Header photo (l to r): Marie Caruso (Artistic Director), Susan Saslow, Anita Massengill, Wilma Messenger, Julia Perrin, Christina Bruno, Claire Collins, Kathleen McClafferty, Virginia Kaycoff, Amy Yoshizumi, Carolyn Summers. Joan Cornachio, Mary Peck, and Laura Ravotti are missing from photo.
MARIE CARUSO (ARTISTIC DIRECTOR), a founding member of Angelica, has been its artistic director since 2005. A native New Yorker, Dr. Caruso holds a Doctorate in Music Education from Columbia University, and she is an adjunct professor at Hunter College. Her research has focused on the 18th century Roman composer Maria Rosa Coccia. Dr. Caruso discovered several of Coccia’s musical manuscripts in Rome and Naples, now published in a modern edition by Furore-Verlag. Dr. Caruso’s research has also been published in Il Saggiatore Musicale (2014), and by Steglein Press (2019). She has performed with many vocal groups, including the Collegium with director Russell Oberlin.
CHRISTINA BRUNO grew up in Rockland County, NY. She holds a PhD in Medieval History from Fordham University and is currently the Associate Director of Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies. She teaches courses on New York medievalism, medievalist cinema, medieval religious and legal culture, and pilgrimage, including a study abroad course on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
CLAIRE COLLINS began her vocal career in middle school with the Cathedral Choristers of St. John the Divine in NYC. When her family moved to Croton, she joined the Westchester Girls’ Choir and the Croton Chorale, frequently soloing with both groups. While obtaining her B.A. in music (2008) at Colby College, she toured Europe with the Colby College Chorale, and she has also soloed with Collegium Musicum. She is the assistant director of the Croton Chorale, and conductor of the Bethel Bells at Asbury Methodist Church in Croton. She is currently working toward a Master’s Degree in Music Education at Lehman College and teaches at the Bennett Conservatory of Music in Croton.
JOAN CORNACHIO, a long-time resident of the Rivertowns, holds a BS in Piano Performance and an MS in Education and Disability Studies. Ms. Cornachio has enjoyed a long career as a music educator and program director in both mainstream and adaptive settings and has directed inclusive choirs for young people in performances and showcases. She previously sang in Charis Chamber voices. Currently she is the Associate Director for Supported Decision-Making New York, whose mission is to provide an alternative to guardianship that allows persons with developmental disabilities to retain their legal and civic rights.
VIRGINIA KAYCOFF, an East Village denizen and native Manhattanite, has long been avocationally involved in early music and ensemble singing. She has sung and/or played viola da gamba and other early instruments in many groups, including the Renaissance Street Singers, Canticum Novum, Music Divine, Polyhymnia, Amuse, I Giuliari di Piazza, and the Philadelphia-based Bloom Consort. She is a founding member of the New York Continuo Collective, CantaNYC, and the early-music trio Choraulos. Her newest project is resurrecting early-20th-century songs with the help of her vintage Martin ukulele.
ANITA MASSENGILL grew up in New Orleans. She studied piano and music theory at Louisiana State University and Loyola University New Orleans before moving to New York and studying at Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Massengill has taught piano, and she is currently choir director at Metro Baptist Church in Manhattan.
KATHLEEN MCCLAFFERTY was a biomedical engineer in Boston before moving to NYC to focus on music. She performs in many genres, including classical, opera, musical theatre, jazz, folk, pop, and cabaret. Favorite roles include Anne (A Little Night Music) and Casilda (The Gondoliers). Ms. McClafferty was a soloist at Italy’s Orvieto Musica Chamber Music Festival, and she sang with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for the Boston Symphony and with the Dessoff Choirs for the NY Philharmonic. She performed in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers at Radio City, and she sang back-up for Ray Davies (of The Kinks) on tour. She has also performed with Chelsea Opera and Khorikos.
WILMA MESSENGER grew up in Nashville where she began her music career as a session singer recording musicals with the Broadman Singers. She also sang backup for country singer Donna Fargo on her award-winning album, The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A. Now Ms. Messenger teaches voice and piano and performs with Charis, the Occasional Opera, Take 4, and several churches. After teaching music for decades in NYC and Westchester schools, she is now happily retired. Ms. Messenger holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from Belmont University and a Master’s degree from Southwestern Seminary.
MARY PECK holds a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Music Education from the Crane School of Music at Potsdam College. She has performed with Carolina Voices’ Festival Singers and MainStage Choir, Opera Carolina, and Collegium Westchester. She has spent many years as a worship leader in Carmel, NY and Pretoria, South Africa. Ms. Peck is a Nationally Certified Reflexologist with a practice based in Cold Spring and White Plains. In addition, Ms. Peck teaches knitting and crochet to children and adults.
JULIA PERRIN recently moved to the Rivertowns from Brooklyn and is Angelica’s newest member. She grew up in Germany and sang in various choirs there before taking an inadvertently long break from music during her time in graduate school. Dr. Perrin obtained her Ph.D. in German literature from Columbia University in 2012 and has since taught German at Columbia, Vassar College, and Manhattan School of Music. Currently, her doctoral cap can be found in her kids’ trunk of dress-up clothes, and she is happy in her role as a stay-at-home mom of three. In recent years, she has sung with the Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale and with Amuse Singers.
LAURA RAVOTTI began performing professionally as an accompanist in 1986. She has played for such entertainers as Bob Hope, Andy Williams, and Wayne Newton, and in New York she has played on and oﬀ Broadway and at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall. Ms. Ravotti was the choral director for 10 years at Academy of Mt. St. Ursula in the Bronx and 17 years as Music Director at St. Augustine’s in Croton-on-Hudson. She currently teaches private voice and piano and continues working as an accompanist. Ms. Ravotti holds a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University and a MM from Bowling Green State University, both in piano.
SUSAN SASLOW, a retired attorney, lives in Katonah, New York, with her husband, Ron Younkins. She has sung with Angelica since 2001. Before that, she performed with several other vocal groups, including the Université d’Aix-Marseille Chorale, Aix-en-Provence, France; the New Calliope Singers; and Charis. Ms. Saslow holds a master’s degree in French Literature/Language from New York University and a JD from Brooklyn Law School. She currently teaches English at Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco, NY.
AMY YOSHIZUMI grew up in Portland, Oregon. She sang in every school choir and competitive ensemble available. She attended Portland State University as a music and vocal performance major. In 2006 she moved to New York City to attend AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) for musical theatre. Since then, she has been a member of the Star Theatre Company as well as a performer in freelance musical theatre and classical revues around NYC. Ms. Yoshizumi is currently a career bartender in Manhattan and lives with her husband in Peekskill, NY.