The choir standing in front of a skyline.
Meritáge Vocal Arts Ensemble, 2023
Dr. Brian Dehn works with a soloist at the piano.
A member of the choir performs during a concert.

Based in the heart of Orange County, California, Meritáge Vocal Arts Ensemble has captivated audiences on both national and international stages with our extensive repertoire, which spans from classical masterpieces to the rich tapestry of American folk music and standards, as well as cutting-edge compositions by emerging artists and arrangers.


Established under the visionary leadership of Dr. Sheridan Ball, Meritáge Vocal Arts Ensemble has flourished into a thriving ensemble of more than 70 accomplished singers. Their year-round performances illuminate the breadth and splendor of choral music, offering an immersive journey into the world of vocal artistry.


In 2019, Meritáge Vocal Arts Ensemble welcomed Dr. Brian Dehn as our Artistic Director, and his unwavering dedication to the art of music has been our guiding force ever since.

Brian Dehn has conducted his ensembles in some of the world’s most remarkable venues including Carnegie Hall, the Sistine Chapel, St. Mark’s in Venice, St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Mathias in Budapest, St. Tomaskircke in Vienna, St. Patrick’s and The Riverside Church in New York, St. Anne’s Cathedral in Sydney, St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge, St. Patrick’s and St. Mary’s in Dublin, and the Beijing Central Conservatory. His selection of top-quality repertoire and special work with vocal development has him in frequent demand as a guest clinician with choirs throughout California and the Western United States.

Brian is also founder and artistic director of Meistersingers, a semi-pro group also based in Orange County. He received his Doctorate of Music Arts (DMA) from Claremont Graduate University in May 2023. He completed 15 years of teaching at the high school level where his ensembles were awarded consistent “Superior” ratings, and invitations to prestigious festivals around the state, including an invitation to perform at the 2018 ACDA Western Region Convention. He took his programs on performance tours to New York, Spain and Portugal, San Francisco, China, Italy, Ireland, England, and Australia. For over 20 years he has also held positions as Director of Music for a variety of Southern California churches, currently serving as Director of Music Ministry for First Christian Church of Orange.

As an accomplished tenor soloist, Dehn has performed in Chicago Symphony Hall for Chapman University, The New Century Singers, The California Women’s Chorus, Pasadena Pro Musica as well as soloist for many other professional music ensembles, colleges and churches throughout Southern California. An accomplished ensemble singer in his own right, he has performed with Zephyr, De Angelis, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Dehn maintains membership in a number of music organizations including the American Choral Directors Association, International Federation of Choral Music, Music Educators National Conference, California Music Educator’s Association (where he was a presenter in 2016), Chorus America, and the National Association of Church Music, where he served as board member for Church Literature.

Mark Salters is opera co-director, vocal coach, and pianist at California State University, Fullerton. Originally from New York, he served on the coaching staff of the Opera Department at the University of Michigan under Gustav Meier. Prior to that, he was on the faculty of the Yale University graduate opera program headed by noted director Tito Capobianco.

Mark has accompanied master classes by many well-known singers and coaches, including Frederica Von Stade, Roberta Alexander, Vladamir Chernov, Carlo Bergonzi, Sherill Milnes, Madame Régine Crespin, Richard Bonynge, Rodney Gilfry, George Shirley, Carol Neblett, Horst Günther, Marni Nixon, Paul Sperry, Richard Pearlman, Lili Chookasian, as well as many others. In addition, he has worked with conductors and directors from Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, Frankfurt Opera, St. Louis Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. He has also served on the music staffs of the University of Connecticut, Opera Theater of Connecticut, and the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut.

Mark regularly accompanies the National Association of Teachers of Singing symposiums in Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as the Classical Singers Association classes and concerts. He has also worked for Opera Pacific, Opera Ala Carte, Cal State Long Beach, Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony, Riverside Opera, Southland Opera, and the Intimate Opera Company. He also serves as Director of Music and Principal Organist at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Irvine.

As an active freelance accompanist, Mark regularly accompanies many of the finest young vocal artists of the Los Angeles area in recitals and competitions.



Friends of Choral Music is dedicated to and supports excellence in performance of outstanding choral literature that engages and enriches our audiences, and celebrates and fosters the future of choral arts.


Friends of Choral Music is a vibrant, diverse, respected board of directors that is actively engaged in the success of its mission. It is highly regarded for its support of eclectic and innovative programing, financial strength, stability, and industry recognition. It strives to develop and inspire future generations of choral musicians.


To guide the success of the organization and its music ensembles, Friends of Choral Music is dedicated to:

  • Inspiring excellence in performance
  • Eclectic, diverse musical styles and programing
  • Enhancing the professionalism of its singers
  • Elevating the art of choral music and best practices among the broader choral arts community, and preserving the legacy of FOCM accomplishments
  • Educating and recruiting future generations of choral musicians
  • Effective and efficient non-profit board leadership


Friends of Choral Music (FoCM) doing business as Meritáge Vocal Arts Ensemble helps support community choral programs, including funding for music, orchestras, vocalists, venues, school scholarships, and outreach programs. 100% of the profit from board-sponsored events is used to help keep choral arts viable in our community.

FoCM meets at least six times a year and is responsible for the governance, finance, and fundraising. The board is also responsible for all operating responsibilities of Meritáge Vocal Arts Ensemble and Starlight Carolers. FoCM consists mostly of singing members of these choirs that volunteer their time and service.

Friends of Choral Music is a non-profit IRC 501(c)(3), Tax ID 95-4584695.


President: JOEY BAITAL

Artistic Director: BRIAN DEHN

Vice President: LUCY DUNN

Past President: DENNIS NASITKA

Treasurer & Past President: STEVE SCHULIST


Chorus Manager: MICHAEL BUSS

Board Members