Meet the Director
Jacobsen Woollen is a conductor, cellist, and tenor residing in Springfield, Illinois, where he serves as Associate Conductor of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Illinois Symphony Youth Orchestra, Music Director of the Springfield Choral Society, and Music Director of the University of Illinois-Springfield Orchestra. An Indiana native, Jacobsen returns to the Midwest after spending six years in Vienna, Austria, where he completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in orchestral conducting under the tutelage of Prof. Mark Stringer at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, conducted professional ensembles including the Polska Filharmonia Baltycka and Ensemble Ultreia, served as assistant conductor of the Vienna Opera Festival, and led the Schlosschor Hadersfeld.
During his Vienna years, Jacobsen was frequently called back to the Midwest to work at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where he served as assistant conductor and led several workshops for new works, including Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones. Jacobsen also maintains an active career as a tenor: he recently produced and performed a musical-theatrical concert evening, Lovelace Weave, which explores the father-daughter pair of Lord Byron and Ada Lovelace. As a member of the Grammy-winning Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Jacobsen has participated in opera productions at Theater an der Wien, as well as concerts in Europe’s most renowned venues, including Vienna’s Musikverein and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. Prior to his European sojourn, Jacobsen completed a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan under the guidance of Kenneth Kiesler. During this time he was active in the Ann Arbor musical community, as well, serving as founder and director of Paradigm Shift Chamber Orchestra, music director of the Ann Arbor Camerata, and assistant conductor of the Michigan Life Sciences Orchestra. As a cellist, Jacobsen was a student of Susan Moses in the Indiana University String Academy, and later completed a Bachelor’s Degree with Richard Aaron at the University of Michigan. He has appeared as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Musical Arts Youth Orchestra, and Voces Novae Chamber Choir. As a chamber musician, he has had the pleasure of collaborating with Joshua Bell, Jaime Laredo, Soovin Kim, and many others. From 2013-16, Jacobsen was cellist and artistic curator with the new-music sextet Latitude 49, and he continues to serve on their Board of Directors.
Board of Directors
MEMBERS OF THE SPRINGFIELD CHORAL SOCIETY
Claire Ribelin is the current president of the board of directors of the Springfield Choral Society. She started singing with SCS in 2006. Joining the board in 2018, she has been involved in operational adjustment pre and post-COVID-19 and the search for music directors. Claire’s degree is in Music Education, but she also has a CPA certificate. Claire taught in public schools and then joined the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois, from which she retired in 2022. She is married and has two adult children. She and her husband are avid cooks and enjoy hosting traveling musicians and tour golfers when they are in Springfield. Claire is dedicated to growing the chorus and our audience and developing long-term funding mechanisms so we can continue serving our community for many years.
Before moving to Springfield, in 2008, Jim was a co-founder and charter member of the Summit Choral Society in Akron, OH. He served 6 years as president of the board of directors and continued as a board member until 2002. Jim is the IVF Laboratory Coordinator at Springfield's SIU Medicine Fertility and IVF Center. He became involved in the Springfield music scene in 2008 when he was invited to join the Springfield Choral Society, becoming a board of directors member a year later. He has served as past president and Vice President for Marketing and Promotions. He is a proud member of the tenor section of the chorus.
Jim has been singing most of his life and enjoys the challenge of management of the choral society, but he mostly loves the music and the joy it brings to his life and the community. He and his wife, Meganne, reside in Springfield and are active members of Westminster Presbyterian Church. They have two adult children and one wonderful granddaughter.
Kendra joined the Springfield Choral Society’s Board of Directors as Treasurer in 2019. She has 15+ years of accounting and budgeting experience. She has lent her accounting abilities by serving as President of the Lincoln Magnet School PTO. Kendra is a Senior Internal Auditor at the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois. She and her family have been ardent supporters of the choral society with their time and talents. While completing her duties related to onsite ticket sales for the Springfield Choral Society events, Kendra enjoys hearing the remarks and praises from concert attendees after each SCS performance.
Linda (Carvalho) Younkin is the music director at Christ the King Catholic Church in Springfield and an active member of the Springfield music community. She also teaches private piano and private voice. She is a member of the Alto section of the Springfield Choral Society and serves as the Chorus Manager. Mrs. Younkin has taught K-12 vocal and general music in the Springfield public and parochial school systems for over 30 years. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Education from St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana. She also has certification in Kodaly music education.
She and her husband, Dr. Casey Younkin, have four adult children and are proud grandparents to a three-year-old grandson.
Adam holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree in vocal performance from Millikin University. He has been a member of the chorus since 2012 and on the board since 2013 and current serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors. Until recently, he worked for 11 years at Wells Fargo Funding/Home Mortgage in underwriting. He is an avid choral singer, and in addition to being a member of the tenor section with SCS, he sings with the Spero Chamber Chorale, and The Capital City Men’s Chorus. Adam enjoys performing in community theater and has numerous credits to his name around the area.
Samantha Reif has been a singing member of the Springfield Choral Society since 2016 and joined the board of directors in 2021. She is a Professor of Geology at Lincoln Land Community College and an active member of the college and local community. Since settling in Springfield in 2007, Samantha has been active on many community boards and has volunteered widely. She is a strong advocate for amateur singers and a staunch music lover. Samantha continues to support school and community ensembles and has done so everywhere she has lived. Samantha believes in the universal benefits of singing. She loves the fellowship and community that arises from singing together.
Marcy Dutton joined the Springfield Choral Society Board in 2018 to add a new dimension to her community service. Marcy graduated from Millikin University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree & the LSU Law School in 1990. She enjoys the challenge of the management of the choral society and the enhancement the organization brings to our community. She and her husband, Wally reside in Chatham. When not enjoying yardwork, she spends her free time with family and lifelong friends. Marcy is excited by the growth and vibrant development planned for SCS!
Mike is one of the newest members of the Choral Society board of directors. He has been a member of the chorus since the fall of 2018. Prior to 2006, he lived in the Galesburg/Monmouth area where he spent much of his time singing in church choirs and civic groups. He enjoyed participating as the bass in quartets in the area. Mike is a music convert as his early years of music education were not his favorite subjects and avoided them at all costs. After a chance opportunity to sing baritone, he was hooked and the rest is history. Mike enjoys assisting in the staging and logistics for the choral society and facilitates making our rehearsals and performances move smoothly. Mike now lives in Glenarm with his wife, Barb, and is happily retired from a long career as a Tool and Die Maker.
Dr. Claire Gordon is thrilled to be one of the newest members of SCS, where she enjoys singing alongside so many wonderful friends. Claire has been singing all her life, beginning private voice lessons at age 14. She sang with the Choraliers women’s group during her sophomore year as a vocal music education major at Miami University (Ohio). While working on her Ph.D. in communication at Ohio State University, she sang with the regional champion Columbus Chapter of Sweet Adelines. Her first college teaching job was at the University of Cincinnati. Over the next six years, she sang with the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus and vocal jazz sextet Close Company. She also enjoyed performing lead roles in musicals, including Marian in The Music Man and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. While playing Patty in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, she met her future husband, Gus Gordon. Shortly after their wedding and her move to Springfield, Claire played Rapunzel in Into the Woods and the title role in Sugar at the Muni, as well as Frenchy in Grease and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (again!) at Springfield Theatre Center. Claire has sung with the Laurel United Methodist Church Chorale for many years and continued private voice lessons. She especially enjoyed singing with the 16-voice a cappella group Kapello under the direction of Damien Kaplan and Steve Rotello.
After teaching public speaking and interpersonal communication for 29 years at Lincoln Land Community College, Claire is now a full-time faculty member in the School of Communication & Media at the University of Illinois Springfield. Gus and Claire are the proud parents of Amy, a third-year law student at Northwestern, and John, a senior computer science major at UIS.
Mawa has been a Springfield resident for a year-and-a-half, and a gung-ho Choral Society Soprano since January 2023. After signing in her high school's all-girl choir for three years, she had a bit of a singing hiatus, until the Choral Society’s welcoming environment and eclectic repertoire tempted her to get back in the game. When not singing, she works as a news reporter covering the Illinois state capitol for Chicago's NPR station, WBEZ FM. And she is happy to be bringing her media experience and expertise to the Choral Society, serving on their marketing and social media teams. Mawa is an avid runner, likes to read, and enjoys watching reality TV and going to antique stores in her free time.
Victoria Nichols Johnson
Victoria Nichols Johnson, MD, MS, FACOG, FABM, is Professor Emerita of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. She founded the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, an international physician organization devoted to physician education and breastfeeding promotion and advocacy. She is a singer with the Springfield Choral Society and serves on the Education and Community Engagement Committee of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. She is an organist and singer with the Praise Team at St. Paul AME Church. She is the manager of the faithbased Imperial Credit Union. Music is in her DNA, as she was born into a family who loved and performed music. Dr. Johnson and her late husband Louis extended this to their children. Performing and listening to performances adds value to your life, but Dr. Johnson feels that supporting music programs and the performing arts, in general, is just as important.
Susan Raaum has been involved with the Choral Society since 1997. She feels blessed to be a part of this organization and to have the opportunity to work with fabulous people. Growing up in a small town of 500 people in East Central Illinois, she had no chance to sing with a chorus. There are many SCS special memories of trips overseas with the choir to England, Scotland, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, and the Netherlands—particularly Sunday morning mass at Notre Dame and at the National Cemetery in Normandy. Susan retired in 2020 after 42 years in banking, including 25 years as Executive Vice President of Operations at Marine Bank. Having not had formal music training, being part of the choir has allowed her to learn much and have such vast and varied experiences.
Lauren Williams has been a soprano in the Springfield Choral Society since 2022 and a board member since 2023. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Lauren recently graduated with her master's degree from Indiana University and works in data analytics for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Although Lauren spent most of her youth heavily involved in music--playing piano and violin, as well as singing in a choir and show choir--it was only a couple of years ago that she had a work schedule that granted her the time to join a community choir. Lauren is a member of the Springfield Road Runners Club and Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, and she recently appeared in the Muni production of Beauty and the Beast. In the remainder of her free time, she loves baking, volunteering for Planned Parenthood, and spending time with her husband, Jake.