Dusty Francis | Music Director
Conductor and bass-baritone Dusty Francis enjoys an active career as a performer, clinician, and adjudicator in the New York metropolitan area and across the country. He currently serves as Music Director of the Park Slope Singers and of the Ars Musica Chorale; Founding Artistic Director of the New Jersey State Children’s Chorus; Associate Conductor of the New York City Master Chorale; and Choirmaster and Organist at All Saints Episcopal Church in Leonia, New Jersey. Francis holds the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Maryland, where he studied with Edward Maclary and James Ross.
When not on the conducting podium, Francis can often be heard singing with some of the country’s finest professional choral ensembles, including the GRAMMY-nominated True Concord Voices & Orchestra, the Atlanta-based Skylark Vocal Ensemble, and the Manhattan Chorale. He has sung under such visionary conductors as Helmuth Rilling, Christoph Eschenbach, Matthew Halls, Paul Goodwin, and Rinaldo Alessandrini in such revered venues as Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Chartres Cathedral, and The National Theater of Korea.
In addition to his Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Maryland, Francis earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Xavier University in Cincinnati, graduating summa cum laude. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education. A native of Ohio, he currently resides in Manhattan.[divider]
Marjorie Vandervoort | Assistant Conductor
Marjorie Vandervoort began her long association with Ars Musica in the early 1980s. She has served as soprano soloist and associate/assistant conductor under founder Joyce Keschner, Italo Marchini, Robert Long, Kelly Crandell and Dusty Francis. (Marchini dubbed her “Die Feldmarshallin” for her skill at getting the singers into concert formation.) She took part in all the concert trips to Europe, conducting and soloing in Belgium in 1983 and subsequently in other places. A high point was singing Gershwin’s “Summertime” at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, in 2003.
Vandervoort is now in her 22nd year as Music Director of the Ridgewood Choral, a women’s chorus established by Frank Kasschau in 1929. She is also the director of the Ridgewood Unitarian Society’s Society Singers, a chorus of mixed voices. Her conducting experience includes work as assistant conductor of the Rockland Camerata, guest conductor of Harmony Basket Chorus (a choir of Japanese women), and church choirs.
Marge grew up in Ridgewood, NJ, where she studied piano with Howard Kasschau and Florence Monell Marble. A resident of Closter for over 60 years, she and her late husband Robert raised three daughters; grandchildren and great-grandchildren complete the family. She has an art and custom-framing business, The Mirage Portfolio.[divider]
Susan LaFever | Pianist
Music Director of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Eastchester, NY, Susan LaFever has been a collaborative pianist and vocal coach for over twenty years. Ms. LaFever received a Bachelor of Music Performance in French Horn and Piano at Union College in Lincoln, NE and while earning her Master of Music in Horn Performance at the University of Nebraska was awarded a full teaching assistantship to serve as pianist in the vocal and instrumental studios. Currently she is pianist with Garden State Opera, The Ridgewood Choral and Ars Musica Chorale. She has accompanied Broadway stars, members of the New York Philharmonic and other brass soloists in concert and was conductor/pianist for the Northeast tour of Scrooge, The Musical. For the past few years, she has been one of the accompanists at Montclair State University where she has accompanied lessons, played opera rehearsals and performed recitals. She is also a past pianist with the Choral Department at Kean University.[divider]
Danielle Buonaiuto | Chorus Manager
Danielle Buonaiuto has been a performing artist, educator, and arts administrator since 2007. She brings her entrepreneurial skills and her knowledge of the 21st-century arts organization to Ars Musica, working in the areas of publicity, development, and overall administration.
A soprano sought after for the performance of new works, Danielle is a founding member of the Baltimore-based Lunar Ensemble, and serves as their social media coordinator as well as soprano soloist. She is also an active choral musician, and can be heard with the choir of St Mary the Virgin, St Bartholomew’s Church, and with the new music collective C4. She also teaches voice, privately as well as in workshops geared to an understanding of contemporary vocal techniques.