Jillian Pashke Durant, soprano, is staff soprano section leader and cantor at The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. She has performed in the Friends of Cathedral Music concert series over it’s past four seasons and for Sunday services, weddings, and special liturgies since 2012. As an independent artist Jillian has most recently performed the role of Abigail Williams in Robert Ward’s The Crucible as a guest artist with the Georgia Southern Opera, Handel’s Messiah with Butler Presbyterian and Savannah State University Choir, and was a soloist and ensemble member in both the Unitarian Universalist Church concert series and the First Presbyterian Music with a Mission concert series. She has also performed locally as the soprano soloist for Orff’s Carmina Burana with Savannah Arts Academy Orchestra and Chorus, portrayed the Novice in Savannah Music Festival’s production of Suor Angelica, and was a quarter finalist contestant in the American Traditions Competition where The Savannah Morning News said of her performance “As the sole local contestant, Jillian Pashke… definitely had the audience in her hand.”
She holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from Georgia Southern University where she performed in various operas and musicals. Favorite roles include Cinderella in Into The Woods, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and Mary in The Devil and Daniel Webster, among others. While at Georgia Southern she also performed the solos in Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Southern Chorale and presented numerous recitals of art song and arias.
Jillian was the recipient of multiple awards from both GANATS and SERNATS throughout her school studies including the Cheryll Boyd Waddell award in 2011 for best recorded submission. She has studied in Young artist programs including Harrower Summer Opera hosted by Georgia State University and The Sherrill Milnes Voice Studio hosted by the Savannah Voice Festival.
Jillian has a passion for sharing the art of song and performance with young singers and maintains a private voice studio for students varying in age from middle school to adults and is a founding member of The Voice Co-op.
Nancy Thornock, soprano, completed her musical training at Pacific Lutheran University where she studied voice with Mira Frohnmayer and sang with the Choir of the West under the direction of Dr. Richard Sparks. Nancy has been an active soloist and section leader for the past 20 years in three Cathedrals and most recently with St John’s Episcopal Church in Olympia, WA. Nancy has performed with the Columbus Bach Ensemble, Lancaster Chorale, Columbus ProMusica, and several other professional ensembles.
Jacquelyn Hamilton, contralto, has over 20 years experience as a soloist and music educator. She served as alto section leader and staff soloist at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA). There, she became the Carol Choir Director and music instructor for the preschool at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA). Jacquelyn was a featured soloist for the St. Cecilia Consort of Atlanta under the direction of Charles W. Whittaker (Atlanta, GA). Her solo works include Magnificat BWV 243 (Bach), Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben BWV 147 (Bach), Messiah (Handel), Elijah (Mendelssohn), Oratorio de Noël (SaintSaëns), Requiem (Duruflé), and Rejoice in the Lamb (Britten). She continues to perform throughout the Savannah community.
Jacquelyn graduated with a Bachelors and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Georgia Southern University (Statesboro, GA) where she studied with Dr. Sandra McClain Buller and Dr. Kyle Hancock. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Music and the Director of Choral Activities at Savannah State University.
Abbey Terry, mezzo-soprano, joined the Cathedral Choir in Fall 2018. Previously she was a staff singer with St. John’s Church in Savannah (Episcopal), and, from 2015-2016, very grateful to be Joyce R. Luettich Choral Scholar at Skidaway Island United Methodist Church, which support allowed her to return to formal music study after years away. An avid coach & teacher, Abbey has taught voice, piano, drama, music theory and early music/art/creative play for Portman’s Music and privately since 2015. She is currently a senior voice major at Savannah State University under the direction of Dr. Rockford Sansom, and has coached locally with Dr. William Lavonis and Tina Zenker-Williams. Outside her work for the Cathedral each week, she also performs as one of the founding members of the Savannah Sacred Quartet, directed by Richard Morgan (Sacred Heart). She has a daughter, Maia, age 13, and shares the care of 4 dogs and a cat with her husband, Dr. Robert Terry (Georgia Southern University).
James Morera, tenor. is a Tenor Section Leader and Cantor with the Cathedral Choir at St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia. Originally from Miami, James studied music at Oberlin College Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music and The Ohio State University, performing a wide variety of repertoire ranging from operatic mainstage roles, to oratorio and art song. Prior to his joining St. John the Baptist, he served as the Tenor section leader at Greenville Community Church in Scarsdale, NY, St. James Episcopal Church in New York City and for the Cathedral Choir and Schola at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Columbus, OH.
Gerald Seminatore, tenor, has built a multi-faceted career as a performer and music educator. He began his professional career as a chorister in acclaimed ensembles such as Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society and Emmanuel Music, where he received intensive training in sacred music, with a special emphasis on the vocal music of J.S. Bach. After completing graduate work at the University of Cincinnati, Gerald was engaged as a soloist by a number of opera companies and orchestras in both the United States and Germany. His teaching activities have ranged from beginner voice classes to work with graduate students and mentoring rising professional musicians. Most recently, he completed a two-year visiting professorship at Georgia Southern University.
Demetri Chrissos, baritone, grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland studying classical piano and voice. His stage debut was in 1998 as “Winthrop” in a high school production of The Music Man. In 2004 as a boy Soprano Demetri sang a solo verse at St. Matthew’s Cathedral’s Lessons and Carols service in downtown Washington, DC, and continued to sing for the Archdiocese of Washington throughout high school and became a regular cantor at St. Matthews.
After high school he attended DePaul University in Chicago for Vocal Performance. In 2012 he sang professionally with the William Ferris Chorale, performing around the Chicago area and on the local radio. Returning to Washington, Demetri continued to sing for St. Matthews and also became the cantor for a Christian Rock service in Bethesda, MD. Demetri moved to Iowa in 2015 to pursue political activism and get involved in the 2016 Presidential Election. During this time, he was invited to come back to DC to cantor for Pope Francis during a midday mass at St. Matthews during his 2016 USA visit.
While visiting a high school friend, he fell in love with Savannah, and decided to relocate. Demetri now teaches at Idlewild Guitars and Teaching Studios focusing in Piano, Guitar, and Voice. He can also be seen playing around town either solo or playing Keyboard for the southern rock band Phantom Wingo. He continues to develop his skills as a musician and is currently studying church organ and jazz keyboard.
Russell Watkins, bass, currently the vocal instructor & choral director at the Savannah Arts Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, has 20 years experience in opera and classical singing. Throughout college, Russell attended several summer apprentice programs, including Opera North, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, and the Austrian-American Mozart Academy, where he was able to sing over 15 main-stage roles and cultivate his voice. After graduating with a music degree, he sang roles with Waco Lyric Opera and the Nashville Opera before beginning a Master’s degree at Georgia Southern University. While at GSU, Mr. Watkins had the opportunity to sing the title role in Gianni Schicchi, and the role of Ralph McGill in Michael Braz’s world premiere opera production A Scholar Under Siege. He also made an appearance as Violetta’s doctor in the Savannah Choral Society’s production of La Traviata.
Since graduating with a Master of Music degree, Russell has made a career of teaching the art of classical and choral singing. He was an adjunct faculty member in Georgia College & State University’s music department where, for several years, he taught voice lessons, vocal methods, and vocal pedagogy. He is currently the director of Vocal Arts at the Savannah Arts Academy and has served as the choral director there for the past 6 years. His choirs have consistently received superior ratings at adjudicated performances and have placed in many regional competitions. The SAA choirs have been featured on stage at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Harpa Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland, and more.