Board of Directors
The Vocal Alchemy Board
Larry Derkach, President
Believing that singing is good for the soul and enriches our human experience, Larry became a member of the choir in 2014. Vocal Alchemy offered Larry a chance to re-join the world of choir after a long hiatus, and re-activate his love of singing.
Along with his baritone voice, Larry brings decades of insights and experience in running not-for-profit organizations to the VA Board. A range of knowledge from policy and practice, to board training, has helped Larry provide valuable guidance to the VA organization. Larry takes pride in Vocal Alchemy’s growth— in our collective musical competence, in our audiences, and in our sense of community.
Jean Anderson, Vice President
Jean joined Vocal Alchemy in 2005 as an Alto, stayed eight years, then took a break to focus on work. When Jean returned in 2017, she joined our Soprano 2's and is currently singing Alto. Jean was drawn to Vocal Alchemy by the quality of the direction, the repertoire, and the opportunity to be part of a group of like-minded people creating beautiful sound. She stayed because of the innovative, challenging and rewarding experience VA has provided her.
Jean brings 25+ years of leadership experience in the not-for-profit sector with her. With a work-focus on program development, risk management and quality improvement, Jean brings a valuable perspective that helps the board see our big picture more clearly.
Michael Pilgrim, Treasurer
Vocal Alchemy‘s open rehearsal policy for prospective singers, and a central rehearsal location, were initial factors in Michael’s decision to give VA a try. But the music and the community were what helped him settle into his seat in the Bass section.
In addition to a magnificent beard and a quick wit, Michael brings expertise in data analysis, and a keen interest in finance to the Vocal Alchemy organization. He helps bring context and clarity to our numbers and our bottom line. His numerical skill and visualizations help VA better understand the past, and see the future, and are helpful tools for planning and prioritizing our season activities.
Vocal Alchemy’s priority of commissioning new music is a source of inspiration and pride for Michael, who loves that VA is an instigator in the choral community.
Heather Budney, Secretary
Gardener, canner, camper and generally outdoorsy person, Heather loves both the singing and the fellowship she’s found in VA. Her eight years as an Alto have shown Heather the passion and commitment her choir mates have for advancing their musical skills and knowledge, and the support VA's artistic team offers members to help meet those goals.
Heather says that volunteering is “just who she is”, so taking a turn on the VA board was a natural step. In her career as a geologist, Heather sat on a wide range of professional and community boards, and honed her skills in bringing diverse groups together to achieve common goals. Heather finds the work of organizing and coordinating with people behind the scenes satisfying – and knows that together we can do great things.
Elaine has been singing Soprano 2 with VA since 2019. She came to the choir because of the quality of our leadership and accompaniment, and stayed because of the choir’s welcoming spirit, the breadth and quality of our repertoire, and our investment in new commissions. In 2020-21, Elaine’s connection and commitment to the choir deepened with VA’s creative and energetic response to keeping community, choral learning and performance alive, despite the isolation of the time.
While Elaine has decades of choral singing and volunteer experience, she was drawn to the board by a curiosity to see how Vocal Alchemy runs, and she is excited to contribute ideas and insights to help VA continue to thrive in the years ahead.
Playing piano as a child in Switzerland opened Anne’s heart to classical music and eventually led her to join her first choir in 2011. A love of learning has guided Anne throughout her life and drew her to Vocal Alchemy in 2017. Exploring new music and fine-tuning the nuances of every piece have been wonderful learning experiences for Anne, and she feels great pride in the culmination of the work that is evident in each of our performances.
Recently retired from academia, Anne is excited to have more time to pursue creative outlets, including the VA Board. Anne brings a listening ear and thoughtful presence to the governance of VA, as well as the wisdom gained through her involvement in many university committees, including chairing an ethics board.
Wherever Eliza is needed she goes. Now in her third year with VA, Eliza has the distinction of having sung a different part each year: Alto I, Alto ll and now Soprano ll. With a background that spans from theatre to choir, Eliza is comfortable wherever she stands in helping bring performances to life—both on the stage and behind-the-scenes .
In life, Eliza is a doer. As is a team leader in nursing Eliza is used to multi-tasking, collaborating, and knows the power of positivity including the value of singing through adversity. Eliza is excited to be part of Vocal Alchemy, and believes that working with our board is the chance to roll up her sleeves and contribute more broadly to the joy the choir brings to her fellow singers and to audiences.
Al Dunbar, Past President
Past memories of singing as a youth in the Edmonton Centennial Singers inspired Al to look for a choir to join as he moved into retirement. Finding Vocal Alchemy has meant new friends, new memories, and achieving musical results he never imagined.
With past volunteer board experience, and the time to give, joining the VA board seemed a natural fit for Al. A belief in due diligence and a respect for rules and protocol, combined with Al’s kind and considerate nature, are assets in leading the VA board make thoughtful, sound decisions.