The ECC Staff

Gary Geiger, Artistic Director

Sarah Bartolome, Associate Director

Bryan Johnson, Associate Director

Delaney Roberts, Associate Director

Qiyun Dai, Pianist

Jeremy Vigil, 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 the 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 (12) and Kotomi (9), and their new rescue dog Oso (16 months).

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. 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-Director for the Music for Childhood Wellbeing Initiative, an interdisciplinary research effort that examines how group singing and breathwork might be leveraged to support children’s health and wellbeing. 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, Associate Director

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. 

Delaney Roberts, Associate Director

Delaney Roberts is a children’s music educator specializing in choral/general music, with a passion for integrating social-emotional learning and music in the classroom. Delaney currently teaches K-4 music at Central Elementary School in Wilmette. She holds a Master of Music in Music Education from Northwestern University, as well as a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Miami University. Delaney is thrilled to enter her first season with the Evanston Children’s Choir in 2023-2024 as the director of Story Choir!

Originally from Ohio, Delaney taught elementary music for three years in the Cincinnati area. While in Cincinnati, she established the VanGorden Voices – an after-school choir program for students in grades 4-6. The choir was selected to perform at the Ohio Choral Directors Association Virtual Conference in June 2020. During undergraduate studies, Delaney held internships with the Columbus Children’s Choir operations/administration team, and with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra music library. Delaney has also served as the choir manager of Northwestern University’s Alice Millar Chapel Choir, where she was an active choir member and mezzo-soprano soloist. She is a former member of the May Festival Chorus, and performed frequently alongside the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

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. Qiyun is the pianist for the ECC Concert Choir.

Jeremy Vigil, Pianist

With a love of all tunes, be it classical, chip, show, or looney, Jeremy Vigil is known for his versatility and adaptability in many different genres. As a pianist, organist, percussionist, and occasional baritone, he has worked across diverse disciplines, performing with dancers, film, and narration, and has performed extensively in contemporary music and chamber ensembles.

An avid proponent of new music, Jeremy is always looking for opportunities to collaborate directly on new works. He is a founding member of the horn/violin/piano Black Moon Trio, a group dedicated to illuminating new voices through commissions and collaborations. He was a member of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble, and has performed with other organizations, such as New York Composers Circle and New Music Chicago. Jeremy has worked with a variety of composers, including Helmut Lachenmann, Lori Laitman, Marc Mellits, Baljinder Sekhon, and Austin Wintory, for performances of their compositions.

He recently held a position of Collaborative Pianist at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and has also been piano faculty for summer festivals, such as Fresh Inc Festival, and Si parla, si canta in Arona, Italy (where he made his operatic debut in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi). With his friends in the Chicago Bar Association Chorus, Jeremy hopes to bring some of the great choral works to life, and, along the way, gain insight into the composition of the legal world.

Jeremy holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Stetson University and a Master of Music in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music from the Eastman School of Music. He currently resides with his wife and duet partner, Florence Mak, in Chicago, IL. Jeremy is the pianist for the ECC Youth Chorale Pops.

The ECC is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.