John Weatherspoon - Conductor/Co-Founder
With a teaching career spanning twenty-nine years, John Weatherspoon’s impact on the music community cannot be overstated. Along with teaching music classes, he has conducted honors choruses, has acted as both an adjudicator and a clinician, and currently serves as director of Espressivo. His interest in conducting first sparked during a warm-up for a middle school music elective, when he first connected motion to sound. Not only a career, conducting became a way for John to express who he is. Throughout his educational career, he was blessed with teachers who poured into him and helped him develop his technical skills while also developing a love for expressing poetry through music. After pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Southeastern Louisiana University, John began teaching. Later, John went on to earn a master’s in Choral Conducting from Florida Atlantic University. For over twenty-five years, he has served as choral director at Lake Worth Community High School. His greatest joy in teaching is to foster connections between his students and songs. John and his wife, Althea, whom he claims is responsible for helping him to come out of his shell, have four incredible children who help fill their home with laughter. John has also served our country in the United States Marine Corps.
Steven Fabian - Pianist
Steven has been playing classical piano since 1993 and has lately been studying the style of early 1700s classical composers (no pedal, for any music enthusiasts out there). He went to Florida Atlantic University in 2001, and he has hopes to return to school at Barry University for continued learning of the great classical masterpieces within the next few years. A graduate of Lake Worth Community High School, Steven has been working with John Weatherspoon (albeit with a 7 year hiatus from graduating) for over 23 years, and working with Espressivo for quite a few years as well as helping out with the Lake Worth High School chorus program, accompanying. He wishes to thank his family for their continued support, and would like to acknowledge the singers of Espressivo for their amazing dedication to singing as an art form.
Rana Agaoglu - Alto
To follow her passion of studying and teaching music, Rana Agaoglu moved to the United States from Turkey in 2005. After completing her internship with Mr. John Weatherspoon at Lake Worth High School, Rana received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Florida Atlantic University. Currently, she is enjoying her position as the Chorus Director of Santaluces High School, and is volunteering as the interim choir director of Metropolitan Community Church of Palm Beaches. Rana is a professional member of American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Music Education, Florida Music Education Association, and Florida Vocal Association.
Olga Bacher - Soprano
Olga Bacher was born in the Czech Republic as the youngest of five children of two professional musicians and music educators. Growing up in Germany, she spent much time rehearsing and performing a wide variety of music, vocal and instrumental, with her family. She graduated from conservatory as a flute principal and went on to teach early music and movement, chorus, recorder, flute, ensemble playing and music theory in a community music school for 14 years while continuing to perform with various vocal and instrumental formations. After marrying Neil, an American jazz musician, the family moved to South Florida with their two sons. Olga taught at the Music Learning Center of Miami Dade College for some years, held the position of the general music and strings teacher at St. Ann Catholic School in West Palm Beach for one year and then earned her Bachelor of Music at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Since 2013, she teaches general music and band at Highland Elementary School in Lake Worth.
Rachel Begleiter - Soprano
Rachel Begleiter is thrilled to be joining Espressivo for this season. She is the General Music Teacher as well as the Choir Director at South Grade Elementary School. Before, she studied Music Education at Westminster Choir College. There, she developed her vocal technique under the guidance of Zehava Gal and Elizabeth Sutton. Rachel has had the privilege to perform under the direction of Alan Gilbert and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, performing at venues such as Lincoln Center and Kimmel Center. Rachel is so proud to be a member of this ensemble!
Catherine Briggs - Soprano
As an impetus of the conceptual group that founded Espressivo, Catherine is driven by a desire to produce quality choral music. After graduating with her bachelor's degree, she went on to pursue a master's degree in Choral Conducting through Florida Atlantic University and received her Kodaly certification at Silver Lake College. Currently acting as the choral director at West Boca Raton Community High School and adjunct music education faculty at Florida Atlantic University, Catherine enjoys both the joys and challenges of her profession. Catherine serves as President on the Espressivo Board of Directors.
Kaleb Coicou - Baritone/Tenor
Kaleb Coicou is in his first year of teaching as a Choral Director at Congress Community Middle School in Boynton Beach, FL. Mr. Coicou has a Bachelor’s degree in Music with a performance concentration, and a Bachelors of Science Degree in Health Science from the University of South Florida, in Tampa, FL. Kaleb began singing when he was 5 and knew even then that it was an innate gift given to him. Kaleb grew up primarily singing in church where he was able to grow in his gift and he has not stopped singing. With the encouragement of his family, church, and a college professor; after several back and forth degree changes, Kaleb went on to pursue a degree in music. Kaleb performs professionally and has been able to have noteworthy experiences and opportunities which include singing at Busch Gardens, Disney World’s Epcot, St. Petersburg Opera, and now he sings with Palm Beach Opera. Kaleb has sung on a Florida Tour with Josh Groban twice and has sung the National Anthem for the Tampa Bay Rays. Kaleb indulges himself into his craft and stays very busy. Additionally, Kaleb directs his church choir and teaches vocal lessons. Kaleb is a proud member of the Florida Music Education Association, and the Florida Vocal Association. A fun fact about Kaleb is that he has over 20 cousins, many of whom who are in involved in music and singing. Kaleb is excited to be singing in concert with Espressivo for the first time.
Christina Colletti - Soprano
Ms. Christina Colletti, originally from Ohio, grew up in Boynton Beach, FL. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in music education from Palm Beach State College and the University of Florida. She also studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria to receive special instruction in flute performance and music history. During this time, she gave a flute recital in the mirror bell gardens where the Sound of Music was filmed! She has held a full-time position at Manatee Elementary as a music educator for the last ten consecutive years. She teaches students in kindergarten through 5th grade general music. Ms. Colletti also is the director of an after school elementary chorus, orff ensemble, hand chime ensemble, and ukulele ensemble at her school. Her students frequently play concerts for the community and are regularly selected to participate in honors ensembles. Aside from teaching and singing with Espressivo, Christina currently plays flute and piccolo for the Palm Beach Atlantic University Orchestra and is hired to play flute for other community and school ensembles.
Emmanuel Fergile - Baritone/Bass
Emmanuel is the music director at Highland Elementary, Palm Beach School District, FL. He is currently the 2019 William T. Dwyer Award Nominee for Excellence in Education and the 2020 Teacher of the Year Nominee for Highland Elementary. Emmanuel teaches general music, and directs a chorus, handbell choir, and world drumming ensemble. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education (2006) and Master of Arts degree in Choral Conducting (2009) at Florida Atlantic University. He has conducted Palm Beach County’s Spotlight on Young Musicians Elementary Honor Chorus in 2011 and 2016. He will be conducting the Elementary Honor Chorus again in 2019. Emmanuel also conducted the Spotlight on Young Musicians Honor Handbell Choir in 2017. He is certified in Orff, Levels I and II. He is a former FAU TOPS Piano Camp director and was the assistant director from 2003-2009. He continues his affiliation with the camp as the world drumming teacher. Emmanuel was the competition manager for the Michael and Madelyn Savarick Annual Music Competition at FAU for many years. He has played in multiple musicals in the Bahamas and Florida including Once on this Island, South Pacific, and West Side Story as well as a chorister for a Bahamian Opera entitled “Sammy Swain.” He is Bahamian of Haitian heritage, a former member of the Bahamas National Youth Choir, the Nassau Renaissance Singers, the Bahamas National Dance Company, and the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Emmanuel has presented at the local South Florida Orff chapter workshop and The Palm Beach School District, Music Educators Professional Development Meeting at the Kravis.
Sabrina George - Alto
Sabrina George is a Florida native. She is the organist, pianist, and choral director at Community Presbyterian Church on A1A in Deerfield Beach. She also arranges chamber music for Symphony a la Carte of Pensacola, Florida. After studying vocal and keyboard performance at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, she directed choirs in Mobile, Alabama, and Gulf Breeze, Florida. When she's not working, she enjoys scuba diving and gardening.
Scott A. Houchins - Tenor
Scott A. Houchins, a 20-plus year veteran of teaching in Palm Beach County, has been the Director of Choral Activities at Palm Beach Central High School for 16 years. An active clinician and adjudicator, Mr. Houchins teaches Voice and Piano privately. He also serves as the Director of the Palm Beach Coastmen Chorus, a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He has also studied at Florida State University, Palm Beach State College, and Florida Atlantic University. From 2004-2006, Mr. Houchins served as District Chair for District 14 of the Florida Vocal Association, and in 2011, he conducted the High School District Honor Choir at the Spotlight on Young Musicians at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Diana. Together they have three wonderful, grown children - Alexandria, Jessica, and Joshua.
Dawn Hutchins - Alto
Dawn, a Florida native, was raised in the John I. Leonard music program. She worked as a percussionist in the band and served as a student leader/section leader and soloist in chorus. With a heavy background in church music, Dawn sang in various choirs and ensembles and toured throughout the South with family and ensembles.. She eventually became a choir director/worship leader for several area churches. Dawn still sings in various ensembles.. Dawn has an Associate of Arts Degree in Biology from Palm Beach State College and a Bachelor's Degree in History from Florida Atlantic University. She then earned a Master of Arts in Early American History, with an emphasis on Indian Removal, the study of the early American family. Dawn, thereafter, worked as the historian for the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Tribal Historic Preservation Office. She currently is on sabbatical as a PhD student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she explores Native American removal on the Trail of Tears. She has published several academic articles, book chapters, and writes encyclopedia entries for academic compilations. She also finds her passion in teaching students at Palm Beach State College and Palm Beach Atlantic University, tutoring students from elementary to college in many subjects, and proofreading/editing. Richard and Dawn have homeschooled their nine children and have four grandchildren. Dawn enjoys reading, sign language, intellectual challenges, is an avid South Florida sports fan, and anything family-related! This is Dawn's fifth season with Espressivo.
Richard Hutchins - Bass
A Florida native, Richard was raised in the Lake Worth music system from middle through high school. He was involved in band as a percussionist, bassist, and pianist. He was also a member of chorus and the show choir. Richard is an alumni of Lake Worth High School. He then pursued his college degree in General Education at Palm Beach State College with an emphasis on jazz instrumental ensembles. He now plays piano, keyboard, and bass at various Palm Beach County churches. Richard sings bass for Espressivo and is finishing up his sixth season with the ensemble. His passion is for family time and the loves the great outdoors! He enjoys hunting, fishing, and teaching the younger generation proper wildlife conservation and hunger safety. He is married to fellow Espressivo member, Dawn, and they have nine children and four grandchildren together.
Bryan Anthony Ijames - Tenor
Bryan Anthony Ijames, a native of North Carolina, recently completed his third year of teaching. Mr. Ijames is pleased to join the Performing Arts Faculty at Park Vista Community High School as the Director of Choirs. Mr. Ijames completed his Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting at Eastern Kentucky University located in Richmond, Kentucky. He studied private conducting, choral literature, and rehearsal techniques under composer, conductor, scholar, Richard Waters in 2014. Bryan completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music at High Point University in 2012. During his time in High Point, he was the conductor of the Genesis Gospel Choir, a student led organization established out of the chapel. Outside of teaching, Bryan is the Associate Director of The Ebony Chorale of the Palm Beaches and is a singing member of Espressivo, a semi professional choral ensemble conducted by John Weatherspoon. Mr. Ijames has performed as tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Schubert's Mass in G. Mr. Ijames is an active member of American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Music Education and its affiliates: Florida Music Education Association and Florida Vocal Association. In 2012, Mr. Ijames became a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc.
Suzanne Keller - Soprano
Suzanne Kellow is the interim music teacher and choral director at South Olive Elementary School. She holds degrees in music education from Saint Mary’s College and Columbia University. As a singer, she has performed with choirs at Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fischer at Lincoln Center in New York. In addition, she is a freelance conductor in New York and a vocal coach, whose students included Ms. Lauryn Hill.
Alex Kovalsky - Baritone/Bass
Alex Kovalsky is the Chorus and Keyboard Director at Lake Worth Middle School in Lake Worth, Florida, where he teaches students grades 6 through 8 in all levels of voice and piano. Additionally, Alex is a Teaching Artist for the De George Academy for Performing Arts in affiliation with the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. Alex serves as co-coordinator for the Palm Beach County District Honor Choir and the secondary choir at Spotlight on Young Musicians, and as the 2018 and 2020 co-coordinator for the American Choral Directors Association Southern Region Junior High Honor Choir. In 2015, Alex served as the conductor for the Spotlight on Young Musicians Elementary Honors Chorus at the Kravis Center. In addition to voice, Alex is an active pianist and regularly collaborates with numerous choirs throughout Palm Beach county, as well as summer camps and private students. Alex holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree, summa cum laude, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama. Alex resides with his amazing wife, and fellow Espressivo member, Katie, and their almost two year old son Aaron in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, along with their two cats, Treble and Clef. Alex has sung with Espressivo since 2013, and is grateful for the privilege of making music with so many talented individuals.
Katie Kovalsky - Soprano
Katie Kovalsky is the music teacher at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School, where she teaches general music, handbelLs, and chorus classes to students in grades K-5. Previously, Katie has been on the faculty of The Conservatory School at North Palm Beach and Turtle River Montessori School, where she taught classes in preschool music, elementary music, junior high band, and junior high choir. She serves as the 2018 and 2020 co-coordinator for the American Choral Directors Association Southern Region Junior High Honor Choir. Also an instrumentalist, Katie's primary instrument is the clarinet, and she has also performed on the bassoon, saxophone, and flute. Katie currently performs with the Family Church orchestra in West Palm Beach and has performed previously with the Riverbend Community Band in Jupiter, Florida. Katie holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama. She is an active member of the Florida Music Education Association and the Florida Vocal Association. Katie has sung with Espressivo since 2014, and credits the collaboration with these accomplished musicians as the main reason for her success as an educator. Katie and her husband and fellow Espressivo member Alex live in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with their son Aaron.
Karista MacRostie - Soprano
Karista MacRostie is in her 3rd season with Espressivo as a soprano and the Choral Director at Jeaga Middle School. She is a graduate from Florida Atlantic University, she received her Bachelor's in Music Education with a primary focus in choral and vocal studies. Ms. MacRostie has worked with groups such as the Palm Beach Children Chorus and Boys and Girls Club. She also teaches private voice lessons where she works with students who are aged from 8-18 on a wide variety of vocal and choral music. Ms. MacRostie is an active member in several national organizations including The American Choral Directors Association, The National Association for Music Educators, Kappa Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Sigma Alpha Iota. She has also volunteered with various charities as a music teacher and soloist, such as The American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, Susan G. Komen, and The Wounded Warrior Foundation. Ms. MacRostie has been involved with music for the majority of her life singing in several choirs, performing as a soloist for various events, and singing at Carnegie Hall last year with the Performance Hall Series. She is excited for this chapter of her musical career, working at Jeaga as director of choral and vocal studies, teaching private lessons, and as a member of the Espressivo choral ensemble.
Aunya May - Alto
Aunya’s love for music began at an early age. Aunya joined chorus in elementary school and has been singing ever since. Aunya joined Dimensional Harmony chorus at Boynton Beach High school, and with the choir she had the opportunity to sing on The Today Show, at Carnegie Hall, and various venues throughout her time in high school. Aunya’s appreciation and continued love for music brought her to Palm Beach Atlantic University, where she recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree. She has performed various solos throughout her collegiate experience and continues to sing at churches as both a choir member and soloist.
James McInnis - Bass
Jim loves to sing and that’s a common thread in his family: His father was the premier soloist in the church choir at Lakeview Baptist Church in Delray Beach, FL for more than twenty five years, as was his uncle at his church near Ocala, FL, and his younger sister has that title at her church in Alabama. Jim sings as much as he can and continually works to improve his skills. He currently sings in the choir at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, FL. He also shares his talents with Espressivo. Jim’s other interests include playing golf and taking drum lessons.
Brett Packard - Bass
Brett joined Espressivo this year and is enjoying the opportunity and challenge! He has taught History, Social Studies, and Economics at the Middle and High school levels during his thirty plus years as a teacher and administrator in Palm Beach County. He plays bass guitar and sings in his church praise and worship team. He is married to Betsy and they enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren. They enjoy traveling and attending concerts.
Molly Raimondi - Soprano
Molly Raimondi is the music teacher at Pine Grove Elementary School in Delray Beach, Florida. Having sung in choirs dating back to 4th grade, all she ever wanted to do was sing. When she discovered that there was a real job where she could do just that all day, she happily decided to major in music education, and has located back to Palm Beach after graduating from USF. In addition to singing with the amazing talent in Espressivo, she regularly performs with her husband, who plays the trumpet, around town, and for the local jazz radio station. Molly teaches private voice & piano lessons, as well as running summer music camps at her school. She loves practicing yoga and playing Mario Kart on weekends, and enjoys a nice marathon of Friends & hazelnut gelato every so often.
Simone Stoddard - Alto
Simone hails from Tallahassee, Florida. Before obtaining her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Barry University, she served six years in the United States Marine Corps. She met her husband Greg while on active duty. They welcomed their daughter, Gracielle in March 2018. Simone previously taught at Howell Watkins Middle School. She is now at Indian Ridge School.
Jeannie Strait - Alto
Born and raised in south Florida, Jeannie Strait has always loved singing. She is an alum of Lake Worth High School where she spent four years in the Chorus under the direction of current Espressivo director, John Weatherspoon. Jeannie later went on to Palm Beach State College, where she spent her free time taking music classes with Professor (and now fellow Espressivo member), Allen Webber . She later graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Just four months after graduating, she found herself moving to Spain to teach English to children. Jeannie lived in Cartagena, Spain for 9 months and spent time traveling Europe. After returning to the States this past summer of 2019, Jeannie is thrilled to be returning to passionate roots of music as a new member of Espressivo.
Allen Webber - Bass
Mr. Allen Webber has been a Professor of Music at Palm Beach State College since 1989. He also served as the Visiting Director of Choral Activities at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia from 1986-1988. Allen has also been an integral part of the Palm Beach Post Pathfinder Scholarship program, serving as a vocal music judge for the past twenty years. In 2013 and 2018, he taught choir and music theory at week-long summer music camps in St. Marc, Haiti. Allen has had various comprimario roles with the South Florida Opera Company in Rigoletto. The Barber of Seville, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, and Carmen (2000-2006). He sang the role of Dr. Spinnelloccio in the Palm Beach Atlantic University Opera Workshop's production of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi in 2006. Allen has worked with a variety of churches as a professional choral section leader and soloist. He is the percussionist, a founding/current member, in the Orchid City Brass Band (2012-present). Allen is a member of first-place Palm Beach State College Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee team (2005, 2013; participant 2001-present). He is the author of The History of Music Expounded in Verse, (Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2010). He has a Bachelor of Arts in church music from Cedarville University, a Master of Music degree in music theory from Miami University, and completed doctoral coursework toward a PhD in music theory at The Florida State University.