The Directors

Dr. J.J. Wright, Director

Mc 11

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 Kirner

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, Karen 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 for 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-- their twin daughters Claire and Emma along with their son Joseph.

Steven C. Warner, Founder and Director Emeritus 

Steve Warner

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.

Steve joined the Office of Campus Ministry staff at Notre Dame in 1979. While working on campus, Steve 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. Crafting a new hymnal supplement, planning and celebration of campus-wide liturgical events, and coordinating musical resources for more than three dozen residence communities all took shape under the guidance of his office.

In 2016, Steve became the associate director of the Notre Dame - Newman Centre for Faith and Reason, an organization which stewards Newman University Church in Dublin, Ireland. 

The Officers

Loyal Murphy, President

Loyal Compressed

Loyal Murphy (Bass II) is studying chemical engineering with a minor in energy studies, entering his fourth year both at Notre Dame and the choir. Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, Loyal previously sang with his high school acapella group Beg to Differ, but he got his first taste of a liturgical ensemble with the Folk Choir. In addition to singing for the Folk Choir, he has been known around campus to TA philosophy, sport Regatta apparel for Fisher Hall, reminisce about Memphis BBQ, advocate for sustainable energy, and perform for the illustrious band, New Vernacular. Having been elected president, Loyal desires to lead with the same zeal and acceptance he felt as a member since his freshman year. Some of his favorite pieces performed by the choir have been "I Can Go to God in Prayer" by Albertina Walker, Stephen Paulus' "The Road Home," and director JJ Wright's "Respond, Abraham." You can reach Loyal at lmurph12@nd.edu

Brendan Copp, Secretary  

Brendan Comp

Brendan is a junior from La Grange Park, IL studying Sociology with minors in History and Business Economics. Brendan lives in the *newly renovated* Morrissey Manor and goes back and forth on his favorite Disney movie, though his default is Mulan. He is not quite sure why he decided to audition for Folk Choir but now hopes that his service as Secretary can make up for his inability to sing the correct bass notes. Among Brendan's most treasured Folk Choir memories are spraining his ankle playing basketball on Texas Tour, breaking his wrist in an FC Bookstore Basketball game, and finally learning how to swallow pills in preparation for the East Africa pilgrimage. Brendan believes that the best part of Folk Choir is the incredible, grace-filled community that forms through such misadventures (and in many other ways, but he needed a good transition). Anyway, Brendan's favorite Folk Choir songs are "How Can I Keep From Singing" and "Rosa Mystica." His email is bcopp@nd.edu and really hopes you email him because he loves talking about how much he loves Folk Choir.


Lauren Alvey, Social Commissioner

Sunflower Lauren

Lauren Alvey is a junior studying Biology and Pre-Med with a minor in Gender Studies. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio and is lucky enough to have been a Soprano II in the Folk Choir for the past two years.  She spends her evenings in Flaherty Hall with the greatest roommate in the world, where she loves to kick back, watch Moana, and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa (50% whipped cream). When Lauren thinks about the best parts of Folk Choir she remembers assaulting fellow Folkheads with confetti eggs at Easter, getting irredeemably sunburnt at pool parties on Texas tour, and dancing in East Africa at choir festivals. She is so excited to serve as Social Commissioner to help create more wonderful memories for all the members of the choir! Her favorite Folk Choir songs include Steve Warner’s “Each Step of the Journey,” Christopher Walker’s “Out of Darkness,” and Bach’s “Praise and Thanks!” You can reach Lauren at lalvey@nd.edu and she would be happy to meet you for a cup of whipped cream, hit you with an egg, or talk to you about how wonderful the Folk Choir is and what an impact it has made on her life!