Workshops

Saturday, Jan 24 – Sunday, Jan 25, 2015 @ 9:00 am

Santa Monica High School, Language Building
600 Olympic Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Parking | Campus Map

 

Download the Eventjoy app

laaf-eventjoy-app

 
 


 

 

 

Schedule

Workshops and masterclasses sponsored by:

Bill Hare Productions

Pressmark Entertainment

Kay Cannon (Writer, Pitch Perfect)

* Schedule subject to change

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Time L-102 L-103 L-104 L-109 L-110
9:00 AM Circle Singing
Bentlage, Robertson
Intro to Arranging
Fowler
Hands On Recording Basics
Holland
*L-201*
How to Sell Your Sound
Gaynor
Young MD’s – Creating a Successful Rehearsal Environment
Degan, Jon Smith
10:30 AM Women In A Cappella
Arbisser
AcaTheory 101
Mark
Get Into the Groove: Creating a Rock-Solid Vocal Rhythm Section
Curless, Smith
Music Production: How to Make a Great Album & Use It To Meet Your Goals
Eames
Hairography and its Real Life Applications
Laursen
11:40 AM Open Masterclass
m-pact
Lunch, Masterclasses, Acabombs
12:50 PM Open Masterclass
Women of the World
Lunch, Masterclasses, Acabombs
2:00 PM Advanced Arranging Techniques
Anderson
Improvisation
Rosales
15-minute Songwriting Clinic
Engelhardt
The Musicianship of Vocal Percussion
Fowler
How to A Cappella: Practical Lessons and Advice for A Cappella Domination
Bram
3:15 PM Songwriters Panel
Dietz
Improving Your Arrangement
Honey Whiskey Trio
15-minute Songwriting Clinic
Engelhardt
History of A cappella
Jordan
How to Sing in All Styles
Hackel
4:30 PM Stuff We Hate
Koutzoukis
Sing It Like You Mean It
Arbisser
Hear It, Fix It, Sing It
Hampton
Let’s Put on a Show!
Ruiz
Barbershop: The Martial Arts of A Cappella
Eames, Jordan, Woodward

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Time L-102 L-103
10:00 AM Advanced Group Direction
Ahmed
Warm Ups and Rehearsal Techniques
Woodward
11:15 AM Advanced Healthy Belting
Hackel
Harmony for Arrangers
Anderson
12:30 PM Intensive Solo Workshop
Arbisser
LAAF Forum
Keyes

 

Classes


15-minute Songwriting Clinic (Engelhardt)
15 minutes of one-on-one time with an award winning song writer, first come, first served. Writers bring one song that’s in progress, a way to play it (either an mp3 or live, but with a chordal instrument or tracks) and a printed out lyric sheet. It is amazing how much can be done in 15 minutes! Limited Enrollment (request your spot).
↑ Back to Top


AcaTheory 101 (Mark)
Music theory is the study of how music is written and played. AcaTheory examines these fundamentals through an aca-musician’s lens, connecting the dots between what we see on the page and what we hear in arrangements. Join Jessie Mark for an interactive hour of theory, ear training and singing. This is a must attend workshop for beginner-intermediate arrangers, music directors of “non-music readers” or anyone who wants to learn to read music.
↑ Back to Top


Advanced Arranging Techniques (Anderson)
Less philosophy, and more specific how-to’s for the experienced arranger looking to add arrows to their quiver.
↑ Back to Top


Advanced Group Direction (Ahmed)
↑ Back to Top


Advanced Healthy Belting (Hackel)
This class will be a masterclass format for singers who feel confident in their belt voice but would like to learn more and perfect their technique. Each student will get to sing for the class and work with me one-on-one. Limited Enrollment to 10 (request your spot).
↑ Back to Top


Barbershop: The Martial Arts of A Cappella (Eames, Jordan, Woodward)
Barbershoppers are actually vocal ninjas. Experts at sneaking up on chords and throwing overtones like ninja stars. Use the skills taught in this class to raise your blend and tuning to legendary levels. Tags, chords, and ringing overtones for free to all attendees!
↑ Back to Top


Circle Singing (Bentlage, Robertson)
In this class, we would explore the art of creating “circle songs”. *A circle song is a piece of music using voices where multiple singers act as a loop pedal for one singer coming up with layered parts. Relevent/Applied skills/techniques: attention to detail (pitch, rhythm, tone, inflection), creating motifs, exploring harmony and counterpoint, singing with pocket, doing/loving your “job”. Bring your voices. We will use them.
↑ Back to Top


Get Into the Groove: Creating a Rock-Solid Vocal Rhythm Section (Jeff Smith, Curless)
Does your group REALLY know how to groove? Is your music achieving the head-bobbing, toe-tapping, booty-shaking, finger-snapping vibe that you’re looking for? In this session, m-pact’s Trist Curless (bass) and Jeff Smith (VP) discuss, dissect, and demonstrate specific techniques and tricks of the trade for developing a powerful, rock-solid vocal rhythm section. Learn new tips for crafting appropriate and creative bass/percussion lines for your arrangements, and get the inside scoop on how to make the best use of your microphones and sound system to infuse your groove with the maximum amount of thump.
↑ Back to Top


Hairography and its Real Life Applications (Laursen)
Staging cannot only make or break you performance, but how does it effect your sound? What are your priorities and when would you be better of without it?
↑ Back to Top


Hands On Recording Basics (Holland)
While Bri Holland get’s set up for the LAAF Collaborative recording, she’s going to guide you through some of the basic info that you’ll need to start making your own recordings. HANDS ON!!!
↑ Back to Top


Harmony for Arrangers (Anderson)
Let’s get specific – This class will focus on harmonic series, vertical spacing, chord voicings, advanced harmony, and anything else that fits under that umbrella. Come find out how to put some polish on your arrangements with advanced music theory.
↑ Back to Top


Hear It, Fix It, Sing It (Hampton)
Can you tell when something is wonky, but can’t figure out what it is? Or maybe you know it’s the tenors (like usual) but you can’t find the sound they need to make it perfect? COME TO THIS CLASS! Learn to identify problems by ear, fix them quickly, and improve your sound!!!
↑ Back to Top


History of A cappella (Jordan)
Dan Jordan guides you through the history of our art form. Learn about the past to improve the future!!!!
↑ Back to Top


How to A Cappella: Practical Lessons and Advice for A Cappella Domination (Bram)
A strategy class about how to be successful as a group or individual in the a cappella world. Seriously incredible knowledge will be shared at this class.
↑ Back to Top


How to Sell Your Sound (Gaynor)
How does the rest of the music industry approaches marketing, producing, and selling their music? Join an open conversation on how to give your group’s music a larger platform. Analyze your song choice, style, and audience reaction in the same way record labels do in order to expand a band’s reach & success.
↑ Back to Top


How to Sing in All Styles(Hackel)
This class will overview the basics of singing in all styles. Basic physiology, anatomy and technique will be discussed and put into practice by the whole class. We will spend time discussing how to belt healthfully and how to completely eliminate the dreaded “crack” in the voice.
↑ Back to Top


Improving Your Arrangement (Honey Whiskey Trio)
There are years and years worth of vocal arrangements out there, and starting something on your own can be and overwhelming experience. The desire to be bold and different can distress any arranger at any level. In this workshop, we will look over several arranging techniques used in various styles of vocal music and discuss which ones can make your arrangement stand out.
↑ Back to Top


Improvisation (Rosales)
Runs, riffs, and phrasing spectacular! Learn specific vocabulary to take your basic phrasing to the next level. Improving on making on the spot decisions as you sing, making better choices versus sounding redundant. Learn the basic of melismas and scatting, 12-bar blues, and even improving over mainstream chord progressions.
↑ Back to Top


Intensive Solo Workshop (Arbisser)
Attend my first workshop “Sing It Like You Mean It” and then apply the Meisner Techniques you learned to the solos you’re working on in this open masterclass! I’ll break down a solo with you to help you get the most effective performance possible. Not only will we discuss the meaning of the lyrics and make sure you’re connected and using all the tools at your disposal to “live truthfully within the imaginary circumstances” of the song, but we’ll also touch on the more detailed and technical things such as breath support, intonation, ornamentation, and interpretation. Limited Enrollment (request your spot).
↑ Back to Top


Intro to Arranging (St. Clair)
Using his own works as well as well-known published charts, Kevin St. Clair demystify the process and encourage students to create original charts for their own ensembles.
↑ Back to Top


LAAF Forum (Keyes)
Come chat with the team that put together LAAF, and have your voice heard regarding compliments, complaints, and everything in between.


Let’s Put on a Show! (Ruiz)
You’ve spent long hours perfecting those chords and rehearsing the perfect blend. Now it’s time to present your music to an audience. Here are the important things to remember when creating, designing and presenting your “show”. I outline the important steps to take when turning your music into a “visual” medium.
↑ Back to Top


Music Production: How to Make a Great Album & Use It To Meet Your Goals (Eames)
What’s the difference between a mediocre a cappella recording and one that is memorable and captivating? What are the elements of a good recording, the tools we have at our disposal to bring a track together? In a world where anyone can record anything, how do we stand out?
↑ Back to Top


The Musicianship of Vocal Percussion (Fowler)
You already know HOW to make the drum noises, but do you know how to be a vocal percussionIST? The noun. The member of the group that does the boots and cats and does it well. Many people focus so hard on getting their snare right that they completely overlook the most important job of the beatboxer – tempo, groove, and personality. This class will eschew technique and the usual how-to vibe that the beatboxing workshops have traditionally pursued and instead be a discussion on the role of the person that is doing the mouth drumming and how he/she can fill the role of vocal percussionist adequately regardless of skill level.
↑ Back to Top


Open Masterclass (m-pact, Women of the World)
The champs from Friday night’s contest work with a headliner group in an open masterclass for all to enjoy!
↑ Back to Top


Sing It Like You Mean It (Arbisser)
This workshop will give singers the tools to move away from planned out, robotic routines of their solos, connect to their emotions, and “live truthfully within imaginary circumstances” in order to give a genuine and honest performance. By using the Meisner Technique (acting), the students will learn the basic repetition exercise and receive a handful of tools to bring their performance to the next level. It’s not all about being loud, belting high, and riffing as much as humanly possible – it’s about being genuine and vulnerable and taking your audience on a journey with you. Learn techniques to not only connect with your performance as a soloist, but also as a supporting group singer, and how to consider arranging, choreographing, and performing the song in a way that will enhance your message rather than distract from it.
↑ Back to Top


Songwriters Panel (Dietz)
A panel discussion about writing songs, led by Robert Dietz. Come flex your creativity muscles!
↑ Back to Top


Stuff We Hate (Koutzoukis)
Join a panel of a cappella professionals as we (attendees included) discuss the stuff we hate, from on-stage gripes to song selection to recording ticks and everything in between, as well as our suggestions for alternatives and solutions. Participation is encouraged, so come prepared with your own hates and help for others!
↑ Back to Top


Warm Ups and Rehearsal Techniques (Woodward)
Tired of the same old choral warm ups? Come learn how to warm up your whole body, mind, and voice! I’ll show you all the best stuff that I use on my own students every day! I promise your brain and throat will thank you.
↑ Back to Top


Women In A Cappella (Arbisser)
↑ Back to Top


Young MD’s – Creating a Successful Rehearsal Environment (Degan, Jon Smith)
Creating a successful rehearsal environment is key when directing an a cappella group. Learn how to prepare beforehand, how to control a rehearsal, and how to establish a camaraderie between you and your peers. Taking your group to ICCAs can be stressful, hear how Jon Smith dealt with that and took a group who had never placed at a Quarterfinal, to placing 3rd at Finals. You’ll also hear tips on vocal exercises, how to address problems of pitch, blend and rhythm, tips on arranging and much more.
↑ Back to Top

 

Instructors



Shams Ahmed
Throughout what Shams admits has been an incredibly exciting career thus far, he’s developed a belief that unifies everything he does: the heart of an a cappella group is in its arrangements. Right now, he’s diligently toiling to bring better arrangements to groups all over the country – and pushing the boundaries of a cappella in general. He is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, where he directed SoJamX and 2013 ICCA Champions, The Nor’easters, while double majoring in Finance and Mandarin. During his tenure, the group picked up several compilation placements and CARA awards, and Shams earned more arranging awards than any other collegiate arranger.

↑ Back to Top



Tom Anderson
Tom Anderson’s arrangements can be heard on multiple issues of the BOCA, Sing!, and Voices Only compilations and on the hit NBC a cappella showcase “The Sing-Off”. His arranging clients include 5-time Grammy winners the Swingle Singers, award-winning a cappella solo artist Peter Hollens, ICCA champions Pitch Slapped, and dozens of other vocal groups across the country (and occasionally beyond). A former member of pro a cappella groups Ball in the House and Four Shadow and original music director of UW-Eau Claire Fifth Element, Tom is the founder and owner of Random Notes LLC, an arranging service specializing in vocal music for groups of all styles, makeups, and abilities, and situated cozily online at www.random-notes.com.

↑ Back to Top



Ariel Arbisser
Ariel Arbisser is a versatile, in demand performer based in Ithaca, NY. In addition to The Funx, her diverse lineup of projects include soul outfit The Jeff Love Band, powerhouse female ensemble Lady Jaye, and experimental funk duo, Frisky Business. Ariel got her start with the Cornell Chordials with whom she became a nationally recognized soloist, and co-produced two of their award-winning albums. After Cornell, Ariel graduated from the Actor’s Workshop of Ithaca where she studied the Meisner Technique and went on to become both a lead in their theater company and a teacher’s assistant. From her Meisner roots she developed the teaching module “Sing It Like You Mean It,” which she continues to teach at festivals and schools nationwide. She serves as Program Manager of Marketing for CASA, and is on the Board of Trustees for the Melodramatics Theatre Company, Inc.

↑ Back to Top



Erin Bentlage
Erin Bentlage is an award winning jazz vocalist and composer from Burlington, Vermont. She co-founded and directed her high school’s first a cappella group and went on to join the Boston University Treblemakers. She soon transferred to Berklee College of Music where she earned her degree in Contemporary Writing and Production. Erin has been a member of the Singing Tribe, an improvisation-oriented world a cappella group created by Bobby McFerrin; jazz-based a cappella group Introflection; the Berklee Vocal Jazz Ensemble which performed at JEN Conference 2014; and has performed throughout the country at various festivals as a featured artist. She was a Music Director at A Cappella Academy’s inaugural year, and recently relocated to Los Angeles where she works as a performer, educator, arranger, and composer.

↑ Back to Top



Ben Bram
Ben is an esteemed arranger, music director, and producer from Los Angeles. A graduate of USC Thornton School of Music, Ben sang with, arranged for, and directed three-time ICCA champions the SoCal VoCals. Since graduating in 2010, Ben has worked musically behind the scenes of The Sing-Off, Pitch Perfect, Glee, The Voice, and Modern Family, and has also arranged for various groups all over the world. Ben has had a hand in assembling multiple groups for The Sing-Off, including The Backbeats, Delilah, and most notably season 3 champions Pentatonix, who he currently works with as an arranger, producer, and engineer. He also sings with pop/jazz group Level and recently co-founded A Cappella Academy, a summer a cappella intensive, with Robert Dietz and Avi Kaplan.

↑ Back to Top



Andy Degan
Andy Degan is a professional musician based in New York City. While earning degrees in Vocal Performance and Business Management from Central Connecticut State University, he music directed CCSU’s all-male group “Divisi” and led the group to numerous accolades over a four year career. Over the past four summers, Andy has been part of the elite all-male ensemble “Hyannis Sound” which has sung hundreds of shows all over Cape Cod. Through this ensemble, Andy has worked with many professionals in the A Cappella industry and went on to start arranging and studio recording professionally for groups in the northeast. Since graduating, Andy worked aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship fronting a party band and has since moved to New York to stay active in music. Other professional A Cappella ventures have included appearances with Overboard, Five O’Clock Shadow, Switch, and Blackout.

↑ Back to Top



Robert Dietz
Robert Dietz has been arranging, performing, and critiquing contemporary a cappella music at all levels for over ten years. His career began in high school as director of the critically acclaimed group, Ascending Height, with whom he produced the first all-original high school a cappella album. Robert has studied at both the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney, Australia, and at the Ithaca College School of Music in Ithaca, New York where he directed the award winning all-male group, Ithacappella. Since 2011 Robert has been a member of the music team for NBC’s The Sing-Off, arranging music and coaching the competing groups. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he is a founding member of A Cappella Academy, sings locally with Jazz/Soul group, Level and tours nationally with The Funx. You can find him online at www.human-feedback.com.

↑ Back to Top



Jeff Eames
Jeff Eames is a singer, arranger and music producer based in Los Angeles. He began his professional vocal music career singing with Hyannis Sound and later toured nationally with the Boston-based group Overboard, performing hundreds of shows, teaching educational workshops and masterclasses, and adjudicating vocal festivals. In 2012 he moved to Los Angeles to found his music production company, Eames Audio, and has provided post-production services for Committed, Peter Hollens, the Filharmonic, and many others. He served as a counselor and director at the inaugural session of the A Cappella Academy summer camp in 2014. He currently resides in Sherman Oaks.

↑ Back to Top



Amy Engelhardt
Amy Engelhardt was the sole female voice and a primary writer/arranger for Grammy-nominated a cappella quartet The Bobs from 1998 to 2011. Honored with the Burman Award for Songwriting from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets (MAC), Amy also garnered three BroadwayWorld Cabaret nominations for Two Bobs, No Waiting, her show with Bob Malone of the John Fogerty Band. She is the composer/lyricist/arranger of BASTARD JONES, a rock musical adaptation of Henry Fielding’s TOM JONES, which recently workshopped in New York and will be produced off-Broadway in 2015. Amy’s solo CD, Not Gonna Be Pretty, called the “unlikely and intriguing marriage of Nellie McKay and Meat Loaf,” garnered two Just Plain Folks Award Nominations (the “Grassroots Grammys” according to the LA Times). A graduate of Syracuse University, Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and an honorary member of the Vienna Boys Choir, Amy coaches and teaches songwriting, improv and vocal performance (solo/group).

↑ Back to Top



David Fowler
David Fowler is the primary vocal percussionist and music director for Brothas From Otha Mothas, UC Santa Barbara’s Mens A Cappella group. Additionally, David is a semi-professional A Cappella audio engineer and producer – having produced BFOM’s “Just The Brothas” CD earlier this year as well as various singles for both himself and several recreational A Cappella groups across the country. He taught a workshop at LAAF in 2013 with focus on recording, editing, and mixing A Cappella music. This year, however, he’s focusing on something more broad: Vocal Percussion. More specifically, it’s role in the placement, style, and performance of an A Cappella group.

↑ Back to Top



Trace Gaynor
Trace Gaynor is a performer & music industry junkie originally from Chicago. A recent graduate of the University of Southern California, he is best known as a member of the Filipino a cappella boyband, The Filharmonic. In the group’s first year, they were contestants on The Sing-Off, took part in The Sing-Off Live! National Tour, made a cameo appearance in Pitch Perfect 2, and shared the stage with Linkin Park, Black Eyed Peas, & Pentatonix. Prior to The Filharmonic, Trace was the Musical Director & Arranger for USC’s Troy Tones. Outside the a cappella world, he works in music & media management, and is a classically trained violinist & pianist.

↑ Back to Top



Erin Hackel
Dr. Erin Hackel has a Bachelors in Voice Performance, a Masters in Opera and a Doctorate in Voice Performance and Pedagogy. She has performed extensively throughout the East Coast and Colorado in operatic and musical theater roles. Erin is currently an Assistant Professor in the Music department at the University of Colorado, Denver, which is a unique, contemporary music program. Her speciality is teaching singers how to belt successfully and healthfully. Erin sings with Central City Opera and directs the award winning a cappella group, MIX.

↑ Back to Top



Bradley Hampton
Bradley loves vocal harmony. Most of his teenage years were spent transcribing the music of The Beach Boys, The Hi-Lo’s, and Take 6. He would use his younger siblings as his experimental guinea pigs, teaching them those transcribed parts as well as practicing on them his own new creations. Bradley has shared the stage with great vocal groups such as: Rockapella, The Nylons, The House Jacks, The Blenders, The Drifters, The Bobs, The Knudsen Bros., The Manhattan Transfer, and Jon Secada. Bradley is the music director, a singer, and arranger for the internationally award-winning a cappella group SoundStage. Award-winning credits include having won the L.A. Harmony Sweepstakes twice! In 2008 SoundStage toured in Taiwan and wons second place in an international a cappella festival. Along with Cluster, Peter Hollens, NOTA, Rajaton, O-Kai Singers, and other talented groups, SoundStage was featured on Emerald City Productions album Sing a Song: Children’s Songs from around the World. SoundStage just released a hymns album One Savior One Voice, featuring new arrangements from Mark Kibble, Anders Edenroth, Michele Weir, Darmon Meader, Matthew Selby, and many other leading vocal arrangers.Bradley holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education with an emphasis in Composition from California State University, San Bernardino. He now teaches music theory classes and classes in songwriting and arranging within the commercial music program at CSUSB. He is also the director of Vocal Jazz. In 2012 his vocal jazz group opened for The Manhattan Transfer and for The Real Group in February 2014.His arrangements are sung by numerous vocal groups including Voicemale on Hims II, and West Side 5 on their self-titled album (as well as Voices Only II). He arranged the theme song for the award-winning web series Dead Grandma hosted by Jon Header. You can hear his jingles played over the radio on The Tim Conway Jr. Show as well as his arrangements sung as promo for the hit acappella movie Pitch Perfect. When not composing or arranging, he plays the piano accompanying for various school and church choirs, chorales, soloists, and musical theater productions. Other interests include movies, puppets, fruit, trees, flowers, and birds. His friends now know to say “no” when Bradley needs help moving, because of the heavy lifting of dozens of boxes of books on birds from everywhere in the world. Birds also fill the Hampton home, as he enjoys breeding and raising them. Bradley loves spending time with his wife, Jammie, and three daughters, Kayla, Coral, and Daphne.

↑ Back to Top



Brianne Holland
Bri Holland is a singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer. A current/founding member of powerhouse vocal group, Lady Jaye, Bri also served as the Music Director of Men in Drag, President of Voices in Your Head, and President of the A Cappella Council at the University of Chicago. She won the 2012 and 2014 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) for Best Female Collegiate Arrangement, as well as the 2013 CARA for Best Scholastic Original Song, and her arrangements and solos have been featured on international compilations albums like Voices Only, Best of Collegiate A Cappella, Sing, and WACA Vol 1. Bri has served as the Assistant Educational Officer for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America, founded FReestyle (an annual summer a cappella camp at her former high school), and participated in Camp A Cappella as a counselor and director. She is currently the frontwoman of jazz band Studio 3 in Columbus, director of two high school vocal groups, Director of Membership for the Women’s A Cappella Association, and a producer/songwriter with The Vocal Company. http://briholland.com.

↑ Back to Top



Honey Whiskey Trio
The Honey Whiskey Trio explores harmony in folk, bluegrass and any melody that catches the ear. Through their powerful, yet sweet harmonies, body percussion, haunting melodies and vitality on stage, Honey Whiskey Trio captivates and moves audiences. These storytellers in song found their roots in vocal jazz, all singing in Pacific Standard Time, CSU Long Beach’s award winning vocal jazz ensemble, though at different times. In just under two years of performing together, Honey Whiskey Trio has headlined the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, SheSings Festival, and the Southeastern Minnesota A Cappella Festival.

↑ Back to Top



Dan Jordan

↑ Back to Top



Tom Keyes
Tom is a dedicated a cappella facilitator, event producer, and music director. He is the Executive Producer of the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, has served as the Director of Operations at A cappella Academy and formerly as director of the Contemporary A Cappella League for CASA.org. With a considerable background in vocal and instrumental music, Tom was bitten by the a cappella bug in 2009 when he decided to create and direct his own group, the award-winning Frequency, and has been a passionate advocate of all-vocal music ever since. Currently music directing a vocal group as well as a spiritual center, he balances music, work, and family, and lives with his wife and three children in Aliso Viejo, CA.

↑ Back to Top



Alex Koutzoukis
Alexander is co-owner (and producer, and engineer…) of Plaid Productions, a full-service a cappella production studio based in Boston, along with Alex Green. While attending Tufts University for computer science, he spent five years in the Beelzebubs, for two of which he was Music Director. He got his start in the field of a cappella production while working closely with Ed Boyer and Bill Hare on two award-winning Bubs albums (Pandaemonium and Play The Game) and continued along that path to help record and edit BATTLE and Helix, as well as about half of the Warblers tracks from Season 2 of Glee. He won a 2010 Best Male Collegiate Arrangement CARA for his arrangement of “All The Love In The World,” a 2012 CARA runner-up in the same category for “Kings and Queens,” and was also runner-up for Favorite Vocal Percussionist in the 2010 ACAs. He is currently Executive Producer of Boston Sings [BOSS] in addition to his graphic design work for both BOSS and SoJam.

↑ Back to Top



Katherine Laursen
Born and raised in Dunedin, Florida, Katherine is a recent transplant to the LA area. She graduated with honors from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Music Education in 2005 and a Masters of Music Education in 2011. She taught in Pinellas County Schools for six years. The first three as the Assistant Director of Band and Chorus at Largo High School, and the last three years as the Director of Chorus and Strings at Dunedin Highland Middle School. Katherine has been a member of Festival Singers of Florida since it’s formation in in 2008 and has been a past member of Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, the Zielinski Singers, Opera Tampa and Tapped In, Inc, a professional Tap Company. Katherine has just finished her MA in Arts Administration at Florida State University. She was music director of the Florida State University AcaBelles from 2003-2005. While teaching, she directed four high school a cappella groups and was a founding member of Eleventh Hour, a co-ed group based in Tampa. She continues her involvement in the a cappella world as an ICHSA and FVA Solo and Ensemble judge.

↑ Back to Top



Jessie Louise Mark
Jessie Louise Mark graduated from Duke University in 2011 where she majored in History and minored in Music. During her four years as a member and director of Duke’s Lady Blue, Jessie led the group to several first-time achievements, including the group’s first appearance at the SoJam Collegiate Competition (2008). Since graduating, she has led arranging and music theory workshops at SoJam, LAAF and BOSS, served as an ICCA judge, directed NYC-based CAL group Empire, coached several a cappella groups and produced the Miami based All Roads A Cappella Festival. Jessie currently sings and beatboxes with vxn, a bicoastal all-female vocal group formed at LAAF 2014. In Jessie’s free time, she works full-time at an ad agency in Midtown Manhattan.

↑ Back to Top



Tracy Robertson
Singer, instrumentalist, director and arranger Tracy Roberson maintains a life-long passion for music – particularly vocal harmony, and education. He joined Berklee College of Music’s award-winning a cappella group “Pitch Slapped” (SoJam 2011 Champions; ICCA 2011 and 2014 Champions) in 2010 and music directed for their 2013/2014 season. He has worked with names such as Joey Blake, Rhiannon Watson, and Bobby McFerrin, and performed with renowned musicians in Ecuador where he has led vocal improvisation, arranging, and ensemble singing workshops. He performed at the the 2014 JEN Conference with Berklee’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and now tours as a member of Overboard.

↑ Back to Top



VJ Rosales
VJ Rosales is a singer, songwriter, arranger, and music director from Los Angeles. Hailing from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music (CSU Long Beach) with a B.M. in Jazz Studies, VJ is a versatile musician who is equally adept in jazz, pop, and R&B. During his college career, he sang in the top vocal jazz ensemble “Pacific Standard Time” at CSU Long Beach, performing at the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival. Presently, he works as a voice teacher at the Silverlake Conservatory, founded by members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In April 2013, he co-created The Filharmonic and competed on NBC’s The Sing Off, making it to the semi-finals. With The Filharmonic’s success on national television, he continues to work with them, with plans to record and tour.

↑ Back to Top



Rene Ruiz
In 1998, Rene Ruiz founded and directed a theatrical acappella show called “Toxic Audio”. The group was crowned the Harmony Sweeps National Champions in 2000. Our third album “Chemistry” won the CARA for 2003 Album Of The Year and the 2005 award for Artist of the Year. The show opened Off-Broadway and won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. The show opened a production at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in 2007. As a director, he has created acappella shows for Hershey Park, PA (IAAPA nominee for Best Atmosphere Entertainment), Six Flags New England (IAAPA Finalist for Best Overall Production) and Kennywood, PA. He has judged the Harmony Sweeps, the ICCA’s and multiple high school drama competitions. He has also performed in and directed shows for the Walt Disney World Co., Las Vegas and various theatrical workshops and readings.

↑ Back to Top



Jon Smith
Jon Smith began his a cappella career early on by founding a group on Long Island his freshman year of high school and has been acappella-ing (yes it’s a verb) and arranging ever since. He later joined Vocal Point at the University of Delaware and became their music director shortly after. During his time there, he took a group from humble beginnings and brought them all the way to ICCA Finals in 2014, where they placed third. That year, Smith also took home the Outstanding Arrangement Award for Vocal Point’s entire set at ICCA Finals and one of his arrangements was featured on Voices Only 2014. Since then Smith has been singing with Hyannis Sound, an all-male professional group on Cape Cod, as well as Pulse-^v-, an all-beatboxing vocal band who will be performing at the National A cappella Convention in Memphis, TN. Jon has made a cappella his full-time job right out of college and is currently the Director of Vocal Arranging for The Vocal Company.

↑ Back to Top


Jeff Smith, Trist Curless
Trist Curless and Jeff Smith are best known for their roles as the bass and vocal percussionist for world-renowned a cappella group ‘m-pact’. Whether laying down straight-ahead funky grooves or crafting complex poly-rhythmic patterns, this powerhouse duo have become a signature element of m-pact’s distinctive sound. (@mpactmusic) In 1995, Trist co-founded m-pact, with whom he has performed in renowned music festivals and concert halls around the world. He has written, arranged, and produced many of the group’s songs and recordings, and he has been instrumental in developing m-pact’s educational programs. He also recently began touring as the bass vocalist for the multiple-Grammy-winning vocal jazz ensemble, The Manhattan Transfer. Trist can be found on the other side of the microphone as well, working as an audio engineer for several vocal groups and bands, including Pentatonix, Straight No Chaser, VoicePlay, and Take 6. When he’s not performing and mixing, Trist enjoys teaching and is in high demand as a clinician and adjudicator at jazz and vocal festivals worldwide. (@mpactbassman) In addition to performing with m-pact since 2004, Jeff is a full-time freelance musician, producer, clinician, and arranger. His voice and beatboxing can be heard on numerous film/tv soundtracks, including Glee, Sophia the First, Epic, Dance Flick, and many more. Jeff is a performing arts coach for Burbank public schools, and is co-director of the LA-based youth a cappella program, RockNacappella. He is also a multi ACA-nominated solo artist, releasing his first a cappella single, “Mary Did You Know?” in 2011, and following up with a number of CARA-nominated solo releases since then. In addition to these endeavors, Jeff finds time to maintain a career as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, serving as commander and conductor of the 300th Army Band in Los Angeles. (@singervp)

↑ Back to Top



Kevin St. Clair
A native of Newport Beach, California, tenor Kevin St. Clair pursued musical studies at Chapman University, Yale and the University of Southern California. Dr. St. Clair has taught private and class voice at the University of Southern California while completing doctoral studies there in vocal arts. He has also served on the voice faculty at Pepperdine University, Long Beach City College and as Assistant Professor of Voice at California Baptist University. Dr. St. Clair had the privilege of singing the tenor solos in the first-ever peformance of Handel’s Messiah in the Walt Disney Concert Hall for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, with whom he has frequently appeared as a concert soloist. Dr. St. Clair appeared in acclaimed film director Baz Luhrmann’s production of La Bohème at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, for which he won an Ovation Award. He recently sang several selections at the 2009 UC Merced Commencement Ceremonies, attended by First Lady Michelle Obama. Onscreen, Dr. St. Clair was featured on the hit CBS television series How I Met Your Mother and appears in the recent Robin Williams feature film License to Wed. With the Los Angeles Master Chorale, he may be heard on the Grammy-nominated recording of Steve Reich’s You Are Variations, Reich’s Daniel Variations as well as on LeAnn Rimes’ Christmas CD What A Wonderful World. He is also featured on the accompanying CDs for the current edition of Basics of Singing, the most widely used classical voice textbook in the United States. In demand as a choral conductor and arranger, Dr. St. Clair is the founder and director of the 40-voice Charles Dickens Carolers and has been a guest clinician and voice instructor for the internationally acclaimed All-American Boys Chorus. His arrangements of traditional and popular Christmas music may be heard on Opera Pacific’s CD release A Toast to the Holidays and the new commercial release A Charles Dickens Christmas.. Following their successful presentation at the 2010 Choral Taste of Los Angeles, a collection of these arrangements is currently being prepared for publication. Dr. St. Clair is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) as well as the National Assocation of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

↑ Back to Top



Women of the World
Women of the World was formed to bring women musicians from across the globe onto a common platform to collaborate and create, not only through the sharing of music, but also to explore and celebrate the differences in ideologies, and cultural tenets that exist in the daily lives of women all over the world.

Honoring global folk traditions, their repertoire spans music in 27 languages.

In many ways, the ensemble is a microcosm of the world, with members working closely together, not just to create and perform music, but also learning about each other’s countries, cultures, languages, beliefs and practices.

2014 American a cappella champions, nominees for the 2013 Boston Music Awards and 2014 Independent Music Awards, Women of the World has toured North America and Japan, having collaborated with many industry legends including Grammy-award winning vocalist, Bobby McFerrin and African vocal icon, Angelique Kidjo. Women of the World continues to serve as cultural ambassadors of peace and unity through music and has delighted audiences at venues like Carnegie Hall, Blue Note Jazz Club, Boston Symphony Hall, as well as through collaborations with the United Nations, amongst others. Creating the Harmonious Human Orchestra of Life, Women of the World has brought over 200 women from all over the world together to collaborate musically.

↑ Back to Top



Matt Woodward
Matt Woodward is a choir director at San Antonio’s own MacArthur High School. While at Loyola University New Orleans, he earned two international bronze medals with a barbershop quartet called the Nile Manski Trio. Later he was the tenor section leader with the San Marcos Marcsmen, 2008 Youth Chorus Grand Champions of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Last year, his student acapella group, PFC, took home the championship at the ICHSA in New York. In his spare time, Matt cooks for his amazing wife, BriAnne, plays with his two miniature schnauzers, Choppa and Pickles, and enjoys listening to snobby hifi audio equipment.

↑ Back to Top