Brian D. Uerling, BME, MME, conductor
I was a public school music teacher for 39 years and recently retired to Taos with my lovely wife, Jude, and our rescue dog, Monet. My professional experience includes being a church choir director and organist, as well as a private piano studio instructor, for 47 years. I have directed high school choirs in Albuquerque and Clovis, and most recently, taught music at the elementary school level.
I have toured with choirs in Europe, and was fortunate to play the cathedral organ for Evensong at St. Paul’s, London as well as playing at Notre Dame. I was the New Mexico Music Educator Association’s “Music Educator of the Year” in 2017, and was inducted into their “Hall of Fame” in 2021. Currently, I play the piano for St. James Episcopal Church/Taos at their 8:00 AM Sunday worship service.
We are so happy to be living in Taos with its vibrant arts scene and wonderful people!
Kim Bakkum, accompanist
Pianist Kim Bakkum relocated to Taos from the Akron/Cleveland area, where she had been performing, teaching, adjudicating, and working in community arts for twenty-five years. She holds her professional degrees in piano performance from Montana State University, Western Michigan University, and the AIMS Opera and Lieder program in Graz, Austria. She has also completed additional studies in collaborative piano in Vienna, Austria, where she resided for a year. Her collaborations in Vienna included summer seminars with members of the Vienna Symphony in their summer flute and percussion seminars.
Bakkum has enjoyed collaborating for ten years with Singers Companye, a professional choir from Akron. The group has performed internationally in competition; concertized at numerous venues such as the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria; presented residencies in Italy and Spain; and has also been featured in numerous performances at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. In addition to her vocal collaborations, she has played at numerous National Flute Conferences as well as International Clarinet Conferences.
Bakkum has been on the faculty at both University of Akron and Kent State University as a staff accompanist for guest artist, faculty and student performances, as well as a staff pianist/coach at the Taos Opera Institute. She maintains a vibrant, independent, private studio here in Taos.
President, Chris Fairchild
Music has been an important part of Chris’ life since early childhood. She took piano and ballet lessons and sang in church and school choirs starting at the age of 6. She loves a wide variety of music from Monteverdi to Madonna. She has recently retired from her work as an architectural designer and in addition to making music she enjoys attending live musical and dramatic performances, hiking, skiing and cooking. Chris joined Taos Community Chorus in 2011 and resumed her study of piano in 2018.
Vice President, Jane Ayles
Jane is thrilled to be part of the Chorus and has been a fervent member since 2016. She was surrounded by music from an early age, brought up in England with three pianos in the house and parents that taught piano, acted, painted sets, provided accompaniment and wrote lyrics for the local drama society. Her father carefully wheeled his prized Bluthner grand piano into the horse box to travel to every theatrical production at the local theatre in Sussex! Following in these theatrical footsteps, Jane was last seen directing the smash hit Sylvia in the new Wildflower Theatre and she also walks dogs, exercises horses and hosts at the Taos Inn.
Treasurer, Randy Thorne
Randy started in church and school choirs when very young, and has sung all her life. As a young woman, she sang with the USO in the Pacific Command during the Vietnam War. For the past 25 years, she has served as costume mistress with Taos Children’s Theater. Randy recently retired from Taos Pueblo Day School; part of her professional work was publishing educational materials through Scholastic and the Monkey Sisters Publishers.
Secretary, Rhonda Grover
Rhonda Grover is our newest Board member. She and her husband David moved to the Taos area in 2019 from Austin, Texas, where she was very active in the chorus connected to the University of Texas Choral Department and Austin Lyric Opera, for over 20 years. One of the many highlights of her career in the Austin Choral Union was to perform Carmina Burana with the Chorus at the invitation of the choral director at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, in Mexico City. Rhonda, David and Chase the Wonder Dog, reside in Ranchos de Taos. Rhonda actively volunteers at Shared Table, an outreach program of El Pueblito United Methodist Church.
At Large Board Member, Anita Briscoe
Anita Briscoe has sung in choruses practically her whole life, starting in elementary school. While attending UNM, she sang with the Concert Choir and the a capella Chamber Singers. Throughout her 20s through her 60s she has mainly sung in a capella choirs, such as the Albuquerque Global Choir, the Sweet Madelines, and Svirka, a group that performs Balkan music. Anita enjoys singing complicated music in many languages, and is delighted to sing in the Taos Community Choir. She is also taking voice lessons with Mark Jackson.
At Large Board Member, Sandy Dechert
A jazzman and a mom with stage chops brought our newest Board member, Sandy Dechert, into the world. School chorus directors from the Harvard Krokodiloes and Westminster Choir College started her off in song. Proximity to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Curtis School, Valley Forge Music Fair, and Main Point coffee house also helped. When Sandy began her full-time career in publishing, she joined a local chorus helmed by Jane Hulting, who later led the ANNA Crusis choir. Meanwhile, her parents moved west, associating musically with the Jazz Workshop and central NM dinner theater. Sandy resumed choral singing in the 20-teens with the Apache Jct. women’s choir. After semi-retiring, she now jives in her own back yard within earshot of Taos outdoor music and song.