As the daughter of professional opera singers and pianists, she grew up participating in piano and choral studies and went on to perform professionally as a jazz singer, arranger, and composer. She received her Undergraduate degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance at Berklee College of Music, and a Masters of Arts at New York University. She has worked in private and public schools as a music educator and has guided private piano and voice students for over two decades. She is raising two middle school boys, and is grateful to be a part of DCC this year.
Katie Sakanai, Conductor and Accompanist
Katie Sakanai currently conducts the Timberline choir in the Chaffee Park neighborhood and accompanies and assists with the Timberline choir in the Capital Hill neighborhood. She has 12 years of experience teaching K-12 Chorus and Band and runs a private lesson studio. She majored in Music and Russian at Wellesley Collee in Massachusetts. After graduation, she studied Russian classical music on a Fulbright scholarship to Russia at the Gnesin Institute in Moscow. She received her Master’s in Music Education with an emphasis in conducting from Colorado State University.
Cindy Kraybill, Development and Marketing Director (contact Cindy)
Cindy Kraybill brings experience in education, marketing, and non-profit management to her position as Director of Development and Marketing. She spent many years in various marketing capacities for Storage Technology Corporation and taught for Denver Public Schools. Most recently she was the Director of Development and Donor Relations for Firefly Autism.
She is the mother of two daughters: one a science journalist in San Francisco, and another studying engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She plays various musical instruments including the piano, guitar, dulcimer, clarinet, and accordion.
Mary O’Neill Christ, Office Manager (contact Mary)
Mary Christ, a long-time choir parent, joined the staff in 2009 conducting the Montane Choirs and now serves as the Office Manager and accompanies and assists in the in-school program at Compass Academy, and assists with Fourteeners. Mary holds a Master of Arts in Vocal Performance from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Pomona College in Claremont, California, with additional studies at the Aspen Music School and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Mary currently sings in Kantorei, at Wellshire Presbyterian Church, and with the women’s ensemble, Impromptu. Mary has worked in the Public Relations/Development Office at Regis College and with the Higher Education Group, a consulting firm to colleges and universities.
Betsy Britz, Accompanist
Betsy Britz accompanies the Summit Singers. She has a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Colorado College, and has worn a variety of hats with the choir over the years, including choir mom, volunteer, accompanist, assistant to the conductors, and general kid-wrangler. She currently sings with the local women’s choir Impromptu, and music remains a passion in her life. Another passion for Betsy is healthcare, which is fulfilled in her role as an Advanced Practice Nurse at the University of Colorado Hospital Kidney and Pancreas Transplant program.
Mercedes Campana, Accompanist
Mercedes Campana plays for the Mountain Aires ensemble and teaches a musicianship class to choir members. She graduated from Humber College in Toronto with a Bachelor of Music in Composition in 2012. A Denver native, Mercedes was a member of the choir from the beginning in 1996 through 2007. Mercedes enjoys teaching piano, writing songs, and walking her dog.
Doria Cladis, Accompanist
Doria Cladis, accompanies the Timberline choir in the Hilltop neighborhood and in the Smith Elementary in-school program. She has taught piano lessons at Stanley British Primary School, Bromwell Elementary, and in her home for the last twenty years. She has a degree in Early Childhood Developmental Psychology from the University of Colorado and has held positions in Bea Romer’s Child Care Initiative, as an elementary school teacher, and Director of the Denver Coop Preschool. She has three adult daughters: two in Denver, and one currently living in Munich, Germany.
Debbie MacGilvray, Accompanist
Debbie MacGilvray accompanies the Timberline choir in the Chaffee Park neighborhood. She has taught band, choir and orchestra in Denver Public Schools for 30 years. She received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Music Education from Adams State University and has a Master’s degree in Technology in the Curriculum from Lesley University. Debbie also directs the adult church choir and hand bell choir at Trinity Lutheran Church. She is married and has two sons who are also musicians.
Leah Peer, Accompanist
Leah Peer accompanies the Timberline choir in the Park Hill neighborhood and the in-school program at Roots Elementary School. She has been an active performing pianist for nearly forty years, and has established several chamber ensembles around the US. She is the founder and music director of Kol Nashim, the Women’s Choir of the Colorado Hebrew Chorale here in Denver, established the choral music program at the Kadimah School of Buffalo, and served as assistant director with Amherst Bel Canto select choirs in Buffalo, NY. She holds an M. Music degree in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. Leah has sung with the Colorado Hebrew Chorale since 2007, has served on its board since 2008, and directed Kol Nashim since 2012.