Fostering a child's natural gift for music and singing.

Promoting choral musicianship.
Sharing the joy of song with our neighbors.

Cambria Van de Vaarst, Accompanist

Dr. Benjamin Hutchens, Managing Artistic Director

handbell ensembles,  a robust graded children's choir program, and serves as organist.
Ensembles under his direction have enjoyed a warm reception at national and international concerts and received top awards at the same.
Ben is a resident of Takoma Park.  When not making music, he enjoys travel, cooking, and sailing.

Photo courtesy of Cascades Photography

Melissa LaSalle, President
...spent much of her childhood and young adult years singing in choirs, musical theater, and the shower. She is delighted to share this love with her daughter, Emily, who seemed to come into the world singing and eagerly joined the Del Ray Kinderchoir in the spring of 2017. With a professional background in children's literature, Melissa currently authors the website,, where she curates newly-published children's books for the benefit of parents and teachers. Melissa brings to Kinderchoir many years of fundraising on behalf of her children's Montessori schools. Melissa and her family relocated from Chicago to Virginia in 2010 and have found in Del Ray a warm, vibrant, and intellectually curious community. She is thrilled to be helping the Del Ray Kinderchoir serve such a special community.

Joan Miller, Secretary
...enjoyed a musical education including singing, piano, drums and trombone.  Upon graduation from The College of William & Mary, Joan worked for the state and federal governments on Capitol Hill, then for private and not-for-profit organizations, and has been with Fannie Mae (currently as project manager) since 2006.  While living in Georgia she served as Board Chair for the Cross Plains Community Partner, a private non-profit agency serving adults with developmental disabilities.  She lives in Old Town with her husband and two children.

Stefan Sidahmed, Treasurer
...has nonprofit management experience as Board Chair of the Potomac Crescent Waldorf School from 2012 – 2014.  Stefan spent 20 years in the US Navy operating and repairing nuclear submarines and managing submarine programs.  He has been with Booz Allen Hamilton since 2012 providing program management consulting services.  Stefan is a graduate of the US Naval Academy (BSEE), The Pennsylvania State University (MSEE), and The George Washington University (MBA – Finance Focus). a harpist, organist, and pianist who graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA with a degree in Harp Performance. All throughout school she worked as an accompanist and children’s music director. She now studies under Dr. Benjamin Hutchens at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, VA, alongside working as an organ technician in Beltsville, MD. While studying harp, Cambria participated in masterclasses given by harpists such as Bridget Stuckey, Yolanda Kondonassis, and Dotian Levalier, as well as being a part of the Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra. Cambria currently resides in Rockville, MD and when she is not engaged in music, spends most evenings rock climbing and practicing yoga. a native of Statesville, North Carolina. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Master of Music degree in violin performance from the University of Alabama and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Furman University.

He is the Director of Music Ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria. At Westminster, he conducts a 60 voice adult choir, multiple

Every child can sing!

The Del Ray Kinderchoir provides an opportunity for children in grades K - 6 to experience the joy of singing in a non-competitive environment while developing and strengthening fundamental musicianship skills.

We use music education as the vehicle to help children find a sense of community and belonging.  Life skills attained at the Kinderchoir - teamwork, responsibility, and problem solving - easily transfer into other subject areas.  Friendships created through the Kinderchoir often hold fast throughout the childhood.  The children leave each rehearsal full of newly attained knowledge through our energetic and energizing training program.  Our staff nurtures all children in the joy of making music together.  We are inclusive and non-competitive, and, of course, FUN! 

Children will sing from the rich offerings of American and international folk music as well as from classical repertoire.  Besides singing in many different languages, children will strengthen and develop a healthy singing voice, learn to hear and sing intervals, read, write and sight-sing music and develop melodic and rhythmic improvisation skills.

Photo courtesy of Cascades Photography