Evelyn Troester DeGraf, Director of Choirs & Assistant Organist
- Evelyn Troester DeGraf is an internationally accomplished musical director, choral conductor, and music educator. Originally from Germany, Evelyn received her Masters degree with a dual concentration in performance and music education at the renowned University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich in 2005. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate and Teaching Assistant at Columbia University’s prestigious Teachers College. Mrs. DeGraf’s focus on pedagogy and psychology has led her to develop teacher training workshops on creativity development and leadership, the subject of which she was invited to lecture at The ECONOMIST Human Potential Conference in New York. An enthusiastic teacher, Evelyn has taught piano and voice for over a decade to all ages, and especially enjoys offering choral and jazz improvisation classes.
As a well-travelled, versatile musician, Evelyn finds herself equally at ease singing Strauss, Kurtág, de Falla, or Thelonious Monk. She recently conducted choirs for several US performances with rock legends The Rolling Stones. Throughout her singing career, Mrs. DeGraf has had the opportunity to work with master artists such as James Levine, Guiseppe Sinopoli, Candace Goetz, and Rhiannon. Evelyn is the founder and music director of the acclaimed professional a-capella choral group, Ghostlight Chorus. She is also an accomplished pianist, guitarist, and has studied organ with Andrew Henderson and Jim Lake. Evelyn performs regularly as cantor, organist, and choral director at Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
Evelyn, or “Evi,” as she is known to her friends, is a lover of the written word, Yoga, the outdoors, and all things food-related. She marvels at the people that the arts have brought into her life and the invaluable gifts she receives from making music.
James Lake, Parish Organist & Director of Music
- Jim has been the organist and music director at Sacred Hearts & St Stephen since 2003. He earned his Master of Music degree as a scholarship student at Manhattan School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music at Rice University's prestigious Shepherd School of Music. Jim's continuing organ studies were at the Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ, and at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. A frequent performer with symphony orchestras, Jim has performed at all of New York City's major concert venues, including Carnegie & Avery Fisher Halls, the Metropolitan Opera, and Madison Square Garden. As a recording artist, Jim has performed for television and radio, and was heard on Broadway in the soundtrack to Lincoln Center's Tony-Award-winning production of War Horse.
As a music teacher, Jim is known for his ability to recognize the unique perspective of each student's own understanding, and his use of that perspective as an avenue to developing each individual's sense of music.