Artistic Director & Prime Voci Conductor
Jake Winkler grew up singing in the Northwest Boychoir under the direction of Joseph Crnko.
He attended the University of Washington, where he studied piano with Holly Herrmann and
Marc Seales, ultimately earning his Master of Music in orchestral conducting under maestro
Peter Erös. Jake has served on the staff of the Northwest Choirs for fifteen years as an
accompanist and director, advancing to the position of Associate Music Director before
joining the Seattle Girls' Choir in the fall of 2009. Jake studied film composition with
Grammy-winning composer Hummie Mann, and still gets to stretch his composition chops for
the occasional video game soundtrack (he has written music for titles for the Apple iPhone
and the Nintendo DS). He is a former member of the dynamic jazz and R&B vocal group Groove
For Thought, and he continues to sing actively as a choir member in recording sessions for
film and video games. Jake lives in Seattle with his wife Jessie, and their two sons Leo
Jerome L. Wright
Founder & Artistic Director Emeritus
Dr. Jerome Wright, possesses over fifty years of professional conducting, 27 of those years
include his leadership of Seattle Girls' Choir. In the fall of 2009 he began the transition
of leadership culminating in his retirement in January 2010. Not to worry, Dr. Wright will
continue as an integral resource for the Seattle Girls' Choir's for years to come. (etc.) A
native of the State of Washington, he received most of his musical education at the
University of Washington, and majored at the graduate level in Symphonic Conducting under
the late Stanley Chapple, while studying choral conducting with Rodney Eichenberger. He has
five degrees, including two doctorates. He is a master artist-teacher who delights in seeing
his students catch the spark of truly passionate, exciting, literate, creative music making.
Dr. Wright has earned the respect of his colleagues because of his enthusiasm, energy,
professionalism and musical results. In addition to his position with the Seattle Girls'
Choir, he guest conducts festival choruses, and adjudicates and conducts master classes and
Assistant Artistic Director & Cantamus Conductor
Alex Gagiu began his career with the Seattle Girls' Choir in the year 2000. He was born in
Romania, and has been living in the United States since 1986. He received his Bachelor in
Music/Piano Performance from The Juilliard School (New York City) while studying with
Seymour Lipkin. At the graduate level he majored in Choral Conducting under Dr. Joseph
Flummerfelt at the Westminster Choir College (Princeton, New Jersey) and is a Choral
Conducting doctoral candidate at the University of Washington. Alex directs the Cantamus
Choir. He also actively participates in the instruction of the SGC Music Theory. He teaches
vocal and general music in the Renton School District and has been active as a church
musician and piano teacher in the Seattle area since moving to the Northwest in 1994. Alex
presently resides in Seattle with his wife Hellen and two children, Andrew and Irina.
Aimee re-joined Seattle Girls' Choir in June 2011. A graduate of ArtsFund Board Leadership
Training Program, she is a board member for ACDA Washington (UNISON Editor), The Greater
Seattle Choral Consortium (Education, Communications, Social Events) an Advisory Board member
for Simple Measures (Chamber Music), and she spent six years as a board member for Seattle
Opera affiliate groups. She has been an active volunteer for the Washington State Arts Alliance,
Seattle Opera, Indianapolis Children's Choir, and the Tacoma Arts Commission.
From 2005-2008 she was the conductor of SGC's Allegra and she is thrilled to be back in this role.
She has taught music theory, sight-singing, composition, and music history at the high school and
undergraduate levels. She has also taught middle and high school choir for over ten years in both
public and private schools. She holds a B.M of Music Education (choral) from Washington State
University, a M.M. in Music Composition from Butler University, and she is a Ph.D. Candidate in
Music History at the University of Washington. While at Butler University, she studied children's
choral techniques with Henry Leck, and she has undertaken additional conducting work with Michael
Schwartzkopf (Indiana University), Rodney Eichenberger and Jerome Wright. She has studied composition
with Charles Argersinger (WSU), James Aikman (Butler U), and Michael Schelle (Butler U). She is also
the recipient of an MENC National Composition Award, as well as the Lily Endowment Teacher Creativity
Grant which allowed her to compose and to travel to The Gambia, Africa. In her free time she enjoys
hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, and travel. She is especially looking forward to exploring Morocco
with her new husband, Jawad, who is a native of Casablanca.
Mary Anne Braund
Mary Anne has been the conductor of Vivissimi since 2000. She has a Master's degree in Music
Education with emphasis on vocal pedagogy, performance and choral music. For over 20 years
she has taught music in public and private schools, including elementary vocal and high
school choral music. She has also served as Musical Director in summer stock companies. She
gives private voice lessons at Roosevelt High School and in her own studio.
She has also performed in musical theater, operetta and opera as a soprano soloist. Recently,
she was featured in an all Gershwin concert for the Governor's Chamber Music Series, and
played Anne Page in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" with Kitsap Opera. She has sung in several
professional choirs including the Norman Leyden Singers who sang and danced in Pops concerts
with the Seattle and Oregon Symphonies. She now sings in St. Mark's Cathedral Choir and
occasionally performs in solo recitals with Ladies'; Musical Club. In her non-musical time,
she likes to travel, downhill ski and cycle.
Sarra Sharif's musical training began at the age of eight with the Seattle Girls' Choir.
After graduating from this rigorous program, she pursued music education at the University
of Washington's School of Music and obtained a Bachelor of Music in Music Education,
with an emphasis in vocal and general music. In July of 2012 she will begin work on her
Master's in Music Education at Columbia University in New York.
For the past four years she has taught music at Kirkland Junior High, where she directs
choir and orchestra. She has also worked for several years in the episcopal church as a
cantor, section leader, and children's choir director, currently, she is the alto section
leader at St. Clement of Rome Episcopal Church in the Mt. Baker neighborhood of Seattle.
She is in her second year with the Mt. Baker Children's Choir, which she helped form with
Markdavin Obenza. In addition, She performs and records regularly with professional vocal
ensembles such as the Tudor Choir, Byrd Ensemble, and Solaris.
Prime Voci Accompanist
Ruth Draper recently completed Masters degrees in organ and music theory pedagogy at Eastman
School of Music (Rochester, NY), where she studied with David Higgs. While at Eastman she
taught undergraduate aural musicianship and served as the Assistant Organist at Third
Presbyterian Church. She received her undergraduate degrees in organ and environmental
science from Oberlin College and Conservatory (Oberlin, OH), where she studied with David
Boe. She maintains an active professional life as a recitalist, accompanist and composer.
She has worked with diverse choral ensembles, including the Oregon Repertory Singers Youth
Choirs, the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, the Finger Lakes Community Chorale of
Western NY, and Windsong, Cleveland's Women's Chorus. She is laureate of several solo organ
competitions, including the 2007 Odense International Organ Competition in Denmark. She is
also the Organist at Seattle First Baptist Church and a doctoral organ student at the
University of Washington.
Molly Knight Forde
Molly Knight has performed as a solo pianist and with orchestra throughout the U.S. as well
as in France. Le Monde states, "...a dazzling performer whose great attention to subtle
nuance and color rank her among the finest musicians." Her reputation as duo pianist and
chamber musician has resulted in live radio broadcasts and television appearances including
Radio France, Antenne 2, NPR and KING FM. Ms. Knight moved to Seattle in 1994 from Paris,
France where she studied with the late Gaby Casadesus. She was the first prize winner of
the Diplome de Virtuosite at the Schola Cantorum, and subsequently taught piano there. She
holds degrees in piano performance from the Cincinnati Conservatory of music, and the
University of Washington. Her teachers include Bela Siki, Elizabeth Pridonoff, and Jacques
Rouvier. She currently works in Seattle as a concert pianist, accompanist, and teacher.
Jennifer's choral accompanying career began at age 11 when she was asked to accompany her
school chorus in the county-wide choral festival. She went on to graduate with honors in
piano accompanying and music theatre from Northside School of the Arts in Atlanta, GA, while
studying privately with Marilyn Walthall. She received her degree in piano performance and
accompanying from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, where she studied with Roland
Carter and David Walters, tutored music theory students, and then served as faculty
accompanist from 1993-2000. From 1996-2000, she also accompanied and co-directed Chattanooga
Sings, a choral outreach program and intergenerational community chorus.
She completed her Master's degree in music therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and
worked with children with special and palliative care needs in the greater Boston area for
five years. During that time she served as founding accompanist to Voices Rising women's
chorus from 2004-2010. She relocated to the Pacific Northwest in 2010 and currently serves
the Seattle hospice community as a national board-certified music therapist. In addition, she
maintains an active schedule as rehearsal and performance accompanist and music director in
Seattle area schools, churches, and music theatre, and is the regular
organist/pianist/accompanist at First Christian Church in Tacoma.
Jean-Marie is the current music teacher at Madrona K-8 in Seattle. She recently completed her
doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Washington, Seattle, specializing in
collaboration and community engagement. Recognized for her ability to get to the heart of
singing, she is frequently sought after as a clinician for high school and community choirs.
Before moving to Seattle, she taught music in New York and on Vancouver Island where she
developed public school music programs for gifted children. She has conducted orchestras and
choirs, including the University of Regina Chamber Singers, UW Women's Choir, Magnolia Chorale,
and the Victoria Civic Orchestra.
In Memoriam: Karin Ellen Gause,
Former Theory Instructor, Dolcine Conductor, Cantamus and Vivissimi Accompanist
Ellen Gause served on the SGC faculty since 1983. On November 3, 2004 Karin lost a valiant
battle with cancer. She was the Conductor of Dolcine and Dolcinettes, accompanist for
Cantamus and Vivissimi, and was the director of the SGC Music Theory Program. She wrote a
comprehensive music theory program; Music Theory for Singers, which SGC, among other choirs,
utilize. She studied piano, organ, composition, conducting, vocal repertoire, and ethnic
music at the University of Minnesota, the David Thompson Center for the Performing Arts in
Canada, and the Cornish College of the Arts, where she received a piano scholarship. She
accompanied choirs and voice classes and taught piano at Cornish College and the Grande
Prairie Regional College in Canada. She also taught piano, music theory and musical skills
privately in her home. Her African Grey parrots and a Green-winged Macaw brought her many
hours of joy.