Our Staff

The people that make things happen

Dr. Sonja Sepulveda, Artistic Director

Joined our staff as Artistic Director in June 2015. She is proud to continue the high level of musicianship that Barbara C. Beattie, Founding Artistic Director of the WSYC started 22 years ago.

In addition to her role with the WSYC, she is also the Director of Choral Activities and teacher of Theory at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and conducts the Salem Chamber Choir, Chorale, and SuperTonix.  She came to Salem following positions at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Brewton Parker College in Mt. Vernon, Georgia. Graduating from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees, Sonja Sepúlveda earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of South Carolina where she directed the Renaissance Singers and Carolina Alive. Her choirs have toured Europe, Mexico, and Canada and have performed for the National Cathedral, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Southern Division ACDA, and the Music Educators National Conference (MENC). She conducted, as well sang choral parts for the ABC mini-series, North and South. Sonja Sepúlveda sang with the Robert Shaw Festival Chorus for eight years. In 2006, she founded the Palmetto Voices, a choir of alumni students and current students. The choir strives to preserve the legacy of the Spiritual and sang at Southern ACDA in 2012, National ACDA, Dallas, Texas, 2013 plus Alabama ACDA in 2014.  In the summer of 2013 the Salem College Choirs were chosen for the Aegean Festival in Greece and sang the Verdi Requiem, televised concerts of opera choruses and solo concerts.  In June 2015, Dr. Sepulveda’s choirs were invited to sing the Vivaldi Magnificat in Florence, Italy where Dr. Sepúlveda conducted this work combined with two other university choruses and the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina.

Lauren Thayer Winkelman, Accompanist

lauren-winkelmanA versatile performer, pianist Lauren Winkelman has appeared as both soloist and collaborator with orchestras, chamber music groups, instrumental soloists, and singers. She was educated at Baldwin-Wallace College (B.M., piano) and The Cleveland Institute of Music (M.M., accompanying) where she received the Gwendolyn Koldofsky Award for Accompanying. Her primary teachers have included Anne Epperson, Anita Pontremoli, and George Cherry; and she has held staff accompanying positions at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Meadowmount School of Music, and the Killington Music Festival. As a freelance pianist in the Winston-Salem area, she has performed with UNCSA faculty, the Carolina Chamber Symphony Players, and the Winston Salem Youth Chorus. Mrs. Winkelman also has an avid interest in sacred music and is an active church musician, serving as the Music Ministry Associate and Organist at Knollwood Baptist Church.

Chris Duffer, Chorus Manager/Bookkeeper

Chris started her tenure with the chorus as an active parent volunteer and her strengths coupled with her desire to see the chorus succeed are what drew her into the WSYC position she has held for over six years. Chris has worked with youth from preschool through high school in many volunteer capacities from teaching, youth groups, arts organizations and scouting. Helping youth reach their full potential has been her passion in life. She has extensive office management and bookkeeping skills, having served as Administrative Assistant in charge of Pilot Payroll at Leisure Air, Lab Technician at Bowman Gray School of Medicine and Billing/Inventory Clerk at Vol T. Blacknall Company, among other positions.

James Allbritten, General Director of Piedmont Opera and the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus /Artistic Director for Piedmont Opera

To have an Artistic Director of this quality who also is a full time resident of our community is very unusual for a company of PO’s size. mr. Allbritten studied at Indiana University where he worked under a number of renowned conductors. Allbritten is a gifted teacher, conductor, and singer who won the award for teaching excellence during his tenure at UNCSA. Our visiting artists often comment on his high artistic standards and how much they learn from working with him. This reputation allows the company to attract artists with nationally and internationally recognized careers to perform in our productions. Mr. Allbritten has conducted almost all of Piedmont Opera’s productions since 2004.

Jenny Scholl, Director of Advancement and Community Engagement for Piedmont Opera and The Winston-Salem Youth Chorus

Jen Rimes, Director of Operations for Piedmont Opera and The Winston-Salem Youth Chorus

Jen has a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Campus. Prior to coming to PO, she worked in the administrative offices of The UNCSA’s Fletcher Opera Institute, The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, and several theatre companies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, including Hey City Theater for nine years.

Mariedith Appanaitis, Director of Marketing for Piedmont Opera and The Winston-Salem Youth Chorus

Mariedith holds a MA in Journalism and Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from the University of Memphis and a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been the marketing consultant and trip coordinator for the company since 2006. Prior to joining PO, Mariedith performed marketing and public relations for RiverRun International Film Festival, The Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, The Biltmore Estate and The March of Dimes.



Upcoming Events

7:00 pm WSYC Winter Choral Concert @ Salem Fine Arts Center
WSYC Winter Choral Concert @ Salem Fine Arts Center
Dec 7 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Experience the magic of all the WSYC ensembles in a night of beautiful music!
7:00 pm WSYC Winter Choral Concert @ Calvary Moravian Church
WSYC Winter Choral Concert @ Calvary Moravian Church
Dec 8 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Experience the magic of all the WSYC ensembles in a night of beautiful music!