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.
Greg Demet, President
Greg Demet (Bass) is in his fifth and final year of a 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 show his own love for the choir by his leadership as President. 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.” You can contact Greg at Gregory.T.Demet.email@example.com.
Jess Hardey, Secretary
Jessica Hardey (Secretary, Cello) is a senior Computer Science Major and Theology Minor from Austin, Texas. She discovered the Notre Dame Folk Choir during freshman year after asking Gavin Hsu, former Folk Choir cellist, about playing liturgical music at Notre Dame masses. He recommended her to the Folk Choir, and the rest is history. Music has always been Jess’s favorite way to connect to God, deepen her faith, and spread God’s joy, so it brings her immense joy to continue this as part of the Folk Choir. One of Jess’s favorite Folk Choir pieces is Jesus Lives, by Chrysogonus Waddell, because of its beautiful message and unparalleled cello part. Jess is thrilled to be serving as this year’s secretary and looks forward to the memories, prayer, and music we get to make and share this year. In her free time, Jess enjoys reading pretty much anything and spending time with family and friends. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in technology consulting and to continue playing liturgical music. You can contact Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clare Driscoll, Social Commissioner
Clare Driscoll is a senior Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) major and a proud member of the alto section. A South Bend native, she has held a special place in her heart for the Folk Choir since they came sing at her local parish, St. Therese Little Flower Church. Having sat in on a rehearsal and conducted an interview with Steve Warner for her seventh grade musicianship research project, Clare was smitten with the choir from the moment she heard them sing "Day is Done" at the end of Thursday night rehearsal. The popcorn-style prayer service that follows the evening hymn remains her favorite Folk Choir ritual. Though she loves all the Folk Choir classics, she is particularly fond of "I Have Been Anointed" by Steve Warner, a piece that speaks to her love of music as prayer through its relentlessly joyful phrasing and use of regular and upbeat percussion. Clare hopes to spend a year in service after graduation (the organization she hopes to join changes by the day, so make sure to ask her regularly if you want a full picture) before going to grad school for Human Rights work. She hopes to reside in academia from there, but the "PLS as Probably Law School" inclination of her major may draw her elsewhere. Clare can be reached at Clare.F.Driscoll.email@example.com, an address from which she loves sending painfully elaborate biweekly emails reminding her charges to come to Folk Choir dinner; she usually makes sure to commandeer a quotation from at least one of the books she is reading this week.