Meet Our Staff

Artistic

Artistic Director

Paul Caldwell, Artistic Director

Paul Caldwell, Artistic Director

Member since 2016

paulc@seattlechoruses.org

he/him

Now in his sixth season as Artistic Director of Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus, Paul Caldwell defines the creative trajectory for one of the nation’s largest community choral organizations. He conducts both choruses for performances in Seattle’s most prestigious venues. He has redesigned the chorus’s small ensemble structure, creating the first permanent group to include members of both the Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses. His focus on community engagement has enabled the organization to establish sustained, meaningful relationships with new civic partners.

Before coming to Seattle in 2016, Paul was in Chicago, serving as Artistic Director of the Windy City Gay Chorus and Windy City Treble Quire. He was also Artistic Director for the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago, a community- based after-school program enrolling 200 young people in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Paul’s work with youth garnered national recognition when his chorus received the Chorus America/ ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. Paul composes and arranges music collaboratively with Sean Ivory. Their choral works have been telecast on PBS and A&E and performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. Legendary guitarist Steve Vai collaborated with Caldwell and Ivory to create a choral-rock fusion song, “Book of the Seven Seals.” Paul made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut in 2014, leading concerts comprised entirely of music he composed. He has also been artistic director for the ¡Canta! Costa Rica festival in San Jose. He returns to the Sing A Mile High choral festival in Denver biennially. Paul served three terms on the Board of Directors of Chorus America. His efforts on behalf of the choral field nationwide were recognized when he received the Michael J. Korn Founders Award for Philanthropic Contribution to the Arts. 

Principal Accompanist - Seattle Women's Chorus

Nancy Otness Bent, Principal Accompanist - Seattle Women's Chorus

Nancy Otness Bent, Principal Accompanist - Seattle Women's Chorus

Member Since 2002

she/her

Nancy Otness Bent has played solo and chamber recitals in the Midwest and New England, including performances at Dartmouth College in both the Vaughan Recital Series and the faculty Chamber Works Series. She has appeared as concerto soloist with the Fond du Lac Summer Festival Orchestra, played piano, celesta, and cannon with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and toured and recorded with Robert DeCormier and Melinda O’Neal. In Washington, she has been the accompanist for the Seattle Girls’ Choir, the Issaquah Chorale, and assistant accompanist for the Seattle Men’s Chorus. Nancy is a past president of the Eastside chapter of the WSMTA, an adjudicator for the Federation and National Guild piano festivals, and maintains a private studio in Bellevue. Nancy is delighted to be the founding accompanist of the Seattle Women’s Chorus.

Principal Accompanist - Seattle Men's Chorus

Benjamin Killey, Principal Accompanist - Seattle Men's Chorus

Benjamin Killey, Principal Accompanist - Seattle Men's Chorus

2011

Benjamin Killey is thrilled to transition from singing with the Seattle Men’s Chorus for 10 years to playing the piano for them.  Ben attended Illinois Wesleyan University for college, earning a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and a BA in Biology.  While at IWU, he won the 1997-98 MTNA collegiate state piano competition for Illinois as well as Illinois Wesleyan’s concerto-aria competition.  After college, he went to Southern Illinois University for medical school and specialized in emergency medicine.  After a 17-year career in emergency medicine, he switched to aesthetic medicine and founded Blue Haven Medical Spa in Seattle in 2011. 

Director of The Supertonics, Assistant Conductor of SWC

Nikki Blackmer, Director of The Supertonics, Assistant Conductor of SWC

Nikki Blackmer, Director of The Supertonics, Assistant Conductor of SWC

Member since 2018

nikkib@seattlechoruses.org

she/her

Nikki has a Bachelor of Music from Wake Forest University in North Carolina and a Master of Music from the University of Washington. She's been singing and performing classical music since 1995 and started her career in a cappella in 2003. In 2016, she won the illustrious International Quartet Championship of Sweet Adeline’s International, the largest women’s barbershop organization in the world, with her quartet, Frenzy. They are now called Queens of Harmony...and if you ask you can try on her crown! They travel around the world performing and teaching workshops.

Administration

Executive Director

Karen J Lane, Executive Director

Karen J Lane, Executive Director

Member since 2007

karenl@seattlechoruses.org

she/her

Karen became the Executive Director of SWC & SMC after first joining the organization as a singing member in 2007 (Alto 2s rule!). She later served on the Board of Directors before transitioning to staff as Director of Development. Prior to her work with the Choruses, Karen had a long-tenured arts management and executive leadership career building a membership-based theatre advocacy and service organization here in Seattle. During that time Karen participated with the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO), planning and hosting their annual conference. She has served on the Washington State Arts Alliance Legislative Affairs Committee and was an Alliance Board Member from 2012-2018. With the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, she served on the Facility and Economic Development and Community Development and Outreach committees. Her other community experiences include the Advisory and Steering committee for TeenTix, of which SMC & SWC are proud partners, and the Bumbershoot Advisory Board. Karen has a BA in Theatre from Seattle Pacific University and MA Studies in Stage Direction and Theatre History from San Diego State University. She has a deep passion for the power of the arts to transform lives. Her favorite portion of the Choruses’ mission is that through song we "expand inclusion, and inspire justice."

Marketing and Sponsorship Manager

Samantha Berry, Marketing and Sponsorship Manager

Samantha Berry, Marketing and Sponsorship Manager

2021

samb@seattlechoruses.org

(206) 323-0750 x 202

she/her

Samantha Berry moved from Colorado to Seattle in spring of 2021. She is excited to come onboard at Flying House Productions leading the choruses marketing and corporate sponsorship initiatives.

After earning a Cultural Communications degree from The University of New Hampshire Keene State, Berry worked as a Global Communications Specialist for Markem-Imaje Corporation. There she collaborated with an international team and successfully drove revenue in the Vertical Markets through targeted campaigning.

Samantha spent her youth performing in theatre productions and was a member of her college's acapella group, 'Chock Full O' Notes'. With a lifelong passion for music and singing, Samantha hopes to combine her love of the arts and experience in Marketing Communications to grow the organizations opportunities and expand upon the already robust audience that the Seattle Choruses captivate.

Have a sponsorship opportunity? Please reach out to connect: samb@seattlechoruses.org

Box Office and Accounts Receivables Manager

Mandie Frye, Box Office and Accounts Receivables Manager

Mandie Frye, Box Office and Accounts Receivables Manager

2021

mandief@seattlechoruses.org

(206) 323-0750 x 222

she/her

Mandie moved to Seattle in January of 2021 from Fairbanks, Alaska and originates from Chicago. She joins the Seattle Choruses family with a background in Customer Service and Administration, and as a performer herself, having been a member of the Sweet Adelines since 2017.

Mandie is a Music Business graduate from Full Sail University, and attended Gallaudet University for Theatre: Production/Performance. Additionally, she is an Improv graduate from Bovine Metropolis Theater in Denver, CO. Fun fact: she started a Disney Acapella group in Colorado, although short-lived. 

As a child of Deaf adults (Coda) and a member of CODA, International, Mandie brings a welcomed perspective to the choruses along with her first language, American Sign Language. Her personal hobbies include knitting, crocheting and playing the ukulele. Say hello at the next concert where Mandie is our Box Office extraordinaire! 

Nancy Hautala
Production Stage Manager

T.J. Elston
Music Librarian 

Lindsay Lush
Graphic Design

Julie L. Wilchins, LLC
Grant Writing

John Pai
SMC photographer

Conrado Tapado of eQuality Images
SWC photographer