Music @ Westminster: Meet the Quartet

The Westminster Chancel Choir is comprised of 60 voices, mostly volunteer. But for the past 20 years, we have been delighted to have four professional section leaders joining our ranks. They assist in leading worship at the 8:30 services on Sundays, and as part of the Chancel Choir at 11:00. Not only excellent musicians, they are a group of fun loving people, a prerequisite to membership in the Chancel Choir! The current members of the Quartet – Katy Williams, Holly Jones, Rich Williams, Vinay Thomas – are all relatively new to their positions. We wanted to provide an opportunity for you to get to know them a little better. We extend a fond welcome to the Quartet!

Vinay Thomas

Vinay Thomas feels privileged to be the bass soloist in the Quartet and bass section leader in the Chancel Choir! Music has always been one of his greatest loves, and he is grateful to have had family and teachers who saw that his gifts lay in the arts before he realized that himself. Vinay pursued two music degrees, a BA in music and a master’s in choral conducting, through which he gained skills in singing, conducting, and arts administration. Though early in his artistic career, Vinay has realized that music is not just a passion. Music is where he is best equipped to use his skills to give back to the community.

Vinay could not be happier to have moved to this “wonderful ‘big-small town’ of Pittsburgh that is so full of arts and culture in its identity.” Currently, he is artistic administrator at the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, focusing on community outreach projects. Not coincidentally, Vinay’s connection to Pittsburgh and to Westminster is the Mendelssohn Choir's music director, Matt Mehaffey, who was also his music professor at the University of Minnesota. Matt grew up in Upper St. Clair and attended this church, and convinced Vinay to give Pittsburgh a shot. Pittsburgh symbolizes the start of a new chapter for Vinay as he has moved into professional life working in the nonprofit sphere. Vinay is grateful to begin that chapter here. After growing up in Dallas and then moving to Minneapolis, Pittsburgh is a city that feels "just right," (despite how confusing it is to get around!). Vinay says there is a lot to love, but for him the biggest draw is always the people. Everywhere he goes, people radiate kindness and welcome him with open arms. In his words, “I have not been to another place with people more welcoming, and I can't imagine I ever will!”

Rich Williams

Rich Williams is an avid singer and has performed extensively in the Pittsburgh area with such groups as Pittsburgh Opera, Voces Solis, Mendelssohn Choir, Resonance Works, River City Brass Band, Believe men’s ensemble, and Aria412. He has been a featured soloist for such major works as Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Haydn’s Creation and Lord Nelson Mass, Doug Starr’s All Saints Requiem, and numerous Bach cantatas. Other notable musical highlights include playing one of the River City townsfolk in a semi-staged 2009 production of The Music Man at Heinz Hall, featuring Shirley Jones and conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. Rich has also had the pleasure of performing as a choral "backup singer" with such internationally acclaimed artists as Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli, and the Chieftains. A Nashville native and chemical engineering graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Rich is an employee of the Bettis Laboratory.

Rich has long had numerous friends in the Westminster Chancel Choir and had sung for selected events at Westminster over the years before becoming the tenor section leader in 2019. He is enjoying the opportunity to sing in such a beautiful sanctuary and feels warmly welcomed by the Westminster church family. Getting to sing and worship every week with his wife, Katy, is also a big plus. Rich and Katy met in the concert choir while students at Carnegie Mellon.

Katy Williams

Katy Williams has been the soprano section leader and soloist since 2019. She loves being here at Westminster with Christine Hestwood, Lorraine Milovac, Jim Burns, and this incredible music program. Katy has performed in the Pittsburgh music scene for 27 non-consecutive years. She attended Carnegie Mellon University in 1989 where she earned a BFA in vocal performance, married the tenor (Rich Williams) in 1994, moved to Florida and South Carolina in 1995 and finally moved back to Pittsburgh in 2001. Since arriving in the Steel City Katy has worked for various prestigious organizations, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera, Civic Light Opera, Quantum Theatre, the Mendelssohn Choir, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Concert Chorale, River City Brass Band, Carnivale Theatricals, and Front Porch. There is barely a musical group that she hasn’t worked with, and if she hasn’t, it’s on her bucket list to perform with them.

When she isn’t singing or teaching, Katy loves baking, walking her dogs, spending time with her kids Mitch and Sarah, and collecting cute cow things. She loves all things cow. They are just so adorable and they are responsible for making cheese, her favorite food!

Holly Wine Jones

And last but certainly not least is Holly Wine Jones, our alto section leader. Holly received a BA and BS in broadcast communications and business management from Alderson Broaddus College. Holly and her husband David have been members of Westminster since 2003, and she has been involved with the music department ever since. She is loving getting to know the fabulous group of alto women. She is also the director of our junior choir, children in 3rd through 6th grades. Holly is the resident music director of Little Lake Theater in McMurray and is also the co-choir director at Upper St. Clair Boyce Middle School. As a private vocal coach, Holly loves helping people of all ages and backgrounds find their voice. Holly and David have two children, Megan and Christian, whom she joins in many musical endeavors.

– Eileen Murray