AIGC Artistic Staff
Choir Director -- Louis Hoiland
Louis grew up singing along with the great music of the 1960s and 1970s. He played guitar and led songs in church for many years and loves to sing with his two talented children, Joel and Rose. When Louis discovered gospel music he felt he had come home -- as if God were singing through him.
Singing in the AIGC under the direction of Karen Dumont and Barbara Culbertson helped Louis find his voice and inspired him to develop his talents as a soloist. Louis joined the AIGC in 1996, was a tenor section leader and Assistant Director. He has sung with Earl Thomas and the True Gospel Singers.
Louis was a high school teacher and administrator for 25 years and has served the community through work with numerous non-profit organizations over the years.
Assistant Choir Director & AIGC Youth Choir Director -- Lorenza Simmons-Phillips
Lorenza is the Director of the AIGC Youth Choir, the Assistant Director for AIGC and a much-loved and valued soloist and choir member. Lorenza has been a musical performer since early childhood. She comes from a family of gospel singers on her father's side and her father is a singer and performer in roots and reggae music.
Lorenza performs and is a teacher of both singing and piano. She has sung with many local bands including AkaBella, Womama, and currently with Vidagua. Lorenza enjoys performing many styles of music, including jazz, gospel, R&B and world music.
Lorenza has been a children's music teacher since 2002. Currently she teaches choir and keyboard at Alder Grove Charter School and teaches voice and piano in her studio. Lorenza sang on the First 5 California Children’s CD "Growing Up in Humboldt", a compilation of local musicians singing children's songs produced in 2017. Lorenza loves to experience the journey of the children in the Youth Choir as they explore music.
Accompanist -- Bob Ebenstein
Bob is interested in all kinds of music and likes accompanying singers, jamming with others at open mic, working with community groups, and especially, watching young people develop their musical skills and passion for music. He says that one of his biggest thrills is accompanying a first time soloist -- bringing out that person's ability to make a song their own. Bob's motto is, "I never met a singer I didn't like."
Bob was raised in Princeton, New Jersey where he began playing violin at the age of ten. He played in a youth theatre orchestra and credits his classical violin teacher, Helen Thompson, for instilling in him a love for music. Bob's family moved to Santa Barbara where he began playing guitar at 14 and piano at 16. Bob played piano for musical theater productions, performed on violin and viola in the local orchestra and accompanied dance classes at UC Santa Barbara.
In 1981, Bob moved to Humboldt County where he continued his classical music performances with the Humboldt and Eureka Symphony Orchestras. He has been the beloved accompanist for AIGC since 1994, has played piano in more than 40 musical theater productions over eight years for Instantaneous Theatre, and is choir director and accompanist for the First Baptist Church in Eureka.
Youth Choir Accompanist -- Susan Stein
Susan Stein is the piano accompanist for the AIGC Youth Choir. Susan grew up playing classical piano. She has accompanied musical theater productions for many years. She also dabbles in violin and fiddle in minimal hopes of keeping up with her nine year old son Béla.
Susan works full-time as a teacher at Alder Grove Charter School, supporting families through their journey of personalized learning. She has also taught Spanish classes for young people since 2007.
Susan appreciates the opportunity to step back into a piano playing role. She feels that the emotive gospel music adds a new highlight to her life.
The AIGC Band plays with the choir for the major performances of the choir season. AIGC band members are Bob Ebenstein, piano, Tim Claasen, bass guitar, Justin Hoopes, drums, David Childers, guitar, Tim Randles, keyboard, and Mike Kimmel, percussion.
The band performs for the AIGC's North Country Fair, Harvest Concert, Holiday Concert, Bowl of Beans Martin Luther King Celebration and Spring Concert performances, plus other selected events during the year.
Former AIGC Artistic Staff
Former AIGC Choir Directors
Jim Hubbard began singing with the AIGC in 1994 and was the AIGC Director from 2009 to 2015. Jim is a founding member of many bands over the years; currently he leads the band Fire Sign with his wife Tamara. Jim has a strong musical background, learning to play guitar and sing when he was 10 years old. Jim is a writer, performer and sound engineer.
Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Jaese Lecuyer began singing and soloing with the AIGC in 1995. Jaese directed the AIGC in the 2008-09 season and directed the AIGC Teen Choir for the 1997-98 season. Jaese now lives in North Dakota and performs as a singer songwriter.
Barbara has been singing with AIGC since 1994. She has been an alto and tenor section leader and music transcriber and music arranger for many of those years. Barbara became Assistant Director in 2001 and she was Director from 2004 to 2008. Barbara was raised in a family of a cappella, hymn singing, four-part-harmonists who broke out the songbooks at every gathering. For Barbara, music is a life-long avocation.
Karen Dumont was a founding member and soloist for the AIGC and was the AIGC director for eleven years, from 1993-2004. Karen founded the AIGC Youth Choir in 1995 and directed it for three years. Karen grew up singing gospel music in church. She has performed and recorded music solo and with numerous bands. Karen now lives in Oregon and continues to perform gospel, jazz and blues.
Lourin Plant became the founding AIGC director in 1992 while he was a Professor of Music at Humboldt State University. He left Arcata for New Jersey in 1993 and now teaches at Rowan State University.
Former Youth and Teen Choir Directors
Kimberley Harris was a choir member and soloist and directed the AIGC Teen Choir during the 2007-2008 season. She has participated in many different gospel groups with Todd Williams, Darlene McKnight and Karen Dumont.
Bristol Martin was a choir member and soloist with AIGC. She directed the Youth choir for two years and the Teen Choir for 8 years, 1999 to 2007. Bristol teaches singing and has directed choirs in churches, schools and for musical theater productions.
Valetta Molofsky was an AIGC member, soloist and Assistant Director. She directed the AIGC Youth Choir for four years, 2001 through 2005. Valetta performs and records gospel and R&B music, she is a member of the Faith Center worship team, she leads gospel singing workshops and she has directed Women in Spirit since 2007.
Natasha (Tosh) Martin started singing in the AIGC Youth Choir in 1993 when she was six years old and then sang in the AIGC Teen Choir. She directed the Youth Choir for 4 years, 2005 to 2009. Tosh sang in school choirs, musical theater productions and performed in numerous drama productions.
Seanna was an AIGC member and soloist beginning in 1994. She was the Assistant Director for fours years. She taught songs and transcribed and arranged music for the choir. Seanna founded the AIGC Teen Choir in 1996 and directed it for two years.
Jeff began singing, soloing and playing tambourine with the AIGC in 1992. He began as AIGC tenor section leader in 1994 and as Assistant Director in 1995. Jeff directed the AIGC Youth Choir for three years, 1998-2001. Jeff now lives and teaches middle school science in the Bay Area.
Former AIGC Accompanists
Eliot Claasen served the AIGC Teen Choir as a piano accompanist from 2006 to 2008.
Eliot is a member of the AIGC musical family -- he is the nephew of longtime AIGC bassist, Tim Claasen, cousin or AIGC drummer, Justin Hoopes, and son of Jonathon Claasen former AIGC drummer. Eliot remains active musically, playing piano, trumpet and guitar with multiple groups in the Arcata area.
Joel was a member of the AIGC Children’s Choir from 1994 to 1996. He was accompanist and solo singer for the AIGC Teen Choir from 1998 to 2004. Joel now lives in San Francisco with his wife Christy. He has played keyboards in bands in the Santa Barbara area and accompanies his sister Rose and others in the Bay Area and in Humboldt County. Joel is a member of the AIGC musical family — he is son of Choir Director Louis Hoiland and long-time AIGC member Andrea Armin, and brother of Rose Armin-Hoiland, former Youth Choir and AIGC choir member and solist.
Wally was the AIGC accompanist during the 1993-1994 season. Wally grew up in the Bay Area where he began studying piano at the age of six and received training in jazz, pop and classical music in high school. In 1974 Wally studied music at HSU and has continued expanding his musical knowledge and skills ever since. Wally plays piano for musical theater performances, plays at Humboldt County venues and gives piano lessons in the Arcata area.