STAFF AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ken was raised in Whittier, California. He began piano lessons at the age of 4, also studying violin, trumpet, accordion and voice. He received a full scholarship to Whittier College, but prior to finishing his degree, returned to performing music professionally in the Los Angeles area, where he was noted for playing jazz and Broadway tunes. He later received a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from CSU Northridge and studied conducting under composer, conductor, pianist and arranger, Jay Blackton, known for his work as music director and conductor for Rodgers and Hammerstein. Ken also studied conducting and piano-stylings with the noted composer and arranger, Johnny Green. While both a student and faculty member at CSU Northridge, Ken coached many singers who later became successful. He also directed, composed, and accompanied musicals, played for auditions throughout Los Angeles, and was sought out as a pianist for honor choirs by area choral conductors, including acclaimed choral conductor and LA Master Chorale Director Paul Salamunovich. Ken continued on the faculty at CSU Northridge until moving to Nevada County in 1984. He then taught voice, choir, and music appreciation at Sierra College’s Nevada County Campus, served as choral director for Music in the Mountains for four years and served as music director for local theater productions. In 1994, he was hired by InConcert Sierra (then known as Twin Cities Concert Association) to conduct their newly formed community Orchestra Panache, then became the program director. In 1999, InConcert formalized his position as the artistic director. In 2008, InConcert’s Sierra Master Chorale was formed, and Ken became their founding music director/conductor until he retired from that latter position in December 2018. He continues as artistic director and conductor of the InConcert Sierra Orchestra.
Growing up in Southern California (Orange County), Julie was inspired to learn about the arts through family trips to Los Angeles to experience the theater, symphony and ballet. In 1992-1996, she and her family and other business partners owned and operated a popular restaurant in Nevada City called The Bouzy Rouge, complete with singing food servers. It was there she met pianist Ken Hardin, who became her husband (and InConcert’s artistic director). In 1997, Julie became the marketing consultant for InConcert (then known as Twin Cities Concert Association) and, in 1999, was promoted to executive director. She came to InConcert with a diverse background and education in corporate customer service, as well as both restaurant and for-profit business management, marketing and public relations. Julie has served on KVMR’s Classics DeClassified radio show committee (and occasionally hosts a show), the Center for Nonprofit Leadership’s board of directors, Hospice of the Foothills’ board of trustees, Nevada County Arts Council, Nevada City School of the Arts Foundation, and several other local boards and committees. She sings alto in the Sierra Master Chorale.
Sierra Master Chorale Conductor/Music Director
Alison grew up in a musical family, with many instrumentalists and singers. Singing Christmas carols—in parts—was a family tradition. A third-generation choral conductor (following her grandmother and aunt), she has always felt like conducting is “home.” She started her musical training at the piano but quickly moved into singing. Alison graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in vocal performance. She then studied with Alan Harler at Temple University in Philadelphia, from which she earned a Master of Music degree in choral conducting. Before returning to her hometown of Davis in 2008, she lived in Philadelphia where she was the artistic director of the Rainbow Chorale of Delaware, taught high school music at Germantown Friends School and was the assistant conductor of Philadelphia’s Choral Arts Society. For the past ten years, Alison has been conducting choirs in Northern California. She is the artistic director of the Davis Chorale, the music director and choir conductor at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis and, in 2019, was appointed the choir director of Sierra Master Chorale. Aside from conducting choirs, she spends time with her children, hikes, swims and occasionally has time to cook.
Lisa was born in Virginia and grew up in Chicago until age 13. Playing violin has been a big part of her life, but she also adores singing and basically, she just loves music. Lisa has a degree in psychology from Humboldt State, where she met her husband Scott. Lisa's ensuing work experiences helped shape her diverse career, including as a research consultant where she discovered her interest in computers and as an environmental lab project manager. Lisa and Scott have two kids, Olivia and Zach (now in their twenties). When her career shifted to full-time mom, Lisa managed to still find time to work and eventually started her own business called "Data Transformed." She currently contracts with several local businesses (at ICS, we strive to be her favorite!) Passionate about creating things that are unique, Lisa enjoys music and photography, and she handcrafts cajóns (box-shaped percussion instruments originally from Peru) and native American flutes and other musical instruments. "If I had the time, I would do nothing all day but make music and take photos. I love InConcert! I love the music and that so many people work so hard to share this music. It is inspirational and a worthwhile cause."
Valarie has been involved with InConcert Sierra for many years singing with the Sierra Master Chorale and helping to support the mission in many ways. She joined the InConcert staff in January to assist in the office and help develop the InConcert Sierra Volunteer program. She has worked with several local non-profits including Sierra Foothills Village, Sierra Stages, Music in the Mountains, Center for the Arts, Soroptimists, Woman Within, Int’l and the Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots). She has helped manage volunteer programs and organize numerous events. Her corporate project management background and organizational skills are a strong asset as we continue to develop, hone and maintain InConcert Sierra’s programs.
Sara’s career spans many facets of the entertainment industry. She enjoys putting her skills to work for artists who both excel at their craft and create a positive, generous environment for everyone involved. She has had the privilege of collaborating with exceptional musicians including the Kronos Quartet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Stephen Prutsman and Meklit Hadero. She has worked at theatre companies from coast to coast including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, Penumbra Theatre and American Conservatory Theatre. While notable credits include The Scottsboro Boys directed by Susan Stroman, Pericles directed by Mary Zimmerman and Othello starring Avery Brooks, Sara’s favorite productions were new plays—The Last Resort at the Beau Jest Moving Theatre, Quake at Quantum Theatre and a 1999 staged reading of Swimming in the Shallows by Adam Bock. She has been a proud member of IATSE since 2009. Hailing from St. Joseph, Missouri where she learned to run a two-scene preset lighting board at age twelve, Sara attended Emerson College and has since lived in 11 cities and visited all 50 states.
Kirsti and her husband Bill moved their family to Grass Valley in 2003. She studied music at Pepperdine University and obtained her degree in economics from UCLA. In addition to musician, Kirsti has also held the titles of bookkeeper, actuary, home builder, and mom. She recently took on the challenge of learning French horn and is having fun adding to her musical abilities. Locally, she performs with Music in the Mountains, Sierra Stages, and InConcert Sierra. Kirsti has also coordinated the hiring of musicians for the InConcert Sierra and Nevada County Library “Musical Monday” series.
Mark has played an extensive role composing, teaching, coaching, arranging, and conducting music throughout the Nevada County community. His instrumental studies have included clarinet, flute, alto saxophone, piano, classical guitar and voice. Notable teachers include Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland, Robert McFerrin, and Gunther Schuller. He previously served as education coordinator for Music in the Mountains, overseeing their music education programs. In July 2019, Mark became education director for InConcert, to direct the organization’s extensive catalog of adult and youth education endeavors. Mark’s flagship program, which he brought to InConcert, is the Composers Project, a school-year long composition program for music students grades middle school through college. Mark also serves as the executive director of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative, promoting the creation and performance of new music. He is published by C. Alan Publications and Santa Barbara Publishing. His two CDs, “It’s About Time” and “God I Love Chamber Music,” are available on iTunes and CD Baby. Vance lives in Nevada City with his wife, Estelle, and their three goldfish.
Board of Directors 2022-2023:
Hindi was raised in Minneapolis, obtained her law degree from UC Hastings, College of the Law, and was a trial lawyer in San Francisco for ten years. She then retired from law and founded Lawyers in Transition. She speaks around the U.S. and wrote the best-selling “The Lawyer’s Career Change Handbook.” Hindi moved to Nevada County in 2001 and is very active in the arts community. She previously served as president of the board of The Center of the Arts, is head usher for Music in the Mountains, writes theater reviews for The Union newspaper, and volunteers with numerous other arts and community organizations.
Board Past President
Monroe joined the board in 2009 and has since served in many capacities. He has lived in Nevada County for more than 20 years with his husband, Rik, and is an avid supporter of musical and theatrical arts. In addition to InConcert, Monroe is involved with the local Sierra Stages theater group. An electrical engineer by training, he recently retired from the banking industry. An aspiring pianist, he enjoys most music genres, especially classical and jazz. As a foodie, Monroe created the “Taste of Classics” fundraisers for InConcert and is one of the masterminds behind any food served at an InConcert event.
Board Vice President
Keith received an electrical engineering degree from University of the Pacific and a certificate in telecom management from University of Southern California. He held international executive positions at AT&T and Pacific Bell. Keith was start-up CEO and a member of the board of Airtel, a Spanish wireless telecom carrier. He co-founded WorkVantage, Inc. Among many volunteer activities, he serves on the board of Sierra Stages, hosts The Sages Among Us and Classics Declassified on KVMR-FM, sings bass in Sierra Master Chorale, and served on the board of The Center for the Arts. Keith and his wife, Shirley, live on an historic family orchard near Grass Valley.
Barbara grew up on a farm, singing with two sisters while a third accompanied on the piano in church and on radio. She took piano lessons and played first clarinet in high school. A nurse, Barbara helped establish a Coronary Care Unit in Evanston, Illinois. She retired as a Professor of Cardiac Nursing and Clinical Professor of Medicine in Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. She was inducted into the American Nursing Association Hall of Fame in 2018. Barbara and her husband, Denis, moved to Nevada City in 2015. She enjoys returning to her musical roots and helping InConcert keep quality classical music thriving.
John was raised in Pasadena before attending Stanford University. There he sang with the University Chorus, including performances with the San Francisco Symphony, under direction of Joseph Kripps and Seiji Ozawa. He attended UC Davis School of Medicine, earned his MD, and pursued specialty training in pediatrics before establishing his practice in Grass Valley. After 36 years of providing pediatric care, John retired in 2017. Now he cycles, does woodworking and labors with his wife, Gwendy, to maintain their forested property. Singing with Sierra Master Chorale adds to his lifetime enjoyment of music, including playing acoustic guitar and previously participating in other choral groups.
Karen grew up in Oakland, studying piano and ballet. After two years in the Peace Corps in Venezuela, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, with a degree in anthropology, from UC Berkeley. As dance was her first love, she moved to NYC in 1972 and joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, working with composers John Cage, Meredith Monk, Phillip Glass and David Tudor. Retiring from performance in 1986, she managed UCSF Arts & Performances and was instrumental in founding the UCSF Orchestra and the Chancellor’s Concert Series. In 2005, Karen and her husband moved to Nevada County where she became active as a dance teacher, choreographer and consultant. She is currently a dedicated student of classical piano.
Valarie was born in Chicago and worked as both an auto and small aircraft mechanic. She earned her degree in business finance and is a certified project manager and technologist. Valarie held positions at NASA, in the pharmaceutical industry, with defense contractors and retired as VP of Technology Services for a national financial company. She has held lead roles with several nonprofits in Nevada County and runs a business educating people about natural wellness and providing business coaching. Valarie and her husband, John, are both private pilots and built their airplane. She sings with the Sierra Master Chorale and Music in the Mountains’ chorus and is learning fiddle with Alasdair Fraser.
When Robin was a child, her family attended many concerts, developing her love for classical music. As a speech-language pathologist, she regularly included music and lyrics in therapy with preschool students to develop language skills and used melodic intonation therapy with adult clients with aphasia. She retired from the Orinda Union School District as director of special services for students with a range of disabilities but returned to clinical therapy services with children. When Robin and her husband, John, moved to Nevada City in 2012, they were thrilled to discover InConcert’s Third Sunday concerts. When John and Robin travel, they often attend classical concerts.
Jeff grew up in Piedmont, California, son of an Army Air Forces test pilot whose family arrived in the Americas in1623. He earned degrees from the University of Oregon in English literature and the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design. In 1994, he became the 19th Mayor of the City of Berkeley. Jeff moved to Nevada County in 2001 and is the CEO of MK Blake Estate Co., his family's business established in1851 (named after his great-grand aunt, Millicent Kittredge Shattuck Blake). Born with an ear and passion for music, Jeff has served as president of The Berkeley Symphony and Music in the Mountains.
President of Sierra Master Chorale 2021 - present
Steve was raised in San Jose. He relocated to Grass Valley in 1981 to work at Grass Valley Group (as it was then known). His career has included positions in Design, Engineering Project Management and Business & Sales Operations. Steve has enjoyed raising a family, building friendships and partaking of the cultural advantages offered by Nevada County. He enjoys celebrating life with his partner, Claudia, visiting with kids and grandkids, partaking of outdoor activities, cooking, reading and traveling. In addition to being the lead singer and harp player for the local rock/blues band, Sons of Boogie, Steve sings tenor with the Sierra Master Chorale.
Rod was born and raised in Southern California. He obtained his BA at UC Santa Barbara, then he and his wife Susan worked as educators in the Bay Area until moving to Grass Valley in 2001. Rod has a master’s degree from University of San Francisco in human resources and organization development. He was superintendent of the Union Hill School District for seven years, until retirement in 2008. Rod loves all kinds of music and loves to sing. In high school, he sang in church choirs and a Madrigal group. Rod currently sings with the Sierra Master Chorale, the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir and his church.
Raised in Central Missouri, Michael studied piano at a local college, entered monastery, became
church organist, and sang in the Louisville Symphony Chorus. After leaving monastery, he attained a master’s degree in adult education at UW-Madison, a position as manager of organizational development at Hewlett-Packard, and a 30-year career in data analytics and organizational effectiveness. Michael still plays piano and has two sons, one of whom is orchestral director at Charleston School of the Arts. Leaving the Bay Area for Lake Wildwood in 2017, he and his wife, Gudrun, discovered InConcert, the jewel that makes Nevada County a dream-come-true place to enjoy retirement.