Maria Allison has been a member of the Performing Arts Society board since its beginnings. As a resident of Kenai since 1979, she has been involved in music, teaching and performing as well as helping organize concerts. She has performed many solo recitals and chamber music concerts, locally as well as around Alaska and in the lower 48. Recent performances include soloing with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, and performing chamber music with visiting artists, the DeVere Quartet and the Madison Quartet. Ms. Allison accompanies for choral groups and festivals in the Kenai/Soldotna communities, works with the Kenai Performers, and plays with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra and Redoubt Chamber Orchestra on viola and violin. She teaches private piano lessons as well as music courses at Kenai Peninsula College. She is a member of the faculty of the Los Angeles-based Gold Coast Chamber Music Festival. She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in music from the University of Nebraska, studying piano with the late Audun Ravnan. She and her husband, Tom, live in Kenai.
Benjamin Jackinsky has served as a board member since May 2001. Jackinsky, a resident of Kasilof, was born and raised on the Peninsula. He is currently the owner operator of a used bookstore called Already Read as well as continuing to work as a commercial setnet fisher, a profession he says he was born into. He has also worked as a hospice care giver and as an independent contractor in visual display in the San Francisco Bay Area. Benjamin received his BA from Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin, and his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in California. An active member of the community, Jackinsky was a founding board member and continues to serve on the board for the Kenai Watershed Forum. He is treasurer for the Transfiguration of Our Lord Orthodox Church. Jackinsky also maintains membership in the Ninilchik Native Association, Ninilchik Traditional Council, Ninilchik Native Descendants, Kenai Peninsula Fisherman’s Association, KDLL, and Identity.
Barb Christian joined the board in the summer of 2008 after her retirement from Kenai Peninsula College, where she served as the liaison between the PAS board and the Arts & Humanities department. Former division chair and full professor of literature and composition, she holds a PhD in literature and criticism as well as an MA and a BS in English. In the 1980s, Christian launched the first public readings by local writers and started the group that became the Central Peninsula Writers Group. Her writing successes include two academic books as well as academic articles, professional presentations, stories, and poems. She still teaches occasional courses at KPC. Arriving in Kenai as new teachers in 1970, Barb and her husband Mike stayed to raise a son and daughter and to promote education, school sports, libraries, and the arts in local communities. They also share a passion for travel, history, and all the arts. Barb’s other hobbies include gardening, reading, and the study of US ethnic and world literatures.
Sammy Crawford moved to Alaska in 1968 to continue her teaching career. She taught social studies and language arts in Kenai and Soldotna before retirement in 1996. She then joined the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education and served for 15 years. She loves music, travel, reading, biking, skiing and the great Alaskan outdooors. She is happy to be serving on the board of PAS and bringing great music to the Kenai.
Elaine Larson joined the board in 2015 after retiring from a career of teaching music for over 35 years. A native of Montana, she began her teaching career as a music teacher in Great Falls, Montana. She met her husband, Mark, at Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna in 1972 and “the rest,” as they say, “is history.” She and her husband, Mark, taught in Seward, 1976-79, left the state, and then returned in 1986 to Kenai, where they were career teachers and raised three children. A recognized expert in Orff Schulwerk (Music for Children), Elaine has presented numerous workshops and courses in Alaska, as well as on the national and international level. Her list of credits includes presentations at national American Orff-Schulwerk Association conferences, UAA, UAF, George Mason University, and Hong Kong Orff Schulwerk Association. In her retirement, Elaine teaches courses in the areas of integrated arts and Orff and remains in her position as the director of the Bell Choir at Christ Lutheran Church. She and her husband love to hike and travel.
Renée Henderson graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. with a music education degree and performance emphasis in trumpet, voice and piano. Later earning her Masters Degree from UA-A in Secondary Administration, with additional advanced studies in conducting at Princeton University, U-South Florida, U-Minnesota, St. John’s U-Minn., U of Nebraska, UA-Fairbanks, Texas-San Antonio, PLU, VanderCook College of Music-Chicago and, of course, Kenai Peninsula College. Additional summer studies also in Belgium and Estonia.
During Renée Henderson’s 43-year tenure, the Kenai Central High School Choir (between 1975 and 2009) traveled internationally on 14 occasions, singing in 30+ European countries and 4 Asian countries. Concert highlights: St. Marks- Venice (3), St. Peter’s – Vatican-Rome (1-Mass), Westminster Cathedral-London (1), Sacré Coeur-Paris (4), Notré Dame Cathedral – Paris (3+Good Friday Service), Salzburg Dome (1+Maundy Thursday Service), and the two major concert halls in Hong Kong and Osaka, Japan (averaging 8 full-length concerts per tour).
Renée’s public school choral philosophy continues to be to have no select groups and to take each and every student any semester they choose to be there, with or without experience. Kenai Central has varied from 1,081 students in the 70s to approx. 525 students since the opening of three additional high schools in the central peninsula area. The KCHS Choirs (3) run from 110 to 180 students each semester.
In the mid-70s, she also started the six (6) music festivals on the Kenai Peninsula: Middle School Mass Band, Middle School Mass Choir, High School Mass Band, High School Mass Choir, High School Honor Band and High School Honor Choir, always searching for the top clinicians in the country.
“I’d say, ‘It’s been a long and a very good “ride”‘!”
Grafted as an Alaskan in 2001, Annie Peek joined the PAS team in 2015 as treasurer. Although her degree is in Communication Disorders (Speech Pathology), Annie would often be found playing flute in the music department devouring whatever music came her way. Now a (mostly) stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and wife, Annie continues her love of classical music and is excited to share her passion for a balanced budget to the Performing Arts Society.
Robert Kuiper has been “living off the land” on the Moose River since 1976. Career pursuits have included building contractor, logger and commercial fisherman. For the last 15 years he has been happily building log furniture as Alaskan Wildwoods. Harvesting raw materials from the Alaskan woods and river banks is the beginning of the musical journey Robert goes on while creating fine pieces of furniture. He and his wife Judy have just opened a new venture called Wildwoods Cabin, a lodging experience closely described as a symphony of wood. While not being able to read a note or carry a tune himself, he is a passionate listener of all music and has supported all such endeavors by local musicians and the Performing Arts Society.
Mary Broderick joined the PAS board as treasurer in October, 2011. She has been active in the music community of Kenai and Soldotna, playing cello in the Central Peninsula Community Orchestra, the Redoubt Chamber Orchestra, and Kenai Peninsula Orchestra for a number of years, as well as volunteering her time to help produce concerts. She presently serves on the board of the KPO. She is also an accomplished graphic artist, working in the medium of pen and ink. She is a part of the business community of the Central Peninsula and has worked at First American Title Company for 17 years. Mary has five sons and four daughters and has lived in Alaska for 20 years.
Lorrene Forbes served as secretary and member of the board from 1999 until retiring in 2013. Ms. Forbes has lived in Kenai since 1971 and in Alaska much longer than that. She received her BA from Alaska Methodist University and a BEd from UAA. A certified teacher, she recently retired as a special services aide for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District after subbing for many years. Lorrene served as a commissioner for the Kenai Library Advisory Commission and is still a member of Friends of the Library. She once produced the Kenai concert for the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra. She has designed and built costumes for Pier One Theatre, Peninsula Dancers, and Kenai Performers. She has also acted, danced and worked as techie for many of these productions, as well as singing in the Kenai College Choir.