Indiana University Bloomington

Jacobs School of Music doctoral students complete tour of Portugal

IU Jacobs School of Music doctoral students Bruno Sandes and Marta Menezes recently returned from a tour of Portugal, where the duo presented four performances of works by Portuguese and Brazilian composers. The carefully selected repertoire was intended to connect both nations through their common language, and included the world premiere of a song cycle entitled “Dois Poemas de Álvaro de Campos e um Poema de Fernando Pessoa” (Two Poems by Álvaro de Campos and a Poem by Fernando Pessoa) written for them by Portuguese composer, Tiago Derriça (b. 1987).

Palácio Foz

Sandes and Menezes performing at the Palácio Foz, a magnificent and highly decorated concert hall from the 18th century, located in the heart of Lisbon.

The concerts were well received in each city. Their final concert on June 29th was broadcast live to the whole country on Antena 2, the classical music radio station in Portugal, and was also recorded for television.

Between concerts and performances, Sandes also spent one week in Vienna coaching Mahler, Mozart, and Korngold with David Aronson (from the Wien Staatsoper) and Claudia Visca (from the Wien Institut für Gesang und Musiktheater). Sandes earned his bachelor’s degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Voice Performance, where he studies with Carol Vaness. He is now back in Bloomington preparing the role of Don Giovanni, which opens September 15 at the Musical Arts Center.

A clip of Sandes and Menezes from their broadcast on Portugal’s Antena 2 (RTP)

Menezes is currently in the third year of her doctoral studies at the Jacobs School, where she studies with Arnaldo Cohen. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Lisbon Superior School of Music, where she studied with Miguel Henriques and Jorge Moyano, and also completed a Master of Performance at the Royal College of Music in London with distinction, under Dmitri Alexeev, having previously studied with Andrew Ball. She is a regular soloist in Europe and the U.S., and also just completed a solo tour in China.

This tour was made possible by The Georgina Joshi Foundation.

Georgina Joshi

Through an international fellowship, known as “Georgina’s next steps,” the foundation presents the opportunity for Indiana University Jacobs School of Music graduate voice students to receive funding for entrepreneurial projects of their own design, involving international travel. This fellowship is meant to help students transition from the Jacobs School of Music into the professional world of music.


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Jacobs School of Music Alumna Joins Faculty at Temple University

Alumna Kathryn Leemhuis will join the faculty at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance as Assistant Professor of Voice/Opera

As a professional opera singer, Leemhuis has performed roles with companies such as the Dallas Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Fort Worth Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater. She has performed concert works with the Richmond Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra, and at venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, the Ravinia Festival, and the Tanglewood Music Festival.

Leemhuis has won prizes from Opera Birmingham, Florida Grand Opera, the Lissner Foundation, the Fort Worth McCammon Foundation, the Albanese-Puccini Foundation, the Sullivan Foundation, the George London Foundation, and the Metropolitan Opera, among others.

Leemhuis received her Bachelors of Music from Oberlin College, her Masters of Music from the Jacobs School of Music, and her Doctorate of Music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

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Monica Dewey Wins Hilde Zadek Competition

Monica Dewey has won the 10th International Hilde Zadek Vocal competition.

The 27-year-old American soprano won the 10,000 € grand prize in the Glass Hall of the Wiener Musikverein. Dewey, who is from Atlanta, was also successful in four other special categories, including the special prize of the Cologne Opera and the Media Jury Prize.

Second prize went to baritone Dariusz Perczak (27), who was born in Kielce, Poland. Meanwhile, third prize was shared by 25-year-old Slovenian soprano Jerica Steklasa, a student at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, and 24-year-old Italian soprano Alice Rossi.

In total 45 participants from 24 countries had registered for the biannual competition.

In total, six candidates were ultimately admitted to the final, each with three pieces, according to a press release.

Since 1999, the Hildegard Zadek Foundation, which has been organized in cooperation with the MDW. The performance was adjudicated by a panel of judges that included Angelika Möser, Thomas Quasthoff, Brigitte Fassbaender and Birgit Meyer of the Cologne Opera.

Dewey is an award-winning singer who obtained second place in the Central Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She is also a two-time winner of the Indiana District auditions (2015, 2016). Recently, Dewey was a young artist with Opera Theater of Saint Louis (2016, 2017), Chautauqua Voice Institute (2014, 2015), Lyric Opera Studio Weimar (2013), and Harrower Opera Workshop (2012, 2013).

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Review: Ambiance just right for IU’s production of ‘The Music Man’

By Peter Jacobi | H-T Reviewer |

Meredith Willson must have loved Mason City, Iowa. He was born there. He grew up there. And, years later, he wrote an outsized thank you to the place, nothing less than an entire Broadway musical in which he relabels it River City.

That River City has been constructed on the stage of Indiana University’s Musical Arts Center for a new production of Willson’s best-known creation, the theatrical bouquet widely known and loved as “The Music Man.”

Last presented here in 2001, Indiana University Opera Theater has given its current production a quality both photographic and dreamy. Through clever use of scenery that slides on and off and lowers and rises to reveal a bouncing-along train car, a town square, a cozy wood-framed house with porch out front and a parlor with piano inside, a school gymnasium, a street, a park, a library, a bridge where two lives change dramatically, a bridge where the leading man shifts from con to a fellow hopelessly smitten and the leading lady from lonely yet seemingly satisfied spinster to a woman also smitten and ready for love. The scenery, designed by Steven Kemp, who previously created Opera Theater sets for “Madama Butterfly,” “Oklahoma!” and “Dead Man Walking,” looks genuinely 1912 (when the story is meant to happen). So do Linda Pisano’s handsome-to-look-at costumes.

Sticking with the physical aspects of the show, one must credit Patrick Mero for his excellent lighting and Aaron Beck for audio engineering much improved from a number of previous shows that required the use of microphones.

Stage director Vincent Liotta — who for 20 years prior to retirement in 2015 so successfully staged productions as resident director, professor and chair of opera studies in the IU Jacobs School of Music — returned to share his vast knowledge and his devotion for the musical stage with the two fine casts gathered for this go at “The Music Man.” His sharp-eyed search for validity and the right details has remained intact. The stage was well used by all who peopled the story, thereby contributing nostalgia and time-kissed memory to the affair. Liotta obviously believes in Willson’s musical portrait of back-then middle America, and the belief was helpfully catching among the many working on stage and behind it.

So, too, the chosen conductor, Constantine Kitsopoulos, came with the right attitude. In previous visits, he had proven his loyalty to musical theater as music director of seven very different local productions, from the first, Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella,” to the more recent “The Last Savage” of Gian Carlo Menotti. Kitsopoulos gave the University Orchestra, the well-trained Walter Huff Opera Chorus, Brent Gault’s delightful-to-watch Children’s Chorus and the numerous soloists the necessary guidance, as offered from a highly experienced practitioner of the opera and its offshoots.

The casts had worked themselves into units; each individual became a member of a team. Just so you know, the opening night cast, which also sang Sunday afternoon, will sing next Saturday’s performance. Last Saturday’s will do the honors this coming Friday.

The opening Friday’s cast was led by baritone Benjamin Seiwert as Harold Hill, the intruder who came to cheat but stays for love, and soprano Cadie Jordan as Marian the librarian, the spinster ready for a change. Both have lovely lyrical voices, just right for Willson’s words and music, and their stage presence helped to propel the plot. Tenor Tislam Swift gave personality to Marcellus, Harold Hill’s longtime friend and former sidekick in swindling, now striving to live honestly and urging Harold to do likewise. Mezzo Amber McKoy naturally portrays Mrs. Paroo, an anxious-about-her-daughter-Marian’s mother. Glen Hall, in the speaking role of Mayor (in both casts), and mezzo Hannah Benson as his wife, Eulalie, provide some of the evening’s comedy in roles that call for touches of caricature.

The alternate cast seemed imbued with a similar sense for personality-building, for which director Liotta deserves a goodly portion of the credit. Bass Luke Robinson and soprano Virginia Mims took good care of the lead roles. Equally effective stewardship was contributed by tenor Chad Singer as Marcellus, soprano Lindsey Allen as Mrs. Paroo and mezzo Kate Sorrells as the mayor’s wife.

Others on the long list of soloists added to the production’s success. Special mention must go to a couple of young boys, Ian Shaw and Callum Miles, who — as Marian’s little brother Winthrop — soloed with gusto and clear voice one of the show’s hit songs, “Gary, Indiana.” They brought cheers from the audience, deservedly.

Praise also came to a wonderful barbershop ensemble, the Jordan Crossing Quartet, serving as a sort of on-looking Greek chorus that observes the scene, always while singing mellifluously: lead Stephen Chambers, tenor Thomas Tiggleman, baritone Joe Grimme and bass Daniel Lentz.

One noted, finally, that the casts and chorus were required not only to sing but to dance, which they did very smoothly, thanks to choreographer Sarah Hairston. The production as a whole is proof that nostalgia can be an awfully good thing. What one saw and heard was charming.

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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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