News Archive

October 30, 2016
NVC Featured in Concert for Peace

concert-for-peaceNVC members and director Eleanor Johnson sing Down by the Riverside as part of CES’s Concert for Peace.

The North Valley Chorale (NVC) was the featured guest choir at the free Concert for Peace held October 30 at the First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) in downtown Phoenix, with host choir and organizer, the Carolyn Eynon Singers (CES.) During his warm welcome, UCC pastor, Rev James Pennington promised attendees “beautiful, meaningful music and inspiring reflections to help us find interconnectedness.” Mission accomplished!

The NVC performed a energetic rendition of American traditional favorite, Down by the Riverside (arr. John Rutter) and then sang the haunting prayer for “deep peace” A Gaelic Blessing (music by J. Rutter.) The program concluded with the audience and all performers becoming one by joining hands to encircle the sanctuary while singing  Let There Be Peace on Earth.

The program also featured “Healing Drummers” and long-time Phoenix Police volunteer chaplain Robert Sessmire who reminded us that a smile and thank you to our local police “peacekeepers” can make a difference to men and women who put their lives on the line each day to keep peace in our communities. Rabbi Dr. Shumuley Yanklowitz asked us to acknowledge the “dark side of conflict…feel the urgency of peace” and to respond by building healing relationships. Muslim leader, Azra Hussein, shared passages from the Koran that inspire one to live a beautiful and peaceful life by striving for excellence in all aspects of life.

Host choir and concert organizers, the Carolyn Eynon Singers (CES) performed new music written by North American composers, Peace I Leave with You (by Rene Claussen) and O Ask for One Day (by Jim Papovlis.)  Vocalist Dennis Eynon was accompanied by Phoenix piano and jazz legend, Charles Lewis for God Bless America and I’ve Got to Be Free. A post-concert fellowship solidified the program’s goal to create a “renewed sense of community and brotherly love.”

June 14, 2016
NVC Celebrates Flag Day on FOX 10 Morning Show


Sparkling in their patriotic finery, the North Valley Chorale celebrated Flag Day at Fox 10 Arizona Morning. Anchor Rick D’Amico praised the group saying that “Of all the guests we’ve ever had on the show [30 years] there has never been a better musical organization!” He thanked the Chorale for “filling the studio with a big, amazing sound.” Co-host Liz Kotalik agreed, adding that the Chorale sound “gives you shivers.” Thirty members from the nearly  60-strong local group, ages 18-86, directed by Eleanor Johnson, sang the George M. Cohan favorite, You’re a Grand Old Flag, arranged by NVC composer-in-residence, Michael Frassetti, and America the Beautiful. NVC president, Dr. Anita Murcko explained that the selections were from the upcoming “American Showcase” European tour repertoire.  The Chorale will perform in the classic venues of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Each show features a “bit of Americana” including old American music from Aaron Copland, folk songs, spirituals, contemporary American art songs and “lots of Broadway!”  As a bonus, the men of NVC donned straw skimmers and Chorale recorded a special rendition of You’re a Grand Old Flag–to air on July 4, when the group will be in Europe. Later that day,  Rick posted the performance to his Facebook page (Thanks Rick!) and the “likes” just keep on coming!

Dr. Murcko invited interested singers to “try us out” during the Open Summer Sings in July and August. Visit the NVC website calendar for dates and details about the upcoming North Valley Chorale events and concerts.

April 1, 2016
NVC Goes International This Summer

American Showcase Graphic Tour

The North Valley Chorale embarks on their first international concert tour, American Showcase, June 30- July 16, 2016. The tour starts in Munich, Germany, then the group travels to Austria for performances in Salzburg (Mozart’s birthplace) and Vienna, where the Chorale has been invited to sing the Mozart Requiem with choirs from around the globe as part of the international “Sing Mit” Choir Festival. The final performances will be in Prague, Czech Republic.


February 21, 2016
New Composer-in-Residence, Michael Frassetti


The North Valley Chorale has just introduced Phoenix composer Michael Frassetti as its new Composer-in-Residence. The selection by the Chorale’s Board of Directors was announced at the Chorale’s annual business meeting in February. The post was held previously by Frassetti’s long-time friend and collaborator, the late local composer, Gregory Zduniak. In his acceptance letter, Frassetti writes “I am very honored to accept this position, especially in light of my following in the footsteps of my late esteemed colleague (and “brother”) Gregory Zduniak.” The Chorale commissioned and recently performed the world premiere of Frassetti’s composition, the Angels Will Guide You Home, a hauntingly beautiful piece written as a tribute to Zduniak.

Frassetti started composing music when he was 16 years old in collaboration with his best friend, Zduniak. The two performed and recorded together throughout the years, including a five year stint as the keyboard duo at the Scottsdale Hyatt Resort and Hotel. In 1995 Frassetti was nominated for two Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards for Original Musical Composition. He won an Original Musical Composition Emmy jointly with co-composer Zduniak.

Frassetti earned his bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s in music composition from Long Island University. During his multi-year tenure as a choral conductor in the New York public schools system, Frassetti wrote compositions and arrangements for numerous student performances for which he has received multiple distinctions for excellence by the New York State School of Music.

Frassetti’s a cappella choral work May the Lord Bless You and Keep You was enthusiastically received by the Baltimore School for the Arts, his 5 Poe Settings was performed by members of the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, and One Song, a composition dedicated to the friendship between French Canadian and American musicians, is performed annually at Canada’s Midsummer Music Dream Festival. His Walk in Beauty for guitar, pipa and strings was performed during the 23rd Annual Long Island Guitar Festival. As the composer-in-residence for the Carolyn Eynon Singers, Frassetti has composed original choral works in jazz, pop, and classical idioms since 2011. In recent years, Frassetti has also written arrangements and original compositions for the North Valley Chorale.

As the Composer-in-Residence, Frassetti summarizes his approach, “I promise to do my very best to continue to earn the confidence, reliance and trust of the Director, and especially of the members of the North Valley Chorale. I look forward to a continued successful collaboration for the upcoming concerts and events this year.” We look forward to making music with Mike for many years! Congratulations!

December 11, 2015
NVC Returns to Fox 10 for the Holidays

The North Valley Chorale (NVC) made its third appearance on the Fox 10 Arizona Morning Show on December 11.  This premier group of local singers directed by Eleanor Johnson, received a warm “welcome back” to the Fox 10 Arizona Morning Show by anchor Andrea Robinson and co-anchor Syleste Rodriguez.  With red sequins sparkling, the NVC singers filled the studio and airwaves with the holiday classics “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” followed by “We Need a Little Christmas.” When asked to introduce the group, NVC president Anita Murcko noted that “NVC is the best local choir in the Valley,” and invited listeners to the Chorale’s annual holiday concert, What Sweeter Music, on December 13 at All Saints Lutheran Church in Phoenix. Murcko referred listeners to the NVC website to learn more about their March 13, 2016Mozart-only concert, Mystery and Majesty and the Broadway extravaganza, American Showcase, during Mother’s Day weekend, May 7, 8, 2016. This summer, NVC will embark on their first European Concert Tour. Murcko promised to tell viewers more about the tour during “our next visit to Fox.” Stay tuned.

North Valley Chorale boasts a repertoire that ranges from classical, patriotic, and high choral arts to Broadway and pop music. The Chorale has represented Arizona in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC and performed at the 2013 Memorial Day Chorus Festival accompanied by the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

Visit  for information about the North Valley Chorale 2016 season and their upcoming European Concert Tour.

May 25, 2015
NVC Makes TV Studio Debut with Fox 10 on Memorial Day


The North Valley Chorale made its debut TV studio appearance on the Fox 10 Arizona Morning Memorial Day show. Anchor/Host Rick D’Amico and co-host Syleste Rodriguez welcomed the local volunteer community choir, now in its eighth season, directed by Eleanor Johnson. Thirty members of the 60-strong group, ages 18-86, shimmered in red, white and blue costumes against the vibrant stars and stripes of the studio stage. NVC president Anita Murcko explained that the selections were excerpted from the group’s annual spring concert, Broadway Salutes America, performed this month at The Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix. The Chorale, conducted by Smith Graham, filled the Fox 10 studio with “gorgeous music” featuring Irving Berlin’s God Bless America and George Gershwin’s Strike Up the Band. Fox 10 Arizona Morning producer, Jennifer Doan then provided music for the Chorale’s ears, “Your choir is wonderful and they sounded amazing….we would love to have you back!” Stay tuned.

March 15, 2015
Exquisite NVC Program Honors Late Valley Composer Zduniak

Sing Me to Heavenperformed by the North Valley Chorale on March 15 at the First United Methodist Church on Central was truly a fitting tribute to the late Gregory Peter Zduniak, Emmy award-winning Phoenix musician and composer. Zduniak was a founding member of the North Valley Chorale and its former composer-in-residence. His legacy includes the 55-member North Valley Chorale led by director Eleanor Johnson.

The program featured the world premiere of The Angels Will Guide Me Home, written by talented Phoenix composer, Michael Frassetti, to honor his dear friend. The audience was inspired by Gawthrop’s Sing Me to Heaven, Gregorian chant Ubi Caritas, the ethereal Nella Fantasia, Rutter’s A Gaelic Blessing, Goodall’s The Lord is My Shepherd and Zduniak’s own Pie Jesu. The concert closed with the powerful Requiem by French composer Gabriel Faure.

Sing Me to Heaven soared with gorgeous solos by guest tenor, James Rio, local sopranos Sarah Smith, Angie Schermitzler, Carolyn Nyland and Kelly Johnson, alto Claudia Navarrete, tenor Eric Thomson and bass Smith Graham. The Chorale was accompanied by organist Ron Rhode and a talented local orchestra. Lyra, the dynamic husband-wife musician team, Allen Ames and Maryanne Kremer-Ames, performed three lovely violin/guitar duet selections in memory of their departed friend.

The keepsake program opened with Zduniak’s photograph set upon the lush background of original painting, The Sagacity Bush, by Zduniak’s friend, artist Ellen Palestrant and included heartfelt messages from family and friends. The tribute concluded with a gathering in the courtyard that included the Zduniak family, composer M. Frassetti, the North Valley Chorale director, singers and soloists, musicians and audience members.

Gregory Peter Zduniak lives on through his music, the North Valley Chorale and in our hearts.

May 18, 2014
NVC Mourns Passing of Composer in Residence, Greg Zduniak


Gregory Peter Zduniak, founding member of the North Valley Chorale and composer in residence, passed away on May 18, 2014.  Greg was born in New York where he started studying music at age 6. With his Polish ancestry, it was natural that his first instrument was the accordion. Over the following years he formally studied the piano, violin, cello and guitar. Greg majored in music composition at Northern Arizona University under Dr.Kenneth R. Rumery, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1976.

Greg enjoyed early success in performing, composing and recording, culminating in the establishment of Grandview Recording Studios (Scottsdale, Arizona) in 1985.  At Grandview, he worked with numerous artists to produce musical recordings as well as sound tracks for television. His film score for the TV production Desert Treasures earned an Emmy Award in 1995.

Greg’s classical compositions include many instrumental and choral works. He received the prestigious Masterworks of the New Era Award in 2006 and 2007.  Greg’s Symphony #1 was recorded by the Czech Philharmonic, as were selected movements fromhis Requiem and Christmas Psalm for Choir.

As a founding Board member, North Valley Chorale held its first rehearsals at Grandview Studios. As its Composer in Residence, Greg produced choral arrangements and original compositions for the North Valley Chorale. Greg generously shared his time and talents with the community, including these insights during this recent interview.



Greg is missed by his many NVC family and friends.

June 20, 2013

NVC to DC for National Memorial Day Choral Festival

North Valley Chorale (NVC) represented Arizona at the this year’s National Memorial Day Choral Festival in Washington, DC. Selected as one of eight choirs from across the US by Music Celebrations International, NVC members performed a two day engagement in DC. Led by former Mormon Tabernacle Choir director, Dr. Craig Jessop, the Memorial Day Festival Chorus concert* at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featured over 250 singers. Accompaniment was provided by the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra.

National Memorial Day Chorus performing at JFK Center for Performing Arts.

Click here to read more about the trip


June 18, 2013

Senior Community Concert at Pueblo Norte

North Valley Chorale received rave reviews from the residents of Pueblo Norte Senior Living Community for the free outreach mini-concert Broadway Salute on June 18. The program featured highlights from NVC’s recent spring concert, including My Fair Lady, Oliver, and Disney favorites.


The concert included a raffle and the winners are pictured above. Back row left to right: Henry Sherrill, Jean Lewin, Bebe Winterberg, NVC’s music director Eleanor Johnson, and Lorraine Woodruff. Front row left to right: Pat Lichok and NVC’s Kelly Johnson.