Group shot of entire choir at 2006 concert

Meet the Professional Staff

Music Director: Russ Shelley

Dr. Russell Shelley, Music Director of the State College Choral Society, is also the Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music at Juniata College in Huntingdon, where he also serves as chair of the Department of Music and conductor of the Juniata College Concert Choir, which has performed in twenty-twenty states and twenty countries on more than twenty-five extended tours, including trips through Brazil (2010), Hungary & Romania (2011), Ireland (2012), Guatemala (2013), and China (2014).

Under Shelley’s direction, State College Choral Society repertoire has included Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, Haydn’s Creation, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 “Lobgesang,” Bach’s Magnificat, Fauré’s Requiem, Ramirez’ Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra, Brahms’ Requiem, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, and the Choral Society-commissioned Voices of the Holocaust, which premiered in November 2004 and has since been performed many times in both the U.S. & Brazil.

A native of New York, Shelley holds baccalaureate degrees in Music Education and Sacred Music, a masters degree in Vocal Performance from Mansfield University, PA, and a doctorate in Music Education from Penn State. Prior to his graduate work at Penn State, he taught junior and senior high general and choral music in New York.

Shelley has served both in the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association and the Pennsylvania Collegiate Choral Association. Guest conducting opportunities in 2013–2014 have included Pennsylvania, Indiana, California, North Carolina & Arizona. Read Russ' complete bio…

Accompanist: Asa Carns

Asa Carns, accompanist, organist, and occasional singer for the State College Choral Society, is also Director of Music at First Evangelical Church in Altoona, music teacher at TLC School, professional recording artist, and private teacher of voice, piano, and organ. Native to Clearfield, he accompanied and directed the Clearfield Choral Society.

As the accompanist for the touring choirs of Juniata College, the PA Chamber Chorale, and the Regent Chorale, he has traveled to Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, and Ireland, playing many historic and/or celebrated pipe organs for audiences around the world. Carns holds degrees in Sacred Organ Performance and Piano Performance from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH. He also studied organ at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule in Germany for two years.  Read Asa's complete bio…

A Brief History of the State College Choral Society

In December of 1948, the State College Choral Society was merely a gleam in the eyes of a 35-member Women's Club chorus in State College, PA. Since then, that glam has developed into 68 years of beautiful music.

The Music Section of the Women's Club invited men to join them for a performance of Bach's B minor Mass, and the State College Choral Society was born. Through the years, the chorus has presented an impressive number of full-length classical works.

Today, with approximately 140 members, the State College Choral Society (SCCS) is the largest choral group to perform a classical repertoire in central Pennsylvania. The group seeks to offer singing opportunities and concert experiences to individuals and audiences throughout the region. Two singers smilingVocalists from towns far and wide gather in State College each Monday night to prepare for winter and spring concerts and occasional December Messiah performances that benefit local charities. SCCS often collaborates with fellow community music groups, including the Nittany Valley Symphony, Nittany Valley Children's Choir, and Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra.

In 2004, SCCS commissioned a full-length choral work for the first time, Voices of the Holocaust, based on the creative vision of Choral Society bass Phil Klein and arranged by a talented young composer, Sheridan Seyfried. The work premiered on November 14, 2004 as was accompanied by a larger commemoration of the survivors and victims of the Holocaust, including a survivor's panel discussion, speaker series, art exhibit, essay content, and high school honors choir that joined SCCS for the performance. Since that first tremendously inspiring and successful performance, Voices has been performed four times, including twice in South America.

To see a complete history of State College Choral Society's past performances, download this PDF.

Meet the Administrative Staff

General Manager: Tom Penkala

Tom Penkala

Tom Penkala has been a member of the Choral Society for fourteen years. He is the Associate Director in the Board of Trustees office at Penn State University.

Chorus Manager: Colleen Kennedy

Colleen Kennedy

A native Angeleno, Colleen Kennedy attended UCLA, where she earned a BA in Music as well as a Master of Education degree. Colleen sings with several ensembles in the State College area and is actively involved in the music ministry at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and with the State College Community Theatre. When she's not making music, Colleen can be found in the accounting office of a local manufacturing business.

Music Sales: Emily Gregory

Emily Gregory

Emily Gregory is mom to three grown children and Nana of two wonderful boys. She will be a retired Special Education teacher of 30+ years for Juniata Valley School District as of June 2014. She joined the Choral Society in January of 1992 and served as board secretary for six years prior to her current position as music sales manager. You may see Emily ushering at Center for Performing Arts events.

Meet the Board of Directors

Chair: David Richards

Dave Richards

(2014-17, 2nd Term)

Vice Chair: Suzanne Neely

Suzanne Neely smiling

(2014-17, 1st Term)

Treasurer: Chris Luckenbill

Chris Luckenbill

(2015-2018, 1st Term)

Secretary: Pat Daniels

Pat Daniels

(2016-19, 1st Term)

Nancy Youmans

Nancy Youmans


Cyndi Krankel

Cyndi Krankel


Jan Mianulli

Jan Mianulli


Phil Halleck

Phil Halleck


Morgen Hummel

Morgen Hummel


Katy Johanesen

Pat Daniels


Jennifer Wexler

Pat Daniels


Vacant Seat

( -2018)

Want to serve on the board of directors?

Directors are elected to 3-year terms and meet once a month. Contact the president of the board to find out when the next elections are.