choral scholars

The Choral Scholars program provides paid apprenticeships, under the supervision of Maestro Tritle, for college students and recent graduates pursuing careers in vocal performance or choral conducting. Scholars act as section leaders, help to warm up the chorus before each rehearsal, and, when the opportunity arises, are asked to perform step-out solo roles.

David Freides, tenor, is a recent graduate of Manhattan School of Music where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Voice. Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, David began as a trumpet player at a young age until sustaining an injury and switching to singing during his college years. At Manhattan School of Music, David performed the role of Ottavia in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, as well as  Ferdinand in scenes from Thomas Ades’s The Tempest. Recently David sang the role of Tamino in a production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Lyric Opera Studio of Weimar in Weimar, Germany where he also performed scenes as The Duke from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

David sings with Ensemble NYC as a choir member and leads the tenor section at Grace Lutheran Church in Queens, New York. A choral scholar with the Oratorio Society of New York since the spring of 2022, David feels very lucky to get to work with such talented and passionate colleagues under the incredible direction of Kent Tritle.

Currently studying with Arturo Spinetti, David is living in Brooklyn, New York pursuing a career in vocal performance both choral and operatic.

Versatile South African tenor and composer Ongama Mhlontlo enjoys both singing and composing. Included in the Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans of 2023, he holds a Masters in Music degree from Manhattan School of Music. He premiered his latest song cycle ‘Stranger in New York’ on Broadway in New York City in February 2023. He performed the lead role of Leopold Bloom in the world premiere of Ulysses Missa at the New York Theatre Festival and recently premiered ‘The Truth Above All Things’ a song cycle dedicated to his home city of Mthatha. His YouTube channel The Class of Opera has over forty thousand views. Ongama is on the voice faculty at the Bloomingdale School of Music and on the piano faculty at Opus One Music in New York City. He is a proud Choral Scholar with the Oratorio Society of New York.

John Verkuilen is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in choral conducting at the Manhattan School of Music and is on the faculty of MSM Summer. He is also an Associate Conductor of the National Children’s Chorus, a soloist with Musica Viva NY, and is on faculty with Berkshire Choral International. John most recently completed a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Muhlenberg College, where he conducted the Chamber and College Choirs and taught applied voice. Prior to beginning doctoral studies, John served for two years as Artistic Director of Sine Nomine (Fall River, MA), was guest conductor of the Falmouth Chorale and Chamber Choir (Falmouth, MA), and spent a year as Interim Artistic Director of Calliope, a collaborative chorus and orchestra in Boston. Before his time in Boston, John was appointed Assistant Choral Conductor at Macalester College, completed a yearlong music liturgy internship at St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis, and performed two seasons as a member of the Minnesota Opera. He has served as Assistant Conductor of the Newburyport Choral Society (Newburyport, MA) and has been on faculty of the Boston Conservatory Vocal/Choral Intensive. In addition to conducting, John frequently performs with ensembles across the country as a chorister or featured soloist. John has earned a Master of Music degree in choral conducting from Boston Conservatory and a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies and music from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where his interdisciplinary focus was world music.