The Ensign Symphony & Chorus fills a unique space in the panoramic performing arts scene of the Puget Sound region. Nearly 200 singers and instrumentalists perform a broad repertoire of joyous music in the tradition of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, BBC Symphony Chorus and Westminster Symphonic Choir. Ensign seeks to “bless and uplift audiences in the greater Puget Sound region through professional quality performances of inspiring sacred and secular music.”
Led by Rob Archibald and Fabio Pirola, rigorously auditioned Ensign musicians (many with their own impressive soloist credits) infuse life-long university, church, and community ensemble training with a passion that is profoundly moving. Concerts for Ensign Symphony & Chorus are held in Seattle's world-class Benaroya Hall. Auditions for the Symphony & Chorus are open to any who wish to share their talents to support the mission of the organization.
All members of Ensign Symphony & Chorus are volunteers including the Board of Directors, the Presidency, and musicians. Ensign Symphony & Chorus is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Founder, Music Director / Chorus Conductor
Rob Archibald, M.M. believes that music has the power to uplift and inspire musician and audience alike to become better. Through his efforts founding and conducting Portland Ensign Choir & Orchestra, Westside Community & Youth Orchestra and numerous other church and community musical events, Mr. Archibald finds joy in bringing uplifting, professional quality music to audience members. He has conducted large ensembles in major works such as Beethoven’s 9th, Faure’s Requiem and more, as well as smaller groups performing tight harmonies, rich cluster chords and challenging rhythms. No matter the size of the ensemble, and no matter the music, performers and audience alike love the way Mr. Archibald brings the Spirit to his music.
Mr. Archibald received his Masters in Choral and Orchestral Conducting from Portland State University in 2010. He is an avid student of conducting and has traveled to various parts of the U.S. and Canada to work with Craig Jessop (Mormon Tabernacle Choir), Dumitru Goia (Moldova National Opera and Ballet Theater), Jon Washburn (Vancouver [B.C.] Chamber Choir), Anton Armstrong (St. Olaf College) and others. Most recently, Mr. Archibald studied with Gregory Vajda, Resident Conductor of the Oregon Symphony. He is a firm believer that there is always more to learn and continually seeks to further develop his conducting skills.
As a performer, Mr. Archibald excels as both a singer and an instrumentalist. He has sung from tenor to bass in university, community and church choirs and has been featured as a soloist throughout his musical career. He is sought after as a choral singer in community and church gigs for his musicianship and professionalism. As an instrumentalist, Mr. Archibald loves to learn and is having fun developing proficiency in each instrument family in the orchestra. So far he has learned oboe and percussion (mallets, snare, timpani) and has enjoyed playing each in a community orchestra for several years. He is now learning to play the cello and is excited to play the horn next.
Mr. Archibald and his wife Jacki are the proud parents of 5 boys.
Fabio Pirola has studied opera and symphonic conducting at the Rimsky Korsakov State Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia with Professors N. Alexeev and A. Polishuck. During this time, he also studied at the Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Currently, he is Symphony Conductor at the Ensign Symphony & Chorus in Seattle, Principal Conductor at the Golden Age – Russian baroque ensemble in St. Petersburg – and Guest Conductor at the Opera and Ballet Theatre of the “Rimsky Korsakov” State Conservatory also in St. Petersburg. His projects have also been sponsored and supported by the Italian General Consulate, the Italian Cultural Institute of St. Petersburg (Russia) and by the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco.
Some of his most important concert-premieres conducted, conceived and arranged were: “The European Union Day Concert in St. Petersburg 2009” (soloists and orchestra), “Medea” (premiere contemporary Russian opera by A. Novikova), “Musical rarities from Milan and Venice in the 1700” (lecture, masterclass, concert for soloists and orchestra), “Bergamo: the cathedral music in the XVIII and XIX centuries” (soloists and orchestra), “C. P. E. Bach: 300 years for his anniversary” (soloists and orchestra), “Four century of Italian music from Gabrielli to Respighi” (soloists and orchestra), “Italian compositors at the Ekaterina II imperial court: Traetta, Paisiello, Cimarosa” (soloists, choir and orchestra), “Italian choral music in St. Petersburg: Naples and Venice schools” (soloists, choir and orchestra), “From Vivaldi to Morricone” (special project with the Russian folk orchestra “Severni Gorod”), “La Traviata” (for the 200-year anniversary), “Traetta, Mozart, Tchaikovsky” (lecture, masterclass, concert for soloists and orchestra), “Puccini and Antonio Fortunato’s metaphysics” (soloists and orchestra).
He has also conducted the St. Petersburg State Academy Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Opera and Ballet State SPB Conservatory Orchestra, State Symphony Academic Orchestra Capella SPB, State Ermitage Orchestra “St. Peterburg Kamerata”, Adigea Republic Symphony Orchestra (Russia), Philharmonic Orchestra of the State Theatre of Cottbus (Germany), Westsachsisches Symphonieorchester (Germany), Orchestra Sinfonica di Lecco (Italy).
His studies also include a Diploma in Violin at the Gaetano Donizetti State Conservatory in Bergamo (Italy) and a Master in Pedagogy from Juilliard in New York. He also studied at the Summer Akademie Universitat Mozarteum in Salzburg (Austria) and has played in opera and symphonic orchestras and chamber ensembles. Finally, he won the violin professor competition at the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, Muscat Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Oman.
Assistant Choral Conductor
Sheila Bateman brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Seattle Ensign as the Assistant Choral Conductor. She is currently active in teaching private violin, voice and piano, directing church choirs, and running and directing her local youth orchestra, Snoqualmie Strings, which she founded in 2008.
The Snoqualmie resident grew up in Newcastle, where she began studying the violin at age 4 and later played in the Seattle Youth Symphony. Bateman then attended Brigham Young University, where she played for the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras, and studied violin privately with Barbara Williams.
Bateman later served a mission in Denmark where she began to see the true power in sacred choral music. She was called to participate in and ultimately lead a group of musical missionaries known as “The Octet” who gave firesides throughout Denmark, delivering messages of the gospel of Christ to the music-loving Danish people.
She also attended Utah State University where she sang with the University Chorale and studied private voice and choral methods with Bonnie Slade and Will Kesling. She has recently completed the choral teaching endorsement that she began at USU.
In recent years Bateman has become an avid arranger and transcriber. She has written, transcribed, and arranged over 50 pieces of music for her stake choir, youth orchestra, and now Ensign Chorus. One of her favorite groups to write for is her own family of five young musicians, who sings and plays every year for Bellevue South Stake’s Festival of the Nativities.
In her current calling as stake music chair, Bateman has directed several oratorios for Bellevue South Stake, including Handel’s Messiah, Crawford Gates’ Visions of Eternity, Mack Wilberg’s Requiem, and David Zabriskie’s Savior of the World and Testament of Paul. She has also served as a music director for stake musicals such as Li’l Abner and a Broadway Revue.
Assistant Symphony Conductor
Mr. Chase Chang holds an M. M. in Conducting from Brigham Young University, a B.A. and B.M. in Music Education from the University of Washington, and is a National Board certified teacher in music. He studied violin with Walter Schwede, studied oboe with former principal Chicago Symphony oboist, Alex Klein, and studied conducting with Kory Katseanes (director of School of Music at BYU and conductor). His mentors have also included music educator and composer Mark Jasinski , Tim Salzman (director of the University of Washington bands), Arthur Shaw (retired conductor; Western Washington Univeristy and Rogue Valley Symphony).
Mr. Chang worked with nationally known composer, Richard Meyer, and premiered “A Keltic Feast” with his middle school orchestra in 2008. “A Keltic Feast” is now a published piece performed by many orchestras around the nation. Mr. Chang conducted for the Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO) for three years. He conducted orchestras and taught music theory at the St. Martin’s University Summer Music camp. At SOGO, Mr. Chang premiered the children’s program piece, “The Little Pernambuco Tree”. He coached winds and strings for the Tacoma Youth Symphony, Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia, and Everett Youth Symphony. Mr. Chang held principal oboe position in the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra. He has taught orchestra, band, and choir in the public schools since 1998.
Mr. Chang has been sought after as a clinician, judge, and guest conductor around the Puget Sound area. He is a long time and active member of the Washington Music Educators’ Association and was Site Manager for the 2011 WMEA High School All-Northwest Symphony Orchestra and Group Manager for the 2014 All-State Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Chang directed the orchestras at Tyee Middle School in the Bellevue School District and is the current director of the Bellevue High School Orchestras. Mr. Chang’s student orchestras consistently receive high marks at festivals and was selected at a national level to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2015. He is the artistic director and principal conductor of the Issaquah Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Chase Chang, his wife, Christi Chang, and their two children reside in Renton, Washington.
Clayne W. Robison
Vocal Beauty Voice Coach
Critics have described Clayne Robison’s performances as “authoritative, filled with conviction,” “projecting inner strength,” “he seems to sing from the bottom of his soul,” “a labor of love.” His singing has been heard to be “vocally resplendent,” “clear, large, rich, vital warm,” “pealed out like a big black bell.”
He has conducted vocal workshops at music conservatories across the world from Australia to Russia. His 25-minute demonstration video “10-Fold Teacher Efficiency Through Vocal Boot Camps” was featured at both the MTNA and NATS conventions in 2000. His frequent publications in the Journal of Singing include the lead article in its Sept/Oct, 2001 issue: “Beautiful Singing: What It Is and How To Do It, implications of the new interactivity (chaos) paradigm in physics” which was also the subject of his lecture at the 2001 International Congress of Voice Teachers in Helsinki in August. His new book, Beautiful Singing: “mind warp moments”, is available on his website.
Andrew Pope, President
Renée Smart, VP of Chorus
Julie Jarvis, VP of Symphony
Alan Doman, VP of Outreach
Kyler Harmon, VP of Development
Gerlinde Gilmore, VP of Communications
Melinda Pidgeon, VP of Volunteerism
Jaime Kesterson, Bookkeeper
Mary Ann Heine, Chair
Richard Rose, Treasurer/Secretary
Stephen Weatherford, Choir Pianist
Chris Hall, Rehearsal Venue
Chantelle Oppie, Social Events
Candace Duce, Social Events
Bridgette Pierce, Stage Makeup
Melinda Pidgeon, Stage Makeup
Shauna Tyler, Chorus Recruiter
Shanda Jones, Stage Presence & Attire
Paula Church, Stage Decorations
Patty Lee, Stage Decorations
Joe Jones, Prayer Coordinator
Howard Horne, Volunteer Matching
Joe Johnson, Music Librarian
Maer Robertson, Section Secretary
Wendy Bird, Section Secretary
Paul Morris, Section Secretary
Rose Johnson, Personnel Director
Bill Otto, Music Librarian
Brittany Willey, Music Librarian
Heather Jenkins, Music Librarian
Christa Bingham, Music Administrator
Chari Bennett, Assistant
Anthony Criddle, Web Presence
Sarah Loveless, Social Media
Noelle Mcdonald, Social Media
Gerlinde Gilmore, Photographer