Key Chorale Student Scholar Program

Key Chorale Student Scholar Program is a music-in-education outreach program for qualified high school choral members from Sarasota and Manatee County high schools who sing with Key Chorale during its performance season. This experience is designed for students with an exceptional aptitude for music, who plan to further their musical studies after high school.

Program Highlights:

  • Student participation in rehearsals and performances of 4 major programs with professional orchestra and world-class soloists
  • Exposure to music styles from Classical Masterworks to Contemporary to the Circus!
  • Opportunity to rehearse and perform under the baton of our professional conductor
  • Opportunity to take vocal lessons from an approved professional voice teacher (up to seven 30 or 60 minute lessons)
  • Coaching by our professionals on the business side of music, including audition coaching, resume writing, appearance, preparation, etc.
  • Workshops and master classes on topics relevant to preparing high school students for college level music school enrollment and success
  • Required minimum high school GPA of 3.0 to encourage academic commitment along with musical commitment
  • Student Scholars are recommended by their choir director and selected through competitive auditions


  • Inspire a lifelong love and even career in vocal music
  • Build good citizens as well as good musicians
  • Provide tools and experiences beyond the scope of what public school music programs can offer

“The collaboration between Maestro Caulkins and the Key Chorale with the Sarasota County schools is a unique and valuable resource. It is a relationship that fosters excellence and builds a connection that enables choir members from both groups and the community to experience a love of the many aspects of choral music. From the annual “Tomorrow Voices Today” festival to Cirque des Voix, the relationship is masterfully coordinated and motivated by Maestro Caulkins. He genuinely supports and encourages the high school directors in their individual choral programs and brings the groups together to provide unique musical experiences.”
Kirby Sanders, Sarasota High School Choral Director

If you would like to make a donation to our Student Scholar Program please click here 


2018-2019 Key Chorale Student Scholars

Alexis Fretz – Booker High School
Alexis Fretz is a junior at Booker High School who has spent six years in choir at school and has also sung in musical theater ensembles. Her favorite choral piece is “Remembering Decembers” by Pinkzebra, and one of her most memorable choral experiences was singing in the “Tomorrow’s Voices Today” concert with Key Chorale. She looks forward to learning from the experienced singers in Key Chorale and expanding her abilities, and has a dream to be a worship leader to impact future generations.


Carmen Lesser – Booker High School
Carmen Lesser is a junior who transferred in the Booker High School VPA program last year. She has had a passion for music from a very young age and has been singing in school choir since 3rd grade at Lakeview Elementary. Her favorite choral piece is “That Ever I Saw” by Ambassadors of Harmony, and wants to pursue music in college so that she can give back to her community and send meaningful messages through singing. She writes her own music and recently recorded a song at Baysound Recording Studio which she performed live at the Music Compound talent show, and dreams of one day singing in Madison Square Garden.


Zion Thompson – Booker High School
Zion Thompson is a junior at Booker High School and has been singing in school choir for five years, where he had the chance to sing at the Van Wezel with his middle school chorus. His favorite choral piece is “Circle of Life” from The Lion King, and he wants to be a Student Scholar so that he can step outside of his comfort zone and challenge his singing ability. He wants to pursue the performing arts in college because they are a great way to express oneself, and dreams of one day winning a Tony for best performance in a musical.


Aleah Williams – Booker High School
Aleah Williams is a junior at Booker High School who has been singing in choir since the 6th grade, and her favorite choral piece is the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah. She hopes to one day sing on a Broadway stage or tour around the world, and wants to be a Student Scholar so that she can improve individually and gain real professional experience and eventually pass down her knowledge and love for musical expression to others.



Ronald Penkian – Riverview High School
Ronald Penkian is a senior at Riverview High School who is in his second year of singing with the Riverview Chorus, before which he sang in choir for three years in the Philippines. His favorite musical piece is the Queen of the Night’s aria from The Magic Flute by Mozart, and looks forward to working with a diverse group and learning and training with Key Chorale. His dream to pursue the performing arts was inspired by his grandfather, and he hopes to one day sing on a Broadway stage like his idol, Lea Salonga.


Thomas Thai – Riverview High School
Thomas Thai is a junior at Riverview High School who has been singing in choir since middle school. One of his favorite choral memories was attending State Solo and Ensemble competition with the Riverview Chorus, and his favorite choral piece is “Searching Love” by Kim André Arnesen. He wants to pursue the performing arts in college to be able to share his love for music with others, and has a dream to sing as a career.



Tiana Stojicevic – Riverview High School
Tiana Stojicevic, second-year Student Scholar, is a senior at Riverview High School who has sung in choir for four years, and she participated in Florida All State Choir last year. She became interested in music at a young age, and was hooked after playing in the band in 5th grade. Being a Key Chorale Student Scholar has given her unique experiences, such as performing with the circus at Cirque des Voix®, where she first heard her favorite choral piece, “Alice’s Theme” by Danny Elfman. She wants to pursue her passion, music and the performing arts, in college and has a dream to one day sing in foreign countries.


Gabe Welch – Riverview High School
Gabriel Welch is a senior at Riverview High School and has been singing in choir since 7th grade. His favorite choral piece is “Remember” by Stephen Chatman, and he is excited to grow as a singer with Key Chorale, as one of his favorite choral experiences was singing with Key Chorale in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. In addition to choir, he plays the guitar, writes music, and has been performing frequently at open mics since 2016.



Keaton Smith – Sarasota High School
Keaton Smith is a senior at Sarasota High School. He has been singing since his sophomore year of high school and thus far holds music as his primary interest in life. He also loves to act, dance, and read. He has been in two productions at his high school where he was a lead-cast character in both of the shows. Beyond acting and singing, he is a part of the University of Cambridge sponsored advanced placement program AICE at his high school, as well as the MAST program, which is focused on science research and entries into the international science fair. He is very excited to be a part of the Key Chorale and looks forward to performing with the choir.

Dahlia Martinez – Venice High School
Dahlia Martinez is a senior at Venice High School who has sung in choir for six years, and wants to continue pursuing music and the performing arts in college because of the powerful way music resonates with the soul. Her favorite choral piece is “Diffusa Est Gratia” by Giovanni Nanini, and one of her favorite memories on stage is singing “Art is Calling for Me” for a paying audience in her school choir’s production “Singers’ Showcase.” She has a dream to perform arias on stage as a soloist, and is ecstatic to be a Student Scholar so that she can expand her musical knowledge with a professional choir that will take her musical experience an extra step forward.


Katelyn Reinschmidt – Venice High School
Katelyn Reinschmidt is a senior at Venice High School, and has performed in choirs since the age of 4. She particularly enjoys Dan Forrest’s “Jubilate Deo” and Eric Whitacre’s “Alleluia,” and her favorite choral experience has been singing under the direction of Dr. Randall Z. Stroope at Carnegie Hall. She has a passion for music and helping others, and hopes to combine them in her future career. She is excited to be a Student Scholar and to have the chance to improve within an experienced group of musicians.


Jillian Steffens – Venice High School
Jillian Steffens, a second-year Key Chorale Student Scholar, is a senior at Venice High School who has sung in school choir for six years and with the Venice Chorale for three years. She feels that being a Student Scholar has improved her musicianship immensely, and one of her favorite memories is singing Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War” with Key Chorale last season. Her love of music is inspired by her grandma, and she hopes to move to New York to study musical theater and to one day sing on Broadway.

“Being in Key Chorale has given me so much opportunity for individual growth in my singing, as well as the ability to interact with others at various points in their musical lives. These experiences give me knowledge I can pass on to the students I work with in my school choir, where I am an active leader.”
Madison Martin, Key Chorale Student Scholar

If you are a student in the Sarasota or Manatee County school districts and would like more information about applying, please email Education Committee Chair, Bob  Wennberg at