Our Artistic Directors

Cumberland Choral Arts is under the leadership of two talented people. Mr. Michael Martin, who formerly served as Artistic Director from 2008–2017, and Mrs. Donna Jo Mangus, who began leading the youth chorus in 2016.


Michael Martin

Director of Choral Activities and Music Education
Methodist University

Michael Martin

Dr. Michael D. Martin hails from the great state of Maine and is returning to the Cumberland Choral Arts (CCA) having served as artistic director from 2008-2017. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Maine.

He completed his Ph.D. in Music Education with an emphasis in choral education through Kent State University, Kent, OH. He has taught in grades 4-12, in the capacity of choral, band, and orchestral education positions throughout ME, NH and MA.

He has received recognition as a teacher and conductor, having been the recipient of several teaching awards, serving as a guest conductor, vocal clinician, and as a judge for several New England, Midwestern, and East Coast festivals. His past student performing ensembles (SATB, SSAA, TTBB) have received both regional and national awards for their performances.

Dr. Martin has also enjoyed a rich involvement in conducting community choral groups in NH and ME. In 2001, he created a semi-professional chorus, The New Vocal Collective, in central New Hampshire recording one compact disc.

He also conducted the Portland Downeasters, a Portland, ME based barbershop chorus, which became one of the top four choruses in the Northeastern District in 2002-2004. He received national attention with his championship barbershop quartet The Management (1986-2003) by touring New England schools in support of music programs.

For this work promoting youth involvement in music, the quartet shared the National Education Service Award sponsored by MENC and SPEBSQSA (now Barbershop Harmony Society). He also received distinction as the recipient of Distinguished Choral Director of the Year from the Maine Chapter of ACDA.

He is the immediate past Artistic Director of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers (now CCA) who were Finalists for the American Prize in Community Chorus Performance and inducted into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame. Dr. Martin is also the first recipient of the Union-Zukowski Endowed Professor in the Fine Arts.

Interestingly, Dr. Martin served as the Artistic Director of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers from 2008-2017. He returns to the newly formed Cumberland Choral Arts after a two-year hiatus. His current college groups are in constant demand for performances throughout North Carolina and the southeast.

They have toured the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and recently, Italy, and from Orlando to Boston. They have also recorded 2 CD’s: A Yuletide Keepsake and Legacy. He is currently the Director of Choral Activities, Director of Music Education, and Coordinator of Fine Arts Management at Methodist University, where he conducts the MU Chorale, Chamber Singers, “The Noblemen” (men’s chorus), “Grace Notes” (women’s chorus), and the MU Chamber Orchestra.

He is also serves as the Member-at-Large in High Education for the NC Music Educator’s Association. He lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Amanda, his son, David, and is daughter, Meredith.


Donna Jo Mangus

Cumberland Choral Arts sensed the need for more musical programs geared toward young people. In 2016, we established the Campbellton Youth Chorus under Donna Jo Mangus’ leadership.

Mrs. Mangus is a native of Cumberland County. She is the choral director at Max Abbott Middle School. Her 30 years of experience in teaching public school chorus and general music for all levels has sharpened her skills in managing a choir.

Donna Jo Mangus

Mrs. Mangus has a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education degree from Campbell University. In addition, she has a National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Music with a concentration in vocal music.

Mrs. Mangus serves as choir director at Bluff Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Mangus has two children, Jackson and Jenna Jo.


Ryan Pagels

Ryan Pagels is a highly sought-after conductor, composer and pianist, who currently serves as the Assistant Artistic Director of the Cumberland Choral Arts, Director of Music at St. John’s Episcopal and Collaborative Pianist at Methodist University.

Before moving to Fayetteville, Ryan lived in Central Florida, serving as the Artistic Director and Conductor for the Marion Civic Chorale, and Director of Music at Countryside Presbyterian Church.

He also served as Chorusmaster for the Ocala Symphony Orchestra for three years, and worked as a vocal coach at Stetson University for the voice studios and the Opera program.

Ryan Pagels

With the Ocala Symphony, Ryan has prepared the chorus for Handel’s Messiah and for Orff’s Carmina Burana. He also served as Music Director for theater companies, ranging from community to professional and equity productions.

His studies have taken him to Stetson University, Georgia Southern University, and the University of Kentucky. He has also spent seven summers at the Adamant Music school, an international summer program for pianists.

While at Georgia Southern and the University of Kentucky, Ryan held Graduate Assistantships, accompanying choirs, chamber groups, opera/theatre and recitals, teaching theory and accompanying classes, and serving as a student conductor for various ensembles, including a community performance of the Brahms Requiem. In 2010, he made his Carnegie debut, collaborated on recitals with faculty from Julliard, and was the pianist for the opening ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games.

In 2011, he made his international debut, concertizing in Italy as part of the Orfeo Music Festival. Ryan has been invited as a guest artist and to give masterclasses throughout the U.S., most recently at Marshall University, Butler University, University of Central Florida, Stetson University, Georgia Southern University, and the University of Southern Indiana.

Ryan has also worked and concertized with a wide variety of musicians, including Audra McDonald, Marvin Hamlisch, Arlo Guthrie, and Wynonna Judd.


20202021 Board of Directors

Kathy Thaman, President
Brenda Vandervort, Secretary
Warren Ray, Treasurer

Cecilia Suhre, Grants Co-Coordinator
Pat Talkington, Marketing Chair
Chris Colon, Correspondence Secretary

Sandy Cage, Vice-President
Jennifer Jefferson
Corey Leak