The Choir

We are ordinary persons from all walks of life and all ethnicities, who get to bring praise to God! Excellent musical technique combined with thankful hearts:  we are loved and transformed by Jesus to lead worship at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California.
The choir has deep roots and was established over 100 years ago!

The choir is divided into the 4 traditional sections based on how high or low the singer is able to sing.  High women’s voices are in the soprano section, lower women’s voices are altos.  High men’s voices are tenors—and there just is never enough tenors!  Lower men’s voices make up the bass section.  We are arranged, from the audience’s left to right, as the soprano section, bass, tenor, and alto sections.

Lake Avenue is also home to various handbell choirs.  Handbells are a unique type of
choir where each person plays or rings only one or two notes at a time (see Choral Bells page). The coordination among handbell choir players is intense, as one might imagine, and physically ringing together on each one’s own note takes lots of practice.


John Sutton received his Bachelor of Arts in Sacred Music and Bible Literature in 1982 from Northwest College and in 1997 he earned the Master of Arts in Choral Conducting from San Jose State University, where he was a student of Dr. Charlene Archibeque.  In 2009, John received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from UCLA where he studied with Professor Donald Neuen. 

As a full-time professional musician for over 25 years, John has distinguished himself
in the area of Church Choral Music, establishing programs which have attracted over
400 weekly singers in choir programs for grades K – 12, and adults.  Serving communities in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and California, John is known for impacting the community through his active involvement and leadership in the arts.   John has been
the Interim Director of Adult Choral Music and Worship at Lake Avenue Church in
Pasadena, California since 2000.

Beyond his focused choral training in the university setting, John has had the opportunity
to study with some of the top choral conductors in the field including performances
and training with Robert Shaw, Helmut Rilling, Eric Ericson, Weston Noble, Frank
Pooler, Howard Swan, Paul Salamunovich, Anton Armstrong, Eph Ely, and others.  In addition, he has performed extensively throughout the United States and abroad in choral concert tours and recording projects which include performances at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Constitution Hall.

His enthusiasm for the choral art and his commitment to excellence has made him a popular choral clinician, festival conductor and adjudicator.  He was selected as one of the featured choral conductors at Lake Avenue Church’s 1996 Festival
of Choirs,
conducting over 1200 singers in song.  John has been a featured choral clinician and workshop leader for groups such as the American Choral Directors Association, Choristers Guild, the Association of Christian Schools International, Choral Conductors Guild, Augsburg Publishing House, the National Association of Church Musicians and others.  In 2004, John presented workshops on “Intergenerational Choirs” at the Conference on Liturgy and Worship in Denver and for the National Association of Church Musicians in Virginia.  He has served as a consultant to Calvin College’s Worship Institute in the area of intergenerational worship.  In addition to his work with festival groups, conferences and choral gatherings, John served on the National Board of Choristers Guild, an international organization whose mission is to promote the spiritual nurture of children and youth through music.

Moving to Los Angeles in 2000, John began working in the Hollywood film scene, conducting choral music that has been heard on major motion pictures, weekly television series, and music for films such as Spider Man III, Fantastic Four, and many others.  In 2005, he began a relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and he has been named Musical Director and Conductor for their annual Christmas Holiday Sing-a-Long.  2008 marked John named as the Principal Conductor of the Angeles Chorale
in Los Angeles, and in 2010 John was appointed as the Chorale’s Artistic Director.

John resides in Altadena, California with his wife, Dr. Cecilia Patiño-Sutton.  He is an Assistant Professor at Azusa Pacific University where he lectures in the School of Music and serves as the Director of Choral Activities, conducts the Oratorio Choir, and the University Choir and Orchestra.

 Deborah Isenberg is the founder and director of The Chapel Bells and the Celebration Ringers at Lake Avenue Church.  She was introduced to English Handbells over 30 years ago, immediately after earning her B.A. in Piano Performance from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.  When she moved to Pasadena in 1978, she was thrilled
to find that a new adult handbell choir was being started at Lake Avenue Church
(LAC) by the late E.D. Fischer.  She played under E.D.’s direction for 18 years in the Son-Light Bells, giving annual concerts and numerous tours to Europe, San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Jose.  When E.D. retired from directing in 1997, the adult handbell choir disbanded.  Debbie began directing bells through the Choir School program at LAC and in 2002 founded the Celebration Ringers (Junior High bell choir), and in 2004 also took over the direction of The Master’s Ringers (High School bell choir).  She has taught handbells and handchimes for LAC’s Summer Exploration of the Arts since its inception in the late 1990’s.

In the fall of 2007, she reorganized the adult bell choir under the new name, The Chapel Bells.  The current touring bell choir is comprised of Sanctuary Choir members and hence has been renamed The Choral Bells.  Debbie’s other musical endeavors include many years of singing in church and school choirs, and accompanying for The Master’s Chorale, directed by Dianne Harmel.  She makes her living as a Kindergarten teacher at the Lake Avenue Church Preschool and Kindergarten. 

 David Hughey, baritone, is quickly gaining recognition as one of classical music’s brightest young artists.  A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Hughey’s
lyric voice has been heard in some of the world’s leading opera houses including:
San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden, and
the Festspielhaus Baden Baden.  He has also performed with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Utah Festival Opera, Opera Western Reserve, Cleveland Opera on Tour, New York City Opera (education), and the Manhattan School of Music Opera Studio.  “A beautiful singer with keen, dramatic sensitivity”, he has sung a number of operatic roles
including: Figaro (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Schaunard (La Boheme), Amida (L’Ormindo), Falke (Die Fledermaus), Peter (Hansel and Gretel), Belcore (L’Elisir d’amore),
Il Mandarino (Turandot), Jake (Porgy and Bess), and Morales (Carmen).  Mr. Hughey’s versatile voice moves gracefully through the lyric lines of the Broadway repertoire as well.  Dually acclimated to the stage of Musical Theater, he has also sung a number of crossover roles including:  Harry Easter (Street Scene), Bernardo (West Side Story), Rapunzel’s Prince (Into The Woods), Tin Man (The Wiz), The Arbiter (Chess), Father (Children of Eden), and Al (Most Happy Fella).

This young singer’s fascinating artistry has also garnered him acclaim as a poised oratorio
and concert artist, as well as a sensitive and passionate interpreter of song. He continues to appear in numerous concerts and recitals throughout the United States, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Japan, and Argentina in major works such as Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Fauré Requiem, Brahms Requiem, and Carmina Burana.  He completed his undergraduate studies at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and received
his Masters of Music from the Manhattan School of Music, where he was a Rodgers
and Hammerstein Scholar.

 Grace Chung began playing the piano at the age of four, and her love of music has continuously grown since then. Grace began her musical studies with Judith Johansen, and continued with Anita Norskov Olsen throughout junior high and high school.  She received her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from La Sierra University while studying with Elvin Rodriguez.  During that time, she was fortunate to have had
many opportunities to share her music with others, including performances abroad
in England, France, Greece, and Brazil. Grace went on to study at the Manhattan
School of Music, where she received her Master of Music degree in piano performance
under the tutelage of Marc Silverman.  She then returned to California where she taught as an adjunct professor of piano at La Sierra University and also served as a staff accompanist at the University of Redlands.

Grace is currently in school full-time at the University of Southern California Thornton
School of Music as a student of Kevin Fitz-Gerald in the Keyboard Collaborative
Arts program.  She is a strong believer in the importance of arts education and is fascinated by the powerful ways in which music can affect the mind.  She hopes that
the music she shares will always be a positive inspiration to those who hear her. 


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