The New York Holiday Choristers were formed in 2011 by Greg Kefalas and Jen Arvay Kefalas, the husband-and-wife team behind the premium, contemporary holiday acappella ensemble The New York Holiday Singers. Greg & Jen have a long history with the holiday season, including caroling for fun in their original home of Ohio, their December wedding, and Greg's Christmas Eve birthdays. So, it was with that love of the holidays that they set out to elevate Christmas caroling entertainment!
They founded the Choristers with three goals: performing fun & original versions of holiday favorites that were also musically interesting and challenging; streamlining the event entertainment process for their clients; and working with giving, talented performers that bring their own style to Greg's music. It went so well in the years since that they've added two more groups, the jazzy & charming Men Singing Carols in 2013 and, new for 2016, the folk/blues/jazz women's group Winter Graces.
To reach their goals, the Choristers hold auditions in summertime and begin rehearsing in late summer, working every week until Thanksgiving to master their massive and challenging songbook. It's a truly different approach to holiday entertainment and a lot of work, but it all comes together in the most fun and beautiful holiday vocal entertainment in New York City!
I found the Holiday Choristers extremely professional in planning for the event and letting me be part of deciding the "set" for the occasion. Every time I had a question, you immediately responded. Everything went extremely smooth and everyone enjoyed the caroling. Thank you for making this such a successful event!
Our amazing and talented Choristers come from all areas of music, performance, and theater. What do they all have in common? They're all tremendous performers, and just like Greg and Jen, they love the holidays.
Jen is the Executive & Financial Director of New York Holiday Singers, Inc. where she also sings alto in the New York Holiday Singers and Winter Graces, hand-knits our groups' scarves, and loves working with her wonderful husband Greg. Jen has a BFA in Dance/Musical Theatre from the University of Akron, and has been seen in theatre, film, television, opera, and theme parks. Favorite roles include The Lady in Maid to Marry, Erin in Pork Chop Night, and The Mute in The Fantasticks. Jen has been a Christmas fanatic her whole life, and is thrilled be to singing such wonderful arrangements of her favorite carols. Her favorite old Christmas memory was going to downtown Cleveland as a child to see the Christmas Lighting Ceremony. Favorite grown-up memory is a Christmas wedding complete with a green velvet cape!
Greg is the one-man army behind all of New York Holiday Singers, Inc.'s custom music, websites, videos, and more — chances are, you'll be speaking with him if you call the office! Greg has a lifetime of music composition, arranging, and performance experience, providing event entertainment since his early teens. When it's not the holiday season, Greg is a technologist and consultant, having founded the creative strategy agency Mattermind in 2016 after leaving his position as Chief Technology Officer of the Chicago-based digital agency VL Group, where he originated the digital music delivery platform in use by clients such as Live Nation, Billboard, Delta, MusicToday and more. Greg's enduring memories of the holidays include sitting in front of his aunt & uncle's Christmas tree in Ohio, on his Christmas Eve birthday night, listening to cassettes of his favorite holiday music and dreaming.
Doug’s BFA in Visual Communications led him to a job in Nashville, TN, where he simultaneously pursued side jobs in musical theater and recording in Music City, U.S.A. Doug then followed his passion for music to the center of the universe - New York City. Four years later, he has had the privilege of touring the country with In the Mood: A Big Band Musical Revue and A Christmas Carol (Bob Cratchitt), performing in regional productions of shows including Into the Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince), You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (Linus), Cabaret (Max/Helga), Two by Two (Japheth), and Big River (Tom Sawyer), and working as a freelance graphic designer. Oh! He’s also a proud member of the New York Holiday Singers, Men Singing Carols, and the New York Holiday Choristers.
Jeffrey Funaro grew up in the Northern suburbs of NYC, and has called the city home for over a decade. With a BFA in Theatre from NYU Tisch (CAP21) and an MA in Music Composition from CUNY Queens College, Jeff bounced around the country in multiple productions. He performed in the National Tour of John Doyle’s actor-musician version of Sweeney Todd, and regional theatre credits include Godspell (Judas, nominated for Central New York Awards "Best Actor in a Musical" on BroadwayWorld), Joseph…Dreamcoat (Pharaoh) The Drowsy Chaperone (Robert Martin), Beauty & The Beast (Lumiere), and Camelot (Lancelot). In NYC, Jeff has performed in the Fringe Festival along with various readings, concerts, and developmental workshops. It’s not the holidays without the old Italian family recipes for cookies and other treats, but a new tradition involves hosting Christmas Eve with his sister, preparing the roast, and spending extra time with his two favorite nieces. Visit Jeffrey's site at http://www.jeffreyfunaro.com.
Alyssa hails from Bloomfield Hills, MI and kept her Midwestern roots while studying Opera and Musical Theatre at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. As a recent graduate, Alyssa has just moved to the Big City to pursue Musical Theatre, and is so thrilled to be joining the Holiday Choristers in her first Holiday Season in New York City. One of her favorite things about the Holiday Season, besides all the food and family time, is the music. The songs never go out of style, and singing has been such a large part of Alyssa’s family Holiday traditions. She is so excited to be able to share those musical joys with others this year!
Ashley hails from Calgary, Canada - with cold weather built right into her bones, the holidays are a natural for this gal! Ashley graduated with a B.Mus. in Musical Theatre Performance from Arizona State University, and in addition to her love for all things a cappella, she can play a little of every instrument in the orchestra! Her musical interests transcend things acoustic, as Ashley is an accomplished electronic musician and DJ. She is a resident DJ at Sleep No More's McKittrick Hotel, and has spun tunes for the likes of Webster Hall, Pianos, 92Y, aol.com, Condé Nast, The Banff Centre, and countless weddings/parties in the tri-state area and beyond. Last year, Ashley was recognized as one of NYC's Top Female DJs by Thumbtack's Best-Of Awards! www.djaball.com Wishing a happy and music-filled holiday to you and yours!
Bill is an accomplished composer, arranger, musical director, and choral singer. He is a recipient of numerous national awards in Brazil and US for his compositions, vocal arrangements and choral directing. He holds a Master’s degree in Music Composition from Hunter College – NYC and a Master’s degree in Voice Performance from University of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. His compositions have been performed by ensembles across the US, France, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Australia and United Kingdom. He has performed in several vocal ensembles such as “Choral Chameleon”, “C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective”, and “New York Holiday Choristers”. Bill has been hired as a professional singer by many other church choirs and community choirs in the Tri-State Area. Since 2012, he has been living in New York City and in his first "New York City Christmas" the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" really touched his heart. - "All the people, the snow, the atmosphere and this song really brought me the truly Christmas' spirit. Even far away from my family, I just started to feel at home once again". For more info, visit www.billheigen.com.
Danya has loved Christmas music ever since she was a little Jewish girl growing up in State College, PA. A graduate of Penn State and Peabody Conservatory, she now finds herself singing in church choirs all around New York City, including St. Ignatius Loyola and St. John the Divine. She's sung as a soloist with New York City Opera and the Boston Pops, but her favorite role is at the piano with her "Christmas Songs" BudgetBook singing/playing "Merry Christmas, Darling" with a glass of eggnog. She's currently finishing up a doctorate in Voice Performance at The CUNY Graduate Center and teaches on the voice faculty at Brooklyn College. When she's not singing, Danya has been known to improvise at Magnet Theater, where she's studied improv and musical improv with Elana Fishbein, Michael Lutton, Louis Kornfeld, Jon Bander, and Frank Spitznagel.
Emily Ellet hails from mountainous Colorado, though she can only count on one hand the number of snowy Christmases she's experienced there. A lover of baking, hiking, rollerblading, speaking French, and pampering fluffy diva cats, she's been singing professionally for twelve years, most recently returning from a contract with Princess Cruise Lines. When she's not singing, she is an audiobook narrator; feel free to ask her for a good book recommendation! Her favorite part of Christmas is pulling out all the great albums she listened to with her family while growing up - The Carpenters' "Christmas Portrait," The Singers Unlimited's "Christmas," and Amy Grant's "A Christmas Album" being at the top of the list - and snuggling by the fireplace with a mug of Williams Sonoma's Peppermint Hot Cocoa. Check out her website at www.emilyellet.com.
Holly Longmore is overjoyed to be a part of the New York Holiday Choristers for another wonderful Christmas season. Holly hails from colorful Colorado where she could always be found fighting off the bad guys with her numchuck skills. With a BA in Musical Theatre from Colorado Mesa University, she has since uprooted herself and landed in Brooklyn, NY. Most recently she could be seen as “The Factory Girl” in Les Miserables with Summerstage at Leonia. Other credits include Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mitzi in An Absolute Turkey, and Ulla in The Producers. She loves her friends and family more than anything in the world and is always dreaming of a White Christmas with the ones she loves!
Jed Aicher is an actor, singer, teacher, and voice-over artist who is very excited to spread some cheer this holiday season. He started caroling at a young age, both in a boys' choir and on the streets of his home town of Easton, PA. Now a resident of Sleepy Hollow, NY, he enjoys playing in the snow with his wife, his daughter, and the family dog. Jed has a B.A. in Theater from Muhlenberg College, and a M.F.A. in Acting from Florida State University. Recent favorite roles include Lennie in Of Mice and Men and Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire. jedaicher.com
Lindsay Zaroogian grew up in the Finger Lakes wine country of Geneva, NY. She likes dogs and lives with one who likes to sing duets with her. She has been a professional singer and pianist for over 10 years, most recently using both skills in Pioneer Theatre Company’s production of Cowgirls as well as the Ars Nova’s ANT Fest production of The Waterman. Lindsay loves travelling home to her family upstate during the holidays because her Mom always gets a live tree and it makes the whole living room smell like evergreen. Check out her website at www.lindsayzaroogian.com.
Soprano Margarita Martinez is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. She made her New York Philharmonic solo debut as Anita in Bernstein’s West Side Story Suites at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Maestro Alan Gilbert. She continues to sing professionally throughout the city and is giddy with joy to be rejoining the NYHC for her second season! As a native Floridian, she didn’t see snow until she moved to NYC at the age of 20! She is not ashamed to admit that her favorite Christmas carol of all time is “O Holy Night” as sung by Johnny Mathis, circa 1958.
Patrick Brady is a Brooklyn-based actor, singer, and Starbucks Peppermint Mocha addict. He is thrilled to join the Choristers this season. He was most recently seen as Nelson Rockefeller in BLDZR: The Gospel According to Moses at the Triad. Favorite roles include LeFou, Disney on Classic (Japan tour 2015); Andrei, Cat Circus at Reckless Tricycle; Valère, The Flying Doctor by Molière (over and over and over) with flexCO; Dennis, All Shook Up at Cortland Rep; Feste, Twelfth Night at the Bath Shakespeare Festival; Alexi, From Russia with Love at the Midtown Fringe. Patrick recalls, with fondness, wailing the soprano descant in "O Come All Ye Faithful" in every service of Lessons and Carols he attended as a child. He also recalls, with slightly less fondness, watching a Nativity goat defecate all over his belongings backstage at a community Christmas pageant. Patrick earned a B.A. in Drama and History from Vassar, and he hopes Santa is good to him and all of his friends this year. patricknbrady.com.