Dr. Eric Stark
In a dynamic career that combines performance, scholarship and collaborative leadership, conductor Eric Stark has established himself as a choral-orchestral specialist.
In May 2012, Stark led over 300 musicians in an acclaimed performance of the massive Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem) by Hector Berlioz with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Butler University Chorale (“The discipline of the choir’s preparation was evident from the start….the ‘Dies irae’…is one of the most thrilling episodes in the chorus-orchestra literature, and Stark managed it with aplomb.” Indianapolis Star). He made his podium debut as guest conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in a 2008 presentation of Handel’s Messiah(“galvanic performance….the Choir sang excellently throughout.” Nuvo Newsweekly). His December 2007 Washington, DC debut with the Washington Chorus was also met with critical and popular acclaim (“Eric Stark had the chorus singing crisply and brightly….its rich, close harmonies shimmering.” Washington Post).
Stark has led performances of the Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts, Britten’s War Requiem and Saint Nicolas, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bach’s Mass in B minor, the Weihnachts-Oratorium and numerous cantatas, Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt, Zipoli’s Te Deum, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass and Requiem, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, the Poulenc Gloria, Fauré’s Requiem, and Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. He has prepared choruses for such notable conductors as Nicholas McGegan, Raymond Leppard, Jahja Ling, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Mario Venzago, Carl St. Clair, Erich Kunzel, Krzysztof Urbanski and Jack Everly. His choruses are heard on multiple compact discs, including Mendelssohn’s Elijah (2011); From East to West (2005) a holiday compilation with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir; The Harmonies of Hoosier History, (2001) featuring works by Indiana composers performed by the Indianapolis Arts Chorale; and A Festival of Carols (1997) with the Muncie, IN Masterworks Chorale.
Stark’s work as artistic collaborator and community leader has been both broad and unique. Under his leadership, his choirs have performed with such groups as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana Repertory Theater, Indianapolis Children’s Choir, American Pianists Association, Jordan College Academy of Dance, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Clowes Memorial Hall, Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) and Butler University.
He has conducted in the Oriental Art Center Concert Hall in Shanghai, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, MD, and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. He has made conducting appearances in Greece, Italy, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay, and has led choirs on domestic tours in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa. In 2012, Stark served as chorus master for the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, featuring Madonna, Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj and LMFAO. He was honored with a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis in 2005.
A firm believer in the power of music to connect diverse audiences and enrich lives, Stark has led a revitalized program of innovative educational outreach programs since joining the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in 2002. In-Choir-ing Minds is an interactive discussion/performance featuring engaging dialog interspersed with live musical examples. Hallelujah—What’s It to Ya?! is a light-hearted musical inspection of the greatest musical work of all time, Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus. The in-depth Choral Colloquium focuses on the contextual issues surrounding the great works for chorus and orchestra, and has featured such notable participants as composers Morten Lauridsen and Kyle Gann, scholar/performers Vance George, John Shirley-Quirk, Nick Strimple, Byron Adams and R. Larry Todd, and theologians Richard Hamilton and Frank Burch Brown.
In addition to his duties as Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Stark is also Professor of Music, Director of Graduate Studies and Assistant Chair of the School of Music at Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts. There he conducts the Butler Chorale, teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting and choral literature, and serves as coordinator of the vocal and choral areas. His former conducting students have received appointments at leading choral positions around the United States, including Stetson University, Princeton University, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Los Angeles Opera, Fort Wayne Children’s Chorus and the University of Wisconsin. In 2003 and 2009 he taught a Butler University honors course he designed, Putting Wings on Dreams—the First 100 Years of Powered Flight, using the dramatic stories of aviation pioneers as case studies in human determination and innovation. He has served on the faculties of Christian Theological Seminary, Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne and Earlham College. He received the doctoral degree in choral conducting from Indiana University, where he was a student of Jan Harrington, Robert Porco and Thomas Dunn. A 1988 graduate of Wabash College, he is also a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, a non-profit network of pilots providing free air transportation for those with medical needs.
Now in his 14th season with the institution, Michael Pettry has served the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir since 2004, leading the Symphonic Choir to notable financial growth and unprecedented sustainability despite difficult economic conditions. Under his leadership, revenue from individual donors has quadrupled, corporate sponsorships have increased 13-fold, and support from granting organizations has increased in terms of dollars raised and number of grant-making partnerships. Similarly, ticket revenue has increased by 420% during the same time period including ticket sales averaging over 96% capacity for each of the past 4 seasons. The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir has matured from an operating budget of less than $250,000 to over $1,300,000 during his tenure.
Pettry’s integrated fundraising-marketing strategy employs relationship-focused fundraising and capitalizes on the world-class artistic product of the Symphonic Choir. The Symphonic Choir is fortunate to have an enviable story to tell in its rich, 81-year legacy. Through creative use of social media such as the 2011 flash mob at the Indianapolis International Airport (See it here) and viral videos, as well as through wide coverage in more conventional print and electronic media, the Choir’s internal and external communications strategies are creative, engaging, and effective, increasing the Choir’s visibility in Greater Indianapolis and on the national stage. His coordination of national PR following the Choir’s performance with Madonna at Super Bowl XLVI Half Time, further expanded the institution’s reach and recognition. Follow the Symphonic Choir on Facebook and on twitter @IndyChoir. Grasping the power of storytelling and preparing audiences for what they will experience on the concert stage, he has led initiatives to enhance patron involvement (reducing churn) through pre-concert and social media video storytelling as seen on the Symphonic Choir’s YouTube channel here.
Gala Bel Canto, the Choir’s black-tie fundraiser, now celebrates its seventh season as one of the city’s premier events. With Pettry’s guidance, revenue from this event has increased by 507%.
Beyond fundraising and marketing, Pettry is pleased to have fostered new programs with the Symphonic Choir, including its relationship with the Indianapolis Public Schools. As the “official choral partner” of IPS, the Symphonic Choir offers unique opportunities for students and teachers including master classes, teacher training, and side-by-side concert experiences, and by providing supplies and printed music. Additionally, he guided the resurrection and return of the All-City Honor Choir following its 2009 elimination due to funding cuts, re-imagining this choral experience for 46 high school students representing all 7 IPS high schools. Other initiatives of the Choir include the annual Christmas Carol Commission Competition, encouraging young composers to write high-quality choral music and providing world premier performances of the winning selections, and PREF, a program utilizing choral music as a means to build stronger relationship between incarcerated fathers and their children. Recent initiatives launched during Pettry’s tenure include “Timeless in Song,” serving the community’s lower-income senior population and “Harmony of Voices,” which combines educational resources and access to art for students and their families in urban Indianapolis. Similarly, the institution launched a Conducting Fellowship in partnership with Butler University, providing a first-of-its-kind opportunity for a graduate conducting student to study the unique repertoire and structure of a large symphonic chorus.
Artistically, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir has successfully mounted such large-scale works during Pettry’s tenure including the Berlioz Requiem, two iterations of the Britten War Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the St. John Passion, the Missa Solemnis plus Requiem settings by Verdi, Brahms, Durufle and Mozart. Commissioning new works annually, the institution recently debuted a new oratorio titled Zabur for adult chorus, children’s choir, full symphony orchestra and two soloists with English and Arabic setting of the psalms by composer Mohammed Fairouz. He produced the New York City debut of Zabur at Carnegie Hall in October 2016 to coincide with the international recording of the oratorio on an international recording label. Bold programming has enabled the institution to tour both nationally and internationally, as well as release three CD recordings including the complete, two-disc recording of Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
Pettry holds an undergraduate degree in pipe organ performance from Ball State University and the master of music in conducting from Butler University. He produces and conducts new choral-orchestral pops performances and commissions new musical works. Pettry has served as adjunct faculty at Butler University, and currently serves as guest lecturer. He has presented at national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, is a panelist for the Indiana Arts Commission grant adjudication, and volunteers on the Board of Directors for the Indianapolis Consortium of Arts Administrators. He is also a member of the Recording Academy.
Pettry was appointed a 2015 Creative Renewal Fellow by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, named to the Stanley K. Lacy Class XLI in 2016, and designated an “Indianapolis’s Best & Brightest” in 2017. He is a lover of chocolate chip cookie dough and big, bold reds [although not together], and regularly enlivens radio and TV broadcasts with his culinary skills and oenophilia.
Dr. Michael Davis
Assistant Artistic Director
Originally from northeast Arkansas, Michael Davis’ work as a conductor, singer, teacher, and clinician brings an eclectic 30+ years of professional performing experience in genres from bluegrass, jazz, popular, and Western-swing to the standard repertoire of opera, choral, orchestral, and choral-orchestral masterworks.
In addition to his work with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir as assistant artistic director, his current musical endeavors include performing as pianist for Smooth Country (a Western-swing band based in Nashville, Indiana), playing dobro for Shiloh Bluegrass Band (Indianapolis), and as a guitarist in A-Team Swing at the Hedgehog Music Showcase in Arcadia, Indiana. As his primary vocation, Davis serves as Vice President Mortgage Consultant for Salin Bank.
Dr. Davis’ former conducting positions include director/producer of the critically acclaimed Ball State University Singers, “Indiana’s Official Goodwill Ambassadors,” as well as founder/conductor of Das Neue Kapellorchester and Cantabile!/Indy VoiceWorks, artistic director of Westminster Orchestra, associate conductor of the Ball State Chamber Choir, and assistant conductor for Indianapolis Arts Chorale.
Dr. Davis has taught on the music faculties of Manchester College and Ball State University. Having first performed at Carnegie Hall with Robert Shaw in the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in 1996, he has regularly been involved in the Professional Training Workshops presented by Carnegie Hall where he has also performed with notable conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Neville Marriner, Andre Previn, Robert Spano, John Rutter, Vance George, Donald Neuen, James Conlon, and Peter Shreier. He made his New York City conducting debut at Carnegie Hall with Manchester College’s A Cappella Choir in 2001. In addition to degrees in conducting and vocal performance, Davis holds the Doctor of Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Higher Education Administration and Leadership from Ball State University.
Andrew Lannerd has served as General Manager of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir since November 2010, after a five year tenure with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He oversees many of the Symphonic Choir’s day-to-day operations including all special events, audience development, concert and front-of-house logistics, education/outreach events, sponsor recognition, guest artist and vendor contracts, as well as subscription cultivation and fulfillment.
Andrew manages the Symphonic Choir’s patron services model in an effort to expand and retain audience members. His personal goal is to ensure that “all that happens off stage, compliments the artistic excellence on stage”.
He also manages the Symphonic Choir’s annual fundraiser, Gala Bel Canto. The black-tie event has become one of the city’s most elegant and memorable evenings. With Andrew’s leadership, this fundraising event has gone from $22,000 income annually to over $90.000, which directly supports music education and outreach in the Indianapolis area.
Behind-the-scenes Andrew oversees a dedicated committee in building an unforgettable night of entertainment, including a silent auction filled with one-of-a-kind experiences.
In June 2013, Andrew built and managed logistics for the choir’s “Britten in Britain” tour of the United Kingdom. This 7-day educational tour provided attendees with a unique look into the life and work of Benjamin Britten. This has since led Andrew to create and lead group tours to the United Kingdom, which he does on a yearly basis.
Andrew has a passion for logistics and in October 2016, Andrew planned and executed the Symphonic Choir’s return to Carnegie Hall with an exceptional performance tour. The tour consisted of 200 people, flights, hotels and receptions in Midtown Manhattan.
Currently, he is working on a similar tour for the Symphonic Choir’s performance return to Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. which will take place in April 2018.
Andrew is a past nominee of the ROSE award for hospitality/customer service excellence.
Joining the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in May, 2016, Andrea brings a wide and diverse swath of experience in development across Indianapolis specializing in education, a nationally recognized health organization and youth sports. Developing and sustaining relationships is Andrea’s trademark and passion. Leading an education foundation to notable growth and sustainability, developing systems and long-term relationships, her tenure as Executive Director with the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation was noted by expanding grant awards by 260%, and more than doubling the endowment assets. Expanding the American Heart Association’s Indianapolis Heart of Gold Ball in attendance and philanthropic giving by more than twofold, the gala became one of the most entertaining and robust events in Indy… next to the Symphonic Choir’s Gala Bel Canto of course!
As a recent student of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Andrea completed the Certificate for Fund Raising Management in May, 2016. Beyond her non-profit accomplishments, Andrea is a professional figure skating coach, having earned her Master Rating through the Professional Skaters Association and Gold test medals in the United States and Canada. She continues to coach skaters of all ages in the Indianapolis area at another historic Indianapolis institution, the Winter Club of Indianapolis.
When not enjoying the arts or the ice, Andrea values most her faith, family and friends. Happy to return to home of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir’s office and her alma mater, Butler University, Andrea received her degree in Radio/Television Broadcasting and Secondary Education. A life-long traveler, scuba diver, open wheel racing enthusiast and adventure junkie, Andrea hopes to pass on those traits to her son, Alexander. Her husband of more than 20 years, Alex, is along for the ride!
Kate Housman began working with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in February of 2016 as its Operations Manager. Previously, she worked with the Falmouth Chorale (Falmouth, MA), as its first General Manager. During her time at the Falmouth Chorale, Kate worked on a number of projects including guiding the Board of Directors through its first strategic planning process and streamlining the organization’s day-to-day operations. Her work with fundraising and development doubled the organization’s unearned income during her tenure and her unified marketing strategy increased audience attendance by 25%. As “chief cook and bottle-washer”, Kate could also be found answering phones, hauling risers, and the myriad of other daily tasks necessary to running a successful performing arts organization. Other notable achievements include starting an area children’s chorus under the Falmouth Chorale umbrella, managing the first joint choral performance of the Falmouth and Chatham Chorales singing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Simon Sinfonietta and Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. Kate graduated cum laude from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s of arts in music performance.
David Duncan began playing the piano at age six and the organ at age eight. These early beginnings prepared him for the diverse and busy musical life that he enjoys today as pianist, organist, conductor and choral arranger. His experience and extensive musical background has made him one of the most sought after musicians in the Indianapolis area.
He received both his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Piano Performance from the Indiana University School of Music. He was fortunate to study under gifted teachers who nurtured and supported his love and interest in a wide range of musical styles and genres. He has served on the faculties of both Taylor and Anderson University where he has conducted and arranged for both men’s and women’s choral ensembles and taught classes in classical and jazz piano, improvisation and choral arranging.
As a pianist David has worked with many of the finest musical organizations in the area including The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, The Great American Songbook High School Vocal Competition with Michael Feinstein, Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Encore Vocal Arts Ensemble. He has also done extensive work as a pianist/conductor for many local theatre companies including the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Indiana, Civic Theatre, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre and the Bose Lyric Theatre at Anderson University where he was music director/conductor for twelve productions including Into the Woods, Music Man, Children of Eden and Seussical.
Until recently David was Director of Music/Organist at Geist Christian Church in Indianapolis where he served for 23 years. His work for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was recognized on an international level in 2013 when he served as Music Director for the denomination’s General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. He will serve in this capacity once again in Columbus, Ohio in 2015.
David is passionate about working with high school students to further their love and appreciation of music and the arts. He has worked closely with the Indianapolis Cabaret Theatre at the Columbia Club, accompanying the Cabaret Conservatory Master Classes given by current Broadway artists. In addition, David is the staff accompanist and choral arranger at Franklin Central High School where he works with nine different choral ensembles including the Franklin Central Singers, winners of the Indiana State School Music Association Concert Choir Championship for the past 3 years.
Dr. James Plenty
James Anthony Plenty is a conductor, clinician, and scholar from Central Alabama. He is a musician who is equally at home in sacred, popular, and classical music. Distinguished for his musical mind and spirited performances, Dr. Plenty is frequently invited to serve as a guest clinician, accompanist, and competition adjudicator. Plenty’s professional achievements include serving as a contributing composer in the newly published Total Praise Hymnal. Dr. Plenty is Co-Executive Producer of a CD project titled Plenty Good News Presents…When Pastors Meet. Additionally, Dr. Plenty holds an appointment as the Music and Worship Arts Education Director of the Music Auxiliary in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and served as a guest lectionary liturgist for the African American Lectionary, a collaborative project of The African American Pulpit and American Baptist College of Nashville.
As a scholar and practitioner in sacred music and the arts, Dr. Plenty has served in church administration as a director of music and youth programs, consultant, and teacher. In 2007, Plenty began serving at Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama as the youngest Music and Arts Director in the history of the megachurch. An established academician, Plenty has also served as a member of the faculties of J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Alabama A&M University, H. Councill Trenholm State Community College, and Alabama State University.
James is a 2006 cum laude graduate of The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Technology. In addition to completing his studies in Birmingham, he also holds the Master of Church Music degree from Lee University and the Doctor of Education degree in Leadership, Policy, and Law from Alabama State University where he was a doctoral fellow of Abernathy College of Education. Plenty is also a graduate of the University of Alabama Community College Leadership Academy. He is currently a Master’s of Music choral conducting student at Butler University.
Design & Communications Specialist
Stephanie began working with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in June of 2007 as Resource Development Assistant after receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Arts Administration from Butler University. After one year, she was promoted to Operations Manager and handled all facets of organizational operations, as well as various development, special events, finance and marketing needs. In April 2009 she received a Certificate in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Indianapolis. Since obtaining her degree, Stephanie has helped the Choir reduce marketing costs by in-house design.
As Operations Manager, Stephanie served as primary liaison between the choir membership and the administration including the artistic and administrative teams. She assisted with grant writing, graphic design, event production, and fundraising. Stephanie oversaw all front of house needs and managed the box office.
To prepare for each season, she was responsible for securing rehearsal and performance venues, preparing and updating the calendar of events, and working with the Artistic Director to order music, manage performance set-up and tear-down, and various pre and post-concert events.
Among the most active symphonic choruses in the nation, this organization produces many concerts, outreach events, and educational initiatives on a limited budget. Stephanie managed a thorough volunteer structure, creatively utilizing the available resources to produce significant returns.
After 6 wonderful seasons as Operations Manager, Stephanie began focusing more on graphic design and now serves as Design & Communications Specialist. She produces external communication pieces including direct mail, eCommunications, social media, and concert programs while keeping a consistent brand for the season and the organization as a whole. Design projects also include the communication and branding for the Choir’s annual Gala, various special events and outreach events.
She is also still responsible for managing eTapestry, a fundraising software that tracks individual and corporate donors, and prospects while managing gifts, pledges and payments. Specifically, Stephanie produces reports, donor acknowledgements, and mailing lists.
During her time with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Stephanie streamlined the Symphonic Choir’s ticket management operations, eliminating hard copy methods. Both in an effort to protect the environment, and also reducing duplication and staff resources, ticketing has become more user-friendly and automated.
Jeffery Passage, CPA
Jeff joined the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir as its in-house accountant in 2014 by recommendation of long-time friend and former Choir board member Kent Shipley. Jeff has nearly 40 years of tax, accounting and consulting experience and provides services through his company, Brass Tax & Accounting. He earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting in 1978 from Ball State University and added post-graduate studies in business at Butler University and in pastoral theology at Baptist Bible College (Springfield, MO). While Jeff is not engaged with the Symphonic Choir as a singer, he is often called upon to sing the National Anthem at various church and sporting events. He currently serves as worship leader at Geist Chapel in Indianapolis. Jeff has been married to his wife Mary for nearly 33 years.