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Choral Arts Initiative Appoints First Managing Director

Kyrstin Ohta, currently the Administrative Associate, will be promoted to Managing Director effective January 1, 2023.

Irvine, CA — December 20, 2022 — Choral Arts Initiative names Kyrstin Ohta (she/her) their first Managing Director effective January 1, 2023 as part of their continued capacity-building efforts. Kyrstin Ohta started as an Administrative Assistant in 2019, and through her unwavering commitment throughout the pandemic crisis, was promoted to Administrative Associate in 2021.

Founding Artistic Director Brandon Elliott, who dually serves as the Executive Director of the organization, made the recommendation to the board as part of a two-year strategy to separate the Artistic and Executive Director roles into two distinct positions. This move is often recognized as a best practice for arts organizations. “Kyrstin and I have enjoyed working together for these past three years, and our work throughout the pandemic showed me that there is no better administrative partner and leader to guide our Choral Arts Initiative family,” said Elliott.

“The Board supports Brandon’s vision to build capacity over time for a separate Executive Director position, and we unanimously agree that Kyrstin will be an excellent leadership partner with Brandon,” said Loren Asmus, Treasurer of the Board of Directors. Kyrstin Ohta adds, "Working and singing with Choral Arts Initiative is like coming home: warm, familiar, love. The singers and organization have become my family and I want nothing more than to see the organization thrive and grow. Through any setback or victory, we’ve always pushed forward, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of that. As CAI strives to make advancements in every capacity of our operations and production, I am thrilled to take on and shape this new role as Managing Director."

As Managing Director, Kyrstin will initially take on approximately half of the Executive Director duties. She will gradually oversee contract administration, licensing, facility and venue management, marketing and publicity, operations, and production. Over the course of two years, the Managing Director will absorb additional responsibilities, matched with additional compensation, until it becomes a distinctly separate Executive Director role.

Making moves to gradually create two positions is also a signal of growth as Choral Arts Initiative enters its second decade as an organization. “After navigating nearly three years of difficulties brought on by the pandemic, Choral Arts Initiative looks ahead to 2023 with optimism, and this new appointment signals a new era for our organization,” says Elliott.

As part of Choral Arts Initiative’s additional capacity-building measures, the organization has implemented one-click digital contract offers, a “no emails” internal communications policy, increased compensation, direct deposit payroll, and industry-leading access, inclusion, and equity efforts. Additionally, Choral Arts Initiative seeks to expand the Board of Directors in 2023 by adding additional seats that draw upon the vibrantly diverse Orange County community. To learn more about how you can partner with Choral Arts Initiative, visit


Choral Arts Initiative is a non-profit 501(c)(3) choral organization comprised of some of the most talented and passionate musicians in the Southern California region. Widely recognized as a champion of new music, Choral Arts Initiative has been praised as “gracefully lyrical” (Voice of OC), hailed as one of Orange County’s “Best Choirs” (CBS News, Los Angeles), and noted for its “sublime” and “triumphant” performances (Textura). Winner of the American Prize in Choral Performance, recipient of the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming, and Winner of the San Francisco Classical Voice Audience Choice Awards for Best New Music Performance, Choral Arts Initiative continues its commitment to musical innovation and excellence. Their inaugural album, How to Go On: The Choral Works of Dale Trumbore, ranked #6 on the Billboard Charts (Traditional Classical Albums), and #4 on the iTunes Best Seller Classical Charts. Their passion for new music has led to the commission of nineteen compositions and the premiere of over eighty works. In April 2022, Navona Records released From Wilderness: A Meditation on the Pacific Crest Trail, composer Jeffrey Derus’ new concert-length work and meditation on the transformative experience of traveling the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile scenic coastal hiking pathway that stretches the length of the pacific coastline of the United States and traverses the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. Since release, the album charted for four cumulative weeks on the Billboard Charts, and was the #1 Best Seller and #1 New Release on Amazon.


Kyrstin Ohta is originally from Orange County, California and holds a B.A. in Music Education, choral conducting emphasis, from California State University, Fullerton, School of Music and a Certificate in Music Industry Essentials from NYU Tisch, Clive Davis Institute. She has been singing in various choirs, professionally and in school for over 22 years. As a professional choral musician, she currently sings with Choral Arts Initiative and the Pacific Chorale. Kyrstin has performed in venues across the nation including Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Arena, Winspear Opera House, Segerstrom Concert Hall, the Greek Theater, and the Honda Center, to name a few. Kyrstin worked as the Western Regional Representative at J.W. Pepper & Son, where she was able to guest lecture at multiple universities and conduct choral reading sessions for organizations such as AZMEA and CMEA. She has served as the alto section leader at a number of churches in Orange County, including Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, Anaheim First Presbyterian Church, and Saint Thomas More Catholic Church. In addition to music, her hobbies include weight lifting, cooking, and going to concerts. Kyrstin just celebrated 5 years singing and working with Choral Arts Initiative and is excited for her new role as Managing Director.


Brandon Elliott enjoys an expansive career as a conductor-educator, musician, arts leader, and consultant. He is the Founder & Artistic Director of Choral Arts Initiative, an award-winning new music choral ensemble based in Orange County, CA. Under his leadership, Choral Arts Initiative has received critical acclaim and recognition for its artistic excellence, musical innovation, and dedication to performing music from a vibrant roster of living composers. With a passion for new music, he has conducted the premiere of over 90 works. Most recently, he received Chorus America’s Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal.

Equally passionate about teaching, training, and mentoring musicians, Elliott is the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Moorpark College. He regularly serves as an adjudicator, clinician, preparatory conductor, guest conductor, and guest speaker for festivals, competitions, and local K-12 programs, and is a semifinalist for the 2022 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. As a vocal musician, Elliott has sung with various professional and contracted choruses. Previous engagements include singing under Craig Hella-Johnson in the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Pacific Chorale with John Alexander, and various ad hoc ensembles for artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Beck, Star Wars Live, and Zelda Live.

Elliott maintains professional memberships with ACDA, NAfME, MACCC, and Chorus America. His writings have been featured in Tactus, Cantate, and The Music Educators Journal. Additionally, he has presented on choral entrepreneurship at the 2016 and 2017 Chorus America national conferences and was a panelist for the CCDA Choral Leadership Academy. He currently serves on the California Choral Directors Association board as the Repertoire & Resources Chair for Community and Professional Choruses. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and a teaching credential from California State University, Fullerton, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, a specialist certificate in Music Business Leadership from the Berklee College of Music, and a Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California. Learn more at

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