our faculty


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A Cappella Coach

Lauren Pine is currently the choral director and a cappella director at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.  She oversees four choral ensembles (Concert Choir, Treble Choir, Chamber Singers and Bel Canto); directs the co-ed a cappella group Close Harmony; oversees the all-female a cappella group Aria; and teaches voice, piano and music theory.  A performer at heart, she received her BM in Vocal Performance/Opera and minor in Musical Theatre from Northwestern University.  While studying at NU, she spent four years as a member of Thunk (a cappella) and was the assistant director her senior year.  This “premier” a cappella group toured internationally and released albums of their student arrangements each year.

Lauren also studied abroad in Italy with the International Vocal Arts Institute and in Disney World with VoicExperience.  After her undergraduate career, she joined the audition circuit in Manhattan and performed in various roles and with choral ensembles such as the New York Choral Society and Tapestry.  She has performed on many mainstages throughout Chicago and New York City such as Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center and the Chicago Symphony Center.   Lauren went on to earn her Masters in Music Education from Hunter College.  In addition to holding a studio of private piano and voice students Lauren has taught in both the public and private school sector in New York City (Talent Unlimited High School and St. Thomas More respectively).  She is thrilled to have transitioned to the suburbs of Connecticut and to join FLHS and now Camp A Cappella for a second year.



A Cappella Coach

Lauren Verney-Fink is the Choir Director at Fairfield Warde High School where she directs 4 curricular choirs and an extra-curricular coed a cappella ensemble.  In her 8 years teaching at FWHS, she has also taught Voice Class, Music Theory, Piano Skills, and Music Technology.  Mrs. Verney-Fink’s choirs have performed at various gigs and competitions both in Connecticut and around the country.  Many of her students have gone on to major or minor in music and sing in college a cappella groups including the Tufts University Beelzebubs, Vassar College Night Owls, Northeastern University’s Pitch Please, and the Berklee College of Music CharlieChords. Prior to teaching in Fairfield, Mrs. Verney-Fink taught middle school choir in Westchester County, New York and Fairfax County, Virginia.  She holds degrees from James Madison University (Bachelor of Music) and the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music (Master of Music Education).  Mrs. Verney-Fink served as the Professional Development & In-Service Conference Chair on the CT Music Educators Association Executive Council  from 2014 to 2016 and was CMEA All-State Choir Chair in 2012 and 2013.  

 

A Cappella Coach

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Mallory Moser is a singer, actress, and teaching artist based in New York City. She received her B.A. in Theatre with a musical theatre concentration at Northwestern University. In addition to directing and performing in numerous musicals and plays, she was a faculty member  at the "Cherubs" summer theatre program. Mallory also fulfilled the role of show producer for her a cappella group, X-Factors. After earning her bachelor's degree, she completed the prestigious professional training program at Actors Theatre of Louisville before joining Backtrack full time.

Mallory sings soprano for the award-winning ensemble Backtrack. In addition to a rigorous tour schedule across the nation, the group actively participates in educational outreach programs. Mallory enjoys conducting workshops throughout the school year with elementary to college-aged students and is proud to serve as an a cappella instructor at Camp KO Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford, CT and Camp Timber Tops in Greeley, PA. She loves helping aspiring performers find their confidence and voice!

 

Co-Founder and Administrative Director

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Danielle Merlis is a Connecticut based music educator and film composer. Her passion lies in sharing her diverse musical background with young students who want to enjoy music as a lifelong hobby, as well as those who would like to pursue music as a career. 

As both a composer and performer, Danielle's music spans traditional and contemporary styles including classical, world, electronic, pop, and jazz. Danielle has composed music for numerous films and documentaries as well as for ABC Television. 

Danielle has won numerous awards and competitions for her cello playing. She was invited to perform with the Norwalk Symphony as a featured soloist with renowned jazz musician Chris Brubeck and his band Triple Play. She also performed with Glenn Frey at Town Hall to promote his solo album After Hours and with the entire Eagles band at the Beacon Theater.

Danielle studied music at the Manhattan School of Music, Boston University's Tanglewood Institute, McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, in addition to New York University's Steinhardt school. She earned her bachelor's degree in cello performance under the instruction of Matt Haimovitz and Marion Feldman and her master's degree in film composition at New York University. While she was a student at Staples High School Danielle studied cello with Lois Errante and was a member of the Norwalk Youth Symphony Principal Orchestra. Danielle has performed as a soloist, orchestra member, chamber musician, and band member at various venues including Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall, The Beacon Theater, Ozawa Concert Hall, Town Hall, CAMI Hall, The Shed at Tanglewood, Joe’s Pub, Lowe Theater, Provincetown Playhouse, and the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Read an article about Danielle here.

 

 

Co-Founder and Administrative Director

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Long-time Westport resident Joan Merlis has a background as a music educator and choral conductor. She was on the music faculty of the Calhoun School in New York City, and at The Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts in Massachusetts. Founder of the TCS chorale in 1994, she has served as its music director for 25 years. She also performs with the Boston based choirs "Koleinu" and "Zachor."

Joan holds an MBA from Columbia University and worked in finance in New York City. She is also  a certified teacher of the GYROTONIC® method of movement, used by many musicians, dancers and others to maintain free movement of the body to enhance their professional and daily activities.