The ECC Staff
Gary Geiger, Artistic Director
Sarah Bartolome, Associate Director
Hyejin Joo, Pianist
Gary Geiger, Artistic Director and Founder
Gary Geiger is a native of East Cleveland, OH. He began playing piano at an early age, pursuing most of his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music under several teachers including Gloria Fok, Wesley Ball and Jacqueline Buckley Platten for classical training, and Marshall Griffith for a foundation in jazz. Gary holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in addition to his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Piano Performance from Northwestern and DePaul Universities respectively. Gary's collegiate piano instructors were Deborah Sobol of the Chicago Chamber Musicians and Mary Sauer of the Chicago Symphony. His chamber music study includes guidance by artists such as Larry Combs, Julie DeRoche and Lawrence Davis, and he studied composition with Alan Jay Yim. Gary had an original composition premiered in the nationally-renowned Waa-Mu show during his sophomore year at Northwestern, and most recently his "Ave Maria" setting was premiered by the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale in 2017 He was a recipient of Northwestern's Corrine Frada Pick Award for Piano in 1991.
Gary has worked extensively as a vocal and instrumental accompanist in the Chicago area, performing in major concert venues throughout the Midwest including Ravinia and Chicago’s Symphony Center, as well as the southwestern U.S. and Japan. Gary’s work with singers began with accompanying/vocal coaching in voice studios at Northwestern University. In 1996 he became a pianist for the Chicago Children’s Choir, where he delved deep into all aspects of children’s choral music. There he premiered choral works of composers such as Danny Wallenberg, Bob Applebaum and Ted Hearne. Several of Gary’s own choral compositions were premiered by various CCC choirs as well. Perhaps most notably, Gary gradually began to assume an assisting director’s role while at the CCC, paving the way for his eventual pursuit of choral directing as a vocation under the mentorship of conductor/composer Danny Wallenberg.
In the fall of 2002, Gary founded a children’s choir at the Musical Offering in Evanston, where he served on the Board of Directors from 2004-2006. The "Musical Offering Children’s Choir" was later re-named the Evanston Children’s Choir and became an independent organization in 2007. Gary currently directs the ECC Concert Choir and Story Choir. In addition to his continued work with the ECC, Gary maintains a private piano studio of over 40 students. Gary lives in Evanston with his wife Mie, his daughters Nanami (7) and Kotomi (5), and their dog Kuma.
Sarah Bartolome, Associate Director
Dr. Sarah J. Bartolome, an Assistant Professor of Music Education at Northwestern University, is a children’s music specialist with an interest in world music for the classroom. Sarah taught elementary general music the Boston, Seattle, and Baton Rouge metropolitan areas and she is also a fully certified Kodaly educator, having received all three levels of certification from the New England Conservatory’s Kodaly Music Institute. An active choral conductor, Dr. Bartolome has conducted for such prestigious youth choirs as the Greater Boston Youth Chorus and the Seattle Girls’ Choir and was the founding director of the Louisiana State University Girls’ Choir. She is a frequent clinician, presenting workshops at local, regional, and national conferences and her scholarship in music education has been published in such journals as the Journal of Research in Music Education, the Journal of Music Teacher Education, Research Studies in Music Education, the International Journal of Community Music, and the Music Educators Journal. During 2013, Sarah was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Vilnius, Lithuania where she spent five months teaching at the pedagogical university and conducting research with local folk ensembles and choirs. She has also undertaken fieldwork in Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Research interests include choral culture from global perspectives, children’s musical cultures, ethnomusicology and music education, service-learning in higher education, and effective music teacher preparation. Sarah directs the ECC's Youth Chorale Pops.
Bryan Johnson, Associate Director
Bryan Johnson was born and raised in Chicago and has family ties in Jamaica, Barbados and Louisiana. Bryan received a Bachelor of Arts from Chicago State University, and a Masters of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. Bryan joined the Chicago Children’s Choir in 1997 as an In-School Choral Conductor and has conducted several neighborhood advanced choirs until 2014. Bryan Johnson is the Executive Director of Sacred Music at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL. He researches, plans, consults, implements, and monitors the ministry of music for the church which has a men’s chorus, mixed adult choir, women’s chorus, youth choir, praise teams and a liturgical arts department. Bryan joined the Music Department of Trinity United Church of Christ in 1996, and was initially assigned as Director of the Little Warriors for Christ Choir. Over the years, he has been the director of the Imani Ya Watume Choir, the Praise Team, and since 2011, the Sanctuary Choir. Through his work with Trinity and the Chicago Children’s Choir and other consulting jobs, he has had the opportunity to perform in Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Israel and a number of cities in the United States. Bryan continues to lead the ECC's unique Family Choir, and will spearhead our new joint project with the Wilmette Park District, the Wilmette Pops Children's Chorale, for the 2019 2020 Season.
Hyejin Joo, Pianist
A native of South Korea, Hyejin Joo began her piano studies at age 8. She has won various awards from the Wideman Piano competition, Chautauqua Piano Competition, Northwestern Concerto Competition, Indiana University Concerto Competition, Seoul National University Concerto Competition, Plowman Chamber Music Competition, Thaviu-Isaak Endowment Scholarship competition, and most recently the Seattle International Piano Competition (October 2019).
Hyejin received her Bachelors of Music from the Seoul National University where she received scholarship upon entrance and an academic excellence scholarship during the school years. She was granted the position of Associate Instructor upon entering the Indiana University, where she received her Masters of Music degree and a Performer Diploma with full scholarship. She has performed in Banff Centre and Chautauqua Institution and performed with the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and Bienen String Orchestra under the baton of Victor Yampolsky. She is currently a doctorate candidate at the Northwestern University, studying with Alan Chow on full scholarship. Her previous teachers include Arnaldo Cohen, Edward Auer and Heesung Joo. We are excited to have Hyejin back for her 3rd full season with us in 2019-2020!