North Coast Singers founding artistic director announces retirement


Sally Husch Dean, Founding Artistic Director of the San Diego North Coast Singers (SDNCS) has announced her intention to retire after 26 years of serving the youth choral organization. The Encinitas-based choral organization was founded in 1993 and today is a vital part of the cultural fabric of San Diego North County.

Dean’s involvement with the performing arts in North County stems back to the 1980’s when she created a choral program at Capri Elementary School where her children were students. She was a founding member of The Encinitas Arts Foundation and the San Dieguito Performing Arts Association. In 1993 she was invited to start a community children’s chorus and San Diego North Coast Singers was born.

Under Dean’s leadership, together with the capable stewardship of the Board of Directors, the youth chorus serves thousands of young singers from second grade through high school. With four separate ensembles, Sally has developed and implemented a unique program focused on music literacy, joyful singing, global understanding, and international music.

Widely recognized as a premier children’s choral organization, SDNCS tours nationally and internationally. Performance venues include St. John The Divine Cathedral and Carnegie Hall in New York City, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In 2016 the singers performed alongside The National Youth Chorus of Cuba in Havana. Equally as important as touring are SDNCS’ local collaborative projects. The advanced chorus has performed more than ten major works with the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus. In December 2018 they will perform Leonard Bernstein’s musical theater piece, MASS with San Diego State University’s orchestra and chorus. In celebration of their fifteenth anniversary year, SDNCS commissioned and produced a one-act opera, “Mice and Beans: The Opera” based on a story by award-winning Encinitas author, Pam Munoz Ryan, with libretto and music by New York composer, Cary Ratcliff. The children worked with local opera singer, Ann Chase and her husband, esteemed San Diego conductor, David Chase.

Dean’s legacy is evident from the many alumni singers pursuing education and adult lives that continue to be full of music. One such alumna is Michelle Risling who graduated from North Coast Singers, and earned a choral music teaching credential degree from California State University, Fullerton. Risling now leads the North Coast Singers’ 37-member mixed voice high school ensemble.

With a strong interest in preserving this outstanding choral organization for future youth, Sally has worked closely with the SDNCS Board of Directors to develop a comprehensive succession plan for her retirement. In August, the Board announced the appointment of Melissa Keylock as Associate Artistic Director, setting the stage to maintain continuity and excellence in artistic leadership for SDNCS’s exceptional youth choral program.

June 2019 will mark the close of the 26th season of San Diego North Coast Singers. At that time, Dean will proudly direct her final concert and take on a new title as Founding Artistic Director, Emeritus.

“I look forward to staying connected to North Coast Singers along with all the many supporters in our community," Dean said. "I am fortunate to have a strong connection to the vibrant arts community in Encinitas via the powerful voice of children singing.”

— Submitted news release