2017 Guest Faculty

Soprano Lisa Saffer has graced opera and concert stages worldwide with her versatility, intelligence, and musicality in a range of repertoire. Ms. Saffer is recognized for her skill as an interpreter of contemporary scores and of the music of Handel. She has been particularly associated with the music of Oliver Knussen and was a participant in a landmark series of Handel recordings and performances with conductor Nicholas McGegan. She has worked with opera companies all over the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Liceu in Barcelona, Chicago Lyric, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera National de Paris, English National Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, the Netherlands Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera, and has had particularly close relationships with New York City Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. Ms. Saffer has appeared with major symphony orchestras including those of New York, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, and Philadelphia. She has also sung with the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta , the Orchestra of St Luke’s and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. She loves chamber music and has worked with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Schoenberg Ensemble and the New York Festival of Song among others. She has recordings on DGG, Harmonia Mundi, New World, Telarc and Virgin Classics. For her portrayal of Berg’s Lulu at the English National Opera, she was honored to receive the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for best vocal performance and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award. A native of Ann Arbor, she now makes her home in Maine, where she has built a house in Brownfield with her husband, Andy Buck, a timber framer. She teaches voice and coaches at her alma mater, the New England Conservatory. She is a voracious reader, loves to cook and is very happy to be gardening at last.


Composer Ricky Ian Gordon's songs have been performed and/or recorded by such renowned singers as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Frederica Von Stade. His opera The Grapes Of Wrath debuted at Minnesota Opera and was seen in New York at Carnegie Hall. A revised version will be presented this season at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Other works include Morning Star at Cincinnati Opera; 27 at Opera Theatre of St. Louis; A Coffin in Egypt with Frederica Von Stade was seen at Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Chicago Opera Theatre and LA Opera. Orpheus and Euridice at Lincoln Center (OBIE Award); Sycamore Trees at The Signature Theatre; Green Sneakers at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival; My Life with Albertine at Playwrights Horizons and Dream True at The Vineyard. He was a recipient of a Lincoln Center/ American Songbook Series concert devoted to his music entitled “Bright Eyed Joy: The Music of Ricky Ian Gordon,” It was written in the New York Times, “If the music of Ricky Ian Gordon had to be defined by a single quality, it would be the bursting effervescence infusing songs that blithely blur the lines between art song and the high-end Broadway music of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim…It’s caviar for a world gorging on pizza.” He has been the guest of many festivals, universities and conferences and received numerous honors including The Stephen Sondheim Award, The Helen Hayes Award, An Alumni Merit Award from Carnegie-Mellon University and The Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation Award.  He studied composition at Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently writing operas for The Met, Houston Grand Opera and Goodman Theater.


Lauded for his “sensitive and stylish” (The New York Times) and “superb” (Opera News) playing, pianist Craig Terry has launched an international career regularly performing with some of the world’s leading singers and instrumentalists. Currently Mr. Terry serves as Music Director of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago after having spent eleven seasons at Lyric as Assistant Conductor. Previously, he served as Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera after joining its Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Mr. Terry has performed with such esteemed vocalists as Jamie Barton, Stephanie Blythe, Christine Brewer, Nicole Cabell, Sasha Cooke, Eric Cutler, Danielle de Niese, Joyce DiDonato, Giuseppe Filianoti, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Denyce Graves, Bryan Hymel, Brian Jagde, Joseph Kaiser, Quinn Kelsey, Kate Lindsey, Ana María Martínez, Susanna Phillips, Luca Pisaroni, Patricia Racette, Hugh Russell, Bo Skovhus, Garrett Sorenson, Heidi Stober, Amber Wagner, and Catherine Wyn-Rogers. He has collaborated as a chamber musician with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchester, and the Pro Arte String Quartet.


Mr. Terry made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2000 and has also performed at Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This past spring he performed with Joyce DiDonato on a recital tour of Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, and Portugal. Recent performances include recitals with Heidi Stober at Carnegie (Weill) Hall, Brian Jagde at the Mondavi Center, Stephanie Blythe at both the American Songbook series at “Jazz at Lincoln Center” and the Ravinia Festival, Ana María Martínez at The Kennedy Center, Joyce DiDonato in Princeton and Santa Fe, Patricia Racette at the Ravinia Festival, 54Below in New York, and the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Christine Brewer for the Celebrity Series of Boston and the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Giuseppe Filianoti in his American Recital Debut on the Harriman-Jewell Series in Kansas City, Susanna Phillips and Dimitri Pittas at the Tokyo City Opera House under the auspices of the Metropolitan Opera, Nicole Cabell in St. Petersburg, Russia, Kate Lindsey at both Rockefeller University and Smith College, and Ms. Phillips at Alice Tully Hall. In 2008, he was twice featured as soloist with the Chicago Philharmonic, performing piano concertos of Chopin and Mendelssohn. In March 2010, he made his conducting debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago, leading student matinee performances of L’elisir d’amore, and in 2012 made his LOC stage debut as “Jake” in Show Boat. Mr. Terry was also featured in a “Live from Lincoln Center” national broadcast on PBS with Stephanie Blythe in April 2013. Mr. Terry’s 2016-17 performance schedule includes concerts with Stephanie Blythe, Christine Brewer, Joyce DiDonato, Ailyn Perez, Patricia Racette, Hugh Russell, Christian Van Horn, and Laura Wilde. He is Artistic Director of “Beyond the Aria,” a concert series presented by the Harris Theater in collaboration with the Ryan Opera Center and Lyric Unlimited. The third 2016-17 season of five concerts includes performances with Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Eric Owens, Piotr Beczala, Christiane Karg, Adam Plachetka, Russell Thomas, Elizabeth DeShong, and members of the Ryan Opera Center. His discography includes three recently released recordings: “Diva on Detour” with Patricia Racette, “As Long As There Are Songs” with Stephanie Blythe, and “Chanson d’Avril” with Nicole Cabell.  Mr. Terry hails from Tullahoma, Tennessee, received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Tennessee Technological University, continued his studies at Florida State University and received a Masters of Music in Piano Performance/Accompanying from the Manhattan School of Music where he was a student of pianist Warren Jones.


Guest Artists from Cincinnati Opera

Nicole Cabell, the 2005 Winner of the BBC Singer of the World Competion in Cardiff and Decca recording artist, is one of the most sought-after lyric sopranos of today. Her solo debut album, “Soprano”, was named “Editor’s Choice” by Gramophone and has received an incredible amount of critical acclaim and several prestigious awards: the 2007 Georg Solti Orphée d’Or from the French Académie du Disque Lyrique and an Echo Klassik Award in Germany.


Nicole Cabell’s current season includes some exciting role debuts: first as Violetta in La Traviata with Michigan Opera Theatre, then as Medora in Il Corsaro with Washington Concert Opera. She will reprise the role of her triumphant San Francisco Opera debut: Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. In concert, Ms. Cabell will make her Paris debut in Poulenc’s Stabat Mater, will appear several times in Spain, first with the Orquesta de Galicia in a Barber/Mahler program, then on tour with the RPO and Charles Dutoit in Poulenc’s Gloria. In London, she will be heard with the RPO in the same Poulenc piece as well as with the BBC Orchestra in Elgar’s The Apostles with Sir Andrew Davis. Further concert appearances include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Boston Symphony and Bernard Haitink at Tanglewood, the Dallas Symphony and Jaap van Zweeden in Vail, CO and the Baltimore Symphony and Marin Alsop, a Barber/Brahms program in Nashville with GianCarlo Guerrero and an evening of French Opera Arias and Duets with Stephen Costello and the Lyric Opera of Baltimore. Nicole Cabell will appear in recital in Chicago. Future projects include a debut with the Paris Opera and returns to the Cincinnati Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre.


Awards include first place in both the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition and the Women's Board of Chicago Vocal Competition. Nicole Cabell was a semi-finalist in the 2005 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and earned first place in the American Opera Society competition in Chicago. She is the 2002 winner of the Union League's Rose M. Grundman Scholarship, and the 2002 Farwell Award with the Woman's Board of Chicago. Nicole Cabell holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music.

Lyric mezzo soprano, Emma Sorenson, currently splits her time between Chicago and Boston. She made her Chicago debut this fall as Isabelle Eberhardt in Chicago Fringe Opera's  production of Missy Mazzoli's acclaimed new opera Song from the Uproar: the Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt. Critics praised Emma as a "striking and graceful presence, [she] sang with an attractive, flexible voice and brought strong dramatic engagement throughout, from Isabelle’s joy at discovering Islam, to her pain and anger at a lover’s betrayal, and solace and resignation at her death." Emma is excited to tackle her next project, singing the role of Starla in Philip Thompson's The Final Battle for Love with Thompson Street Opera this Winter.


Ms. Sorenson is returning to the East Coast in the Spring for her second year as an Emerging Artist with the Boston Lyric Opera. She debuted with the company as a featured artist in their Art in Bloom series at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and has since appeared in their production of La Boheme, and as Frou Frou in their production of The Merry Widow. She will be returning to Boston this Spring for their productions of The Rake's Progress and Le Nozze di Figaro. This past summer, Ms. Sorenson was engaged as a returning Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera where she sang the role of Javotte in Massenet's Manon. Last season she was featured in the part of a Flower in La Hija de Rappaccini by Catan. While in Boston, she has also performed several mainstage roles with The Boston Conservatory including the role of Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten, Dritte Dame in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Zulma (and Isabella cover) in Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri, and most recently Baba the Turk in The Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky.


Ms. Sorenson is the recipient of the 2016 Encouragement Award winner at the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in the St Louis district, and previously won the Ileana Ingraham Encouragement Award at the  auditions in the Kansas City district. Previously, Ms. Sorenson also won first place for the second consecutive year in her age group in the tri-state midwest National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, and is the two-time recipient of the James Moroney Nigh Opera Scholarship. Emma graduated with a Master of Music performance degree from The Boston Conservatory under the tutelage of Dr. Rebecca Folsom.


Benjamin Lee, described as a "tenore di grazia with effortless high notes and flawless fioriture," ( is a first year Artist Diploma student at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Tom Baresel. In 2015, he received the John Alexander Award at the Conservatory's annual Corbett Opera Competition. He recently made his debut as a Gaddes Festival Artist in Opera Theatre of St. Louis's production of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos as Brighella under the baton of maestro Rory Macdonald and director Sean Curran. Benjamin is looking forward to the 2017 summer season with Cincinnati Opera in their production of Frida, and with CCM Opera as #5 in Transformations and Arbace in Idomeneo.


​Past engagements affiliated with the Conservatory include Florville in Rossini's Il signor Bruschino, Lucano in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, and Gopinath in the CCM Opera Fusion workshop of Jack Perla's Shalimar the Clown. Additionally, Benjamin sang the role in the workshop of Albert in Laura Kaminsky's Some Light Emerges, which he went on to revisit at Houston Grand Opera's HGOco. Benjamin has also sung in the New Orleans' premiere of Jukebox Castle's production of Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins as the role of Father.


A Los Angeles native, Benjamin received his Bachelor's degree in Vocal Arts at the University of Southern California, studying under Gary Glaze. His engagements at the university included Lucano in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, First Commissioner in Poulenc's Dialogue of the Carmelites, and Il conte Libenskof in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims. In 2013 he also performed the role of Ferrando in Mozart's Così fan tutte at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.


2016 Guest Faculty


Pianist Margo Garrett is well known to audiences for her frequent performances in chamber, sonata and vocal recitals. The large roster of internationally-known artists with whom she has long performing relationships include sopranos Kathleen Battle, Barbara Bonney, the late Judith Raskin, Lucy Shelton, Dawn Upshaw, Benita Valente, mezzo Shirley Close, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, flutist, Julia Bogorad-Kogan, violinists Jaime Laredo and Daniel Phillips, violist Paul Neubauer, and cellists Sharon Robinson, Matt Haimowitz, and the late Stephen Kates. Her recordings can be found on Albany, CRI, Delos, Deutsche Grammophon (1992 Grammy for Best Vocal Recital), Dorian, Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch, Sony Classical and Ten Thousand Lakes. Ms. Garrett has premiered over 30 works, won an ASCAP Most Creative Programming Award (1989), headed collaborative piano programs at the University of Minnesota, The Juilliard School and New England Conservatory as well as traveled the globe giving master classes in leading schools of music and adjudicating international competitions.



Mezzo Soprano Mary Ann Hart is Professor of Music and Chair of the Voice Department at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where she teaches voice and song literature.  Previously she taught voice at Vassar College, and repertoire classes at the Mannes School of Music. During two decades of professional singing in New York City, Miss Hart established an exceptional reputation as a concert performer.  She made her New York Philharmonic debut under the baton of Kurt Masur in his premier season as Musical Director, and has also appeared with numerous other orchestras in the United States and Canada. She toured the United States with Philip Glass’s opera Hydrogen Jukebox, and recorded that work for Nonesuch.  One of four singers who recorded the complete songs of Charles Ives for Albany Records, she also has a solo recording of American songs, Permit Me Voyage, on Albany. With Robert Craft she recorded the Stravinsky Mass and Cantata for two Music Masterworks releases.  A champion of song repertoire, Mary Ann Hart has been featured on the Great Singers Series in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y’s Schubertiade, and the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago.  Recital appearances have taken her to 26 American states, Austria, Germany, Rumania, Canada, and the Virgin Islands. Out of sight (but still within earshot) Mary Ann Hart sang six roles in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges for the Netherlands Ballet Theatre production at the Metropolitan Opera, and did voice characterizations for the Disney animated films Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas.



Since his professional operatic debut there in 1986, opposite Dame Joan Sutherland in Bellini’s I Puritani, Stanford Olsen has performed more than 160 times with New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Acclaimed for his performances of the leading tenor roles in the operas of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Olsen enjoys an international reputation as a Mozartean of style and elegance, cited by The New York Times in 1990 in an article entitled “A Golden Age of Mozart Tenors.” Highly regarded for his interpretations of the bel canto roles of Nemorino, Almaviva, and Arturo, Olsen has been heard in this repertoire throughout the world at venues such as San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Miami Opera, La Scala di Milano, Landestheater Stuttgart, Theatre du Chatelet, Teatro Bellini di Catania, Theatre La Monnaie, Australian Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Nederlandse Oper, Tokyo Opera City, and most other significant opera companies in the USA and Europe. His recording of the fiendishly difficult role of Argirio in Rossini’s Tancredi  (Naxos/Alberto Zedda) netted a Grammy nomination. Since his professional concert debut as tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in 1983, Stanford Olsen has performed with most of the world’s great orchestras, in repertoire from Bach to Bartok. He has been a frequent guest with the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and most other major American orchestras. Outside the U.S. Olsen, has often performed with the Berlin Philharmoniker, Concertgebouw, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, L’Orchestre de Paris, L’Orchestre National de France, Philharmonia Orchestra, Israeli Philharmonic, Orchestre de Montréal, Oslo Symphony Orchestra, and Tokyo’s NHK Symphony. Olsen has performed and recorded with many of  the leading conductors of our time, such as Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, John-Eliot Gardner, Alan Gilbert, Carlos Kleiber, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Sir Neville Marriner, Seiji Ozawa, Robert Shaw, and Michael Tilson-Thomas, among others. He counts among his credits more than 100 performances each of Beethoven’s 9th, Handel’s Messiah, and Orff’s Carmina Burana.



One of this country’s most successful recitalists, Olsen was declared First Place Winner of the 1989 Walter W. Naumburg Award for recitalists, the only tenor to do so in nearly 60 years. His New York recital debut was in Alice Tully Hall in 1989, singing Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin, a piece he repeated in 1997 in the concluding season of the 92nd Street Y’s 10-year “Schubertiade” project, this time accompanied by Maestro James Levine. His European recital debut at Paris’ Theatre du Chatelet in 1993 was quickly followed by engagements at Brussells’ La Monnaie and Italy’s Maggio Musicale di Firenze. He continues to be a sought after recitalist in the USA and Europe, particularly singing repertoire of Schubert, Wolf, and Britten.

In addition to the Naumburg Award, Olsen won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1986, was a Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant winner in 1989, and also has received wards from Opera America and Opera Index. He is a four-time Grammy nominee, and winner of an Emmy for the PBS broadcast of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with the New York Philharmonic, featuring George Hearn and Patti Lupone. Winner of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music’s “Alumnus of the Year” award in 1989, Olsen also received the first ever “Alumnus of the Year” award from the University of Utah College of Fine Arts in 2010. A sought after clinician and adjudicator, Stanford Olsen has been a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions. He has given masterclasses to students at most of the country’s significant universities and conservatories, including CCM, Curtis, Eastman, Oberlin, Manhattan School of Music, Rice University, University of Illinois, University of Houston, USC, and dozens of others. He has also worked with the apprentices at the Tanglewood Festival, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Ravinia Festival, Cleveland Art Song Institute, the Aspen Music Festival, the Utah Opera, and the Metropolitan’s Lindemann Young Artist Program. Olsen’s students are frequent participants in the highly competitive apprentice programs at Central City, St. Louis, Santa Fe, Wolftrap, and Merola. His students include Grammy and Emmy award winners; Metropolitan Opera, George London Foundation, Marilyn Horne Foundation, and Richard Tucker foundation grant winners; and artists regularly heard at such venues as the Met, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Covent Garden, Frankfurt Opera, Nederlandse Oper, and others throughout Europe and the U.S.  In addition to his duties at the University of Michigan, Olsen spends his summers as a principal vocal instructor at the prestigious Castelton Festival, under the direction of Loren Maazel.


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. The William E. Schmidt Foundation does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.


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Schmidt Vocal Institute

c/o Linda McAlister, Director

501 South Patterson Avenue

Oxford, OH 45056

Telephone (513) 529-3046


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