James B. Kinchen Jr. has been music director of the Milwaukee Choristers since 1993.  He is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he has been on the faculty since 1989.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, James has taught music and directed choral groups at Stanton High School, Jacksonville; Florida Community College at Jacksonville; Southern Illinois University; Southeastern Illinois College; Hampton University; and Winston-Salem State University. His degrees are from Jacksonville University, Southern Illinois University and the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

James is in frequent demand as a guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician and has been a Wisconsin Teaching Fellow. A two-time recipient of UW-Parkside’s Stella Gray Teaching Excellence Award (2002-03
and 2014-15), he was also given the university’s 2005-2006 Faculty Distinguished Service Award and the 2011-2012 Campus Diversity Award.

An affiliate of the Center for Black Music Research, James holds membership in the National Association for Music Education (formerly Music Educators National Conference), the International Federation for Choral Music, National Collegiate Choral Organization and Chorus America. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, he has served ACDA in several leadership capacities at state, regional and national levels. He has presented at state, divisional and national ACDA conventions and has written for and reviewed new music and new recordings for the Choral Journal.  He has also served as president and vice president of the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association and the North Central Division of ACDA, a region that embraces Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and the Dakotas.

Since 1993 James has conducted the Choristers in several significant performances including concert tours of Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Italy. He has led them in performances for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association and in concert collaborations with the Decorah Chorale
(Decorah, Iowa) and the Brazeal Dennard Chorale (Detroit, Michigan).

James’ travels as a choral conductor and scholar include trips to India, Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Italy, and, on four occasions, Cuba. He made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut in 1998, conducting a concert of “spirituals.” He returned to that stage in 2004 to lead a 190-voice choir and orchestra in a performance of the Fauré Requiem, and again in 2006 to conduct a performance
of the Vivaldi Gloria.  In 2010 he directed the New York City premiere of Glenn Edward Burleigh’s Kwanzaa work, the Nguzo Saba Suite for chorus, tenor solo, and orchestra at Avery Fischer Hall in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In 2002 James was one of 18 Fellows selected for participation in
the Chorus America-Chicago Symphony Choral/Orchestral Conducting Workshop and Master Class.

In addition to teaching and directing the UW-Parkside’s three choral groups – the University Chorale, Master Singers and Voices of Parkside – James teaches courses in basic and choral conducting, vocal
materials and methods, and African American music. He is also on the music staff of Saint Paul Baptist Church, Racine.


Patricia Ilika Black returned to the Choristers in 2013 after previously serving as accompanist from 1993 until 2008. A native of the Chicago area, Patricia holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the University of Illinois. As a graduate student, she studied performance and composition at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside and Northwestern University. Patricia is the accompanist for the Kenosha Chamber Choir and Lakes High School in Lake Villa, Illinois and has been the coach and arranger for Kenosha’s Tremper Golden Strings keyboardists since 1996. She previously served as pianist for Evangelical United Methodist Church in Racine, music administrator for Racine Bible Church and music coordinator at Wesley Methodist. Patricia was a member of the faculty at Beloit (Wisconsin) College before moving to the Racine area. She has taken several concert tours to Europe and the former Soviet Union with various music organizations, and as part of a cultural exchange. A composer and arranger, four of Patricia’s newest compositions were premiered at UW-Parkside in May, 2014 by the Choral Arts Society of Southeastern Wisconsin. The Choristers performed her “Gypsy Spring” in 2007 and “Psalm of Deliverance” in 1995. Patricia’s arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” is performed for thousands of people every year.


Christine Simon Halverson was named assistant conductor of the Choristers in 1994. She has been a member of the chorus since January of 1983 and, for most of that time, has been the first sopranos’ section leader.  She also performs regularly as a soloist.

Chris holds a choral music education degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Between 1988 and 2005 she was the director of music at Perseverance Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, where she directed the Chancel Choir and two handbell choirs.

Chris currently serves as office manager for the Presbytery of Milwaukee.


President – Jeff Hosler, Tenor

President-Elect – Kris Gerbitz, Alto

Past President – Jim Halverson, Tenor

Secretary – Patricia Witt, Alto

Treasurer – Norman Wahn, Tenor

Trudy Haas, Soprano

Caroline Gomez-Tom, Alto

Zach Rendall, Baritone