Deborah Waln DesForges has been teaching vocal skills to children in Florida public schools since 1974. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from W. VA. Wesleyan College and a Master of Music in Music Education from the University of Florida. From 1977 until her retirement in 2014, she taught music at Gainesville’s Glen Springs Elementary School and served as the Fine Arts Chair. She was selected for Who's Who Among America's Teachers, 2002 and 2005, recognized as an Outstanding Volunteer in the Arts by the City of Gainesville Cultural Affairs Board in 2002, selected for Who’s Who in Education for 2005-2006, Who’s Who Among American Women 2006-2007 and Who’s Who in America 2010 and 2011. Ms. DesForges received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
In 1994, Ms. DesForges founded the Gainesville Youth Chorus, which has become a regional and interna- tionally recognized touring choir. As the Artistic Director of GYC, she coordinates all artistic aspects of the organization; managing the Artistic Staff, developing the choral education programming, in addition to conducting the Concertina, Concert and Touring Choirs.
Ms. DesForges currently serves as the Executive Director; working in tandem with GYC’s Executive Assistant, and Bookkeeper to coordinate the business activities of our organization and heads the Grant Writing Team.
Assistant Artistic Director/Advanced Musicians Program Coordinator
Mitch Rorick holds degrees from Wheaton College, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and Florida State University. He has completed three levels of Kodaly training and is certified in children's church music (K-12) by Choristers Guild. Mr. Rorick was Associate Director of Music at Trinity English Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Associate Director of Music and Organist at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, FL, where he is now Director of Music and Organist.
Interested in working with choirs of all ages and talents, Mr. Rorick has served children's and adult choirs in Illinois, Indiana, and Florida. He has worked with the Fort Wayne Children's Choir, Florida State University Capital Children's Choir, and Indiana University Children's Choir. While teaching at Purdue University Fort Wayne, he served as a faculty advisor to the Singing Dons and instructed students in arranging and aural skills. At Santa Fe College he has taught private lessons and music appreciation.
Mr. Rorick has served in a variety of leadership capacities for the American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Handbell Musicians of America, and Indiana Choral Directors Association. He has been a vocal artist for Heartland Sings and sung with the Festival Singers of Florida. Mr. Rorick joins the Artistic Staff of the Gainesville Youth Chorus as Assistant Artistic Director and Coordinator of the Advanced Musician's Program in July 2022.
Annie Johnson received her Bachelor in Music Education from the University of West Florida (UWF), and was the first African American to graduate from their school of music. While at UWF, she was active in University choirs, theatre and piano, as well as her music education studies. Upon graduation, she taught in Louisiana public schools for 5 years and at the ARC Angels Music Therapy Day Facility for special needs adults. In 1987, Mrs. Johnson moved to Gainesville, FL where she taught elementary music for the Alachua County School Board for 29 years, being named “Teacher of the Year” four times. She also continued as pianist and organist for many churches and civic organizations. She has been a radio announcer, computer processor, entertainer, and accomplished seamstress. Her volunteer work has included ALZ’s Place, The Atrium at Gainesville, and playing for many local churches. She is a member of the Gainesville Women’s Club, serving as chair of the Arts and Culture Committee. In addition to her volunteer work, she is currently the organist at St Andrew’s Church in Gainesville and teaches Art after school at Caring and Sharing Learning School.
From 2001-2005, Ms. Johnson was a member of the Gainesville Youth Chorus (GYC) Artistic Staff. During that time, she served as our first international tour accompanist, becoming the first woman and African-American to play the organ for mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Italy. Ms. Johnson rejoined the GYC Artistic Staff in 2020 as an Accompanist and Coach, and is also an instructor for our Concertina Choir’s Young Musicians Program.
Myrtle Schreffler holds Bachelors in Arts in Sacred Music from Evangel University, Springfield, MO and a Bachelors in Arts, Music Education from Southeastern University, Lakeland, FL. She has served as an accompanist for many Major Voice Recitals, Junior Miss Competition and for Gospel Choirs, performing across Florida, Costa Rica and Peru. Ms. Schreffler taught elementary music for 8 years, and piano for over 15 years. She has also served as a choral director for various churches, middle and high school choirs. Currently, she is a chorus director at a local school and joined the Gainesville Youth Chorus Artistic Staff as an accompanist in March, 2022.
Amy Longtin received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts with a minor in vocal performance from Stetson University, studying with Dr. Craig Maddox. While at Stetson, she sang leading roles in opera and musical theatre productions, was a member of the esteemed Stetson Singers and Chapter President of Sigma Alpha Iota music sorority. Mrs. Longtin taught private voice lessons for 10 years, was a middle school Gifted Teacher and is a licensed Kindermusik instructor. She has been director/producer of multiple productions in the North Central Florida area and consulted other directors in all facets of theatrical production. Mrs. Longtin taught Theatre, Cinema and Film Production, and Physical Science for Florida Virtual School for 9 years. Currently, she is teaches FLVS Middle School Gifted and sponsors the FLVS Glee Club.
Mrs. Longtin joined our Artistic Staff in January 2018 as a Vocal Coach and Choreographer, and is also an instructor for our Concertina Choir’s Young Musicians Program.