Music Ministry

Director of Music

Liam G Lees

DipLCM ANCM LLCM CAGO FGMS

Liam hails from Scotland where, after a spell of undergraduate study with Organ Scholarship at Glasgow University, he embarked on a journey studying as a junior Opera Repetiteur at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. During his time there he worked on productions including “Le Nozze di Figaro”, “Cosi fan Tutte” (Mozart), “Dido and Aeneas” (Purcell), “Fidelio” (Beethoven) and “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” (Poulenc). He gained considerable experience working with Singers and Instrumentalists as a Collaborative Pianist and thoroughly believes that the rest of his professional career will benefit from his most fruitful experiences there.

Whilst in great demand as a freelance sight-reading Accompanist for Singers, Instrumentalists and Choirs, Liam also held a position as Organist and Choir Director at a local Roman Catholic Church where he composed a number of his own congregational-based Mass-Settings and many Responsorial Psalms – a hobby he continues in his role here at St Joan of Arc by writing the Psalm texts to his own music for each Sunday Mass.

When not in concert or rehearsal he was in great demand locally as a private Teacher of Piano, Organ and Music Theory for all ages, having specialized with intermediate players upwards. Liam is grateful to God for the friends he has made in some of his past Students, Parents of his Students, Priests/Deacons, colleagues and Choir members; some of those friendships having made substantial and deeply treasured impressions in his life.

Now a resident of Hampton Roads and specializing in his Organ performing, Liam holds the position Director of Music and Organist at St Joan of Arc Catholic Church. Liam has already achieved his first musical-academical goal in the USA – obtaining the Colleague Diploma of Organ Performance with the very prestigious American Guild of Organists within six months of having moved to the USA (actually within five) with the score of 92 percent.

Liam plays our comprehensive three-manual and pedal digital Organ during accompanied Masses and services and he also manages the music choices for both weekend Masses and special feasts/other events in the life of the Parish. Liam trains and directs our Choir and Cantors also.

Liam’s professional Qualifications in Music Performance include a Colleague Diploma in Pipe Organ performance from the American Guild of Organists, a Licentiate Diploma in Pipe Organ performance from the London College of Music (upper pass), an Associate Piano Teacher’s Diploma from the National College of Music, a Diploma of Piano performance from the London College of Music (with Distinction), a distinction pass for Grade VIII Theory of Music from Trinity College London and a distinction pass for Grade VIII Pipe Organ Performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. He is a Fellow of the Guild of Musicians and Singers (in the U.K.) for his commitment to fine Church Music since a very young age and is a registered member with the American Guild of Organists.

Some information about how Liam might be able to help-out in musical situations outside “normal working hours”:

Liam is happy to help further any talent within the Parish and is available for private tuition in Piano, Organ and Music Theory for a select few students. Less than a handful of one-to-one instrumental/theory spaces are available right now for teenagers and adults who already read some music.

Please speak to Liam directly for some more information. Additionally, he is also happy to offer some performance coaching (with accompaniment) for anyone (Children or adults) who perform on any instrument.

If you play an instrument or have a child who plays an instrument and can read at least a little bit of music, come and see Liam ASAP to explore the possibilities of performance experiences in the Church (solo or groups).
Liam is happy to provide background piano music or arrange for singers and piano for business or family events/meetings/receptions inside or outside the Church. Speak to Liam directly if you’d like to arrange something. Often events inside the Church will be free of charge.

Cantors

Agatha Cragg

I am Swiss-American, born in California to immigrant parents. My family moved back to Switzerland when I was a toddler, where I was raised in the Catholic church. After I earned my business degree, I moved to Paris where I studied at the Alliance Francaise and met my husband, of now, 33 years. After we got married I moved back to the U.S. and earned my nursing degree and then, with the help of my “better half” raised 3 children. My husband retired as a Navy Captain and started working for NASA 16 years ago.

I have traveled extensively and had the privilege to live in several countries. This encouraged me to learn several different languages. Being around people and exchanging ideas gives me much pleasure. As a lifelong learner, I recently got certified as a Yoga instructor which has greatly enriched my life. Ever since I can remember, I have always loved to sing, so I joined the St. Joan of Arc choir 5 years ago. This is my 3rd year as a cantor and I am thrilled to share my love of singing with the parishioners under the excellent leadership of our choir director, Liam Lees. Our choir members are a fun group of interesting people; I highly recommend supporters of this wonderful church join our multi-talented choir.

Donna Hanson Prantl

The Catholic Church has been a constant source of comfort, guidance and joy all my life. I went to Hunter College in Manhattan, which is part of the City University of New York. Hunter was right in the heart of New York City. I studied voice and theatre, especially enjoying the Christmas season as there were so many churches to sing in.

I have been so fortunate to sing some of the most beautiful choral pieces, in parts ranging from Alto, & Mezzo Soprano to Soprano. I lived in New York and was the leading soloist/cantor for Our Lady Queen of Peace and Holy Rosary churches on Staten Island, NY, not only for Masses & Special Feasts but also for honorary visitors such as a cardinal, weddings & funerals until I moved to Virginia for my work in 1992.

I have had the blessings to sing under some very fine Music Directors, who have studied at Julliard and Conservatories in their home countries and to study with voice coaches in NY, Illinois and Virginia; most notably Sandra Gelb, an Operatic Contralto in Virginia Beach. After some time in Virginia Beach, my husband and I found ourselves in Yorktown and at St. Joan’s in 1997. Singing brings me into the space between heaven and earth, where we can join with the celestial choir to praise our Lord.
I hope to bring you there with me!

Ken Shields

Born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan, music has always been an important aspect of Ken’s life. Growing up in a large Catholic and musical family, his introduction, education, and training in music began in grade school as a saxophonist and continued through high school, community college, and beyond. Military service brought Ken to the Tidewater area of Virginia in 1985.

During his six years in the US Navy, and for many years afterwards, he continued with his music by playing in various groups with performances both locally and overseas while deployed. Ken and his wife Karen were married in 1992 and became parishioners at St. Joan of Arc in 2004. Ken started sharing his talents with the parish as a flautist in 2008 playing with the 8:30 am choir.

With a request from the Director of Music in 2012, he began serving as a cantor and has remained a part of this liturgical ministry ever since. Ken is honored with the privilege to add his voice to the celebration of Holy Mass and is thankful for the gifts that God has given him and to be able to share them with his parish family. He continues as an instrumentalist during other opportunities such as the Passion Play, Coffee House evenings, and special events.

Carol Romeo

I am thrilled to be a Cantor here at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. My journey as a Christian began in such a fortunate way. I am blessed to be a part of a family that provided me with a secure foundation in who I am and from where all blessings come. Singing has always been a fixture in my life. My great-uncle was a national recording artist who sang bluegrass music; daddy also composed music and loved to sing. My roots are in God’s hymns and beautiful psalms.

Like the name I was given “Carol”, I am full of joy and have so much love for my savior as I join in praising him through song. Being a Cantor is a ministry and a privilege. The honor I feel in proclaiming and leading God’s word in song is truly one of the most precious gifts I have been given and I thank you for supporting me in this ministry.

Julie Sandorfi

I have been a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish and Choir as well as a cantor since moving to Yorktown in 2008. I also sang in the Diocesan Choir for several years. At my previous parish, I led the music ensemble for a charismatic prayer group in the 1980s and sang in the parish choir from throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s. In my youth, I studied violin for 10 years and picked up guitar in high school.

Music has always played an important role in my life; I can’t remember a time without it! So much of what we sing specifically as cantors is based on the psalms, including the introit and the communion antiphon. Leading the responsorial psalm is part of proclaiming the Word of God, and I love how it ties together the readings of the day. Over the years, singing and praying the psalms has taught me that there is a psalm for every need and occasion. At times, the psalmist is joyful, grateful, sorrowful, despondent, and even angry – just like I am. The words and music stay with me all week; they become part of my prayer and calm my spirit.

Jessica Martinez

Jessica is the wife of Richard Martinez and mother of 4 children. She retired from the United States Air Force after a 22 year career, across 8 moves, 4 deployments and 4 children. Her children are: Erique, Alexander, Emilia Marie and Cora Rose. She enjoys singing, playing guitar, traveling the world and spending time with family. Currently working as a civilian with the Department of the Army.

Bishop Knestout encourages anyone aware of sexual abuse of minors on the part of clergy or staff of our diocese to notify civil authorities, call the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064 and reach out to the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Jennifer Sloan at 1-877-887-9603.

The anointing of the sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, and temptation, and conveys peace and fortitude (CCC 1520). These graces flow from the atoning death of Jesus Christ, for “this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’” (Matt. 8:17).