Leadership

The Directors

Dr. J.J. Wright, Director

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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.

 

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. 

 

Karen Schneider-Kirner, Assistant Director Emeritus

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. 

 

The Officers

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Elizabeth Heidenreich, President 

 
 
 
 
 

Elizabeth is a senior from Pittsburgh, PA studying Biology with a minor in Poverty Studies. She lives in Pasquerilla East and her favorite Folk Choir song is Cleavinger's "Bless the Corners." She is so excited to serve the Folk Choir as President this year! As we provide music ministry to Notre Dame and the greater Catholic community during uncertain times, she hopes to bring great intentionality and innovation to her leadership efforts. She is excited to support members of the choir and the Notre Dame community as we sing great music and have lots of fun!

 

 

 

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Claire Whalen, Secretary 

 
 
 

Claire is a senior from Greenwood, IN studying Psychology and Pre-Medicine. She lives in Badin Hall and her favorite Folk Choir songs are Stopford's "Jesu, Lover of My Soul," Warner's "Make of Our Hands a Throne," and Paulus' "The Road Home." Claire is so grateful to have the opportunity to serve the community that has been her family here at ND and has given her so much! As secretary, she hopes to be a helpful communicator, especially during this unique year, and more generally as a leader, she is looking forward to the opportunity to support and grow with this amazing choir as we live out our ministry in new ways.

 

 

 

 

Christina Minetos, Social Commissioner 

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Christina is a senior from Albuquerque, NM studying Chemical Engineering with a Biomolecular Engineering Concentration. She lives in Flaherty Hall and her favorite Folk Choir song is Parker's "Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal." As the social commissioner, she is charged with helping the choir feel like a family. While we won't be traveling, playing sports, and hosting dance parties this year, we still seek to create spaces where members feel supported and loved. She is excited to help us all grow closer, stronger relationships throughout the year. Her goal is that when we finally get back into the loft, the choir will still be as strong a family as it ever was.

 

 

 
 
 

Grace Murphy, Spiritual Commissioner

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Grace is a junior from Indianapolis, IN studying Science Preprofessional Studies with minors in Theology and Gender Studies. She lives in Flaherty Hall and her favorite Folk Choir song is Paulus' "The Road Home." She is beyond excited to serve as the spiritual comissioner this year! Her main goal is to make everyone feel invited into the mission of the Folk Choir and the Church, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey. She wants to meet people where they're at and give them the support they need along the journey. And have a whole lotta fun while doing it :)

 

 

 

 
 

Alexandra Guevara-Stevens, Media and Communications 

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Alex is a senior from San Antonio, TX studying Computing and Applied Math at Saint Mary's College and Civil Engineering at Notre Dame. She is living in LeMans Hall and her favorite Folk Choir songs are Farrell's "O God You Search Me" and Rose's "Hail Holy Queen." This year her committee will continue the Folk Choir's ministry of sharing Christ's love through music by producing and creating music videos for the greater campus community in collaboration with professional filmmaker Tom Sandak (ND '04). While the primary focus will be the music videos, I am so excited to continue engaging with our audience on social media as well and collaborating with the tour committee as they take on some of the social media engagement as well!

 

 

 
 
 

Lauren Alvey, Tour Coordinator 

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Lauren is a senior from Cincinnati, OH studying Biology with a minor in Gender Studies. She lives in Flaherty Hall and her favorite Folk Choir songs are Steve Warner’s “Each Step of the Journey,” Christopher Walker’s “Out of Darkness,” and Bach’s “Praise and Thanks!”  As Tour Coordinator, her job will be to plan our summer tour as well as mini tours throughout the year. As this year is full of uncertainty, especially regarding travel, she plans to communicate well and quickly about changes of plans, good and bad, and be flexible and creative. She is so excited to serve the choir this year!

 

 

 

Logan Schott, Business Manager

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Logan is a Junior from Indianapolis, IN studying Psychology with minors in Digital Marketing, French, and Theology. He lives in Keenan Hall and his favorite Folk Choir songs are Parker's "Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal" and Rachmaninoff's "Nunc Dimittis." As Business Manager of the choir in very uncertain times, he is excited to find creative and innovated ways to market us Folkheads and spread our ministry through song and prayer. He is humbled to serve the Folk Choir this year, and can't wait to see what the future holds for us. Here's to virtual recordings and socially-distant brunches!