Org, as he is known to his friends, is a founding member of the Cheese Lords, its Vice President, and, as a member of the Repertoire Committee, is constantly searching out rarely-performed works and emerging composers. An Alta California native, he began singing classical music at the chapel choir at Georgetown University. He has previously sung with the Cathedral Choral Society and Coral Cantigas. He think that he may be one of the first people to have sung the bass line of Renaissance composer Elzear Genet's Virgo prudentissima on the banks of the Zambezi River.
Despite having no formal training in composition, he's had the temerity to compose a number of works for the Cheese Lords, includingTenebrae factae sunt, O magnum mysterium, and La Eficacia de la Paciencia, based on a prayer attributed to St. Teresa of Avila. The Blessing of St. Francis was described by Washington Post reviewer Stephen Brookes as having "faint but wonderful undertones of Brian Wilson…a real delight to the ears." In April 2008, his setting of The Prayer of St. Francis was premiered for a gathering of national interreligious leaders with Pope Benedict XVI at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.
Gary is one of the founding members of the Cheese Lords. Originally from Windsor, NY, he has lived in the Washington, DC area for the past 30 years. In addition to singing with the Cheese Lords, Gig sang as a member of the Cathedral Choral Society for 18 years (1984-2002). He also occasionally dabbles in choral composition having written works for SCL including a setting of O Magnum Mysterium, Recessit Pastor Noster, and les cedres et chaque petite fleur. In addition to singing and writing music, he also enjoys two-stepping and boating on the Chesapeake Bay with his partner Howard. Gig is thought to be the only person to ever have completed the Marine Corp Marathon and then sung in a performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis all on the same day!
Having sung with the ensemble for seven years, Sargon de Jesus [sic] has now leaped into the category of the "older" Cheese Lords. Bestowed with a somewhat unusual name, he is the frequent recipient of strange epithets, such as "the Destroyer," "the Terrible," or "the Magnificent." Sargon sings bass with the Lords, but often wishes he could just bust out a sweet tenor line (4-3 suspension, please!). His propensity for using strange voices or accents, though, sometimes leads to strange pre-rehearsal hypotheses as to what exactly is his "sexy voice." Some Lords have also expressed curiosity about Sargon's college experience as a co-founder of a whistling choir. He still dreams that one day he will unite a group of kick-ass whistlers to perform the National Anthem at a sporting event. One day..
In his spare non-Cheese Lord time, Sargon sings with the professional choir at Christ Church Georgetown. Outside of music, he enjoys boogying down to the awesome fiddle tunes at Glen Echo Park (especially if his partner Sarah is playing) and making their adorable daughter laugh. He's also on a life-long quest to hike to the highest point in each of the lower 48 states (current tally: 23). Now, you might wonder, "why not hike all 50 states?" Well, that's because Denali is tough...and he's a chicken.
Christopher Riggs joined the Cheese Lords during their formative years (1997-98) after much cajoling by founder Skip West. A graduate of American University's School of International Service, Chris has lent his voice over the years to several DC-area choral groups including the Capital Camarata, Polyhymnia, the Heritage Signature Chorale, Ensemble Torculus, Musica Oriana, and the Spooktastics. He is a 15+ year veteran and occasional soloist with the acclaimed Cathedral Choral Society. Bearing a vocal range from bass to countertenor, Chris has performed featured roles in local community music theater productions mounted by The Arlington Players, Little Theatre of Alexandria, St. Mark's Players, and American Music Stage. You can hear him on Sundays in Washington singing for services with the superb choir of the Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes under the direction of Dr. Owen Burdick. In his spare time Chris is an ESL classroom instructor for the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.
Before Cheese Lord rehearsals the aptly named "Lord Taskmaster" frequently brings his fellow Lords to task to finish their legs of mutton, drain their tankards of mead, and join him in the arte of Musyk and songe for the evening. As always Chris is grateful for the continued loyal support of his family and friends.
Clifton "Skip" West III is the founder and president of the Suspicious Cheese Lords, a position he retains through his skills as a cook par excellence. Skip began his stage career in kindergarten by singing "The Perfect Nanny" from the movie Mary Poppins. He was encouraged to study music by his next-door neighbor, who happened to be Howard Mitchell, conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Skip was a boy chorister in the premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass, a musical travesty he'd rather forget. He sung with the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Treble Choir, the J. Weldon Norris Chorale (Howard University), the Washington Capella Antiqua, the Cathedral Choral Society, and Coral Cantigas before deciding to found his own group. This D.C. native is equally at home with Gregorian chant and spirituals, but his true love is for music of the Renaissance. He sings countertenor, and currently studies with Barbara Hollingshead.
Kevin Elam, from the illustrious city of Manassas, Virginia, studied classical piano throughout childhood and into high school, but has also enjoyed singing in many different choirs from a young age. Kevin studied jazz piano at George Mason University with the phenomenal Wade Beach, while also performing as chorister and soloist in the University Singers and other choirs. After graduating in Spring 2014, Kevin is now working as a private piano instructor in the Fairfax area. After seeing the Lords perform a concert in Baltimore late in 2013, Kevin’s then-dormant but fiery passion for pre-Baroque choral music was awakened, and he knew it was his destiny to pursue a Lordship. To his delight, was accepted into the group in October; thus far the experience has been exciting, fulfilling, and uplifting.
Outside of Cheese Lords, Kevin stays active on the gig circuit by playing or singing in several bands and musical projects, such as the DC Transit Band, a wedding/dance band that plays everything from Journey to Beyonce. Kevin’s other hobbies include playing the guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, flute, and Irish whistle. Most importantly, he has a great and enduring love for all things Tolkien.
Cole Milliard is a bass hailing from the flat yet exciting expanses of Overland Park, Kansas. He joined the Suspicious Cheese Lords in July 2013, but has been singing in a choir of some sort since his elementary school days. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (2007), where he was a member of the Notre Dame Glee Club as well as a founding member of the coed a cappella group Halftime, and the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America (2010). Cole believes that the Lords shouldn't be the only ones to have to put up with his booming yet dulcet tones and terrible puns, so he also spends time singing with Chorus Sine Nomine. While happy to sing stirring and sacred choral music from any age, Cole will always have a soft spot for Thomas Tallis (the first composer he ever loved) and music from the Russian choral tradition (because there is nothing quite like a low B-flat).
David’s choral background began with an off-the-cuff decision to join a church choir in third grade. From there, it was full steam ahead in the pipe organ, where he continued cantor and ensemble work in churches outside Philadelphia and Atlanta, and with St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth, TX. David sang with the University of Georgia Collegium Musicum and performed at the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival. He twice went abroad on European tours, notably including singing Guillaume Dufay’s Nuper Rosarum Flores underneath il Duomo in Florence and Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere mei, Deus in a private recital in the Sistine Chapel (He still gets the chills at that, too).
A graduate of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and alumnus of the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, David at first decided to concentrate fully on his graduate studies when moving to DC. But after hearing the Cheese Lords perform at the Washington Early Music Festival, he was jolted out of that poor decision by the FrankenMass repertoire and officially joined in late fall 2014. Music has a funny way of lamenting “convertere,” doesn’t it?
Baritone Steve Pearcy’s middle school band instructor would be startled to learn his near-hopeless second-to-last chair trumpet player went on to perform and record under such conductors as Mstislav Rostropovich, Antal Dorati, and Peter Philips. He’s sung “Blowin’ in the Wind” with Peter, Paul, and Mary; “One” with Marvin Hamlisch; and Bach and Mozart with Christopher Hogwood, though one of his favorite performances was singing the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey with the NSO at Wolftrap as the movie was shown above him. He’s performed and/or recorded with over a dozen DC-area choirs and ensembles in churches, cathedrals, and concert halls around town. A former foot soldier in the trenches of education, teaching math and music, Steve helped found first public charter school for the performing arts in DC. For the past ten years he has been working in non-profit finance with charter schools and community arts centers. When not singing or working, he wanders around national parks and the world with his wonderful wife Robin in search of the meaning of life and the perfect cup of coffee, which he’s nearly certain may be the same thing.