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Panel Discussion - Artists of Color in Opera

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Opera America's National Opera Center

Scorca hall

330 7th Avenue 7th Floor

New York, NY 10001

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Vocal Village Inc. is a grass-roots non-profit with a mission to empower people of color through exploring the significant contributions racially diverse artists have made to the art form of opera. By amplifying the voices of opera makers of color, a panel of artists, administrators, and influencers from the New York opera community and beyond will challenge the industry’s long history of systemic racism to focus on solutions for creating equity and access. What are the barriers and systems of oppression people of color in opera face and what can we do to make change? This discussion will bring people together in an inclusive space for dialogue that encourages allies and advocates to participate with a focus on the impact of action rather than relying solely on intention.

The panel discussion will be followed by a reception with complimentary refreshments featuring cuisine from local entrepreneurs of color. www.vocalvillage.org

Featured Speakers:

Anese Jackson (moderator)
Anese is a strategy consultant and administrator to creative arts organizations and cultural institutions, with diverse experience in program development, marketing, project management, HR, and finance. She combines a rich artistic history in arts administration and performance, with a deep understanding of the corporate business environment and organizational development.

As a creative consultant, she works with artists and arts organizations on cultural programming, marketing and brand strategy, social media, fundraising and development, project management, and event production. Her earlier career in financial services included multiple roles in sales support, administration, and human resources.

Anese brings a strong cultural competency gained through extensive experience working with international organizations, and maintains a niche specialty in Cuban travel and tourism programs. She is a founding member of OYU ORO Afro Cuban Dance Ensemble, and has worked with many other illustrious dance professionals, performing in the US and abroad.

Alicia Lieu (Composer/Conductor)
Alicia Lieu, composer/conductor, studied composition in the tradition of Nadia Boulanger in Paris under the tutelage of Dr. Philip Lasser of The Juilliard School, Narcis Bonet, Mark Shapiro, and École Normale de Musique faculty member Michel Merlet. She earned her Masters in Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory under Elinor Armer and Bachelors at UC Santa Barbara under Dr. Leslie Hogan. Alicia later spent time abroad in Shanghai, China studying Chinese music composition, Chinese, and piano. Her ensemble Musikapiphany’s upcoming engagements include a vocal program presenting arias from MADAMA BUTTERFLY alongside the folk songs that influenced Puccini, as well as UNWRAPPING FORTUNE, Alicia’s first opera, to be performed at the Sounds of Arts Festival. She is the co-founder of ComposersCollective.org, the New York Conducting Institute where she created the International Women Conductors Workshop, and is currently forming an all women’s composers collective called Pitches Brew. She has guest conducted for OperaRox, Symphony Orchestra of the Americas, Spring Hill Orchestra, and the OneWorld Symphonic Festival. Having conducted in orchestral master classes in New York, St. Petersburg, Russia, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria, her teachers include John Keenan and Paul Nadler of The Met Opera and coaches Donald Schleicher, Larry Rachleff, Diane Wittry, Mark Stringer, Alexander Polishchuk, Kirk Trevor, Tomas Netopil.

Eun Lee, Conductor/ Activist
Eun Lee is an educator, musician, and arts activist based in Queens, New York. Eun has been teaching in public school and after-school music programs throughout New York City since 2012, and is currently a Woodwinds and Musicianship Teaching Artist at the Corona Youth Music Project. She is also a head teacher in the Diller-Quaile School of Music's Early Childhood Outreach Program, where she works with young learners and provides professional development to staff in early childhood and day-care centers located throughout upper Manhattan. As a clarinetist, Eun has performed with various chamber and orchestral ensembles, and is a founding member of the Gusto Chamber Players; an ensemble which programs food and repertoire for intimate and interactive audience experiences.

In addition to her educational and musical activities, Eun is the founder and executive producer of The Dream Unfinished. Eun’s work in The Dream Unfinished’s inaugural season has been documented by media outlets such as WQXR, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Alex Ross' blog The Rest is Noise; and she has been invited to speak on The Dream Unfinished at institutions such as NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Dalton School. Eun graduated from Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music with a Bachelors in Music Education.

Marsha Thompson, Soprano
Marsha Thompson, Soprano is lauded by The New York Times for her “…stellar performance of Violetta in La Traviata (in Central Park)…revealing a warm agile soprano…who sang and acted expressively throughout the evening.” In 2018 Ms. Thompson has sung Sieglinde in Die Walküre with Trilogy Opera Company in Newark, NJ, and AIDA with Opera Theater of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, CO, and Abigaille in Nabucco with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis. She has received accolades for her portrayal of Bess in Porgy and Bess (New York City Opera, Opera Carolina, Piedmont Opera). La Traviata (Opera Mississippi and New York Grand Opera), Tosca (Opera Festival di Roma) Aida (Piccolo Teatro a La Scala), Life and Times of X and Treemonisha (New York City Opera), Harriet Tubman (American Opera Projects). Ms. Thompson has been awarded considerable prizes from Opera Orchestra of New York, Vocal Competition-2014, First Prize Winner, Altamura Caruso International Voice Ompetition-2013, Finalist/Grant Winner, as well as awards from other prestigious organizations.
She is a former first runner up in the Miss Black USA pageant and began her classical music career as a violinist at the age of 5. You may follow Marsha on Facebook, @HouseofDivaria on Twitter and IG, and on her website www.marshathompson.com

Kenneth Overton, Baritone
For his portrayal of Stephen Kumalo, in Kurt Weill’s Lost in The Stars, Baritone Kenneth Overton was nominated for the 2019 St. Louis Theatre Circle Award for “Outstanding Performance in an Opera”. Kenneth is enjoying singing leading roles at some of the world’s great opera houses such as, San Francisco Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Palacio Bellas Artes, New York City Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Royal Danish Opera as well as many regional opera houses in the U.S. including Opera Memphis, Nashville Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera, Opera Idaho, and Opera Grand Rapids. Recent appearances include a debut performance a Naxos Label Recording with the Buffalo Philharmonic of Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua, and return engagements to the National Chorale at Lincoln Center for Handel’s Messiah, Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphonic Ensemble for Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, and The Oregon Bach Festival for Mozart’s Requiem, Bach Cantatas 190 and 56, Bach’s Magnificat and Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliet. Kenneth’s 2019/2020 season begins with a return to San Francisco Opera in Britten’s Billy Budd and continues with a return to Opera Carolina to reprise his role as Civil Rights Leader, Ralph Abernathy in Douglas Tappin’s opera, I Dream. For more information www.KennethOverton.com

Arthur Woodley, Bass and Educator
The American bass Arthur Woodley has been acclaimed for his performances in both opera and concert. This past season, Mr. Woodley performed in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and in Japan, and made his debut at the Washington National Opera with his acclaimed performance of Emile Griffith in Terrence Blanchard's Champion, a role he created in the world premiere at Opera Theatre of St. Louis in the summer of 2013.

Mr. Woodley has appeared with prestigious opera companies all over the U.S. including the San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, New Orleans Opera, and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. His many roles have included Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, the Four Villains in Les Contes d'Hoffman, Kuno in Die Freischütz, Banquo in Macbeth, Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress, Sulpice in La Fille du Régiment, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Rocco in Fidelio, Publio in La Clemenza di Tito, Angelotti in Tosca, Achillas in Guilio Cesare, and Dansker in Billy Budd. He also recently created the role of Dick Hallorann in the world premiere of Paul Moravec's The Shining at the Minnesota Opera.

Mr. Woodley has a distinguished history with the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess. He sang the role in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Baltimore Symphony, and on tour in Italy, including Santa Cecilia in Rome, with Yuri Temirkanov. In staged performances, he has appeared with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Indianapolis Opera, Opera Colorado, the Bregenz Festival, the Savolinna International Festival in Finland, and the Catfish Row Opera Company of Charleston, South Carolina, in a gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opera's debut.

In concert, Mr. Woodley has appeared with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Modesto Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, and the Collegiate Chorale at Lincoln Center, and at the Bard Music Festival. He also sang the world premiere of God, Mississippi, and Medgar Evers with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and was the bass soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in Mexico City with Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Mr. Woodley was born in New York City and raised in Saint Croix. He currently resides in Montclair, NJ.

About Vocal Village, Inc.
Vocal Village, Inc. was founded in 2017 by coloratura soprano Tyenne Sillekens with a mission to further the multicultural nature of opera through live performances, community engagement and school partnerships with innovative curriculum and cultural programming. www.vocalvillage.org

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Opera America's National Opera Center

Scorca hall

330 7th Avenue 7th Floor

New York, NY 10001

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