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Texas Music Educators Association
Showcase Performance

Thursday, February 9, 2023  ⬥ 3:30 PM
Dr. Jerome M Bierschenk, Artistic Director
Mary-Margaret Soknich, Associate Director


Ne Irascaris Domine
William Byrd (1543-1623)

William Byrd (1540-1643) was a Catholic living in Elizabethan England, and an examination of his Cantiones Sacrae (1589) demonstrates his identification with and empathy for recusant Catholics in this time period.  By writing in the style of a Latin motet, Byrd signals his alignment with Catholics not only by including texts linked to contemporary pamphlets and books in circulation among Catholic households, but also in his choice of a musical form closely tied to Roman Catholicism. The double motet Ne Irascaris Domine – Civitas Sancti Tui is one of three “Jerusalem motets” that liken the plight of English Catholics to the captivity of the Jewish people in Babylon.

Be not angry, O Lord, and remember our iniquity no more.

Behold, we are all your people.

Your holy city has become a wilderness.

Zion has become a wilderness.

Jerusalem has been made desolate.


Ov’e, Lass’, Il Bel Viso?

from Six “Fire Songs” on Italian Renaissance Poems

Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943) 

Morten Lauridsen writes:  “The choral masterpieces of the High Renaissance, especially the sacred works of Josquin and Palestrina and the secular madrigals of Monteverdi and Gesualdo, provided the inspiration for my own Madrigali.  Italian love poems of that era have constituted a rich lyric source for many composers, and while reading them I became increasingly intrigued by the symbolic imagery of flames, burning, and fire that recurred. “

Alas, where is the beautiful face? Behold, it hides.

Woe’s me, where is my sun? Alas, what veil drapes itself and renders the heavens dark?

Woe’s me, that I call and see it; it doesn’t respond.

Oh, if your sails have suspicious winds, my dearest sweet, and if you change your hair and features late, if the Lord of Delos hides grace and valor in your beautiful bosom,

Hear my sighs and give them place to turn unjust disdain into love, and may your pity conquer hardships.

See how I burn and how I am consumed by fire;

What better reason, what greater sigh than I, a temple of faithful life and love!


Exultate justi in Domino

Hyun Kook (b.2005)

The composer sets this ancient Latin chant text of Psalm 32 and mixes contemporary syncopation, creative harmonic changes, and even incorporates hand claps and spoken rap, for a mixture of ancient and modern musical ideas.

Exult in the Lord, ye just, it is fitting
for the righteous to praise him together.
Give praise to the Lord on the harp,
Play to him on the ten-stringed psaltery.
Sing to him a new song,
Sing well to him with a strong voice.
For the word of the Lord is right
and all his works are faithful.
He esteems mercy and justice.
The earth is full of the Lord's mercy.


Famine Song

arr. Matthew Culloton (b. 1976)

Inspired by stories of Sudanese basket weavers, this song expresses the pain and hope experienced by those in the famine of the 1980s. In the midst of hardship, a wonderful new sense of creativity emerged when women began weaving baskets as a means of survival.

Mary-Margaret Soknich, conductor

Emily Davis, Kayla Noriega, Mike Needham, soloists

I Should Be Glad

Susan LaBarr (b. 1981)

Susan LaBarr writes: “Commissioned in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Texas Choral Directors Association, I Should Be Glad is a work that attempts to capture the gratitude that many of us feel as we live and work as artists.  The poem expresses the sentiment that our hard work is worth the long hours if it means that we are able to put art into the world and make a difference in the lives of others.


Jake Runestad (b. 1986)

Considered “highly imaginative…with big ideas” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald), award winning composer Jake Runestad has received commissions and performances from leading ensembles and organizations and has been dubbed a “choral rockstar” by American Public Media. His creative skills are exemplified by this work, as he creates an exciting and moving composition using only the word Alleluia.

About Us

VOICES gave its premier performance on May 1, 2012 in conjunction with the Wesleyan Chorale in a concert presented in Martin Hall on the campus of Texas Wesleyan University. Both groups were conducted by Dr. Jerome M. Bierschenk, who was then the Director of Choral Activities at Texas Wesleyan University. Dr. Bierschenk continues to serve as the Artistic Director of VOICES.

VOICES is a consort of highly skilled singers whose vocal blend and exceptional reading skills and musicianship combine to create a unique presentation that spans every musical period from early Renaissance to the 21st century. Specializing in a cappella literature, the vocal chamber ensemble creates the full spectrum of vocal colors ranging from the most intense and dramatic dissonance to the most palliative and soothing consonance.

Meet the Singers


Caleb Bennetch, Bass Section Leader

Music Director

Martin United Methodist Church


Collin Boyd, Bass

Choir Director

Diamond Hill-Jarvis HS, Fort Worth ISD


Emily Davis, Alto

Founding Member

Youth and Children's Music Ministry and Youth Ministry Coordinator

Broadway Baptist Church


Ronald Gray, Tenor


First United Methodist Church of Azle

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Gabi Guest, Alto

Choir Director

Dieterich MS, Midlothian ISD

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Joshua Hearon, Bass

Delivery Driver

Papa Johns


Nathan Kasten, Bass

Founding Member

Operations Manager

Simba Industries


Ryan Maxey, Tenor Section Leader


Texas Wesleyan University

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Mike Needham, Bass

Choir Director

DATA at Adams MS, Grand Prairie ISD

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Michael Nguyen, Tenor

Choir Director

Monnig MS, Fort Worth ISD


Kayla Noriega, Alto Section Leader

Founding Member

Elementary Music Specialist

Dolores Huerta ES, Fort Worth ISD


Jillian Price, Alto

Elementary Music Specialist

Ashworth ES, Arlington ISD

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Julian Rodriguez, Tenor

Choir Director

Kirkpatrick MS, Fort Worth ISD


Meredith Sontag, Soprano

Choir Director

Covenant Christian Academy

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Aries Stewart, Soprano

Private Lesson Instructor

Creative Soul Music School


Avary Vaughn, Alto

Choir Director

Ed Willkie MS, Eagle-Mountain Saginaw ISD

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Chris Wilson, Tenor

Choir Director

Joshua HS, Joshua ISD

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Amanda Wise, Soprano

Licensing Team Lead

Cardinal Financial Company, LP

Meet the Directors


Dr. Jerome M. Bierschenk
Artistic Director and Founder

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Dr. Jerome M. Bierschenk has been a music educator in Texas for over 45 years. After earning a Bachelor degree in music education, Dr. Bierschenk started a teaching career in instrumental music education, and was a band director for 20 years. He taught in the Austin, Birdville and Weatherford school districts, and in Weatherford was the Director of Bands as well as the Coordinator of Music for the district. Bierschenk’s interest began to include voice and choral conducting, and after earning a master of music education degree and a doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the University of North Texas, he began his tenure as Artistic Director of the Texas Boys Choir and as the Director of Fine Arts for the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. With both extensive experience as a tenor soloist and as a trumpet player, he has performed solo tenor roles with Schola Cantorum of Fort Worth, the University of North Texas Choirs, as well as various other groups in the Fort Worth community. In 2021, he retired after serving as the chair of the Department of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Texas Wesleyan University.

Mary-Margaret Soknich
Associate Director and Soprano Section Leader

A founding member of Voices of Fort Worth, Mary-Margaret Soknich is the Director of Vocal Music at I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA in Fort Worth ISD. She holds a B.M. in Music Education from Texas Wesleyan University and a M.M. in Music Education from the University of North Texas. Mrs. Soknich has taught secondary choral music for twelve years, previously at Nolan Catholic High School. She has also directed and accompanied church choirs across the metroplex for fourteen years. Mrs. Soknich currently serves as the TMEA Region 5 Small-School Choir Coordinator.

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