Amy Branahl, Artistic Director

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 renown 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.

Talar Khosdeghian, Projects Manager

Since adopting Chicago as her home ten years ago, Talar Khosdeghian has become an active member of the city’s musical community. In addition to being a pianist and a teaching artist, she is the principal accompanist for the Chicago Chamber Choir and accompanies the music department at New Trier High School. She also spent three years as an accompanist with Chicago Children’s Choir, traveling between elementary schools on Chicago’s South and West Sides as part of the choir’s in-school program. She has performed as both a soloist and collaborator in festivals around the world, including the Interharmony International Music Festival in Hinterzarten, Germany, and the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Maiori, Italy.
Additionally, Talar is a founding member and the Director of Operations at CHAI Collaborative Ensemble, a Chicago-based ensemble specializing in mixed vocal and instrumental chamber music. She has worked in the Artistic Departments of both the CSO and Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, and she is absolutely thrilled to be part of YCT.
When she isn’t at the piano, she sings with Coriolis, a classical a cappella group based in Evanston; she also enjoys painting, running, swimming, and the great outdoors.

gregory-shifrin-1Gregory 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!