2020 Vann Vocal Guest Faculty

Maestro Steven Crawford
Sam Handley, Bass-Baritone
Rena Harms, Soprano
Yasuko Oura, Pianist
Mary Phillips, Mezzo Soprano
Richard Troxell, Tenor
Jeffrey Brody, Pianist

Maestro Steven Crawford

Maestro Steven Crawford

Maestro Crawford, having completed 9 years on the conducting staff of the Metropolitan Opera with performances of La Bohème, has embarked on an active conducting career and continues to run one of the most successful vocal coaching studios in New York City. Beginning with Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Prelude to Performance in New York City, he has since conducted Don Giovanni with Dayton Opera, Otello with Vero Beach Opera, The Medium/Pagliacci with Syracuse Opera, the professional premiere of Glory Denied by Tom Cipullo with the Remarkable Theatre Brigade, La Boheme with the Inwood Shakespeare Festival, Otello with Louisville Opera, and Turandot with Dayton opera. He recently conducted Kirke Meecham’s Tartuffe in Portland OR, and earlier La Cenerentola with the Cincinnati Opera, where he had been called “the find of the evening” for stepping in on twelve hours notice to conduct Il Barbiere di Siviglia, simultaneously accompanying the recitatives on the fortepiano.

After working as Music Director of the Illinois Opera Theatre, Maestro Crawford was engaged as resident conductor of the Florida Grand Opera for five years. During that time, he conducted fifteen different productions, working with such great artists as Sherill Milnes, Carol Neblett, Justino Diaz, and Barbara Daniels. Maestro Crawford has also conducted productions for Chautauqua Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, Nevada Opera and Opera Northeast. Upon his arrival in New York City, he was immediately engaged by the Metropolitan Opera Guild as Music Director for their production of a newly commissioned opera for young people.

An excellent symphonic conductor and proponent of contemporary music, Maestro Crawford was engaged by the New York Philharmonic as cover conductor for Maestro Kurt Masur for the American premiere of Minoru Miki’s Symphony for Two Worlds. During the ’98 season, he made his New York City conducting debut in the NYC City premiere of A Chekov Trilogy by Richard Wargo.

Maestro Crawford continues to have an active career in accompanying when his conducting schedule permits. He has in the past accompanied Justino Diaz and Pablo Elvira in Puerto Rico, Aprile Millo in Sao Paolo, Richard Cowan on Belle Île en Mer, and Ortrun Wenkel and Håkan Hagegåard in Miami. Recently, he was the recipient of Classical Singer magazine’s Vocal Coach of the Year award.

SAM HANDLEY, Bass-Baritone

SAM HANDLEY, Bass-Baritone

Sam Handley has been praised for “his rich, burnished” voice and the “genuine emotional depth of his characterizations.” He has performed more than a dozen roles at Lyric Opera of Chicago including Hans Folz in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tom in Un ballo in maschera. Handley made his Asian debut as Basilio in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at the National Centre for Performing Arts (Beijing) under the baton of Lorin Maazel, with whom he had previously performed Talpa and Betto in Il Trittico and Colline in La Boheme. On the symphonic stage, his deep repertoire encircles masterworks of Handel, Haydn, Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, Verdi, and Mozart.
Additional opera credits include Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore (2019/20 with Tiroler Festival, Erl, Austria), Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, the Dallas Opera for Der Ring des Polykartes, Lyric Opera of Chicago for Fellow Travelers, NCPA (Bejing) and San Francisco Opera to sing Konrad Nachtigall in Die Meistersinger, plus Alberich in The Essential Ring with the Lexington Symphony and Symphony New Hampshire. He sang Sprecher in Opera Colorado’s production of Die Zauberflöte, Basilio with the Atlanta Opera, and his European debut as Escamillo in a new production of Carmen with Theater Aachen. Additional career highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni with the Ryan Opera Center, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola with the Merola Opera Program, the title role of Don Pasquale on tour with the Santa Fe Opera, and Dr. Miracle in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. He joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera in 2017 for Der Rosenkavalier.
He has been a guest artist with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst at Severance and Carnegie Halls, Houston Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia with James Conlon. Among his several recordings, Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming is available through Newport Classics and the DVD of his collaboration with Peter Schickele for P.D.Q. Bach in Houston: We Have a Problem is available from Acorn Media.
Dr. Handley has long loved sharing his knowledge of the art of singing and continues to be in demand as a Master Teacher, Clinician and Adjudicator. Sam currently serves on the faculties of North Park University and DePaul University, both in Chicago, as well as Musica nelle Marche in Urbino, Italy.

Rena Harms, Soprano

Rena Harms, Soprano

Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for a “winningly liquid” voice as well as for her “dramatic vividness and vocal flourish,” Santa Fe native Rena Harms has recently brought her signature role of Cio-Cio-San to Madame Butterfly productions at English National Opera, Arizona Opera, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. In the 2018/19 season, Ms. Harms returned to the Grand Théâtre de Genève for its Ring cycle. Her performance as Nell Gwynn in the regional premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players at Florentine Opera was recorded live for international release.
Ms. Harms’ “breathtaking intensity” (NDR Kultur) was on display in her recent French debut as Amelia in Simon Boccanegra at Opéra National de Bordeaux, and in her return to Florentine Opera for her role debut as Beatrice in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. She also brought her celebrated Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a role she has performed in Milwaukee, Basel, and San Francisco, to Opera Santa Barbara.
Ms. Harms recently joined the Seattle Symphony as the soprano soloist for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Seattle Opera for Don Giovanni. She has also appeared as Helmwige in Die Walküre with the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and as Desdemona in Otello with the Oldenburgishes Staatstheater. She made her English National Opera debut as Amelia in a new production of Simon Boccanegra and joined Theater Basel as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro.
On the concert stage, Ms. Harms recently made her Mexican debut with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Orquesta Sinfonica Simón Bolívar with a program of opera arias, and twice joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a series of concerts as well as the Music Academy of the West Orchestra for Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Other representative roles include Micaëla in Carmen, Liù in Turandot, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Mimì in La bohème which she performed with Los Angeles Opera.
Ms. Harms was a 2010 Grand Finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the winner of the Hennings-Fischer Foundation Competition. She was a member of Los Angeles Opera’s prestigious Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, and a participant in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.

Yasuko Oura, Pianist

Yasuko Oura, Pianist

Pianist Yasuko Oura has been praised for her sensibility and passion for collaborating with others. She has maintained a busy schedule of performing concerts and working for various opera companies while keeping an active teaching schedule. She is currently a lecturer of collaborative piano at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music where she enjoys working with talented pianists as well as coaching chamber music. Also in demand as a vocal coach, she is on the music staff for Des Moines Metro Opera where she has spent ten seasons. She is regularly under contract with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Opera Theater. She has played under many prominent conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis, Gary Wedow, and Jane Glover. Additionally, she was the principal production pianist and coach for Florentine Opera for seven years. Her other past affiliations include companies such as Fort Worth Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera, Toledo Opera, and AIMS in Graz, Austria.
Some recent operatic highlights include An American Dream for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited, Moby Dick at Chicago Opera Theater, and Candide at Des Moines Metro Opera. On a recital front, she has enjoyed a recital with bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, as well as returning to Twickenham Festival, where she performed recitals with Susanna Phillips and Myles Mykkanen.
An avid chamber musician, Ms. Oura has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Weil Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Merkin Hall. She is also the co-artistic director of Chamber Music at Bethany concert series where members of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, four-time Grammy award winning group Eighth Blackbird, and other prominent musicians come together to perform chamber music. She has also been seen in performances for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, the Bel Canto Foundation, WFMT, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. She resides in Chicago, where she works with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Orchestra Chorus, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, Light Opera Works, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School, where she was a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow.

Mary Phillips, Mezzo Soprano

Mary Phillips, Mezzo Soprano

Internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips is particularly in demand in the repertoire of Wagner, Verdi, Beethoven, and Mahler. She recently performed Rossweisse with the Boston Symphony in Wagner’s Die Walküre, a role she sang this past season at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Phillips made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Preziosilla in Verdi’s La Forza del Destino in 2006, and has been with the Met 15 seasons, performing Mrs. Alexander in Glass’ Satyagraha, Jezibaba in Rusalka, various Valkyries in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Also in The Ring, Ms. Phillips has performed Erda with Scottish Opera; Fricka and Waltraute with Canadian Opera Company; Wellgunde and Rossweisse with Seattle Opera. In 2017 Mary worked on four different Met productions: Adès’ Exterminating Angel; Wagner’s Parsifal; Strauss’ Elektra and Massenet’s Cendrillon. Other operatic appearances include Larina in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Spoleto Festival, USA; Bragaene in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde with Winnipeg Symphony and Dallas Opera; Third Maid in Strauss’s Elektra with Boston Symphony Orchestra; and her acclaimed Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlo for Vancouver Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Sarasota Opera. Other Verdi roles include Azucena in Il Trovatore and Amneris in Aida.
Concert highlights include Handel’s Messiah with Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Italy, New Jersey Symphony and Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with New York Philharmonic; and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Atlanta Symphony (recorded for Telarc), Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic. Mary has often been alto soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 including Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, and the Handel and Haydn Society.
In recital, Ms. Phillips has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Marilyn Horn Foundation, Anchorage Concert Association, to name a few. Recently she and her sister, Lori Phillips (soprano), performed a Russian duets recital with Russian Chamber Arts Society in Washington D.C. and an American Composers duet recital at Rhode Island College Recital Series.
Ms. Philips holds a Masters of Music degree from Yale School of Music, Bachelor of Theater Arts/Bachelor of Music Performance, Rhode Island College. She currently serves on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Richard Troxell, Tenor

Richard Troxell, Tenor

Richard Troxell’s beautiful lyric tenor voice has been thrilling audiences in leading roles in opera houses and on concert stages around the world, among them Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Los Angeles Opera, Washington Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Diego Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Australia in Sydney, Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari, L’Opéra Comique Paris, Opéra Monte Carlo, Théâtre du Capitôle de Toulouse, Opéra National de Montpellier, Vancouver Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Teatro de la Maestranza de Sevilla, Teatro del Lago Chile, National Theater for the Performing Arts Beijing, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Philadelphia , and the Portland Opera.
Mr. Troxell’s star turn as Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton in the award winning Sony film Madame Buttterfly, presented by Martin Scorcese, received high praise following its premiere in Paris and the U.S. in1996. Film critics Siskel and Ebert said of Richard’s performance ”His voice is splendid and his manner assured.” The New York Times deemed his performance “the most dramatically satisfying vocal characterization” in the film. His Pinkerton is one of the most viewed performances of this role.
Troxell’s continued success in film is evidenced in two other DVDs: The EMI label of La Rondine from the Washington Opera which was later broadcast on the PBS series Great Performances; and secondly with the Deutsche Grammophon labeled Cyrano de Bergerac in which he portrays the handsome officer Christian opposite the Cyrano of Roberto Alagna.
Highlights of the past few seasons include his début in Italy as Don José at the Teatro Petruzzelli under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Australia, and Roméo in Roméo et Juliette with Palm Beach Opera. Mr. Troxell also performed Don José in Beijing and in Sydney, La Bohème with Opera Colorado, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana with Opera Hamilton, and Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon with Calgary Opera.
Mr. Troxell has been seen with the San Francisco Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Saint Louis Symphony in his signature role as Tenor Soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana. Other concert engagements of note include the Title Role in Zemlinsky’s opera Der Zwerg under the baton of Leon Botstein with the American Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall. Opera News called his interpretation ”the afternoon’s most successful performance.”
He received his operatic training at the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia.

Jeffrey Brody, Pianist

 

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