Cheryl Dupont, Music Director
Cheryl Dupont is the Artistic Director of the New Orleans Children’s Chorus and Youth Chorale. Although she is known throughout the United States for her work with children’s choirs, Cheryl is also experienced at working with mixed choirs on the high school, college and adult levels. She has many years of experience as a high school choral director, and served as Interim Director of Choral Activities at the University of New Orleans for the 1999-2000 academic year. Mrs. Dupont has also served as an Instructor of Voice at the University of New Orleans, Womens’ Chorus Director at Loyola University of the South, and as Associate Conductor of the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans. Other experience includes teaching and conducting on the elementary level and in churches. Her choirs have won numerous awards in music festivals throughout the South, and have appeared at state as well as regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the national convention of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators.
Mrs. Dupont is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator. She has conducted numerous all-state choirs throughout the country, and frequently conducts honor choirs for children, middle school, junior high and high school throughout the Southeast. She holds the Bachelor of Music Education degree in Piano and Voice and the Master of Music Education degree in Conducting Performance, both from Loyola University of the South, and the Artist-Teacher Diploma from the Choral Music Experience Institute. She is a Master Teacher for the Choral Music Experience Institute, working in the field of advanced training of choral teacher/conductors. For fifteen years Cheryl has directed CME courses in South Carolina, North Carolina and Kansas, and served as a Teaching Associate at CME Institutes in the US, England, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In addition, she is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Crescent City Choral Festival, an annual choral festival for children throughout the United States, which is in its fifteenth successful year. In 2006 she directed the Children’s Honor Chorus at the Southern regional convention of the America Choral Directors Association and in March of 2010, she conducted the Youth Treble Honor Choir at Western Division ACDA.
Mrs. Dupont has assumed many leadership roles on the district level of the Louisiana Music Educators Association. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, she was recently named the National Repertoire and Standards Chairperson for Children and Community Youth for ACDA, having previously served as Southern Division Chair. She is the founder and chairperson of the Louisiana ACDA Children’sAll-State Chorus and served two terms as president of the Association for Choral Music Education.
Janel Ockman, Director of Lyric Chorus
Janel Ockman has been teaching and directing children’s choirs for 23 years. She teaches general music at Immaculate Conception Elementary School and directs a Children’s Choir and Percussion Ensemble there. She is the Music Director for Immaculate Conception Parish and also directs the Adult Choir.
Mrs. Ockman is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, Choristers Guild, and OASA. She regularly attends workshops from the Local and National Chapters of these organizations. Mrs. Ockman’s students participate in State and National Honor Choir Events.
Mrs. Ockman holds a Level 1 Certification in both ‘Choral Music Experience’ and ‘Orff Schulwerk’. She has a Level 3 Certification in the ‘World Music Drumming’ curriculum.
Mrs. Ockman also worked as the Assistant Director for the St. Louis Cathedral Boychoir until the organization disbanded in 2012.
Outside of her teaching responsibilities, Mrs. Ockman works for many of the Catholic Churches and Funeral Homes in and around the New Orleans area as a musician/vocalist for their religious ceremonies.
Jan Esthus Schluter, Director of Songbirds
Jan Esthus Schluter has been a choral music educator in the New Orleans area for thirty years. She received her undergraduate degree in voice and piano performance from Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Music Education degree from Florida State University. Much of her career was spent teaching at Louise S. McGehee School, where she directed outstanding elementary and middle school choirs and taught general music. She is now the Music Director at Munholland United Methodist Church. Along the way, Jan has enjoyed teaching Kindermusik, acting and singing in musical theatre productions, and singing in the New Orleans Vocal Arts Chorale. Jan and her husband Steve have two boys, Ben and Jason.
Jonathan Szymanski, Lyric Chorus Accompanist
Jonathan Szymanski started his artistic journey as a pianist at age 7, and began accompanying for various choirs, churches, and theatrical productions by age 12. After attending Loyola University New Orleans for a Bachelor degree in Piano Performance, Mr. Szymanski has worked with various choral ensembles throughout the Greater New Orleans Area, including Brother Martin High School Choir, St. Louis Cathedral Adult Choir, and St. Louis Cathedral Boychoir.
He is currently a staff accompanist at Mount Carmel Academy, Holy Name of Jesus School, and Tulane University, as well as a regular accompanist for St. Mary’s Dominican High School and Hahnville High School. In addition to his work in local area schools, Mr. Szymanski is organist at Holy Name of Jesus Church.
Mr. Szymanski joined the New Orleans Children’s Chorus staff in 2010 as Lyric Chorus accompanist, and looks forward to working with these talented young voices this upcoming season.
Jesse Reeks, Concert Chorus Accompanist
Jesse is a New Orleans native born of a musical family. He studied Jazz at N.O.C.C.A/Riverfront through high school and then at Loyola University under such teachers as Ellis Marsalis and Larry Seiberth. He’s been active as an accompanist around town, recently with Bernadette Peters and the LPO. He’s played numerous shows at Le Petit, Le Chat Noir, and Summer Lyric. Currently Jesse works in the vocal dept. of Loyola and as titular organist of St. Louis Cathedral.