Kantorei KC gathers musicians of the highest caliber from within our community. It is our mission to bring music to KC performed by professional KC musicians, teachers, and performers.
Kantorei KC Board of Directors:
- President-Ryan Gerding
- Vice President- Dr. Stephanie Henry
- Secretary- Alex Russell
- Steve De Wilde
- Kim Williams
Tenor, Artistic Director, Founder
Chris Munce is an accomplished choral performer, conductor, educator, clinician and arts administrator, and most recently the host of The Choralosophy Podcast. As a performer/conductor he is a member of Kantorei KC, as well as its founder and Artistic Director. Under Mr. Munce’s direction, Kantorei has recorded and published three albums, and has been an invited featured performer at National and State ACDA conventions as well as the National American Guild of Organists convention. At Lee’s Summit High, Mr. Munce has lead his choirs to performances at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, the Missouri Music Educators Convention, Alice Tulley Hall at Lincoln Center and on a Masterclass with the multiple Grammy Award winning vocal group Chanticleer. Most recently, his school district awarded him with its “Excellence in Teaching” award for 2019.
Media reviews of his directed recordings with Kantorei KC include praise from the KC Star for “Music and Sweet Poetry” for its “lush and full bodied sound…gorgeous singing.” The Observer (London) called “To Bethlehem” one of the best Choral albums of the year and “the most interesting festive album.” He has also performed with the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, and the Grammy Winning Kansas City Chorale. Chris was fortunate to be a part of the Chorale’s Grammy Nominated album, “Rheinberger: Sacred Choral Works.”
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Paul Davidson joined Kantorei KC in 2014. He is a voting member of the Recording Academy and performed as a professional musician in South Korea, England, Canada, the District of Columbia and fourteen US States. He is a soloist on two Grammy-winning albums. He also performs locally with the Kansas City Chorale, Cardinalis (William Jewell), Festival Choral Society (Spring Hill, KS), Schola Cantorum (Immaculate Conception) and Trinity Choir (Trinity Lutheran – Mission, KS); he sings with the Cecilia Ensemble in Augusta, GA. He lives in Kansas City, KS where he maintains a private voice studio. Since May, 2020, in response to the pandemic, he produced four crowd-funded projects (recordings and live concerts), each one employing four to seven other musicians, and he serves as a cantor for three low-income Catholic Parishes on Strawberry Hill, in Kansas City, KS which have been unable to have chancel choir since March, 2020.
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There are few hats in the classical music world soprano Suzanne Hatcher hasn’t worn, from teaching kindergartners to conducting local semi-pro orchestras; singing backup for one of Shakira’s albums to having her choral arrangements recorded on Grammy-nominated albums; being a soloist under noted conductor Michael Tilson Thomas to accompanying for local high school choirs. Suzanne did her BA in Music at California State University, Stanislaus, and her Masters of Music in Voice from The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. She then went on to complete the coursework for a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Miami, but passing her dissertation defense proved a struggle. A few years ago, Suzanne switched from being a full-time musician to a career in retail. She currently manages the Kansas City Store for Tuft & Needle, and continues to dabble in music through church work and a variety of gigs.
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Soprano– founding member
Beth Kakacek-Munce, a coloratura soprano, is renowned for her “beautifully effortless” and “stunning” singing. Beth is passionate about the choral arts and actively sings in several professional choral ensembles and as a featured soloist for chamber works. Beth has sung with Kantorei of Kansas City since its inception in 2009 and has been a featured soloist on Kantorei’s albums “To Bethlehem,” and “Music and Sweet Poetry,” recorded by the London-based label, Resonus Classics. Beth has also been a member of the Grammy-award winning Kansas City Chorale and was fortunate to add her voice to the recording of “The Sacred Works of Joseph Reinberger” which was nominated for two Grammy Awards. Recent projects Beth has enjoyed lending her voice to include performing the production of the Medieval musical play of “Daniel” under the direction of Anne Azema, a collaboration with Boston Camerata and KC’s Te Deum Antiqua. Beth has also recently performed the soprano solos for Handel’s Dixit Dominus under the baton of Dr. Jacob Narverud, the soprano solos for The Biber Requiem under the direction of Matthew Shepard as well as the soprano solos for Handel’s Messiah under the direction of Dr. William Baker. Beth also frequently lends her voice to professional demo recording projects under the direction of Ben Spalding. Prior to the 2020 Covid-19 shut down for the arts, Beth was in rehearsals for “A Night’s Tale: A Tournament of Love” collaborating once again with The Boston Camerata, under the baton of Anne Azema as part of Kansas City’s Friends of Chamber Music Concert Series which was set to be performed in April of 2020.
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Julia Kasten is excited to be singing her second season with Kantorei! A recent graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, she has a Bachelor of Music in both Vocal Performance and Music Theory. Julia works as a church musician and also sings with Te Deum and the Tallgrass Chamber Choir. Outside of music, Julia loves her cats, Disney, and traveling.
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Soprano/alto- founding member
Courtney Williams (mezzo-soprano) completed her Bachelor of Science in Vocal Music Education from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 2006 and her Master of Arts in Music at the University of Central Missouri in 2012.
She is currently the vocal music director at Pleasant Lea Middle School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri where she teaches seventh and eighth grade vocal music and general music classes. Prior to working in Lee’s Summit, Courtney taught for eleven years in the Pleasant Hill School District where she holds the title of 2016 Educator of the Year.
Courtney served as the director of music at First Presbyterian Church of Lee’s Summit from 2015-2018 where she directed an adult chancel choir, a youth choir, and a junior high choir. She currently serves as keyboardist and vocalist for the contemporary worship service at First Presbyterian Church.
Courtney was a vocalist in the premier variety dance band, Multiphonic, for ten years, performing for weddings and corporate events around the Kansas City Area. Courtney is a founding member of the choral ensemble Kantorei of Kansas City, having performed with the group since its first season in 2010.
Courtney currently resides in Lee’s Summit, Missouri with husband, Josh, and two sons, Oliver and Theodore.
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Vince Woods (tenor) graduated from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance with a bachelor’s degree in voice performance. While at UMKC, he had the pleasure of performing in many of the Conservatory’s main stage opera productions, including Cendrillon (Massenet), Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. In May 2015, Vince had the privilege of singing the tenor solo from Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms at the Conservatory’s Finale concert in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center. He has studied voice with Vinson Cole, and has also studied under the tutelage of Dale Morehouse and Chris Munce.
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Ashton D. Jones, a proud native of Tulsa, OK, is a talented choral conductor and lyric baritone. Ashton has most recently appeared as a member and soloist with the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers on the “Live from London” Voces8 platform. As an opera singer, he has appeared as Monsieur Pandolf from Massenet’s Cendrillon, Masetto from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Bluff from Mozart’s The Impresario, amongst other roles. Ashton has also performed with the Houston Ebony Opera Guild Chorus and Houston Symphony Grassroots Chorus. As an educator and music teacher, Ashton has taught private piano and voice lessons to children and adults of all ages. Mr. Jones has also taught high school and middle school choir.
Mr. Jones earned the Bachelor of Arts in Music, vocal performance from Texas Southern University (TSU). His principal instructors were Dr. Jolie Rocke, voice, and Dr. Lucian Zidaru, piano. During his tenure at TSU, Ashton held positions as student conductor and student accompanist for both the TSU concert choir and opera workshop. Mr. Jones earned the Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Professor Ruth Golden.
Ashton is currently attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying vocal performance for a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA).
Leah Owen, mezzo-soprano, has been singing low notes on the side with Kantorei KC since 2016. With most of her time, Leah is teaching choir at Lee’s Summit High School as the Associate Choral Director, nannying cute kids in the evening, and working as a professional home organizer with her small business, Creating Calm. She is also an active voice instructor and teaches a handful of private students. Leah occasionally sings with other local ensembles such as Te Deum Antiqua and Missouri Choral Artists. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in vocal performance from Pepperdine University as well as a Master of Arts in Music with an emphasis in music education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In her rare moments of free time, Leah enjoys hanging out with her BAE, Cole, and playing with their cats, Dabble and Dakota.
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Cameron J. Rolling
Cameron J. Rolling is a young, award-winning bass-baritone. With first place wins at the Southeastern Region and Georgia National Association of Teachers of Singing competitions, Cameron is also the winner of the 2019 Metropolitan Atlanta Musicians Association/National Association of Negro Musicians Marian Anderson Vocal Arts Scholarship Competition. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education with concentrations in voice and conducting from Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music where he was in the voice studio of Marie Jarriel Roberts and conducting studio of Dr. Stanley L. Roberts.
Cameron is equally devoted to solo vocal and choral arts. In 2019, Cameron made his oratorio debut as bass soloist for Handel’s Messiah with the Choral Society of Middle Georgia. He was selected for masterclasses with internationally acclaimed artists Gary Thor Wedow, Nova Thomas, and Benton Hess. He is also a member of two professional choral ensembles, Kantorei-Kansas City and Kansas City Chorale (Missouri), and has sung in national honor choirs and the semi-professional choirs of Coro Young Artists (Des Moines, Iowa) and Kantorei-Kansas City Choral Scholars (Missouri).
Cameron is currently attending the Conservatory at the University of Missouri- Kansas City in pursuit of double Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance with a concentration in Vocal Pedagogy.
Asher K. Tillman is a fresh face to the Kansas City area, having joined us from Springfield, MO in the fall of 2020. While there, he received his undergraduate education in music and theatre at Drury University and performed plentifully within those realms. Under the baton of Dr. James R. Davidson, Tillman sang for such works as Orff’s Carmina Burana and Händel’s Laudate pueri Dominum, the latter delivered in concert with the Hlahol Society of Prague in the Czech Republic. He also filled a diverse array of leading roles theatrically, most notably as El Gallo in The Fantasticks under the direction of Josh Inmon. Outside of academia, Tillman enjoyed three seasons with the Springfield Chamber Chorus under conductor Chris Brammer, offering him a unique opportunity to hone his craft, and he was invited to appear with the Missouri Choral Artists in 2019. He is ecstatic to be in his first season with Kantorei KC and is eager to see what lies ahead here in the big K-C-M-O!
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Alexis Raymond is a current Master’s of Music student at UMKC’s Conservatory, as
well as a recent Pepperdine University Graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Her
upcoming roles include the title soprano role from Handel’s Acis and Galatea for UMKC’s Fall
Opera. During her Undergraduate studies Alexis performed lead roles in Mozart’s Don
Giovanni, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, and in Johann Strauss II Die Fledermaus. Her soft spot for choral music allowed her to travel abroad with the Pepperdine Chamber Choir providing unique performance destinations from as local as The Jonathan Club of Los Angeles
to Smetana Hall in Prague. Alexis refined and expanded her classical song repertoire in Los
Angeles’ SongFest Summer Program as a Young Artist the summer of 2018. Additionally, her participation in Pepperdine’s Heidelberg Music Program allowed for intensive vocal/acting training, as well as daily integration and practice of the German language. Her most recent achievements include participating in Los Angeles based companies; Mission Opera’s
production of Suor Angelica (Dolcina cover, Chorus), and Independent Opera’s production of Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira Cover, Chorus). Having grown up in Texas, New York, Italy,
Wales, London, and Indonesia, Alexis excelled in her foreign language diction courses and will
continue her travels while pursuing a life and career of music.
Emma WitbolsFeugen is a Mezzo-Soprano from Independence, Missouri. Emma holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Simpson College, and a Masters in Vocal Performance from DePaul University. This is hir first time singing with Kantorei KC. S/he has performed many lead operatic roles, as well as participating in numerous operatic choruses. In June 2022, Emma will be playing the role of “Damis” in Kirk Mechem’s opera Tartuffe with local opera company “Landlocked Opera.”
JW has been a performer since he was little. Throughout his childhood, he was writing his own short plays and singing any time he got the chance. As he grew up, he began to realize the power music has to change days, and indeed lives. Now, he spends his time honing his craft in pursuit of that goal. JW holds a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College, a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and is pursuing an Artist Certificate from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
Having taken on leading roles such as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, and Don Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro, JW is no stranger to the operatic stage. Art song and recital work also interests him, particularly the performance of complete song cycles. The songs of Poulenc, Finzi, Fauré, Schubert, Schumann, Vaughan Williams, and Ginastera are favorites in his repertoire.
JW also holds a strong interest in vocal chamber music, as reflected by his compositions. During his time in Minnesota, he sang professionally with the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers under the baton of Philip Brunelle. Additionally, he shared the stage with Voces8 as part of their US Scholars program, which is focused on both community outreach and refining group singing to its finest point. He has served as the section leader and soloist in several churches, most recently at the Church of the Covenant in University Circle, Cleveland.
Want to sing with us next season?
Join Friends of Kantorei KC in 2021
Our Friends of Kantorei List is easy to join! Donations of any other size can be sent directly via PayPal to email@example.com or via check to PO Box 494 Lee’s Summit, M0 64063