Heather MacLaughlin Garbes is currently Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, where she helped develop and maintains the UW Baltic Choral Library, the first collection of its kind in the United States. She is also Founder and Artistic Director of the Mägi Ensemble, a women’s ensemble that performs and records Baltic music. Dr. MacLaughlin Garbes has presented at ACDA Divisional, College Music Society’s National and International conferences, the Library of Congress and the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies conferences. She co-authored the chapter “Baltic Languages: Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian” in the book The Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet in the Choral Rehearsal (Scarecrow Press). She has conducted numerous collegiate and community ensembles in the Seattle, Chicago, and Houston areas and currently conducts the Finnish Choral Society of Seattle as well as works with the Eesti Koor (Estonian) and Vakarai Lithuanian choirs in Seattle. www.heathermaclaughlin.com
Julie Parsons has sung in choirs from the age of 8, and has over 30 years of classical music training. She holds a BA in Vocal Performance from Central College (IA) and a MM in Choral Conducting from New England Conservatory, and is currently finishing her DMA from the University of Washington.
Julie is the conductor of the Norwegian Male Chorus of Seattle, a music specialist at St. Thomas More Parish School, and organizer of Seattle’s Beer Choir: Rain City chapter. She is the president of the Washington State chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and board member with the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium.
Monica Armstrong, mezzo-soprano, earned a Bachelor of Music in Voice from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She came to Seattle for love in 2013. The love was a terrible plan, but moving here was the second-best thing she ever did (the first-best was joining Mägi, obviously). She has been singing since high school and is so thrilled to be a part of this group of incredible women to look up to, laugh with, and learn from. Community, creating opportunity, and humor are the most important things to Monica. She teaches classes at Jubilee Women’s Center, bakes too many things for friends and coworkers to eat, and is much better at cooking than she used to be. She lives in Capitol Hill with two cats and her girlfriend, who is slowly becoming immune to her puns.
Audience members have described Madeline Bersamina’s solo work as “brilliant”, “sublime” and “perfect and true.” Recent solo engagements include Boccherini’s Stabat Mater and Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri. Madeline has lent her solo voice to many masterworks including Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. John Passion, Handel’s Messiah and Schubert’s Mass in G. In 2016, she sung in the premiere performance of Hope Wechkin’s The Withing Project. An avid recitalist, Madeline has been featured on recital series in California, Washington, and Germany.
As a choral artist, Madeline has sung with the Berwick Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival (Eugene, OR), Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble (Germany), Bach Ensemble Helmuth Rilling (Germany), and many groups in the Seattle area.
She completed her master of music in Voice Performance at the University of Washington and currently studies with Nancy Zylstra. madelinebersamina.com
Stephanie Bull is a lyric mezzo soprano, born and raised in Texas. She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, with specific training in classical and operatic music, from Texas Lutheran University. Previous choirs include Kantori Choir, TLU Mixed Choir, TLU Women’s Choir, and Children’s Chorus of San Antonio. Stephanie currently works at Youth Theatre Northwest as the registrar. She can be seen in Seattle-area theater productions throughout the year. Previous shows include Jekyll and Hyde (Emma), Fancy Nancy (Rhonda), Beauty and the Beast (Belle), and Seussical (Mayzie La Bird). When not performing on stage, singing 12-part harmony, or working with kids, Stephanie likes to eat breakfast tacos.
Marjorie Bunday, contralto, began her singing life as a high school tenor in a suburb of Washington, DC. 35 years later, she has a career that has had highlights in both the alto and mezzo-soprano realms. In DC, she appeared as soloist and professional chorister on stages from the Kennedy Center to Washington National Cathedral, performing medieval to modern classical music with groups including Washington Bach Consort, Woodley Ensemble, and the National Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, she moved to Denver and established herself as Baroque soloist, Hildegard von Bingen enthusiast, and singer/director of the Denver Early Music Consort. Since arriving in Seattle in 2015, she has become a choir section leader and cantor at St. James Cathedral, where she also works in the music office. She is excited to join the Mägi Ensemble and begin exploring the rich body of music from the Baltics, and to spend quality time with the lower register of her singing voice. Marjorie and her husband Dave love living in Seattle, where they try to make friends with the neighborhood crows.
Teresa Clark has been singing most of her life and has a special love for Early music. In addition to the Mägi Ensemble, she currently sings with local chamber ensemble Vox16 and the Trinity Episcopal Church choir, and serves on the board of the Byrd Ensemble.
Teresa works for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and lives in South Seattle.
A Washington native, Danya recently moved back to Washington from the Bay Area in order to start her Masters in Public Administration at the University of Washington. In the Bay Area she enjoyed singing with the San Francisco Choral Artists and Volti, and since moving back has reconnected with the Seattle ensembles Solaris, the Esoterics, and the Bach Choir. As a new mom and graduate student she is enjoying discovering the world through new eyes, but is grateful for any opportunity to sing! She is delighted to be performing in her first season with the wonderful women of the Magi Ensemble.
Mezzo soprano Erica Convery is excited to join the Mägi Ensemble for the first time this season. Audiences recently heard Ms. Convery in Seattle Modern Opera Company’s updated production of Offenbach’s La Belle Hèléne, in the chorus of Seattle Opera in their production of Aida, and with Chorosynthesis, a professional Seattle-based choral ensemble, in a summer concert featuring new choral works on social justice. Ms. Convery will also be a featured soloist on Chorosynthesis’ upcoming album with Centaur Records. Ms. Convery enjoys performing both concert and opera works. She recently performed the role as Hansel in Northwest Opera in Schools, Etc’s outreach production of Hansel and Gretel and filled in as Mercedes in Tacoma Opera’s production of Carmen earlier this year. Before moving to Washtington state, Ms. Convery resided in Baltimore, MD, and sang with Bel Cantanti Opera, Maryland Lyric Opera, The Bridge Ensemble, and was a regular soloist with the Baltimore Musicales.
Miss Convery made her Carnegie Hall & Kennedy Center concert debuts while finishing her Master of Music degree at the Peabody Institute. Ms. Convery received two consecutive scholarship grants from the Stockton Opera Competition, is a recipient of two consecutive Peabody Career Grants, winner of the George Castelle Memorial Award, as well as a member of the elite music honor society of Pi Kappa Lambda. Ms. Convery currently resides in Everett, Washington with her husband, Chris, and enjoys teaching voice and piano in her private studio.
Meaghan Guterman, soprano, is thrilled to join the Mägi Ensemble this season. A recent transplant from Milwaukee, Meaghan performed often in the region and sang with esteemed groups such as Bella Voce, East Side Chamber Players, Milwaukee Choral Artists, and Milwaukee Chamber Choir. She holds degrees in vocal performance from the University of Iowa
(BM), the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (MM), and is currently pursuing her DMA at the University of Washington. She is a section leader and cantor at St. James Cathedral, and has toured and recorded with Chorosynthesis. Meaghan also teaches privately, and enjoys her new role as a mother when not singing or rehearsing.
Shelby Leyland originally hails from Nebraska and studied Music Education at Hastings College. After living in Japan for nearly two years, Shelby has settled in Seattle and has been part of several singing groups, including Musica Sacra, Seattle Symphony Chorale, and Seattle Choral Company. She loves the uniquely friendly and communal nature of the Magi Ensemble and feels excited to be in this group of brilliant, driven, powerful women.
She is a music teacher at Lowell Elementary School where she feels truly at home sharing the joys of music with the musicians of our future. She is involved in the Seattle Educators community through NW Kodaly Association and helps lead her school’s Racial Equity Team and Arts Team. Shelby is currently working towards learning the accordion and infusing her school curriculum with Baltic tunes.
Maria Männistö, “one of the most hauntingly beautiful voices I have heard in years,” (Seattle Times), moves comfortably among a wide range of musical styles to international acclaim. This season, she will appear as soloist with Pacific Northwest Ballet in West Side Story Suite, A Dark and Lonely Space, and The Nutcracker, on the Seattle Symphony mainstage in Janáček’s The Eternal Gospel, with Seattle Symphony [untitled] in Berio’sCircles and Reinbert De Leeuw’s Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai, and in Brahm’s German Requiem at the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium’s 2018 Big Sing. Other recent solo engagements include Sibelius’ Kullervo with Seattle Symphony, Saariaho’s Leinolaulut with Philharmonia Northwest, Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre with Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, and a performance of her own compositions at Musiikkitalo concert hall in Helsinki. A dedicated member of the Finnish community in Seattle, she serves as organist and music director at the Finnish Lutheran Church, and performs regularly at local Nordic festivals and events.
Jessica Martin has been singing for as long as she can remember and has sung with many different types of groups, including choirs, musical theater, a cappella, and small ensembles. While an undergraduate at the University of Washington, Jessica sang with the UW Chamber Singers, with whom she had the opportunity to travel to the Baltic countries and sing a program of primarily Baltic music. Jessica currently also sings in a quartet with the Dickens Carolers and is an attorney in Seattle, practicing mostly family law and civil litigation. When at home, Jessica can be found doting on her doggies, Barley and Maddie.
Ailisa Newhall earned her bachelor’s degree in voice performance at Western Washington University in Bellingham and performance certificate at Le Conservatoire Darius Milhaud in Aix-en-Provence. She moved to Seattle in 2003 to attend the graduate program at the University of Washington. As a National Board Certified Music Teacher, Newhall runs the choral program at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore, WA and directs the Young Men’s ensemble at St. James Cathedral. Newhall was a featured artist on several video game soundtracks including Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, and Praey for the Gods. She has performed and recorded with many local artists including Pearl Jam, Allen Stone, The Seattle Rock Orchestra, The Seattle Symphony, Philharmonia Northwest, Opus 7, Choral Arts Northwest, and others. She has worked on feature films including The Ring II and Laggies. Newhall is a founding member of the Magi Ensemble. In her spare time, she runs Pinehurst Photography.
Emi Ostrom has been singing since she was a small child, when her mother banned her from singing at the dinner table. She went on to study music in college, first earning a degree in Oboe performance at Oberlin Conservatory, then sailing over to England for a Master’s in solo voice ensemble singing. She returned to Seattle to be close to her family, and currently sings in the St. James Cathedral Cantorei, St. James Women’s Schola and Tacoma Early Music Ensemble. In 2017 she founded her own group, Les Chanterelles, to sing one-on-a-part medieval and Renaissance music inspired by folk traditions.
As a person of Swedish-Finnish and Polish descent, she is excited to join Mägi Ensemble and connect with her musical heritage.
Massachusetts-born soprano Sarah Riskind conducts ensembles at the Pacifica Choirs and Magnolia United Church of Christ; she also recently created a women’s chamber choir to premiere her new arrangements of Sephardic music. Her compositions include many settings of Jewish liturgical texts, in addition to larger works such as the 2016 Oz Cantata. Through her work as choral director and faculty member at The Walden School (www.waldenschool.org), an inspiring summer program in NH for creative musicians, she has become an advocate for developing musicianship, composition, and improvisation skills among all ages and abilities. She holds a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington, an MM in Choral Conducting from University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a BA in Music from Williams College. Sarah’s other interests include fiddling, contra-dancing, and singing Renaissance music from original notation. www.sarahriskind.com
Chelsea Walker has been looking for a group like the Mägi Ensemble since before she can remember! Being of Latvian descent, she’s always wanted to find a way to connect with her roots. Being able to sing while doing it is simply icing on the cake.
Chelsea has studied music almost her whole life, starting first as a Trumpet Performance major, then later finder her passion for voice and theatre. Some of her favorite theatre credits include Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Young Frankenstein, and Little Shop of Horrors.
When not singing or performing, Chelsea likes to spend time with her wonderfully supportive husband, and two cats, Duck, and Rumble.
Eliza Woodyard, soprano, moved to Seattle after earning her Master of Music degree from University of Northern Colorado and her Bachelor of Music degree from New Mexico State University. She has enjoyed performing in operas, concerts, recitals, a cappella ensembles, and choruses in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, the Southwest, Germany, and France. Recent performances include Hansel and Gretel (Gretel) and The Tales of Hoffmann: The Doll Act (Olympia) with Northwest Opera In Schools, La rondine (Yvette) with Puget Sound Concert Opera, Michel Edward’s Symphony No. 4 with Octava Chamber Orchestra, Die Zauberflöte (Erste Knabe) with Opera Classica Europa, and The Ballad of Baby Doe (Silver Dollar, Baby Doe cover) with Opera Fort Collins. She is a member of the Seattle Opera Chorus and has appeared in their productions of Nabucco, Les pecheurs de perles, Der fliegende Hollander, and Aïda.
Trina Wright spent her teens studying classical voice and performing in swing and concert choirs, but ended up pursuing a career in lighting design for theater, earning a BFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Most of her work can be seen at Youth Theatre Northwest or Live Girls! Theater. She is delighted to join Mägi Ensemble because harmonizing with this group of women is so much better than with the radio. When not catching up on her music or climbing ladders in the theater, she can be found building legos with her two boys or strolling with her husband and two dogs.