Staff

Staff

Joelle Norris

Joelle Norris, Executive & Artistic Director, Founder

Joelle Norris graduated summa cum laude with a BME from Roberts Wesleyan College and a MME from Florida State University and directed choirs at Olean High School (NY) and Olive Branch High School (MS).  While teaching in the public school system, Mrs. Norris’ choirs were invited to sing at the 2008 Mississippi ACDA/MMEA State convention and the 2010 ACDA Southern Division Convention.  Also in 2010, she was honored as a Mississippi STAR teacher.  She had the privilege of serving as MSACDA R&S Chair for Women’s Choirs in which capacity she coordinated the first Mississippi All-State Women’s Choir from 2009-2010 and the ACDA Southern Division Women’s Honor Choir in 2010.

 

In 2012, Joelle and her husband, Reese, co-founded the MidSouth Music Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization that supports a community youth choir, CoroRio, and a community adult choir, Mississippi River Chorale.  She currently serves as Executive and Co-Artistic Director for MMI and conducts two of the six choirs. Joelle works from home where she also cares for daughters, Isabelle and Juliette. She was a contributing author for a recently published book, Conducting Women’s Choirs: Strategies for Success, and also enjoys serving as a clinician, adjudicator and presenter across the Southeast.

J. Reese Norris, Artistic Director, Founder

J Reese Norris (b.1973) is director of choirs at Hernando Middle School and is co-founder, co-artistic director of CoroRio, both in Northwest Mississippi. Reese received degrees from Delta State University and Florida State University, and in 2005 was named Delta State University Music Alumnus of the year.

 

Reese has served in several leadership capacities for state-level NAfME and ACDA, and at the division level for ACDA. Under his direction, his middle school choirs have performed in Carnegie Hall, at the National Conference for Middle School Choirs, twice for Mississippi ACDA's State Conference, twice for ACDA's Southern Division Conference, and are slated to perform at the 2018 OAKE National Conference in Oklahoma City.

 

He has been honored to serve as guest clinician and adjudicator across the Southeast. Reese's compositions and arrangements are published by Lawson-Gould, Santa Barbara, Colla Voce, G. Schirmer and MusicSpoke.

Reese Norris
Reese Norris

J. Reese Norris, Artistic Director, Founder

J Reese Norris (b.1973) is director of choirs at Hernando Middle School and is co-founder, co-artistic director of CoroRio, both in Northwest Mississippi. Reese received degrees from Delta State University and Florida State University, and in 2005 was named Delta State University Music Alumnus of the year.

 

Reese has served in several leadership capacities for state-level NAfME and ACDA, and at the division level for ACDA. Under his direction, his middle school choirs have performed in Carnegie Hall, at the National Conference for Middle School Choirs, twice for Mississippi ACDA's State Conference, twice for ACDA's Southern Division Conference, and are slated to perform at the 2018 OAKE National Conference in Oklahoma City.

 

He has been honored to serve as guest clinician and adjudicator across the Southeast. Reese's compositions and arrangements are published by Lawson-Gould, Santa Barbara, Colla Voce, G. Schirmer and MusicSpoke.

Ellen Koziel

Ellen Koziel, Conductor

Ellen Koziel is currently a PhD candidate in music education at the University of Memphis where she serves as a graduate teaching assistant. An experienced Orff-Schulwerk music teacher, she served as a mentor teacher for Shelby County Schools and was a member of the development team and peer reviewer for the Tennessee Fine Arts Teacher Evaluation Portfolio. She was the first General Music Chairperson for the Tennessee Music Education Association where she proposed, developed and chaired the Tennessee Treble Choir. While president of the West Tennessee General Music Education Association in 1993, she spearheaded the establishment of the West Tennessee Festival Chorus.

 

She currently serves as Associate Minister of Music at the Church of the Holy Communion, Episcopal, in Memphis where she directs the children’s choirs. And will be the director the Rhodes College Women’s Chorus beginning in the fall. Ellen is now serving as the conductor of CoroNino.

Tara Tanner, Conductor & Voice Class Instructor

Tara Tanner graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 2001 with a BME in Choral Music Education and a MM in Choral Conducting in 2014. Tara began her teaching career as a public school high school choral director, and then transitioned into full time teaching of private voice in choral/vocal clinician and adjudicator for Desoto County choral programs and honor choirs.  Tara’s recent honors include the “Outstanding Graduate Singer of the Year” award given in 2013 by the University of Mississippi voice faculty as well as induction into the national music honors society Pi Kappa Lambda by the Ole Miss music faculty in 2014.  Tara is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  She maintains a private voice studio and enjoys teaching, performing, and songwriting.  She currently serves as the conductor for CoroArroyo and as the Voice Class instructor.

Tara
Tara

Tara Tanner, Conductor & Voice Class Instructor

Tara Tanner graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 2001 with a BME in Choral Music Education and a MM in Choral Conducting in 2014. Tara began her teaching career as a public school high school choral director, and then transitioned into full time teaching of private voice in choral/vocal clinician and adjudicator for Desoto County choral programs and honor choirs.  Tara’s recent honors include the “Outstanding Graduate Singer of the Year” award given in 2013 by the University of Mississippi voice faculty as well as induction into the national music honors society Pi Kappa Lambda by the Ole Miss music faculty in 2014.  Tara is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  She maintains a private voice studio and enjoys teaching, performing, and songwriting.  She currently serves as the conductor for CoroArroyo and as the Voice Class instructor.

Dr. Trott II

Dr. Don Trott, Conductor

Donald Trott received his Bachelor of Music Education degree cum laude from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. He obtained both the Master of Music degree and Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from the University of Oklahoma under the guidance of Dennis Shrock. While at Westminster, he sang under notable conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Raphael Kublik, Eric Leinsdorf, Joseph Flummerfelt, and Dennis Shrock. Following degree work he taught at Lawton Senior High School in Lawton, Oklahoma, Rogers State College (now Rogers University) in Calremore, Oklahoma, and Longwood College (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia. Dr. Trott has been the director of choral activities at the University of Mississippi since 2002.

 

Dr. Trott is also a past-president of the Southern Division of ACDA, past-president of Virginia ACDA and has held positions with the R&S areas of Men’s Choirs, Youth and Student Activities; he is currently a member of the Research and Publications Committee. He is now serving as the conductor of CoroFuente.

Justin Wadkins, Assistant Director of Mississippi River Chorale

Justin Wadkins is in his third year as director of choirs at DeSoto Central High School where his responsibilities include teaching four choral ensembles.

Wadkins holds the Master of Music degree in choral conducting from The University of Mississippi as well as the Bachelor of Music degree in music education from The University of Mississippi.  He was heavily involved in music throughout his years at the university, being a member of the Pride of the South marching band, the wind ensemble, concert singers, men's glee, and opera theatre.  In 2015, he was a part of the world premiere of the new opera, Hamlet: Prince of Denmark.  The opera theatre department also took the production to Prague, Czech Republic, for the European premiere.  He was inducted into both Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Kappa Lambda honors organizations at the University of Mississippi.

Justin is a member of the National Association for Teachers of Singing, the American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association for Music Educators.  Mr. Wadkins also serves as the District 2 chair and the district honor choir chair. He is currently serving as the Assistant Director of Mississippi River Chorale.

Wadkins
Wadkins

Justin Wadkins, Assistant Director of Mississippi River Chorale

Justin Wadkins is in his third year as director of choirs at DeSoto Central High School where his responsibilities include teaching four choral ensembles.

Wadkins holds the Master of Music degree in choral conducting from The University of Mississippi as well as the Bachelor of Music degree in music education from The University of Mississippi.  He was heavily involved in music throughout his years at the university, being a member of the Pride of the South marching band, the wind ensemble, concert singers, men's glee, and opera theatre.  In 2015, he was a part of the world premiere of the new opera, Hamlet: Prince of Denmark.  The opera theatre department also took the production to Prague, Czech Republic, for the European premiere.  He was inducted into both Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Kappa Lambda honors organizations at the University of Mississippi.

Justin is a member of the National Association for Teachers of Singing, the American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association for Music Educators.  Mr. Wadkins also serves as the District 2 chair and the district honor choir chair. He is currently serving as the Assistant Director of Mississippi River Chorale.

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 Melinda Brown, Accompanist

An active member of Grace Bible Church, she occasionally serves as the accompanist there. With a love for piano, choral music, and children Melinda especially enjoys her time as the accompanist for CoroNino and CoroArroyo. Melinda Brown has served as accompanist for the Hernando Middle School choral program since 2002. She is a member of GMMTA: Greater Memphis Music Teachers Association and MTNA: Music Teachers National Association and maintains an active piano studio in Olive Branch. She and her husband Jim have two grown children and three grandchildren.

Jennifer Rushton, Accompanist

Jennifer has served as a church accompanist for over 30 years.  She has been involved with Desoto Family Theatre since 2001 as a musical and orchestral director.  Her theatre credits include over 20 musicals and she also enjoys accompanying local high school choirs.  She finds great satisfaction in working with these talented performers and directors.  Jennifer resides in Southaven with her husband, Lee and sons Jason and Caleb.  She currently serves as the accompanist for CoroRio, Mississippi River Chorale and Ictus.

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dscf0551-rushton-jennifer

Jennifer Rushton, Accompanist

Jennifer has served as a church accompanist for over 30 years.  She has been involved with Desoto Family Theatre since 2001 as a musical and orchestral director.  Her theatre credits include over 20 musicals and she also enjoys accompanying local high school choirs.  She finds great satisfaction in working with these talented performers and directors.  Jennifer resides in Southaven with her husband, Lee and sons Jason and Caleb.  She currently serves as the accompanist for CoroRio, Mississippi River Chorale and Ictus.

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Allen Sanders, Accompanist

Allen Sanders is a graduate of Mississippi State University and holds the BME in Music Education with concentrations in both piano and saxophone, magna cum laude. While at MSU, he was in demand as a collaborative pianist, accompanying both vocalists and instrumentalists, as well as the MSU Symphonic Band.  In addition, he was a member of the MSU Chamber Singers, Famous Maroon Marching Band, MSU Wind Ensemble, MSU Jazz Band and Saxophone Ensemble. In his third year at Southaven High School, Mr. Sanders is a choral director at Southaven Middle and High Schools.

 

Mr. Sanders has been a church musician for the past twelve years, currently serving as pianist at First Baptist Church of Horn Lake.organist at Maples Memorial United Methodist Church.  He is a member of NAFME: National Association for Music Education.  Allen currently serves as the accompanist for CoroFuente.

Terrell Hall, Sight-Singing and Music Theory Instructor 
Terrell Hall graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2013 with a BME in Vocal Music Education and a MM in Choral Conducting in 2015. While at the University of Mississippi, Terrell was a member of the Concert Singers, Men’s Glee, the Graduates ensemble, and the  University of Mississippi Gospel Choir. Terrell began his teaching career in the New Albany Public School District. His choirs were very successful in both district and state choral adjudications. Terrell is currently the Choral Director at Olive Branch High School, and the Director of Elementary Music at First Presbyterian Church in Oxford, MS.

 

Terrell is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association, the National Association for Music Education, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He is now serving as the Instructor of Sight-Singing and Music Theory for CoroRio.
Terrell
Tabitha Wadkins

Tabitha Wadkins, Marketing and Developement Director

Tabitha Wadkins is a private voice instructor who graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 2015 with a B.A in Music.  While at the University of Mississippi, Tabitha had the honor of being a part of the world premiere of the opera Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, which also went on to premiere in Prague, Czech Republic. Tabitha is a member of the Mississippi Music Educators Association, and she is actively involved in the music community of DeSoto County.  Currently, Tabitha resides in Southaven with her husband Justin and their son, Sawyer.  She serves as the Marketing and Development Director of CoroRio.