Sursum Corda’s first concert was in December 2006. Begun as an ensemble of twelve singers, in the past five years the group has produced a well-received compact disc and performed nationally, including a prestigious appearance last March at the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association in Chicago. Gramophone noted the group’s “seamless phrasing and sensitive blend…they sing with warmth and clarity, …wonderfully exuberant and euphonious,” and The Birmingham News noted its “assertive and confident singing (and) impeccable ensemble.”
Kirk Alford, tenor, is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College where he studied voice with Andrew Gainey and was in the concert choir under Hugh Thomas. He has also studied voice with Ben Middaugh and Anne Bell-Alford. Since graduating Kirk has been active as a choral singer, primarily at Independent Presbyterian under Joseph Schreiber, with Aloft, and with the Diptones where he also served as arranger. Kirk is a registered piano technician with the Piano Technicians Guild. Among his clients are UAB, the Alys Stephens Center, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Opera Birmingham. Kirk and his wife Anne have two daughters, Jane and Aidan.
Angel Baker, soprano, wife of James and mother of Bella Grace and Benjamin, has returned to her native Alabama after enjoying artistic endeavors in New York and Boston. As a soloist and member of various ensembles she has performed in numerous choral, opera, and musical theater productions as well as oratorios, symphonic works, and studio recordings. As a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Angel has sung under the baton of world renowned conductors including Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, James Levine, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Andre Previn, Claudio Abbado, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. She has performed in venues from Symphony Hall in Boston to Tanglewood , from Avery Fisher and Carnegie Hall in New York to the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Angel is an educator having taught students from pre-school through post-graduate levels and is a former Education and Community Programs Coordinator for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In her position with the BSO she served over 64,000 children annually through youth concerts, fine arts education and performance opportunities, and development of curriculum resources for teachers, as well as reaching hundreds of thousands of children and adults each year through community outreach programs. She holds a BA from Birmingham-Southern College and an MM from The Boston Conservatory. Angel is honored to be a part of Sursum Corda!
Ted Clark, baritone, holds a BA from Birmingham-Southern College and is at UAB as a personnel generalist in the Department of Medicine. He has had the good fortune to sing with many choral organizations in Birmingham including Camerata, Alabama Choral Artists, Aloft, First Methodist, Independent Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, Cathedral of St Paul, and now Canterbury United Methodist. Pursuing his affinity for sacred music of the Renaissance, he attended the Tallis Scholars Summer School in Seattle during the summers of 2005, 2006, and 2007 studying with Peter Phillips, Andrew Carwood, Jan Coxwell, David Woodcock and Patrick Craig. Ted is also obsessed with change ringing on tower bells. http://www.birminghambells.org/
Brian Keith Denton, tenor, is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education – Vocal/Choral and was formerly involved with the UAB Concert Choir and UAB Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Philip Copeland (2007 – 2010) and Dr. Brian Kittredge (2011). He studied voice with Dr. Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk and performed with UAB Opera also under her direction. In addition to performing with Sursum Corda, Brian performs with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Opera Birmingham, and is a staff singer at Cathedral Church of the Advent.
Virginia Goodall, alto, is a Birmingham native and graduate of Birmingham-Southern College where she studied voice under Rachel Mathes and the late Andrew Gainey. Ginger has enjoyed over thirty years of performing as dramatic soprano throughout the Southeast in opera, symphonic works, oratorio, musical theater and in recital. When not musically engaged, she spends her time in the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Rebecca Harris, soprano, graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a degree in Musical Theatre. After working behind the scenes in costuming and make-up for several productions in college, she developed a taste for the art of make-up design. She spent 2 years in Los Angeles, California getting her certification for Special Effects Make-up Design in theatre, film, and TV. Rebecca worked on many films and large theatre productions throughout Los Angeles, as well as working for both Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Minus the two years she was in California, she has been a cantor for Canterbury United Methodist Church since 2001. Rebecca is excited to begin her second year in Sursum Corda and looks forward to many more concerts to come!
David Higginbotham, tenor, is a member of the Canterbury United Methodist Church chancel choir and is a frequent soloist. David has performed locally on the stage of Virginia Samford Theater and in New York at Lincoln Center. Professionally, David serves as vice president of sales and marketing for Alabama Title Co., Inc. a real estate title insurance agency founded in 1946. A graduate of Birmingham-Southern, David earned his Master’s of Business Administration from the Manderson Graduate School of Business at the University of Alabama. He is a founding member of the Sursum Corda board and currently serves as president. David is married to local singer Kristi Tingle Higginbotham.
Caitlin Huie Caulk, soprano, graduated in December of 2008 with a degree in Vocal Performance from Samford University, where she was a member of the A Cappella Choir. In February of 2007 she received second place in the National Association for Teachers of Singing regional voice competition. Caitlin currently holds the position of School of the Arts Director at Shades Crest Baptist Chruch in Bluff Park. She is also honored to be the school’s voice teacher. She is an avid performer who favors opera; some of her favorite roles include The Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and Rosalinda in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.
Randy Mayo, bass, is currently a nurse working at St. Vincents Hospital, Mr. Mayo has an extensive performing resume as well. After receiving his Master of Music degree from Indiana University, Mr. Mayo performed featured roles in operas such asTosca, Madama Butterfly, Salome, Turandot, Rigoletto, and Falstaff, among others, with companies including Utah Opera, Virginia Opera, New Orleans Opera, Pensacola Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Chautauqua Opera as well as Opera Birmingham. Also comfortable in Musical Theatre he has been seen locally in productions of Evita, Cats, Jekyll and Hyde, and Trial by Jury. Thanks to Carin, Jimmy and Mom for all y’all’s support.
Stan Nelson, tenor, holds degrees from the University of Montevallo and the Florida State University. Active in all aspects of Birmingham’s musical scene, he is well-known as a producer, director, educator, and performer. In addition to serving as Vice President of Alabama Operaworks, he is the district director for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Recent performances have included featured roles in Trial by Jury, Iolanthe, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Music Man, as well as the starring role of Cosme McMoon in Souvenir. Other choral activities include the Lee Scott Singers, Canterbury UMC, and Temple Emanu-el. Mr. Nelson is the owner of Nelson’s Interiors, Inc.
Gloria Parvin, alto, has performed as a mezzo soprano soloist in numerous oratorio performances throughout the south with The Nashville Symphony and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony, and Louisville Orchestra. Operatic experience includes numerous productions, and for many years she has been a featured soloist with The Lake Junaluska Singers and the Glenn Draper Singers, performing at The White House for four Presidential Christmas receptions, on various recordings and television specials, and on concert tours throughout the U.S. and abroad. Currently an alto soloist at Independent Presbyterian Church, she has also served as Choir Director at St. Augustine’s Chapel, Vanderbilt University. Having had an extensive background in healthcare services, Ms. Parvin is a Social Worker at Baptist Medical Center, Princeton. Ms. Parvin is a Music Education graduate of Samford University, Birmingham (where she studied voice with Eleanor Ousley) and earned a Master of Social Work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Bert Pitts, bass, earned a voice degree at Birmingham-Southern College. He has studied voice with Andrew Gainey, Jane McCoy (Eastman School of Music), and Dewin Tibbs. Bert has been a church, oratorio, opera, and musical theater soloist for over 30 years. He has soloed with the ASO and in choral/symphonic works in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Chattanooga, Waco, TX, and Rochester, NY. Bert sang the role of Jesus in Dave Brubeck’s “Beloved Son” with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Tuscaloosa Civic Chorus, and orchestra. He was in the professional chorus that accompanied Michael Crawford in his 1999 Atlantic release, “The Christmas Album.” Bert is a psychologist and practice owner in Homewood.
Daniel Seigel, baritone, is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern and earned a MM and GPD in opera from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Recently he has performed with Opera North, NJ Opera, Mobile Opera and Opera Birmingham, where he was a finalist in the 2008 and 2009 Vocal Competitions. He has also been a winner of the Metropolitan Opera district auditions. For Opera Birmingham, Daniel is Marketing and Development Associate, as well as Chorus Master. He also won the National Federation of Music Clubs Biennial Young Artist Competition in 2009, a prize that led to a Carnegie Hall solo recital debut in October 2010.
Jane Seigel, alto, earned her MA in Counseling at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and was a mental health counselor at Birmingham-Southern College and Samford University where she specialized in personal and academic issues. As an undergraduate, Jane received a BA in Theatre at BSC; and her subsequent stage credits include over 70 roles in opera, musical theatre and dramatic performances, including a national tour. She is the recipient of an Obelisk Award, and the Silver Bowl Award by the City of Birmingham for her work in music. Ms. Seigel was cantor of Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El for twelve years and taught music and drama at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. Jane currently sings in the Canterbury United Methodist Church Choir and loves being a part of Sursum Corda! Music and counseling are two of Jane’s passions.
Ellen Thomas, soprano, is a native of Birmingham. She received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University where she studied voice and was a member of the Concert Choir. She earned a Master of Arts in Public and Private Management from Birmingham-Southern College. Ellen is retired from U.S. Pipe and currently serves as Director of the Adult Resource Center at Canterbury United Methodist Church. She and her family are active members of Canterbury United Methodist Church where she sings in the Chancel Choir and plays in the Handbell Choir.
Joy Ryder Wood, soprano, holds a BA in vocal performance from BSC where she was a voice scholarship recipient and performed leading roles in several main-stage musicals and operas. She participated in the school’s choral program, sang at Canterbury United Methodist and performed frequently as a soloist. While living in Tuscaloosa, she was the choir director at Big Sandy United Methodist Church for three years. She now sings in the Canterbury and BSC Alumni choirs and will join Opera Birmingham’s chorus this spring. Joy is the Area Director of Property Management for Bayer Properties and General Manager of The Summit Birmingham.
Introducing our newest member:
Erin Saway Moore, soprano, trained in Opera Performance at The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria. Erin has sung and taught professional since her graduation in 2007. Her New York performances include Carnegie Hall and Nederlander Theater. Erin has performed with several opera and theater companies through out the states including Opera Birmingham. She is still actively performing while teaching and is looking forward to performing with Sursum Corda.
Lester Seigel, director, is Director of Choral Activities and the Joseph Hugh Thomas Professor of Music at Birmingham-Southern College, where his duties include conducting the BSC Concert Choir, Hilltop Singers vocal ensemble, and BSC Opera. He is also Choirmaster and Organist at Canterbury United Methodist Church. He has appeared as a conductor of orchestral and choral ensembles in both the USA and Canada. In March 2010 he conducted the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro for Opera Birmingham. He has led the BSC Concert Choir in performances in Austria, the Czech Republic, and at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. His choral music is published by Oxford University Press.
Group photography: Michael Thomas
Headshots: Shifted Focus Photography