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"Let Peace Abound" Program

The program

Adult Chorus

Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina


When Thunder Comes

I Believe


Can We Sing The Darkness to Light?

Giovanni Battista Martini


Mari Esabel Valverdi


Mark Miller


Kyle Pederson

Elizabeth Amory Teutsch, Jennifer Jenkins,
Alexander Minter, and Nicolas Noa, soloists

MJ Divino, Greg Puchalski,
Natalie Raichilson, and Sherri Rase, soloists

Youth Chorus

See the Light

Give Us Hope

Hope is a thing with feathers

Et In Terra Pax

I’ll make the difference

Joanna Bollam, Ethan Bunales,
and Sara Soto, soloists

Sara Quartell


Jim Papoulis


Penny Rodriquez


Victor C. Johnson


Moses Hogan, adapted by Janet Klevberg Day

Luluah Merchant, Trinity Trotman, 
and Ramona West, soloists

Adult Chorus

Ose Shalom

The World of Our Dreams

Armistice 1918 (Everyone Sang)

Light of a Clear Blue Morning

Nicholas Gatto, oboe

MJ Divino, soloist and Nicholas Gatto, oboe

John Leavitt


Jeffery L. Ames


Craig Carnahan


Dolly Parton,

arr. Craig Hella Johnson

MJ Divino, Shauna Evans, Rebecca Morris,
and Jennifer Villanueva, soloists

Combined Choruses

The Storm is Passing Over

Let there Be Peace On Earth

Charles Albert Tindley,
arr. Barbara W. Baker


Sy Miller and Jill Jackson Miller,
arr. Craig Courtney

Nicholas Gatto, oboe

Meet the Performers

Matthew J. LaPine

Founder & Artistic Director

Adult Chorus Director

Matthew J. LaPine is an active performer, educator, conductor, and composer in central New Jersey. He received the designation Master of Music in Choral Conducting and Music Education from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he studied voice and graduated with distinction.  Mr. LaPine is the Founder and Artistic Director of Rise Up Chorus, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to enrich lives through human interaction using music as our commonality. He is Choral Director at Bernards High School, where his choral ensembles have received national acclaim and have performed in various locations along the East Coast. Matthew sings professionally throughout New Jersey as a soloist, conductor, and clinician.

Learn more about Matthew at


Helen Kernizan

Youth Chorus Director


Ms. Helen Kernizan is the Youth Chorus director with Rise Up Chorus. Her biggest passion is educating young people to become the best musicians possible. Her educational philosophy is guided by three tenets: all children have a right to an education in the Arts, have the ability to be musical and improve musicality regardless of musical aptitude, and have the capacity for music literacy. Since 2017, Ms. Kernizan has worked as the Choral Director at the Township of Ocean Intermediate School (TOIS), where she directs both its Choir and Select Choir. At TOIS, she collaborates with colleagues to organize the District’s Annual Music in Our Schools Month Concert series and the Intermediate School’s Annual Arts Cafe. In addition to her work with Rise Up Chorus and in a public school setting, Ms. Kernizan is the K-8 Chorus and Music Chair with the Central Jersey Music Educators Association (CJMEA). She is responsible for organizing Region II Intermediate and Elementary Honor and Region choirs. CJMEA consists of six counties: Hunterdon, Monmouth, Mercer, Somerset, Middlesex, and Union.

Florence Simons

Adult Chorus Collaborative Pianist


Pianist Florence Simons enjoys a varied career as a piano teacher, accompanist, music director and performer. Florence has been a staff accompanist at Westminster Choir College, has accompanied for various elementary and middle school choirs and orchestras and has played for workshops, master classes, and recitals. In addition to teaching piano for various community music schools, Florence also maintains her own private piano studio in Princeton New Jersey where her students have participated in master classes, given Dr. James Goldsworthy, and prestigious competitions such as the Mid Atlantic Music Teacher’s Guild and Golden Key Festival. Florence’s other great love is musical theater where she has accompanied/music directed over 20 productions for various musical theatre summer camps and community theaters in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Favorite shows include, 13 the musical, Urinetown, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and Avenue Q. Currently Florence teaches piano and accompanies all musical productions, recitals, and musical theater classes at Music Nation Academy in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She also accompanies the middle school orchestra at Martin Middle School in Marlton, New Jersey and is the pianist/accompanist at Tuckerton United Methodist Church in Tuckerton New Jersey. She loves teaching and passing on the gift of music!

Hannah Han

Youth Chorus Collaborative Pianist

Hannah Han is a pianist with over 20 years of piano teaching experience. Ms. Han earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the Mannes College of Music of the New School in New York City where she studied with award winning pianists, Professor Arcady Aronov and Professor Leon Pommers. She is an accomplished collaborative pianist, having collaborated with choral ensembles, vocal soloists, and instrumental soloists.

Besides working as Collaborative Pianist with Rise Up Chorus, Ms. Han works as a private piano instructor with both PM Zen Music Center in East Brunswick and the Most Music School Metuchen, and she is the piano accompanist at Pilgrim Mission Church in Hackensack and Woodbridge Community Choir.

Hannah Han

Nicholas Gatto

Guest Musician, Oboe

Nick Gatto Headshot.jpg

Nicholas Gatto graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from The College of New Jersey in 2000, where he studied oboe with John Symer, Dorothy Darlington, and Corinna Wiedmer, and performed extensively with both the TCNJ Wind Ensemble and Orchestra. In 1998, he won The College of New Jersey Orchestra Concerto Competition, and performed the Concerto for Oboe, K. 314 by Mozart both in New Jersey and on tour at several historic venues throughout England. Nicholas received his Master’s Degree in Music Performance from Carnegie Mellon University in 2002, where he studied with Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida and was co-principal oboist of the CMU Philharmonic and a member of Carnegie Mellon’s graduate-level woodwind quintet. Nicholas has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and in 2003 was a member of the National Orchestral Institute Summer Festival Orchestra in College Park, Maryland. He has played under such conductors as Lucas Richman, Edward Cumming, Juan Pablo Izquierdo, Michael Stern, Andrew Litton, and Leif Segerstam. He was a featured soloist in the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra’s 2009-2010 season, performing the Concertino for English Horn in A flat Major, Op. 34, under the direction of Lucian Rinando, and in 2011 was the soloist for the world premiere performance of Tim Keyes’ New England Tapestry: A Concerto for Oboe, Orchestra, and Choir at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium. In addition to being a member of Quinception as well as the principal oboist of the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra, he performs frequently with the Eastern Wind Symphony, Boheme Opera Company, St. Mary Chamber Orchestra, Tim Keyes Consort. and freelances throughout New Jersey, New York, and Eastern Pennsylvania. His playing can be heard on numerous recordings, including the TCNJ Chorale CD “Sing We” released in 1998 (Cecil Effinger’s “Four Pastorales” for solo oboe and choir), the Eastern Wind Symphony CD “Music for Shakespeare” released by Klavier Records in 5 (conducted by the composer, the late Alfred Reed), as well as several other recordings by the Eastern Wind Symphony and Tim Keyes Consort. Nicholas also appears on several albums of R&B/soul recording artist Will Downing.


In addition, Nicholas is also an accomplished pianist and organist. He is currently the Director of Music/Organist at Saint Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in East Brunswick, and is a staff piano accompanist in the music department of The College of New Jersey. He currently resides in Edison with his wife (Andrea), son (Brendan), and Australian labradoodle (Neville).

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