Junior Mendelssohn Staff & Faculty

Junior Mendelssohn singers are instructed in vocal technique by the Music Director, as well as mentored by adult voice faculty, made up of members of the Mendelssohn Choir’s professional core.  This allows students to interact with highly trained professional vocalists, and allows a student-faculty ratio of 7-1 or less.

+Music Director: Stephen Neely
Stephen Neely, Music Director, Junior Mendelssohn Choir

Stephen NeelyCarnegie Mellon Artist Lecturer in Dalcroze EurhythmicsDalcroze License, and past President of the Dalcroze Society of America, is a conductor, teacher, singer, and clinician. He is the Associate Director of the Marta Sanchez Dalcroze Training Center at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA and teaches Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Dalcroze Pedagogy, and Vocal Methods for the Carnegie Mellon School of Music and Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Private Voice, and directs the Opera Workshop at Pittsburgh’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.  He was a featured speaker at TEDxCMU 2012 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Experience Design at the Carnegie Mellon School of Design. Mr. Neely was featured as the Hangman in Leonardo Balada’s early operas Hangman, Hangman and the world premiere of The Town of Greed for the Naxos label and served as Chorusmaster for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh from 1999 – 2010. He enjoys traveling to present workshops and clinics to schools, universities, and music organizations around the globe from PA to CA, the Mexico to Indonesia.

+Assistant Conductor: Timothy Heavner
Timothy Heavner, Assistant Conductor, Junior Mendelssohn Choir

timothy_heavnerTimothy Heavner is active as a performer and educator throughout the Pittsburgh area. Since moving to Pittsburgh in the fall of 2012 to accept a teaching position at Sewickley Academy as their Choral Director, Mr. Heavner has been seen on stage with a variety of local ensembles as singer, pianist, organist, percussionist, and most recently as typewriter soloist with the Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Heavner currently sings in the professional core of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, where he sang the titular role in their 2013 performance of Jephtha.

Mr. Heavner moved to Pittsburgh from New York City, where he maintained an active teaching career, working with choirs and theatre productions at the Allen-Stevenson and Dalton schools, as well as teaching in the choral department at the Manhattan School of Music; he is a former choral teacher and department chair at Friends Seminary, a private K-12 school in the East Village of Manhattan. An active and versatile performer, Mr. Heavner served as Organist and Music Director at the Roman Catholic Church of the Ascension, Accompanist and Assistant Conductor of the Hudson Chorale (formerly the Westchester Choral Arts Society), and he has appeared with the West Village Chorale as a guest conductor, singer, accompanist, and percussionist. Among his many activities in Manhattan, Mr. Heavner was very much in demand as an accompanist and vocal coach for auditions, recitals and master classes.

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Mr. Heavner has worked as an accompanist and assistant conductor for the Anchorage Concert Chorus, the Alaska Chamber Singers, the Alaska Festival Chorus, and the University of Alaska’s Jazz Singers and University SingersMr. Heavner has helped prepare choruses for Fiora Contino, Karen Keltner, Mstislav Rostropovich, Gerald Steichen, and Stephen Sulich, and he has performed in master classes with Stephanie Blythe, David Daniels, Lauren Flanigan, Jerome Hines, Warren Jones, Martin Katz, Catherine Malfitano, Richard Miller, Carol Wincenc, and Brian Zeger.

Mr. Heavner holds a degree in Piano Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he served as Choral Assistant for both the Oberlin College Choir and the Musical Union under Hugh Ferguson Floyd, and he has pursued graduate studies in Vocal Accompanying at the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Ken Merrill.

+Soprano Faculty: Gail Roup
Gail Roup, Soprano Faculty, Junior Mendelssohn Choir

Gail Roup, Soprano, has been a member of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh for twenty-five years. During that time, she has been a soloist in Giacomo Carissimi‘s Jephte, Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, and in the Victorian Christmas concert, just to name a few. Highlights with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra include soloing for the Holiday Pops concert series and Beethoven’s Mass in C Major as well as for Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites which was performed locally and at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Other duties with the Mendelssohn Choir have included section leader, member of the professional core, as well as soprano faculty of the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.

Ms. Roup is a frequent soloist and chorister at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, has been a member of the professional chamber choir Voces Solis, and is a Resonance Works | Pittsburgh artist. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from the Pennsylvania State University. In addition to singing professionally, she is blessed to be able to share her love of music with others as the director of Kindermusik of the Eastern Suburbs, a teacher of private voice lessons, and is thrilled to be working with the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh!

+Alto Faculty: Briana Brickner
Briana Brickner, Alto Faculty, Junior Mendelssohn Choir

Briana Brickner HeadshotBriana Brickner is thrilled to be in her second season on the faculty of the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh! Growing up in Charleroi, PA, she began her musical journey as a member of The Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh. She sang in PMEA ensembles to the All-State and All-East Coast levels, while being a member of the Alto Section of the JMCP herself. She then attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), where she majored in Music Education and Voice. While at IUP she performed regularly in choral and opera workshop ensembles, appearing as a soloist several times, as well as in ensembles such as The Pittsburgh Symphony College All-Star College Chorus Concerts, and she represented IUP at the 2013 American Choral Director’s Association National Conference in Dallas, TX. Since graduating in 2013, she has taught general music and choir at all grade levels as a Long-Term Substitute Music Teacher within the Gateway and South Side School Districts, and is currently serving as the choral director for Waynesburg Central High School. She also volunteers with high school musicals in the area as a vocal coach. Ms. Brickner is in her third season singing with the Professional Core of The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.

+Tenor Faculty: Jonathan MacDonald
Jonathan MacDonald, Tenor Faculty, Junior Mendelssohn Choir

MacDonald HeadshotTenor Jonathan MacDonald is excited to be in his second season as a faculty member to the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.  Mr. MacDonald is a versatile performer with experience in opera, choral, and musical theater settings.  Currently in his eighth season with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, he is an active member in many local arts organizations, including Resonance Works | Pittsburgh and Voces Solis Summer Singers. Mr. MacDonald’s concert repertoire is extensive, including performances of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Vaughan WilliamsFantasia on Christmas Carols, broadcast locally on WQED-FM, Bach’s B-Minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Saint SaensChristmas Oratorio, as well as a featured solo in the MCP’s self-produced concert of I Got Gershwin. Mr. MacDonald earned his B.A in Secondary Education/English from Point Park University in 2008. He currently teaches English and coaches the speech and debate team at Oakland Catholic High School.