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.
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.