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, 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 and 2018! Jen and Greg live in Astoria with their 18-year-old cantankerous kitty, Sasha.
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
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.
Originally from Bloomfield Hills, MI, Alyssa is an NYC based actor and singer who is beyond excited to be singing with the Holiday Choristers again this season! She recently returned from touring the U.S. as an Ensemble Swing and Christine Daaé Understudy with the 1st National Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. Alyssa holds a BM in Voice and Opera Performance from Northwestern University and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity. Christmas in New York is Alyssa’s favorite time of year and she cannot wait to spread some holiday cheer around the city!
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
John Hannigan grew up on Long Island, New York and has called Cobble Hill, Brooklyn home since he graduated from NYU with a BA in Economics, Business, and Italian. John is an accomplished vocalist and performer whose favorite regional theater roles include Jamie in The Last Five Years, Mark in Rent, and Tony in West Side Story. One of John’s most treasured performing traditions is an annual “Caroling Weekend” he spends doing door-to-door Christmas caroling with his closest college friends, so he feels especially at home among the NYHS crew. John’s favorite holiday traditions include family gatherings over copious amounts of Italian food, decorating the tree with Nat King Cole’s Christmas album playing in the background, and watching A Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas morning while snacking on a prosciutto-wrapped breadstick (see: Italian food). John is still pinching himself over being part of a group that wants to sing about Christmas just as much as he does, and he can’t wait to help spread holiday music, cheer, and wonder this season with the Choristers!
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 and is a member of the theatre company Thicket & Thistle, where she originated roles in What's Your Wish? (NYMF 2018) and Death Cruise. 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. 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.
Nick is a choral freelance artist who sings with, teaches, and conducts choirs all over the country, while also arranging and composing choral music from his apartment in Brooklyn. Originally from New Mexico, he moved to NYC to earn his Masters in Music and Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Nick’s life in the choral world has let him experience everything from performing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio to directing middle schoolers performing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The vast and varied music catalog of the season is his favorite thing about the holidays. He couldn’t pick a favorite song per se, but will never concede that The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best holiday movie of all time.
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.
After singing with the the Choristers' sibling group Men Singing Carols last season, Patrick Martini is thrilled to also be joining the Choristers this year. After graduating with his BFA from NYU Tisch last year, he has been working professionally as a singer and actor with his work having been seen both regionally and internationally in theaters, in theme parks, and on screen. He one day hopes to release his own album of holiday song jazz covers, but for now, please enjoy the deep bass notes as much as he does. www.patrickmartininyc.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.
Rosalie still holds on to her childhood CD player for one reason - playing christmas CDs during the holiday season. Sure, she could listen to Spotify, but there’s a certain charm to it. Rosalie is very excited to spread that same classic holiday cheer all around the city with NYHS. Equity member and trained actor/singer/dancer from New York University, Rosalie has sung in every state in the US in the Broadway tours of West Side Story and The Sound of Music. Other credits include Off Broadway, workshopping new theatre, and television. Favorite roles outside of theatre include sister and daughter. For more information, visit rosaliegraziano.com