Gary Geiger, Artistic Director
Sarah Bartolome, Associate Director
Bryan Johnson, Associate Director
Han geul Lee, Pianist
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 the new Pope John XXIII School 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 (11) and Kotomi (8), and their dog Kuma (16+!).
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. She earned degrees in music education from Ithaca College (BM), Northwestern University (MM), and the University of Washington (PhD). She is also a fully certified Kodaly educator, having received all three levels of certification from the New England Conservatory’s Kodaly Music Institute and serving on the faculty of the Kodaly Levels Program of Seattle.
Dr. Bartolome’s scholarship in music education has been published in such journals as the Journal of Research in Music Education, Research Studies in Music Education, the International Journal of Community Music, the Kodaly Envoy, and the Music Educators Journal. Dr. Bartolome is the author of World Music Pedagogy V: Choral Music Education (Routledge, 2019) and co-author of a forthcoming book on gender expansive music education (Routledge). Her research interests include participatory music making as social capital, world music pedagogy, gender expansive music education, and trauma-informed approaches in music education.
She is a frequent clinician at regional, national, and international conferences and has completed music fieldwork in Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Panama, and Vietnam. In 2013, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Vilnius, Lithuania where she spent five months teaching at the Vilnius Pedagogical University and conducting research with local folk ensembles and choirs. At Northwestern, Dr. Bartolome serves as the Co-Lead for the Music, Trauma, and the Breath Initiative, an interdisciplinary research effort sponsored by the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at Northwestern University, she also serves as the Associate Director of the Evanston Children’s Choir, where she leads the Youth Chorale Pops.
Bryan Johnson is the founder and director of Music To Illuminate Choral Productions. He provides choral instruction and general music for beginner and advanced groups. Bryan also is a composer and a choral arranger with his songs published by arrangme. He is currently one of the assistant conductors for Evanston Children’s Choir and Books, Brushes & Band for Education located in Hammond Indiana. He also serves on the Evanston Children’s Choir Board of Directors. He has conducted and taught for the Ravinia Reach Teach Program, Highland Park Choral Festival and the Waukegan Middle School Music Festival.
Bryan Johnson was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and has family roots in Jamaica, Barbados, and Louisiana. Bryan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Chicago State University and the Master of Music from VanderCook College of Music. Bryan is a pianist and Hammond organist. Bryan is the Executive Director of Music at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In this position, he researches, plans, consults, implements, and monitors the ministry of music. In addition, he oversees the men’s chorus, women’s chorus, adult choir, youth choir, praise teams, and the liturgical arts dancers. The choirs released “Stay Connected” a digital project available on iTunes featuring Fred Onovwerosuoke (Fredo) a native Ghanian.
Bryan joined the Chicago Children’s Choir in 1997 as an in-school choral conductor. In this role, he conducted several neighborhood Advanced choirs until 2014. He then relinquished ties to serve full time at Trinity Church. Through his work with Trinity, the Chicago Children’s Choir, and various consulting jobs, he has led performance opportunities in Japan, Israel, Europe, and cities throughout the United States. Representing the United Church of Christ, Bryan served on the core committee of the African American ecumenical Hymn Book compilation, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. In addition to his service at Trinity United Church of Christ, he was the musical director for the United Church of Christ Synod in 2021 and will serve again for 2023.
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 69th Steinway 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. Shuyi is the pianist for the ECC Concert Choir.
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. Qiyun is the pianist for the ECC’s Youth Chorale Pops.
Han geul Lee is a South Korean pianist and electroacoustic composer. He presented solo piano and chamber recitals across the US and Europe while in his teens. Han was awarded the President’s Award Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music through his Bachelor of Music as well as two Master of Music degrees in classical piano and contemporary music. He is a recipient of the 2022 Harvard University Fromm Foundation CPI fellowship. As an electroacoustic composer, Han has created solo, chamber, and electronic works as well as DIY sensor-based virtual instruments and digital sound installations. His works have been featured at institutions such as Northwestern University, Manhattan School of Music, SUNY-Stony Brook, and University of Nottingham (UK) as well as at international festivals such as the Mise-en Festival, Yarn/Wire Institute, and Darmstädter Ferienkurse. Han is the pianist for the ECC’s Pope John XXIII School Choir.