ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Leanne Magnuson Latuda has been performing professionally, directing and teaching for more than 25 years. She has a Master of Music Degree from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Augustana College, where she was a Presidential Scholar and graduated cum laude.

Leanne is a gifted mezzo-soprano who has sung professionally with opera companies, musical theaters, and choral ensembles. She has performed locally as a soloist with the St. Louis Symphony, The Bach Society, and the Masterworks Chorale and has been directing WHCSL since 2012.

Leanne Magnuson Latuda

Musical Staff

Meet Our

ACCOMPANIST

Ruth Stith is a faculty member of Saint Louis University and the Community Music School of Webster University, where she teaches class piano, applied piano lessons, and directs the SLU Piano Ensemble. Prior to moving to St. Louis, Ms. Stith was an instructor of piano and theory at Vanderbilt University, where she also served as a staff accompanist. She has a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (summa cum laude), and a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Vanderbilt University. Mrs. Stith lives in St. Louis with her husband and three young children, and has enjoyed accompanying the Hope Chorale since 2014.     

Ruth Stith

Season 26

Emily Bynum

Principal Artist, Soprano 1

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Soprano Emily Bynum has been performing in and outside of the Saint Louis area for many years. Her experience includes performing with ensembles such as The Chicago Philharmonic, Saint Louis Philharmonic and Saint Louis Cathedral Choirs among others. Ms. Bynum also holds experience within the Opera realm, formerly performing as a Young Artist with Union Avenue Opera and has also worked with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Winter Opera. Ms. Bynum still actively pursues her training under the guidance of Christine Armistead.

Principal Artist

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Kaytlin Houghtaling

Emily Moore

Principal Artist, Soprano 2

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 Emily Moore received her Master of Music degree with emphasis in vocal performance from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (2017) and her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Webster University (2011). She currently serves as the Director of Vocal Music at McCluer High School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Her vocal credits include Trouble in Tahiti (Dinah), Die Zauberflöte (2nd Lady), and The Addams Family (Alice). She performs with Winter Opera of St. Louis in the chorus and is a member of the St. Boniface Catholic Church Choir in Edwardsville, IL. Emily also performs with her husband in their family bluegrass band: The Red Haired Boys.

Benedetta Orsi

Principal Artist, Alto 1

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Italian mezzo-soprano Benedetta Orsi has been praised by Teresa Berganza as the “perfect voice for belcanto.” She is one of the 2018 nominees for Outstanding Achievement in Opera by the St. Louis Theater Circle for her Carmen at Winter Opera St. Louis, reviewed by Broadway World: “Benedetta Orsi has a quite breathtakingly beautiful voice, full and rich, with such easily accessed resources of power. She gives us a simply perfect “Habanera.” Along with concert appearances at Carnegie Hall and throughout Italy, England, the United States, and Spain, Benedetta's performance credits are many. She is the Chorus Master at Winter Opera St. Louis for the 2018–2019 season and will sing the role of Adalgisa in Norma and Amor Brujo in 2019. Her album “Voix d’amour” will be produced in collaboration with LimenMusic and released in 2019.

Samantha Arten

Principal Artist

Samantha Arten received her Ph.D. in musicology at Duke University (2018) and her Bachelor of Music in music history from Washington University in St. Louis (2011). She recently moved back to St. Louis and now wears many hats, including Administrative Manager for the Women's Hope  Chorale, Lecturer in Musicology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Project Administrator for the Lived Religion in the Digital Age project at Saint Louis University. In addition to the Women's Hope Chorale, she currently sings with the Bach Society of St. Louis and the choir of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Visit samanthaarten.com to read more about her many hats and to hear recordings.

Principal Artists

Principal Artists are auditioned, paid positions awarded to women pursuing careers in music.

Principal Artists act as Section Leaders for the Chorale and have the opportunity to

sing solos at concerts and events.

Contact Leanne Latuda for more information or to schedule an audition.

Principal Artist

Alexandra Bilhartz

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With a love for opera and Baroque music, soprano Alexandra Billhartz performed  as Cercatrice with Winter Opera St. Louis in their  production of Suor Angelica, Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Frasquita (Carmen), and Norina (Don Pasquale) with MIOpera. She sang Musetta (La Bohème), Despina (Così fan tutte), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel) with Ball State Opera Theatre. She was the soprano soloist in a performance of Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël. She presented her research on Handel, the doctrine of the affections, and opera adaptation during her graduate studies. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Evansville with a BM in Vocal Performance and her MM in Vocal Performance from Ball State University 

Guest Artist

Merry Keller

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Merry Keller played the role of Nettie Fowler in Union Avenue Opera’s Carousel and appeared in the ensemble for UAO’s productions of Candide, Lost in the Stars, Doubt and Dead Man Walking. She debuted a solo cabaret show called “It’s Personal”, and performed the show in April in New York City.  Local performances include a solo concert, Wade In the Water at The Chapel, solo cabaret shows, Songs of the Silver Screen, and Love In Four Seasons, both at The Sheldon Concert Hall and a solo performer in the Friends of Music Concert Series. Merry was Artistic Director of several local music groups and maintains a private teaching studio for voice and piano students.