Tony Lechner ~ Executive Director
Founder and resident director at Hadley, Northampton, Brattleboro
Tony Lechner is the founder and creative director of Rock Voices, Inc. An award-winning director, composer, performer, and educator, Tony brings his passion for singing to all of the groups he works with. His specialty is vocal harmony, and he has a talent for making learning music easy and fun. Tony has a masters degree in jazz composition and arranging, and custom-arranges all of the music for the choir. As a middle and high school teacher, Lechner created 5-Alone, a high school jazz a cappella group that won numerous DownBeat, CASA & CARA awards and performed around the globe, including at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, IAJE Toronto, IAJE New York, IAJE Los Angeles, and Disney World.
Tony is also a freelance composer and sound designer, having scored many a project for Boston-based animation company Fablevision, and his original songs have gained international recognition (he’s even had one in a movie!). Tony is now dedicating his time and energy to providing people of all ages with more opportunities to sing.
Nate Altimari ~ Albany, NY & Saratoga, NY
Nate Altimari has spent the past 20 years working in vocal music. As an arranger he has worked with high school, collegiate and professional groups all over the country, garnering many awards and features on “best-of” compilation albums. As a director he has founded and led many groups to international acclaim and brought unknown groups to the height of awareness in the a cappella community.
Nate is an award-winning vocalist as a member of his group Firedrill! which is based in Boston, MA. As a clinician, Nate has led workshops and masterclasses in vocal performance, stage performance, rehearsal techniques, ensemble singing, arranging and vocal percussion at festivals all over the country, including SoJam, VoCal Nation, N.E. Voices, Voices of the 603, Kettering, Ohio A Cappella Festival, Clarkston Michigan A Cappella Festival and others.
Nate currently works as a vocalist, Voice Actor and producer in Albany NY where he and his family have settled.
Mark Barstow ~ Portland, OR
Even as an elementary schooler Mark Barstow wanted to rock. He fired his piano teacher at age 10, set a boom box on the family piano, and let Billy Joel teach him to play by ear as he sang his heart out. Since then he’s been a composer, solo and choral singer, and rock band leader. He earned his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at the University of Massachusetts, where he was an original member of the Acafellas – the first singing group of Rock Voices founder Tony Lechner.
In Oregon, Mark has sung with Choral Cross-ties, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Oregon Ballet Theater, and the Portland Symphonic Choir, where he was also a soloist. He also worked on liturgical recordings for the Oregon Catholic Press and provided private vocal instruction. However, his favorite musical endeavor in Oregon so far was the decade he spent leading a rock band.
Now Mark is excited about blending his musical passions and vocal experience into just the right combination: directing Rock Voices Portland.
Joshua Birns-Sprague ~ Pittsfield, MA
Tim Bongiovanni ~ Bedford, MA
Tim Bongiovanni has been working professionally in vocal music for 15 years. His performance career began with the Hyannis Sound – Cape Cod’s premier male a cappella group – in 2004. He went on to become the musical director of the group for two more seasons and then moved on to other musical endeavors. After graduating from The Berklee College of Music in 2007, he founded his production company, Northgate Productions, where he’s produced, recorded, and mixed more a cappella songs than he can count. He currently works full time out of his recording studio – Northgate Studio – in Bedford MA, helping all kinds of musicians and artists achieve their musical vision. Tim also works with the Real School of Music as the director of their weekly A Cappella Ensemble, and a coordinator of their summer camp: Real Jams A Cappella – a summer program which allows middle school and high school students to write, arrange, record, and perform new a cappella music all in one week! He is very excited to be a part of the Rock Voices team and is looking forward to making great music with everyone!
James Boratko ~ West Hartford, CT
Until his retirement from IT Management, music was always Jim’s second career. Even so, he managed to perform with Grammy Award-winning artists Paul Halley and Paul Winter at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He continues to sing throughout the area with the award winning choirs of Joyful Noise. Now he is a full time musician, serving as Organist and Music Director for the First Church of West Hartford, directing the Choral Club of Hartford, playing keyboards for the classic rock band, Still Kickin and the Big City Horns, and piano for the swing band Simply Swing, as well as several other groups.
Jim’s forte is to combine singing excellence with the joy of performance. He is fond of providing challenges to his groups that are just beyond their comfort zone, so that, after they have achieved them, they can grow in self confidence and ability. He strives to bring a visual element into his groups’ performance, so both they and the audience can experience the song beyond just singing and listening. Leading the West Hartford Rock Voices chorus is the perfect opportunity to combine his talents, experience, and passion.
Marianne Cheng ~ Brooklyn, NY
With almost 20 years experience with choirs and vocal music, Marianne is a self-professed music nerd with two degrees in music, including a Masters of the Arts in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has over 10 years of experience conducting ensembles and giving private lessons to students of widely varying ages, backgrounds, abilities, and learning styles.
As a singer, Marianne ranges in style from opera to pop. Though her Bachelor’s of Music degree was in classical vocal performance, she also has extensive experience in contemporary a cappella, where she gained experience directing and arranging music. Her work arranging and singing lead for her college a cappella group, the Loreleis, won a spot on Ben Folds’s a cappella album and has since performed onstage at several Folds concerts. Since college, Marianne has sung a cappella professionally with NYC-based, “Switch Vocals” and the Germany-based “Globe Singers.”
A previous intern for Sony Records, Marianne also works as an audio engineer for the award-winning Five Spice Records in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There with her pets and husband, Marianne pursues a career in acting, singing, producing, and teaching.
Connie Galli ~ Auburn, MA
Connie Galli is recently retired after a successful 35 year career at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, Massachusetts. One of the pioneers of the show choir genre in Central Massachusetts, Connie’s choirs have earned national recognition for their high standards of performance and trend-setting shows. She is looking forward to expanding her music career as director of the Auburn Rock Voices, adjunct instructor at Anna Maria College, and as a clinician and adjudicator on the national show choir circuit.
David Goldman ~ Long Island, NY
David Goldman grew up singing and playing the saxophone and went on to study vocal jazz at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he was an active member of one of the university’s a cappella groups the Doo Wop Shop. David (or “GOLDMAN!” as he is referred to by his students) has spent the last sixteen years as a New York City public school music teacher. David is an experienced arranger and director. He runs an a cappella group, rock club, vocal workshop and song writer’s workshop for teens and is the music director for the school’s musical theater productions. When he’s not teaching, David performs with several groups and hosts an open mic for local performers.
Wendy Meetze ~ Greater Buffalo, NY
Wendy Meetze has a diverse music history, touring internationally as a violinist and jazz pianist as well as nationally as a musical theatre actor. Wendy’s vocal training covers pop, big band, ensemble jazz, Broadway, modern a cappella and barbershop as well as arranging dozens of songs for a cappella. She sang with the Buffalo Gateway Chorus, an international top-ten Sweet Adelines Barbershop Chorus, and is a founding member of the barbershop quartet, Why Not? Wendy has directed dozens of theatre productions with casts members of all ages!
Wendy believes that everyone can sing. “If you can speak, you can sing!” She loves to nurture a positive community atmosphere where every member feels empowered to reach for their personal best every day! There is nothing like creating amazing moments of musical synergy. Wendy loves the freeing and emotional power of the rock genre. “Rock music is not meant to be perfect.” -Ozzy Osborne
Fun Fact: Wendy’s husband, Kevin and daughters Vivian and Natalie know very well that she knows an insane number of songs across all genres. Any phrase can spark a burst of song! On their honeymoon, Wendy was the undisputed five-time champion of “Name That Tune.”
Bob Thies ~ Keene, NH
Bob Thies is an award winning trombonist who has spent almost 30 years working as a musician, vocalist, actor, producer, and stage tech for local theater and production companies, and independent musicians in both Vermont, and California. Bob is the head of the music department at St. Joseph’s Regional School in Keene, New Hampshire, where he directs their middle school chorus, beginning and advanced bands, and teaches general music education to grades Pre-K to Grade 4. He’s a multi-instrumentalist who writes and arranges for vocal and instrumental groups of all sizes.
Bob studied music composition and performance at The College of Marin in Marin County, CA, and at The College of The Canyons, in Los Angeles, CA., and for ten years, he was the lead trombonist and guest vocalist for the award winning San Francisco based swing band, Lee Press-on & The Nails. He has shared a stage with such acts as The Village People, The Osmonds, Gwen Stefani, Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and many others.
When Bob isn’t blasting 80s vinyl at ear piercing decibels, or helping his wife, Bethany, wrangle their four children, he continues his pursuit of the ultimate cheeseburger.
Mike Winslow ~ Framingham, MA
Michael Winslow is currently A Teaching Artist at Greater Hartford Academy of The Arts and Artistic Director of the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus. Prior to coming to his return to Connecticut, he was the Show Choir Director at Mt. Zion High School in central Illinois for 6 years. Throughout his 17 years of teaching, Michael’s groups have won numerous awards at both the local and national level. Michael is a graduate of The Hartt School in West Hartford, Connecticut where he was a member of the Chamber Singers directed by Richard Coffey. He also studied piano with Luiz DeMoura Castro. Michael attended Boston University for his graduate studies. Michael currently resides in Waterbury, CT. He is an active private teacher, accompanist, soloist, clinician, and arranger.