USJ Choir Performs at Carnegie Hall

In February, the USJ Choir performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of MidAmerica Productions’ choral showcase series.

MidAmerica Productions' concerts feature choral groups singing oratorios, accompanied by a full orchestra—the New England Symphonic Ensemble. The group performed a number of classical pieces, including Handel's Coronation Anthems, HWV 258, 260, 261, and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, Op.80.

“The group worked so diligently on these pieces,” says Dian Eddleman, director of the Upper School choir. “It was a dream come true for many of them to be able to perform at the renowned Carnegie Hall, on a stage where so many incredible musicians have performed.

As part of their trip, the West Tennessee-based group was exposed to the full spectrum of fine arts in New York City. Immediately following the concert, the students were treated to a midnight cruise on the Hudson River. Students attended performances of Aladdin the Musical on Broadway and Sleeping Beauty at the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center. They also spent a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They concluded the trip with shopping on Fifth Avenue and a visit to Times Square.

USJ Choir Students Excel This Fall

The fall semester brings numerous opportunities for choral students to showcase their talents, and students at USJ have not missed out. From the local stage to the national arena, choir members represented the school well this November.

The National Association for Music Education All-National Honor Ensembles (ANHE) represent the top-performing high school musicians in the United States. So much more than a musical ensemble, this is a comprehensive, musical and educational experience. The NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles are represented in the following components: Concert Band, Mixed Choir, Symphony Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble.

Four University School of Jackson students were selected for the organization’s prestigious Mixed Choir: Patrick Aherrera, Tyler Bruno, Sydney Kwasigroh, and Alexander Peftoulidis. The ensembles met at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas from November 10-13 under the baton of leaders in the field of music education. One other student from Jackson, Ethan Baskin from Madison Academic High School, participated in the choir under the direction of Lindsey Patterson, Madison’s choral director.

"The All-National Honor Choir put in a high level of hard work that elevated them to a high level of ensemble-ship and an excellent performance,” Dian Eddleman, Choral Director of the University School of Jackson.

"The Director, Dr. Anton Armstrong, worked us very hard,” said student Patrick Aherrera. “He stressed we would not settle for mediocrity in our performance due to the level of talent in the ensemble.”

Other choral happenings for USJ include the Quad State Honor Choir and the Tennessee Regional Honor Choir.

The Quad State Honor Choir festival took place at Murray State University in Murray, KY on November 6-7.  Students who participated on behalf of USJ were John Henry Woods, Nick Zerfoss, Tyler Bruno, Kate Petrinjak, Meg Howell, Abby Vaughn, and Brylee Whitsitt.

2016 Pops Concert DVDs Now Available

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Dian Eddleman Named President-Elect of NAfME Southern Division

December 2015

Director of Choral Activities Dian Eddleman has been named President-Elect of the Southern Division of the National Association for Music Education.

Since 1907, the NAfME has been the only organization in the world to address all aspects of music education by supporting music educators and advocating at the local, state, and national levels. The United States is divided into regions by the NAfME, with the Southern region comprised of 11 states. The officers of these states selected Mrs. Eddleman as a candidate for President-Elect and then all members from the region voted on their choice candidate. Mrs. Eddleman, who was previously President of the Tennessee Music Education Association and is in her second year as Immediate Past-President, was honored to be elected.

“I am dedicated to this organization and the states I now represent,” she says. “I am excited to assist our state organizations and support positive changes in music education across the country.”

Mrs. Eddleman previously served as President of the West Tennessee Vocal Music Education Association and as a longtime board member of TMEA and WTVMEA. An experienced K-12 music teacher, active clinician, and adjudicator, Mrs. Eddleman holds numerous awards for teaching and leadership from district, regional, and state organizations. Her honors include selection to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, National Honor Roll’s Outstanding America Teachers, Governor’s School for the Arts Outstanding Teacher, and Who’s Who Among Professional Women. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harding University with post-graduate work at the University of Memphis and the Juilliard School.

Her mission statement for the coming years is focused and visionary.

“It will be important to assist our state music education associations in supporting the constant change our music educators face across the country,” said Mrs. Eddleman. “Common core, teacher evaluation systems, and high stakes testing place ever-increasing burdens on our teachers. Music teacher attrition and low teacher morale are becoming problems. We must continue to provide support and guidance to our members, as well as a legislative voice in favor of keeping music as a core subject. Assisting our state leaders, school leaders, and members in advocacy on every level is paramount.”

After spending two years as President-Elect, Mrs. Eddleman will serve as President for two years and then as Immediate Past-President for two years. She will be a member of the National Executive Board, which sets policies for music education, during this entire six-year period. She is only the second official from the state of Tennessee to be elected for the Southern Region and is the first woman to hold this office.

Mrs. Eddleman is excited to see what’s ahead for music education. “In December, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which ensures that all students receive education in music and the arts,” she said. “The NAfME has a full-time lobbyist on the Hill, and our new state leaders are all in place. We’re ready to get to work.”

First Tennessee Investment Group

The USJ Choir Ensemble performed at the First Tennessee Investment Group holiday party Tuesday night. Guests enjoyed a variety of Christmas Carols sung by this outstanding group.

From left top row: Evan Griggs, Kayla Bircher, Parker Lewis, Aaron Evans, Summer Basham and Tyler Bruno.

From left bottom row: Clara Mariencheck, Caroline Miller, Molly Morris and Molly Maroney.

Christmas Choral Concert

USJ Arts Guild presented a Christmas Choral Concert featuring the Upper and Middle School Choirs Sunday, December 6 in Blankenship Theatre. Selections included a medley of pieces entitled "Classic Noels" blending classical masterworks with favorite Christmas carols creating a unique collection with a distinctively Baroque touch for the Christmas and Advent seasons. Additional selections also included traditional favorites such as O Holy Night, Carol of the Bells, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Christmastime is Here.

Over 75 middle school and 9th grade students performed along with the combined upper school choirs.

Tennessee Northwest Regional Honor Choir Festival.

Twenty upper school USJ choral students were selected by audition to the Northwest Tennessee Sr High Regional Honor Choir. Students selected include:

Tyler Bruno, Michael Mantooth, Clara Mariencheck, Caroline Sammons, Caroline Miller, Sydney Kwasigroh, Summer Basham, Ashlee Dunn, Morgan Williams, Molly Maroney, Abby Vaughn, Molly Morris, Evan Griggs, Patrick Aherrera, Gray Northern, John Giampapa, Landon Sellers, Alex Peftoulidis, Jack Tygart, Parker Lewis and student accompanist John Henry Woods.

33 middle school and 9th grade USJ choral students were selected to the Northwest Tennessee Regional Jr High Honor Choir:

Bailee Norris, Meg Miller, Sarah Beth Brauss, Jenna Box,

Lili Mahalati, Mary Humphrey, Gabrielle Evans, Olivia Cherry, Madison Maroney, Marimac Ellis, Chloe Burnette, Ashlee Allison, Phoebe Larkins, Holland van Buuren, Lily Richardson, Macy Scott, Brooke Baldwin, Annie Short, Jake Booher, Ethan Schlegel, Blaine Verdung, Esosa Odeh, Chidera Nwokolo, Ethan Persons,

Baker Northern, Vincient Stanfill, Morgan Royer, JD Jaggers, Drake Norris,

Tanner Atkins, Keaton Miller, Seth Spry, and Grant Reid.

The concert was held November 21 at West Jackson Baptist Church.

Clara Mariencheck, Summer Basham, Molly Maroney, Molly Morris, Caroline Miller, and Caroline Sammons received the Northwest Honor Choir 5 and 6 year awards.

2015 All Northwest Honor Choir

Back L to R: Tyler Bruno, Michael Mantooth, Clara Mariencheck, Caroline Sammons, Caroline Miller, Sydney Kwasigroh, Summer Basham, Ashlee Dunn, Morgan Williams, Molly Maroney, Abby Vaughn, Molly Morris

Front L to R: John Henry Woods, Evan Griggs, Patrick Aherrera, Gray Northern, John Giampapa, Landon Sellers, Alex Peftoulidis, Jack Tygart, Parker Lewis

2015 Quad-State Honor Choir

Twelve USJ choral students were selected by audition to the Quad-State Honor Choir. The event took place Nov 1-2 at Murray State University in Murray, KY.

Students and teachers from Kentucky and the surrounding four states have a unique opportunity to study and perform a major work from the choral/orchestral repertory. 250 + individual singers selected from more than 35 high schools became a choir with the singular purpose of making glorious music together. Monday evening, Nov 2, they performed the Mozart’s Requiem with a professional orchestra. It is an intense period of rehearsal and of musical, intellectual, personal, and professional growth. A truly remarkable musical opportunity, the Quad State High School Choral Festival is the only festival in the region to focus on the choral-orchestral repertory.

USJ Choir students selected to this honor choir:

Back row L to R: Tyler Bruno, Patrick Aherrera, Alex Pfetoulidis, Michael Mantooth

Front row L to R: Aaron Evans, Clara Mariencheck, Caroline Sammons, Sydney Kwasigroh, Caroline Miller, Molly Morris, Molly Maroney, and Evan Griggs

2015 Spring Pops Concert

Upper School students sang Heartbreak, a spring pops concert, in the Blankenship Theatre.

2015 Tennessee All State Choir

Congratulations are in order to seven USJ Choral Students selected to the Tennessee All State Choir:
Front row L to R:
Clara Mariencheck, Patrick Aherrera, Michael Mantooth, Caroline Miller,
Back row L to R:
Alex Peftoulidis, Sydney Kwasigroh, and Tyler Bruno

Students perform Christmas Choral Concert

The middle and high school choirs from USJ, Jackson Christian, and Trinity Christian Academy performed a Christmas Choral Concert on Dec. 14 in Union University’s G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel.

Students named to Tennessee All State Choir

Congratulations to the following USJ Choral students who were selected to the Tennessee All State Choir:

  • Clara Mariencheck
  • Caroline Sammons


  • Patrick Aherrera
  • Molly Maroney
  • Sydney Paris
  • Hunter Ross

Students selected to All Northwest Honor Choir six years in a row

Rachel Giampapa, Sierra Glosson, Sydney Paris, and Walker Teer earned the prestigious recognition of being selected to the All Northwest Honor Choir six years in a row. View a slideshow of the students with USJ Choral Director Dian Eddleman.

2014 Senior High All Northwest Honor Choir

Congratulations to the USJ students who were selected to the extremely competitive 2014 Senior High All Northwest Honor Choir. They were among 250 students who performed at West Jackson Baptist Church. They prepared for the event for eight weeks with Dian Eddleman and Dr. Tammy Grant.

Soprano 1: Sierra Glosson, Molly Maroney, and Kate Petrinjak.

Soprano 2: Sydney Paris, Rachel Giampapa, Caroline Sammons, Summer Basham, Nicole Sioson, and Addison Dunn.

Alto 1: Caroline Miller.

Alto 2: Clara Mariencheck, Molly Morris, Emily Sanderson, Sydney Kwaisgroh, and Ali Butler.

Tenor 1: Tyler Bruno and Evan Griggs.

Tenor 2: Ethan Baskin, Patrick Aherrera, and Shea Byrum.

Bass 1: Elijah Moore.

Bass 2: Hunter Ross, Walker Teer, Landon Sellers, Parker Lewis, Gray Bigford, Trey Smith, Reese Antwine, and Jack Tygart.

2014 Tri-M Honor Society

2014 Junior High All Northwest Tennessee Honor Choir

Congratulations to the following students for being selected to the Junior High All Northwest Tennessee Honor Choir. The festival will take place Nov. 13-15.

Soprano 1: Abby Vaughn (First Chair), Ashlee Dunn, and Madison Maroney.

Soprano 2: Bailee Norris (Second Chair), Macy Scott, Jordan Henges, and Sophie Stallings.

Alto 1: Lili Mahalati, Meg Howell, Elisa Kapunan, and Nicole New.

Alto 2: Ashlee Allison (First Chair) and Brylee Whitsitt.

Tenor 1: Ethan Schlegel (First Chair), John Giampapa (Second Chair), Jake Booher, Keaton Miller, and Kwali Bruton.

Tenor 2: JD Jaggers, Drake Norris, and Vincent Stanfill.

Bass 2: Nick Zerfoss, Brian Bada, and Kavon Bonakdar.

2013-2014 School Year

USJ presented ‘Time,’ a spring pops concert

USJ Upper School Choirs presented “Time,” a spring pops concert on April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Blankenship Theatre. Admission is $5.

USJ Choirs win Sweeptakes at WTVMEA Regional Choral Festival

Congratulations to the USJ Concert Choir and the USJ Women’s Choir for winning Sweepstakes in the West Tennessee Vocal Music Educators Association Regional Choral Festival. The competition was held in Memphis April 2. 

Students honored at Regional WTVMEA Solo/Ensemble Festival

Congratulations to USJ’s 35 vocal/choral students (out of 43) who earned a Superior rating at the Regional WTVMEA Solo/Ensemble Festival held at UTM February 21!

USJ choral director serves as president of the Tennessee Music Education Association

Dian Eddleman, TMEA Executive Director Ron Meers (right), and TMEA President-elect Jeff Phillips were in Washington, D.C., last summer to discuss music education with lawmakers.

Dian Eddleman, USJ choral director and president of the Tennessee Music Education Association (TMEA), has had a very busy year leading Tennessee in statewide music education efforts.

Last summer, she took the stage on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as part of the National Leadership Assembly, guiding efforts toward educational reform with other officials from TMEA. Eddleman’s group met with lawmakers to discuss federal policy efforts while focusing on the STEM to STEAM movement, which seeks to incorporate art and design into subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math.

Eddleman is half way through her two-year term as president of TMEA. During her presidency, she set goals for improving the functionality and performance of the association for the benefit of the members. She also wants to increase the membership of underrepresented populations, including young members, members of the music industry, and retired members.

“I believe music education is in a unique position to help resolve issues in innovative, engaging, and sustainable ways,” she said. “By collaborating with other educational organizations, while promoting the integrity of music education as a valuable, self-sustaining force, the association of TMEA will continue to improve.”

2014 Tennessee All-State Choir

Congratulations to the following students for being selected to the Tennessee All-State Choir: (front row) Meredith Maroney, Marisa Mariencheck, Molly Morris, (second row) Clara Mariencheck, Chris Burton, and Sydney Paris.

2013 Quad State

Left picture, from left to right: Hunter Ross, Dian Eddleman (USJ Choir Director), and Aaron Evans. Right picture, from left to right, back row: Aaron Evans, Clara Mariencheck, Claire Jaggers, Hunter Ross; front row: Sierra Glosson, and Molly Morris

2013 All Northwest Junior High Regional Honor Choir

Congratulations to the following USJ Choral Students who were selected to the 2013 All Northwest Junior High Regional Honor Choir:

  • Soprano 1: Ashlee Dunn and Abby Vaughn.

  • Soprano 2: Bentlee Clarkson, Macy Scott, and Ella Terry.

  • Alto 1: Linsey Riggins.

  • Alto 2: Ashlee Allison, Ali Butler, Maggie Exum, and Sydney Kwasigroh.

  • Tenor: Patrick Aherrera, Tanner Atkins, Ethan Baskin, Trent Baldwin, Tyler Bruno, John Giampapa, J.D. Jaggers, Amir Kaveh, Alexander Peftoulidis, Miguel Sioson, Wells Smith, and Peyton Taylor.

  • Bass: Jude Anderson, Brian Bada, JP Boyd, Wesley Craig, Ryan Davis, Drew Harbin, Chandler Haynes, Brittain Rainey, Landon Sellers, Trey Smith, Josh Tabor, Jack Tygart, and Michael Villarreal.

2013 All Northwest Senior High Regional Honor Choir

Congratulations to the following USJ Choral Students who were selected to the 2013 All Northwest Senior High Regional Honor Choir:

  • Soprano 1: Marisa Mariencheck (third chair), Sierra Glosson, Hannah Russell, and Molly Maroney.
  • Soprano 2: Meredith Maroney (first chair), Sydney Paris, Rachel Giampapa, Nicole Sioson, and Summer Basham.
  • Alto 1: Caroline Miller.
  • Alto 2: Claire Jaggers, Molly Morris, and Clara Mariencheck.

  • Tenor 1: Chris Burton and Evan Griggs.
  • Tenor 2: Christophe Nabhan and Jordan Boyd.
  • Bass 1: Austin Orr.
  • Bass 2: Walker Teer, Reese Antwine, Gram Northern, and Patrick Richardson.

Quad State Honor Choir, 2013-2014

Congratulations to the following students selected to the Quad State Honor Choir! The Festival was held at Murray State University November 3-4. Students selected were Sierra Glosson, Claire Jaggers, Clara Mariencheck, Molly Morris, Aaron Evans, and Hunter Ross.

USJ Students to Perform with the 2013 NAfME All-National Honors Ensembles

USJ seniors Marisa Mariencheck and Meredith Maroney and junior Sierra Glosson were selected as members of the 2013 NAfME All-National Honor Mixed Chorus sponsored by the National Association for Music Education. They joined more than 670 musically talented high school students in the United States and performed at a gala concert on October 30 in Nashville.

They performed under the baton of four prominent conductors in the United States: Dr. Peter Boonshaft, Miriam Burns, Rollo Dilworth, and Rodney Whitaker.

Marisa and Meredith are leading sopranos with the USJ Concert Choir under USJ Choral Director Dian Eddleman. Both were selected to the Northwest Regional Honor Choirs and Tennessee All State Choirs.

Sierra was first an alternate to the All-National Honor Mixed Chorus and then selected to the chorus.

Director Dian Eddleman is also State President of the Tennessee Music Education Association.

2012-2013 School Year

West Tennessee Regional Choral Festival

The USJ Concert Choir and the USJ Women’s Choir, under the direction of Dian Eddleman, won Sweepstakes Awards in the West Tennessee Regional Choral Festival. Sweepstakes Awards are awarded to choirs receiving a superior rating in performance and sight singing in every category and by each adjudicator.

All-State Choir, 2012-2013

USJ choral students selected for the All-State Choir are from left, first row, Meredith Maroney, Angelica Marks, and Hannah Aherrera; second row, Marisa Mariencheck, John Villarreal, and Ryan Sanderson; and back row, Austin Orr, Director Dian Eddleman, and Chris Weiner.

All Northwest Honor Choir, 2012-2013

Thirty USJ upper school students were selected to the Senior High All Northwest Tennessee Regional Honor Choir. The students are:

  • Soprano: Angelica Marks, Sierra Glosson, Kacee Russell, Marisa Mariencheck, Hannah Aherrera, Meredith Maroney, Sydney Paris, Rachel Giampapa, Nicole Sioson, and Hannah Russell.

  • Alto: Darby Douglas, Lindsay Smith, Sally Sikes, and Claire Jaggers.

  • Tenor: Peyton Vaughan, Chris Burton, Ryan Sanderson, Connor Simmons, Christophe Nabhan, and Gram Northern.

  • Bass: Chris Weiner, Austin Orr, Adam Sills, Jordan Boyd, Lance McGee, John Villarreal, Walker Teer, Hunter Ross, and Philip Griggs.

  • Accompanist: Hannah Aherrera.

Several students won awards for being selected to the All Northwest Honor Choir multiple times. They were Lance McGee, Connor Simmons, Sally Sikes, Lindsay Smith, Peyton Vaughan, and John Villarreal.

All Northwest Junior High Honor Choir, 2012-2013

When the All Northwest Tennessee Junior High Honor Choir performed its regional concert, USJ was well represented. Thirty-nine Middle School and ninth grade students from USJ were recently to the honor choir. They included:

  • 1st Soprano: Caroline Miller, Molly Maroney, Kate Petrinjak, Payton Jett, and Maggie Exum, were selected in the first soprano division.

  • 2nd Soprano: Summer Basham, Addison Dunn, Ashlee Dunn, Caroline Sammons, and Kallie Pickens.

  • 1st Alto: Allison Banks, Amanda Cooper, and Sydney Kwasigroh.

  • 2nd Alto: Clara Mariencheck (first chair), Molly Morris (second chair), Brylee Whitsitt, and Riley Koerner.

  • Tenor: Tyler Bruno (first chair), John Giampapa (fourth chair), Ethan Baskin, Evan Griggs, Alec Taylor, Shea Byrum, Alexander Peftoulidis, Amir Kaveh, and Seth Weiss.

  • Bass: Elijah Moore (first chair), Gray Bigford, Aaron Evans, Parker Lewis, Jude Anderson, Gray Northern, Holland Hawks, Joshua Tabor, Paul Markos, Seth Rohlwing, Jordan Fesmire, Michael Villarreal, and Brian Bada.

2011-2012 School Year

Concert Choir Takes Grand Champion Award at 2012 Fiesta-Val Music Festival

The USJ Concert Choir captured top honors at the Fiesta-Val Music Festival in Atlanta, Georgia on March 30, 2012. The choir was awarded the Grand Champion Award for accumulating the highest number of points of any performing group at the festival, including bands, concert choirs, show and jazz choirs. The choir also won the Division Two Sweepstakes trophy for scoring the highest number of points with a superior rating in the their division.

The Mixed Choir and the Women’s Choirs were awarded first place in their respective divisions. Hannah Aherrera and Ali Graham received outstanding accompanist awards at the festival. Dian Eddleman, USJ Choral Director, received the Distinguished Director Award.

All-State Choral students for the 2011-2012 school year

The USJ Tennessee All-State Choral students are, bottom to top and left to right, Meredith Maroney, Christophe Nabhan, Clare Williams, Drew Brantley, Kirstie Finch, John Villarreal, Rebecca Rogers, Connor Simmons, Claire Jaggers, Chris Burton, Lindsay Smith, and Chris Weiner

All-Northwest Honor Choir 6-year Recipient

Caroline Haynes, Class of 2012, received the only 6-year award for placing in the All-Northwest Honor Choirs every year since she was in 7th Grade. She is attending Rhodes College in Memphis where she is majoring in neuroscience. At Rhodes, Caroline was chosen for the Master's Singers choir, which is a combination of students and faculty who sing with the Memphis Symphony. She also was chosen for the Women's Choir. Only 12 were chosen to sing with the a capela group "The Lipsticks," to which she received a solo part. Dian Eddlemon, the Middle and Upper school music director, was instrumental in bringing out her love for music and encouraged her to continue singing in college.

Quad State Honor Choir 2011

USJ choral students Drew Brantley, Caroline Haynes, Georgia Poole, Rebecca Rogers, and Chris Weiner were selected to the 2011 Quad State Honor Choir. Rebecca Rogers, a senior, was also selected as a featured soloist for the choir. The Honor Choir festival took place on the campus of Murray State University in Murray, KY October 30-31, 2011. The choir performed Vivaldi's Gloria. On average, more than 800 students audition for this ensemble, which is limited to 250 singers from four states selected by recorded audition.