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Richard Travers, Music Director
Richard Travers earned a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the Boston Conservatory as a student of Allen Lannom and a degree in Music Education from Berklee College of Music.
Before retiring in 2010 as music educator in the Newton Schools, Travers directed the choirs at Newton North High School and was recognized for his work with students as the inaugural recipient of the Elicker Award for Teaching Excellence. A dynamic leader, Travers has led the award-winning Family Singers (NNHS) in performances throughout the eastern United States and Canada as well as twelve tours of Europe. Family Singers performed at the Music Educators' National Conference and represented Massachusetts on Massachusetts Night in 1993. Along with NNHS colleague Sheldon Reid, Travers developed the Jubilee Singers and Tiger Bebop, a vocal jazz ensemble.
Maestro Travers has led the Newton Community Chorus since 1999 and the Fine Arts Chorale since 2009. Travers thoroughly enjoyed his tenure as Music Director of the Rosie's Place Jazz Choir, working closely with the late Kip Tiernan, founder of Rosie's Place. He has also served as the Assistant Music Director of the Masterworks Chorale, Choral Director of Fitchburg State College, and New England Conservatory Youth Chorale.
One of the highlights of Travers’s career was a program featuring Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert with the greatest jazz musicians in Boston: the soloists were Rebecca Parris, Dick Johnson, Monica Hatch and Paul Broadnax, featuring the Kenny Hadley Big Band, Newton North High School combined choirs and the award-winning Foxboro High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Steve Massey. The late Herb Pomeroy, who played with Duke Ellington, conducted the concert, and it was selected by the Boston Globe as one of the “Top Ten Jazz Concerts in Boston" of 1998.
Mr. Travers has served as guest conductor of the Massachusetts Music Educators Northeast, Southeast and Central Choirs; in March 2010, he conducted the Western Junior District Choir and was an adjudicator in the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association Festival.
In addition to his role as Choir Director, Mr. Travers conducted over 25 musicals at Newton North High School, including Guys and Dolls, Chicago, 42nd Street, Les Misérables and Cabaret. He is proud to have started the Jubilee Singers with Sheldon Reid. It is a gospel choir that studies African Diaspora music and social issues to gain a better understanding of other cultures. Mr. Travers also began The Tiger Bebop, a vocal jazz ensemble with annual performances at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival.
Travers has served as guest conductor of the Melbourne Youth Chorale and MMEA Northeast, Southeast, Central and Western Festival Choirs. He enjoys his role as adjudicator for the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association Festivals and for Music in the Parks. Richard Travers maintains a busy private studio that provides instruction in voice, theory, song writing and piano to students of all ages. Residents of independent/assisted living communities and senior centers enjoy the Music Lecture Series presented by Travers. His engaging topics include Music Theatre, Opera, Jazz, and Classical Music. His wife Diane and he are the proud parents of four children.
Monique Weiss Byrnes, Accompanist
Monique Weiss Byrnes began playing organ in churches at the age of 11. She is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied organ with Haskell Thompson while earning a Master's degree in Teaching with a Choral Emphasis, after earning her Bachelor's degree in Organ Performance.
Ms. Weiss Byrnes has performed the music of Bach through Messiaen on organs throughout the United States and Europe. She spent two years studying music in Bayreuth, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and London, England; and performed on organs in Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Interested in both classical and jazz music, she has studied jazz piano with Harvey Diamond and Charles Binacus, jazz voice with Lisa Thorson, Bob Stoloff and Sheila Jordan, and classical voice with Richard Miller, Gale Fuller, and Jonathan Barnhardt. She has been a pianist and singer in both classical and jazz styles in the Boston area since 1988, performing as soloist and with Leggiero Piano Trio and Monique Weiss Quartet.
Ms. Weiss Brynes has been a Music Director in churches in the Boston area for thirty years. She is presently Director of Music Ministry at Eliot Church in Newton, where where she is organist, pianist, conductor of the Chancel Choir and Eliot Quartet. As an advocate for music teaching, she began the Mosaic Modes Music Studio in 1994, where she and her husband Brendan teach piano, voice, organ and drums.
She has taught at the American School in London as a vocal coach and accompanist, and has been an accompanist for choral groups on tour in England, Wales, Poland, France, Germany and Canada, including an international choral festival in Krakow, Poland. She has accompanied choirs at Newton Country Day School since 2002, and presently is on the music faculty there as organist, accompanist and choral director.
During 2007, Ms. Weiss Byrnes began studying composition and improvisation with Ed Brohms. She has composed music to fifty-six Psalm texts and was invited to compose a choral work for the 2008 New England Episcopal Diocesan Convention, where her first choral composition received its premiere. She continues to compose for choruses and instrumental ensembles at Newton Country Day School and Eliot Church.
Ms. Weiss Byrnes is a member of the American Choral Society, the American Guild of Organists, and the New England Piano Teachers Association. She is in her twenty-first season as the rehearsal accompanist for the Newton Community Chorus and performs on organ, piano and harpsichord for Chorus concerts.