Meet the Team
Marni Strome (B.F.A., B. Ed., A.R.C.T.)
Marni Strome has worked with the Calgary Children’s Choir as a Music Director since its inception in 1988, assuming the role of Artistic Director in 1993. In this role she oversees the entire choral program and directs the two senior choirs. Her enthusiasm and positive leadership allow her to create and foster choirs that combine a high level of artistry with a strong sense of community, stewardship and fun. Marni has toured with the choir to numerous parts of Canada, Carnegie Hall in New York, Europe and Japan, where they have performed and also taken part in festivals with internationally recognized conductors such as Dr.Henry Leck, Dr. David Flood, and Dr. Will Kesling. Her choirs have been award winners in local and professional festivals, where adjudicators often comment on the choir’s sense of ensemble and musical sensitivity. The impact of her musical leadership and mentorship is seen across the music scene in Calgary and beyond, as former choristers have gone on to become professional singers, voice teachers, conductors and composers. In 2012 Calgary Children’s Choir proudly celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Beyond the Calgary Children’s Choir program, Marni Strome is active as a teacher, conductor, clinician and adjudicator. She has worked for over 25 years teaching choral music in the public education system, and has also led the choir of St.Giles Presbyterian Church for 15 years.
Having studied music formally from a young age, Marni Strome brings a lifelong love of music, singing and the choral art to her profession. Attesting to the diversity of her skills, as a youth, Marni also won provincial and national awards for composition. Mentors include Rosemarie Sherban (founder of the Calgary Children’s Choir), David Ferguson, and Janos Horvath. Marni Strome received her degrees from the University of Calgary,where she subsequently has taught Choral Conducting pedagogy based on the Kodaly Method for the University’s summer diploma program. Marni has also completed her Associateship in Vocal Performance from the Toronto Conservatory as well as Grade Eight piano. Marni continually seeks opportunities to further her expertise in the choral and vocal field, having recently completed a choral and orchestral conducting master class with Gabriella Thesz, former conductor of the Hungarian National Radio Children’s Chorus.
As a musician and educator, Marni teaches from the philosophical belief that people benefit in countless ways from the experience of singing in a choir, that all young people should have this opportunity regardless of experience; and that ultimately they can be lifelong participants in the music community.
Susan Woodward (ARCT, ATCL)
Susan studied classical piano in Calgary and at the Banff centre. At the age of sixteen, she began her accompanying career. Susan has had the pleasure of accompanying the Calgary Children’s Choir since 1989. She has worked with all the choirs and both Marni Strome and Angie McGillivray during her time with the organization. In addition to her choral accompanying, Susan has also worked with solo singers, instrumentalists and chamber ensembles, and is also active as the conductor of the German Canadian Male Chorus, The Dutch Canadian Choir, the Suncor Energy Choir and the Westside Singers. Susan has toured with the Calgary Children’s Choir to England in 1994, the Maritimes in 2000 and to Hawaii in 2009.
Esther Woelfle (BMus, ARCT Piano Performance)
Assistant Music Director
Esther’s life has been saturated in music from the time she was 6 years old. First there were the piano lessons, then playing for church services and choir, then traveling with a gospel singing group throughout the US, Canada and Europe. While working toward her BMus at the University of Calgary, Esther began playing for the Calgary Children’s Choir all through the 1990s – first for its founder Rosemarie Sherban, then for Marni Strome, even directing the Junior Choir for a couple of years in the middle. She went on to develop her vocal training further, studying under Blaine Chapmen and later winning the RCM silver medal for Alberta in Grade 10 voice as a student of Winston Noren.
Currently she maintains a private piano & voice studio, accompanies the St. Giles choir and Sunday services, and directs the Cenovus/Encana Christmas choir, while juggling life as a wife and mom of 2 little girls (one of whom is now in the CJC!). Esther is delighted to be returning full circle back to the Calgary Children’s Choir after a 15-year hiatus and seeing a new generation of children discover a love of music and choral singing.
Alena Naumchyk immigrated to Canada in September 2006 from Belarus (former republic of the USSR) where she received her early training in piano and musical disciplines at the Belarusian State Academy of Music and Arts in Minsk. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Belarusian State Academy of Music and Arts in 1997, studying piano with the renowned professor Sergey Mikulik.
She brings with her many years of experience as an accompanist and pianist with exceptional technique and artistic sensitivity. Career highlights include winning numerous international choir competitions, accompanying soloists Nina Tishko, Natalia Zmitrovich and Nikolay Konovalenko with the State Belarusian Philharmonic Society and teaching piano/accompanying choirs and soloists at her “alma mater” Belarusian State College of Arts and Belarusian State Academy of Arts. She also appeared as a vocalist and as an accompanist under the direction of Nikolay Kashuro.
Mrs. White has been the business manager for the Calgary Children’s Choir since 1988 and has assisted with the choirs’ various tours, traveling with the choir on tour to New York City, Vancouver Island and Hawaii.
She has served on the “Quality of Life” Committee at the Bethany Care Society and also volunteers at the Bethany Care Centre in Calgary, playing piano and organ for various functions.
Our talented and experienced musical staff is actively supported by volunteer parents, family members and members of the community at large. Thank you to everyone for your continued support!
Music Makers Program Coordinator
Rachael Mollison-Read (Music Performance Diploma, B.A. Music, B.A. History, B.A. International Relations)
Social Media Manager
Rachael Mollison-Read began singing with the Calgary Children’s Choir in 1997, and continued singing with the choir until 2008. During her time with the choir, Rachael toured both nationally and internationally throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan.
Rachael pursued a post-secondary education in music after high school, earning a Music Performance Diploma in Voice from Mount Royal College in 2006, and a B.A. in Music from the University of Calgary in 2009.
Rachael conducted the Junior Calgary Children’s Choir in the fall of 2009 to the spring of 2014, bringing with her a passion for music, and particularly choral singing.
Currently, Rachael teaches classical voice from her home studio: http://rmrvoicestudio.com/ and acts as the social media manager for the Calgary Children’s Choir.
Continuing her studies in other areas, Rachael attained a B.A. in History, and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Calgary in 2013.