Amy Branahl, Artistic Director and Interim Operations Manager
Amy Branahl is Artistic Director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program enrolling 100 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 renowned conductors such as Kansas City/Phoenix Chorale conductor Charles Bruffy, Dr. James Jordan, and Dr. Bruce Chamberlain.
Additionally, Amy is the Choral Director at New Trier High School- Northfield Campus. There, she teaches Boys’ and Girls’ Freshman Choruses. 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 YCT.
Amy is a member of Chorus America, American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), NafME, and just finished 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.
Lydia Lane Stout, Assistant Director
Lydia Lane Stout is thrilled to join the YCT team as the Assistant Director. She recently received her Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University. While working toward her degree, Lydia directed a church choir at FCUCC Grand Ledge and two children’s choirs through the Michigan State University Community Music School, where she launched a free satellite choir program in Lansing public schools.
After graduating from Oberlin in 2012, Lydia joined the Chicago Children’s Choir as an In-School Conductor, directing eighteen children’s choirs around the city. While in Chicago, she founded and directed common pulse, a professional vocal ensemble, as well as the Admiral Chorus, an ensemble for retired singers living at The Admiral at the Lake. In addition to her conducting positions, Lydia sang with Peregrine Vocal Ensemble and Wicker Park Choral Singers. Lydia has also directed choirs at summer music camps in Cange, Haiti and Sitka, Alaska.
Lydia and her husband share their Logan Square home and music studio with their cats, Wrinkle and Time. Outside of YCT, Lydia can be found directing choirs at Glenview Community Church, teaching private lessons, singing in mirabai, nurturing common pulse, practicing yoga, and taking too many pictures of her cats.
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.
Daniel Hammond, Operations Manager
Daniel Hammond is excited to join the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago as the Operations Manager. Daniel holds degrees in music education from Augustana College (2010) and VanderCook College of Music (2017).
After completing his undergraduate degree, Daniel taught English at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, China, and worked with the university’s TianKong Choir and conductor Tian Xiaobao. Since returning from China, he has taught music at both the middle and high school levels.
Daniel is a member of the Chicago Chamber Choir, which performs throughout the Chicago area, as well as the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).
Currently, Daniel teaches general music and choir at Marie Murphy School in Wilmette. When away from work, Daniel enjoys spending time in Chicago, traveling, theatre, and reading.