Artistic Staff

  • Wallis Peterson, Founder and Artistic Advisor
  • Lindsey Novitske, Artistic Director
  • Jorge Valls, Associate Director
  • Nicole Straussman, Assistant Director
  • Sylvia Aycock, Assistant Director
  • Anita Smith, Accompanist
  • Lucia Deus, Choreographer
  • Trisha Burbach, Voice Instructor

Wallis Peterson

Wallis Peterson
Wallis Peterson

Founder and Artistic Advisor

Wallis Peterson is the founding Artistic Director of the Girl Choir, and currently serves as Artistic Advisor.

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Mrs. Peterson has been an active as a choral director, music educator, and clinician in South Florida since 1990. She began her career as the choral director for South Broward High School, where she built a program that included award-winning mixed, men’s and women’s ensembles. She also served as the music director for the children and youth choirs at First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Lauderdale, preparing young singers for a variety of performances and festivals locally and throughout the state of Florida.

Mrs. Peterson also served as the director of the Training Choir for the Florida’s Singing Sons Boychoir from 1998 through 2006. In this capacity, she worked with eighty to one-hundred 3rd and 4th grade boys each year, preparing them for a minimum of three concerts throughout the season.

Mrs. Peterson is currently the music specialist for The Blake School in Plantation, where she directs choirs with members ranging in age from seven to fourteen. She also provides general music instruction to all pre-K through 8th graders, and the entire student body participates in a minimum of two major concerts each year. Her students regularly participate in All-County, All-State, and ACDA honor choirs.

Mrs. Peterson is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, the Florida Vocal Association, the Florida Elementary Music Educators Association, and the American Choral Directors Association. She currently serves as the Repertoire and Standards Chair for Community Choirs for Florida ACDA. She is a former member of Nova Singers and other South Florida community choirs.

Mrs. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Florida State University.

Lindsey Novitske

Lindsey Novitske
Lindsey Novitske

Artistic Director
Concert Choir

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Lindsey Novitske earned her Bachelor Degree in Music Education from Florida Atlantic University where she also was a member of the women’s soccer team. She earned her Master of Music Education from The Florida State University.

Ms. Novitske joined Saint Andrew’s School in 2013 after working eight years for the School District of Palm Beach County at Eagles Landing Middle School and West Boca Raton High School.

She is currently the Director of Choirs for middle and upper school at Saint Andrew’s, as well as the instructor for IB Music classes. The Saint Andrew’s School choral ensembles consistently receive high marks at festivals. The upper school choir, Tartan Singers, has been eligible for state level performance festivals every year under Ms. Novitske’s guidance.

In addition to her duties at Saint Andrew’s, Ms. Novitske has served the past two years on the executive board of the Florida Vocal Association and currently is the FVA District 14 coordinator. She was nominated this year as an Emerging Leader for the Florida Music Educators Association and hold memberships in ACDA, FMEA, and FVA. She also teaches private voice and is sought after as a choral ensemble and solo adjudicator throughout the state.

Jorge Valls

Jorge Valls
Jorge Valls

Associate Director
Apprentice Choir and Chamber Singers

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Jorge Valls is a musician whose passion for musical excellence and youth led him to pursue a career in music education. He holds a B.M. in Music Education from Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he graduated summa cum laude. Over the past six summers, Mr. Valls worked as a cabin counselor at Interlochen Arts Camp and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, both in Michigan. In summer of 2013, he traveled as a performer and staff member for the Blue Lake International Choir, which toured throughout Germany, France, and Luxembourg. In addition, he has taught several workshops for the De George Academy of The Arts at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. Mr. Valls is currently the Associate Director for the Girl Choir of South Florida. He has had the privilege of serving as director for the Primes, Apprentice, Concert, and Chamber choirs.

Mr. Valls is in his fourth year of teaching and his first year of teaching at Bak MSOA. Prior to Bak, Mr. Valls built the choral program at Eagles Landing Middle School in Boca Raton. The program grew from 80 to over 200 students in three short years. The program under his direction consistently received high ratings at district assessments and competitions. They have also received first place in their divisions at the Festival Disney competition, Music USA competition in Orlando, and the Heritage Music Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. Students in his program have participated in many district and state honor choirs.

Devoted to cultivating music education in the community, he holds memberships in the National Association for Music Education, the American Choral Directors Association, the Florida Vocal Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity.

Nicole Straussman

Nicole Straussman
Nicole Straussman

Assistant Director
Primes Choir

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Ms. Straussman is an alumna of The Girl Choir of South Florida and graduated from high school as one of its charter members. While involved in the program, she earned the title of “Figlia di Coro” and assisted the Artistic Director during rehearsals.

Ms. Straussman is a collegiate member of the Florida Music Educators Association. She works at a private studio where she teaches beginning and intermediate piano students.

Ms. Straussman earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Sylvia Aycock

Sylvia Aycock
Sylvia Aycock

Assistant Director
Lyric Choir

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Sylvia Aycock started singing at age of 11 with the Girl Choir of South Florida, joining the group in its inaugural season. While she was a student at Girl Choir, she earned the title of Figlia di Coro and acted as a rehearsal assistant in the Primes and Apprentice choirs until she graduated.

Ms. Aycock went on to earn her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Florida State University where she won several grants to conduct research on community music education in Brazil, and completed her honors thesis on the topic. She served as the Chorister Assistant at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee, conducting the beginning choristers and directing the Summer Music Camp.

Currently, Ms. Aycock directs five choirs comprising a total of 200 students at Eagles Landing Middle School in Boca Raton, Florida. She is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, the Florida Vocal Association, and the American Choral Directors Association. Ms. Aycock continues to sing with the Festival Singers of Florida under the direction of Dr. Kevin Fenton.
She is honored and thrilled to be back with the Girl Choir, teaching and continuing the traditions that helped shape her.

Lucia Deus

Lucia Deus
Lucia Deus

Choreographer

Mrs. Deus currently teaches Theater at Coral Springs High School. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Broward College.

She served as choreographer for numerous Kirk Singers productions at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale as well as choreographer for Florida’s Singing Sons Boychoir.

Mrs. Deus has pursued an active theatre career as an actor, dancer, director, choreographer, puppeteer, and educator in South Florida for many years. Her regional performing credits include, Helena Landless in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Robin in Godspell, Emma/Poly in Funny Girl, Tia in Breathing Under Water, and Susan in the Sheep Dog Who Danced Ballet. She was a member of both the New View Dance Company and the Iotaro Dance Company.

Mrs. Deus holds a Bachelor of fine Arts degree in Theater Performance with a Minor in Dance from the University of Miami, and a Master in Theater Directing from Roosevelt University.

Trisha Burbach

Trisha Burbach

Voice Instructor

Mrs. Burbach has wide-ranging music skills that have allowed her to teach at the High School, Middle School, Elementary level and even as a certified teacher to children aged five and under. She currently sings on the worship team at First Baptist Church at Weston where she has served the past six years. She also teaches voices lessons from home. Mrs. Burbach was the main director (2015) and assistant director (2011-2013) of the fully-staged Kid Sing musicals at FBC Weston.

While in Missouri, she was on the demanding worship team at Abundant Life Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit (2007-2010) singing in three services on Sunday Mornings. Church music is her passion and favorite way to express her love of music.

In Durango, Colorado, Mrs. Burbach was the assistant director of the highly successful Children’s Chorale (2001-2007) where she helped plan and run their frequent performances, yearly music camps, and even a choir tour to New York City. She frequently sang with and performed various solos for the renowned Durango Choral Society. A highlight was traveling with the choir to sing at Carnegie Hall. Being a talented singer, she was also chosen year after year as the mezzo-soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah performed with orchestral accompaniment.

In addition to singing, directing and teaching lessons, Mrs. Burbach was an elementary music teacher in Colorado where she was recognized for her outstanding teaching ability when she earned the Best First Year Teacher Award in the large 9-R School District. Additionally, she also held a long-term substitute teaching job for three middle school choirs and a high school orchestra. While in CO, Mrs. Burbach was certified as a MusikGarten teacher to toddlers and babies; she nurtured a love of music to these future musicians with the help of their parents from 2003-2006.

Mrs. Burbach received her Bachelor of Music Education Degree specializing in vocal studies from Fort Lewis College in Colorado. She has a wonderful husband who is the Music Coordinator and Director of Choral Activities at Broward College, and together they raise four beautiful, musical children.

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