Utah District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

Ryan Taylor | President and General Director of Minnesota Opera

Ryan Taylor was named President and General Director of Minnesota Opera in May 2016, coming full circle to the company where he was a member of its Resident Artist Program in 2000. Taylor previously served as General Director of Arizona Opera since April 2013, where he undertook a turnaround to stabilize the company’s operations. Under his leadership Arizona Opera saw record-breaking increases in community giving and improved the quality of its artistic product, while reaching new audiences through productions that appealed to the rich diversity of that region. He began his tenure at Arizona Opera in January 2012 as Director of Artistic Administration. A native of Atlanta, Taylor earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music History from the University of the South. He has a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Greg Carpenter | General Director in Opera Colorado

The fourth General Director in Opera Colorado’s 35-year history, Greg Carpenter guides both the artistic and administrative operations of the company. His role as General & Artistic Director began in 2007, prior to which he served as Opera Colorado’s Director of Development from 2004 – 2007, overseeing all fundraising and Board of Directors activities. Prior to joining Opera Colorado, he worked for four years for the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. His work there included Special Projects Manager for the President of the National Symphony Orchestra from 2000 – 2001 and Manager of Development from 2001 – 2004. Carpenter’s extensive experience working in the arts also includes two years as the Arts and Event Services Manager for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland and Special Projects Coordinator for the University of Maryland School of Music. From 1986 – 1998, Greg Carpenter performed as a professional opera singer. His work as an opera singer included both lead and supporting roles at Glimmerglass Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Cleveland Opera and Lyric Opera Cleveland. Carpenter has served on the Board of Directors for OPERA America, the national service organization for the opera industry. For the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention held in Denver, he served as Chairman of the Fundraising Committee. In 2009 Carpenter received a Livingston Fellowship Award in Leadership from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. He also regularly serves as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has served as a judge for the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation Competition. Greg Carpenter received a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Wittenberg University, a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Michigan State University and he completed post-graduate studies at the University of Maryland School of Music.

Heidi Grant Murphy | American Soprano

A shimmering soprano with enchanting stage presence, Heidi Grant Murphy is one of the outstanding vocal talents of her generation. A native of Bellingham, Wash., she began vocal studies while attending Western Washington and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Her graduate studies were interrupted when she was named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and engaged by Maestro James Levine to participate in the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Today, she has established a reputation not only for her radiant musicianship and impeccable vocal technique but also for her warm personality and generosity of spirit. Murphy has appeared with many of the world's finest opera companies and symphony orchestras, working with many of the world's most esteemed conductors. The 2009-10 season marked the twentieth anniversary of Murphy's Metropolitan Opera debut, which led to numerous roles there Murphy began the 2011-12 season in Orff's Carmina Buranawith the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero at the Mann Center, a performance she will reprise at Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. In late July, she visited the Sun Valley Summer Symphony festival for a recital of Debussy, Boulanger, and Chausson with her husband, pianist Kevin Murphy. Orchestral engagements see Murphy with the San Diego Symphony for Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, The Iris Orchestra for Mozart, Copland, and Mahler, and with the Atlanta Symphony and Maestro Robert Spano for Bach's St. Matthew Passion.

Dr. Carol Anderson | Principal Coach & Accompanist at Utah Opera

Carol Anderson is currently principal coach for the Utah Symphony and Opera, while spending her summers on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera. Dr. Anderson has also worked on the coaching staffs of Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Sarasota Opera, Brevard Music Center, Nashville Opera, Baltimore Opera Company, Opera Festival of New Jersey, and Rice University's Shepherd School Opera.

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NewMexico District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

TBD

Arizona District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

Richard Bado | Director of Artistic Operations and Chorus Master for HGO

Richard Bado is director of artistic operations and chorus master for HGO. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bado made his professional conducting debut in 1989 leading HGO’s acclaimed production of Show Boat at the newly restored Cairo Opera House in Egypt. Since then, Mr. Bado has conducted at Teatro alla Scala, Opéra National de Paris, New York City Opera, the Aspen Music Festival, Tulsa Opera, the Russian National Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony, and Wolf Trap Opera. This season, he conducts performances of The Nutcracker for the Houston Ballet. An accomplished pianist, Bado appears regularly with Renée Fleming in recital, including a tour in the fall of 2018. He has also played for Cecilia Bartoli, Frederica von Stade, Susan Graham, Denyce Graves, Marcello Giordani, Ramón Vargas, Samuel Ramey, Jamie Barton, Ryan McKinny, and Nathan Gunn. Bado holds music degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where he received the 2000 Alumni Achievement Award, and West Virginia University, and studied advanced choral conducting with Robert Shaw. He has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. For 12 years, he was the director of the Opera Studies Program at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He has served on the faculties of the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Dolora Zajick Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, the International Vocal School in Moscow, and the Texas Music Festival, and has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, the Bolshoi Opera Young Artist Program, Opera Australia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Utah Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. Bado regularly judges for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Roger Pines | Dramaturg at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Roger Pines has spent his entire professional life in opera, including the past 21 years at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where his title is dramaturg*. “Opera speaks to me as nothing else does,” he says. “I’ve always felt that way. When I hear a great opera performance, I’m thrilled beyond words, and I’ve made it my life’s work to do all I can to bring opera to the attention of a wider audience." At the same time he earned an M.A. in business with a concentration in arts administration. The National Opera Institute, which later was absorbed by OPERA America, had a program allowing grantees to serve under important figures in the national operatic community. Under Plato Karayanis, general director of the Dallas Opera, Roger worked for 11 months in education and publications. He was made assistant to the director of marketing, but within a few months he was doing enough that they changed his title. After consulting with an astute colleague in another company, he proposed, “Dramaturg” and was given the OK, though he had a tripartite job as dramaturg, publications editor, and education. In 1989, Roger accepted the position of director of education at San Diego Opera. During five-and-a-half years he helped expand the existing four programs to 13. Roger moved to the Lyric with the title of program editor, which changed later to editorial dramaturg and finally dramaturg. The job has developed beyond all recognition from where he started out, the company having added broadcasts and extensive public speaking to his activities.

John Keene| Head of Music Staff and Chorus Master at Seattle Opera

John Keene is Head of Music Staff and Chorus Master at Seattle Opera where he has also been Assistant Conductor for Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. His debut in Seattle was as Chorus Master for Fidelio in 2012. Previously he was Head of Music Staff and Chorus Master at Florida Grand Opera where he worked with Plácido Domingo, Helen Donath, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Sherrill Milnes, Renata Scotto, and Bryn Terfel. During his time at FGO Maestro Keene served as cover conductor for Lakmé, Turandot, and Don Giovanni, and was Head of the Young Artist Studio. At Seattle Opera he has conducted the company premiere of As One and served as cover conductor for Die Walküre and Götterdämmerung. As Founder of the Elysian Opera Group in New York City Maestro Keene conducted Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice in Merkin Concert Hall. For San Francisco Opera he has been a faculty member of the Merola Opera Program and conducted Western Opera Theater’s thirtieth anniversary national tour of Il barbiere di Siviglia in an acclaimed production by John Copley. For Sarasota Opera he was Director of the Apprentice Artist Program and Chorus Master for many productions, including the American stage premieres of Verdi’s 1857 Simon Boccanegra, Les Vêpres Siciliennes, and Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade. John Keene is a graduate of the University of Southern California where he was twice awarded highest honors, first as solo pianist and then as accompanist. His teachers included John Perry, Brooks Smith, Natalie Limonick, and the pioneer teacher of the art of accompanying, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, in whose art song classes he partnered the renowned baritone Thomas Hampson. Also while still a student he accompanied soprano Johanna Meier, mezzo Gloria Lane, violinists Oscar Shumsky, Sally O'Reilly, Eudice Shapiro, and Pamela Frank, and cellists Gabor Rejto and Eleonore Schoenfeld. A former cellist himself, he became the youngest-ever member of his hometown Lancaster Symphony Orchestra at age twelve.

Robert Mills | Official MONC Audition Accompanist

Dr. Robert Mills is an assistant clinical professor of Music and the vocal coach/accompanist for Arizona State University's Lyric Opera. Dr. Mills holds a BA in music from the University of Maryland as well as a MM and a DMA in Collaborative Piano from Arizona State University. Additionally, Dr. Mills holds both a Juris Doctor and a MLIS from Brigham Young University. For nearly three years, Dr. Mills served as an assistant vocal coach and accompanist for the Opera Institute at Boston University. Currently, he is on faculty at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) summer program in Graz, Austria as a repetitor/coach. Dr. Mills concertizes regularly throughout the United States promoting American art song and has just completed a recording on the Summit label of the song cycles of Judith Cloud. He has collaborated with vocal artists and technicians such as Ingo Titze, Phyllis Curtain, Andrea Lechner and Ariel Bybee in concert, workshop and master class settings. Dr. Mills has taught throughout the world including invitations to the Conservatorio Nacional de M𢃼ica de M憖ico as well as the Big Bear Lake Song Festival. Dr. Mills has performed with the Baltimore Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Johns Hopkins Symphony, and the Mesa Symphony as well as with the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale and the Three Tenors of Mexico. Dr. Mills can be heard on the Canyon Record label.

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Colorado-Wyoming District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

Ruth Golden | Voice Teacher at the Manhattan School of Music

Internationally recognized voice teacher RUTH GOLDEN brings to Manhattan School of Music over twenty years of teaching, having served on the faculties of the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA), LIU Post, and Bard College Conservatory Graduate program. As a guest Master Teacher, Miss Golden has worked with young singers at the Glimmerglass Festival, the Juilliard School, Songfest, North Carolina School for the Arts, the Chautauqua Institution, the University of Southern California, and Eeh Wah University in Seoul. Ruth Golden’s students have gone on to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the San Francisco Opera, Bayersches Staatsoper Munich, Deutsche Opera Berlin, New York City Opera, Spoletto Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera, among others.

Darren K. Woods | General Director of the Seagle Music Colony

Darren K. Woods was appointed General Director of the Seagle Music Colony in the summer of 1996. Since that time, the Colony has experienced incredible growth in almost every aspect including budget, production quality, facilities and faculty/staff. Because of this extensive growth and the need for Seagle Music Colony to have a full-time presence in Schroon Lake, Darren transitioned to part-time Artistic Director in January 2008. In February 2017, Darren returned full-time to Seagle Music Colony and is now also leading the Colony’s development and fundraising efforts. Darren was General Director of the Fort Worth Opera, from 2001 to 2017. Under his leadership, the Fort Worth Opera increased subscription and donor bases and also moved from a full season to a festival format company. Expanding on Mr. Woods’ dedication to young artists, the Fort Worth Opera Studio was founded during the 2002-2003 season with four members who participate in main stage productions, perform for more than 50,000 children each year and receive coaching and lessons from resident and guest artists. Prior to his appointment in Fort Worth, he was the General Director of the Shreveport Opera in Louisiana. While in Shreveport, Mr. Woods founded Shreveport Opera Express, or SOX, a touring, arts in education program that involved school children working with professional artists in the schools

Nino Sanikidze | Head Coach of the LA Opera’s Young Artist

Nino Sanikidze is the LA Opera’s Young Artist head coach. In her role she wears many hats from coach and mentor to accompanist and administrator. It’s also a role where Sanikidze can bring to life her passion for music collaboration, working with singers, and nurturing the next generation of great artists. Sanikidze grew up in the Republic of Georgia, where she says “it is very cultural for everyone to study music.” “You turn five years old and you learn to play piano, guitar, violin, or whatever. Of course, not everyone becomes a musician, but you start to appreciate music. My friends from music school, who are now doctors, lawyers, and scientists, still appreciate and are very educated in music.” After originally thinking that she would become a physician, Sanikidze eventually pursued multiple degrees in music both in Georgia and then here in the United States, including a Doctor of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano from the University of Maryland, College Park. It was during the latter that she auditioned for and received a place in the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera, where she worked closely with that company’s general director at the time, Plácido Domingo. It was Domingo, who asked Sanikidze to move to Los Angeles to help with the company’s new young artist program. For Sanikidze, it was a no brainer. She had freelanced at LA Opera in the years before and really enjoyed the collegial spirit at the company. Behind every member of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program is an entire team of coaches and staff helping each individual become the best performer they can be. Nino Sanikidze is the program’s head coach. In her role she wears many hats from coach and mentor to accompanist and administrator. It’s also a role where Sanikidze can bring to life her passion for music collaboration, working with singers, and nurturing the next generation of great artists.

Allan Armstrong | Pianist and Vocal Coach

Pianist and vocal coach Allan Armstrong is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Previously he was a member of the applied piano faculty at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where he co-directed the nationally award-winning UTRGV Bravo Opera Company. Allan has been a principal production coach at Eugene Opera, Opera Colorado, St. Petersburg Opera, Opera on the Avalon, and Opera Tampa.

Rocky Mountain Regional Finals: Metropolitan Opera Judge

Diane Zola | Assistant General Manager At the Metropolitan Opera

Diane Zola had been Director of Artistic Administration at Houston Grand Opera. She joined the Company in 2000 as the Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, an internationally acclaimed training program for young singers and pianist/coaches. In 2009 Ms. Zola was appointed the Chief Consultant for the newly founded Young Artist Program at The Bolshoi Opera in Moscow. Ms. Zola has given master classes and consultations to singers in Moscow, Kiev, New York City, at major opera houses and music festivals including San Francisco Opera Merola Program, and the Aspen Music Festival. Additionally she has presented classes in Lucca and Spoleto, Italy in conjunction with the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, at the Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music and University of Michigan. Ms. Zola has served as an adjudicator for numerous vocal competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she also serves on the jury of the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition. Diane Zola holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan and pursued Doctoral studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She performed with opera companies in Michigan, Texas, California and in Europe where she sang both Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Georgette in Il Tabarro, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth.

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