Executive & Artistic Director
Mrs. Shara Cocchiola holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and pursued her Masters in Music Performance at the University of South Florida. She has had extensive training music education emphasizing the Kodály Method and Orff Schulwerk as well as choral and instrumental performing and directing. Mrs. Cocchiola began her vocal training in early childhood, has been a choral conductor and music director in public, private and community programs since 1994 in addition to maintaining a private studio. She has served as a clinician, guest artist, vocalist and instrumentalist in many professional, community and educational works having studied conducting under Dr. Mallory Thompson and Dr. William Weidrich. In addition to being a trained vocalist, educator and conductor, Shara is a professional flutist having studied with Dr. Kim McCormick, Martha Rearick, Marilyn Froelich, and Mark Castellano and served as principal flutist with the Tampa Bay Symphony under Dr. Jack Heller. Mrs. Cocchiola is passionate and dedicated to providing quality music education and performance experiences for all ages evidenced by the exceptional quality of programs she continues to create and administrate. She is engaged throughout the community in a number of areas one of which is serving on the Academy Advisory Board for the Vocal Pathway at Firestone High School, an Akron Public School, through the United Way. Personally, she is active in genealogical research and historical societies, a member of the Mayflower Society of Descendants and the Daughters of the American Revolution as well as the Vice President of the Children of the American Revolution. Shara resides in Ohio with her husband of over 20 years.
Principal Conductor, Performance Choir Director
Heather Cooper is a multi-faceted musician who enjoys making music in a variety of settings. In addition to directing Performance Choir, she teaches general music and choir at Canton Country Day School (PK-8) and serves as organist to the congregation of Faith United Methodist Church in North Canton. She has previously served as accompanist for the Canton Symphony Orchestra Chorus and played keyboard on Canton Symphony concerts. She currently serves as president of the North Coast Kodaly Association. Heather holds Bachelor of Music degrees in Piano Performance and Choral Music Education from the University of South Carolina. Her Masters degree is in Music Education with an emphasis on the Kodaly teaching philosophy from Capital University. Heather is married to Britt Cooper, director of the Canton Symphony Chorus and Walsh University choirs. They are the proud parents of two children, Megan and Mark.
Full Principal Conductor press release here.
DR. GRANT WILLIAM COOK III
Music of the Spheres Conductor, Metropolitan Chorus Spring Conductor 2020
Dr. Grant William Cook III is the Margaret Morgan Ramsey Professor in Music and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Mount Union, where he conducts the Concert Choir, Cantus Femina, and Kantorei; teaches choral conducting and literature; and administers the University’s choral program. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal pedagogy from Heidelberg University and is a graduate of Kent State University’s Hugh A. Glauser School of Music, from which he earned both the Master of Music degree in choral conducting and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in historical musicology/ethnomusicology. Choirs under Dr. Cook’s direction have performed by invitation at state and regional meetings of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education, toured nationally and internationally, appeared in concert at Washington National Cathedral, and performed with the symphony orchestras of Toledo and Canton. In addition, he is active as a guest conductor and clinician for a variety of choral events and festivals throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. In 2016, Dr. Cook was named the University of Mount Union’s Great Teacher. Active as a musicologist, Dr. Cook’s research has been published in The Choral Scholar, Choral Journal and The Beethoven Journal and presented by invitation at meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Ohio Choral Director’s Association, and, most recently, at the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies (San José State University). His primary research agenda concerns the life and writings of the celebrated American individualist, writer, music critic, and Beethoven scholar Alexander Wheelock Thayer (1817-1897). In addition, he has served on the National Research and Publications Committee of the American Choral Directors Association and the State Board of the Ohio Choral Directors Association.
Dr. Britt Cooper
Metropolitan Chorus Christmas Candlelight Conductor
Dr. Britt Cooper is the Chair of Fine and Performing Arts and Director of Choral Activities at Walsh University. He directs two university choral ensembles: the Walsh University Chorale and the Walsh Chamber Singers, an auditioned touring ensemble. He holds a Master's degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Alabama and a Doctorate in Choral Conducting from the University of South Carolina.
Under his direction, the Chamber Singers have toured extensively throughout Ohio and have traveled to Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, and Ontario, Canada. In May of 2018, the ensemble will travel to Italy for the third time, performing previously at two papal audiences and at major basilicas throughout Rome, the Vatican, Assisi, and Florence. Through his career, Dr. Cooper has also directed collegiate choirs in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and won Second Place in their National Graduate Conducting Competition in 2003. Dr. Cooper also serves regularly as a clinician for honor choirs throughout the region.
As a singer, Dr. Cooper has given recitals and concertized as a soloist throughout his professional career. He has sung with and studied under some of the most important conductors in American choral music, including Robert Shaw and Joseph Flummerfelt.
In the Fall of 2012, Dr. Cooper began a new appointment as Director of the Canton Symphony Chorus. In that role, he has prepared several major works including Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, and the Brahms Requiem. In April of 2016, Dr. Cooper directed his Masterworks debut with the orchestra, conducting the Lux Aeterna of Morten Lauridsen and the Polovestian Dances of Alexander Borodin.
Choralography Conductor 2020
Conductor Scott MacPherson is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies in the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University. In addition to conducting the KSU Chorale and Kent Chorus, Dr. MacPherson leads the graduate choral conducting program. The Chorale performed at the Ohio Choral Directors Association Conference in June 2014. He has consistently earned praise for the performance of choirs under his direction. His innovative programming blends a variety of musical styles ranging from early music through new works commissioned especially for him and his ensembles. His research of contemporary choral music and choral teaching techniques in Germany has resulted in guest conducting appearances with the Vokalensemble Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral Choir), the award-winning Modus Novus Chor based in Cologne, as well as the acclaimed male vocal ensemble Arcanum Musicae in Dresden. His international reputation has also drawn praise in Taiwan, where he conducted festival choirs and led workshops in conducting, choral eurhythmics, and choral pedagogy at conferences in Pingtung City and Taipei. Most recently, Dr. MacPherson conducted the Cologne Cathedral Choir in performance at High Mass for the Feast of St. Peter in the Cathedral. He also gave a workshop on American Choral Music at the Musikhochschule (Conservatory of Music) in Cologne. Dr. MacPherson also presented two workshops on choral eurhythmics at the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association Conference in 2015. In October 2016, MacPherson conducted the Wisconsin All-State Mixed Honors Choir. He also served as clinician and guest conductor of the OMEA Districts 4 & 7 Honors Choir Festival.
From 1993-2008, MacPherson was Director of Choral Activities at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Before moving to San Antonio, he served on the choral faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music where he was a colleague of the late Robert Fountain. In addition to his collegiate work, MacPherson is the founding Artistic Director of three choral groups of distinction—the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble, the San Antonio Chamber Choir, and most recently, the Cleveland Chamber Choir, which debuted in November of 2015. IVE, formed in 2002, is a professional-grade community choir of 60+ singers that performs each summer in Madison, WI. The Choir performed at the North Central American Choral Directors Association Conference in 2012. IVE released its first commercial CD recording, The Choral Music of Andrew Rindfleisch, on the Clarion label in 2006. An Isthmus Christmas, a live CD recording, was released in 2011. MacPherson retired as Artistic Director in 2017. The San Antonio Chamber Choir, a professional choir of 24-32 singers, made its debut under MacPherson’s leadership in 2005. In 2013, SACC performed at the National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association in Dallas, Texas. Their CD, Careless Carols: the Choral Music of Andrew Rindfleisch, recorded in 2012, was released on the Gothic label in 2016. MacPherson officially stepped down from his position as Artistic Director in July 2014 after their performance at the Texas Choral Directors Association Conference. The Cleveland Chamber Choir is Northeast Ohio’s only professional choral group of its kind. Performing sacred and secular music from the Renaissance through cutting edge new music commissioned and premiered by the choir as well as everything in between.
Metropolitan Chorus Winter Concert Conductor -
James is an energetic, multi-talented musician who is a staple in choral conducting, opera and organ works in the NE Ohio community. Having earned performance degrees in organ and voice from Oberlin Conservatory, The University of Illinois and The University of Akron, Mr. Mismas’ musical inﬂuence is far reaching as a vocalist, performer, teacher and conductor. Mr. Mismas served as the Director of the Akron Symphony Chorus for 10 years, conductor of the Hudson Community Chorus for 10 years and as guest conductor for Akron Symphony’s production of Handel’s Messiah performance in 2006. Mr. Mismas served as the Director of Opera at Kent State University and the University of Akron.
Praised for his “polished, passionate singing”, he is a versatile and accomplished vocalist having sung with Cleveland Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Akron Lyric Opera Theatre, the Akron Symphony, the Canton Symphony, the Ohio Chamber Orchestra as well as abroad, performing concerts in Germany and Greece. He has a prestigious pedigree in organ performance, often selected as ﬁnalist and winner of multiple national and semi-national organ competitions, including the Boston Harvard AGO (American Guild of Organists) and the prestigious Fort Wayne Competition.
Mr. Mismas is also a passionate educator with 35+ years of teaching including voice at Kent State University, Hiram College, The College of Wooster, University of Akron and the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. His students often compete and win local and national competitions, including Metropolitan Opera Auditions and many of his protégé go on to have active careers as professional singers, performers and educators throughout the United States and Europe.
As Director of Music/Organist at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Akron, OH, James oversees musical activities for services, plays the organ, conducts the Adult Choir. He is also the inspiration, creative vision and administrator of the church’s highly successful concert series, Five at Five – annual season concerts of universal inspiration on Sunday afternoons at 5 o’clock.
James is excited to be the Spring Concert Conductor for Summit Choral Society’s Metropolitan Chorus.
Beginning Singing, Tiny Pops Choir, Musicianships I & II
Mrs. Bell is an experienced teacher, private instructor and church musician. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Master's degree in Choral Music Education at the University of Akron. Mrs. Bell taught with the Ohio Conservatory for eight years, focusing on ear-training, solfege, voice and early musicianship to children of all ages. She has also taught choral performance, band, and has been a preschool early music teacher. She holds membership in the ACDA, NAfME, OCMEA, and The Greater Cleveland Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. Jessica is currently employed at Oakwood Middle School in Plain Township where she teaches music. She also works as a private instrumental and voice instructor, performs as a vocalist, has been a member of the Blossom Festival Chorus. Mrs. Bell, along with her three beautiful daughters resides in Akron.
Musicianship II, IV,V, PC Apprentice Music Theory, Program Accompanist
Steven Cocchiola is the Orchestra Director at Brecksville-Broadview Heights, where he conducts the Chamber Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, String Orchestra, 7th and 8th grade Orchestra, and teaches music theory. He currently the All-Region Orchestra Chair for the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) as well as 2017 All-State Orchestra Coordinator. He also serves as an adjudicator for OMEA and as a clinician throughout the state of Ohio. Prior to his appointment at Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Mr. Cocchiola taught orchestra students in elementary, middle and high school programs throughout the Tampa Bay area for several years. A native of Queens, New York, he holds a Bachelors degree in Music Education from The University of South Florida and his Masters Degree from TUI University in California. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA), Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA), Percussive Arts Society, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Director of Musical Operations, Advanced Choir, Jazz Choir
Metropolitan Chorus Conductor, Choral.ography
Emily Garlock is currently in her eleventh year of teaching after graduating from Ashland University with a degree in Vocal Music Education. She has studied with Stephanie Sikora, Rowland Blackley, Marla Butke, and Donald Sloan for her undergrad work and continues graduate lessons. She recently completed her MSED program through Walden University, and is looking towards a doctoral program. Currently, she works as the Vocal Music Director, Department Chair, and Assistant Drama Director at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School. In her tenure at BBH, her choirs have been awarded "Best Chamber Ensemble", "Best Tenor Section", and "Best Percussion Accompaniment" at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival in Gatlinburg, TN. Her high school choirs consistently receive 'I' ratings in OMEA contests, and have recently performed for the Akron Symphony and United Airlines. Mrs. Garlock has experience with orchestral conducting as the BBHHS choirs and orchestras have performed the Mozart Requiem in both the Cleveland area at St. Stanislaus as well as St. Michael's in Chicago. She also regularly conducts pieces of Handel's Messiah at BBH.
Emily has artistically and musically directed dozens of concerts in her tenure as music educator including adult choirs, church choirs, jazz, show, and children's choirs. Professionally, Mrs. Garlock has performed with the Cleveland POPS Orchestra Chorus under the direction of Bill Zurkey, performing for artists such as Donna McKechnie, Jodi Benson, Stephanie J. Block, and Michael Feinstein. Most recently, Mrs. Garlock served on the board of Ohio Choral Director's Association for two years as the High School Show Choir Repertoire and Standards Chair and has multiple articles published in the national music education magazine, TRIAD. This past fall, Mrs. Garlock was nominated as a finalist for the first inaugural Akron Symphony's Music Educator of the Year Award, and was recognized at their holiday concert this past December. She has been a part of Summit Choral Society for 4 years starting as an accompanist. She now teaches the Advanced Choir and A Cappella, Movie Music, and Broadway extension choirs.
Emily enjoys her *limited* downtime having season tickets for the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns, as well as season tickets to Playhouse Square's Broadway season. She resides in Medina with her husband, Scott.
Akron City Gospel Singers Conductor
Jaron is a singer, voice researcher, voice teacher, and music director. He is the proud founder and owner of the Jaron M. LeGrair Studio, a studio that specializes in providing voice training for singers and speakers. Clients from his studio have appeared on national stages including the Stellar Awards, The McDonalds Gospel Tour, and the Gospel Superfest. He also has clients who have appeared in many national and international productions including Cabaret, West Side Story, and Dirty Dancing.
Through this studio, he has branched into providing goods and wearable merchandise that promotes vocal and holistic health. His flagship product is his line of tea blends for the voice called Harvest Tea. These tea blends cater to the physical needs of the voice and throat and are sold in stores. His tea blends have been used and endorsed by singers on NBC’s The Voice and radio hosts on The Rickey Smiley Morning Show.
As a researcher, he has presented research on various topics including Gospel singing and Worship Leading at The Voice Foundation and at The Voice Forum at The Ohio State University. Additionally, he has also been featured as a guest facilitator for entrepreneurship for the Ohio Arts Council.
Though Jaron is a teacher and an entrepreneur by trade, he is a singer at heart. He has been featured as a soloist in many productions with Akron Symphony, Opera Columbus, Opera Project Columbus, and Tuscarawas Philharmonic. He is also the only male alto in Ricky Dillard & The New Generation Chorale, a Grammy-Nominated gospel choir based out of Chicago as well as the only male soprano in Justin Powell & Adoration, a gospel group based out of Philadelphia. He has also served as a Music Director and a Vocal Coach for many productions including Dreamgirls, The Wiz and Hairspray.
Outside of his artistic, research, and entrepreneurial efforts, he serves as an Assistant Professor of Theater at Point Park University and an Adjunct Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. He has also completed coursework in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Jaron obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Akron and earned his Master of Arts in Voice Pedagogy from The Ohio State University.
Intermediate Choir Director, Young Men's Ensemble Director, Musicianship I-IV
Mr. Looney is in his fourth year of teaching and serves as the Choral Director for East Holmes Local Schools where he teaches middle and high school choirs and music theory at Hiland High School/Middle School, elementary choral classes at Berlin, Walnut Creek, and Winesburg Elementary, directs the high school and middle school musicals, assists with the high school spring play, and serves as the advisor for the National Honor Society. He holds a B.M. in Music Education (Choral/General) from The University of Akron School of Music and Honors College and is currently pursuing an M.M. in Music Education at Capital University. During his undergraduate studies, he was a member of the choral, opera, and band programs and received the Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award, Outstanding Undergraduate in Voice Award, and induction into the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. Mr. Looney has also sung with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Cleveland Orchestra Chamber Chorus, Blossom Festival Chorus, Masterworks Chorale, and Metropolitan Chorus. He holds active membership in NAfME, OMEA, ACDA, and OCDA and will be serving as a conference clinician for the first time at the 2020 OMEA Professional Development Conference in Cincinnati. Mr. Looney is excited for his fourth year on staff teaching the Intermediate Choir, Musicianship 2, and Young Men's Ensemble. He currently resides in Wooster, OH.
Piano Accompanist, Akron City Gospel Singers
Marquis Brown is a graduate of Barberton High School and has expanded music talents and accomplishments as a pianist. Mr. Brown has been a staple in the local music community for over a decade where he has performed and accompanied in a variety of genres . His musical prowess is exemplified through producing, writing, composing, and directing a multitude of music. Currently, Marquis is the worship leader at the Greater Galilee Baptist Church in Barberton, Ohio. When he is not busy with his musical schedule he enjoys spending time at home with his wife and three children.
Organist and Harpsichord
Mario Buchanan is an active organist, conductor, and vocalist in the Northeast Ohio area. He serves as Director of Music and Organist at Christ Church Episcopal in Hudson. At Christ Church, Mario oversees the entire music program from choosing music for services, playing services, directing the adult choir, and directing the Young Choristers program. Before his appointment at Christ Church, Mario was the Gibbs Music Intern at Christ Presbyterian Church in Canton, where he assisted Dr. David J. Kienzle in their dynamic music program. Mario is a graduate of the University of Akron where he was the last organ major to earn a Bachelors of Music in Organ Performance and studied primarily with Valerie Thorson and secondary with Nicole Keller. In addition to studying organ in college, Mario studied voice and remained active in various choirs throughout the area. Mario received the distinction of winning the 2014-2015 Concerto Competition at the University of Akron, the first organist to ever win the award. He performed Francois Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra in G minor with the University of Akron Symphony Orchestra to great acclaim. He has had additional organ instruction with Todd Wilson, Marie-Louis Langlais (widow of Jean Langlais), James David Christie, and Craig Cramer. Mario is a Colleague (CAGO) of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and is a member of the Ohio Choral Directors Association (OCDA) and The American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Mario also works part time at a music distributor in Cleveland, Cliff Hill Music, where he assists customers around the world in ordering sheet music.
Pianist, Metropolitan Chorus
Beverly Kalasky holds a Bachelor of Music Degree with a concentration in Piano Performance from Kent State University and serves as the primary collaborative pianist for the University of Mount Union Choral Program. Mrs. Kalasky has been active in various church music ministries and is currently director of music for Ohltown United Methodist Church of Mineral Ridge, Ohio. In addition, she has collaborated with choral ensembles at Kent State University and Malone University, the Summit Choral Society's children's choir program, and local high school choral ensembles. Mrs. Kalasky currently serves as the collaborative pianist for Summit Choral Society's Metropolitan Chorus and accompanies for numerous students participating in the Ohio Music Education Association’s Adjudicated Events.
Pianist, Children's Choir Program
Beth LeHoty has served as an accompanist of the Summit Choral Society Children's Choir Program for over ten years. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Akron. Beth has enjoyed teaching choral music at Southeast High School in Portage County and at Copley-Fairlawn Middle School for a combined 25 years. Beth is an OMEA vocal and piano adjudicator. She teaches private piano lessons, provides piano accompaniment for local school choirs, contests and is the sight reading accompanist for OMEA large group choir contest. Beth is married to Scott LeHoty and are the proud parents of Brad and Jenna. Jenna is a member of Performance Choir!
Director of Marketing and Event Management, Photographer
Rachel graduated from Walsh University in 2012 with a double major in Finance and Marketing. She chose to further her education at Walsh University and completed her Master’s degree in Marketing in 2015. She is the owner of Rachel Lucia Photography, established in 2015 and specializes in family, children, wedding and event photography. She and her husband Tommy reside in Canton OH.
Business Manager, Emeritus Director
Diane joined the Board of Summit Choral Society in 2013 and previously held office as Treasurer before her election as President in 2014. She served as president from October 2014 to July 2016. She is a retired educator with 30 years of experience in Tallmadge City Schools. As a gifted program coordinator and teacher, she coached and directed several creative and academic competitions on regional and state levels. She also conducted in-service trainings, presented at state and national gifted education conferences, and served on several district-wide committees, including the district's founding Steering Committee. She was named an Emeritus Director at the end of the 2017-2018 season and continues to serve Summit Choral Society as the Business Manager.
Diane and her children have shared many musical experiences. Diane has served as a cantor and choir member for her church, and performed in several community theater musical productions, often with her children. Diane has been involved with Summit Choral Society since January 2004 when she joined the Masterworks Chorale. Both of her children participated in the Children's Choir Program for several years, and her son now sings along with her in Masterworks.