Cream City Youth Chorale

Our Leadership

We are committed to providing abundant opportunities for the youth of Milwaukee to express themselves artistically across medium and discipline. We will broaden the definition of "choral performances" to incorporate sensory experiences that may include  poetry, painting, dance and other art forms. Our young singers will learn what it means to be an artist who sings exceptionally well, not only a singer with great technique.

Zachary Beeksma

Associate Director, Director of Administration

Zachary Beeksma is the Director of choirs and Chair of Arts and Music at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, WI.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Northern Michigan University and a Master of Music in Music Education from Westminster Choir College, where he studied voice with Eric Rieger and conducting with James Jordan.  He is currently pursuing an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership at Arkansas State University.

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Zachary Beeksma is the Director of choirs and Chair of Arts and Music at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, WI.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Northern Michigan University and a Master of Music in Music Education from Westminster Choir College, and is currently pursuing an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership at Arkansas State University.

Mr. Beeksma has performed in such venues as the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, and Alice Tully Hall with renowned orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestras.  Mr. Beeksma has taught in five states and his students have performed in festivals throughout the country.  His choirs have recently commissioned pieces by Thomas Lavoy and Cortlandt Matthews.  Mr. Beeksma directs 3-4 musical shows a year in the West Allis West Milwaukee School District, and his music directing and his students have been nominated for the TOMMY awards.  He has performed on 4 recordings, including a GRAMMY-nominated recording of the Bernstein Mass.  He is a regular member of the Same Stream Choir, a professional recording choir based out of Philadelphia, PA and enjoys performing in local theater productions.

Ellen M. Shuler

Ellen Shuler holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Montana State University and a Master of Music Education with Choral Emphasis from Florida State University.  

Ms. Shuler is the Chair of the Performing Arts at University School of Milwaukee, as well as Director of Choirs for the Upper School and 7th and 8th grades and preschool. She is also Music Director of University School’s Musical Theatre program.

In 2018 she won the Outstanding Middle Level Choir Director Award from the Wisconsin Music Educators Association. In 2015, Ms. Shuler was awarded the Choral Teacher of Excellence from the Milwaukee Civic Music Society.

Prior to joining the University School of Music team, Ms. Shuler founded the Bel Canto Boy Choir under Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee where she also served as Music Director for nine years. Prior to her time with Bel Canto, she was director of the first level premier choir, beginning and training choirs with Milwaukee Children’s Choir.  She served Milwaukee Children’s Choir at the same time Director Emeritus Emily Crocker was Artistic Director.

Ms. Shuler is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and Wisconsin Music Educators Association.

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Ellen M. Shuler

Associate Artistic Director

Ellen is recognized by her peers as a leader in the world of choral education. She has a natural inclination to help all musicians, but focuses on the young singer to provide them with the confidence to grow their talent and explore new skills.

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Ellen Shuler holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Montana State University and a Master of Music Education with Choral Emphasis from Florida State University.  

Ms. Shuler is the Chair of the Performing Arts at USM, as well as Director of Choirs for the Upper School and 7th and 8th grades and preschool. She is also Music Director of University School’s Musical Theatre program.

In 2018 she won the Outstanding Middle Level Choir Director Award from the Wisconsin Music Educators Association. In 2015, Ms. Shuler was awarded the Choral Teacher of Excellence from the Milwaukee Civic Music Society.

Prior to joining the University School of Music team, Ms. Shuler founded the Bel Canto Boy Choir under Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee where she also served as Music Director for nine years. Prior to her time with Bel Canto, she was director of the first level premier choir, beginning and training choirs with Milwaukee Children’s Choir.  She served Milwaukee Children’s Choir at the same time Director Emeritus Emily Crocker was Artistic Director.

She worked as Assistant Director and Accompanist of the Bozeman Children’s Choir in Montana, as well as for Bozeman’s Mastodon Productions singing jingles for area businesses and back-up vocals for local artists.  While in Montana, she was a member of the Bozeman Intermountain Opera Company.  

Ms. Shuler has also taught choral and general music in Idaho, Colorado, and New Hampshire, as well as pre-primary music and movement classes in Colorado and New Hampshire.  She worked for several years as a choral music editor at Hal Leonard Corporation, where she was a contributing author to the Macmillan McGraw-Hill music education series, “Spotlight on Music” and "Music Express" magazine.  Shuler was recently selected to be the Repertoire and Standards Chair for Children's Choirs for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association.

Ms. Shuler is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and Wisconsin Music Educators Association.

Michael Werni

Associate Director, Foundation Choir, grades 3-6
Community Choirs program

Michael is respected by his peers as a passionate and energetic vocal music educator. He believes in providing engaging and eclectic vocal music opportunities for his students that they may grow to learn more about themselves, and in turn, the world in which they live.

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A native of Cedarburg, WI, Mr. Werni holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in choral and instrumental music education from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a certificate in Servant Leadership from Cornell University.

Mr. Werni teaches choir at the Wisconsin Hills Middle School in the Elmbrook School District. From 2015-2019, he taught grades 4 - 8 in the Merton Community School District where he tripled the number of students involved in choir, expanded academic and co-curricular choral music opportunities, and co-founded the school’s thriving musical theater program. Mr. Werni has also worked as the Artistic Director of Preparatory Choir with the Milwaukee Children’s Choir. In 2019, Mr. Werni was recognized by the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and his alma mater with the Early Career Educator Award. 

Dedicated to his own growth and development as an educator and conductor, Mr. Werni has participated in workshops and symposiums at  Westminster Choir College and University of Michigan. In the summer of 2021, Mr. Werni will attend Chorus America’s Conducting Institute at California State University, Fullerton as a Choral Scholar. 

Mr. Werni is an active performer in the Milwaukee area, and has performed as a member of the Bel Canto Chorus, and is currently a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus. He has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. 

Mr. Werni is a member of American Choral Directors Association, Wisconsin Music Educators Association, and Chorus America. 

Trisha Ours

Associate Director of Creative and Visual Arts

Trisha works with different art forms and is heavily involved in local and school theater productions. She is a set designer and builder and often donates her works of art for charity fundraisers. She is excited to bring other art forms to the choral arts so that singers might find more ways to express themselves while creating a better sensory experience for their audiences in telling their story.

Mrs. Ours attended University of Milwaukee to pursue a degree in secondary education, but instead found herself in the insurance industry where she currently serves as Director of Insurance Services for the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin. This has provided her with first-hand experience working in the not-for-profit world.

Lynn Swanson

Lynn Swanson holds a Master of Music Education in Choral Pedagogy from the University of Kansas in addition to the Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from Shorter College as a recipient of the Theodor Presser Foundation Scholarship.

She presently serves as Music Director of All Saints’ Cathedral in Milwaukee and leads a choral scholar program in addition to the adult choir which provides music from the Renaissance to present day each week for its Sunday Eucharist services. She was also recently appointed Staff Accompanist at Milwaukee Ballet and offers private piano and voice instruction at her home studio.

Prior to these appointments, she served as Executive Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Children’s Choir. In her tenure as Artistic Director, the choir was a finalist in the 2019 Footlights Awards for Best Performance by a Performing Ensemble. Milwaukee Children’s Choir was the first choir to ever reach Finalist status with the People’s Choice Awards. In addition, the Milwaukee Youth Chorale was one of two choirs from across Wisconsin to receive an invitation by competitive audition to perform at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association’s annual conference in Madison last October, 2019.

Her choral ensembles have toured throughout the United States and have been featured on Central China Television Network; the Tenth Annual Chamber Concert Series, Central Conservatory Beijing, China; International Bejing Choir Festival; Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina; Christmas Atlanta Festival, and Arts International Festival, Frances Marion University among others.
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Lynn Swanson

Founder and Advisor

Lynn Swanson is hailed by many for her musicianship, versatility, and expertise developing young singers. She is primarily known as a passionate individual who genuinely cares about the people she is working with. Lynn brings in-depth knowledge of the "science behind the voice" with an extensive understanding of how to develop a child's voice so they might sing for a lifetime!

Lynn Swanson maintains Developing Voices Studios, a voice studio designed to provide healthy guidance in the natural development of young singers while also building their musicianship through sight-reading skills, aural skills, an understanding of the voice, appropriate vocal exercises and repertoire.

Her studio also writes and publishes articles on the science behind the voice to aid choral directors and voice teachers better understand the voices with which they work.

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Lynn Swanson holds a Master of Music Education in Choral Pedagogy from the University of Kansas in addition to the Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from Shorter College as a recipient of the Theodor Presser Foundation Scholarship.

She presently serves as Music Director of All Saints’ Cathedral in Milwaukee and leads a choral scholar program in addition to the adult choir which provides music from the Renaissance to present day each week for its Sunday Eucharist services. She was also recently appointed Staff Accompanist at Milwaukee Ballet and offers private piano and voice instruction at her home studio.

Prior to these appointments, she served as Executive Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Children’s Choir. In her tenure as Artistic Director, the choir was a finalist in the 2019 Footlights Awards for Best Performance by a Performing Ensemble. Milwaukee Children’s Choir was the first to ever reach Finalist status with the People’s Choice Awards. In addition, the Milwaukee Youth Chorale was one of two choirs from across Wisconsin to receive an invitation by competitive audition to perform at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association’s annual conference in Madison last October, 2019.

Previous to her time in Milwaukee, Ms. Swanson served as Assistant Director of the Zhuhai Classical Children's Choir in Zhuhai, China while concurrently serving as the Director of the Institute for Healthy Singing under the William Baker Choral Foundation. While in China, she wrote articles on the science behind the voice on DevelopingVoices.blog which was also published weekly on the American Choral Directors Association online newsletter ChoralNet.org. She conducted research on the Chinese Girl’s Changing Voice (ages 10-14) in conjunction with simultaneous research with Allegro Choirs in Kansas City through the University of Kansas.

As Executive Associate Music Director of The William Baker Choral Foundation, Ms. Swanson held the position of Music Director and Conductor for the Lynn Swanson Festival Singers, a professional level ensemble based in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in short form A cappella music. She is the Founder and Director of the one hundred voice Cobb Summer Singers now called the Baroque Summer Institute that annually performs masterworks with professional orchestra.

She previously held the position of Assistant Organist and Accompanist for the Choir of Christ the King Anglican Church in Frankfurt, Germany giving choral performances at the Notre-Dame Cathedral and American Cathedral in Paris and the Alte Nikolai Kirche in Frankfurt. During her tenure in Germany, she also served as Assistant Organist to Herr Helmut Melzer, Organist and Music Director of St. Johann Kirche in Kronberg.

Her choral ensembles have toured throughout the United States and have been featured on Central China Television Network; the Tenth Annual Chamber Concert Series, Central Conservatory Beijing, China; International Bejing Choir Festival; Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina; Christmas Atlanta Festival, and Arts International Festival, Frances Marion University among others.

Recent choral/orchestral masterworks conducted by Ms. Swanson include Bach: Mass in B Minor, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F, Magnificat, Cantata No. 51 Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, Cantatas Number 4 and 140; Brahms: A German Requiem; Mozart’s Solemn Vespers; Mozart: Exsultate Jubilate, Eine kleine Nachtmusik and Coronation Mass; Handel's Messiah, Dettingen Te Deum, Water Music Suite, and Israel in Egypt; Mendelssohn's Elijah; Faure’s Requiem; Schubert’s Mass in G; Haydn’s Te Deum, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Vivaldi’s Beatus Vir, in addition to Bernstein: Chichester Psalms & Missa Brevis.

She is a member of the International Voice Care Network of St. John’s University,  Mu Phi Epsilon National Music Fraternity, and the American Choral Directors Association and American Guild of Organists.