Members of Anam Cara

Artistic Director
Dr. Kevin Brower
Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts at BYU-Idaho, Kevin Brower received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Arizona State University, Tempe; Master of Music from Brigham Young University, Provo; Bachelor of Music Education from Utah State University, Logan; and an Associate in Arts and Sciences from Ricks College, Rexburg. Prior to joining the faculty at Ricks College/BYU-Idaho in 1992, he worked as a public school teacher in northern Wyoming. He previously served as music department chair at BYU-I and conducted Collegiate Singers, Vocal Union, Concert Chorale and Women’s Choir. Dr. Brower’s choral groups have received national recognition and performed at many regional and national ACDA and MENC events. His groups are frequently involved in national and international performances including recent trips to Canada, Brazil and Chile. He has been a featured conductor with the acclaimed Mormon Tabernacle Choir on five different occasions. Past president of the Idaho State Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.

Director Emeritus
Dick Brown
(Real name is Carl R. Brown, but nobody knows that.)
Native of Mississippi and graduate of Mississippi College, also studied at the University of Mississippi, the University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and the Cincinnati Conservatory. Has conducted choirs, orchestras, chamber concerts, musicals, operas, and clinics in the U.S. and Europe and is well known as an accomplished cellist. Came to Idaho to vacation and now lives in Hailey. Founded the popular Choral Rendezvous in Challis and the Caritas Chorale, former teacher at the Community School in the Wood River Valley as well as directing The Chamber Choir of Idaho, Anam Cara for over ten years.

Jeanne Green Sherman
B.S. w/honors Idaho St.U. Soloed with Utah Youth Symphony, Idaho State Civic Symphony, Idaho Falls Symphony and is frequent orchestral pianist. Studied with Dr. Kori Bond, Gladys Gladstone, Esther Gates, Cecil Simmons and duo-piano partner Mark Neiwirth. Won Utah State Fair Piano Competition as well as several Nat'l Federation of Music Clubs competitions. Is accompanist for the annual Choral Rendezvous in Challis, ID. Invited to Van Cliburn 4th Internat'l Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in Fort Worth, TX, where she earned excellent reviews. Semi-finalist in two Rocky Mnt. Amateur Piano Competitions. Retired from the Idaho Nat'l Lab., married for 49 years to renowned watercolorist Gene Sherman with 2 daughters and 4 granddaughters.


Jeffrey Coletti
Academia de Santa Cecilia Roma; B.Mu.Ed, James Madison U.; M.Mu., BYU. Is Vocal Music Specialist for School District 215 and Director of Idaho Falls "Forgotten Carols" Choir for Michael McLean's annual tour, is Choral Director for the annual Idaho Falls "Sounds Choir" Summer Musicals. Former member and soloist with Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and member of Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts for three summers, performed with Beverly Sills and others. Performed with Metropolitan Opera Summer Season and the Paul Hill Chorale. Studied with Julius Rudel, Clayne Robinson, Paolo Silveri, and Elie Siegmeister. Directed Box Elder Oratorio Choir. Judge for both Idaho and Utah Miss America Pageants. Has sung many opera and oratorio roles. Vocal adjudicator in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

Rob Farnam
Attorney with Holden, Kidwell, Hahn and Crapo in Idaho Falls for 42 years. Former president 7th District Bar Association. Originated and has coordinated "It's the Law" newspaper column for over 20 years. Has performed 45 principal roles in Idaho Falls Opera Theatre productions. Board member of IFOT for many years and president for 15 years. Frequent soloist with the Idaho Falls Symphony and other Eastern Idaho musical groups. Board member and past president of Idaho Falls Community Concert Association. Married with three grown children. Coached youth baseball, soccer and basketball. Avid golfer with two holes-in-one!

Karel Kingrey
Began studying voice as a teenager and received a B.A. with a music major from the University of Missouri. Then received degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from the University of Washington. Worked at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory for eighteen years. Toured France and Switzerland as a soloist with the Caritas Chorale. Has been a soloist with the Idaho Falls Symphony Chorale and the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre and is a pushover for golden retrievers.

Diane Mondell
B. in Music Ed., Univ. of Montana. In Idaho Falls 31 yrs, voice teacher longer than that. Teacher and guest artist at Choral Rendezvous. As a child was featured "Star of Tomorrow" on Jimmy Valentine's radio show in St. Paul. Active in Idaho Falls Music Club, a founder of the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre (has sung over 20 leading roles), was a member and soloist with the Idaho Falls Symphony and Chorale, is a member of The Eastern Idaho Chorale chorale, directed church choirs, was choir teacher at Bonneville High School, is Newspaper in Education Coordinator for the Idaho Falls Post Register. Married, has 2 grown children, and might be the shortest in the choir, but has some close competition.

Michael Schofield
Graduated Idaho State University, a CPA and Budget Officer for The Department of Energy, Idaho Falls. Since his youth has performed lead tenor and major support roles in local community choirs and theater productions. Currently serves as his church's choir director and has been a Board Member of the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre, and The Idaho Falls Symphony Chorale. Frequently requested to sing solos and ensemble works, has shared his music for free for over forty years, so he can't give up his day job. Lived all his life in Idaho except for the 10 years he camped-out in Texas, Mississippi, and California. Lover of Rita and their six children.

Lonna Joy Smoot Music Ed.from Utah State U.; Vocal Performance from BYU. Studied at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria and the Cultural Studies Academy in Salzburg, Austria with Rainer Buland of the Mozarteum. Has enjoyed performing in operas, musicals, recitals, and concerts throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Austria, Italy, Finland, and Russia. Has instructed music in elementary school, high school, and college. Is a member of the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre board of directors. Part-time faculty member at BYU-Idaho instructing applied voice. Has a vocal studio in Ucon, Idaho and loves helping young voices bloom and develop.

Amy Staiger
Joined Anam Cara in 2008. She also sings with the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre and Caritas in Sun Valley, Idaho. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Geography from BYU in Provo, Utah after serving an LDS mission in Vina del Mar, Chile. She currently works as an Office Manager at BYU-Idaho. She is grateful for family and friends who support her in her musical jaunts throughout Southeast Idaho.

Joan Tallman
B.S. Art Ed./Music minor, cheerleader (we like to say she was on a football scholarship) at University of Wisconsin. Soloist with Idaho Falls Opera Theatre (for 22 years), Idaho Falls Symphony, Idaho State Civic Symphony, Elkhorn Summer Symphony. Private voice teacher and clinician, adjunct voice faculty at Ricks College, vocal and language coach at Choral Rendezvous in Challis, Idaho. Soloist with Michigan Opera Theatre, Pennsylvania Opera Festival, Pittsburgh Madrigal Singers. Currently serving on the Opera Theatre board (Artistic Director), and the Community Concert board. Married, 3 daughters, 3 grandsons.

Susan Thomas
B.A. and MA. in English from BYU. Recent transplant from California, has sung in choirs all of her life. Member of BYU Concert Choir under Mack Wilberg, BYU Singers under Ronald Staheli, and Modesto Symphony Chorus under Daniel Afonso. Wife of Stephen Thomas, mother to four children, and teaches English at BYU-Idaho. Enjoys photography, playing the flute, writing poetry and, of course, singing wonderful music.

David Van Haaften
Physicist and mechanical engineer at Idaho National Laboratory for a bewildering succession of government contractors, preoccupied with computer simulations of heat transfer and industrial processes. A reformed instrumentalist (trumpet) and erstwhile Lutheran Church choir director, has sung in various local choirs for over 20 years, with occasional involvement in Idaho Falls Opera Theatre productions.

Marti Castle Warr
B. of Music in Vocal Performance CSULA, Master's in Vocal Performance BYU-Provo, with Music Ed. minor. Was Adjunct Voice Faculty at BYU-Idaho before Doctor of Music studies at Florida State U. Soloist with LA Master Chorale, LA Phiharmonic, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, LA Chamber Singers and at the renowned Ojai Festival. 40+ productions with the LA Music Center Opera and other LA area venues. Recorded with LA Master Chorale, LA Philharmonic, LA Chamber Singers and others, and has sound recording credits on 20 major studio film score recordings. Can be seen in videos of LA Opera's "El Gato Monte" with Placido Domingo and "The Three Tenors Concert in Dodger Stadium" Three grown children. With her husband Dennis, has a real estate investment business and harmonizes in the car.

Paula J. Way
Raised in a rural Michigan village, began singing at 5 years old and started soloing in church at twelve. Married a career Army man, Jack, and raised a son and daughter in Europe and the Middle East. After Jack retired, has lived in Ammon, Idaho since 1991. B.A. in Elementary Education, minor in music, studied voice with Dr. Mei Zhong at Idaho State University and thoroughly enjoyed Kathryn Grayson's Master Classes. Teaching and being with three wonderful grandsons and a spit-fire granddaughter keeps a song in Paula's heart. When asked as a child how she would be different from her mother, Paula replied that she would just sing better. (It was not to be! Her mom still had a beautiful voice at 76 years young!)

Kathryn Welsh-DeVries
B.A. Child Psychology, M.A.s Special Education - Multi Impaired and Early Childhood. Has taught children with disabilities and their families for 25 years, 17 years in the beautiful counties served by the Eastern Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind. Played classical violin and sang in high school. Has sung with the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre, Idaho Falls Symphony Chorale, and Sounds Choir summer musicals. Married, with two fantastic grown daughters. Bird watcher, kayak nut and chocoholic.

Valeen Archibald - former member
Member of Actor's Equity Association, Worked with Missouri Repertory Company, Master of Fine Arts in Acting and Directing, Studied at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sang in Madrigals at UMKC and in Candide and Sweeney Todd with Kansas City Lyric Opera. Sang with the Salt Lake Oratory Choir, student soloist with Utah Opera Company at Southern Utah University.

Mandi Barrus - former member
A transplant from the Seattle area with a BMA in Vocal Performance and Theatre Arts from BYU-Idaho, where she currently teaches voice as an adjunct faculty member. Some of her favorite past roles include: Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady), Ariel Moore (Footloose), Hodel (Fiddler on the Roof), Mary Magdalene (Savior of the World), Mistress Page (Merry Wives of Windsor), Hansel (Hansel und Gretel), and Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro). Mandi enjoys teaching her private voice students, performing at BYU-I and with the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre, and spending time with her husband and son.

Gail Birdsong - former member
In her 13th year as Director of Choral/Vocal activities at Skyline High School, taught for 8 yrs at Foothill College in Los Altos, California. Bachelor's in Vocal Performance and Master's in Choral Conducting from San Jose State University where she was the only student member of the National Board of the American Choral Director's Association. Has toured abroad extensively as singer and conductor. Has sung professionally including as back-up vocalist for Rosemary Clooney several times. Conducted choirs for the Methodist Church, was Musical Director of the Los Altos Youth Theater Conservatory. Her Skyline Choirs have performed at both State and Northwest Division conventions of the Music Educator's National Conference and the American Choral Director's Association.

Camille Blackburn - former member and Accompanist
Native of Idaho Falls with a Bachelor of Music in Choral Education and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance. Northwest finalist in 1982 for The Metropolitan Opera Auditions. Teaches choral music at Hillcrest High School, has a large private voice studio, and is sought after as an accompanist. Two children, and two grandchildren.

Kristine Blaess - former member
B.A. in music (Organ and Voice) St. Olaf College, graduate work in Sacred Music (Organ and Conducting) at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and a Master of Divinity degree in 1999. Spent a year in Australia on a post-graduate fellowship with her husband (ask her about herding 13,000 sheep!), and is enjoying life as Bereavement Chaplain, Interim Pastor, Pastor's wife, choir member, and dog mom.

Billie Brown - former member
B.S. Mathematics, Mississippi College, M.Ed., Mississippi State University. Taught college and Jr./Sr. High math for 25 years in Mississippi. Now teaches at College of Southern Idaho and works at Bigwood Preschool in Ketchum. Played violin/viola with the Mississippi Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, and the Idaho Falls Symphony. Has sung with many choral groups (came with the marriage - see "Dick Brown", above). Presently sings with Caritas Chorale and St. Thomas Episcopal Choir in Ketchum. Loves Idaho winters - no more Mississippi heat!!

Greg Carroll - former member
Researcher with Bechtel. Joined Anam Cara in late 2000. Composes sacred choral music, directed a local church choir and led the Idaho Falls Sacred Harp Singing Group, which sang traditional early American shape note music. His wife, Laurel Roberts, teaches private piano lessons.

Kathryn Chapman - former member
Mother of six kids (two still at home) and two Siamese cats, Yin and Yang. Started studying piano at age 7. Has taught piano privately for 30 years, and lends her services as an accompanist for many community musical groups and her church. Started singing before she was two years old and has been singing in choirs since Jr. High School. During her high school years her entire family traveled around the region singing - an Idaho Von Trapp family, if you will.

Renie Clements - former member
Music educator 18 years. B. of Music Ed. from U. of Montana, Taught choral music at Idaho Falls High School 12 years. Member and past Idaho President and Treasurer of American Choral Directors Association. Education chair for Idaho Falls Symphony, has worked with singers for the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre and the Idaho Falls Youth Arts Centre, adjudicates choral festivals in the Northwest and directed the Trinity United Methodist Church Choir. Involved with music education curriculum planning for the State of Idaho Fine Arts Education Department. Charter member of Anam Cara. Children, Kelsi and Brandon, are musicians in their school orchestra and band and enjoy making music with their mom at home.

Clare Craig - former member
Twenty years of choral singing experience, including performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Orff's "Carmina Burana" and the Verdi Requiem. Was a member of and frequent soloist for the Westminster Choral Arts Society in Westminster, MD for eleven years before arriving in Idaho Falls. Also was a member of the Idaho Falls Symphony Chorale.

Janette Gambrel - former member
B.S. Utah State University in Elementary Ed. with emphasis in middle school mathematics. M.Ed. Idaho State University in Literacy. Has taught 7th grade Math, Reading and English for 12 years at Eagle Rock Junior High. Has sung with Anam Cara for 6 years, and with Viva La Voce! (formerly the Idaho Falls Symphony Chorale) for 4 years. Has also sung as a soloist with Sun Valley's Caritas Chorale. Enjoys Idaho Falls because of its proximity to Yellowstone,the Grand Tetons, and other outdoor adventures. Mother of a new beautiful baby boy.

Jim Hansen - former member
Registered Nurse (Critical Care) and BA from Brigham Young University in Music/Choral studies. Studied music and theatre in high school and participated in several Idaho Falls Opera Theatre and Latter-day Sounds productions. Has lent his voice to 5 CD recordings and numerous choral groups including the BYU Concert Choir and Men's Chorus, The Early-Music Ensemble, and a cappella groups "Clueless" and "Leading Tone". His love for the polyphony of Tallis and Byrd brought him to Anam Cara in 2001, and he continues to arrange music for his church.

Mark Huntley - former member
Radiochemist at Argonne National Laboratory West with 16 years experience. BS in Chemistry from Idaho State University/MS in Analytical Chemistry from University of Idaho. Sang in choruses and choirs for many years but after a twenty year break is now getting back into singing. Is also learning to play piano and hopes to be as good as his teacher, someday. Originally from Cleveland, was a member of The Southeast Summer Theater. Proud father of two beautiful girls. Enjoys running and camping in Idaho's short summers and skiing in the long winters.

Annette Jones - former member
Private voice and piano teacher since 2000. Taught choir and Spanish at San Benito High School for 4 years in Hollister, California. B. of Music in Choral Music Education and minor in Spanish from BYU, 1997. Assistant director of the Oriana Chorale, 2 years. Mother of four children. In my free time I like to - are you kidding me? What free time???

Dieter Knecht - former member
Has sung leading tenor roles for the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre and as soloist for the Idaho Falls Symphony and Chorale. Performed with the Oberlin College Choir and the University of Minnesota early music Collegium Musicum ensembles. Past director of the music program and choir at Idaho Falls Congregational Church. Retired Ph.D. chemist and researcher from the Idaho National Laboratory. A 30+ year resident of Idaho Falls he also enjoys skiing and hiking and recently climbed many of the highest peaks in the Teton range, including the Grand Teton.

Chris McIntosh - former member
Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics and Coordinator, Agribusiness Degree Program, University of Idaho. Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University, fly fisherman, amateur zymurgist, and, a rarity in Idaho, admits to being a democrat. Played with the University of Idaho Symphony, the Washington Idaho Symphony, the Brazos Valley Symphony, sang with the University of Idaho Chamber Singers, the Brazos Valley Chorale, the Athens Master Chorale, the Athens Chamber Singers and has played in bands ranging from bluegrass to rock and roll. Married, with 3 kids.

Paul Menser - former member
Began singing seriously at age 10, when he joined the men and boys choir at the Cathedral Church of St. John in Wilmington, Delaware. Moved to Idaho Falls in 1982, and has sung in many Idaho Falls Opera Theatre productions. Member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, where he was choir director for two-and-a-half years in the mid-1990s. Sings and plays guitar in a five-piece rock 'n' roll band.

Solveig Nyberg-Akert - former member
After moving to Idaho from Nebraska, became Artistic Director of Idaho Falls Opera Theatre, Choir Director at St. Paul's Methodist Church, Conductor of Idaho Falls Symphony Chorale and operated a private studio teaching voice, piano, and violin. B. of Music from Yankton College and Masters in Vocal Performance from the U. of Nebraska. Has sung with Dale Warland Singers, the Oregon Bach Festival, Mannheim Steamroller and many opera, oratorio and musical theater productions. Assisted with musical direction of Anam Cara.

Clancy L. Passey - former member
Has been singing her whole life. Sang in all her high school choirs. Studied music and sang in choirs at Utah State University for two years. Involved in church choir. Private voice lessons for two years. Sang in Idaho Falls Opera Theatre productions of Madama Butterfly and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as other musical theater performances. Dabbles at the piano. Married with two small children, Mac and Ella. Loves being a mom, hanging out with family and playing ultimate Frisbee! Looking forward to more opportunities to sing!

Joe Podany - former member
Physician and surgeon with a practice in Idaho Falls. Never sang much, except in the shower, until wife (see "Karen Podany", below) told him he could sing. Saw Karen do the Mozart Requiem, was hooked, and has been singing in one group or another ever since. Still hasn't sung "THE" Requiem, however. Studied piano and organ from age 5 to about 13 when sports took the front seat for a while (played football for Syracuse University). Studied cello briefly. Has really come to love music...all kinds...almost.

Karen Podany - former member
Registered nurse (ER and Coronary Care), studied music at Idaho State University. At-home mom of 3 beautiful teen-aged daughters. Composer, poet, gourmet cook, amateur photographer, and "day-trader". Performed roles in "The Mikado", and "The Apple Tree", 1st place talent awards (county, and state), Jr. Miss 1970-Pennsylvania, Lions Club Award for vocal performance, church soloist.

Pearl Rutherford - former member
Originally from Guam, earned a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Studied piano from age 8 through most of college, didn't start voice lessons until college. Had lead roles in college, church and community productions in Hawaii and in Idaho Falls. Has appeared as a soloist with the Hawaii Chamber Orchestra, the Idaho Falls Symphony, the Snake River Chamber Orchestra and (believe it or not) at two Pro Bowl games in Aloha Stadium. Has 1 husband, David, 2 children, Emily (7) and Evan (6), and 3 cats, Serge, Zubin and Chloe.

Jerry Shively - former member and Assistant Director
Directed Jr. High vocal music for 5 yrs and High School vocal music for 17yrs. Directed the same church choir for 50 yrs and a barbershop chorus for 14 years. Directed choirs at conferences for NW Music Educators, NW Choral Directors and Idaho Music educators. District Music Coordinator for 18 yrs, enjoys hunting, fishing, travel, golf and rock hunting. - Shares the enjoyment of music with wife, Ann, and 2 sons - Scott & Todd.

Larry Speir - former member
Has enjoyed a lifelong avocation via his passion for serious music. An accomplished tuba player, has performed in civic and professional brass ensembles, orchestras and bands in North Carolina, Tennessee and Michigan. Has sung with choirs performing in Washington National Cathedral and the Spoletto International Festival in Charleston, SC. Larry and wife, Susan, moved to Idaho Falls in 2008 where she is rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Once here, they adopted from the animal shelter, a small, white, rather round dog which they fell in love with and named (of course) Spud.

Doug Taylor - former member
B.S. Pomona College, MBA Stanford. Retired from career at Pacific Bell, where he managed a variety of programs and projects in data processing. Sang in glee club at Pomona and came back to singing in the St. Thomas choir, and, later Caritas Chorale in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Tran Turner - former member
An Idaho Falls native that returned to work at the Idaho National Laboratory after a number of years living on the East Coast. Studied Music Education with a choral major and organ minor at Moravian College in Pennsylvania. He has toured Europe with the New Jersey Youth Symphony and the Irish Choir of Dublin. He currently serves as an organist and accompanist for St. Lukes Episcopal Church.

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