Our Staff

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Marcia Hendricks

executive director

Marcia has served the organization for 33 years, first as a volunteer and board member, and then as a paid staff member. Under her leadership the Children’s Chorale has realized nationwide and international recognition.  Along with the talented Children’s Chorale music staff, Marcia has created and produced many of the Children's Chorale’s popular programs such as the All-City Boychoir Festival; In Harmony International Music Festivals; and Pikes Peak Center concerts each year. The Children's Chorale outreach programs including the Adopt-a-District; Satellite Choir; Generations Initiative; and School Blitz days were a brainchild of Marcia's desire to position the Children’s Chorale to better serve the wider community. Prior to her involvement with the CSCC, she owned and operated a successful event planning and floral design business. Her work with children includes spearheading reading programs for elementary school children; and serving as a Head Start and Get Set volunteer. Marcia has served on many community non-profit boards including the Pikes Peak Arts Council; Arts, Business, and Education Consortium, Taylor Elementary School Advisory Council; Colorado Vocal Arts Board of Directors; City of Colorado Springs Sister City Committee; and the committee to pass the Scientific and Cultural Arts Tax. She is currently a member of the Leadership Council of the Imagination Celebration, and serves as coordinator for the Southern Colorado Children’s Arts Festival and the CHORALaborative. Her memberships in professional organizations include the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, and the Colorado Music Educators Association. Marcia was the 2014 recipient of the Pikes Peak Arts Council’s Arts Leadership Award. Children’s Chorale has been a part of the Hendricks family since 1987 when daughter, Sarah, joined the organization, closely followed by son, Luke’s membership. The family is grateful for the life-changing opportunities Chorale has given them.

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Larisa Dreger

artistic director
choral academy director

Larisa was born and raised in Colorado Springs and originally became connected to the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale thirteen years through its Adopt-a-School program while teaching at Sunrise Elementary School in the Widefield School District #3. She received her Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado and has since taught a variety of subjects–elementary general music, middle school choir, guitar, orchestra, drama, and coached high school marching band–in four school districts along the Front Range. Larisa currently teaches K-5 general music and drama as well as grades 6-12 guitar classes with Cherry Creek Options Homeschool Program.

In addition to teaching in school settings, Larisa is thrilled to be joining the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale staff as the new Artistic Director and Choral Academy director. She has a passion for instilling the love of music from a young age and hopes that involvement in music becomes a constant source of joy over the course of her students' lives to develop life-long musicians-- be that as performers, educators, consumers, or music advocates. She most recently worked for Boulder Chorale as Assistant Artistic Director and as Co-Artistic Director of the Boulder Children's Chorale. She also maintains a private voice, flute, and piano studio. Additionally, she played flute in the Rocky Mountain Wind Symphony in Colorado Springs (2012-2016) and continues to freelance as a flutist and vocalist along the Front Range. She was a founding member of the Colorado Elementary All-State Choir Board, served on the Colorado Middle All State Choir Board from 2016-2020, and currently serves on the CoACDA Board as the Children’s and Youth R&R Chair.

Ensemble Directors

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Abigail Gast

summit ensemble director

Abigail Gast is a mezzo-soprano, conductor, and voice teacher from Kansas City, Missouri. Although voice is her primary instrument, she has also played percussion in wind ensembles, orchestras, and drumlines for over 11 years. While receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Voice and Music Education at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, Abigail conducted the Concert Choir, Chamber Choirs, and University Orchestra, and enjoyed performing in all these ensembles, as well as the Pepperdine Wind Ensemble and the new music ensemble, Collegium Musicum. Abigail has been featured as a young artist and vocal soloist at several summer festivals, including Amherst Early Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and Illinois Bach Academy. 

 

Abigail studied choral conducting under Dr. Andrew Megill and Dr. Andrea Solya at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While living in Illinois, she developed her love for teaching young people as the assistant conductor of Central Illinois Youth Chorus. Most recently, she and her fiancé, Nick, live in Colorado Springs with their two adorable cats.

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Danielle Gillespie

pikes peak singers director
overture director
singer smarts director

Danielle has an extensive background in vocal music. An Alum of the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, she was also heavily involved in musical theatre and choral music all through schooling. She went on to study classical voice performance at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Music in classical voice performance, with advanced coursework in vocal pedagogy and choral conducting. Some of her notable collaborations in the Colorado region have included: Equinox Theatre, Inspire Creative, Opera Fort Collins, Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble, Evans Choir, Colorado Ballet Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, collaborations with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic through the Bravo Vail! Music Festival, and even singing backup for Josh Groban at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. She has studied with Cynthia Vaughn, Todd Queen, Gayle Grace, Katrina Twitty, and Catherine Sailer. Danielle's approach to teaching is to invoke joy and passion for music, whole body engagement to develop good habits, and an understanding of contextual music theory.

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Stephanie Benton

springs singers conductor

Stephanie Benton, originally from Littleton, CO, grew up singing with the Colorado Children's Chorale, dancing ballet, and playing piano. She received music degrees from the University of Denver, including a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting. After graduation, Stephanie directed several church and community choirs in the Denver metro area, including the Aurora Singers and the Empire Lyric Players. In 2008, she moved to Colorado Springs and was on the music faculty at Pikes Peak Community College and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. In 2012, she moved to Ramstein, Germany, and directed a large community choir named the "Rheinland-Pfalz International Choir." This choir was invited to sing at Carnegie Hall in 2017, with several other choirs from all over the world. From 2016-2019, Stephanie lived in northern California, directing and accompanying a local church choir and several community choirs. Stephanie also conducted at the Chorus America Conducting Academy in Fullerton, CA, working with Duain Wolfe and other prominent conductors. She is excited to be back in Colorado Springs with her family, which includes two children, and is thrilled to be collaborating with live music again.

Collaborative Pianists

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David Acton

collaborative pianist for the summit ensemble
principal accompanist

David is the accompanist for the Summit Ensemble of the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, and is thrilled to be a member of such an incredible team of musicians and educators. He also serves as the Director of Music Ministry at First Congregational Church in downtown Colorado Springs, where he is the organist and conducts the chancel choir and handbell ensemble. Additionally, he is an active freelance French hornist and composer. David received his Master of Music degree in French horn performance, with organ and choral conducting emphases, from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There, he was one of the French horn graduate teaching assistants and the organ scholar at the First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in French horn performance from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. David loves cats, drinking coffee, reading, running, hiking, almost anything to do with Austria, and watching Netflix!

Piano Keyboard

Emily Tabbutt

collaborative pianist for the pikes peak singers
collaborative pianist for the springs singers
administrative assistant

Bio coming soon!

Drama & Choreography

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Jen Lennon

drama & choreography consultant

Jen returned to Colorado Springs after spending 14 years living in Chicago & Toronto. She earned a Bachelor degree in Performance Studies and a Master in Education & Social Policy from Northwestern University. Jen has designed and implemented drama curriculum for students in public and private schools, has directed numerous youth theatre productions, and has a teaching background in storytelling, music and forensics. Jen has continued her own performing since graduating from the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale in 1985. She has performed in a variety of musicals, revues, concerts, and church events, receiving recognition in the Toronto area for her work. Jen combined her love of sports and music by performing the national anthem for Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the Canadian Football League. Jen enjoys performing on the main stage at the Fine Arts Center as well as in the Children's Theatre Series on the FAC's Second Stage. Recent productions include Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, White Christmas and 9 to 5. Jen also serves on the Board of Opera Theatre of the Rockies and works for the Educational Outreach Department of Theatreworks. Daily Jen can be seen in her ongoing role as wife, mother of three, & host of KKTV 11 Connects. 

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Betsy McClenahan

choreographer

Betsy is the Director of Kaleidoscope Arts Project, a program of Imagination Celebration, which offers classes in dance, theater, and music to both recreational and professional students. She is also the Artistic Director of Kaleidoscope Dance Project, a semi-professional company showcasing the Pikes Peak region’s premiere dancers, and owner of Chameleon Arts and Entertainment, which produces professional shows throughout the year and mentors young professionals in career success. With more than forty-five years of experience teaching dance and musical theater, Ms. McClenahan also shares her time with CIVA Charter High School where she is the Artist in Residence. In 2010, she helped to create the What If Festival of Innovation and Imagination, which attracts more than 30,000 visitors each September to downtown Colorado Springs, and she serves on the boards of CYT and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale. In her more than 50 year stage career, she has performed regionally and nationally and, to date, her favorite roles have included Cassie in A Chorus Line, Mother Superior in Nunsense, Witch in Into the Woods, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, and her 15 seasons at Bob Young’s Cabaret. Enjoy the  show!

Administration

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Donna Gillespie

program assistant & overture assistant

Donna has been a parent member of the Children’s Chorale for many years. Her three children sang with the Children's Chorale and through their years she has had many opportunities as a volunteer. She has served on the Parent Council as a Parent Representative as well as Co-Chair. Donna has been to every Chorale summer camp except two and regretted missing those. She has particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to travel with the Chorale. Donna’s background is in children. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Master’s of Science in Speech Therapy and Elementary Education.  She taught reading and speech skills to children with special needs up until the time her children were born. Since then Donna has tutored, taught afterschool classes, and volunteered at church, school, and in the community. She’s thrilled to be helping in the office and getting to know your children.