KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Pembroke Hill School said on Sunday that its upper school choral teacher passed away after suffering a serious heart issue while on vacation in Colorado. Joel Diffendaffer suffered an aortic dissection according to his Caring Bridge page, he was 44 years old and passed away on Saturday.
He was an accomplished musician, and was once a member of the elite Chanticleer singers, touring with the group across the country and world. He also touted stints with the Tokyo Disney Sea and with the local music ensemble Armonia.
He had been at Pembroke Hill for the past 10 years, and previously taught at The Barstow School. He held two degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City: a bachelor's for vocal performance and a master's for choral conducting.
His Pembroke choirs won several awards at the WorldStrides Chicago Heritage Festival in April, and got an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall next year.
A couple of tributes have already been planned for him, including one at 9:30 on Sunday night where the Pembroke class of 2018 will gather on the school's quad to remember him through fellowship and song.