Our State Officers
Brianne Biastoff, President
Choral Director, Nashua High School North
Brianne is in her seventh year both as Choral Director at Nashua High School North in Nashua, New Hampshire and as a member of the adjunct choral faculty at University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Mrs. Biastoff's high school choirs have performed at venues in Montreal, New York City, and Brugges and Gent, Belgium. Choirs led by Mrs. Biastoff have participated in several invitational collegiate choral festivals, and have consistently performed alongside some of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell choirs and orchestra, as well as having been recorded at UMass Lowell. Mrs. Biastoff has twice recently conducted the Nashua All-City Middle School Festival Chorus for the Nashua Sings! Festival. Before returning to graduate school, Mrs. Biastoff maintained a private voice studio for nearly ten years in her home in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Many of her private studio and public school students have participated in NAfME's Eastern Division Honors Ensemble Festival, as well as both Massachusetts and New Hampshire All-State festivals; a great number have also now moved on to higher education as music majors.
Mrs. Biastoff's educational passions are focused on exploring diversity and inclusion in repertoire, resources, curriculum, and personnel, especially as related to social justice. These topics of focus are consistent with NH ACDA's commitment to anti-racist and inclusive programming and teaching.
Mrs. Biastoff received both her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and has twice participated in the Sarteano Chamber Choral Conducting Workshop in Sarteano, Tuscany, Italy. As a singer, she has most recently performed as the alto soloist for Mozart's Requiem at UMass Lowell, and is currently a staff singer for First Church in Nashua, as well as having recently joined the New Hampshire Master Chorale. She has recently performed with many choral groups including the Berkshire Bach Society, the Cantilena Chamber Choir, Chamber Singers of UMass Lowell, and the Masterworks Chorale of Lexington, Massachusetts. Mrs. Biastoff resides in Nashua, NH with her young son, Morgan.
Will Gunn, Immediate Past-President
Music Teacher, Plymouth Regional High School
William Gunn is the director of music at Plymouth Regional HIgh School where he conducts the Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers. He is also the music director of the Pemigewasset Choral Society in Plymouth, NH. Mr. Gunn received his bachelor of music in music education from Ithaca College and his masters of music in conducting from Colorado State University.
Sandra Howard, Treasurer
Professor of Music - Keene State College
Music Education, Choral Methods, Keene State Concert Choir and Chamber Singers
B.M.E., M.M., University of Maine; Ph.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City
Dr. Howard earned a bachelor degree of music education and master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Maine and a doctoral degree in music education/curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She taught choral and general music at Kennett Middle and Senior High Schools in Conway, New Hampshire. Howard also served as adjunct faculty member at Granite State College in New Hampshire, Blue River Community College in Missouri, and at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Howard has worked with singers of all ages including preschoolers to senior citizens and is an active conductor/clinician for honor choruses across the United States.
She has presented research and workshops at SRME Research Symposium, ACDA, and MENC regional and national conferences. Her choirs have performed in throughout the northeaster United States, Canada, and Germany. Research interests include visual biases in vocal performance evaluation, body mapping techniques in the choral rehearsal, music educators’ interpersonal skills, singers’ motivation, and female researcher contributions to music education. Dr. Howard’s scholarship has been published in the Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education and Teaching Music and she is an active member of ACDA, NAfME, and CMS.
Emma Forest, Secretary
Choral Music Director, Moultonborough Academy
Emma Forest is the Choral Music Director at Moultonborough Academy where she teaches Middle Level Chorus, High School Choir, Studio and Digital Recording, and Middle Level General Music. She graduated from Keene State College with a Bachelors in Music Education, majoring in voice with a secondary in oboe. Her leadership roles include being a two season coach and being the NHMEA Large Group Festival Chairperson. Emma currently performs with the New Hampshire Master Chorale and the Pemigewasset Choral Society as a soprano.
Emma has participated in various conferences including presentingThe Effect of Conducting Gesture on Produced Choral Sound at the Academics in Excellence Conference and as a conductor in New Hampshire ACDA's Three Conductors, One Piece Spring 2019 NHMEA session . She has conducted in Quebec City, Germany, and across New England. When not participating in musical events, Emma loves to paint, tend to her plants, and relax at home with her husband, rabbits, and hedgehog.
Blake Leister, Membership Chair
Choral Director & Music Educator, Windham High School
Blake Leister received his Masters of Music Education from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Bachelor of Music from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Since 2022, he has been the Choral Director and Music Educator at Windham High School in Windham, NH where he conducts multiple choirs and teaches various music electives and theatre programs. Prior to this position, Mr. Leister was the Choral Director at West Running Brook Middle School in Derry, NH for 18 years. Blake performs with the BSO's Tanglewood Festival Choir and the New Hampshire Master Chorale. In addition, Blake is a highly active collaborative pianist, freelance musician, and theatre music director. He is a proud member of NHMEA and NHACDA.
Founded in 1963, the New Hampshire Chapter has had a rich history celebrating and serving the Choral Directors of New Hampshire's Granite State.
Our Past NHACDA Presidents:
1963-1966 Walter P. Smith
1966-1968 Kendrick Munsey
1968-1971 Theodore W. Garland
1971-1976 Cleveland L. Howard
1976-1979 Terrance Anderson - Choral Director, Keene State College
1979-1981 Jean P. Nelson - Choral Director, Keene High School, Camber Singers of Keene
1981-1983 Carroll Lehman -Choral Director, Keene State College
1983-1985 Melinda O’Neal
1985-1987 Lisa Wolff - Director of the Manchester Choral Society
1987-1989 Stephen Denson
1989-1991 Priscilla French
1991-1993 Stephen Kushner
1993-1995 Scott Lounsbury - Choral Director, Belmont MS, HS, Dir. Suncook Valley Chorale
1995-2001 Tom Martin - Choral Director, Keene High School
2001-2003 Maria Courtney - Choral Director, Manchester Memorial High School
2003-2005 Sophia Santerre - Choral Director, Nashua High School South
2005-2007 Gwendolyn Baker - Choral Director, Portsmouth MS, HS
2007-2009 Madelyn Gearheart - Choral Director, NH Youth Chorus
2009-2011 Jay Chandler - Music Director, Pelham High School
2011-2013 Jay Chandler
2013-2015 Esther Rhoades - Choral Director, Monadnock Waldorf High School & Keene Unitarian Universalist Church
2015-2017 Jamie Bolduc - Music Teacher, Ellis School, Fremont, NH
2017-2019 Krystal Morin - Music Teacher, ConVal Regional High School - Peterborough, NH
2019-2021 Will Gunn - Music Teacher, Plymouth Regional High School
2021-2022 Alex Favazza, Director of Choral Activities, University of New Hampshire
Special thanks to Christina Prucha at ACDA National Headquarters for researching the Archives to compile this list. - ed.
Founded in 1959, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is a nonprofit music-education organization whose central purpose is to promote excellence in choral music through performance, composition, publication, research, and teaching. In addition, ACDA strives through arts advocacy to elevate choral music's position in American society. NHACDA was founded in 1963 and has had a rich history in NH choral music.
In 2013, New Hampshire ACDA celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The board hopes that members will help build an organization that will continue to be a valuable resource for the Granite State.