Woodstock Community Choir Board & Staff

Artistic Director

cassandra vohs-demann

Cassandra has been performing professionally for over 30 years. She is a trained vocalist, writer, coach, actress, and an accomplished songwriter. She loves to use her musical gifts to bring people together and build community. Always a performer at heart, she is thrilled to be back singing regularly after a long hiatus.

 

Cassandra’s love of singing and the arts came at an early age while growing up on a farm in Woodstock, IL. She is the owner of A Place to Shine Music, where for almost 30 years, she has been teaching, performing, writing and producing music. After receiving a degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois in 1991, Cassandra continued her professional training in opera and acting in Chicago where she performed with the Grant Park Symphony, toured with The New Organization for Vocal Artistry and was an anthem soloist for the Chicago Bulls. She has had the pleasure of working with several amazing coaches and directors. She has extensive experience both as an actress and musical director. She was also an extra in the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray filmed in her hometown of Woodstock! 

 

In 1999 Cassandra shifted from opera to contemporary music. She began focusing more on her passion for writing and performing her own original songs. Since then, she has toured the Midwest as a solo performer and has been the lead vocalist for numerous rock bands. Cassandra currently performs with a band, as a solo artist and is asked to collaborate regularly with other talented area musicians. She has performed in Nashville Writer's Rounds, is a member of ASCAP and The Nashville Songwriters Association. 

 

Her CD "Here I Am" was recorded at Starbell Hatchery Studio with friend, collaborator, and producer, John Hegner, and was released on October 23, 2010. She was thrilled to have guitarist Peter Calo play on her CD as well. Peter is a New York based guitarist known for his work with Carly Simon. The CD can be heard on Pandora Radio and is also available on iTunes.

 

A prolific songwriter, Cassandra's lyrics and extraordinary vocals connect with people straight from the heart. Her original songs deal with love, loss, self-reflection and dreams. She does custom songwriting for local organizations. Three of Cassandra’s songs, Let’s Paint the World, The Teacher and Colors have been used as the backdrops for Pioneer Center for Human Services of McHenry County's 2011 and 2012 mission videos. Her song “Legacy” was used as the backdrop for a video for the Lakeside Legacy Arts Park in January 2013.  In addition, her song “Celebrate Anyway” has been released as a free download for those dealing with loss and grief during the holidays.  In 2017, she collaborated  with producer John Hegner, of Starbell Hatchery Studio, to record an original song written to help promote the Food Shed CoOp in McHenry County.  She recently perform her song "Just Come Through the Door" for Mainstay Therapeutic Riding's Annual Benefit and there are plans for a video in the future to help promote the organization. She also does custom songwriting for weddings and other special occasions. 

 

Currently, she is working on recording and licensing music for film and television, developing online education programs, a podcast, video content and blog to expand her reach.  She collaborates regularly with Producer/Musician Graham Butler of Polymath Production Services.

 

Cassandra continues to feed her passion for teaching in her home studio in Woodstock. She continues to perform solo and collaborates with many area musicians. She is currently producing a new Second Saturday Concert Series in collaboration with the Woodstock Opera House started in January of 2019. Cassandra has an original screenplay in development and has plans to release a lot of new music this year. She also has several other creative projects in process. She was recently named the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce. 

 

​She co-hosts a monthly Original Open Mic at the Stage Left Cafe' in Woodstock partnering with Offsquare Music to give original artists a platform to share their work. She also started the Ukulele Superhero Club.   She was delighted to have joined the staff of Tree of Life UU as the Director of Music in Fall of 2019.

 

In 2015 Cassandra founded the Woodstock Community Choir and continues to function as the artistic director. The choir is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and is dedicated to building community through singing!  It has recently been recognized as the official city choir of Woodstock. Cassandra's studio is in her home in Woodstock, IL where she lives with her husband Philip and their 2 cats, Blaze and Misty.

Assistant Director

Diane Parrish

Diane Parrish grew up with musical instruments of all kinds. Music has always been a prominent part of her life and she has served as church accompanist and hand bell choir director. Diane undertook the Choir director position at the First United Methodist Church of Kirkland where she realized how little she knew about vocal music. Cassandra Vohs-Demann encouraged Diane to join the Woodstock Community Choir in its first season and learn by being part of a choir. The Woodstock Community Choir has been a source of joy and reconnection to her musical background. Being a member of the WCC under Cassandra's dynamic conducting gave Diane insight into vocal conducting and fueled Diane's desire to learn more from Cassandra. The intern assistant director position is an opportunity to improve her skills, continue learning from Cassandra, and grow personally in music conducting. The First United Methodist church of Kirkland choir has benefitted from her learning.

Debra Anderson

Accompanist

Debra M. Anderson is a soon to be retired piano teacher after having taught 35 years in Woodstock. Her passion is working with students to find the joy of music making. She grew up in Naperville, Illinois where her first piano teacher was her father, Robert McCabe. Debra graduated from NIU in 1980 with a B.A. in music. She began her teaching career at North Central College in their preparatory piano department. She is married to Doug Anderson, trumpet craftsman and trumpeter. They have two grown daughters who were extremely involved in the Woodstock music and theater scenes. Debra is active as pianist, accompanist, and is part of a piano duo with fellow pianist, Danik Kooistra. They have recently recorded their first cd. She is looking forward to accompanying the Woodstock Community Choir in 2019!

President

Kathleen Bogolia

Kathy has been a member of the choir since its inception. Prior to joining, she had been looking for a fun, secular choir, but all of her attempts to find one failed. She was delighted when she found WCC, a perfect fit! She enjoys the camaraderie and pursuit of mutual purpose that a choir provides, much like her previous experience in community theater and improv did.

Once voted on the WCC board, Kathy took on the challenge of fundraising and is now in charge of corporate and foundation sponsorships.

After having been a lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana, she now lives in McHenry, with her husband Jeff and their dog, Baron. She enjoys traveling, gardening and golf and can be found in Bellingham, WA. in the summer.

Marketing Chair

kristen babchak

Music has been a part of Kristen's life since she was old enough to remember. Her first great memories including music are of dancing in her living room to the "The Oldies" with her father and mother! They introduced her to wide variety of genres that stuck with her into adulthood. She is now a fan of almost everything from pop to rock, to classical, to metal.

She started singing in an organized choir in the 3rd grade where she gained her love of singing. She has earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with a marketing focus from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Professionally, she has worked in higher education, in the online program management sector, for the past nine years. Her hobbies include travel, crafting/scrapbooking, reading, watching sports, and singing (of course).

The Woodstock Community Choir has reawakened her love for both performing and singing!

Membership Chair

Diane Wlezien

Diane is a retired Fine Arts teacher and lecturer. She taught for over 22 years at McHenry County College in the Continuing Education Department as well as giving private lessons in her home. In addition to teaching painting and drawing classes, Diane lectured extensively on Great Masters of Art and Music and also Cinematic Appreciation at MCC, Harper College and Del Webb in Huntley.

She graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City with a BFA in painting in 1986. She went on to earn certifications in Choice Theory/Reality Therapy, Corrective Thinking and Animal Assisted Learning used in therapeutic settings working with seriously challenged and at risk youth.

Diane’s love for music and visual arts began early in her life. She sang in the Proviso West Choir, the MCC Choir, and has performed professionally in rock and blues bands for over 40 years. She recorded and toured nationally with Of Cabbages and Kings, a New York based hard rock band, and sang locally with the Geary Smith Band. She is currently in a duet with Rich Szatko called Selective Hearing.

Diane lives on a farm in Woodstock with her husband Mike and their menagerie.

She has been a hospice volunteer for Journeycare for 6 years providing comfort mini horse visits to patients and their families. 

Diane loves singing in the Woodstock Community Choir and hopes her enthusiasm for the Arts can encourage others to appreciate and experience the joy of singing in an amazing choir.

Secretary

Judy Stettner

Judy Stettner currently serves as the Woodstock Community Choir secretary and can be found singing with the sopranos. Outside of choir she is an active member at Tree of Life UU Congregation and is their office administrator. Judy lives in Crystal Lake with her husband, Marc, two practically grown kids, Emma and Alex, and her lab mix, Ellie, all of whom she loves a lot.  

Social Chair

Beth Hoover

Beth Hoover is a retired music teacher. She taught for 35 years in Schaumburg, Jr. High Chorus for 16 years and 19 years at the K-6 level, finishing in 2012. In addition to singing in the Woodstock Community Choir and serving on its board she plays oboe/English horn in the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest and is also their General Manager. Twice she has been named General Manager of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras! She is a member of the Tree of Life Church Choir and The Ukulele Superhero Club. For a non-musical pursuit, she runs the McHenry County chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

Beth has a Bachelors in Music Education from Roosevelt University in Chicago, a Masters in Music Education from U of I (Champaign/Urbana), plus an extra 30 hours from VanderCook School of Music in Chicago.

Treasurer

Vilia Jakaitis

Music has always played a huge part in her life, from singing in Lithuanian choirs, to playing organ in church, to being on the hunt for a new favorite song to add to her collection.  It's picked her up when she was down, and was an integral part of "crying it out" (She has a playlist for everything).  She currently work as a Finance Director at Nielsen; She's also an active CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). She's also participated in the leadership of many volunteer organizations over the years (scouts, church youth ed, folk dance group, PTA, etc.).

Venue and Performance Chair

Sue Swanson

Sue’s love of music and entertaining came at an early age. She would raise money for animals by performing concerts in the garage at home as a kid. Performing at age 8 at Hans Bavarian Lodge as a soloist she was hooked singing and performing.  1977-1978 was a performer at Marriott Great America while going to Harper College graduated with a degree in Psychology/Sociology and minor in music.

Some groups Sue has performed with are Jerry Traxler’s show choir, toured with City Lights Jazz group, entertainer on RCL Song of America, Disney World performed at some fabulous venues and have travelled, sang and have so many wonderful memories.  Linda Perkins and Sue would produce and direct variety shows to raise money for Lions/Leo club.  Sue has performed with Best off Broadway players and was principal and choir member for many musicals.  Some favorites were Oklahoma, Annie get your Gun and King and I to name a few.

Sue has studied voice in high school, college as well into adult, classical, opera and jazz. Most recently performed at Sanders Theatre with Voices in Harmony produced by Mahattan Concert production with Dr Ann Howard Jones as director.

Sue currently is involved with music ministry at St Thomas church, Crystal Lake and St Mary’s church, Woodstock.

Sue loves singing and performing but finds that singing with like-minded people in a group is the most rewarding.  Sue works full-time as Admin support for Nascar/Penske group and loves her job.

Outside of singing likes building with power tools, rehabs furniture, gardening, cooking, dancing, Halloween, Heavy metal music and spending time with her son Nick.

 “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”