The American Prize is delighted to welcome internationally acclaimed Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano, Susanne Mentzer, to its distinguished panel of judges.
Scroll down to "Judges of Voice, Opera and Music Theater" to read about Ms. Mentzer's remarkable career.
The distinguished judges for The American Prize are as varied in skills and experience and nearly as geographically diverse as we hope the winners of The American Prize to be. They are assigned to specific competitions based on expertise, availability and areas of interest.
To read biographies, click on categories below:
Judges of Voice, Opera & Music Theater
Judges of Piano & Ensemble Performance
New York, NY
Distinguished American soprano, Brenda Lewis, is pleased to lend her name and expertise to The American Prize national competitions in the performing arts as its first Distinguished Judge Emerita.
The following biography of Miss Lewis is adapted from a longer version written by Lucy Cross of MasterworksBroadway.com, where the full version may be found.
After attending the Curtis Institute, Brenda Lewis made her operatic debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. She was nineteen years old.
Miss Lewis's first Broadway appearance was in The Merry Widow (1944). After World War II, Brenda Lewis supplemented performances at the City Center Opera (The Bartered Bride, Faust, and The Gypsy Baron, Britten's The Rape of Lucretia), with gigs as a nightclub blues singer.
Brenda Lewis attributes her early success to the fact that she could absorb music and words (in any language) almost on the spot: to learn the role of Marie in Wozzeck at the NY City Center Opera she took only three days, and once in 1945, when a scheduled soprano became indisposed, she learned Marguerite in Faust in twenty-four hours.
By 1949 Brenda Lewis was the Carmen, the Salome, and the Santuzza of choice at the City Opera. One night after a performance of Salome, American composer Marc Blitzstein and conductor Leonard Bernstein came backstage to congratulate her. In the course of the conversation, Blitzstein mentioned that the soprano role of Birdie in his new opera, Regina, (based on Lillian Hellman's play The Little Foxes) was still open. "I felt that it was fated to be mine," said Lewis later. Regina came to the 46th Street Theatre in New York on October 31, 1949, and played to excited and uplifted audiences for 56 performances.
Brenda Lewis made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera Company in 1952 in the role of Musetta in La Bohème, and followed it very shortly thereafter with Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. Lewis appeared at the Met as Rosalinde, as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Venus in Tannhäuser, Marie in Wozzeck, Marina in Boris Godunov, and as Carmen, Salome, and Vanessa. Yet she did not abandon Broadway – in 1954 she performed in The Girl in Pink Tights. She continued to sing with City Opera as well, taking on the central role of Regina in revivals of the Blitzstein opera, when the production was recorded for Columbia.
In the 1950s, Lewis toured with the Metropolitan Opera to leading American cities coast to coast and had comparable successes in her signature roles with regional opera companies in Pittsburgh, Central City, New Orleans, Boston, Montreal, Seattle, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Chicago. Nor was she confined to the shores of North America: she went to Rio de Janeiro to sing Venus, Musetta, Santuzza, Marguerite, Marina, and Donna Elvira, and to Cuba to sing Santuzza.
In 1956 she was engaged at the Volksoper in Vienna, Austria, to star in the first gala full-scale European production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate. It was such a sensational success that she was asked to return the following season in Annie Get Your Gun, in the Ethel Merman role. She was subsequently invited to sing both these roles at the Zurich Opera in Switzerland, as well as Carmen and Salome.
In 1963, Lewis began a new career as producer and stage director for the New Haven Opera Company in Connecticut. She had not stopped performing, however. In 1965 Jack Beeson's Lizzie Borden, with Lewis in the title role, had its world premiere at the New York City Opera; it was filmed by WGBH in Boston and broadcast nationally.
In 1973, Lewis took on yet another role: as Professor of Voice and Opera at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, where her young assistant conductor for Britten's Albert Herring was David Katz, now chief judge of The American Prize. Inaugurating a new Musical Theater Program at Hartt, Miss Lewis's Die Fledermaus at the University of Hartford in 1989 was filmed for Connecticut Public TV and won a regional Emmy.
The American conductor, Jonathan Sternberg, is regarded by many as one of the most distinguished conductors appearing on the international podium; his performances having been unanimously acclaimed by critics, musicians and public alike from Berlin to Buenos Aires.
Jonathan Sternberg was born in New York of Austro-Russian parents. As a child he studied violin at the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School) in New York. He continued his musical and academic education at the Manhattan School of Music, New York University, receiving B.A. in 1939 with viola and musicology as principal subjects. He followed that by studies in musicology at NYU Graduate School and Harvard. During his undergraduate years, he was active as a New York critic for the Musical Leader of Chicago; he also attended rehearsals of the National Orchestral Association conducted by Leon Barzin, from whom he acquired his conducting technique. Apart from two later private sessions with Barzin (1946) and two summers (1946-1947) of conducting lessons with Pierre Monteux, he was self-taught.
Jonathan Sternberg began his professional career on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941, conducting the National Youth Administration Orchestra of New York in Copland's" An Outdoor Overture", before entering military service. At the end of the war he found himself in Shanghai where he took over the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra for a season.
After returning briefly to the USA, Jonathan Sternberg moved to Vienna, making his conducting debut with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in 1947. Then he toured extensively as a guest conductor in Europe, North America, and the Far East. He worked closely with the Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon, scouring the libraries, monasteries and churches of Austria for lost manuscripts, until Robbins Landon set up the Haydn Society, for which Sternberg made a series of pioneering recordings, initially of Haydn and Mozart, not least the 'Nelson Mass', 'Posthorn' Serenade and some dozen Haydn symphonies.
Other recording premières under Sternberg included Schubert's Second Symphony, Rossini's Stabat mater, Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto, Milhaud's Fantaisie Pastorale and Charles Ives' Set of Pieces.
Jonathan Sternberg also began to present modern American music to European audiences that had heard little of such repertory. With the RIAS orchestra in Berlin he conducted the first European performances of a large number of American scores, including Leonard Bernstein's Serenade, Menotti's Violin Concerto and the Second Symphony of Charles Ives. With other orchestras, Sternberg conducted the first European performances of works by Barber, Copland, Diamond and Benjamin Lees. He was also responsible for a number of world premières, including Rorem's First Symphony (1951).
After a year at the helm of the Halifax Symphony Orchestra (1957–1958), Jonathan Sternberg was Music Director and the Principal Conductor of the Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp, Belgium for five years (1961-1966). In 1966 he returned to the USA to accept an appointment as the Musical Director and Principal Conductor of the Harkeness Ballet York. Some years later he was appointed musical director and conductor of the Atlanta Municipal Theater in charge of opera and ballet performances at the new Memorial Cultural Center, opening the new Atlanta Memorial Arts Center with the American stage première of Purcell's King Arthur. Outstanding among his guest engagements have been the first European tour of the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, several all-Beethoven concerts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall, appearances with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris, the orchestras of Warsaw, Prague, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Basel, Brussels, Monte Carlo, etc.
After Atlanta, Jonathan Sternberg has divided his professional time with the academic world. He took up a visiting professorship of conducting at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York (1969-1971). On leaving he took up a similar position at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, where he taught and conducted for 20 years (1971-1989). Here, too, he conducted a number of world premières, including Music for Chamber Orchestra by David Diamond (1976), A Lincoln Address and Night Dances by Vincent Persichetti (1977) and Skrowaczewski's Ricercari notturni for three saxophones and orchestra (1978). From 1989 he has been a lecturer at Chestnut Hill College. In addition he has continued pursuing his career as guest conductor on five continents. In his 80s he was still active on the podium and as a lecturer. From 2004 to 2008 he he was Musical and Artistic Director of the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, sister Festival in the USA to Bachfest Leipzig.
In January 2009 Jonathan Sternberg received The Conductors Guild's Award for Lifetime Service in recognition of long-standing service to the art and profession of conducting.
Leonard Atherton (instrumental performance, conducting) joined the Ball State University School of Music Faculty in 1982. Now retired, he is Music Director Emeritus of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra and former director of the Ball State Symphony Orchestra and conducting teacher. Atherton has held music director positions among which are the Niagara Symphony Orchestra, the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Young Artists Choral Program of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia and the University of Pennsylvania Choruses. He has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Atherton has conducted in Japan, Mexico, Thailand, Taiwan, Canada and England. Leonard Atherton served as the Cover Conductor for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and honored as a Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana's civilian award, for his service in music to the State. He is a member of the Mentoring Committee of the Conductors Guild and has just handed over the position of Treasurer of the College Orchestra Directors Association. Leonard Atherton was recently recognized for five years of service to The American Prize.
Allen Cohen (instrumental performance, conducting, composition) received a doctorate in composition from the City University of New York, where he studied with Thea Musgrave, Bruce Saylor, and David Del Tredici. Currently Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, he has taught at Hunter College, New York University, and Manhattanville College. He has received a Meet the Composer residency grant and many ASCAP Plus awards. Five of his compositions have been released on commercial compact discs. He has written incidental scores for films and off-Broadway plays, arranged dance music for five Broadway musicals, conducted on Broadway and elsewhere, and performed extensively as a pianist. He is the author of Howard Hanson in Theory and Practice (Praeger/Greenwood) and the popular children's book That's So Funny I Forgot to Laugh! (Scholastic), and co-author of Writing Musical Theater (Palgrave Macmillan). He has also written critical Introductions to new editions of orchestral scores by Dvorak, Gounod, Janacek, and Liadov, published by Repertoire Explorer in Munich. Allen Cohen was recently recognized for five years of service to The American Prize. Website: www.allenlcohen.com. Allen Cohen is on Leave of Absence in 2016.
Conductor, composer, arranger, and performer Niel DePonte is considered one of his generation's most versatile musical artists. He is Music Director and Conductor for Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) and Artistic Director of the annual Young Artists Concerto Competition in Portland. He has also been Music Director of the West Coast Chamber Orchestra and the Bel Canto Northwest Opera Institute, and he has performed as a concerto soloist with major symphony orchestras.
DePonte has appeared as guest conductor with the Oregon, Syracuse, Spokane, Charlotte, Anchorage, and Tulsa symphonies, among others, and with the San Francisco, Pacific Northwest, and Boston ballet companies. With a repertoire spanning symphonic and ballet music, opera, and musical theater, DePonte has conducted for soloists ranging from pops superstar and film composer Randy Newman to concert pianist André Watts. He made his Washington, D.C., debut in June 2008, conducting the Kennedy Center Orchestra for an OBT performance at the Dance Across America event. He made his Chicago debut conducting Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George at the Goodman Theater in 1987, and conducted it again that year for the grand opening performances of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. In May 1998 he made his Boston debut conducting Swan Lake for Boston Ballet. DePonte has also conducted on the international stage, most notably in Russia, where he led performances of Swan Lake at the Mussorgsky (Maly) Theatre in St. Petersburg, and Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty at the Nureyev Ballet Festival in Kazan.
DePonte's compositions and arrangements have been performed worldwide. His musical arrangement for OBT's critically acclaimed 2007 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is his latest in a series of compositions, compilations, and arrangements written for the ballet stage, including the score for Houston Ballet's production of Peter Pan, and Christopher Stowell's ballet Adin. DePonte's Concertino for Marimba and Wind Ensemble has been performed more than 100 times to date. His documentary film score River of the West can be heard as part of the permanent exhibit at the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma, and his anthem The Bell Of Freedom was recorded by the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C.
An accomplished musical performer, DePonte was nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra for his performance of the Concerto for Marimba by Tomas Svoboda, with James DePreist conducting the Oregon Symphony (Albany Records). DePonte's CD-recorded works include performances of Oregon Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker Ballet, as conductor of the OBT Orchestra, and the entire discography of the Oregon Symphony, where he has been principal percussionist since 1977.
Peter Stanley Martin
New York, NY
Peter Stanley Martin finds himself participating in the music industry in a variety of ways: as editor, arranger, conductor, guest speaker, and clinician. Since 2004, Mr. Martin has been a member of the G. Schirmer, Inc. and Associated Music Publishers Production and Editorial staff where he serves as Production Coordinator and collaborates daily with contemporary masters such as John Corigliano, Joan Tower, John Harbison, Andre Previn, Terry Riley, and Tan Dun on the creation, production, and performance of new works, while also working with the compositions of luminaries like Henry Cowell, George Antheil, Samuel Barber, Gian Carlo Menotti, Percy Grainger, Roy Harris, Elliott Carter, Charles Ives, and others. Further projects include work for The New York Pops, Richard Danielpour, Hila Plitmann, Thierry Lancino, Jonathan Newman, and the educational DVD and music series “Learning from the Legends.”
Currently, Mr. Martin is developing a new collaborative-band series, partnering with composers to create authorized band transcriptions of contemporary orchestral works. The first commercial publication of the series was with John Corigliano on a band transcription of Lullaby for Natalie, which was first performed by the West Chester University Wind Ensemble. In 2014, Mr. Martin worked with Academy Award winner (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Tan Dun to create a transcription of his Internet Symphony, “Eroica” – Tan Dun’s first composition for wind band. The first performance of John Harbison's RUBIES (after Thelonious Monk's Ruby, My Dear) was given by the Rutgers Symphony Band, guest conducted by Mr. Martin at the end of April 2015. First performances of new collaborative transcriptions of Aaron Jay Kernis, Joan Tower, Mark Adamo, and Richard Danielpour will continue through 2015 and 2016.
In 2014, Mr. Martin’s “centennial performing edition” of Camille Saint-Saens’s "Finale" to HAIL! CALIFORNIA was premiered by the Ridgewood Concert Band and is available from Mad Monk Music Press (ASCAP). This edition is the first to incorporate all of the original music for wind band that Saint-Saens composed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.
As a conductor, Mr. Martin has received acclaim for his work with symphony orchestras, wind bands, and new music ensembles. He serves as an annual adjudicator of The American Prize, has been published in the WASBE Journal, consulted on critical editions of Samuel Barber and Zygmunt Stojowski, has presented masterclasses/guest conducted at Columbia University, New York University, Rutgers University, New England Band Directors Institute (NEBDI), Hunter College, and the InterSchool Orchestras of New York, and has served as a board member and editor at Conductors Guild.
Mr. Martin received his Master of Music in Conducting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, where he studied with William Berz and Kynan Johns; his Bachelor of Music Education from Hofstra University; and has participated in several workshops including the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with Marin Alsop.
Helena Michelson (composition) is a composer currently based in Northern California. First trained as a pianist, she studied piano with Mack McCray at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and, in master classes, with Richard Goode and Awadagin Pratt. She has completed her undergraduate studies in Music at the University of California, Berkeley and holds a doctorate in composition and theory from the University of California, Davis. She has been a participating composer in MusicX, a festival of new music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2003, 2005, and again, in 2007, a composition fellow at the Composer's Conference at Wellesley College (2003) and Ernest Bloch Composers' Symposium (2004), and an invited composer at Domaine Forget in Quebec (2004) and June in Buffalo (2009). Her music has been performed and recognized by such groups and organizations as North/South Consonance, Berkeley Contemporary Players, Great Noise Ensemble, Le Nouveau Ensemble Moderne, Riverside and Berkeley Symphonies, as well as through commission from the American Composers Forum and Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center. As a performer of her music, she has recently appeared at UAHuntsville New Music Festival 2010 and INNOVATION—New Music Festival 2009 at University of Central Missouri at Warrensburg.
Born in Minnesota to a family of artists and scientists, Peter Perret (instrumental performance, conducting) is the Conductor Emeritus of the Winston-Salem Symphony, having served as Music Director from 1978 to 2004. Previously, Perret had served the Buffalo Philharmonic as Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductor for three years, and before that he was Principal Conductor of the Capetown Symphony (South Africa). He received advanced degrees in music from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and the Academia Chigiana in Siena. He became the first staff producer of music programs for the French-Swiss television network. Perret frequently leads workshops on the relationship of music to learning and has co-authored the book (with Janet Fox), "A Well-Tempered Mind; Using Music to Help Children Listen and Learn," aimed at parents and teachers, published by the Dana Press in 2004 and 2006. He is a founding member and former chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arts Based Elementary School, a public charter school located in Winston-Salem, NC. Currently, Perret leads two New Horizons Bands, substitutes in the public schools (French and music) and writes reviews for the Classical Voice of North Carolina www.cvnc.org
New Hampton, NY
A composer-conductor based in the lower Hudson Valley region of New York State, Kevin Scott (instrumental performance and conducting) studied conducting at the Mannes School of Music with Yakov Kreizberg, and privately with Edward Cruz-Carrion. In addition, Scott studied composition at Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx with John Corigliano and Ulysses Kay, and with Christine Berl and David Tcimpidis at the Mannes School of Music.
Scott has conducted several professional and avocational orchestras throughout the greater New York region, as well as in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Varna, Bulgaria. He was the music director of the Doctor's Orchestral Society of New York (1990-92), the Schubert Music Society (1993-2001), the Central City Chorus (2000-01) and the Metropolitan Philharmonic, which he founded in 1985 and continued as its director until 1989. He was also Resident Conductor of the Bronx Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 1998. Most recently, Scott was for eight years the director of the SUNY Orange Symphonic Band at SUNY Orange (County Community College) in Middletown, New York.
Kirk Smith (instrumental performance, conducting), a native of Baltimore, Maryland, has just been named Co-Principal Conductor of the NEW Black Music Repertory Ensemble at Columbia College in Chicago. This appointment was announced after a twenty year association as a regular guest conductor with the Center for Black Music Research. Previously, Kirk was Director of Orchestral Activities at the University at Albany where he conducted the orchestra and the wind ensemble; earlier, he was Co-coordinator of Instrumental Music Education and Director of Orchestral Activities at California State University at Hayward. Smith was Director of Orchestra Activities at Iowa State University from 1989 to 1998 and served two seasons as Music Director of the Central Iowa Symphony and completed a one year appointments as Music Director of the Fort Dodge Symphony Orchestra and as Music Director of the Centennial Philharmonic in Denver. Mr. Smith has guest conducted throughout the country, including appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville, Atlanta, Cleveland, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Baltimore, Denver, Boulder, Montana, Wisconsin, Iowa, New York, Oregon, Nevada, Minnesota, Florida, Wyoming, Maine, Mexico, and Taiwan. Recent engagements include the Des Moines Symphony, the Dayton Philharmonic, the Amarillo Symphony Chamber Orchestra, the Orquestra de Sinfonia Oaxaca (Mexico), as well as an extensive list of public school all-state, all-region, and all-county festivals across the country. Kirk Smith earned a BME and a Performance Certificate in clarinet from Shenandoah University, a MA degree in Conducting from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, and was a doctoral fellow in conducting at Ball State University. He pursued advanced studies in conducting at the Aspen Music Festival, the Conductors Guild Summer Institute, the world-renowned Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, and the International Workshop for Conductors in Zlin, Czechoslovakia. Smith's principal conducting teachers were Charles Bruck, Harold Farberman, and James Setapen. Kirk is based in Houston where he grows his own consulting firm, Smith Music Associates.
Greg A. Steinke
Depot Bay, OR
Dr. Greg A Steinke (instrmental performance, conducting, composition) is retired, former Joseph Naumes Endowed Chair of Music/Art and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Marylhurst University, Marylhurst, Oregon; Associate Director, Ernest Bloch Music Festival ('93–97) and Director, Composers Symposium ('90–97) (Newport, OR); served as the National Chairman of the Society of Composers, Inc. (1988–97); currently Secty/Treas of Art Culture Nature, Inc. Composer of chamber and symphonic music and author with published/recorded works and performances across the U. S. and internationally; speaker on interdisciplinary arts, and oboist specializing in contemporary music. His most recent composition honors include: Finalist (of 4)- '01 Seoul International Composers Competition. Winner of Delta Omicron International Music
Fraternity Composition Competition, '02. Honorable Mention - '02 "Britten-on-the-Bay" Composition Competition Series XIII (Saxophone Quartet). Special Mention – '03 USA International Harp Competition (Solo Harp). Finalist/Winner – '04 of COMA Open Score Project in England (Generic Quartet). Honorable Mention - '05, VIII International Composition Competition of the Corfu Festival (Guitar). Co-winner of First Prize – '08 2008 Areon Flutes International Chamber Music Competition (Flute Duet). Holder of 2009 Oregon Individual Artist Fellowship. Greg Steinke is on Leave of Absence in 2016.
Julia Vasquez (instrumental performance, conducting), of Missoula, Montana, has played flute and piccolo in the Missoula Symphony since 1986. Earlier she was piccoloist in Orchestra Iowa and taught at Cornell College. In 2000, she won the Convention Performers Competition and performed Gunther Schuller's Concerto at the National Flute Association's Columbus convention. She was also a winner in this competition in 2007. Vasquez played in the Professional Flute Choir at conventions in Los Angeles and Boston, and was a guest soloist at the National Organ Convention in Chicago in 2006. Most recently, she was guest soloist at two concerts for the Pacific NW Composer's Conference in April 2014. Vasquez has performed extensively as a recitalist and soloist. She teaches flute privately and is principal flutist with the Missoula Children's Community Theatre. She received flute performance degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and Northern IL University. Julia Vasquez was recently recognized for five years of service to The American Prize.
Leave of Absence—2015
Composer Judith Lang Zaimont (b. 1945) is internationally recognized for her distinctive style, characterized by its expressive strength and dynamism. Many of her 100 works are prize-winning compositions; these include three symphonies, chamber opera, oratorios and cantatas, music for wind ensemble, vocal-chamber pieces with varying accompanying ensembles, a wide variety of chamber works, and solo music for string and wind instruments, piano, organ, and voice.
Among her composition awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship; Maryland State Arts Council creative fellowship; commission grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and American Composers Forum; and grants to support recordings from the Aaron Copland Fund (American Music Center) and Ditson Fund (Columbia University). Over the past two decades, she has been Composer of the Year at Alabama University-Huntsville, Featured Composer at the Society of Composers International meeting, Filene Artist-in-Residence at Skidmore College, Composer in Residence at University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and Honored Composer at the 11th International Van Cliburn Competition (where both Gold Medalists selected and performed her music). Most recently she has been Featured Composer for National Federation of Music Clubs, Commissioned Composer of the California Music Teachers Association, Commissioned Composer for the International San Antonio Piano Competition, and recipient of a Aaron Copland Award (commissions, residency), a Commissioned Composer - Kaplan Foundation (work for wind ensemble) and recipient of a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship in Composition.
Zaimont's music is frequently played in the United States (Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center) and abroad; it is published ( MMB Music, Inc., Galaxy/ ECS, Vivace, Jeanné, C. F. Peters, Lyra, Walton) and recorded (Naxos, Albany, Arabesque, Koch, Leonarda, 4-Tay) and commissioned by ensembles and solo performers world-wide. Her orchestral music has been repeatedly recognized through prizes: First Prize - Gold Medal in the Gottschalk Centenary International Composition Competition (orchestra and chorus); First Prize in the Chamber Orchestra Composition contest to honor the Statue of Liberty Centennial (1986) - Chroma; and First Prize in the international McCollin Competition for Composers (for Symphony No. 1, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Among orchestras that have performed and/or commissioned works are the Baltimore, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Greenville (SC), Rockford (IL), Mississippi, Madison (WI), Harrisburg (PA), East Texas and Nassau (NY) symphonies, the Women's Philharmonic (CA), the Berlin Radio Orchestra (Germany), Czech Radio Orchestra (Prague), the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra (Moscow, Russia), Kharkov Philharmonic (Ukraine), Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras (NY and Boston), and others; and wind ensembles at Florida State University, University of Minnesota, Georgia State, and University of Virginia. Her vocal and choral works have been featured by the Elmer Isseler Singer (Canada), American Vocal Arts Theatre (CT), Florilegium Chamber Choir, New York Virtuoso Singers, Amor Artis, Canticum Novum, Plymouth Music Singers, the Gregg Smith Singers, La Vie Ensemble and the Dale Warland Singers, Ernst Senfft Chor (Berlin), and Laudebus (London) among others. Her music is the subject of twelve doctoral dissertations to date.
Zaimont is a distinguished teacher, formerly a member of the faculties of Queens College and Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory of Music. She held the post of Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Adelphi University and from 1992 to 2005 she served as Professor of Composition at the University of Minnesota School of Music. Since retiring from full-time college teaching in fall 2005, she continues to be active as clinician, frequent adjudicator and masterclass presenter across the US and abroad. Zaimont is also the creator and editor-in-chief of the critically acclaimed book series, The Musical Woman: An International Perspective (3 vols., Greenwood Press). Judith Zaimont is on Leave of Absence in 2016.
Conductor Daniel Abraham (choral performance, voice, conducting) is artistic director and conductor of The Bach Sinfonia, based in Washington, D.C., now in its seventeenth season. This vibrant and exciting ensemble and its equally dedicated leader have created performances garnering praise from many noteworthy sources. The Washington Post has praised Abraham's performances as having "uncommon precision and exuberant vitality," being "bright, energetic, and lovingly shaped" and showing "keen insight and coherence." As a recognized specialist in period-instrument performance, Daniel Abraham is much sought-after for his expertise in this field as well as in the broad orchestral and choral-orchestral scene.
Abraham currently records for the Sono Lunimus label and his discography includes critically acclaimed recordings of Handel's Alexander's Feast, Bach's rediscovered Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn, the premiere of the Biber Stabat Mater, psalms by Rossi and Carissimi's Historia di Jephte [on Passion and Lament: Choral Masterworks of the 17th Century], the motets of J. S. Bach, and works by Vivaldi including the complete works for lute with Grammy nominee Ronn McFarlane [The Art of Vivaldi's Lute].
Much sought after as a guest conductor, Daniel Abraham's performances have been nationally broadcast on NPR's Performance Today. Some of his more recent performances have included appearances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Concert Hall of the Music Center at Strathmore and The National Women's Museum of the Arts. He has prepared choruses for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala (PBS) and the national broadcast of Christmas in Washington (TNT). He also appeared on the nationally syndicated PBS series History Detectives during its initial season.
Daniel Abraham holds advanced degrees in conducting and musicology from the University of Maryland. He was a conducting fellow under the tutelage of renowned Bach interpreter Helmuth Rilling at the 1997 Oregon Bach Festival. He is also associate professor of music at American University where students are enticed by his courses ranging from The Music of Bach, Handel & the Late Baroque to A History of Rock-n-Roll in addition to other performance-based choral and orchestral ensembles.
Gregory J. Aune
Saint Peter, MN
Associate Professor of Music Gregory J. Aune (choral performance, conducting) is in his fifteenth year as conductor of the Gustavus Choir. A 1976 graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, he holds graduate degrees from the University of Iowa including a D.M.A. awarded in 1987. His postgraduate experiences include study and performance with the Robert Shaw Choral Institute at Carnegie Hall. At Gustavus, Dr. Aune conducts the Gustavus Choir, the Chamber Singers, and St. Ansgar's Chorus, teaches classes in conducting and choral literature, and serves as music director of the annual Christmas in Christ Chapel services. Choirs under his direction have twice appeared at conventions of the North Central ACDA and at conventions of the Kansas and Minnesota Music Educators Associations. Dr. Aune served as Music Director and Conductor of the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra in 2009-10. In addition to his choral work at Gustavus, Aune serves as Sanctuary Choir director at First Lutheran Church in St. Peter.
Timothy Brown (choral performance, conducting, composition) holds a Doctor of Arts in Theory and Composition with a secondary emphasis in Choral Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master of Arts in Music Education and Voice from Goddard College and a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY-Fredonia. Currently a vocal music teacher in the Denver Public Schools, Dr. Brown is the winner of a Meet the Composer Grant and four ASCAP Plus Awards. His music can be heard on Beauport Classical and Capstone Records and includes works for string orchestra, brass quintet and chorus. Dr. Brown was a fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Melodious Accord Composers Workshop, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Weill Music Institute. He has worked with such distinguished composers as John Corigliano and Alice Parker, and conductors Marin Alsop and Harold Farberman. Brown is a member of the Conductors Guild, The League of American Orchestras, Chorus America and the American Choral Directors Association among many others.
Dr. Casey Cook (choral performance, conducting) is a dynamic musician, moving fluently between the fields of conducting, composition, and vocal performance. As a conductor, Casey has recently served as the assistant director of the Tucson Chamber Artists, a professional chorus and orchestra dedicated to performing the masterworks of the classical repertoire, and showcasing new works from contemporary composers. He was the Associate Director of the Reston Chorale in Virginia and is currently Musician in Residence and Director of the American University Chorus at American University, Washington, DC. He continues as the Director of Music Ministries at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in suburban Washington.
Casey holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Miami University, a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of South Florida, and a doctor of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Arizona. He has furthered his studies with masterclasses at Juilliard and with such choral legends as Weston Noble, Dale Warland, Simon Carrington, Peter Philips and the Hilliard Ensemble.
Casey’s compositional endeavors have brought him acclaim from around the country as well. He was named the 2006 composer-in-residence at the Arizona Science Center, which launched an award-winning compositional career that has seen performances throughout the southwest, including a recent commission for the largest pipe organ in Arizona. His music is currently being published by Kandinsky Music.
As a singer, Casey is in demand as a low bass, including recent performances with members of the Tallis Scholars, and the Dale Warland Singers, and at the National Cathedral with the Cathedral Choral Society. For more information, please visit caseycook.org
Mimi S. Daitz
New York, NY
Professor Daitz (choral performance, conducting) was a member of the Music Department, The City College/CUNY, for many years. She directed their chorus and vocal ensemble and taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in music history, theory, ear training, voice, and bibliography. After retiring from teaching she became music director of the Riverdale Choral Society and lead them on tours in Cuba and Estonia. Mimi Daitz has also been active as a musicologist, specializing in fin de siècle French vocal music and 20th-century Estonian choral music and has published numerous articles in both areas. In 2004 her book Ancient Song Recovered: The Life and Music of Veljo Tormis was published by Pendragon Press and has been hailed as a vital contribution to our knowledge of one of the most important composers of choral music in the second half of the 20th century. In 2010, volume I of the 5-volume complete, critical edition of the songs of Fauré, which she co-edited with Jean-Michel Nectoux, was published in Paris by Leduc. Professor Daitz taught a course on The French Art Song at Juilliard, fall 2014.
For sixteen years, Daniel Farris (voice) has worked professionally as a choral conductor, tenor soloist, adjudicator, and voice teacher. Daniel Farris is in his sixth year as tenured assistant professor of music with Southwestern Oklahoma State University and with the music staff of First Presbyterian Church of Elk City, OK. He is the vocal area coordinator of Southwestern's music department and works in conjunction with Drs. Kristin and Robin Griffeath to teach opera music theater and other choral and vocal topics to performance, education, music business and music therapy majors. Daniel is an adjudicator and music advisory board member of the Oklahoma Arts Institute.
Currently, Daniel performs as a tenor chorister/soloist and conductor in Oklahoma and the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and is a regional and international scholar, having presented topics and research for the Athens Institute of Education and Research (2010 Athens, Greece), Southwestern American Choral Directors Association (2012 Dallas, TX), and other conferences. He has conducted honor choirs in Texas and Oklahoma, including the Tri-State Honor Choir (2011 and 2012), SWOSU Chamber Choir (OMEA 2011), the Western Oklahoma Choral Directors Association Junior High Honor Choir (2008), and the Arlington High School Colt Chorale (TMEA 2005). Daniel has performed with the Dallas Opera Chorus (2001-2002), and has performed with choirs in Italy and England. Daniel continues to be a guest artist with groups in the southwestern United States, including the Arts District Chorale (Dallas) and the Denton Bach Society (Denton, TX).
Daniel completed his doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the University of North Texas.
Feel free to view his website and the Department of Music website of Southwestern Oklahoma State University. For more information or questions, contact him at email@example.com or 580.774.3208.
David B. Gardner
David B. Gardner (choral performance, conducting) (DMA, The University of Arizona) is Director of Choirs at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a second-place finish in the graduate division of the 2001 American Choral Directors Association National Student Conducting Awards Competition. Dr. Gardner's Carnegie Hall conducting debut was in March of 2005, and he appeared there most recently in March of 2010 under the auspices of Distinguished Concerts International, New York. In 2008, the Southwestern College choir sang under his direction during Easter Sunday Mass at the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice. In 2002, he was selected to lead the Grammy Award winning Oregon Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra under the tutelage of Maestro Helmuth Rilling in the Oregon Bach Festival Masterclass in Conducting. Dr. Gardner is the President-Elect for the Kansas chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, and is a charter member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization. David Gardner was recently recognized for five years of service to The American Prize.
in memoriam: David Griggs-Janower (1953-2013)
The American Prize mourns the August 2013 loss of judge David Griggs-Janower, founding conductor and Artistic Director of Albany Pro Musica, Albany, NY, Director of Choral Music and Professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Dr. Griggs-Janower was one of the first judges of The American Prize, a stalwart supporter of the competitions, a gracious and thoughtful colleague and friend. Dr. Griggs-Janower did his undergraduate and masters work in music theory and music history at Cornell University and held Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees in conducting from the Indiana University School of Music where he studied with Dr. Julius Herford, Fiora Contino and Margaret Hillis. He had been on the faculties of Williams College, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Skidmore College, the Oregon Bach Festival (under Helmuth Rilling) and the Aspen Music Festival Choral Institute. He had served as musical director and guest director for many area groups including the Berkshire Bach Society in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His musicianship, intelligence and generosity are deeply missed. —DK
Dr. Sandra Howard (voice, choral performance, conducting) serves as assistant professor of music at Keene State College in Keene, NH with a focus on choral and general methods, supervising student teachers, conducting Canticum Novum and the Chamber Singers of Keene. She earned a bachelor degree of music education and master's degree in vocal performance from the University of Maine and a Ph.D. in music education and curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She taught grades 7-12 choral and general music in New Hampshire, served on adjunct faculty at Granite State College, Blue River Community College, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Howard has worked with singers of all ages including preschoolers to senior citizens and is an active conductor/clinician for honor choruses across the United States. Dr. Howard has presented at regional and national conferences for SRME, MENC, and ACDA. Dr. Howard's scholarship has been published in the Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education and Teaching Music.
Carroll J. Lehman
Dr. Carroll J. Lehman (voice) holds a MA and a DMA in Vocal performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. He, recently, retired as choral/vocal director from Keene State College where he served on the faculty for 35 years. Prior to that he served on the faculties of Hope College and Western Washington University. He taught private voice, conducting, opera workshop, vocal pedagogy, diction and literature. He also conducted the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Oratorio Society and Opera Workshop. Many of his students have graduated from some of the most prestigious music schools and conservatories in the US, including Julliard, New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Florida State University, Arizona University, and Temple University. They have performed leading roles with many opera companies, symphony orchestras and oratorio societies including Central City Opera, Opera North, Connecticut Lyric Opera, Opera of the Ozarks, Denver Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Kansas City Symphony and Dallas Symphony. Dr. Lehman's students have won National Association of Teachers of Singers (NATS) competitions at the state and regional levels. He has adjudicated vocal competitions for NATS and Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) at the state, regional and national levels.
Dr. Lehman is equally skilled as a conductor. His interpretations of the great choral masterworks drew audience and critical acclaim. For twenty years, he was music director and conductor of the Monadnock Chorus in Peterborough, NH. In those years, they performed many of the great oratorios and masses of choral literature with professional orchestras and soloists. In 1998, they were invited to sing, under his baton, in Carnegie Hall and during his tenure there, they took four international tours.
William McConnell, Judge Emeritus
Congratulations to Dr. William McConnell, who will be leaving us after two excellent seasons of work as a judge for The American Prize to assume the post of Executive Director of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. Thank you, Dr. McConnell.
Notre Dame, IN
Nancy Menk (choral performance, conducting) holds the Mary Lou and Judd Leighton Chair in Music at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana, where she is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities. Dr. Menk is Conductor of the award-winning South Bend Chamber Singers and the 120-voice Northwest Indiana Symphony Chorus. She holds the B.S. and the M.A. degrees in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and the M.M. and the D.M.A. degrees in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Her teachers have included Earl Rivers, Elmer Thomas, Helmuth Rilling, and Teri Murai. At Saint Mary's College, Dr. Menk conducts the Women's Choir and the Collegiate Choir, teaches conducting, and prepares the Madrigal Singers for the annual Christmas Madrigal Dinners. Under her direction, the Women's Choir has performed at the American Choral Directors Association national convention in Los Angeles in February 2005, and has recorded four critically acclaimed compact discs of music for women's voices on the ProOrgano label. Dr. Menk also teaches graduate conducting at the University of Notre Dame. She has conducted All-State Choirs in Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. In February 2013 she will make her 6th appearance at Carnegie Hall, conducting Carol Barnett's The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass, with Monroe Crossing.
Brian O'Connell (choral performance, conducting, voice) is the Founder/Director of the Sarteano Chamber Choral Conducting Workshop in Tuscany, where Simon Carrington and Bronislawa Falinkska will join him for their tenth consecutive year (http://www.sarteanochoralworkshop.com).
Brian is the Director of Choral Activities at University of Massachusetts/Lowell. He also teaches secondary choral methods in the graduate program at The Boston Conservatory. He is a Certified Voice Therapist, having studied with David Blair McClosky at The Boston Conservatory.
For fifteen years Brian was director of the Concert Choir at Berklee College of Music, and for nine of those years he also served as Chairman of the Voice Department. He has held faculty appointments at Tufts University, New England Conservatory, Boston University and Northeastern, and is a past director of the Handel & Haydn Society Youth Chorus. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants; in 2005, Brian was the first recipient of the Massachusetts ACDA award for Choral Excellence.
Brian continues to be a sought after clinician and adjudicator, working with choral societies, college and high school choirs. Brian is an accomplished contemporary a cappella singer, having performed for many years with the Boston based professional group No Strings Attached. He also currently adjudicates both collegiate and professional a cappella competitions throughout New England.
Michael Ogdon (choral performance, conducting) holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Biola University, La Mirada, California and a Masters in Choral Conducting earned from San Jose State University. He was privileged to serve simultaneously as the graduate assistant to both Dr. Lauren Jakey's orchestra and Dr. Charlene Archibeque's choral program. Mr. Ogdon has spent twenty years in full time music ministry in churches ranging in size from five to five-thousand members. He has served as adjunct faculty at Fresno State University and was Chairman of Music and Fine Arts at Arizona Bible College in Phoenix. Mr. Ogdon recently returned to public and private school music education in Fresno, California. He now teaches elementary, junior high, and senior high choirs, bands and auditioned ensembles. Michael Ogdon is an accomplished arranger, composer, vocalist and performer on trumpet and keyboards.
Bonnie Borshay Sneed
Dr. Bonnie Borshay Sneed (choral performance, conducting, voice) has been a collegiate choir director for over twenty years, and has taught high school in Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. Dr. Sneed made her Carnegie Hall conducting debut in 2007 with singers from Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama. Her collegiate expertise includes preparing students to be public school choral directors, church choir directors, and vocalists. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in conducting, voice, choral methods, choral literature, and diction.
Dr. Sneed has been a clinician for Honor Choirs and Workshops in several states, as well as serving as an adjudicator for national organizations in the area of scholarship and conducting. In 2011 she conducted and presented at the National American Choral Director's Conference in Chicago. She earned the BME from Furman University, the MM from Southern Methodist, and the DMA from Michigan State University.
An active presenter and music educator, Kyle Weary (voice, choral performance, musical theater) is the Vocal Music Department Lead Teacher for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown, MD. Recently, Kyle's high school choral ensemble had their first Carnegie Hall appearance singing under the direction of Eric Whitacre in the premiere of his new opera: "Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings" as well as having the opportunity to sing as the backup choir for Todd Rundgren's fall 2010 tour. Kyle's choir has also been invited to sing at the 2011 inauguration of Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland. Kyle has a Bachelor of Music Education (vocal emphasis) and Master of Music in Conducting from Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. Kyle is also a graduate of the Contemporary Commercial Musical Theatre Vocal Pedagogy Institute. Kyle has completed additional graduate studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and Westminster Choir College. Kyle has appeared on stage with Marvin Hamlisch, Julie Andrews, Elaine Stritch, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Dana Reeves and Barbara Cook. Music and stage direction credits include: Beauty & the Beast, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and A Night of Broadway, Willy Wonka Jr. (central PA premier), The Last Five Years, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Phantom of the Opera. Kyle has studied voice with Dr. Bryon Jones, Dr. Kathryn Green, Jeannette LoVetri and Bob Marks and he has studied conducting with Dr. Karen Keating, Grammy Award winning conductor Robert Shafer, and Dr. Elizabeth Schauer. Kyle's service has included online Chorus Mentor for MENC's national website. Kyle is currently a candidate for National Board Certification.
Lake Forest Park, WA
Giselle Wyers (choral performance and conducting) is Associate Professor and Chair of Choral Studies and Voice at the University of Washington, where she conducts the University Chorale and teaches courses in choral conducting and voice. University Chorale's debut CD, Climb, won third prize in the collegiate division of the American Prize for Choral Performance in 2012.
As a guest conductor, Wyers has led high school honor choirs in New York (Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center), Georgia, Connecticut, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Vancouver, Canada. She has conducted semi-professional ensembles across the United States and in Europe. She conducted the ACDA NW Women's Honor Choir in 2012 and the Alaska All-State Women's Honor Choir in 2013.
As a composer, Wyers edits the "Giselle Wyers Choral Series" through Santa Barbara Music Publishing Company. This series features many choral compositions by Wyers and champions the works of other emerging composers. Her work "The Waking" was recorded by Choral Arts Ensemble on the Gothic Records label. Commissions for her music have been wide ranging, including the Chamber Choir of Europe, A Capella Koor Cantabile of the Netherlands, Cascadian Chorale, Choral Arts Ensemble, Dolce Canto Chamber Choir, Virginia Chorale, Georgia Tech Chamber Singers and the University of Tennessee Men's Glee.
Wyers' dedication to exposing audiences to the music of contemporary American composers is apparent in her work with Solaris Vocal Ensemble, a 12-voice solo ensemble of professional singers who are currently producing their first album of American world premieres for electronics and choir, by Ingram Marshall, Frances White, Anne LeBaron and Meredith Monk.
Dr. Margaret Astrup (voice, opera/music theater) is well known for her interpretations of contemporary American music. She has premiered works by Seymour Barab, Otto Luening, Ruth Schonthal, Judith Zaimont, Richard Auldon Clark, David Sampson, Jorge Martin, and numerous other contemporary composers. With the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, she has performed Knoxville, Summer of 1915 by Samuel Barber (also broadcast on WNYC), Collages by Ruth Schonthal, Cosmos Cantata by Seymour Barab and Kurt Vonnegut and songs by Otto Luening, William Grant Still, Seymour Barab and Richard Auldon Clark. In New York she has appeared in many contemporary American operas for which she has received critical acclaim in The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The London Financial Times and the New York Daily News.
In addition to contemporary American repertoire, Dr. Astrup has also been featured in Hums and Songs of Winnie-the Pooh, by Oliver Knussen (Manhattan Chamber Orchestra), Schoenberg 2nd String Quartet (Manhattan String Quartet) and Kammermusik, by Finn Høffding (Vinland Ensemble) with whom she was awarded an American Scandinavian Foundation Award for the Advancement of Scandinavian Culture in America. Dr. Astrup has also performed opera and operetta standards extensively with regional opera companies throughout the country as well as with several music festivals and educational touring companies.
Dr. Astrup has performed solo recitals and solo works with orchestras in most of the New York concert venues and overseas. Her recordings include songs by Otto Luening, William Grant Still, and Alec Wilder with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra on the Newport Classic label and Cosmos Cantata by Seymour Barab for the Kelios/Helicon label and Songs by Ruth Schonthal on Albany Records. Together with violinist Eric Lewis (WCSU string faculty) she is currently recording works for violin and voice, including works by Holst, Vaughan Williams and Rebecca Clarke based on the folk music tradition of the British Isles for Centaur Records.
Dr. Astrup earned her ME and Ed.D degrees in vocal pedagogy at Columbia University Teachers College. She also has an MM in vocal performance from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a BM in vocal performance from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN where she also received certification in music education and earned a second major degree in English. Dr. Astrup also did doctoral studies at Indiana University where she taught in the Department of Music Education. She is currently head of the voice and opera programs at Western Connecticut State University. Former president of Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), she currently serves the national organization as NATS Connecticut District Governor.
Donald Callen Freed
Donald Callen Freed, (voice) Professor of Vocal Music at Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas, previously served as Instructor of Music at Hastings College, Hastings, Nebraska, as Visiting Instructor of Voice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Instructor of Vocal Music at Peru State College. He holds the Ph.D. in vocal pedagogy and the M.M.. in voice from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the B.M. in vocal music from Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln. Additional studies were at the University of Iowa, Roosevelt University, and Oberlin College. Freed's teachers have included Donna Harler-Smith and Thomas Houser. He was one of twelve participants for the first National Association of Teachers of Singing intern program in 1991, where he studied with the late Barbara Doscher. He also has sung in several master classes with the late Richard Miller, noted voice pedagogue at Oberlin College. Dr. Freed is a published choral composer with Moon of Hope Publishing, Yelton Rhodes Music, Tetra/Continuo, and Coronet/Theodore Presser, receiving ASCAP composition awards from 2001 through 2010. His articles have appeared in The Choral Journal, for which he is a reviewer of books and music, The NATS Journal, and the Journal of Singing. He has presented papers, compositions, and lecture recitals at The College Music Society Great Plains and South Central Chapters, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Fourth International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing, the Athens (Greece) Institute for Education and Research, and the Nebraska and Texas Music Educators Associations. A stroke survivor, he is a member of VSA Arts and interested in voice rehabilitation.
Los Angeles, CA
Canadian soprano Anne Harley (voice, opera) specializes in performing music from early oral and written traditions, and in creating new works by contemporary composers. She has appeared as a soloist across North America and Europe with The Handel & Haydn Society, The Boston Camerata, Opera Boston, Opera Unlimited, The American Repertory Theatre, The Banff Centre for the Arts and at the Tanglewood Festival. In 2009-10, she premiered the role of Margaret Mead composed for her by Evan Ziporyn in the world première of his dance-opera "A House in Bali", in the Water Palace Theater in Ubud, Bali, and then subsequently performed the work at the BAM Next Wave Festival. The Boston Globe acclaimed her performance as Harper Pitt in the American première of Peter Eotvos's "Angels in America" as "vocally and dramatically outstanding." The Village Voice described her singing in the Boston Camerata's American Shaker program at Brooklyn Academy of Music as transmitting a "heart-wrenching purity." She has also performed as soloist in many standard oratorios of the baroque, and débuted in Europe at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw as the lead in Handel's Acis and Galatea. Her solo performances have been released on Naxos, Sony Classics, Dorian, and Musica Omnia, among others and she is a voting member of the Grammys. In 2000, she founded the ground-breaking early Russian music ensemble, TALISMAN, with Dr. Oleg Timofeyev (www.talismanmusic.org). Their first recording project won the Noah Greenberg award of the American Musicological Society. She received the doctorate in historical performance with a concentration in voice from Boston University (2006), and in 2009, joined the faculty of the Music Department at Scripps College.
Donald Hartmann (voice, opera/music theater) has been described as possessing a, "big, rich voice with an amazing timbre;" interpretative abilities as "hearty and dramatic;" vocal resonance as "ringing," "sepulchral," "richly focused;" and "the rubberiest face since Jim 'Hey Vern' Varney." He is a commanding leading man and one of the best character singers currently performing. Notable engagements have included Swallow in Peter Grimes, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, Colline and Benoit/Alcindoro in La Boheme, Bonze and Sharpless in Madame Butterfly, Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, and Luther/Crespel/Schlemeil in The Tales of Hoffman with noted companies nationwide.
Most recent engagements include Dr. Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Delaware, Benoit/Alcindoro in La Boheme with Toledo Opera, Opera Delaware, Opera Carolina, and Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Monterone in Rigoletto with Michigan Opera Theatre, Sacristan in Tosca with Madison Opera, Soldier in Salome with Michigan Opera Theatre, a return to Opera Carolina as Sacristan in Tosca, as well as a return to Toledo Opera as Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro. Mr. Hartmann has performed Sergeant in Pirates of Penzance with Opera Carolina, a debut with Piedmont Opera as Frank in Die Fledermaus, and created the role of Howard in the world premiere of Libby Larsen's Picnic.
Mr. Hartmann completed his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and his Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he now serves as a tenured Full Professor of Voice in the Department of Vocal Studies of the School of Music, Theater, and Dance. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance, graduating with honors at the University of Oklahoma. As a member of the faculty at University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma he received the prestigious Regents Award for Superior Teaching. As a Full Professor in the Department of Music and Dance at Eastern Michigan University he twice received the Faculty Artistic Recognition Award.
Having participated in several vocal competitions, Donald Hartmann was a second place finalist in the San Antonio Opera Guild Talent Search and a winner of the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Prize in Vocal Performance under the auspices of Opera!Lenawee. Appearing in five productions with Opera!Lenawee, Donald was recognized as the first Honored Artist of that organization.
San Francisco CA
American mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer has established herself not only as an international singer but also as a writer, teacher and arts advocate.
She enjoys a significant opera, concert, chamber music and recital career of over thirty years appearing on four continents with nearly every great opera house and orchestra. She has been a guest artist at the Metropolitan Opera in leading roles since 1989, most recently as Marcellina in the new production of Le Nozze di Figaro in the fall of 2014. She returned to the Met in February and March of 2016.
Susanne recently added some new roles to her repertoire; as Mrs. Patrick DeRocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd with Opera Theatre St. Louis and Nellie in Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights which has also been recorded for commercial release.
Operatically, she specializes in music Mozart, Berlioz, Rossini and Richard Strauss and is widely admired as a specialist in trouser roles, most notably for her portrayals of Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Idamante in Idomeneo, der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. She has also appeared in many notable female roles – Dorabella, Despina, Rosina, Adalgisa, and Jane Seymour.
Her extensive discography includes over 25 CDs of opera and oratorio and songs. Her most recent project is a recording of songs by American opera composer Carlisle Floyd to be released on GPR Records through Naxos. This project was funded by her successful Kickstarter campaign. She has recorded two other recitals she also performs in concert: The Eternal Feminine, a recital of music by women composers (Koch International Classics) which includes the premiere of Libby Larsen’s Love After 1950 with her long-time pianist, Craig Rutenberg; and her personal favorite, Wayfaring Stranger – a collection of international folksongs arranged for voice and guitar with Grammy Award-winning Sharon Isbin. She also received a Grammy nomination for her work as Colombina in Busoni’s Arlecchino. She is on the recent releases of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and Plump Jack by Gordon Getty. Susanne appears on DVDs of Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Opéra de Paris), Don Giovanni (La Scala), and Grammy nominated The First Emperor by Tan Dun (Metropolitan Opera), and Ariadne auf Naxos (Metropolitan Opera). She has appeared numerous times on PBS as part of the Live from Lincoln Center and Live from the Met programs and the Met Cinema broadcast.
As a recitalist Susanne has appeared in recital on the Great Performers series at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel halls, NY Festival of Song, Tisch Center for the Arts, Morgan Library, Town Hall, Tannery Pond, Schubert Club St. Paul, Kennedy Center, Vocal Arts Society- DC, Spivey Hall Atlanta, Schwartz Hall at Emory, Santa Fe Concert Association, Aspen Music Festival, Aspen Winter Music, Wyatt Artist in Residence Series-Calgary, Ravinia Festival, Ann Arbor University Music Society, Oberlin College, and others.
Dramatic soprano Sharon Sweet attended the Curtis Institute of Music and completed her vocal studies with renowned vocal pedagogue Madame Marenka Gurewich in New York City. She began her international career with a concert performance of Aida in Munich which brought her an invitation to join the Deutsche Oper Berlin at the beginning of the 1986-87 season, where she was particularly acclaimed for her interpretations of Leonora in Il Trovatore and Elisabeth in Tannhauser. Her debut at the Paris Opera in 1987 as Elisabetta di Valois in Don Carlos was the springboard for her subsequent international career. Soon after, she was heard for the first time in Vienna and Zurich in Tannhauser, in Hamburg in Il Trovatore, and at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in Aida. She sang her first Norma at the Theatre Royale de la Monnaie and made her first Italian appearances as Aida at the Arena di Verona, the part which also served to introduce her to North American audiences in the autumn of 1989 in San Francisco.
The artist bowed at the Metropolitan Opera in the spring of 1990 in Il Trovatore. She has returned to that theater each subsequent season in a variety of works such as Don Giovanni (Donna Anna), Un Ballo in Maschera, Tannhauser, Aida, and in the new productions of Stiffelio in what was the work's Metropolitan Opera premiere, and La Forza del Destino , both under Music Director James Levine and both telecast internationally. Her most recent new portrayal at the Metropolitan has been the title role in Puccini's Turandot, a role which she added to her repertoire at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in the fall of 1994. She has since appeared as Turandot all over the world including in new productions at the Bastille, then in Florence, at performances in the Forbidden City in Beijing, and with film maker Zhang Yimou. Her most recent operatic debut was in the title role in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos which Ms. Sweet sang for the first time in the summer of 1999 in concert performances under Zubin Mehta with the Israel Philharmonic. She returned to the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 1999 to perform Aida.
Sharon Sweet has devoted a substantial part of each season to her appearances in concert, including performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 and Gurrelieder in the Cincinnati May Festival with Maestro James Conlon. She has collaborated with some of the most important musicians of our time such as Carlo Maria Giulini, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Daniele Gatti, James Levine, Christoph Eschenbach, Marek Janowski, Zubin Mehta, Sir Colin Davis, Rafael Frubeck de Burgos, Helmut Rilling, Kurt Masur and the late Sir Georg Solti. Her repertoire has ranged from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Verdi's Requiem through the Four Last Songs of Strauss.
Ms. Sweet's discography includes complete recordings of Don Giovanni for Philips, and Falstaff, Lohengrin, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Der Freischutz for BMG. The artist has recorded the Verdi Requiem and Schoenberg's Gurreleider for DGG. She can also be heard in Schmidt's Psalm 47 on Erato, in Schumann's Das Paradies und die Peri and in Mahler's Symphony No. 8 for Sony, as well as in Strauss' Four Last Songs on Collins Classics. The artist has also recorded the Symphony No. 8 of Gustav Mahler for Sony. Recently, Ms. Sweet recorded Il Trovatore as Leonora on the Chandos label in London.
In 1999 Sharon Sweet joined the faculty at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she is Professor in Voice. She is in frequent demand to lead master classes and to judge international competitions. She recently taught and gave Master Classes at the Intermezzo Opera Festival and New Jersey Opera Theater. Ms. Sweet's students have won the Marion Anderson Competition, the Mario Lanza Competition, the Bel Canto Competition and The American Prize, to name a few, and have sung with opera companies in Pittsburgh, Utah, Connecticut, Virginia, Houston and Long Beach, among others.
Countertenor Jay White (voice, opera/music theater) has appeared with major early music ensembles across the U.S. Sought after as an interpreter of medieval, renaissance and baroque repertoire, he has performed at national and international early music festivals. Dr. White sang eight seasons with the internationally acclaimed ensemble, Chanticleer, with whom he traveled to five continents, appearing in major venues throughout the world, and with whom he recorded 14 albums, including two Grammy Award-winning recordings. Dr. White has also been heard on National Public Radio and Public Radio International throughout the world. Having received his training at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music and the School of Music at the University of Maryland, Dr. White has taught at the University of Maryland, the University of Delaware, DePauw University (IN), and is Associate Professor of Voice at Kent State University (OH).
Michael Benson (piano and ensemble) is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. He has performed at the Smithsonian Institution, Steinway Hall, and Preston Bradley Hall on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series and has contributed piano pedagogy articles to Texas Music Teacher, American Music Teacher, TeachingMusic, Keyboard Companion, Clavier and the on-line journal Piano Pedagogy Forum.
In March 2011, he began a two-year appointment as a member of the Editorial Committee for Music Teachers National Associations e-Journal. He has presented his personal research on Franz Schubert's Unfinished Solo Piano Sonatas at international workshops in Vienna, Austria and Novi Sad, Serbia and has a book due to be published by University Press of America, Inc. titled, A Comparative Study on the Published Completions of the Unfinished Movements in Franz Schubert's Sonata in C Major, D. 840 ("Reliquie"). His teaching has included a semester abroad as a foreign expert in the Art Education College of JiMei University (Peoples Republic of China) and faculty appointments at Carl Sandburg College, the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Oakland University (MI) and The Ohio State University at Lima. During the summer months, he teaches at several piano camps and has been inspired by the young musicians he has collaborated with at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He holds degrees in piano performance from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where he studied piano with Robert Roux and The University of Texas at Austin where he studied piano and piano pedagogy with Martha Hilley, Sophia Gilmson and Nancy Garrett.
On February 22, 2015, Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters upon Mr. Biegel, for his achievements as a world-renowned pianist, recording artist, chamber music collaborator, and champion of new piano music, composer, arranger and educator. He recently recorded Lucas Richman's 'Piano Concerto: In Truth' with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer (release September 2015), Steve Barta's 'Symphonic Arrangement' of Claude Bolling's 'Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano no. 1' with jazz flutist, Hubert Laws (release August 2015), William Bolcom's 'Prometheus' for piano, orchestra and chorus with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Chorale led by Carl St. Clair (release November 2015), George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue', Duke Ellington's 'New World A-Coming', Keith Emerson's 'Concerto no. 1', and Neil Sedaka's 'Manhattan Intermezzo' with the Brown University Orchestra with Paul Phillips conducting (release 2016), Dick Tunney's 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra: The Monkees' with Orchestra Kentucky with Jeff Reed conducting, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 'Millennium Fantasy' and 'Peanuts Gallery' with the Florida State University Orchestra, Kenneth Fuchs's 'Falling Trio', Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' (solo piano by Mr. Biegel), Cesar Cui's '25 Preludes', Carolyne Taylor's 'Classical Carols', "Life According to Chopin", 'Bach On a Steinway', 'A Steinway Christmas Album' and 'A Grand Romance'. In 1997, he created and performed the first live audio/video recitals on the internet from historic Steinway Hall in New York, which cd recording is preserved bearing the website name at the time, 'cyberecital.com'. This recording completes the cycle of Mozart's Sonatas for piano solo.
Pioneer of commissioning projects joining multiple orchestras as a model for commissioning new music in the 21st century, Mr. Biegel created the first largest consortium of orchestras in 1998 for Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 'Millennium Fantasy' premiered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2000, followed with 26 orchestras in the USA. This was followed with Tony award winning composer Charles Strouse's 'Concerto America' with the Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart in 2002. 17 orchestras in the USA and 1 orchestra in Germany commissioned Lowell Liebermann's 'Concerto no. 3, Opus 95', premiered with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with Andreas Delfs in 2006. In 2010, Mr. Biegel performed the World Premiere of William Bolcom's 'Prometheus' for piano, orchestra and chorus, with Carl St. Clair leading the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Chorale, followed with performances by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, and the Calgary Philharmonic and Chorus representing Canada. In addition, Mr. Biegel gave the World Premiere of Richard Danielpour's 'Mirrors' with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Carl St. Clair conducting. During the 2015-16 season, Mr. Biegel will perform the premiere of Kenneth Fuchs's 'Piano Concerto: The Spiritualist' based on three paintings by American abstract artist, Helen Frankenthaler, with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MA) and other orchestras in the USA. For the 2016-17-18 seasons, Mr. Biegel will premiere pop music icon Jimmy Webb's new work for piano and orchestra with Orchestra Kentucky, as well as PDQ Bach's 'Concerto for Very Grand Piano and Orchestra' by Peter Schickele with orchestras throughout the USA. An avid composer, Mr. Biegel's choral music is published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, Carl Fischer, Porfiri & Horvath and The LeDor Group.
Leonard Bernstein said of pianist Jeffrey Biegel: "He played fantastic Liszt. He is a splendid musician and a brilliant performer." These comments helped to launch Mr. Biegel's 1986 New York recital debut, as the third recipient of the Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Award, in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. He studied at The Juilliard School with Adele Marcus, herself a pupil of Josef Lhevinne and Artur Schnabel, and is currently Coordinator of Piano Studies at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, a City University of New York (CUNY).
Dr. Sarah Chan is an international concert pianist whose performance artistry extends throughout America, Europe, and Asia. In 2015-2016, she was featured in solo recitals at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), St. James’s Piccadilly (London), Berlin Philharmonic Hall Kammermusiksaal (Berlin), Beifang University Performing Arts Center (China), and Ningxia Normal University Concert Hall (China). Other international engagements have included Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and Merkin Hall (New York), Künstlerhaus Concert Hall (Munich), La Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris), Sala Ateneu (Bacau, Romania), Meany Hall for the Performing Arts (Seattle), Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts (Annapolis), Ed Landreth Hall (Fort Worth), Steinway Recital Hall (San Francisco). Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and Battelle Northwest Young Artists Series. As soloist with orchestra, Chan has performed with the National "Mihail Jora" Philharmonic Orchestra of Romania, Romanian State Symphony Orchestra, New York Concert Artists Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, and Enid Symphony Orchestra. Sarah Chan has won many prizes, including selection as “Rising Artist” by New York Concert Artists and Associates as well as winning the professional division prizes of The American Prize competitions and the PianoTexas International Festival in past years.
Dr. Chan received her musical education at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester (D.M.A.), Le Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University (M.M), Manhattan School of Music (B.M.), and the University of Michigan. Presently, Dr. Chan serves as Assistant Professor of Music (Keyboard Studies and Music Theory) and Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at California State University, Stanislaus, where she teaches applied piano, collaborative arts, keyboard pedagogy and history, and advanced theory. She additionally holds the title of Visiting Professor of Music at Ningxia Normal University, an honor bestowed in 2015 in recognition of her contributions as resident international music expert. Previously, Dr. Chan taught at Northwestern Oklahoma State University (Piano, Music, French), Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, and L’Institut de Culture Musicale (Paris). Teaching awards include the Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Eastman School of Music as well as two nominations for the John Barton Distinguished Teaching and Service Award at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. A well-sought after adjudicator and masterclass teacher, Dr. Chan has judged and taught internationally at professional, university, and pre-college levels.
Leave of absence 2016.
Slawomir Dobrzanski (piano and ensemble) is a versatile pianist frequently performing as a soloist and chamber musician. His recent performances in the United States include concerts in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Providence, Rhode Island, Corpus Christi and Las Cruces in Texas, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in Florida. His overseas activities have taken him to Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Taiwan, China, and several European countries. Slawomir Dobrzanski taught piano at the University of Rhode Island and at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. He joined the Music Department at Kansas State University in 2005, where, in addition to teaching piano and piano literature, he also serves as the Chair of Keyboard Studies. He is a graduate of the prestigious Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Poland. He has also studied at the University of Kansas, the Lucerne Conservatory in Switzerland and at the University of Connecticut, where he completed his doctorate in piano performance in 2001. Dobrzanski has recorded solo and chamber music by Witold Lutoslawski, Karol Szymanowski, Frederic Chopin, Stefan Kisielewski, Artur Malawski (complete piano solo music), Feliks Rybicki, Carl Tausig, and Johannes Brahms for Polish Radio and Television in Warsaw, Poland.
Tamara Goldstein (piano) enjoys a diverse career as a chamber musician, teacher, and soloist. She is currently associate professor and director of keyboard studies at Metropolitan State College of Denver and artistic director and founder of the annual festival, Piano Celebration. Since 1999, Ms. Goldstein has been assisting violin pedagogue, Paul Kantor, at the Aspen Music Festival during the summer seasons. Ms. Goldstein holds degrees from Indiana University, The Juilliard School, and the University of Colorado at Boulder and studied with Abbey Simon, Gyorgy Sebok, Angela Cheng, Brigitte Engerer and Mutsumi Moteki. She has performed in duo recitals with artists including Leone Buyse, Carol Wincenc, Jesse Levine, Ida Levin, and Judith Christin, and was pianist for the Colorado Chamber Players from 1995-2005. She received high praise for the 2008 CD "It's All Relative" with members of the Denver Brass and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and for "American Spirit" with the St. Martin's Chamber Choir. A frequent concerto soloist with many Denver-area orchestras, her upcoming appearances include a return tour to Japan with the Denver Municipal Band and recitals in Georgia, Louisiana, Kansas and Colorado with artists including Justin Bruns, Pamela Endsley and Marianne Gedigian. For more information visit www.tamaragoldstein.com.