Artistic Director / Conductor
Doff Procter holds BM and MM Degrees in Vocal Performance from the University of Alabama and the Cleveland Institute of Music respectively, plus an Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance from the Conservatory of Music in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the last thirty five years he has sung almost ninety leading lyric baritone and tenor roles from opera, operetta, and musical theatre on stages across the United States and in nine European countries. Procter's most recent appearances have been as the title role in Sweeney Todd, Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, as the baritone soloist for Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and the bass soloist in Bach's B-Minor Mass. In May of 2015, Procter headlined with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra in a program of all Russian blockbusters along with the Ambassador Choir of the Alabama Choir School. Formerly on the voice faculty of the School of Music of the University of Alabama, he is also currently the Director of Music at Christ Episcopal Church, in charge of their seven choirs. In April of 2013, Procter received the 20th Druid Arts Award for the category "Music Educator".
Executive Director / Artist in Residence
Originally from Ohio, Laurel Procter graduated from the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance. Laurel sang nearly 40 roles professionally as a leading lyric soprano in German, Swiss, and Austrian opera houses from the mid-1980's to the early 1990's, specializing in Mozart, Puccini, Janacek, and Lehar, before she and Doff began to grow their family. Choosing to leave the operatic stage to become a full-time mom was an easy decision for her and yet she continued singing, both in Europe and now in the States, performing in concerts, recitals, and oratorios, even jumping in to perform opera and operetta roles within her repertoire for ailing sopranos both here and abroad. Now the proud mother of three wonderful, grown daughters, Mrs. Procter enjoys her work with the choir school, along with soloing in the Christ Church Adult Choir. She is also Assistant Music Director at Christ Church, leading three of their children's choirs.
A native of Charleston, SC, Leah Keyes Durham holds the Bachelor of Music degree in choral music education from Furman University and the Master of Music degree in choral conducting performance from Louisiana State University. She is in her 15th year of teaching and conducting across four states. Before coming to ACS, Leah taught chorus/music in public schools (elementary, middle, and high) and in church settings (adults and children/youth). As a public school music educator, choirs under her direction regularly won superior ratings at state and regional festivals, and her students earned spots in All-State choirs. Leah was honored as the District Teacher of the Year for Anderson School District 4 (SC) in 2011-2012 and previously served as the Middle School Chair for the SC American Choral Directors Association. An active chorister herself, Leah sings in the Chancel Choir at First United Methodist Church Tuscaloosa and with the Taylor Festival Choir, a professional chamber choir based in Charleston, where she often appears as a soprano soloist. Leah moved to Tuscaloosa from Pendleton, South Carolina in 2021 with her husband, Justin, and their two young children, Colin and Molly.
Dr. Steven Taranto
Originally from Chicago, Steven began his career as a church musician at age fourteen serving as a volunteer organist. After high school, he attended Elmhurst College from 1988 to 1992, receiving a Bachelor of Music in Music Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Church Music. Thereafter, Steven received his Master of Sacred Music in 1995 at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Upon graduating, he began as the Director of Music and Organist for First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Tennessee, and was the conductor of the Festival Singers, an inter-denominational community choir hosted by First Presbyterian Church. Steven also was musical director for the Jackson Theater Guild and served as primary accompanist for the Jackson Community Children’s Choir as part of the community music program at Union University. 2006 he moved to Oxford, Mississippi, completing his Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education at the University of Mississippi in 2010, working full-time as a financial aid administrator for the university and serving as Organist/Choirmaster for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, also accompanying the Oxford Civic Chorus. Steven has two great dogs, Sadie and Addie, loves gardening and musical theatre.
Administrator / Rehearsal Assistant
Sarah Vander Wal
Sarah Vander Wal began her cello studies in fifth grade as part of a school orchestra program in Grand Rapids, MI. She has a bachelor's degree in cello performance from The University of Alabama. Sarah has performed regularly with professional orchestras across the southeast, including the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra. She has years of experience as a music educator, teaching private cello lessons, Kindermusik, and general elementary school music. Sarah also has over fifteen years of experience in office administration. She lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Greg, and their four children, three of whom are Alabama Choir School students or graduates.