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2024 Ohio Director Changes

One of the greatest things about show choir is that it is constantly changing: the themes, the songs, and even the people. Every year, directors around the country retire and new ones step up to take their place. Many Ohio programs, large and small, have gone through this process going into the 2024 season, bringing new opportunities for all. 

Buckeye Valley “Visions”

A small-ish high school of just over 800 students in the rural parts of Delaware County, Buckeye Valley High School lost its choir director Pam Lyons as she retired at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Lyons had directed Buckeye Valley’s mixed show choir Visions since 2014, including leading them to two grand championships in the 2023 season. She will be replaced by Cierra Culler, formerly the choir director at Mt. Gilead High School, as the BVHS choir director. Culler will be assisted in directing Visions by Kayden Cordell, the new director at Buckeye Valley Middle School, and will retain choreographers Zack Triscari, Jacob Jay Jones, and Patrick Sullivan from the 2023 season. 

Crestview “Knight Vision” 

Crestview High School is a very small school of only about 240 students in Van Wert County in rural western Ohio. Their mixed show choir “Knight Vision” has a long history of making finals at various competitions in Ohio and Indiana; however, their longtime director Danille Hancock, who is known to have directed the group since 2004, retired at the end of the 2023 season. Replacing her as Crestview High School’s choir director is alumna of her program Sarah Wells, who studied drama at AMDA’s campuses in New York and Los Angeles. In 2014, she opened a music school in Van Wert called the Bachwell, which continues to operate today. Her musical and dramatic background makes her a good candidate to lead Knight Vision into their next era. 

ETC School of Musical Arts “All Americans” and “Main Street Singers” 

Two of the groups at the ETC School of Musical Arts, a community program in the Akron area, saw director changes. Their highest mixed group, The All Americans, saw co-musical director Rebecca Sabree, who also directs at Mayfield Middle School (as well as aiding Mayfield High School’s show choir) in the Cleveland area, step away from the group. Replacing her as co-musical director is Zack Triscari, who has been a director for ETC’s womens’ group Rouge since 2021 and a choreographer for many groups in Ohio and around the country. Triscari has also been added as a choreographer for the All Americans for the 2024 season. 

ETC’s middle school group, the Main Street Singers, saw director turnover as well. 2023 directors Chad Kendall and Ashley Oakley are still involved at ETC (Kendall as the instrumental director for all three groups, Oakley as the director of ETC’s elementary group New Generation), but they have been replaced as Main Street Singers directors by Carson Reitz. 

Lebanon “Singers”

Lebanon High School is a high school of over 1500 students located almost exactly in the middle of Dayton and Cincinnati. Their mixed show choir, the Singers, will have a complete turnover in creative team going into the 2024 season. Former director Jessi Stark left teaching to take a position as an analyst at Peerless Technologies Corporation, while her former co-director Joseph Beal remains part of the Lebanon choral program (though he does not seem to be involved with the Singers). Replacing Stark and Beal as Singers director is Seth Helton, who comes to Lebanon from Milton Union High School, where he co-directed and choreographed their group Center Stage until current director Hannah Smith took over in 2021. He has brought on South Dearborn choreographer and middle school director Jeff Burton as choreographer for the Singers. 

Ross “Legacy”

Former Ross director Sterling Finkbine was a major figure in Ohio show choir, serving as the director of choirs at Ross from 2013 to 2023, when he left to take a position as choir director at Cincinnati’s School for Performing and Creative Arts. His replacement at Ross is recent Wright State graduate Hallie Thompson, who will be aided by David Eschenbrenner (an alum of Ross’ program who has aided the program on and off for many years). Finkbine’s departure is accompanied by a complete switch in the choreography team, with Brooke Smolder, Chantz Gould, and Randy Sage replacing Jarad Voss and Tori Brindis as choreographers. It will be exciting to see what this new era has in store for Ross, as they look to replicate their successes from the 2023 season. 

Teays Valley “Prominent Rendition” and “Glamorous Edition”

Another longtime director stepping away from their program is Eric Farrell of Teays Valley High School, a high school of about 1,000 students just south of the Columbus area. Farrell took over the Teays Valley program when it was at its zenith in 2006, and he certainly left his mark on the program, including the womens’ group he started, Glamorous Edition. Replacing Farrell as the Teays Valley High School director is Jonathan Michael, a graduate of Ohio University who was previously the choral director of grades 6-12 in the Adena Local School District in rural Ohio northwest of Chillicothe. Both groups retain AJ Blankenship as their choreographer. 

Walsh Jesuit “Harmony Gold”

After longtime Walsh Jesuit director David Banks stepped away from the program after the 2022 season, Walsh Jesuit’s mixed group Harmony Gold was taken over by Cameron Cabot. Cabot, however, left at the end of the 2023 season to take a position as an adjunct at Baldwin Wallace University. Cabot was replaced as Harmony Gold director by Vince Matia, who actually worked at Walsh Jesuit in the performing arts department (including working with Harmony Gold) before leaving to direct at Grosse Pointe South in Michigan. However, Matia has returned, this time as full director of Harmony Gold. It will certainly be exciting to see what he does with this program. 

That's it for Ohio director changes! Some will immediately show their fruits at Beavercreek on January 13, while others will wait until a little later in the season to get going. Check back here to see how these (and all other) groups do throughout the season!

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