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About Us

The Piedmont Singers began as a one-time performance project of Dr. Helena von Rueden with sponsorship from Hampden-Sydney College in 2016.  The successful project led to subsequent seasons and to the ensemble you see on this page, now performing regularly in Central Virginia.  Made of up eight vocal professionals, the members of the Piedmont Singers are committed to the choral art at the highest level.

Helena von Rueden, director/alto

Mezzo-soprano and Founder/Director of The Piedmont Singers, Helena von Rueden is an Elliott Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Director of the Choral Program at Hampden-Sydney College. Her vocal performance career spans opera, choral, and oratorio. Dr. von Rueden has worked with the Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale, the Schola Cantorum of the Richmond Cathedral of the Sacred Hear and Sanctuary in Richmond. Before moving to Virginia, Dr. von Rueden enjoyed performing with Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, Opera Santa Barbara, the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, and the Santa Maria Philharmonic Orchestra. As a choral conductor, she has directed the University of Santa Barbara Men’s Chorus and Women’s Chorus, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum Chamber Singers. She is thrilled to be singing with her inspiring colleagues as member and director of The Piedmont Singers.

Pam McDermott, soprano

Pamela McDermott is Director of Choral Activities at Longwood University and choir director at Farmville United Methodist Church. She holds a DMA in Choral Conducting and is active as a clinician, conductor, and chorus master. She is a member of NAfME, NCCO, and is past President for the Virginia Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. She lives with her husband, Mike, in Hampden-Sydney and has twin daughters, Rachael and Amanda. 

Kyle Nielson, tenor

Kyle Nielsen is Director of Choral Studies at Southern Virginia University, where he conducts the Chamber Singers, community-based Choral Union, teaches applied voice, and oversees the conducting internship and vocal music education programs. In addition to his university appointment, Nielsen also collaborates in a variety of capacities with some of the country's leading vocal ensembles.  He is the Artistic Coordinator for the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, where he coordinates all artistic contracting and operations in addition to supervising the artistic wing of the community outreach program. Previous positions have also included Associate Conductor of the Master Chorale of South Florida and 2016-2017 conducting fellow with the Grammy-nominated professional choir Seraphic Fire. Recent ensemble singing appearances include the Piedmont Singers (Virginia), Brevitas (Utah), and Musica Judaica (Florida).

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Nerissa V. Thomson, alto


Nerissa V. Thompson joined the Piedmont Singers in 2019. A native of the Hampton Roads area, Thompson relocated to Princeton, New Jersey and received her training at Westminster Choir College as a candidate for a Bachelors in Music Education. There she discovered a love for performance and has since returned to Hampton Roads to continue exploring that passion. Professionally, she has performed with the Virginia Opera Adult Chorus in several productions including Madame Butterfly, Turandot, The Flying Dutchman and Carmen. She has also sung with the Virginia Chorale for several seasons and currently serves as a section leader and soloist at First Lutheran Church of Norfolk. Thompson expresses her gratitude for being part of the Piedmont Singers and wishes her fellow musicians well as we make glorious music together this season.


Abby Outlaw, soprano

Soprano Abby Outlaw received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from VCU. She has appeared with Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale, Capitol Opera Richmond, the Virginia Chorale, the Richmond Symphony, and Richmond Choral Society. Currently, Abby sings at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church as a soloist, soprano section leader, and a member of Sanctuary, a Renaissance chamber ensemble. Ms. Outlaw also regularly performs with the Piedmont Singers of Central Virginia and the Schola Cantorum at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

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Joel Shapiro, tenor

Joel Shapiro (T) grew up in upstate New York, and received his Bachelor's degree in music education from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, studying with Dr. Rollo Dilworth, Dr. Mitos Andaya, Dr. Paul Rardin, and Dr. Paul Jones.  While at Temple, Joel had the opportunity to music direct Broad Street Line A Cappella for several years, culminating in a performance for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.  He now teaches choir at Woodbridge Senior High School in Woodbridge, VA.  In his free time, Joel enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, skiing, swimming, and finding new coffee shops and restaurants on Yelp.

Daniel Stipe, bass/baritone

Daniel Stipe, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is equally at home as a solo recitalist, collaborator and arranger on both the piano and the organ. Daniel earned bachelor’s degrees in organ and piano performance from the University of North Texas, and a master’s degree in organ performance from Westminster Choir College in 2012. Daniel serves as Director of Music at Trinity Lutheran Church in Richmond, Virginia. He maintains an active concert schedule, with recent performances in Richmond, Tulsa, Princeton, New York City, Hartford, Denver, and Atlanta. In his spare time he enjoys road cycling, hiking, role-playing games, and good literature. 


Ryan Tibbetts, bass/baritone

Ryan Tibbetts is Director of Music at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Goochland.  He also serves as Artistic Director of both the Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale and the Richmond Concert Chorale and performs frequently on harpsichord with Jefferson Baroque.  He received his DM in Choral Conducting from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, MM in Choral Conducting from the University of Delaware, and BA in Music from Princeton University.  Prior to moving to Virginia, he served as Assistant Conductor of Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Assistant Conductor of the Newark Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Newark Symphony Chorus, directed choirs and taught conducting at The College of New Jersey, and sang professionally with Choral Arts Philadelphia and The Philadelphia Singers.  He lives in Richmond with his wife, Kate, and their cat, Rocky.  

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