Hope Armstrong Erb, Founding Artistic Director
Hope Armstrong Erb is an active conductor, pianist, composer, teacher and lecturer, and has performed in the United States, Europe, and China. Critics have proclaimed her "a wonder" in her ability to maintain a high standard in both performance and teaching. Hope is equally enthusiastic performing music from ancient to modern and continually expands the diversity of her concert repertoire through research, composition, and collaboration with composers and performing artists locally and globally. With the aid of native speakers she has coached her singers to perform in over 40 different languages.
Hope takes great joy in nurturing top singers to achieve a level of musicianship comparable with the best singers anywhere, and to that end has received the highest honor in American choral music performance by being selected to perform at National and Regional ACDA conventions. Equally rewarding has been her enormous success in teaching “non-singers” to match pitch, read music and sing in harmony, many of whom have eventually progressed to the top choirs. Hope presented an interest session at the 2008 Southern Division ACDA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky entitled: “NOBODY’S HOPELESS! Everyone can learn to sing!” and she works continually proving it is so! In 2007-9 she served as the Virginia ACDA Repertoire and Standards Chair for Children’s Choirs, and delighted John Rutter in her preparation of the Voices United Children’s Honor Choir for a performance of his Mass of the Children.
Hope has served on the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond and has taught in public and private schools, K-12 including over 20 years working primarily with middle and high school boys. At home, she maintains a private studio where she offers lessons in piano and theory, as well as vocal and instrumental coaching and accompanying. She is an active member of the Richmond Music Teachers Association and co-chair of the VMTA theory testing held annually at VCU. She has presented on a wide range of topics from the boy’s changing voice to classic sonata form to teaching a Chinese choir jazz style, and has given numerous lecture recitals related to history and art exhibits in venues such as the VA Museum of Fine Arts.
As a pianist, Hope has been hailed for her “innate musicianship and graceful style” as well as her “robust, rhythmic, and excellent playing.” In great demand as a chamber musician and coach with instrumentalists and singers, Hope has performed over the years with numerous professional musicians including members of the Richmond Symphony and the Shanghai Quartet. Her sightreading, musicianship, and technical and pedagogical skills combine to make her a pianist of choice for recitals, competitions, and recordings.
Anne Williford, Executive Director
Anne Williford joined GRCC in 2001 and handles the day to day operations of the choirs, as well as fundraising for the organization. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of Michigan and has a background in banking and volunteer work. Both of her daughters have sung with GRCC and each graduated from the program having sung with it for seven and nine years respectively, and her son is a member of the Cavalieri Choir.
Peter Curry, Assistant Director and Accompanist
Peter Curry is a pianist and composer in his third season with GRCC. He studied jazz performance at the Maynard Ferguson Institute in Glassboro NJ and is currently continuing his education as a classical piano performance major at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to being a fine pianist in many styles, Pete also accompanies the choirs on guitar and a wide variety of percussion. GRCC has benefited greatly from his compositional skills – his setting of Langston Hughes’ poem “Heaven” composed for the GRCC entry level Treble Choir in 2011 and his arrangement of “When You’re Smiling” for the Cantare Choir’s tour to England and Ghana in 2012 have been favorites among choristers and audiences. Pete is a member of the Richmond Music Teachers Association and enjoys teaching a growing private studio of piano and guitar students. He also accompanies classes at the Richmond Ballet, and sings tenor for special services at Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
Crystal Jonkman, Associate Director
Crystal Jonkman joined the GRCC staff in 2012, working primarily with the Concert Choir. An active, award winning organist, and pianist, she is the Director of Liturgical Music and Organist at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Bon Air, a position she has held since 1994. Crystal maintains a private studio and serves as an accompanist for the Richmond Concert Chorale. Also a recitalist, Crystal has successfully competed nationally and internationally, winning The Chicago Club of Women Organists Competition in 1989, and competing as a semi-finalist in the Dublin International Organ Competition in 1996. She earned a Masters degree in Church Music/Organ and Choral Conducting from Northwestern University and a Bachelors of Arts degree from Calvin College. Crystal is active in the Royal School of Church Music in America, the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada, the Anglican Association of Musicians and the American Guild of Organists.