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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.



Megan Zembal, Vice President

Megan has a long and unique history with VA. She was an original choir member who joined us fresh out of University in 2002 (our inaugural year), then she left us to spend some years living “away” in Japan and Toronto, and rejoined in 2013. Megan has also travelled within the choir itself– she began as a Soprano I, rejoined as Soprano ll, moved to Alto l, and is currently singing Alto ll.


Megan’s background in HR and people leadership coupled with her positive outlook and solution-based approach, are great assets to the VA board. Her focus is on making sure we have thoughtful governance and a sound organization, to take our community of diverse and dedicated singers into a joyful future.



Paul McElhone, Treasurer

Inspired by Vocal Alchemy’s 15th Anniversary concert, Paul was moved to join VA’s Baritone section in 2017. Being part of a diverse group of people who share musical talents with each other and the community, has been a magical and rewarding experience for Paul.


An expert in growing and managing business, Paul has held leadership positions in the private, public and educational sectors, as well as consulting nationally and internationally. To his work on the VA board, Paul brings a personal and professional focus on helping organizations become exemplary through best practices.



Laura Brin, Secretary

While the University of Alberta Mixed Chorus planted the seeds for a love of singing in Laura, Vocal Alchemy gave her a place to grow after graduation. 2021 will be Laura’s 10th year in the VA family.


Although Laura initially saw stepping up for a position on the VA Society as an opportunity to learn about the duties and responsibilities of a board, she now sees it as a way to contribute to the future of the choir. As a scientist with a mix of administrative and technical training, Laura admits to being excited by the work of keeping the VA Board organized and accountable. From her perspective as a devoted chorister, Laura is committed to contributing to the long-term vision and health of the organization.



Jean Anderson

Jean joined Vocal Alchemy in 2005 as an Alto, stayed eight years, then took a break to focus on work, and then returned to our Soprano ll section in 2017. Jean was initially drawn to the choir 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 has 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. Her focus has been on program development, risk management and quality improvement—all which are essential to the success of an organization, and valuable insights to possess on the VA Board.


Sheena Brandon Geier

With singing on hold through her university years, Sheena was excited to join VA in 2017 as a way to return to her choral roots. She even brought her husband with her! Jordan’s leadership and encouragement, the breadth of our repertoire, and the opportunity to sing with collaborating musicians have been cornerstones of the Vocal Alchemy experience for Sheena.


While Sheena is a first-time board member, she contributes immensely with her enthusiasm and fresh perspsective.


Ruth Dell

Hooked after her first concert, Ruth joined VA in 2016 as a Soprano ll. It turns out that VA was the right blend of challenge, inspiration and accomplishment to satisfy this former Calgarian.


Retired from teaching and leading high school science, Ruth brings an understanding of learning, organizations, and people to the VA Board. She has led the board in a push to build processes for the orientation of new VA board members, in order to help them become effective members more quickly.


Michael Pilgrim

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 the choral community.  



Al Dunbar, Past President

Memories of singing as a young person 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 step 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 helping the VA board make thoughtful, sound decisions.