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 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, and favorite Chorister memory is performing on Good Morning America in 2017! Jen and Greg live in Astoria with their two 17-year-old cantankerous kitties, Sasha and Persephone.
Greg is the one-man army behind all of New York Holiday Singers, Inc.'s custom music, websites, videos, and more. Greg has a lifetime of music composition, arranging, and performance experience, having appeared on national broadcase, cable, and local television & radio, and providing event entertainment since his early teens. In addition to the Choristers, Greg is also a bass in Men Singing Carols and the composer/producer behind Conspiracy of Violet! When it's not the holiday season, Greg is a technologist and consultant. He founded the boutique 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 is also an associate at New York Vocal Coaching, where he specializes in artist branding, business, and digital. 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, and spending his adult birthdays singing with his wife Jen and the wonderful singers that make up NYHS's groups. gregkefalas.com
Jeffrey Funaro grew up in the Northern suburbs of NYC, and has called the city home for over 15 years. After earning a BFA in Theatre from NYU Tisch (CAP21) and an MA in Music Composition from CUNY Queens College, Jeff 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). It’s not the holidays without teaching his two nieces the old Italian family recipes for cookies and other treats, and a new tradition involves an all-day movie marathon on Christmas Day with his fiance and friends. Visit Jeffrey's site at http://www.jeffreyfunaro.com.
Ashley grew up just a hop/skip/jump away from the North Pole in Calgary, Canada. Having completed Musical Theatre training both in Northern Alberta (MacEwan University) and Tempe, AZ (Arizona State University), she now performs in extreme temperatures only. Her adaptability transcends the barometer - she can play at least a scale on every orchestral instrument, and is an accomplished DJ/producer who performs under the moniker 'A-Ball'. She is currently resident DJ at The McKittrick Hotel (Sleep No More), and has spun for Google, Cirque du Soleil, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Be sure to tune in on New Year’s Day - Ash is a music producer for the 2019 Rose Parade! www.djaball.com.
From a young age, music has always played a huge part in Elizabeth’s life. She studied classical violin at 7, then began performing in musicals at 13, and eventually attended Berklee College of Music in Boston to continue pursuing contemporary styles, specifically jazz. She then moved to the Big Apple, where she studied musical theatre at Circle in the Square Theatre School, and began her career as a freelance vocalist. She has worked aboard both Holland America and Carnival cruise ships, has been a proud member of both NYHC and NYHS, as well as having been seen performing backup vocals for Nick Jonas at Madison Square Garden. Christmas holds a special place in her heart, as she will always fondly recall watching her Dad play at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops then heading home to open gifts around the tree with her loved ones. www.elizabethschmitz.com
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.
A native of Connecticut, Seth is a designer of award-winning educational games by day and a self-confessed "big ol' gaming nerd" by night, whether it's role-playing games, tabletop strategy games, board games, or all manner of video games. Not only that, but when Seth isn't working, gaming, or singing, he has an abiding interest in writing, and is both a black belt and a "pretty decent tap dancer" (also self-confessed). He looks forward to singing for you this holiday season. Tap dancing, however, is extra. Seth is also a founding member of the Men Singing Carols.
Chris was that kid who struggled with the viola throughout school just so he could play holiday music in September. A native of New Cumberland, PA, he graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theater from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, and has called New York City home for almost ten years. He has sung with world-renowned ensembles at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Music Hall, and the Kimmel Center. Chris has also performed throughout the United States in various productions, including national and regional theatrical tours and modern opera. In addition to performing, he has worked as an event planner, a manager at preschool facilities in the city, and a film and video editor. Chris has been a proud member of the Rhythm Nation since 1989. For everything Chris, check out www.cmchristiana.com.
Christina is an actor, singer, pianist, and accordionist based in New York City. After many years of spreading holiday magic with The Voices of Liberty at Walt Disney World, Christina is thrilled to be joining the Winter Graces! The beautiful music, decorations, food, snow, family and friends not only makes Christmas her most favorite time of the year, but also because her birthday happens to be on Christmas! Christina’s love for music and the message each song brings moves her to share her passion with those she is singing with, and to those who are listening. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, and is a graduate of the prestigious Atlantic Acting School, NYC.
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 choirs all around New York City, including with New York Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart Festival, Musica Sacra, New York City Ballet, and Sacred Music in a Sacred Space at St. Ignatius Loyola where she is also the music administrator. She completed a doctorate in Voice Performance at The CUNY Graduate Center in 2016 and teaches on the music faculty at Hunter College. She's sung as a soloist with New York City Opera and the Boston Pops, but her favorite role is at the piano singing "Merry Christmas, Darling" with her husband, Nick, and son, Joey. http://www.danyakatok.com/.
Francesca Caviglia hails from Connecticut and holds a degree in Vocal Performance from St. Olaf College where she was a soloist with the acclaimed St. Olaf Choir, as well as performing in their annual Christmas Festival. She can be seen performing everything from Opera to Shakespeare to Cabaret and Variety throughout NYC. Her favorite holiday activities include snuggling up to watch the Christmas lights twinkle in the dark, listening for the hush of falling snow, and recounting the year she and her father saved the church Christmas Pageant by hiking through the snow with a guitar and a fake book. www.francesca-caviglia.com
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
Happy days, happy times as Kate joins the Holiday Choristers for her very first season! Bing Crosby’s Christmas album was the catalyst for her love of carols, certain crooners, and then jazz. Bing and Ella’s “Marshmallow World” is her absolute favorite Christmas song. Recent regional theatre credits include: Guys and Dolls and Godspell (Theater Barn), the world premiere of Anastasia (Hartford Stage), We Foxes (Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals), Les Miserables (Connecticut Repertory Theatre) and more. Kate earned a BFA in Music Theatre from The Hartt School, University of Hartford. She plans on singing her way through her first Holiday Season in NYC, while drinking salted caramel mocha lattes and learning to play guitar in her spare time. KatherineMcLellan.com
Kristin McGuire is a NYC based actor, comedian, and singer. She has performed improv and stand-up all over the city and works as a voice-over artist and actor for television shows and films. Most recently, Kristin has worked on The Last OG, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Master on None, Instinct and Royal Pains. Her favorite theatre roles include Maid Marian in Robin Hood, The Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol and Brooke in Noises Off. Kristin studied Pre-med, Public Health, and Music at Saint Louis University and currently studies at Upright Citizens Brigade and The Freeman Studios. She loves dogs, reading, and Christmas cookies. To find out more visit kristin-mcguire.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 ready to once again deck the halls and bring holiday cheer to all with the NYHC this upcoming season! As a native Floridian, she didn't frolic in the snow until she moved to NYC to attend college at Manhattan School of Music. She is a frequent choral artist with the Mostly Mozart Festival and the New York Philharmonic and can be heard singing at several churches throughout the city as a soloist. To learn more, please visit: www.margarita-martinez.com.
Patrick Brady is a Brooklyn-based actor, singer, and Starbucks Peppermint Mocha addict. He is thrilled to sing with the Choristers again this season. 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.
A New York State native, Robert Sherman hails from Mexico, NY. Robert received a Duel Bachelors of Arts in Music and Theater separately from Buffalo State College in snowy Buffalo, NY. After school, he continued his education with The American Theater Wing and the Musical Theater decision of their SpringBoardNYC program which serves to help young artists transition into and navigate the New York theater scene. Robert is thrilled for another year with the Choristers and is looking forward to a wonderful holiday season, filled with plenty of holiday carols and even more holiday cookies.