Chris grew up in southwest Iowa and graduated from Millikin University with a BM in Commercial Music. After a short two years at the University of Nebraska directing the Vocal Jazz program and earning his MM in Choral Conducting, Chris relocated to the Twin Cities and has been proud to be a part of Cantus, a Minneapolis-based vocal chamber ensemble for the past three seasons.
With Cantus, Chris has toured all over the country, and has appeared with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, Theatre Latte Da, The National Lutheran Choir, and The James Sewell Ballet. In addition to being Classical MPR's artists in residence for the 2010-2011 season, Cantus also highly values educational experience, and works with over 5,000 students every year in award-winning educational outreach programs.
Recent appearances with other professional vocal groups include: Four Shadow, Omaha Chamber Music Series, Chapter 6, Voices of Omaha, Dulces Voces and Home Free. Chris is also active as an award-winning arranger, continuing to arrange music in a wide variety of styles and applications. Chris lives in St. Paul, where he enjoys playing Frisbee and brewing beer.
Egyptian American mezzo-soprano, Sahar Hassan (saharhasssan.com) is a gifted and exciting singer, known for her innate musical sensitivity. She made her operatic debut with Fresno Lyric Opera, as Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Sahar is the artistic director of Ladyslipper Ensemble (ladyslipperensemble.org), 2015-16 Class Notes Artists with Minnesota Public Radio and maintains a busy schedule as an oratorio and chamber musician. Since moving to the Twin Cities from the Boston area, Sahar has performed on series with the Edvard Grieg Society of Minnesota, Lakeville Area Arts Center, Lowertown Classics, Schubert Club, Chamber Music at the Baroque Room, St. Paul Classical Crawl, St. Mark’s Music Series, Music at Sundin Hall, Lute Café, Arts and Cultural Heritage Library Legacy Concerts, St. Catherine Choral Society and the Twin Cities Early Music Festival. She earned her Master of Music from the New England Conservatory, and studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich and Conservatoire de Versailles in France.
Sahar served on the voice faculties of New England Conservatory’s Division of Preparatory and Continuing Education, Wellesley College, Phillips Exeter Academy, Salve Regina University, College of St. Benedict & St. John’s University, as well as Wellesley Composers’ Conference, where she was a chamber music coach. Her students have been accepted at New England Conservatory, Boston University, Berklee College of Music, Tisch School of the Arts, Eastman School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Roosevelt University. They also went on to participate in the summer programs at Santa Fe and Portland Operas. Others have attended Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute and appeared on National Public Radio’s “From the Top”. Sahar joined the voice faculty at McNally Smith College of Music in 2015.
Before moving to the Twin Cities, Kevin Werner Hohlstein completed a BA in Music at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and while in school had the opportunity to work with the Eau Claire Children’s Theater and Fanny Hill Dinner Theater. Calling the Twin Cities home since 1995, he has worked as a performer with Cardinal Theatricals, Theater in the Round, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Ashland Productions; Jarvis Mundi Productions, Season’s Players and the Minnesota Opera. Kevin has also directed for New Breath Productions, Ashland Productions, wrote and directed for Minnesota PerformDance and Unity Christ Church and has also worked with many companies across the Twin Cities metro and in western Wisconsin as choreographer and music director – including McNally Smith College of Music, Eight Ball Productions, Ashland Productions, and Heritage Theater.
In addition to being a member of the voice faculty at McNally Smith College of Music, he teaches voice out of his home studio and is proud to be a founding member of the Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network (TCCAN).
Interim Department Head, Voice
A Wisconsin native, Jennifer (Scovell) Parker is proud to be with McNally Smith College of Music. She is active as a performer, educator, arranger, clinician and adjudicator. Jennifer earned an M.M. from Western Michigan University in Jazz Performance and her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in Jazz Studies. She was privileged to study with Linda Parins, Christine Salerno and Sunny Wilkinson.
As a performer she leads the Jennifer Parker Quartet, which allows her the opportunity to write and arrange. She has enjoyed making music with numerous musical groups and special artists over the years including Jazz Northwest, Mark Levine, The Scovell-Sponcia Project, The Times, Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, Idaho-Washington Chorale, Frank Sinatra Tribute Band, Ziji Brazilian Jazz, Bay City Swing and Double Take.
With her heart in education, Jennifer spends a great deal of time as a guest artist, clinician and director at music festivals, camps and in classroom outreach. Her vocal arrangements are often performed by college and high school vocal jazz ensembles. She has made demonstration recordings for Hal Leonard Music Publishing and The Complete Guide to Teaching Vocal Jazz, written by Dr. Stephen Zegree.
Jennifer is a member of J.E.N and is the Repertoire & Standards Chair of Jazz Choirs for the Minnesota Chapter of ACDA.
Shon Parker is a diverse vocalist, arranger and educator with a variety of experience in styles including pop, rock, opera, classical, jazz and more. Shon earned his M.M. from Western Michigan University in Performance and his B.A. in Music from Washington State University with a minor in jazz studies. Shon has studied with Steve Zegree, Diana Spradling, Sheila Converse and John Weiss.
Shon’s experiences at Western Michigan University, as a member of the internationally renowned vocal jazz group Gold Company, included highlight performances at the IAJE conference in New York City, the Issac Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the International Inventors Hall of Fame Ceremony in Akron, Ohio.
As a member of Gold Company, Shon also shared the stage with artists including Jennifer Barnes, Fred Hersch, Darmon Meader, Roger Treece and Janis Siegel. Shon served as assistant director to GC’s sister group, Gold Company II. Recently, Shon has been performing with the Shon Parker Quintet and the Weedies. He has also performed as a member of the Idaho-Washington Chorale, including a bass solo performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor.
On top of teaching, Shon also coordinates school’s vocal festivals, and is a member of the Minnesota Music Educators Association.
Maria Vejdani has studied, coached, and performed a variety of musical styles. By fusing her love of classical, jazz, global and electronic music, Maria is creating a unique voice in the Twin Cities music scene. Maria holds a BA in Vocal Music Education from Luther College in Decorah, IA and recently completed her MM in Vocal Performance at McNally Smith College of Music. During her undergraduate career she sang in the world renowned Luther College Nordic Choir under the direction of Craig Arnold. As a graduate student, Maria was a member and Assistant Director of the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, member of the World Vocal Ensemble, Associate Director of the MSCM Chorus and served as the Voice Department Teaching Assistant.
Maria is an active member of the Minnesota choral community. She is a frequent presenter, clinician, and adjudicator, most recently at the MMEA Winter Conference (2015), Perpich Center for Arts Education (2015), and the McNally Smith Vocal Jazz Festival (2015 & 2016). She currently serves as Adjunct Voice Faculty and Executive Director of the MSCM Chorus. Maria performs regularly in the Twin Cities with guitarist, Tomás Simpson, in their jazz duo, Tempestad. She is currently working on a solo EP.