Artistic Staff

  • Wallis Peterson, Founder and Artistic Adviser
  • Lindsey Novitske, Interim Artistic Director
  • Robert Todd, Associate Director
  • Jorge Valls, Assistant Director
  • Nicole Straussman, Assistant Director
  • Gayle Giese, Accompanist
  • Susan Dodd, Accompanist
  • Lucia Deus, Choreographer
  • Sarah Weiner-Jamison, Voice Instructor
  • Trisha Burbach, Voice Instructor

Wallis Peterson

Wallis Peterson
Wallis Peterson

Founder and Artistic Adviser

Wallis Peterson is the founding Artistic Director of the Girl Choir.

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

Interim Artistic Director
Lyric Choir and Concert Choir

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.

Robert Todd

Robert Todd
Robert Todd

Associate Director
Repertory Choir

Robert Todd is originally from North Carolina and graduated from East Carolina University, where he studied choral conducting with Dr. Rhonda Fleming. He began his career as a Minister of Music and later became a teacher in the elementary music classroom. In his 25th year of teaching, he is currently the music teacher at Bayview Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale.

Mr. Todd holds National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Music. He serves on the Florida Elementary Music Educators Association Executive Board as the Chairman of the All State Elementary Chorus. He has presented choral workshops for elementary teachers and has conducted many all county honor choirs. In addition he serves as Treasurer for the Broward Music Educators Association and is a co-coordinator for the Broward County Elementary Music Performance Assessments held annually.

Mr. Todd is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, the Florida Elementary Music Educators Association, the Broward County Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association.

Nicole Straussman

Nicole Straussman
Nicole Straussman

Assistant Director
Primes Choir

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.

Jorge Valls

Jorge Valls
Jorge Valls

Assistant Director
Apprentice Choir, Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers

Mr. Valls currently serves as the tenor section leader for the Counterpoint Chorus in Jupiter, where he was chosen as a scholarship recipient. He also serves as section leader and cantor for the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens. During the school year, Mr. Valls leads the Newman Club chapel services at Palm Beach Atlantic University as cantor.

Throughout his four years of college, Mr. Valls has received scholarships for his excellence in music and education. In February 2012, he received first place in his category of the Regional National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition in Boca Raton. Furthermore, he recently spent the summer as a cabin counselor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan, where he was an assistant choir director for the Bernstein Chorus and SATB middle school chorus.

Mr. Valls is a collegiate member of National Association for Music Education and a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity. He has a strong passion for music and aspires to be an exceptional music educator in his field.

Mr. Valls earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Susan Dodd

Susan Dodd
Susan Dodd

Accompanist
Repertory Choir and Lyric Choir

Susan Dodd has served as the Accompanist for the Girl Choir since it was founded in 2005.

Ms. Dodd is a member of the piano faculty at Broward College as well as the staff accompanist, where she accompanies for the Seahawk Singers and the Broward Choral Society. In 2004, Ms. Dodd was chosen as the Broward College Adjunct Professor of the Year.

Ms. Dodd has performed for many schools and churches, including Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church where she accompanied many musical productions as well as toured and recorded with the Kings Choir.

She is presently Assistant Organist at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale. She also maintains a private piano studio. She has toured throughout the United States and Europe and for many years accompanied Forrest J. Willingham’s The Songs of Broadway Company throughout the South Florida hotel and condominium circuit.

Ms. Dodd is the Scholarship Chairman of the Morning Musicale of Fort Lauderdale and is a member of the Broward County Music Teachers Assocation, the Florida State Music Teachers Association, the Music Teachers National Assocation, and the American Guild of Organists. She is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Ms. Dodd earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Piano Performance with honors from Florida Atlantic University and her Master’s Degree in Accompanying from the University of Akron, Ohio.

Gayle Giese

Gayle Giese
Gayle Giese

Accompanist
Primes Choir, Concert Choir, Chamber Singers

Mrs. Giese is currently a volunteer pianist and music/choir director for the River of Grass Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Davie. She served as the congregation’s director of music ministry from 2006 to 2009. She is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Musician’s Network. She produced, arranged, and performed piano solos for her 2011 CD Revelations, Piano and Poetry.

From 2005 to 2011, she was the center director and teacher of an early childhood music program called Music Play. She has taught pre-school music in various schools and accompanied voice and instrumental students. She is a former member of Nova Singers.

Mrs. Giese held various positions for Warner Bros. Publications from 1987 through 2005, including classroom music editor, director of music engraving, and production director. While there, she received a leadership award for her contributions to the Music Expressions® K-12 textbook series. She is also the author of Music Play, 25 Fun Lessons for Pre-K Through 2nd Grade Classes and co-author of Guidelines for Manuscript Preparation.

Mrs. Giese holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Mississippi, where she received the Taylor Citation (for Most Outstanding Music Student two consecutive years) and a Master of Music degree and K-12 teacher certification from the University of Miami.

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 Theatre Performance with a Minor in Dance from the University of Miami, and a Master in Theatre Directing from Roosevelt University.

Sarah Weiner-Jamison

Sarah Weiner-Jamison
Sarah Weiner-Jamison

Voice Instructor, Concert Choir

As the Founder and Artistic Director of the New York City based Opera Company, The coOPERAtive, Ms. Jamison has sung opera and oratorio throughout the New York metropolitan area. She continues to perform recitals and concerts in the South Florida area and recently premiered “Battle Songs; The Civil War Poems of Herman Melville” a song cycle written for her by UM graduate Michael Scherperel.

Ms. Jamison is on the voice faculty at New World School of the Arts in Miami where she teaches voice and vocal forum, a performance based master class. She is also on the faculty of Broward College where she teaches private vocal instruction, music theory, music appreciation and is the Director of college’s show choir. She regularly works with the college’s Theatre department as a vocal coach and maintains a private voice studio here in Broward County.

Ms. Jamison has also taken on the role of Stage Director for several productions at New World including; Operettafest, Trial by Jury, Dido and Aeneas and will be co-directing “Stephen Sondheim, A Celebration in Music” in May of 2011. Ms. Jamison was chosen as a guest panelist to represent New World at the prestigious National Foundation for the Advancement of Arts Achievement Conference and has been nominated for Broward College’s Adjunct Faculty of the year several times.

Ms. Jamison received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Brenau Women’s College and her Masters Degree of Music in Opera Performance from Indiana University at Bloomington where she studied with Met Opera Soprano Gianna d’Angelo. While in New York City she studied with Met Opera soprano Rita Shane and has worked with such operatic luminaries as Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, and Houston Grand Opera Conductor Patrick Summers.

Trisha Burbach

Trisha Burbach

Voice Instructor, Lyric Choir

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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