Dr. J.J. Wright, Director
Dr. J.J. Wright recently completed his D.M.A. in Conducting from the University of Notre Dame’s Program in Sacred Music. During his final year in the program, his studies brought him to Rome, where he researched and wrote his dissertation on translating the early Baroque oratorio to jazz. In addition, he studied at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and interned with the Sistine Chapel Choir. J.J. also released O Emmanuel, an album for Advent and Christmas, with the Notre Dame Children’s Choir, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Classical Charts.
His latest album, Vespers for the Feast of the Transfiguration, is a participatory jazz vespers service that incorporates improvisation and popular music with congregational singing. The service was recorded and filmed live at Saint Peter’s Church, NYC as part of their Jazz Vespers Series. The accompanying documentary film has aired on CatholicTV and Salt & Light TV. When he’s not busy conducting or recording, he’s a husband and father to three beautiful children.
Karen Schneider-Kirner, Assistant Director
Karen Schneider-Kirner has been associated with the Notre Dame Folk Choir since 1997, working closely alongside the ensemble’s founder, Steve Warner. As Associate Director, she collaborated with Steve in composing and arranging much of the music of the choir over the years, including the Mass for Our Lady, published through World Library
An Indiana native, Ms. Schneider-Kirner is also a concert organist and has played solo recitals in cathedrals across the U.S. and in Europe. A graduate of Yale University, she holds a Masters of Music degree and a Masters in Art and Religion through the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Her Bachelor of Music degree is from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She has pursued further studies in organ and church music through the Hochschüle für Musik in Vienna, Austria.Publications. She has also been a part of the extensive touring and recording aspects of the choir. She founded the Notre Dame Celebration Choir, which she directed from 1997 through the Spring semester of 2016. Karen also directs the five-octave Handbell Choir and serves as one of four full-time organists serving the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, under the auspices of Campus Ministry. She has also served as music director for churches in Connecticut, New York, and Ohio.
Karen and her husband Scott, who supports the Folk Choir as guitarist, have three children—14 year-old twin daughters Claire and Emma along with their 11-year-old son Joseph.
Steven C. Warner, Founder and Director Emeritus
Steven Warner received his B.A. in Religious Studies from St. Michael’s College in Winooski Park, Vermont, where he then served as Director of Liturgy for two years. He moved to the University of Notre Dame and earned a Master’s degree in Theology and Liturgy in 1980.
Mr. Warner joined the Office of Campus Ministry staff at Notre Dame in 1979. While working on campus, Mr. Warner founded programs with the goal of enhancing the integrity of sacred music at the University. With his assistance, the tradition of worship on campus grew, influenced by the presence of the Folk Choir and the liturgical planning aids published through his office. A new hymnal supplement, planning and celebration of campus-wide liturgical events, and coordination of musical resources for more than three dozen residence communities all took shape under the guidance of his office.
In 2016, Mr. Warner became the associate director of the Notre Dame - Newman Centre for Faith and Reason, an organization which stewards Newman University Church in Dublin, Ireland.
Liam Maher, President
Liam Maher (Violin I/Tenor) is a Political Science and Art History double major at the University of Notre Dame. A native of South Bend, Indiana, Liam grew up listening to the recordings of the Notre Dame Folk Choir and attending the Basilica Mass where the Folk Choir sang each Sunday. His favorite album is The Seven Signs with the recording of Calvin Hampton’s “Love Is His Word.” Liam began playing violin for parish liturgies at the age of ten. He finds that contributing his musical abilities to the Mass helps him engage his faith on a deeply personal level. Since beginning his music ministry, Liam dreamed of attending Notre Dame and playing violin for the Folk Choir. He is honored to serve this community as president for the coming academic year and is determined to sustain the joyful witness to the Gospel which the choir embodies. Outside of choir functions, Liam is a concert soloist, symphony member, chamber ensemble coach, composer, and violin instructor. For fun, he enjoys exploring museums, running, watching movies, and spending time at home with his parents, five sisters, and dog. You can contact Liam at email@example.com.
Maria Vigil, Secretary
Maria Vigil (Soprano) is a senior Piano Performance and Pre-Health major from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She discovered the Notre Dame Folk Choir by happenstance as a freshman looking for a choir to sing with, and it has taken her life by storm ever since. Music has always been an integral part of her life, but the chance to participate in liturgical music ministry has opened her eyes to an entirely new way of using music to touch people’s lives. Maria’s favorite pieces from the Folk Choir’s repertoire are the setting of the Lord’s Prayer and “Come My Way, My Truth, My Life.” Maria is excited to serve as the secretary for this wonderful group of musicians this next year. After graduation, Maria hopes to attend medical school and become a physician. You can contact Maria at Maria.Vigil.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Demet, Social & Service Commissioner
Greg Demet (Bass) is in his fourth year of a five-year program from which he will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Business Administration. He is from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, and joined the Folk Choir mostly due his random placement in the section of Geoff Burdell, a 2014-2015 Dillon RA and Folk Choir Bass. Having sung in his high school choir, Greg had not previously been involved in liturgical music, but has found one of his truest passions and pleasures in the Folk Choir. Some of the quickest ways to Greg’s heart are through The Lord of the Rings, the Green Bay Packers, and red meat, ideally paired with a chilled Wisconsin beverage. Feeling immense gratitude for the friendship and love he has received from the Folk Choir, Greg hopes to continue that tradition as Social and Service Commissioner. His favorite pieces sung by the Folk Choir are Chrysogonus Waddell’s “Jesus Lives” and Steven C. Warner’s “Christ Has No Body Now But Yours.” Uncertain of his future, the latter of these pieces inspires and challenges him in his discernment. You can contact Greg at Gregory.T.Demet.email@example.com