2018 Guest Faculty
Julie Gunn is a pianist, educator, and music director. She has performed on many of North America’s most prestigious recital series, including the Aspen Festival, Boston’s Celebrity Series, the Carnegie Hall Pure Voice Series, the Cincinnati Chamber Music Society, the Cliburn Foundation, the Dallas Opera, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center Great Performers, Manhattan’s Café Carlyle, the Metropolitan Opera Summerstage, Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Center, the Ravinia Festival, St. Paul’s Schubert Club, San Francisco Performances, the Sydney Opera House, Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, University of Chicago Presents, Washington’s Vocal Arts Society, the 92nd Street Y, and the United States Supreme Court. She has been heard in recital with William Burden, Richard Croft, Elizabeth Futral, Isabel Leonard, Stefan Milenkovich, Kelli O’Hara, Mandy Patinkin, Yvonne Gonzales Redman, Michelle De Young, the Pacifica and Jupiter Quartets, and her husband and artistic partner Nathan Gunn. In the upcoming season she looks forward to recitals and cabarets at the Interlochen Center for the Performing Arts, the DeBartolo Center, Vanderbilt University, Thomasville, GA, Western Michigan University, the McCallum Theater for the Performing Arts, and the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills.
Director of Lyric Theatre Studies at the University of Illinois, she produces three mainstage operas or musical theatre works a year at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. A faculty member at the School of Music, she enjoys teaching singers, pianists, chamber musicians and songwriters, and conducting new works and musical theatre. She has given master classes at universities and young artists’ programs all over the United States, including the Aspen Festival, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Houston Grand Opera Studio, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Opera Theatre St. Louis, the Ryan Young Artists’ Program, the Santa Fe Opera, Ravinia's Steans Institute. She enjoyed tenures as artist-in-residence at Cincinnati Opera and the Glimmerglass Festival. She is the founder of the Illinois School of Music Academy, a program for talented pre-college chamber musicians and composers.
Dr. Gunn enjoys working at the intersection of different disciplines and collaborates with artists in the fields of theatre, dance, and design whenever possible. She has served as a coach or conductor at Chicago Opera Theater, Highlands Opera Studio, the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Program, Opera North, Opera Theater St. Louis, Southern Methodist University, Theaterworks!, and Wolf Trap Opera, She is committed to new works and in recent seasons has been part of several world premieres, as a co-producer, a pianist, or as a conductor: Twilight Butterfly (Thomas), Dooryard Bloom (Higdon), Polly Peachum (Scheer/Van Horn), Variations on a Summer’s Day (Meltzer,) Letters from Quebec to Providence in the Rain (Gill,) and Bhutto (Fairouz.) She works with Beth Morrison Projects and American Opera Projects to produce workshops and academic premieres of new operas.
A member of ASCAP, she is the author of many arrangements of songs for chamber groups and orchestras. Her arrangements have been heard at Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, the DeBartolo Center, Ithaca College, Interlochen, the Kennedy Center, the Krannert Center, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, and in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Nathan Gunn has made a reputation as one of the most exciting and in-demand baritones of the day. He has appeared in internationally renowned opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Theater an der Wien, Teatro Real in Madrid, and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. His many roles include the title roles in Billy Budd, Eugene Onegin, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Hamlet; Guglielmo in Cosí fan tutte, the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucetia, Danilo in The Merry Widow, and The Lodger in The Aspern Papers.
A noted supporter of new works, Mr. Gunn most recently created the role of Inman in Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain at the Santa Fe Opera. He also created the roles of Sid Taylor in Jake Heggie's Great Scott, James Dalton in Iain Bell's The Harlot's Progress at the Theater an der Wien, Yeshua in Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at the San Francisco Opera Paul in Daron Hagen’s Amelia at the Seattle Opera, Alec Harvey in André Previn’s Brief Encounter at the Houston Grand Opera, Father Delura in Peter Eötvös’ Love and Other Demons at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and Clyde Griffiths in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera. Because of this dedication to new works, Mr. Gunn held the title of Director of the American Repertoire Council at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, a steering council that focused on advancing the company’s American Repertoire Program which was committed to produce a new American work in 10 consecutive seasons. Mr. Gunn is working on a number of creative projects that will premier over the next three seasons, in which he is a collaborating artist with the creative teams. These include projects with producing companies such as the English National Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Beth Morrison Projects, and are created with some of today’s leading and cutting edge composers.
Also a distinguished concert performer, Mr. Gunn has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Rundfunkorchster, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The many conductors with whom he has worked with include, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert, Daniel Harding, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Kent Nagano, Antonio Pappano, David Robertson, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Mark Wigglesworth.
A frequent recitalist, Mr. Gunn has been presented in recital at Alice Tully Hall and by Carnegie Hall in Zankel Hall. He has also been presented by Roy Thomson Hall, Cal Performances, the Schubert Club, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Vocal Arts Society in Washington, DC, the University of Chicago, the Krannert Center, the Wigmore Hall, and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. As a student, he performed in series of recitals with his teacher and mentor John Wustman that celebrated the 200th anniversary of Franz Schubert’s birth.
Mr. Gunn has recently ventured outside the standard opera repertoire with appearances in performances of the the title role in Sweeney Todd with the Houston Grand Opera, Camelot and Carousel with the New York Philharmonic (both broadcasted on PBS) and Show Boat at Carnegie Hall and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He also appeared in the New York Philharmonic’s 80th birthday gala celebration for Stephen Sondheim and appeared with the orchestra in an evening of Broadway classics with Kelli O’Hara. Other engagements have included appearances with Mandy Patinkin in Rochester, the Krannert Center the Ravinia Festival and on tour in Australia and New Zealand, a series of cabaret shows at the famed Café Carlyle in New York City and at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County, special guest artist in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s annual Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, and a performance of Sting and Trudie Styler’s work, Twin Spirits in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Mr. Gunn’s solo album, Just Before Sunrise, was released on Sony/BMG Masterworks. Other recordings include the title role in Billy Budd with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra (Virgin Classics), which won the 2010 Grammy Award; the first complete recording of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Allegro (Sony’s Masterworks Broadway), Peter Grimes with Sir Colin Davis and London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live!) which was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award, Il Barbiere di Siviglia (SONY Classics), Kullervo with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Telarc), and American Anthem (EMI). He also starred as Buzz Aldrin in Man on the Moon, an opera written specifically for television and broadcast on the BBC in the UK. The program was awarded the Golden Rose Award for Opera at the Montreux Festival in Lucerne.
This season, Mr. Gunn returns to the Theater an der Wien as the title role in Don Giovanni, makes his debut at the Netherlands Opera in the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz' The New Prince based on Machiavelli's The Prince, joins the New York Pops for the opening of their annual Carnegie Hall concert series, and appears in recital in Tulsa, Ft. Worth, George Washington University in St. Louis, and at the Krannert Center in Champaign, IL.
Mr. Gunn was the recipient of the first annual Beverly Sills Artist Award, and was awarded the Pittsburgh Opera Renaissance Award. He is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Program and was a winner of the 1994 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. Mr. Gunn is also an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana where he is currently a professor of voice and the General Director of the Lyric Theater @ Illinois. Nathan is a partner in the Los Angeles City Club, RVCC, which is a forward thinking analog space for artists and entrepreneurs changing the downtown of Los Angeles.
Two-time Grammy Award winner and regional Emmy Award winner Sylvia McNair’s three-decade career has spanned the musical realms of opera, oratorio, cabaret, and musical theater. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room, from the pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to the London Times and the cover of Cabaret Scenes. A soloist multiple times with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world, this songbird has flown the classical coop, finding new sides to the work of Gershwin, Porter, Bernstein, and Sondheim.
This flight has included numerous pops appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, and the Pittsburgh Symphony, among others. A review of her performance with Marvin Hamlisch and the Milwaukee Symphony enthused: “… she is that rare opera type who really gets the popular song. She reined in the vibrato and played to the microphone perfectly. Her matchless enunciation not only delivered the words and their sentiments, but also helped to etch the rhythms. Her wonderfully pure ‘Summertime,’ purged of all diva carrying-on, is among the best I’ve ever heard.” (Third Coast Digest)
Sylvia’s most striking performance invitations include singing the Bach B-minor Mass with the Vienna Philharmonic for Pope John Paul II at The Vatican (2000) and a recital for the U.S. Supreme Court by special request of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (1998), and two performances with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Her engagements of the past decade reflect her passionate new direction: ten seasons at the Ravinia Festival performing with Broadway legends John Raitt, George Hearn and Brian Stokes Mitchell; a three-season national tour of Gershwin’s ‘Here To Stay’ with pianist Kevin Cole and many of the country’s top orchestras; musical theater productions of ‘Most Happy Fella’ (Ravinia 2007), ‘Camelot’ (Ravinia 2009), ‘A Little Night Music’ (Indiana Repertory Theater 2013) and performances of her one-woman show ‘Subject To Change!’ from New York to San Diego and Chicago to Palm Beach. After her opening at the famed Oak Room of the Algonquin, critic Rex Reed swooned, “I could get used to this kind of ecstasy.”
In 2016, Sylvia’s newest recording, Subject to Change!, a cabaret show about her life in music, recorded at the Aspen Festival, will be released. This release is the latest in a discography of more than 70 recordings ranging from Mozart arias with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields, to the music of Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen with pianist Andre Previn. In 2011, Sylvia released a Christmas CD, Peace, which sold out its first run in a matter of weeks. In 2012, Romance, a disc of Latin jazz standards was released to a rave review from Fanfare Magazine’s Lynn Rene Bayley: “… here the record is, and it’s fabulous. In fact, it’s the biggest surprise of its kind I’ve encountered since Diana Ross’s live album of Billie Holiday standards.”
A proud Buckeye from Mansfield, Ohio, Sylvia earned a Masters degree with Distinction from the Indiana University School of Music. She received honorary doctorates from Westminster College (1997) and Indiana University (1998), the Ohio Governor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Entertainment (1999), the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award (2011).
Widely recognized as one of today’s leading collaborative pianists, Brian Zeger has performed with many of the world’s greatest singers including Marilyn Horne, Deborah Voigt, Anna Netrebko, Susan Graham, René Pape, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Piotr Beczala, Bryn Terfel, Joyce DiDonato, Denyce Graves and Adrianne Pieczonka in an extensive concert career has taken him to the premiere concert halls throughout the United States and abroad.
His new recordings released this season include Preludios - Spanish songs with Isabel Leonard- and a recording of Strauss & Wagner lieder with Adrianne Pieczonka, both for the Delos label. Last season Delos released Dear Theo: 3 Song Cycles by Ben Moore (Delos) with Paul Appleby, Susanna Phillips and Brett Polegato.
Recent concert highlights have included recitals with Deborah Voigt, collaborations with Susan Graham at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Carnegie Hall; recitals with Anna Netrebko at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, with tenor Paul Appleby as part of the Bard Music Festival and at the Schubertiade Festival with Adrianne Pieczonka.
His upcoming season includes recitals with Adrianne Pieczonka; a recital CD with mezzo Jamie Barton and two concerts where he is both pianist and curator: Juilliard Songfest at Alice Tully Hall and Pergamon: The Romantic Obsession at Metropolitan Museum of Art with soprano Susanna Phillips and bass Shenyang. He will also take part in a celebration of the songs of Ben Moore for Cliburn Concerts in Fort Worth with baritone Ed Parks and other artists.
Chamber music appearances include the Bard Music Festival, and the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival with the Jupiter String Quartet as well the Frankly Music series in Milwaukee. and and Quartet at the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival.
In addition to his distinguished concert career, he also serves as Artistic Director of the Vocal Arts Department at The Juilliard School and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Development Program. Previously he had served for many seasons as the director of the vocal program at the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival as well as on the faculties of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, the Chautauqua Institute, the Mannes College of Music and the Peabody Conservatory. He has given master classes for numerous institutions, including The Guildhall School of Music in London, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Tanglewood Music Center, the Marilyn Horne Foundation and Stanford University.
Some of his critical essays and other writings have appeared in Opera News, The Yale Review and Chamber Music magazine. He has made frequent appearances on the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts both on the opera quiz and as intermission host and performer and has the distinction of creating, narrating and performing in five intermission features devoted to art song, a first in the long history of the Met broadcasts. He has also made numerous musical appearances on live-streamed broadcasts from WQXR’s The Greene Space. He has adjudicated many prominent competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Concert Artists Guild auditions, the Walter W. Naumberg Vocal Competition and Richard Tucker Music Foundation Auditions.
Born in upstate New York, Mr. Zeger is now a resident of Manhattan. He holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Harvard College, a master's degree from The Juilliard School and a doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music. His important teachers have included Morris Borenstein, Sascha Gorodnitzki and Nina Svetlanova.
For more information about Mr. Zeger’s activities, please visit his website, www.brianzeger.com.
2018 Resident Faculty
Soprano Alison Acord has performed more than 40 operatic roles in the United States and abroad. She has received critical acclaim as the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos. Her operatic repertoire encompasses other roles such as Lady Billows in Albert Herring, the Mother in Hänsel und Gretel, Alice Ford in Falstaff, Mimì in La Bohème, Micaëla in Carmen, La Contessa di Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte. Miss Acord has been heard as soloist in orchestra concerts both in the United States and Europe in Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Ravel’s Shehèrazade and in Fikret Amirov's A Thousand and One Nights. Alison has received prestigious grant awards in the United States and Europe for championing the work of living composers. The International School of Performing Arts, The Recording Industries' Music Performance Trust Fund, Grismer Fine Arts Fund, Havighurst Center for Russian and Post Studies and Doblinger Publishers Wien have all afforded her opportunities to perform and lecture on composers living and writing art song in America, Moldova, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Russia, Great Britain, and Austria.
Christina Haan has coached opera productions for some 35 years, working in Europe and America for organizations such as Kentucky Opera, Dayton Opera, Whitewater-Sorg Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy, Bel Canto Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and Rising Star Singers Audition Network in Indiana. Dr. Haan has also coached opera productions at numerous universities, including Portland State University, University of Kentucky, Xavier University, Miami University, University of Cincinnati, and The Ohio State University. She has played both collaborative and solo concerts in England, France, Italy, Austria, and all over the United States. Dr. Haan is currently employed at Miami University of Ohio and The Ohio State University, where she has also taught Diction, Oratorio Literature, Vocal Chamber Music, and Collaborative Piano. She has worked for AIMS in Graz since 2009. Dr. Haan is a member of the faculty at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Liza Kelly, mezzo soprano, is Assistant Professor of Music at Western Kentucky University where she teaches voice and language diction. Dr. Kelly actively performs opera, musical theater, oratorio, concert works and recitals. She has been a featured performer with Cincinnati Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theater and Festival of Lucca, Teatro Nacional Sucre, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, Bowling Green Western Symphony Orchestra, and Dayton Bach Society. As an avid recitalist of art song and chamber works, Dr. Kelly has collaborated in recitals with the prestigious New York Festival of Song, Caramoor Festival, New York University, Mercer University, Peru State University, Murray State University and Western Kentucky University. She has taught classical voice and musical theater technique at both high school and university levels at Loveland Music Academy and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Dr. Kelly can also be heard on Telarc's world premiere recording of Liszt's St. Stanislaus and Hal Leonard Publication's Opera Anthology of Gian Carlo Menotti. She holds a D.M.A and M.M. in Voice Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she studied with Mr. William McGraw. Her undergraduate degree was attained from Georgia State University where she studied with Mrs. Betty T. Boone.
Mari Opatz-Muni, mezzo-soprano, has appeared with numerous opera companies in the United States and Europe including Houston Opera, where she was in the original cast of the world premiere of Nixon in China by John Adams. The audio recording won a Grammy Award and the opera's national PBS television broadcast was honored with an Emmy. Ms. Opatz-Muni reprised the role of Nancy T'ang in performances at Washington's Kennedy Center, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Netherlands Opera and at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. In addition, Ms. Opatz-Muni has appeared with New York City Opera, Atlanta Opera, Tulsa Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Portland Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Toledo Opera, Des Moines Opera and Mobile Opera. Along with the Emmy and Grammy, Ms. Opatz-Muni is the recipient of other prestigious awards including grants from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, the National Institute for Music Theatre, the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Beethoven Club. She was a semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions in both New York City and in her home state of Iowa. Ms. Opatz-Muni currently serves on the faculty of Miami University (Ohio) as Associate Professor in Music and former Director of the Opera Program.
THE WILLIAM E. SCHMIDT FOUNDATION
As part of its mission the William E. Schmidt Foundation provides support and encouragement to youth in the arts. Annually the Foundation provides scholarships and support to over one hundred and fifty students in the arts.
Schmidt Vocal Institute
c/o Linda McAlister, Director
501 South Patterson Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056
Telephone (513) 529-3046
Fax (513) 529-3027