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Women Conductors Chosen

Six women conductors from four countries have been selected for the Dallas Opera's Linda and Mitch Hart Institute, plus four observers and three administrators.

published Thursday, May 30, 2019

Photo: Courtesy Dallas Opera
Clockwise from top left: Jiannan Cheng, Marta Kluczynska, Madeline Tsai, Molly Turner, Tamara Dworetz, and Tiffany Chang


Dallas — The Dallas Opera has announced the participants in its fifth annual Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors, which happens Oct. 27-Nov. 9, with a showcase concert on Nov. 9. Six conductors have been selected: three from the U.S., one from China, one from Taiwan and another from Poland.

There will also be four American observers and three administrators. The Distinguished 2019 Hart Institute Conducting Faculty Include Emmanuel Villaume, Nicole. Paiement, and Carlo Montanaro. Initial Support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation Additional Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,  Baker Botts LLP, Cindy and Charlie Feld, Jenifer and Peter Flynn, Susan and Mark Geyer, Holly and Tom Mayer, Betty and Steve Suellentrop, and Martha and Max Wells.

The institute is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant Supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.


Here's the full news release, with info on the participants:

Dallas — The Dallas Opera is proud to announce the names of the 12 distinguished professionals (six conductors, three administrators, and four American observers) selected to participate in the fifth annual residency of the Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera taking place Oct. 27 – Nov. 9, 2019 in Dallas, Texas: 

  • Tiffany Chang (USA)
  • Jiannan Cheng (China) 
  • Tamara Dworetz (USA)
  • Marta Kluczyńska (Poland)
  • Madeline Tsai (Taiwan) 
  • Molly Turner (USA)

Working to address a long-standing issue at the podium, The Dallas Opera in 2015 launched a unique multifaceted program—one of a mere handful in the world—designed to provide training and career support for distinctively talented women conductors on the cusp of major international careers.  Female conductors, as well as accomplished women singers, opera coaches, accompanists, and instrumentalists with established careers seeking to further develop their skills at the podium, were encouraged to apply.

“Big D is my Big W,” observed Polish conductor Marta Kluczyńska.  “I feel awesome.”

“I was beyond thrilled to hear of my acceptance to the 2019 Dallas Opera's Hart Institute” wrote U.S. participant Tamara Dworetz.  “The opportunity to learn from world-class conductors, instrumentalists, opera singers and leaders will strengthen my skills and broaden my dimensionalism as a conductor while bolstering my career and professional network; I cannot thank Linda and Mitch Hart and the Dallas Opera enough for initiating and supporting this progressive and powerfully impactful program.”

This groundbreaking initiative received vital foundational support from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation.  Naming support came through the generosity of Linda and Mitch Hart.

Additional support for the 2019 Hart Institute comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Baker Botts LLP, Cindy and Charlie Feld, Jenifer and Peter Flynn, Susan and Mark Geyer, Holly and Tom Mayer, Betty and Steve Suellentrop, and Martha and Max Wells.

Made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Ian Derrer, The Dallas Opera’s Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO explains: “One of the ways we advance our art form and engage more people is by providing career advancement opportunities for gifted women conductors, ensuring they have the chance to compete for top-level positions in classical music.

“That’s why the Hart Institute was founded and why it will be needed for years to come.

“The support and passion of the TDO Family is behind this effort—more than ever.”

A total of 90 women conductors and professional musicians heeded the call in 2019, despite even more stringent admissions requirements initiated last year.  Applicants from 27 countries included music directors, principal and assistant conductors, concertmasters and music staff from top-ranked symphonies, opera companies, and conservatories.

Photo: Courtesy
Tiffany Chang

“Even for the most talented artists, a journey to the forefront of the conducting profession is difficult, and particularly so for women,” wrote Taiwanese conductor Madeline Tsai.  “The Dallas Opera's Linda and Mitch Hart Institute gives its residents a strong gust of wind forward as they sail toward their dreams on the horizon.

“I am immensely grateful and honored for this incredible opportunity to learn from an amazing faculty and other talented artists at the Institute.”

As is the case each year, four talented U.S. Observers were chosen to audit the 2019 Institute: Rebecca Henry, Jane Kim, Vera Volchansky and Rachel Waddell. 

The 2019 Linda and Mitch Hart Institute will consist of hands-on master classes with the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director, Emmanuel Villaume; TDO’s Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement and Carlo Montanaro, a renowned Italian conductor last seen on our podium conducting three world-class tenors (Michael Fabiano, Bryan Hymel and Matthew Polenzani) in TDO’s “One Night Only Gala.”

Sessions include career advancement seminars with experienced professionals; topical industry discussions; intensive one-on-ones and networking opportunities; as well as the chance to conduct The Dallas Opera Orchestra in a public concert in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center on the evening of November 9, 2019 (additional details to be announced at a later date). 

This year’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors is partnering with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural “Women in Classical Music Symposium” taking place November 6-9, 2019 in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, in order to provide even greater resources and connections for women in the field.

“I am delighted to work alongside our colleagues at The Dallas Opera as the Dallas Symphony launches its Women in Classical Music Symposium. The Hart Institute has established itself as an important event for women conductors, and their input while designing the symposium has been invaluable,” said Kim Noltemy, President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “Together, we are showing that the Dallas performing arts community is committing to a sustained effort to make changes in the industry.”

American conductor Molly Turner noted: “As a young conductor, getting into the Hart Institute opens so many doors traditionally left open only for older and often male conductors.”

“I'm humbled to have such a dedicated opportunity to focus on a genre and repertoire that are least familiar to me and to engage artistically with the excellent musicians and administration of The Dallas Opera” added US conductor Tiffany Chang.

“The Hart Institute appears to be having a pronounced positive impact on the field, with alumnae being singled out for important appointments, projects, and commissions in both the opera and symphonic world,” notes TDO’s Director of Artistic Administration David Lomeli.

Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America, earlier 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.” 

Chinese conductor Jiannan Cheng summed up: “I am honored and thrilled to be selected to participate in the Hart Institute at the Dallas Opera and I am looking forward to growing as a conductor through this world-class experience!”

While the Hart Institute began with a focus on supporting talented conductors, the challenges faced by women opera administrators are equally daunting.  To address this imbalance, The Dallas Opera last year added a new component to the Hart Institute: through 2022, TDO will invite between two and four American opera administrators to participate each season.  These women will be selected on the basis of their potential to become leaders of one of America’s top opera companies at some point in their careers.

The 2019 Hart Institute Administrators are:

  • Kristen Bigham (Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Beverly Love (Wilbanks Partners)
  • Suzanne Vinnik (artist & entrepreneur—founder of Shoperatic)

The selected opera administrators will have access to all group sessions and special sessions during the annual residency in Dallas.  This curriculum includes the role of the board, leadership development, personal branding, media and PR training, effective artist management, and navigating recruiting processes for senior level positions.  To continue to develop their musical skills, which is essential for any opera executive, the administrators will observe rehearsals with The Dallas Opera Orchestra and conducting master classes.  Special sessions on Development, Finance, and Marketing will be offered as well. 

One of the goals of the program is to construct a wide network of influential female leaders in the administrative offices of performing arts organizations, both large and small, as well as onstage and in the orchestra pit.

2019 Hart Institute Conductors



Taiwanese-American conductor Tiffany Chang is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Conducting and Conductor at Oberlin Conservatory and Assistant Professor at the Berklee College of Music.  She also served impactful terms as Interim Director of Orchestral Studies at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and Acting Director of Orchestral Activities at Boston University.  A 2017 Winner of The American Prize in Opera Conducting, Chang has been engaged by NEMPAC Opera Project, BlueWater Chamber Orchestra, OperaHub, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, ALEA III, Xanthos Ensemble, Brookline Symphony Orchestra, international music festivals such as IASAS and AMIS, among others.  She studied with David Hoose and Bridget-Michaele Reischl, receiving a DMA in orchestral conducting from Boston University and several degrees in cello performance, music education, composition, and music theory from Oberlin Conservatory.


Photo: Courtesy
Jiannan Cheng


Jiannan Cheng, a native Chinese conductor, served as an assistant in the 2018 Opernfestspiele Heidenheim in Germany where she conducted a performance of Verdi’s Nabucco with the Stuttgart Philharmonic. Recently, Cheng worked with the City Lyric Opera in New York City as the répétiteur and the assistant conductor in a production of La Tragédie de Carmen. Cheng was the 2018 Conducting Fellow of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and served as the Music Director in the CCM production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and the 2019 Interim Music Director of the CCM Concert Orchestra. Cheng was a candidate for the 2017 German Conductors’ Award, second prize winner of the 2016 4x4 Competition for Composers & Conductors and studied with Kurt Masur at the 2015 Aurora Music Festival in Sweden.



Tamara Dworetz is a 2019 Conducting Fellow for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Her upcoming commitments include serving as assistant conductor to Bramwell Tovey, Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra at the BBC Proms in London. Recently, Tamara was awarded 2nd prize in the Boston Pops' Bernstein-inspired conducting competition.  Previous positions include Assistant Conductor for the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Butler Opera Center. A dedicated music educator, Tamara was the conductor for the Austin Youth Orchestra, University of Texas University Orchestra and Lakeside High School Orchestra program in Atlanta, Georgia. Tamara attended Indiana University, the University of Texas at Austin, and she is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at Boston University. 



Marta Kluczyńska graduated with degrees in Symphony and Opera Conducting and Piano Studies from The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music Warsaw. At the age of 24 she made her opera debut at the Polish National Opera in Warsaw where she, as a resident conductor, has conducted numerous opera and ballet performances including A Midsummer Night's Dream by Benjamin Britten, The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko, The Nutcracker by Peter Tchaikovsky, and Romeo and Juliet by Sergej Prokofiev. In 2017, Kluczyńska made her critically acclaimed debuts at the Wrocław Opera with La Cenerentola and at Landestheater Coburg (Germany) with Le nozze di Figaro. She has led concerts with orchestras such as Sinfonia Varsovia, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice), Polish Radio Orchestra (Warsaw) and the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus.



Chi-Chen Madeline Tsai is a versatile musician who has been trained as a conductor, pianist, singer, organist, and timpanist. She was the only Asian female invited to the Solti International Conducting Competition in Hungary, where she won the People’s Choice Award. Following this award, she conducted the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra in Bulgaria and the Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan. She has also conducted the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Berlin, the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Radio Orchestra Bucharest. As a coach and accompanist, she assisted Grace Bumbry for her masterclasses on Aida and Cavalleria Rusticana in Vienna. Ms. Tsai is currently completing a doctorate in orchestral conducting at the University of Cincinnati.



Molly Turner is an emerging young conductor from Seattle, Washington. She recently completed her Bachelors in Music Composition at Rice University and will pursue a Masters in Orchestral Conducting at Juilliard in the fall.  Her primary conducting mentors include Larry Rachleff, Gerard Schwarz, and Jerry Hou.  At Juilliard, she will be working with David Robertson.  Recently, she has been featured with the Rice Campanile Orchestra, the Eastern Festival Orchestra, and the Shepherd Undergraduate Opera Scenes. She has also conducted The Philharmonia Orchestra (UK) and the Bay Area Youth Symphony (Houston). A strong advocate for new music, Ms. Turner regularly collaborates with Rice’s New Music Ensemble “Hear & Now” as a composer, violist, and conductor. She enjoys writing for the voice and conducts her own works.


2019 Hart Institute Administrators 



Kristen Bigham is the Gift Planning Associate at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Combining over five years of experience in the financial services industry with her background as a trained vocalist and director, she works to enhance and expand Lyric’s robust legacy giving program and community, The Overture Society. A native of Fort Worth, TX, she received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. Dedicated to promoting the presence, creativity, and leadership of women within the performing arts, Kristen is a passionate arts advocate and development professional, and has worked with numerous arts organizations throughout Chicago, including Rough House Theater, Piven Theatre, Links Hall, and Forte Chicago.



Beverly Love is currently a search consultant and Chief Operations & Administrative Officer with Wilbanks Partners, a boutique asset management executive search firm. She previously worked in the office of the Chief Economist and Asia Chairman of Morgan Stanley & Company and subsequently spent three years in Russell Reynolds Associates’ asset and wealth management practice. Prior to that, Beverly was the founding Director of the Greater Atlanta Christian School of Music. A jugendlich dramatischer soprano, she has performed throughout the US and in Italy and Austria. She earned a Masters in Voice/Opera Performance from Southern Methodist University, summa cum laude and Phi Kappa Lambda, and a Bachelors in Vocal Performance from Abilene Christian University, where she graduated with Honors, summa cum laude, and Valedictorian.



Suzanne Vinnik is an award-winning international opera singer, photographer and arts entrepreneur known for her innate musical phrasing, daring fashion sense and ability to provide innovative marketing solutions to artists, brands and arts organizations. The soprano saw a need for a specialized social media network and marketplace for women in classical music thus creating, Shoperatic. The community stands at over 11k female identifying women in opera (the largest in the industry) and is responsible for generating well over $450k in income for artists since 2017 with zero outside funding or paid advertisement. As a cultural affiliate, the soprano enjoys volunteering and co-producing events with Sing For Hope. Vinnik is an alumnus of the Opera Studio di Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy.


Photo: Courtesy
Molly Turner

2019 Hart Institute Observers



Rebecca Henry began the 2018-2019 season as Music Director for Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of Ruddigore. This summer, she will be serving on the voice faculty of the Performing Arts Institute at Wyoming Seminary. A proponent of new music, Rebecca was music director for the world premiere of Do Not Disturb (Forgotten Opera Company) and premiered works in New Works Fest with Opera on Tap. Additional conducting credits include The Mikado, La Perichole, HMS Pinafore, Ruddigore, and Robin Hood (Victorian Lyric Opera Company). Future engagements include an appointment as Associate Conductor for Bel Canto in Tuscany. When she is not conducting, she can be seen performing as a mezzo-soprano throughout the country and abroad. She received her Undergraduate degree from Rice University and her Masters from McGill University in Montreal.



Jane Kim is the recipient of the 2018 Charles Schiff Conducting Prize. She currently serves as Assistant Conductor with the Little Orchestra Society. She has appeared with the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, and, as cover conductor, she works with the New York Philharmonic, Canadian Opera Company, Juilliard Orchestra, and other ensembles. Previously, Jane served as Music Director of the Juilliard Pre-College String Ensemble and conductor of the Juilliard Lab Orchestra. Her summer activities include Aspen Music Festival, which she attended as a Conducting Fellow, and Pierre Monteux Music Festival, where she was named a Bernard Osher Scholar. Jane holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School.



Vera Volchansky, described as conductor of “impeccable taste...whose artistic ability transforms a performance into a meaningful event,” has performed in the United States, Europe, Asia and Russia. Ms. Volchansky is the 2013 American Prize finalist in Conducting, and holds a master’s degree in Conducting from the Eastman School. She was chosen as Conducting Fellow with the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen. As a winner of the Fulbright Award, she studied music of the Russian Avant-Garde and the style of the St. Petersburg school of conducting. Her favorite performances include Stravinsky's Soldier’s Tale, Lucia di Lammermoor, and a sold-out concert celebrating the newly-installed Reuter Organ with Grammy-Winning organist Paul Jacobs. Vera was also recently featured on the Moving Forward Podcast with John Lim.



Rachel L. Waddell is an American conductor rapidly gaining acclaim for her innovative concert programming, and commitment to new music, education, and collaboration. In recognition of her concert programs, Waddell was recently named a finalist for the American Prize’s 2019 Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming. Waddell is entering her third season as the Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Rochester in New York. She previously served as the Associate Conductor of the Canton Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the award-winning Canton Youth Symphonies. While with Canton, Waddell conducted over eighty performances. Additionally, she has guest conducted around the country, including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland’s Suburban Symphony Orchestra, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and the Flagstaff Light Opera Company. Thanks For Reading

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Women Conductors Chosen
Six women conductors from four countries have been selected for the Dallas Opera's Linda and Mitch Hart Institute, plus four observers and three administrators.
by Mark Lowry

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