Michael Pfitzer is the interim Music Director of the Cambridge Community Chorus, Director of Music at First Parish Church of Stow and Acton in Stow, MA, and the Choral Associates at Harvard University. He leads the CCC in its 2013-2014 season, including two performances with chorus and orchestra and collaborations with the Boston Civic Symphony and the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. At FPC, he conducts the church’s Adult and Youth Choirs and oversees a vibrant music program including a Children’s Choir, drumming ensemble, and jazz band. At Harvard, he is the assistant conductor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus and the Harvard Summer Chorus, the administrator for the Holden choral program, the coordinator of the Holden Voice Program, and the curator of the Harvard Choral Library.
In addition to choral music, Pfitzer has a strong background in music on the stage, having conducted and music directed numerous musical theatre and opera productions. He worked as an assistant conductor of the Franco-American Vocal Academy (FAVA) opera program in central France under the musical direction of Dr. Clinton Smith (Orchestra Seattle and St. Cloud Symphony), conducting a performance by the group’s madrigal choir. He will prepare the Cambridge Community Chorus for a performance of the choruses from Puccini's Tosca in 2014.
Pfitzer is also an experienced singer, having performed in the opera ensembles of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Rorem's Our Town, and Offenbach's La Belle Hélène. He has sung as a soloist with choirs across the United States, including the Cambridge Community Chorus's performance of Schubert's Mass in E-Flat, and has performed in voice recitals in the US, France, and South Africa. He regularly cantors for services at First Parish Church and has sung for a wide variety of religious services.
A devoted educator, Pfitzer has previously taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he directed the University Chorus and Masters Singers. He has been an assistant conductor with the UW-Madison Concert Choir and the Tufts University Concert Choir and Chamber Singers.
Pfitzer is also the administrator for the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum Foundation, the choir’s non-profit fundraising group. He earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and History from Tufts University. His conducting teachers include Beverly Taylor (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Dr. Andrew Clark (Harvard University), Dr. William Weinert (Eastman Summer Institute), and Jeff and Brenda Vredenburg (Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam).
Katie Houts joined the Cambridge Community Chorus as Accompanist during the 2013-2014 season. Houts is a full-time professional accompanist and teaches piano at her studio, The Piano House. She brings a diverse instrumental skill set which includes expertise in classical and jazz piano, organ, guitar, brass, and children's developing voices. From 2004-2013, Houts served as a full-time music director for Lutheran churches in Iowa and Minnesota. From 2008-2013, she was the developer and director of a large children's choir program in Minneapolis.
Houts' previous accompanying experience includes the South Metro Chorale, the Wartburg College Ritterchor, The Summer Singers, Metropolitan Chorale; students from Wartburg College, the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Minnesota; private voice and instrumental studios; local school districts and numerous community theaters.
Houts received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sacred Music and Religion from Wartburg College. A native of the midwest, she lives in Braintree with her husband, Ryan, and their two children, Ben and Annie.
William Thomas (1950-2013) inspired generations of musicians of all ages and backgrounds. For three decades he was a major figure in the Boston area music scene, as director of music performance at Phillips Academy in Andover; music director of the Cambridge Community Chorus; and artistic director for Project STEP, a Boston-based program that brings classical music to gifted students of color. He was a notable champion of African and African-American classical music, musicians, and performance.
William was the first music director of the Cambridge Community Chorus, founded in 1990 by former Cambridge Mayor Ken Reeves, and directed its first performance of Handel’s Messiah, which became an annual tradition for the group under his leadership. With unfailing humor and uncompromising musicianship, William transformed the Chorus from a band of enthusiastic but unpolished singers to a group capable of presenting major works in the choral repertoire. These included Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s St. John Passion, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, a fully-staged version of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and the North American premiere of Misa Tango by Argentinian composer Luis Bacalov. In 2006, the Chorus commissioned a new piece by Bacalov, Cantos para Nuestros Tiempos (The Cambridge Psalms), performed at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre on May 21, 2006.
When William retired to Kentucky in 2008, failing health did not deter him from taking on a new challenge: saving the historic First African Baptist Church, built in 1856 in Lexington by enslaved and freed African Americans. He formed The First African Foundation (FAF) to buy and renovate the building and transform it into a cultural center celebrating the lives of African Americans in the Bluegrass.
William’s love of good food and good fellowship are as much a part of his legacy as his passion for music. "William was our founding music director and inspirational leader, and we will always hold him in our hearts," says Cambridge Community Chorus President John Winslow.
Jamie Kirsch was the Music Director of the Cambridge Community Chorus from 2008 until 2013. In 2013 he became the Music Director for Chorus Pro Musica in Boston. He is also Director of Choral Activities at Tufts University, where he conducts the Tufts Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and teaches music theory.
From 2009 to 2011 he was Director of Children's Choruses at New England Conservatory, and from 2006 to 2008 he served on the faculty of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, where he was Interim Director of Choral Activities (2007-2008).
Kirsch completed the Doctor of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Indiana University in May 2008. He also holds degrees from the Yale School of Music and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His principal teachers were Jan Harrington (Indiana), John Poole (Indiana), Marguerite Brooks (Yale), and Susan Klebanow (UNC).
A native of Merrick, NY, Kirsch lives in Medford with his wife, Dr. Diana Lemly, their daughter Amelia, and their wheaten terrier, Madigan.