A Jazz Christmas 2023 Performers
Director/Piano (Wilson Somers)
Wilson Gault Somers is an Emmy-winning composer who spent 30 years as the Director of Choral Music at the Tatnall School, Greenville, DE, and is the current Music Director of the Church of the Advent, Kennett Square, PA. He is also acclaimed as a jazz pianist. Maestro Somers completed his degree work in composition and organ at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, and graduate studies in music education and theory/composition at the Westminster Choir School in Princeton, New Jersey. Somers’ large-scale sacred works for chorus, soloists and orchestra are Mass for the Homeless, premiering in 1997 and Requiem for 9/11, which debuted in 2012. Both have received critical acclaim and raised thousands of dollars to benefit homeless organizations and the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Please call (302) 740-3220 to schedule an interview with Maestro Somers.
Co-Director/Piano (Joe Louden)
Joe Louden began his career in church music as a high school student. He has spent more than a quarter century as a multi-genre professional keyboardist, teacher and choral director. Joe is Choral Director at Ursuline Academy, Padua Academy and Salesianum School and Director of Music at St. Helena's Parish, all in Wilmington.
Contrabass (Bill Stumm)
Bill Stumm has been playing bass for over 50 years across all music genres. He has played with musicians and performers as diverse as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey to Anna Maria Alberghetti and Bobby Rydell! Bill has accompanied Wilson Gault Somers on various projects for over 30 years! According to retired Jazz UD Professor Mike Arenson, "Bill Stumm is one of the finest bassists on the East Coast.”
Percussion (Jonathan Whitney)
Jonathan Whitney is long-time music educator with a Master’s in Jazz Studies, Jonathan Whitney, served as band director at the Tatnall School, artistic director at the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education, and the manager of performance programs and community engagement at the Delaware Art Museum. He is now co-owner of Flux Creative Consultants and artist-in-residence at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew where he pioneered the Drum Circle. Jonathan regularly performs all styles of music throughout the area.
Flute/Trumpet/Flugelhorn (Stan Slotter)
Stan Slotter uniquely double on trumpet and flute and is much in demand in the Philadelphia region, doubling on Flugelhorn and alto flute. He studied music at Temple University and Penn State University. Mr. Slotter has performed regularly with east coast jazz icons including legendary saxophonist, Larry McKenna.
Tenor Saxophone (Dave Schiff)
Dave Schiff was raised in Wilmington Delaware and grew up in a world of music. His Father Hal Schiff was a great influence to who he has become today. After graduating from High School in 1971, Dave attended the Naval School of Music in Norfolk Virginia. Upon completion, Dave was sent to the Navy Show band in Virginia Beach where he completed five years of touring the world and the United States. From 1975 to 1991 Dave performed in the Navy Band Jazz Ensemble "The Commodores" in Washington D.C. which is the top premier Jazz band the Navy has to offer. After retiring in 1991, Dave continued to perform with many top names in the Music industry today. He has toured with Frank Sinatra Jr., Natalie Cole, Diane Schuur, Tony Bennett,The Temptations, Four Tops as well as Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell. Dave also performed as a pit musician in many theatre productions in Local theatres as well as National Jazz Festivals as a featured soloist. Dave is also a clinician for the Selmer company as well as a Union Musician for over 60 years.
Percussion (Jeffery Dombchik)
Jeffrey Dombchik is currently Director of Bands and Music Department Chair for Christiana High School and Middle School Honors Academy in Newark, Delaware, and he has been Co-Chair for the district Music Department since 2019. Jeff has been recognized for several awards and was selected by School Band and Orchestra Magazine to represent Delaware as one of "50 Directors That Make a Difference" in the country. He is an active freelance performer in Delaware and is currently the percussionist for Lori Citro and the Accidentals and the drummer for the Unsung Heroes of Jazz. Jeff received his Bachelors of Music in music education and Master of Instruction degree from the University of Delaware.
Narration & Vocalist (Leon Spencer)
Leon Spencer is a multi-dimensional musical talent. Today he is gifting us with his vocal talents, but he also a frequent instrumentalist on bass with Wilson Gault Somers and many others. Leon earned a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Muskingum College in Ohio and completed graduate work at Westminster Choir College. He currently teaches at his Pro Musica Studio in Kennett Square, PA. He performs regularly in area swing and rock ensembles.
Soprano (Tara Lake)
Tara Lake is a Scholar-Artist, Performer and Historian with a rich background in History, Literature, African American Studies and the Performing Arts. In the classroom - and in the virtual classroom - Tara teaches American History & Cultural Studies. She recently wrapped of a five-year stint teaching Africana Studies for the Africana Studies program at Eastern Washington University program. As an artist, Tara has performed around the country, and her repertoire includes classical theatre, storytelling, and vocal jazz and classical voice performance. Scholar-artistry is critical to Tara’s work, and she utilizes performance to illuminate historical and cultural concepts. Since December 2012, Tara has performed “The Christmas Spirituals Project,” a classical voice and storytelling concert dramatizing the folk history of Christmas in the African American South. Ms. Lake is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Florida A&M University (B.A., English), and a graduate, with highest honors, of the M.A. in African American Studies program at UCLA. She is thrilled to be making her "Jazz Christmas" debut.
Mezzo Soprano (Charlotte Daw Paulsen)
Charlotte Daw Paulsen, mezzo-soprano, possesses a voice described as unusually rich and complex. Her performances include: Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with Oratorio Society of New York, Beethoven’s 9th with Nashville Symphony, Mahler’s 8 th in Carnegie Hall, Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with Louisiana Philharmonic, and Verdi’s Requiem with Virginia Symphony, and Costa Rica Symphony. Previously she performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Questra Sinfonica de Mineria, and the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, and Brahms Alto Rhapsody. She is frequently invited to perform works in depth of emotional expression. Known as a fine interpreter of Oratorio, she was hailed for her performance in Messiah as “an intense performer, with an unusual and distinctive voice, compelling and enormous in its lower register.” Charlotte Daw Paulsen, born in Philadelphia, holds degrees from: The Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University: Temple University: and West Chester University, as well as honors from Salzburg Mozarteum, Zurich International Opera Studio, Tanglewood Festival, and Opera Music Theater International.
Featured Guests (Jenny & Tyler)
Jenny & Tyler, this year’s featured guests, are a husband and wife singer-songwriter duo who met at the University of Delaware, and now call Nashville home. Drawing influence from Simon & Garfunkel, Glen Hansard, & Alison Krauss, Jenny & Tyler have found their place in today’s landscape of singer/songwriter folk/pop. The duo has toured extensively, performing alongside Josh Garrels, JJ Heller, Sara Groves, Mac Powell of Third Day, and Andrew Peterson. They have played at the legendary Ryman Auditorium and the famed Bluebird Cafe, both in Nashville. Jenny & Tyler have performed on local television and have featured live performance videos on multiple online outlets such as CCM Magazine, Relevant Magazine, and The Gospel Coalition. Jenny & Tyler have sold over 35,000 albums, seen over 20 million streams on Apple Music & Spotify, and played over 1,200 concert dates over the past 16 years of playing music together. Their songs have been featured on ABC’s Pretty Little Liars, NY Med, MTV’s Teen Mom, CBC’s Heartland, & YouTube’s Kid President. Jenny & Tyler are artist partners with International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that works to combat human trafficking and modern slavery globally. Through music sales and fundraising at concerts, they have raised more than $50,000 for IJM. Together, they recently opened One Eyed Cat Creative, a recording studio and creative space in East Nashville, available for bookings & designed to foster community gatherings. Jenny & Tyler enjoy serving in their Nashville church as worship leaders and Bible study leaders. Their four children, Jane, Sara, Mary, and Gabe, keep them busy and fill each day with surprise & joy.
Choir (Jazz Christmas Choir)
The Jazz Christmas Choir is a select group of upper school choristers from Tatnall School, Tatnall alumni and staff, and talented friends of Wilson Somers and Joe Louden who have come together in festive fellowship to help us all celebrate the season!