The Towne Singers
The ~80 member Towne Singers is a non-auditioned community chorus based in La Cañada, California. Since being founded in 1987 by Phyllis Winnaman, the chorus has grown to become a well-known source of entertainment for the foothill and valley neighborhoods. Membership is from all the nearby communities, and many members commute more than 40 miles to participate in the musical experience.
The Towne Singers take pride in their ability to sing all types of music, and in a wide variety of styles. The group’s musical repertoire includes great classical elements, but these are always complemented with other choral genres, including popular, Broadway,spirituals, gospel, folk, and patriotic.
The full choir performs two or three major concerts each year. In addition, the auditioned Towne Singers ‘chamber choir’ performs in community outreach events, and other social/musical events in the region.
The choir has performed three times at Carnegie Hall, including a 2004 performance of Rutter’s Requiem (conducted by Rutter), and a 2006 performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria. They performed the Rutter Requiem again in 2010 at the Lincoln Center in New York. The group is often invited to attend festivals and choral events, and toured internationally in 2005. The Towne Singers have also been honored with citations of artistic excellence by the State of California and the City of La Cañada Flintridge.
The Towne Singers is a non-profit organization that is open to singers of all ages and backgrounds. Each concert season provides a place for people to sing and grow artistically, and to bring excellent choral entertainment to the region.
Conductor: Lance Merrill
Lance has been accompanying and directing musical theater for over 20 years. From 1990 to 2008 he was the pianist and Assistant Music Director for Foothill Summer Theater’s productions in La Canada, including Les Miserable, Kiss Me Kate, The King and I, and Sweeney Todd. Lance has been the vocal director for numerous musical productions at Huntington Middle School in San Marino, Bishop Alemany High School, Grace Brethren High School and many other local high schools. He established the first choral program at Northridge Academy High School in Northridge. Currently, Lance directs the music programs and teaches piano at The Master’s Performing Arts Academy in Simi Valley. He is also Director of Worship for St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Chatsworth, and lives with his wife and two sons in Granada Hills.
Bachelor of Music in Composition from Cal State Univ., Northridge
K-12 Single Subject Teaching Credential – Choral Music Education
Director of Worship – St. Stephen Presbyterian Church, Chatsworth (2006- Present)
Program Coordinator/Piano studies – The Master’s Performing Arts Academy, Simi Valley (presently)
Choir Director – Hoover HS (beginning Fall 2013)
Band and Choir Director – John Muir HS, Pasadena (2011-2012)
Band Director – Grace Brethren HS, Simi Valley (2003-2006)
Vocal Director/Accompanist for musical productions – Huntington MS, San Marino
Asst. Musical Director/Rehearsal Pianist – Foothill Summer Theater productions, La Canada (1992-2009)
Organist /Asst Director – Foothill Christian Church, La Crescenta (1983-2002)
Accompanist: Ben Mason
Ben Mason is a pianist, composer, orchestrator, arranger, and conductor in Los Angeles. He serves as the organist and pianist at First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills. He also teaches music technology and basic film scoring at Point Loma Nazarene University.
Ben composes for film and other media, and enjoys arranging for choir, band, and orchestra. His styles range from classical to jazz and pop.
Ben studied piano, violin, and organ and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, a master’s in conducting from the University of Georgia, and a graduate certificate in scoring for motion pictures and television from the University of Southern California.
Men’s Vocal Coach: Kris Wittry
Kris Wittry is our resident men’s vocal coal and tenor extraordinaire.
Born and raised in Pasadena, California, Kristopher Wittry has been interested in music from the time he was in young child. At the age of five, he was singing in the children’s choir of the First United Methodist Church and has been singing ever since.
He has been employed as a section leader / soloist at various churches since 1981 and one of his choir directors is quoted as saying that Kris is a “director’s dream: punctual, dependable courteous, generous and kind.”
Kris started performing with the Towne Singers in 1995 and has helped the organization in many ways with stage presence, vocal production, and supporting the bass tenor and alto sections as they learn their parts. He has also helped with makeup prior to the concerts.
Kris plays the viola and is currently with the Pasadena Community Orchestra.
Women’s Vocal Coach: Teresa Parente
Teresa Parente has been helping the Towne Singers for many years.
View The Towne Singers organization chart.