Amy Branahl, Artistic Director
Amy Branahl is Artistic Director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program enrolling 200 young people in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Amy graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) with a BME and MME degrees in Choral Music Education (Voice/Piano). She has also taken the intensive Choral Conducting Symposium at Westminster Choir College where she worked with world renown conductors such as Kansas City/Phoenix Chorale conductor Charles Bruffy, Dr. James Jordan, and Dr. Bruce Chamberlain.
An avid arranger, she started arranging music when she was a member of the Rip Chords an all girls’ a cappella group at the University of Illinois. This love for music has expanded beyond the contemporary a cappella scene and Amy is excited to start this new chapter in her life arranging choral music for YCTC.
Amy is a member of Chorus America, American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), NafME, and is serving on the Executive Board as the Illinois State Treasurer for IL-ACDA. Amy and her husband Jared have three beautiful boys and reside in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Sarah Kruske, Operations Manager
Having been in a choir since she was five years old, Sarah Kruske is no stranger to the choral scene. A recent graduate of DePaul University, she received a Bachelor of Music degree in Performing Arts Management and a minor in Business Administration. Sarah also plays several instruments and has been a part of numerous instrumental ensembles since grade school. She is excited about the opportunity to work with the Youth Choral Theater and is looking forward to the upcoming season!
Gregory Shifrin, Accompanist
Gregory Shifrin serves as the principal pianist for Youth Choral Theater rehearsals and performances. Gregory grew up in Moscow, studying at the college of the Moscow Conservatory. He immigrated to Israel to study at the Jerusalem Academy of Music. As a member of the Kotlyar-Shifrin Piano Duo, he has won international competitions in Poland and the USA. He has been featured in performances with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, The New World Symphony Orchestra, the Bialystok Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Israeli Chamber Orchestra. Gregory lives in Vernon Hills with his wife, Kira, and their sons, Itamar and Ariel.
Youth Choral Theater History
Since 2001-2016, Youth Choral Theater of Chicago has been under the direction of Paul Caldwell. His innovative leadership garnered national recognition in 2006 when the Youth Choral Theater was awarded the Chorus America/ASCAP prize for Adventurous Programming. Additionally, he conducts the Sing A Mile High choral festival in Denver, appearing there every other summer. He has conducted honor choirs for both the Southern and Northwestern divisions of the American Choral Directors Association. Recently, he has led all-state choirs in South Carolina, Maryland, Missouri, and Colorado.
Paul composes and arranges music collaboratively with Sean Ivory. The choral works of Caldwell and Ivory (including Go Where I Send Thee, Hope for Resolution, John the Revelator and Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down) have been telecast on PBS and A&E and performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Sydney Opera House, and throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Legendary guitarist Steve Vai recently collaborated with Caldwell and Ivory to create a choral-rock fusion song, Book of the Seven Seals. The work appears on Vai’s latest CD, The Story of Light. Caldwell and Ivory made their Carnegie Hall debut in 2015, leading a concert comprised entirely of music they composed. They are scheduled to return to Carnegie Hall in 2016.
We wish Paul all the best as he continues his artistic journey!