ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, TOM VENDAFREDDO
Tom Vendafreddo is a Chicago-based educator, music director, and performer. He is the recipient of the Illinois Theatre Association’s 2020 Award of Excellence in Professional Theatre.
In 2014, Tom became the Founding Artistic Director of the Chicago Artists Chorale, a nonprofit choral organization comprised of professionals from the Chicago arts community. The group is entirely volunteer, performs two concerts annually, and has anywhere from 50-80 singers at any given time.
Tom is a proud graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he earned dual degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance, graduating with honors. While studying at Eastman, he was a general music teacher for The Harley School, Eastman Community Music School, Spry Middle School, and Neil Armstrong Elementary School. He student-taught with Diane Abrahamian at Penfield High School, where he would later bring his own choral students on trip for a choral exchange!
Tom then went on to pursue an MFA in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University, where he published a Thesis Project entitled “A Blended Pedagogy: Synthesizing the Best Practices of Opera and Musical Theatre Training Programs to Promote a More Holistic Approach to Training the Singing Actor.” While in San Diego, Tom maintained an active voice studio and worked professionally as an actor and music director.
A product of Tom’s own multifaceted education is an eclectic career as an educator. He has taught a range of courses including voice, choral music, collaborative piano, musical theatre performance, beginning acting, musicianship, musical theatre history, and theatre marketing and publicity at schools such as Northwestern University, Chicago Conservatory for the Performing Arts (Roosevelt University), San Diego State University, The School at Porchlight (Chicago), Baeksuk University (Seoul, South Korea), Patrick Studios (Melbourne, Australia), North Central College (Naperville, IL), among others.
At the award-winning Paramount Theatre, he has music directed and conducted a majority of the Broadway Series productions since 2013, including The Secret of My Success, Newsies, The Producers, Once: The Musical, Cabaret, Elf: The Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney, Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia!, West Side Story, Hairspray, A Christmas Story, Oklahoma!, Les Misérables, The Who's Tommy, Mary Poppins, and In the Heights.
In addition to receiving many Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for his work at the Paramount Theatre, in 2017, he received the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Music Direction for his work on Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Chicago theatre critics lauded his music direction, including the Daily Herald’s Barbara Vitello who wrote, “Much of its splendor came from the orchestra pit, where 19 instrumentalists—under the unerring direction of conductor Tom Vendafreddo—played the musical’s original orchestrations.” Hedy Weiss recognized “...as always, Tom Vendafreddo and his musicians bring the full brilliance of the score to surging life.”
Tom had the pleasure of appearing in Marriott Theatre’s 2014 production of Godspell about which Chicago Tribune’s chief theatre critic Chris Jones, wrote, “[he] sounds just great on “All Good Gifts,” and the Daily Herald’s Scott Morgan called him a “standout” citing his “highflying voice and onstage electronic keyboard jamming.” Further proving his diversified skillset, Tom hopped into the pit to play piano and conduct the very next production at the Marriott Theatre, which was none other than Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town.
At Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Tom conducted Sweet Charity in 2013 (directed by Michael Halberstam) and music directed Company in 2016 (directed by William Brown). Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has hired Tom for a number of Theatre for Young Audience productions (including Madagascar and Shrek); but it was as a replacement in Stephen Sondheim’s RoadShow there (directed by Gary Griffin) that Tom had the great honor to play onstage piano for a 2014 performance attended by the composer himself! Sondheim would later write Tom a letter, reflecting on the experience and stating, “The music was always crisp, clear, rhythmically alive and true to the style, both mine and the period’s. Thank you so much.”
Hedy Weiss chose Tom as one of four Chicago artists for a Playbill profile on theatre music directors in 2018, and Barbara Vitello ran a Daily Herald feature on him in 2020, when he created Thursday Lessons Live—a series of free online classes—during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
In his spare time, he freelances as a pit musician, playing keyboard for Broadway in Chicago productions like the Broadway National Tours of Mean Girls and Les Misérables.
Regionally, Tom enjoys a rather eclectic career as a music director, conductor, and actor. Most recently, he has played Chip Tolentino in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Capital City Theatre, Madison, WI), The Suspects in Murder for Two (Mason Street Warehouse, Saugatuck, MI—Wilde Award nomination), Tommy in The Who’s Tommy (Musical Theatre Heritage, Kansas City, MO), Steve/Angel Cover in Rent (San Diego Musical Theatre), and Jinx in Forever Plaid (Chestnut Fine Arts, Olathe, KS). In 2018, Tom made his debut at the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA), music directing and conducting Billy Elliott, directed by Associate Artistic Director, Matthew Gardiner. He has worked with The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse and Cygnet Theatre (San Diego), as well as Red Mountain Theatre Company (Birmingham, AL).
He is a proud member of both Actors’ Equity and the Chicago Federation of Musicians. He maintains a private studio in Chicago. www.tomvendafreddo.com
Artistic Director and Conductors
CONDUCTOR, JOYCE HAQQ
Joyce has more than 20 years of teaching and directing experience with all levels and ages, ranging from Kindermusik through college level. She is currently the Choral Music Director at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein. She previously taught in Barrington District 220 and also at Adlai Stevenson High School. Joyce graduated University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in Choral Music Education. She also has a Master of Arts in Special Education from Concordia University of Chicago.
ACCOMPANIST, CELIA VILLACRES
Celia is a Chicago-based musician with a bachelor's degree in piano performance and musical theatre from Ball State University. She now works around the city as a music director, accompanist, and vocal coach. Favorite theaters to work with include Music Theater Works, Raue Center for the Performing Arts, and Paramount Theatre.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR (RETIRED),
In the spring of 2017 Carol was named Artistic Director with the Barrington Children's Choir. She retired in January of 2021. Carol has more than 40 years of musical experience,, including music director at various churches, directeing high school, and children's choirs, children's musicals and plays, and has taught and coached piano and voice students. While in District 220 she taught music at all levels, acapella ensembles and choirs. In 2007 she joined the staff of BCC as an accompanist for the Noel Choir eventually becoming the Intermediate Ensemble director.
Carol and her husband, Ralph, are long time residents of Barrington, and will spend much of their time in Florida. They are the proud parents of four adult children, two of whom were BCC choristers, and 8 grandkids!
Our Artistic Director and Conductors
FOUNDING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND CONDUCTOR LAUREATE, PEGGY CRAWFORD
Peggy is an internationally recognized teacher and conductor of children’s voices. Her motivation to start Barrington Children's Choir was to enrich the lives of children through love of music and the joy and fulfillment of artistic accomplishment. This motivation has been realized since 1986. In June 2010, Peggy made her final rotations in Barrington 220, retiring after 25 years of service in five different schools. In Spring 2017, Peggy raised her baton one last time as Artistic Director in celebration of 30 years since founding the Barrington Children’s Choir. We celebrate her and the accomplishment of changing thousands of lives, and creating this jewel for our community and beyond.