Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 4 pm
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Ragazzi Boys Chorus
Love and Light
Kent Jue, Artistic and Executive Director, Director of Concert Group and Choral Scholars
Isabella Custino, Assistant Director of Concert Group and Choral Scholars
Yongyu Gao, Collaborative Pianist
Travis Rogers, Director of Young Men’s Ensemble
Nancy Whitecar, Assistant Director of Young Men’s Ensemble and Collaborative Pianist
Jon Ellis, Vocal Coach
Concert Group and Choral Scholars
c. 13th Century Chant, Bibliotheque Nationale MS, arrs., eds.
Veni Veni Emmanuel
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Laudamus Te from Gloria
Arthur Scholom, soloist
Katerina Gimon (b. 1993)
Susan LaBarr (b. 1981)
Where the Light Begins
John Henry Hopkins (1820-1891) arr. Will Todd (b. 1970)
We Three Kings from Three More Jazz Carols
Ensemble: Andrew Altorfer, Amos Bankhead, Simon Braun, Yanni Cheng, Sam Dickey, Colin Henderson, Jonah Hsu, Olivier Kondo, Krishna Nagarajan, Hudson Stadtlander, Connor Statton, Thomas Williams, Colin Xiellie & Ayden Yang
Lyn Williams (b. 1963)
Isabella Custino, conductor
Meir Finkelstein (b. 1951) arr. Rebecca Thompson
Hersh Saxena & Brenden Yu, soloists
Young Men’s Ensemble
Michael John Trotta (b. 1978)
Traditional French Carol arr. Craig Courtney (b. 1948)
People Look East
Stanley M. Hoffman (b. 1959)
Paul Sapilewski, soloist
Steve Parsons (b. 1951)
Waiting for the Light of Morning
Spencer Bergland, Simon Braun, Miles Kaludzinski, & Luke Suffoletto, soloists
Edward Caswall (1814-1878) & John Goss (1800-1880) arr. Dan Forrest (b. 1978)
See Amid the Winter’s Snow
Shawn Kirchner (b. 1978)
Miles Kaludzinski, Matteo Navarro, & Thomas Williams, soloists
John Williams (b. 1932)
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas from Home Alone
Isaac Watts (1674-1748), arr. William Llewelyn (b. 1925)
Joy to the World
Yongyu Gao, organ
About the musicians
GRAMMY Award-winning Ragazzi Boys Chorus, Silicon Valley, provides outstanding musical education and performance opportunities for boys and young men ages 5 to 18. The largest boys’ chorus in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ragazzi serves over 200 choristers in six tiered levels. Under the leadership of Artistic and Executive Director Kent Jue, Ragazzi shapes the lives of boys from diverse backgrounds, developing tenacious and confident young musicians who pursue choral arts of the highest caliber together.
Ragazzi is a prominent collaborator in the area, providing vocalists for such notable organizations as the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Opera San Jose, Symphony Silicon Valley, and the Stanford University Symphonic Chorus, among others. Recent collaborations include Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony and Opera San Jose’s production of Tosca.
The group tours throughout the United States and internationally to widen chorus members’ cultural and musical horizons and deepen Ragazzi’s reputation for performance excellence. The chorus has concertized in historic venues including Carnegie Hall in New York City, St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, and MuTH Concert Hall in Vienna. Ragazzi will make its Sydney Opera House debut in July 2024.
Kent Jue, Artistic and Executive Director, is an experienced choral conductor, music educator, and facilitator for lifelong learning in music. An energetic teacher, adjudicator, guest clinician, workshop presenter, and mentor, he is known for building high-level musicianship skills through his engaging style and rapport with students. He has a passion for uncovering the full artistic and expressive potential of individual choristers in an ensemble setting. Kent conducts Ragazzi’s most accomplished treble singers, Concert Group, and the select tenor and bass Choral Scholars. He has toured extensively with the Ragazzi program and has led Ragazzi choirs to numerous festivals. Kent has conducted Ragazzi in performances with the San Francisco Symphony and for Chorus America. An avid collaborator, he has prepared ensembles and soloists for organizations such as Symphony Silicon Valley and Opera San Jose. Kent has also conducted youth choruses at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and performed and recorded with the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus and the Gay Men’s Choruses of San Francisco and Boston. He has a Master of Music Education, with a Kodaly Emphasis from Holy Names University, a Bachelor of Music, Music Education from the University of the Paciﬁc, a certiﬁcate in the Orﬀ-Schulwerk method of music education and holds a California teaching credential. Kent currently serves as the Children and Community Youth Chair for the California Choral Directors Association. As Ragazzi’s second Artistic Director, Kent is honored to continue Ragazzi’s legacy of musical excellence, and its tradition of developing choral artists of character and distinction.
Isabella Custino, Assistant Director of Concert Group and Choral Scholars, is a passionate choral conductor and music educator from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a California state certified K-12 music teacher with degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University (MA Music & Music Education) and the USC Thornton School of Music (BA Choral Music).
When she is not working with Ragazzi, Ms. Custino conducts Allegra for the Peninsula Girls Chorus, a sister organization to Ragazzi, of which she’s a proud alumna. She feels lucky to be returning to the Bay Area choral scene as an educator after participating as a student.
In addition to teaching and conducting, Ms. Custino has participated in various choral ensembles. During her time at USC, she was a member of the prestigious USC Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe. She was also Conducting Intern for the Orange County Women’s Chorus under the direction of Eliza Rubenstein in 2021-2022. With these ensembles, she has performed at various venues such as Desert Trip with the Rolling Stones and Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as touring to destinations like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Carnegie Hall in New York.
Yongyu Gao, Collaborative Pianist, began playing the accordion at age four, establishing a strong musical foundation for piano studies she began at the age of 10. In 2005, Yongyu won ﬁrst place in the Beijing National Accordion Competition, and third place in the Beijing National Piano Competition. This experience helped her focus on piano, and in 2009, she graduated with a BA from South China University in Music Education with an emphasis in piano performance. After moving to the United States, she played for the Inna Opera Group at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. Yongyu continued her study in piano performance as a Walker Scholar at San Jose State University, earning her Master’s degree in 2013. She accompanies for the Burlingame School District and Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, and is an active performer throughout the Bay Area. She also serves as a pianist and organist at Burlingame United Methodist Church. She is a member of the Music Teachers Association of California, and her piano students regularly participate in the Certiﬁcate of Merit and Royal School of Music programs and exams.
Travis Rogers, Young Men’s Ensemble Director, has been a professional choral conductor for 45 years. He retired from Napa High School in Napa, California, in June of 2017 after thirty-seven years as the choral music director. Mr. Rogers directed the activities of over 300 students (at least half of them boys) each school year in seven different ensembles. Choirs at the school toured frequently nationally and internationally, performing in world famous venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, St. Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals in Dublin, Notre Dame in Paris, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Westminster Abbey in London, and Sagrada Familia and the Barcelona Cathedral in Spain. NHS ensembles also earned top honors at several national and international competitions in New York City, Hawaii, Australia, Austria, and England as well as top ratings and awards at local, regional and state festivals and competitions. Mr. Rogers has served the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) California Chapter in many capacities including repertoire and standards chair for high school and male choirs, summer conference chair and President. He is also a Past-President of the western region of ACDA. Travis Rogers has conducted over thirty honor and district choirs in northern and central California. He has been a choral competition/festival adjudicator and clinician for over thirty years as well as a frequent presenter at professional conferences for ACDA and California Music Educators Association (CMEA).
Nancy Whitecar, Collaborative Pianist and Assistant Director of Young Men’s Ensemble, is a professional musician and music educator with over 35 years of experience. She teaches general music classes at The Music School at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian church, and accompanies for instrumentalists and choirs throughout the Bay Area. Nancy has directed children’s and youth choirs, and taught piano to students of all ages. She served as accompanist and assistant director of the BeckRidge Chorale in Southeast Michigan for over 20 years, and as Associate Director of Music at the First United Methodist Church in Plymouth, Michigan. Nancy is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, and the California Association of Professional Music Teachers. She graduated from the University of Illinois and holds a Piano Teacher Certiﬁcate from Schoolcraft College in Michigan.
Isabella Custino, Assistant Director, Concert Group & Choral Scholars, is a passionate choral conductor and music educator from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a California state certified K-12 music teacher with degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University (MA Music & Music Education) and the USC Thornton School of Music (BA Choral Music). In addition to her duties with Concert Group and Choral Scholars, she teaches in Ragazzi’s Primary Group. When she is not working with Ragazzi, Ms. Custino conducts Allegra for the Peninsula Girls Chorus, a sister organization to Ragazzi, of which she’s a proud alumna. She feels lucky to be returning to the Bay Area choral scene as an educator after participating as a student. In addition to teaching and conducting, Ms. Custino has participated in various choral ensembles. During her time at USC, she was a member of the prestigious USC Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe. She was also Conducting Intern for the Orange County Women’s Chorus under the direction of Eliza Rubenstein in 2021-2022. With these ensembles, she has performed at various venues such as Desert Trip with the Rolling Stones and Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as touring to destinations like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Carnegie Hall in New York.
Jon Ellis, Vocal Coach, has brought his powerful tenor voice and dramatic presence to numerous concerts, operatic performances and solo recitals throughout the United States and Europe, as well as several televised and radio performances. Mr. Ellis has sung with Opera San Jose, Opera International, Torrey Pines Opera Theatre, Contemporary Opera of Los Angeles, OperaWorks, Chelsea Opera, Novato Concert Opera, Scholar Opera, Monterey Opera, Cleveland Opera Theatre, Seattle Civic Light Opera, appearing in a wide variety of roles including Cavaradossi (Tosca), Pinkerton (Madama Butterﬂy), Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus), and Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola). Mr. Ellis earned a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Seattle Paciﬁc University, a Master of Music Degree from Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master Degree of Music from Case Western Reserve University, focusing on Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy.
#Assistant Head Chorister
^^ Student Conductor
**Head Chorister Emeritus
+Team Captain Emeritus
& Student Conductor Emeritus
Young Men’s Ensemble