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
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.
Jennifer Bertelsen, originally from Texas, started singing as a child and would practice harmonies with her mother on long road trips. While in high school, Jennifer was a member of many choirs of various types including women’s groups, mixed groups, a capella jazz and pop, and barbershop! As an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, she sang with the Concert Chorale and performed in the student-run Madrigal Dinner, where she reigned as Head Wench for two years. Today, Jen is in Marketing with a growing gaming company and is loving having choral singing back in her life as a member of the Mägi Ensemble.
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.
Megan Larson Gardner, soprano, grew up in northern Alberta, where she received Royal Conservatory training in voice and piano. She attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where she performed with the school’s top ensembles in thirteen different states. She also performed with her friends in the student-run Disney Choir! Megan has performed in operas in South Carolina and New Jersey, and has sung professionally in New York at both Trinity Episcopal Church (Wall Street) and Marble Collegiate Church. Her solo oratorio experience includes Poulenc’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah, and Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri. After college she did an ethnomusicology internship in Burkina Faso, and continues to work on a music transcription project for the Fulani people of West Africa. She has worked as a church musician in a variety of settings and has taught in both public and private schools. Since moving to Seattle, she has developed an active piano studio, sung with Josh Groban, experimented with the ukulele, and joined the Dickens Carolers (and the 12th man). Megan also owns a Celtic harp.
Shelby Leyland originally hails from Nebraska, where she graduated from Hastings College. After living in Japan for nearly two years, Shelby has settled in Seattle. She is a music teacher at Lowell Elementary School and a teaching artist with Seattle Symphony.
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.
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. She has sung with choirs all over the world, including the London Philharmonic Choir and London Choral Society, been assistant conductor of the New London Children’s Chorus, Artistic Director of the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra, and conductor of the University of Washington’s University Singers. Julie is a regular Musical Director for Youth Theatre Northwest, as well as directing for New Door Theatrics and the University of Washington’s Undergraduate Theatre Society. She sits on the board of the Washington State American Choral Directors Association, and serves on the national ACDA technology committee.
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, and then later finding her passion for voice and theatre. Recent roles include a Squirrelle in Elephant and Piggie: We’re in a Play!, Jeremy Jacob in How I Became A Pirate, Little Red and Rapunzel in Into the Woods, and Ghost of Christmas Future in A Christmas Carol. She’s definitely looking forward to where life takes her next!
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.