Dallas — The six fellows and four observers have been named for the Dallas Opera's inaugural Institute for Women Conductors, happening in November.
Below is the complete news release, with bios of the fellows and observers. And you can read General Director and CEO Keith Cerny's thoughts about this new initative in his June Off the Cuff column, here.
The Dallas Opera is proud to announce the names of the six distinguished professionals selected to participate in the inaugural session of the Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera:
- Jennifer Condon (Australia/Germany)
- Jessica Gethin (Australia)
- Natalie Murray Beale (UK)
- Stephanie Rhodes (USA)
- Anna Skryleva (Russia/Germany)
- Lidiya Yankovskaya (USA)
Working to address a long-standing career issue in the opera world, The Dallas Opera is launching a unique, new residential program designed to provide training and career support for distinctively talented women conductors. Female conductors age forty and younger, as well as accomplished women singers, opera coaches and accompanists, and instrumentalists with established careers seeking a new career at the podium, were encouraged to apply.
A total of 103 women conductors and professional musicians heeded the call and applied by the April 15 deadline. Of that number, nearly half the applicants (44%) came from the United States. Other nations making a strong showing included Germany, Italy, Israel and Taiwan (followed by Greece, Canada, Australia and Spain).
“As a female conductor,” explained IWC Fellow Anna Skryleva, “I’m interested, of course, in programs supporting women—there are still so few of them; I don’t know of any other program of this type in the opera field. These days in Dallas promise to be very intensive.”
Jennifer Condon heartily agreed, writing: “The Dallas Opera’s recognition of the need for encouragement and support of women conductors is fabulous. The programme – so generously offered – touches on all aspects relevant to a career in conducting. So far as I am aware, there is no programme of its kind anywhere else in the world.
“I simply leapt at the chance to be included.”
“I was so thrilled to see The Dallas Opera offer such an innovative initiative for female conductors to further develop their opera skills on the podium,” responded Jessica Gethin. “As a young, female, Australian conductor based in Perth, the opportunity to be a part of the inaugural Institute for Women Conductors is invaluable at this stage of my conducting career.
“Through a generous combination of intense masterclasses on the podium with international mentors, seminars on the challenges we face within the industry and networking opportunities provided, I am looking forward to developing my technical skills and broadening my repertoire knowledge in a uniquely supportive environment and earning my place as an alumna in this brilliant and vital program, watching it grow and nurture the careers of many female conductors from around the world.
“I can't wait to get my hands on the scores,” added Ms. Gethin, “and head over to the other side of the globe to get started!”
This new institute will be inaugurated on November 28, 2015 and run through December 6, 2015, with key support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation.
The IWC will consist of master classes and one-on-ones with Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume and Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement; seminars, discussions, and networking opportunities; as well as the chance to conduct The Dallas Opera Orchestra in a public concert performance the evening of December 5, 2015 onstage in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Texas.
When asked what she hoped to gain from the experience, Stephanie Rhodes replied: “Everything! The insights of both Emmanuel Villaume and Nicole Paiement into conducting technique, interpretation, and the various business aspects of the profession are something I imagine will be invaluable, given the wealth of experience they bring to the table.
“I’m particularly looking forward to building relationships with fellow female conductors,” Ms. Rhodes added, “as I think the support, strength, and perspective we can offer each other now will be critical throughout our careers.”
IWC Fellow Natalie Murray Beale expressed similar sentiments: “This program is a vital acknowledgement of female conducting talent and a rare opportunity for women conductors.
“I have great hopes to develop my conducting at the Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera and to make new, positive working relationships with artists and managers alike. I look forward,” she added, “to emerging a stronger and more visible conductor.”
In addition to the six Institute participants, four more conductors – all from the United States – have been invited to observe the proceedings. They are: Arianne Abela, Luçik Aprahämian, Avlana Eisenberg and Co Boi Nguyen.
Those attending will also be encouraged to take part in an annual two-day networking event, beginning in the summer of 2016.
Stated Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny: “The Dallas Opera has demonstrated, in multiple ways, its commitment to reshaping the opera field through the use of innovative public outreach, by exploring new technologies, commissioning new works to expand the operatic repertoire, and programming with passion and imagination.”
“This much-needed program,” Mr. Cerny added, “will enable more women conductors to add their talents and insights to our collective understanding of this art form, while encouraging conversation about the necessity of women in leadership roles.”
The Dallas Opera’s Principal Guest Conductor, Nicole Paiement, who also serves as the Artistic Director and Conductor for San Francisco’s renowned contemporary opera company, Opera Parallèle, commented, “In tandem with my work as a professional conductor, I have spent many years striving to develop and support exceptional young talent, both onstage and in the orchestra pit. I am tremendously pleased to be able to continue this aspect of my career in a leadership role here in Dallas, and to be responsible for guiding each carefully selected group through this newly developed Dallas Opera program.
Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America, remarked: “The Dallas Opera continues to expand its influence and stature among American opera companies, as shown by this exciting new initiative. The company is to be applauded for taking a significant step to remedy the existing gender imbalance on the podium. This effort complements OPERA America’s support of the work of female opera composers and promises to enrich the art form by encouraging more gifted artists to express themselves through opera.”
Lidiya Yankovskaya, another IWC Fellow, wrote: “The Dallas Opera is known for doing innovative and exciting work that has placed the company at the forefront of American Opera and continues to inspire many within the field, myself included. I relish the opportunity to see this work from the inside and to learn from the company's phenomenal leadership.
“Taking part in Dallas Opera’s program for Women Conductors will be crucial in giving me the push I need to gain exposure and move forward into more regular high-level work in the opera world. The institute will not only provide the opportunity to receive experience working with the company's fantastic artists and feedback on my work, but it also represents a chance to gain exposure, and to discover how to make the leap into the next career level.”
Internationally renowned Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume observed: “No conductor ever stands at the podium alone. We raise our baton with those who came before us, and those who will follow in our footsteps.
“It takes a lifetime to become completely at home on the podium,” Villaume adds. “It was my privilege to be guided and taught by geniuses like Spiros Argiris and Seiji Ozawa, who, in turn, always quoted their own masters. In fact, they claimed that, only near the end of their performing careers, did they entirely understand some of the comments and advice they received from their mentors.
“We are always trying to perfect our work. I feel I am now at a place in my career, where I can begin to effectively share my experiences with the next generation of conductors.”
2015 IWC FELLOWS:
JENNIFER CONDON (Australia/Germany)
Jennifer Condon has been passionate about opera from an absurdly young age - since her teens she has been fortunate to have fellow Australian, Simone Young, as mentor. Jennifer studied piano in Sydney, and conducting in Melbourne and Vienna before commencing work as a souffleuse at the Hamburg State Opera in 2008. She now has a repertoire of over 55 operas. During her time in Hamburg, Jennifer also brought Peggy Glanville-Hicks' opera Sappho (1963) from the composer's hand-written manuscript to the recording studio. The CD, with an eminent cast including Deborah Polaski, Sir John Tomlinson and Wolfgang Koch with the Gulbenkian Orchestra, has been released to considerable critical acclaim. Jennifer lives in Berlin and works as a free-lance vocal coach and prompt as she pursues a conducting career. Assistant conducting engagements to date include Lohengrin in Zurich and Salome in Vienna. Future engagements include Reimann's Lear in Budapest and Ariadne auf Naxos in Tokyo.
JESSICA GETHIN (Australia)
Australian-born conductor Jessica Gethin has won praise from audiences and critics alike for her dynamic energy, outstanding musicianship and abounding presence on the podium. A graduate of the exclusive Symphony Australia Conductor Development Program, Ms. Gethin commenced her official appointment as Chief Conductor of the Perth Symphony Orchestra (Perth, Australia) in 2011. Jessica Gethin has performed on stages throughout Europe, USA, UK, Canada, Asia and Australia as conductor, concert presenter, program writer, orchestrator, guest lecturer, music educator and adjudicator. With a diverse background working across a variety of genres ranging from classical, jazz, opera and ballet to musical theatre, contemporary and film score; Jessica has recorded for numerous CDs, television documentaries, live radio broadcasts and television commercials. Artist collaborations include conducting Welsh bass baritone Bryn Terfel, Divinyl’s Chrissy Amphlette, The Ten Tenors, soprano Rachelle Durkin, Australian screen star Lisa McCune, soprano Marina Prior, tenor David Hobson, jazz trumpeter James Morrison and Dutch violinist Rudolf Koelman, to name a few. Ms. Gethin currently resides in Western Australia with her husband and two children.
NATALIE MURRAY BEALE (UK)
Conductor Natalie Murray Beale is a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellow and is being mentored by Esa-Pekka Salonen. She has performed with the Welsh National Opera, Opera Holland Park, Spitalfields Festival, Chamber Orchestra of London and the City of London Sinfonia. Ms. Murray Beale has also gained valuable experience as Assistant Conductor for the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Festival d'Aix, Wiener Festwochen and Den Nye Opera with the Philharmonia, Bergen Philharmonic, B’Rock Orchestra, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie and the Freiburger Barockorchester. Previous positions include serving on the music staff of Welsh National Opera; as coach at the Royal Opera House, Young Artist Programme; and as Guest Chorus Director of London Symphony Chorus.
Ms. Murray Beale enjoys collaborating with composers and recently conducted the soundtracks to the video game Alien:Isolation (BAFTA nominated) and the British film Robot Overlords. Her performances of the new opera, We are Shadows, received a Royal Philharmonic Society award. This year she will make her debuts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.
STEPHANIE RHODES (USA)
Stephanie Rhodes is a renowned opera collaborator, having served on the music staff of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, The Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera and Wolf Trap Opera, amongst others. She has garnered experience as a conductor, assistant conductor, prompter, chorus master, rehearsal pianist, orchestral keyboardist and diction coach. This summer she joins the Miami Summer Music Festival as the Studio Program Director and conductor of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, additionally participating as a fellow in the festival’s Orchestral Conducting Institute. As a Fulbright award recipient, Ms. Rhodes spent the 2012/13 season in Moscow specializing in Russian repertoire and pronunciation for non-native singers. She was recently commissioned by The Dallas Opera to transliterate Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and is currently working on a book to standardize Russian diction for singers. An alum of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and San Francisco’s Merola Opera program, she holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Utah State University in Collaborative Piano and Piano Performance.
ANNA SKRYLEVA (Russia/Germany)
Russian conductor Anna Skryleva has lived and worked in Germany for the past 15 years. Currently, Ms. Skryleva is engaged as principal resident conductor at The State Theatre, Darmstadt, in addition to performing as a concert pianist and a chamber musician in Russia, other European nations and Mexico. Anna Skryleva's career as a conductor began in 2002 in Karlsruhe, where she was engaged at the Music College as music assistant of the conductor Prof. Alicja Mounk. From 2007 to 2012, Anna Skryleva was engaged at the State Opera Hamburg as musical assistant of Simone Young, where she acquired a wide repertoire, from German Romanticism to Italian bel canto to modern music of the 20th century. After successfully conducting Richard Strauss’ Salome at the State Theatre Darmstadt in 2013, Anna Skryleva was named Darmstadt’s Principal Resident Conductor. Since then, she has conducted new productions and revivals of works including Otello, Tristan und Isolde, Il trittico, Madame Butterfly, La traviata and many more. The German publication Main-Echo named Anna Skryleva “Person of the Year 2013.” Earlier this year, she was nominated for the “Emotion Award 2015” in the Category “Women in Leadership”; winners will be announced later this month.
LIDIYA YANKOVSKAYA (USA)
Lidiya Yankovskaya’s recent work as a symphonic and opera conductor has been hailed as “superb,” “expert,” and “coax[ing] every possible expressive note from the instrumentalists.” Currently, Ms. Yankovskaya serves as Music Director of Harvard University’s Lowell House Opera, Artistic Director of Juventas New Music Ensemble, and Music Director with Commonwealth Lyric Theater. She also works regularly with Gotham Chamber Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, and New York Lyric Opera. Last summer, Ms. Yankovskaya served as a conducting fellow under renowned conductor Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival, where she had the privilege of assisting Maestro Maazel and filled in for him regularly in rehearsal and performance. Recent productions have received multiple awards ranging from The American Prize to the National Opera Association Award. In addition to her work as a conductor, Lidiya is a pianist and coach, recently serving as Music Director for Opera Boston’s education tours. Presently, she is working as a Russian Diction Coach and occasional rehearsal conductor for Tanglewood Festival Chorus (the chorus of the Boston Symphony). www.LidiyaYankovskaya.com
2015 IWC OBSERVERS:
ARIANNE ABELA (USA)
Known for her work promoting charitable organizations, conductor Arianne Abela has appeared on NBC's Today Show and America's Got Talent as artistic director of “3 Penny,” a non-profit chorus and orchestra, and co-founder of “House of Clouds.” Arianne served as music director of Saybrook College Orchestra and has conducted the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Wesleyan University Orchestra and the Vidin State Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria. As a chorusmaster, Abela has prepared choirs for Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, Rafael Payare, and Martin Katz, as well as for the University of Michigan Opera in productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute and Rossini's The Barber of Seville. As a soloist and professional ensemble singer, Abela has performed with major ensembles across North America, Europe and Asia. Abela is currently a doctoral candidate in conducting at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Jerry Blackstone. She holds a master's degree in conducting from Yale University and a bachelor's degree from Smith College.
LUÇIK APRAHÄMIAN (USA)
Luçik Aprahämian’s versatility as a conductor makes her equally at home in front of an orchestra, leading a vocal ensemble, or guiding outstanding performances on the opera stage. With her profound passion for opera, Dr. Aprahämian has served as co-artistic director of Southern Arizona Opera, worked with Opera Parallèle and Bayshore Lyric Opera (both located in the Bay area), and served as assistant conductor and director of the Opera Theatre Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is an avid exponent of new music and has commissioned and premiered works for choir, orchestra, and opera with ensembles in the Bay Area and Arizona. Recent premieres include Andrew Pascoe’s opera, God: The Opera and David Evan Jones’s chamber opera, The Rehearsal. Dr. Aprahämian received her bachelor’s degree in fortepiano performance practice, as well as a master’s degree in conducting, from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She pursued additional graduate studies to earn her doctorate in conducting from the University of Arizona.
AVLANA EISENBERG (USA)
Music Director of the Boston Chamber Symphony, Avlana Eisenberg has conducted orchestras throughout the United States and in France, Germany, Austria, Scotland, Spain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Her debut CD, with soloist Zina Schiff and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV, features violin concertos by Sibelius and Barber and the world premiere orchestral recording of Ben-Haim’s Three Songs without Words. Eisenberg received a Fulbright Fellowship for conducting study in Paris and apprenticeship at the Paris National Opera and was one of Glamour magazine’s “Top Ten College Women of the Year.” As an undergraduate at Yale University, she founded and directed the Silliman Symphony and was honored with Yale's “V. Browne Irish Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts.” An alumna of Interlochen Arts Camp and the Aspen Music Festival, Eisenberg holds a Master's Degree from the University of Michigan and a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Institute.
CO BOI NGUYEN (USA)
Ms. Co Boi Nguyen has been on the faculty of the University of Redlands, School of Music since 2006, serving as music director of the University of Redlands Orchestra and Opera. From 2005 to 2007, Ms. Nguyen was conductor and faculty member of the C.W. Post Chamber Music Festival at Long Island University, New York. At the same time, she also worked as assistant conductor to Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun in New York. As an alumna of the Vietnam National Academy of Music, Ms. Nguyen returns to Hanoi regularly to perform and to give master classes. She made her highly acclaimed debut with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra at the Hanoi Opera House in July 2002, making her the first woman ever to lead the ensemble. Ms. Nguyen is a graduate of the conducting programs at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the Juilliard School in New York.