The ECC Staff
Gary Geiger, Artistic Director
Sarah Bartolome, Associate Director
Shuyi Guan, Pianist
Gary Geiger, Artistic Director and Founder
Gary Geiger is a native of East Cleveland, OH. He began playing piano at an early age, pursuing most of his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music under several teachers including Gloria Fok, Wesley Ball and Jacqueline Buckley Platten for classical training, and Marshall Griffith for a foundation in jazz. Gary holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in addition to his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Piano Performance from Northwestern and DePaul Universities respectively. Gary's collegiate piano instructors were Deborah Sobol of the Chicago Chamber Musicians and Mary Sauer of the Chicago Symphony. His chamber music study includes guidance by artists such as Larry Combs, Julie DeRoche and Lawrence Davis, and he studied composition with Alan Jay Yim. Gary had an original composition premiered in the nationally-renowned Waa-Mu show during his sophomore year at Northwestern, and more recently his "Ave Maria" setting was premiered by the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale in 2017. He was a recipient of Northwestern's Corrine Frada Pick Award for Piano in 1991.
Gary has worked extensively as a vocal and instrumental accompanist in the Chicago area, performing in major concert venues throughout the Midwest including Ravinia and Chicago’s Symphony Center, as well as the southwestern U.S. and Japan. Gary’s work with singers began with accompanying/vocal coaching in voice studios at Northwestern University. In 1996 he became a pianist for the Chicago Children’s Choir, where he delved deep into all aspects of children’s choral music. There he premiered choral works of composers such as Danny Wallenberg, Bob Applebaum and Ted Hearne. Several of Gary’s own choral compositions were premiered by various CCC choirs as well. Perhaps most notably, Gary gradually began to assume an assisting director’s role while at the CCC, paving the way for his eventual pursuit of choral directing as a vocation under the mentorship of conductor/composer Danny Wallenberg.
In the fall of 2002, Gary founded a children’s choir at the Musical Offering in Evanston, where he served on the Board of Directors from 2004-2006. The "Musical Offering Children’s Choir" was later re-named the Evanston Children’s Choir and became an independent organization in 2007. Gary currently directs the ECC Concert Choir and Story Choir. In addition to his continued work with the ECC, Gary maintains a private piano studio of about 40 students. Gary lives in Evanston with his wife Mie, his daughters Nanami (9) and Kotomi (6), and their dog Kuma (going on 15!).
Sarah Bartolome, Associate Director
Dr. Sarah J. Bartolome, an Associate Professor of Music Education at Northwestern University, is a children’s music specialist with an interest in world music for the classroom. Sarah taught elementary general music in the Boston, Seattle, and Baton Rouge metropolitan areas and she is also a fully certified Kodaly educator, having received all three levels of certification from the New England Conservatory’s Kodaly Music Institute. An active choral conductor, Dr. Bartolome has conducted for such prestigious youth choirs as the Greater Boston Youth Chorus and the Seattle Girls’ Choir and was the founding director of the Louisiana State University Girls’ Choir. She is a frequent clinician, presenting workshops at local, regional, and national conferences and her scholarship in music education has been published in such journals as the Journal of Research in Music Education, the Journal of Music Teacher Education, Research Studies in Music Education, the International Journal of Community Music, and the Music Educators Journal. During 2013, Sarah was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Vilnius, Lithuania where she spent five months teaching at the pedagogical university and conducting research with local folk ensembles and choirs. She has also undertaken fieldwork in Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Research interests include choral culture from global perspectives, children’s musical cultures, ethnomusicology and music education, service-learning in higher education, and effective music teacher preparation. Sarah directs the ECC's Youth Chorale Pops.
Bryan Johnson, Associate Director
Bryan Johnson was born and raised in Chicago and has family ties in Jamaica, Barbados and Louisiana. Bryan received a Bachelor of Arts from Chicago State University, and a Masters of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. Bryan joined the Chicago Children’s Choir in 1997 as an In-School Choral Conductor and has conducted several neighborhood advanced choirs until 2014. Bryan Johnson is the Executive Director of Sacred Music at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL. He researches, plans, consults, implements, and monitors the ministry of music for the church which has a men’s chorus, mixed adult choir, women’s chorus, youth choir, praise teams and a liturgical arts department. Bryan joined the Music Department of Trinity United Church of Christ in 1996, and was initially assigned as Director of the Little Warriors for Christ Choir. Over the years, he has been the director of the Imani Ya Watume Choir, the Praise Team, and since 2011, the Sanctuary Choir. Through his work with Trinity and the Chicago Children’s Choir and other consulting jobs, he has had the opportunity to perform in Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Israel and a number of cities in the United States. Bryan directs the ECC's unique Family Choir and the Wilmette Pops Children's Chorale (a joint project with the Wilmette Park District), and is a member of the ECC Board of Directors.
Shuyi Guan, Pianist
Shuyi Guan was born in Shenyang, China; being inspired by great musicians at the time she began her career as a pianist at the Middle School attached to Shenyang Conservatory of Music. As a pianist, she received recognition from fellow musicians as she received the Dean's Talent Award of the Oberlin Conservatory, Thaviu/ Issak Endowed Scholarship, and Eckstein Fund at Northwestern University. In addition, she also received scholarships to further improve her musicianship attending the Banff Centre in 2010, 2011, 2012. She is the winner of the KU concerto competition, 2017. Other prizes she gained include the Special Prize- Best Duo at Chicago International Music Competition; First Prize of the “Schumann Cup” International Juvenile Piano Competition (Asia-Pacific Region), and the Third Prize of the 69thSteinway Juvenile Piano Competition (Northeast Region). As a soloist, she performed in many different countries putting herself under the scrutiny of various cultural standards; she played in Spain, Germany, China, Canada, U.S. She has also played in the masterclass of Robert McDonald, Nalita True, Julian Martin, Enrico Elisi, Boris Slutsky, Tamás Ungár etc. As an avid chamber musician, Shuyi collaborates regularly in performance with instrumentalists and singers in the United States. She has been working as collaborative pianist at Chicago Children’s Choir and North Park University.
As a piano teacher, she has taught at Lawrence Piano Studio, Organization of Piano Without Borders under the University of Kansas, Northwestern University and Oberlin Conservatory. She is the recipient of The Carol Nott Piano Pedagogy Prize at Oberlin College, 2013. Shuyi has recently obtained her Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance at the University of Kansas where she studied under the tutelage of Dr. Steven Spooner. Shuyi has also studied with Alan Chow, Angela Cheng, Rosemary Platt, Dan Wen Wei in her past.
Qiyun Dai, Pianist
With over two decades of dedication into music making, solo/collaborative pianist and composer Qiyun Dai has developed a wide following for his lively performances and virtuosic prowess. During his 12 years of studies in Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, he specialized in chamber music playing. His piano trio, Senso, gave numerous concerts across the country. Senso Trio made its first international debut at the ASIA-PACIFIC chamber music competition in Melbourne, Australia, where their performances were highly acclaimed. Senso trio would go on to be one of the top chamber music group in the region before the members went to different continents in pursuit for their advanced degrees in 2014.
Qiyun is a Thaviu-Isaak Endowed Piano Scholarship Competition winner and graduated from Northwestern University, Bienen School of Music with Master of Piano Performance and Program Honors. As a staff pianist of Northwestern University, Bienen School of Music, he played more than 50 recitals every year at major venues such as Chicago Cultural Center and Ravinia Festival. He has also made appearances on WFMT, ABC Classic, collaborating with some of the most talented musicians in the area. As a resident music director at Petite Opera Production, he’s played leadership roles in productions featured in many local critical articles. With the repertoire and the collaborative skills he holds, Qiyun has become one of the most active collaborative artists in Chicago area.