Soprano Ailyn Pérez receives 2017 Sphinx Medal of Excellence

image by Rebecca Flay

image by Rebecca Flay

Soprano Ailyn Pérez has been named a recipient of the 2017 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. This tremendous honor is given annually by the Sphinx Organization to three artists of color who demonstrate the following qualities: artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and ongoing commitment to leadership. Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins and conductor Eugene Rogers are the other recipients of the 2017 Medals.

The awards will be bestowed at the official Sphinx Medals of Excellence luncheon, and honorees will be celebrated at a black-tie private dinner in Washington, D.C. next spring. The three Medalists will also each receive a $50,000 artist grant for their career development. Read more about the Sphinx Organization and its mission at, and details on the award via Sphinx on Constant Contact.

Hailed by the New York Times as “a beautiful woman who commands the stage” and “a major soprano,” Ailyn Pérez is increasingly in demand at leading international venues. Recent honours include The Metropolitan Opera’s 2016 Beverly Sills Award, the 15th annual Plácido Domingo Award, and the 2012 Richard Tucker Award (thereby becoming the only Hispanic recipient in the award’s 35-year history).

Ms. Pérez’s 2016-17 season includes return engagements at The Met (Mimì / La bohème), Staatsoper Berlin (Violetta / La Traviata), and at the Teatro alla Scala as Violetta and Mimì. She also debuts as Giulietta (I Capuleti e I Montecchi) at Opera di Oviedo, and presents recitals for the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, Malta’s Three Palaces Festival, and Wolf Trap Foundation USA.

Ailyn Pérez is a graduate of Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts and Indiana University. Her numerous accolades include the George London Foundation’s Leonie Rysanek Award, Shoshana Foundation Career Grant (2007), 2nd place in the 2006 Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, and honors from the Loren L. Zachary Foundation, Opera Index, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. She is a proud Advisory Board member for Time In, an acclaimed arts education and outreach initiative based in New York City.

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Laura Wilde, a Member of the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center, is Featured in the ESO’s Season Finale Concerts April 30 & May 1

20 April 2016

Laura Wilde2 photo by Kelly Kruse

Soprano Laura Wilde, a member of the Chicago Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center, is featured in the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s (ESO) season finale concerts April 30 and May 1, performing in Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1, Jeremiah and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, led by Music Director Andrew Grams. The ESO was recently named the 2016 Illinois Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. Concerts are Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 1 at 2:30 pm at the Hemmens Cultural Center. For tickets, which start at $30, see Elgin Symphony.Org or call 847-888-4000. Saturday night concertgoers are invited after the performance to attend “Mingle with the Musicians” at the Elgin Public House. Soprano Laura Wilde is a third-year Ryan Opera Center member from Watertown, South Dakota. She was formerly a Marion Roose Pullin Artist in Residence with Arizona Opera for two seasons, where she appeared in productions of Le nozze di Figaro, Roméo et Juliette, Lucia di Lammermoor, Faust, and Cavalleria rusticana (debut). Wilde has also participated in the young-artist programs of The Santa Fe Opera (Deaconess/King Roger) and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (Omar/John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, Mrs. Segstrom/A Little Night Music). A former Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions semi-finalist, in 2015 Wilde received the Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Award from the Musicians Club of Women and the Eleanor Pearce Sherwin Award from American Opera Society of Chicago. She is an alumna of Indiana University (Little Women, L’italiana in Algeri, Cendrillon) and St. Olaf College. At Lyric Opera of Chicago she has appeared in Madama Butterfly (debut), Parsifal, The Family Barber, and The Magic Victrola. During the Lyric 2015-16 season Wilde performed in Le nozze di Figaro, Nabucco, and Der Rosenkavalier. She will make her European debut in 2016 as the title role in Janáček’s Jenůfa at the English National Opera.


Laura Wilde Kelli Kruse

Andrew Grams, 2015 Illinois Conductor of the Year, became music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in June 2013 after an international search. A graduate of the Julliard School and Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with OttoWerner Mueller, Grams holds degrees in violin performance and conducting, and has already appeared with many of the great orchestras of the world. He served as assistant conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra for three years under the guidance of Franz Welser-Möst. Grams’superb musicianship and technique, charismatic conducting and easy accessibility have made him a favorite with Elgin Symphony audiences. He recently extended his contract through the 2020-21 ESO season.

Named the 2016 Illinois Orchestra of the Year, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. Known for their high-quality performances, ESO musicians represent some of the most talented musical artists in the region. In addition to magnificent music, patrons can also enjoy a drink, spend time with friends and even shop in the lobby of the Hemmens Cultural Center. From start to finish, the ESO brings world class, big city entertainment without the hassles of the big city.


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The Soprano Ailyn Pérez Wins Beverly Sills Artist Award

APRIL 7, 2016

Ailyn Pérez © Shawn Ehlers

Ailyn Pérez © Shawn Ehlers

The soprano Ailyn Pérez has won this year’s Beverly Sills Artist Award, which offers a $50,000 prize to help foster the careers of young singers who have appeared in solo roles at the Metropolitan Opera, that company announced on Thursday.

A rising lyric soprano who won the 2012 Richard Tucker Award, Ms. Pérez, 36, cited Ms. Sills, the Brooklyn-born opera star, as an inspiration. “She presented the operatic voice as something we could be fascinated and awed by, and with her great sense of humor, she was ‘Bubbles,’ the diva we could all relate to,” Ms. Pérez said in a statement, adding that she hoped to engage new audiences through social media and by working in schools. “Opera will survive and thrive if we embrace it as an important part of our collective culture.”

Ms. Pérez made her Met debut last year as Micaëla in Bizet’s “Carmen,” and was praised by Zachary Woolfe in The New York Times as a “confident, forthright presence in a role that can fade into merely demure.” She will sing her first Met performances of Musetta in Puccini’s “La Bohème” beginning April 15, and next season she is scheduled to add another “Bohème” role at the Met for the first time: Mimì.

She is the 11th recipient of the award; past winners include Joyce DiDonato, Matthew Polenzani, Isabel Leonard, Angela Meade, Brian Hymel and Michael Fabiano.

© The New York Times

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Soprano Ailyn Pérez Named as Recipient of Metropolitan Opera’s 11th Annual Beverly Sills Artist Award

7 APRIL 2016
Award for young singers carries a $50,000 prize, the largest of its kind in the United States
Pérez as Micaëla in the Met's Carmen  © Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Pérez as Micaëla in the Met’s Carmen
© Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

SOPRANO AILYN PÉREZ was named today as the recipient of the Metropolitan Opera’s 11th Annual Beverly Sills Artist Award.

Given annually to a young singer between the ages of 25 and 40 who has already appeared in a feature role at the Met, the Sills Artist Award carries a $50,000 prize, making it the largest of its kind in the United States. Perez made her Met debut last season as Micaëla in performances of Carmen, and will sing her first Met Musettas in La Bohèmeperformances this month at the Met.

Given in honor of the late soprano Beverly Sills, the award was established in 2006 through an endowment gift from the late Agnes Varis, who served as a managing director on the Met board. Past recipients of the award include baritone Nathan Gunn, Joyce DiDonato, Matthew Polenzani, bass John Relyea, soprano Susanna Phillips,  mezzo Isabel Leonard, soprano Angela Meade, tenor Bryan Hymel, tenor Michael Fabiano and baritone Quinn Kelsey.

“I am so deeply honored to receive this year’s Beverly Sills Artist Award, and also to have an artistic home at the Metropolitan Opera,” Pérez said in a statement issued today by the Met. “For me and so many others, Beverly Sills’s legacy is an inspiration. She presented the operatic voice as something we could be fascinated and awed by, and with her great sense of humor, she was ‘Bubbles,’ the diva we could all relate to. I also feel a great responsibility to be an active part of continuing that tradition, and to find innovative ways to engage new audiences through social media and working in our schools. Opera will survive and thrive if we embrace it as an important part of our collective culture.”

This summer the soprano will sing Juliette in Santa Fe Opera performances of Roméo et Juliette, and next season, Perez takes on the role of Tatiana in performances of Eugene Onegin at Dallas Opera in addition to singing the role of Mimì in Met performances of Bohème. Last month the Elk Grove Village, Illinois native sang the title role in performances of Massenet’s Manon at Dallas Opera, and in February she took on the role of the Countess in Figaroperformances at Houston Grand Opera. Earlier this season Perez created the role of Tatyana Bakst in Dallas Opera’s world premiere performances of Jake Heggie’s Great Scott.

© Opera News

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The queen is dead: a new generation of the anti-diva

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Opera announced that famed soprano Kathleen Battle would return to the company for a recital later this year, 22 years after she was notoriously fired for “unprofessional actions.” Though the latter statement may seem a bit cryptic, those deeply familiar within the opera universe know that Battle was fired for her rampant diva behavior during staging rehearsals for the Met’s production of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment.

When I first heard the news of Battle’s return, I was overjoyed; in fact, I screamed. I have always been a huge fan of Battle. Regardless of her less-than-flattering behavior towards those she deemed “beneath” her, it would be foolish to demean her breathtaking artistry. And it isn’t just her musicality that I admire, but also the voice itself. It is a voice that is identifiable for its silvery timbre — one note and you know it’s Battle. And ultimately, what separates a great singer from an operatic legend is a voice that is that easily identifiable.

However, Battle’s firing from the Met was not taken lightly. In fact, it even marked a new beginning for the diva, or lack thereof. Opera may still be stereotypically associated with a grand character with ridiculous diva behavior; but there is a new prototype that has been emerging within the industry: the “anti-diva.”

Based on my own observations, I’ve noticed that the diva-esque stature is only being tolerated while on stage. Though it is still important for performers to maintain composure while in character, being a great colleague seems to be taking priority over being a great performer. In an age that places great importance on social media, seldom is anything kept a secret anymore; talk of exhibiting over-the-top behavior will spread like wildfire on the web. And though it is the singer’s prerogative whether or not they choose to be likeable, it really does seem like their behavior will take them farther in the long run.

Take for example mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, the 2015 winner of the Richard Tucker Award (also known as the Nobel Prize of opera). During the most recent Richard Tucker Gala that was broadcast in February, Barton was shown as down-to-earth and pragmatic in her behind-the-scenes shots; she was even seen chest-bumping fellow operatic star and anti-diva Christine Goerke, following their impeccable performance of the famous duet from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda together. Though they may have just been hamming it up for the cameras, I highly doubt that their anti-diva antics are a publicity stunt; I’ve heard from several people who have personally worked with Barton that she is an absolute joy to work with. Perhaps Barton’s cool demeanor is due to her Southern upbringing, or maybe she is just well-aware that being a phenomenal person to all will eventually garner her more respect during her tenure.

Furthermore, the 2016 Richard Tucker Award winner Tamara Wilson also exhibits anti-diva behavior. Back in my singer days, I had the pleasure of working with Wilson in a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Wilson is a powerhouse — not only does she possess a voice that is larger than life, but she also has a stage presence that commands audiences to listen. She even maintains her own YouTube channel, entitled “Exit Stage Left,” in which she gives tips to those in the midst of their operatic studies while also showcasing her personality. However, what I remember most about my experience with Wilson was her personality; she chose to engage with her fellow peers, who were predominantly students, and not to separate herself from the chorus. Though the voice will remain immortal throughout history, maybe the key to immense success lies in being a good person.

Regardless, the anti-diva is not necessarily a new concept in opera. Singers of previous generations, including soprano Deborah Voigt and mezzo-sopranos Frederica von Stade and Joyce DiDonato, long ago exhibited sensible behavior both on and off the rehearsal space. Battle’s return to the Met stage marks not only a renowned comeback, but also serves as a reminder of what happens when a impressive ego steps on the wrong toes. Perhaps all it takes to make the immortal mortal is a 22-year hiatus.

Arya Roshanian is a senior majoring in music. He is also a lifestyle editor at the Daily Trojan. His column, “From the Top,” runs on Tuesdays.

© Daily Trojan

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IU Freshman, Lucas DeBard, to make his Carnegie Hall Debut in NYC

Lucas DeBard photo

Lucas DeBard is the most recent winner of Songbook Academy and now serves as the 2015 Songbook Youth Ambassador. Over the next year, Lucas will have multiple opportunities to perform and represent the Songbook Foundation. He made his national debut at the Kennedy Center in September and joined Michael Feinstein for his holiday engagement at Feinsteins/54 Below in December. On February 10, he will make his Carnegie Hall debut, sharing the stage with Five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein. The 18-year-old Indiana native is a freshman at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music, where he studies music education and jazz studies.

For more information about the Great American Songbook Academy™, click here.

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Back home again in Indiana: Carmel’s Kevin Patterson returns to lead the Indianapolis Opera

By Renee Larr

There’s a belief among many in show business that you shouldn’t start your career in your home town; rather you should venture out see what opportunities await.

Kevin Patterson did just that, but now he’s returned to his home state as the general director of the Indianapolis Opera.

Kevin Patterson returned to Indiana, where he now works as the general director of the Indianapolis Opera. (Photo by Lisa Price)

Kevin Patterson returned to Indiana, where he now works as the general director of the Indianapolis Opera. (Photo by Lisa Price)

“I loved going away and experiencing a lot of different things in the United States,” he said. “I had a lot of really wonderful experiences that my career has taken me (to), but deep down, when I come home, I’m always a Hoosier.”

Patterson grew up on the southeast side of Indianapolis and graduated from Warren Central High School before attending the Indiana University School of Music. His professional career in opera began in 1993 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. From there, his work took him to Pittsburgh, Austin and Anchorage, along with various other countries throughout the world. But the pull of the Hoosier state was strong. Patterson decided to move his family back to Indiana in August 2014.

“We were living in Anchorage, and we loved it, but Alaska is not the easiest of places to get,” he said. “Family kind of pulls you back.”

Patterson owns a private consultancy company and is also a professional auctioneer. He hoped those two jobs could keep him busy when he moved back to Carmel.

“I moved back to Carmel without any conception that I was going to work for another opera company. Then Indianapolis Opera approached me in December of 2014 at first on a consultancy basis. They were going through an organizational assessment of the company. They were also in talks to engage a potential general director candidate. That didn’t pan out for them, and they asked me if I would consider becoming general director of the company. I took over in February 2015,” Patterson said.

Carol Baker, director of community engagement for the Indianapolis Opera, said Patterson’s presence has already made a big difference in the organization.

“Kevin is known in the opera industry for doing really great work with the opera business as a whole. We really lucked out being able to draw in a person of his caliber to our organization,” Baker said. “It’s truly exceptional in the change that he’s brought about. I’m really excited the kind of work we will do in the next year, as well. I’m excited not only for the company but for our community.”

At the time he was hired, the Indianapolis Opera had recently undergone an organizational assessment to determine its future direction. In an unstable economic climate, many arts programs had shut down. The opera was hoping to prevent that from happening. Armed with the information from the assessment, Patterson and the opera began making some changes.

“There is an entirely new staff. The corporate culture of the old company doesn’t really exist anymore. We’ve moved out of Clowes Hall as our main home. We’re going to take our programming out to the public wherever that public might be,” Patterson said. “In August, we did the opera by Michael Nyman, who was the composer for the music (for) the movie ‘The Piano.’ It tells the story of a man who goes through his life with visual agnosia. We got together with seven mental health and neurology organizations around the city. We used that opera as a way in which to be a catalyst for dialogue in the community. We feel compelled to do more.”

In the future, Patterson hopes to keep some traditional aspects of the Indianapolis Opera but also help it change and grow with its audience. He’s looking to take the opera beyond Indianapolis into Carmel and elsewhere. He hopes to cultivate new talent with a resident artist program.

“You’re going to see a balance in the vision of the company between those traditional chestnuts that we all love and the new work that gets people talking about what’s going on in our community,” Patterson said.

Meet Kevin Patterson

Favorite Carmel restaurant: Bub’s Burgers. Loves the elk burgers.

Family: Wife, Dana, and daughter, Janelle

Pets: Cooper, the family Bichon

Favorite place to visit in the U.S.: “The two years we spent living in Alaska was amazing! Some of the best people on the planet.”

Dream vacation destination: Brewery hopping through Belgium on a bike

Favorite aspect of living in Carmel: It’s a great place to raise children.

Motto to live by: “If you aren’t the lead dog, the view never changes.”

Hobbies: Genealogy, swimming, biking

Indianapolis Opera schedule

Jan. 30-31 – Opera’s Rising Stars, Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler University

April 10 – Indianapolis Opera presents Resident Artist Company, Basile Opera Center

April 24 – Indianapolis Opera presents Resident Artist Company, Basile Opera Center

May 27 – Second annual Crescendo at White River State Park, The Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn

July 16 – Annual Lobster Palooza Party, Basile Opera Center grounds

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Soprano Kelly Cae Hogan joins Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as Adjunct Lecturer in Voice

headshot in black

Soprano Kelly Cae Hogan joins Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as Adjunct Lecturer in Voice. Hogan is a dramatic soprano who made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Gerhilde in Otto Schenk’s production of Die Walküre. She reprised her role in the premier of the Robert LePage production, which was shown in movie theaters throughout the world. Other performances at the Met include Janáček’s From the House of the Dead and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,” by Shostakovich. This spring, she will sing Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen with Opera North in England and returns to Kassel, Germany, to sing the title role in Puccini’s Turandot.

Ms. Hogan earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and her Master’s from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She and her husband, composer Joel Weiss, live between their homes in Manhattan and Lexington, South Carolina.

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Chimes of Christmas combines tradition and innovation

By Brooke McAfee


Chimes of Christmas, an annual holiday concert put on by the Singing Hoosiers, has been a tradition at IU since the 1950s, Singing Hoosiers director Ly Wilder said.

The concert is at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the IU Auditorium.

Although it is tradition, Wilder said the show continues to change as they also try to appeal to people who look forward to the concert every year.

“We are excited to keep bringing that tradition back and continuing to innovate and evolve that tradition so that it speaks both to the most traditional holiday favorites and to the things that have a new spin on them, with some hip-hop and break-dancing,” Wilder said. “You get a little something for everyone.”

Wilder said this year’s concert includes a different setup on stage and more contemporary approaches to the music.

Members of the Singing Hoosiers rehearse for their Chimes of Christmas performance on Thursday evening at IU Auditorium.

Members of the Singing Hoosiers rehearse for their Chimes of Christmas performance on Thursday evening at IU Auditorium.

“The music every year is both familiar and different,” Wilder said. “We hope that, with the inclusion of some styles like world music, people are going to find that really refreshing and interesting.”

The Singing Hoosiers have been preparing for the concert since October and, although the process is challenging, the students have risen to the occasion, 
Wilder said.

Wilder said she wants the audience to leave feeling happier than they were when they came in, and she hopes the concert will inspire feelings of compassion and 

“We hope it will encourage all of those best instincts about this time of the year.”

Wilder said Syncopation, a show choir in Bloomington with students from fifth to ninth grade, is an integral part of Chimes of Christmas.

“They just bring such a beautiful spirit and kind of a childlike innocence to remind us of the joy of the season,” Wilder said.

Sophomore Kylie Bruetman, a member of the Singing Hoosiers, said preparing for Chimes of Christmas has been an incredible 

Wilder is putting her own spin on the show in her first year as director, including changing aspects that needed improvement and spending time creating a well-designed stage and program, Bruetman said.

Chimes of Christmas also features many guest artists from both the Jacobs School of Music and outside of the University.

Bruetman said one of the best parts of being in the Singing Hoosiers is sharing the stage with renowned 

For example, Jeff Nelsen, professor of horn in the music school and has performed around the world, and Nina Nelsen, an opera singer who has premiered operas throughout the United States, will be in the program. The two musicians are also 

“To have the privilege to be around that kind of talent and that kind of prestige … I don’t know where else I would get that, especially as a non-music major,” Bruetman said. “It’s insane that I get to share a stage with those people.”

Tickets range from $12 to $17 for children and IU-Bloomington students with ID and from $17 to $22 for the general public. Tickets are for sale at the IU Auditorium box office or online at

Bruetman said he has learned to adapt to different styles of music and flow quickly in and out of each style within one concert.

Wilder said the variety of styles appeals to Chimes of Christmas’ diverse 

“I think we are going to see people in our audiences from the age of 3 to 93, and I hope that each person in our audience finds something that they can relate to and enjoy,” Wilder said. “There are a wide variety of styles in the program, and I’m just really excited to share all of the incredible talent that is in our backyard with our 

© Indiana Daily Student 2015

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Mathilda Edge wins second place at Met Central Region Finals

Mathilda Edge.crop.smallerSoprano Mathilda Edge, student of Brian Horne, won second place at the Central Region Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions on Nov. 22 at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston, Ill. She received a prize of $3,000.

Five students from the Jacobs School of Music won at the Indiana District Met Auditions in Indianapolis and advanced to the Regionals.

The National Semi-Finals will be held on March 6 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Grand Finals Concert will take place on March 16 at the Met.

Edge earned her Master of Music degree from the Jacobs School of Music and is currently working toward her doctorate.



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