The People’s Choir of Oakland was founded by world-renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica (Flicka) von Stade in 2020 amidst the pandemic and resulting increase in homelessness in Alameda County, California. The choir, for those suffering from homelessness, will meet weekly (when it is safe) to sing together and rehearse for performances. Everyone deserves the opportunity to express themselves creatively, and PCO will provide that weekly moment for its choir members. Leading rehearsals will be a music director, collaborative pianist and music therapist. PCO’s mission is to invite overlooked communities into collaborative music making to foster a sense of hope and dignity and to enrich perspectives through the power of music.
Welcoming the People's Choir of Oakland Music Director, Music Therapist and Choir Manager
The People's Choir of Oakland is please to announce that Rodrael Guadalupe is joining us as Music Director, and Rob Cheiftetz as the choir's Music Therapist. Also joining the team are Chetina Hunter as Choir Manager and Richelle Scales and Lamar Green as Collaborative Pianists.
Rodrael Guadalupe, Music Director, is a singer/songwriter from the East Bay Area. He started writing songs at 14, while attending performing arts high school in Oakland. Studying creative writing, he continued to cultivate his journey as a young recording artist in college. Studying creative writing, he continued to cultivate his journey as a young recording artist in college. Attending University of California Santa Cruz, Rodrael joined organizing groups that integrated social justice with the performing arts. Studying political movements of oppressed communities, he understood the transformative and healing power of music. Graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 2013, with a double major in both Psychology and Sociology he sought a career as a community artist/teacher- simultaneously, with the goal of working with marginalized youth of color. In 2014, he attended California State University Northridge pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Industry Administration furthering his understanding of the music business- dually, with the goal of taking this knowledge back to youth. Currently, Rodrael is working on his second EP scheduled to be released in Spring 2022. He is a performing arts teacher at Envision Academy of Arts and technology, and is looking forward to healing, building community, creating music, singing, and facilitating/leading the People’s Choir of Oakland.
Rob Cheifetz, Music Therapist, became board-certified in 2021 after earning his bachelor's equivalency at University of the Pacific where he continues his studies in pursuit of a master’s degree. Rob undertook his 6-month internship working with seniors with dementia and fielded other practicum experiences from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Centre for Neuro Skills treating adults in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. A Bay Area native, Rob brings a decade of experience directing musical theater with children and adults and another 20 years of singing and multi-instrumental private instruction. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in music composition and performance where he was mentored by Marika Kuzma in vocal ensemble conducting, Ken Ueno in new music composition, and Myra Melford in a wide range of approaches to ensemble improvisation. Rob has played saxophone on all his favorite Bay Area stages with bands across multitudes of genres.
Chetina Hunter, Choir Manager, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Consultant, Vocalist, and owner of Always Live Lovely. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology with a Certificate in Traumatology and Treatment. She is an Oakland School for the Arts Alumni, where her emphasis was Vocal Music and has received training in various styles of dance through New Style Motherlode. Chetina has experience working with various populations, including families living in the emergency shelter/transitional housing at the Family Emergency Shelter Coalition in Hayward, CA. Chetina is currently a Counselor Faculty and Outreach Coordinator at California State University, East Bay. She knows how transformative and freeing expression through art can be; acknowledging that everyone deserves joy, healing, and a space to be free.
Virtual Launch Event
On Friday, April 2, 2021 friends from around the US joined us for our launch event with special guests Matthew Shilvock, General Director of San Francisco Opera, Taylor Iman Jones, star of Broadway, and featured performances by Mezzo-Soprano Jamie Barton, Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato, Jazz & Blues Vocalist Kim Nalley, internationally-acclaimed vocal ensemble Chanticleer, Bass Kenneth Kellogg, Soprano Christabel Nunoo, tenor Alexander Taite - and Flicka! View the 40-minute program here.
Who We Are
Inspired by her work with the Dallas Street Choir, Flicka desires to bring this community-building program to her unhoused neighbors in Alameda County. She is joined by an advisory board made up of fellow artists and leaders in her community:
Megan McQuillin operatic mezzo-soprano and mother of three
Michael Morgan Music Director and Conductor, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Artistic Director of Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, Music Director at Bear Valley Music Festival and Music Director of Gateways Music Festival
Michael Mohammed, EdD, Director of Musical Theatre Workshop, Opera and Musical Theatre at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, performer, director and choreographer
Alex Taite Director at San Francisco Boys Chorus Graduate Level Chorus, Director at Chorus Eclectic, operatic tenor, composer/arranger and teacher
Your tax-deductible gift to the People’s Choir of Oakland will support the music director, collaborative pianist and music therapist position, provide a small snack and two-dollar bill at the end of each rehearsal for each participant, and underwrite expenses associated with performances.
I was inspired by my friend and colleague, Jonathan Palant, to create a safe place to sing for people who are suffering the distress of homelessness. I had many joyful hours singing with Jonathan and the Dallas Street Choir and really loved knowing the many wonderful people who make up his choir. I wished the same joy for Oakland, and a group of amazing young musicians and artists are joining together for this adventure. We can’t wait for our first session.
Our Fiscal Sponsor
Flicka and Donna Stoering, Founder and Artistic Director of Listen For Life Foundation, have performed together for many years and recently discovered a new way to bring their shared passions together to enrich the lives of others with music with the synergy of their organizations’ missions.
A special thank you to Donna Stoering and Listen4Life Foundation for their support as the People’s Choir of Oakland’s fiscal sponsor. Listen For Life is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN 65-1200601