KIPP SHARP and Parker Elementary School
This group is in their first year of collaboration. KIPP has about 60 elementary school students who will be paired withParker Elementary's choir students, creating a musical partnership. The choirs are led by Ms. Laura Taylor (KIPP) and Ms. Marianna Parnass-Simpson (Parker). KIPP SHARP was previously paired wiht the Awty International School, and has been part of Partnerschools for 4 years.
Ms. Taylor is the KIPP SHARP College Prep Lower School music teacher and director of the KIPP SHARP Singers. With over 20 years of experience directing childrens’ choirs and working with young children in early music development Ms. Taylor has directed pre-K, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade choirs at Chapelwood United Methodist Church, in Houston, Texas.
Ms. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Millsaps College and a Master of Arts degree from New York University. Ms. Taylor also pursued doctoral studies at Rice University and has obtained certification in Kodaly and Orff elementary music workshops. Ms. Taylor is an active member in Gulf Coast Orff Association, Texas Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association.
Prior to teaching, Ms. Taylor sang first soprano with the New York Choral Society where she sang numerous concerts in Carnegie Hall including the always-popular holiday concerts with Peter, Paul and Mary. Additionally, Ms. Taylor sang with the Houston Symphony Chorus and performed with the chorus on a tour of Austria and Germany, most notably attending the Graz Summer Musical Festival.
Marianna Parnas-Simpson graduated with a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Russia. to the United States. Since 1999 Ms. Simpson has taught at Parker Elementary School, a Houston ISD Magnet school for music. In 2005, she was named Teacher of the Year by her fellow teachers at Parker Elementary. In 2006, Marianna founded Treble Choir of Houston, a choral ensemble for young women, grade 6-12. Her choirs have been selected to perform at Carnegie Hall, in Jones Hall with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, at the National American Choral Directors Association Convention, at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention, Organization of American Kodally Educators, American Guild of Organists multiple times. From 2008 to 2010 Ms. Simpson served as the Artistic Director of the summer program for the American Boychoir in Princeton, NJ. Ms. Simpson is in high demand as a clinician and conductor of the state honor choirs, festivals and workshops in the United States and internationally. Additionally, Marianna is a founding member of the Houston Chamber Choir, 2020 Grammy Award Nominee and Margaret Hillis Award recipient, professional choral ensemble. She recorded 5 CD’s on MSR and SIGNUM CLASSICS labels.