Christopher W. Ahrens joined the faculty of McKinney North High School as Choir Director in 2015. Prior to that, he served as the Choir Director at Vines High School in Plano, TX and Assistant Choir Director at Plano Senior High School. Mr. Ahrens received both a Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Texas Christian University where he performed and studied under the direction of Ron Shirey, Dr. Sheri Neill, and David Brock.
In addition to being an active clinician and adjudicator throughout the state of Texas, he serves as the Assistant Director of the TCU All-State Choir Camp each summer. He served TMEA Region 25 as Vocal Chair from 2011-2013.
Mr. Ahrens has served as the Youth Choir Director and tenor section leader at Transfiguration since the summer of 2010. As a tenor soloist and choral performer, Christopher has performed across the nation, including many engagements with the New York Pops Orchestra at the world-renowned Carnegie Hall under the direction of the late “Skitch” Henderson.
Susan Eernisse is Editor of The Chorister, the journal for church musicians published by Choristers Guild. She also serves on the staff of First Baptist Church, Carrollton, GA, as Director of Christian Education & Children’s Music. Susan taught music in public and private schools for 20 years, and taught courses in music education at the college level for several years. Susan is a veteran writer of children’s music and music curriculum materials, including work for Growing in Grace Children’s Music Curriculum, Lifeway’s Children’s Music Series,Dovetail Musicals, and Hal Leonard’s Sing and Celebrate series. She is a respected children’s choir clinician, and has served on the faculties of children’s music camps and festivals for many years. Susan is married to Dr. Glenn Eernisse, Associate Pastor of Music and Worship at First Baptist.
Jorge Lockward was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and currently lives in New York City.
Jorge served for many years as Director of the Global Praise Program of the General Board of Global Ministries where he edited several resources on global music and worship. As part of that work he developed innovative ways to plan and engage worship that responds to the opportunities and challenges of today’s world while engaging the depth of Christian tradition in its multiple global manifestations. Jorge has coordinated the worship life of many national and international gatherings, including the 21st. World Methodist Conference (2016) and the 2018 World Mission Conference in Arusha, Tanzania.
A respected lecturer and workshop leader, Jorge has lectured at many Theological Schools and worship conferences. He currently lives in New York City where he serves as Minister of Worship Arts at The Church of the Village.
Jorge is passionate about worship that brings people together across the divides of ethnicity, social class, age, gender identity and more. As song leader and workshop leader, he models a passion for the ways congregational song both reflects and shapes the theology and praxis of the assembled community.
Jorge was a committee member of the Spanish Language United Methodist Hymnal, Mil Voces para Celebrar and has served as consultant on other denominational hymnals. He is the editor of Regocíjate y Canta (1995), a collection of Latino worship choruses, Tenemos Esperanza (2001) a trilingual (Spanish, Portuguese, English) songbook and recording, assistant editor of Global Praise 3: More Songs for Worship and Witness (2004) and co-editor of For Everyone Born: Global Songs for an Emerging Church (2008).
Stephanie Rhoades serves Minister of Music and the Arts at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas. Stephanie earned her BA in Music from Yale University and then immediately came to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University where she received her Master of Sacred Music degree with a concentration in choral conducting.
She served as Director of Music at First United Methodist Church of Coppell for six years, directing both vocal and handbell choirs for adults, youth and children. She then served as Associate Director of music at Grace Presbyterian Church in Plano for five years, working primarily with children and youth handbell choirs and children’s vocal choirs.
She began playing the violin and trumpet at an early age and then learned to play the piano and handbells in addition to her choral training. Stephanie has been a guest clinician and handbell festival conductor for events from Las Vegas, Nevada to Montreat, North Carolina. Her leadership experience includes serving as President of the Dallas Chapter of Choristers Guild, President of the Greater Dallas Handbell Association, and chair of Area IX of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers.
She has taught 1st & 2nd grade music at Parish Episcopal School for five years. In addition to teaching, she conducts an auditioned community handbell ensemble, Concert Bells of Fort Worth. She loves learning almost as much as she loves teaching, and has a passion for sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with others.
Dr. Craig Jessopis Professor of Music and the founding Dean for the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University. These appointments follow Dr. Jessop’s distinguished tenure as music director of the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Head of the Department of Music at Utah State. He is the founder and Music Director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra and has served as the music director of the Carnegie Hall National High School Choral Festival sponsored by the Weill Institute of Music at Carnegie Hall. Prior to his appointment with the Tabernacle Choir, Dr. Jessop was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force music programs, where he served as director of the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington, D.C. (1980-1987); as commander and conductor of the Band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein, Germany (1987-1991); and as commander and conductor of the Air Combat Command Heartland of America Band (1991-1995). He has also been music director of the Maryland Choral Society, the Rhineland-Pfalz International Choir of Germany and the Omaha Symphonic Chorus.
In addition to his work as a conductor, Dr. Jessop has been active as a baritone vocalist, first as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and later with the choirs of Helmuth Rilling and John Rutter and with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers. He is a previous winner of the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions and San Francisco Opera auditions, and has participated in the Merola Opera training program of the San Francisco Opera.
John Feierabend is considered one of the leading authorities on music and movement development in childhood. He is a Professor Emeritus of Music Education at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford and is a past President of the Organization of American Kodály Educators. He has given presentations in all 50 states and many other countries. He is the author of over 70 books, recordings, and DVDs, several of which served as the inspiration for the award winning PBS children’s television series Lomax: The Hound of Music.
Dr. Feierabend continues to be committed to collecting, preserving and teaching the diverse folk music of our country and using that folk music as a bridge to help children understand and enjoy classical music. Dr. Feierabend’s creativity and research has resulted in two music methods; First Steps in Music, a music and movement program for infants through elementary-aged children and Conversational Solfege, a music literacy method suitable for elementary through college-aged student.