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Staff & Board

Virginia Children’s Chorus
Carol Thomas Downing, Founder / Artistic Director
Grace Parkinson, Executive Director
 Dr. Matthew Russell, Chamber Singers Director
Donald Burt, Music Staff
Max Holman, Accompanist
 Artistic & Administrative Support Staff
 Linda Crawford, Business Manager
Suzette Corey, Chorus Manager
Brianna Murray, Asst Chorus Manager
Board of Directors
  Anthony M. Sparagno, Jr., President
Debbie Porter, Treasurer
Linda Crawford
Molly Dowless
Christy Frederick
Lari Roberts
Bonnie Whitehurst

Carol T Downing HeadshotCarol Thomas Downing is the Founder / Artistic Director of the Virginia Children’s Chorus. An experienced singer, children’s choral director, classical violinist and Celtic fiddler, Ms. Downing has trained young musicians from preschool through the university level. She holds a B.A. degree in voice, graduating summa cum laude from Towson University and received her Masters of Music degree in music education with Kodály emphasis from the University of St. Thomas.  Her teachers include Ruth Drucker (voice) and Berl Senofsky (violin).  Ms. Downing serves on the faculties of The Academy of Music (Norfolk, VA) and The Walden School for Young Composers (Dublin, NH) and is the Middle School Music Specialist at Ghent Montessori School.  She is Founder and past director of the Peabody Children’s Chorus (Baltimore) and a contributing author to The Walden School Musicianship Course:  A Manual for Teachers, (2002).  She guest conducts for All-City & District Chorus events, teaches at Suzuki violin workshops and frequently performs as a fiddler and singer for Irish events.  Ms. Downing holds Kodály certification and is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, The Organization of Kodály Educators and the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Dr. Matthew N. Russell is the Virginia Children’s Chorus Chamber Singers Director. He is an Assistant Professor of Music and Music Matthew Russell HeadshotEducation at Norfolk State University. At NSU, Dr. Russell interacts with both undergraduate and graduate students, supervises student teachers, and teaches courses in music education, conducting, music history, and music theory. His research interests include generative music learning, choral repertoire, and conducting pedagogy. Dr. Russell earned his DMA in conducting at The Ohio State University and the BS and MM (choral/vocal music education and conducting) from The Pennsylvania State University. Matthew also serves as Minister of Music at the Historic Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church in Norfolk, VA.

Louisa Priore is the Training Choir director for the Virginia Children's Chorus. She holds a B.A. degree from the State University of New Louisa Priore HeadshotYork.  She completed the Kodály Level III certification class at James Madison University in 2003.  Mrs. Priore has served on the VCC staff since 2001 in a variety of teaching roles:  as solfège instructor for the Concert Choir and as rehearsal assistant and substitute director for the Training Choir, Choristers, and Concert Choir.  Mrs. Priore has over twenty-five years experience teaching in the classroom and privately. In addition to her work with the VCC, Mrs. Priore has taught musicianship classes at The Academy of Music (Norfolk, VA) and at the summer choral camp at James Madison University.  She served as worship leader and Director of Music and Arts at Bayview Baptist Church from 2001-2004 where she taught music to children and directed a children’s musical.   Mrs. Priore has begun studies for her masters in music degree at James Madison University. She is a member of the Organization of Kodály Educators.

Max Holman is the accompanist for the Virginia Children’s Chorus. He received his bachelor's in music education from Rutgers University and his master's in choral conductingMax Holman Headshot from the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He performs on harpsichord with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Norfolk Chamber Consort and sings with the Virginia Chorale and at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. He is currently the Upper and Middle School Chorus Teacher at Norfolk Collegiate School. In 2016, Mr. Holman sang with Madrid-based chamber choir Salix Cantor and was assistant conductor of Coro Talía. The year prior, he conducted in collaboration with New Music New Haven, was conductor of the Chamber Singers of the Yale Glee Club, and served as assistant conductor of the New Haven Ballet Orchestra. Max has prepared choirs for Opera at Rutgers—including Massenet's Cendrillon, winner of a National Opera Association prize—and for Maestro Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival. An avid ballet accompanist and improviser, Mr. Holman has accompanied for American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School, New Haven Ballet, and Mason Gross School of the Arts.

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