Jake Runestad, Composer
Jake Runestad is an award-winning and frequently-performed composer of “highly imaginative” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald) musical works. He has received commissions and performances from leading ensembles and organizations such as Washington National Opera, the Netherlands Radio Choir, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Virginia Arts Festival, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Seraphic Fire, Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare, and many more. Jake’s visceral music and charismatic personality have fostered a busy schedule of commissions, residencies, workshops, and speaking engagements, enabling him to be one of the youngest full-time composers in the world. Jake Runestad holds a Master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts. Has has also studied extensively with acclaimed composer Libby Larsen. A native of Rockford, IL, Mr. Runestad is currently based in Minneapolis, MN and his music is published by JR Music.
Jeffrey Biegel, Piano
The fascinating career of pianist/composer/arranger Jeffrey Biegel takes its roots from the beginning. Until the age of three, Mr. Biegel could neither hear nor speak, until corrected by surgery. The 'reverse Beethoven' phenomenon explains his life in music, having heard only vibrations in his formative years. Born a second-generation American, Mr. Biegel is of Russian and Austrian heritage. His 2016-17 season will include World Premieres of two works for piano and orchestra in commissioning projects created by Mr. Biegel: PDQ Bach's "Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra" with 15 orchestras in the USA and Finland, and Jimmy Webb's new composition for piano and orchestra.
Chosen as the first pianist to record for the new Steinway & Sons recording label, Mr. Biegel's 'Bach On a Steinway' debuted #3 on the Classical Billboard charts, followed by 'A Steinway Christmas Album' reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard chart. He further recorded a tribute to the Golden Age pianists for Steinway's release, 'A Grand Romance', featuring knuckle-busters and tender morsels often performed by the greatest pianists of the early 20th century. In 1997, he created and performed the first live audio/video recitals on the internet from Steinway Hall in New York, and the recording is preserved on a recording bearing the website name at that time, 'cyberecital.com'. The videos from these historic recitals are available on Mr. Biegel's website, view-able in Real Player only.
Leonard Bernstein said of pianist Jeffrey Biegel: "He played fantastic Liszt. He is a splendid musician and a brilliant performer." These comments helped to launch Mr. Biegel's 1986 New York recital debut, as the recipient of the coveted Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Award, in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' Alice Tully Hall. He studied at The Juilliard School with Adele Marcus, herself a pupil of Josef Lhevinne and Artur Schnabel. Mr. Biegel is currently on the piano faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, a City University of New York (CUNY).
Kristin Sampson, Soprano
Praised by the New York Times for her “bright, sizable and expressive voice” Kristin Sampson began the 2016-17 season as Micaëla in New York City Opera’s touring production of Carmen. In the spring of 2017, as a guest artist of Drake University, Ms. Sampson performs Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, and will make her role and house debut at Opera Carolina as Minnie in La Fanciulla del West. Her season comes to a close with her debut at the Festival Puccini in Torre del Lago as Tosca. Her engagements in future seasons include Minnie in La Fanciulla del West with New York City Opera, Teatro del Giglio in Lucca, and Teatro Lirico di Cagliari; Suor Angelica at Torre del Lago; and concert appearances in Italy and throughout the United States. Her 2015-16 season included debuts at Potenza’s Teatro Francesco Stabile as Mimi in La bohème and at New York City Opera as Tosca in the celebratory production that re-opened the company. A recent recipient of a grant from the Olga Forrai foundation, Ms. Sampson’s signature roles include: Tosca, Cio-Cio San, Nedda, Santuzza, Emmeline, Adriana, Mimi, and Violetta. She has performed in the U.S. with the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Augusta Opera, El Paso Opera, and the National Lyric Opera among others, and internationally with the Opera Society of Hong Kong, Armel Opera Festival, National Theater of Szeged, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, and Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.
Edith Dowd, Contralto
Tennessee native Edith Dowd made her New York City Opera debut as Effie in The Ballad of Baby Doe. Her many roles with the company include Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Annina in La Traviata, and Mrs. Sangupta in the world premier of Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Ms.Dowd appeared with Santa Fe Opera as the second maid in Elektra , and as Lucy Lockit in Beggar’s Opera. Other roles include Ruth in Pirates of Penzance with Sacramento Opera, and the title role in Carmen with New York's Bellayre Music Festival as well as with pacific Repertory Opera. She made her European debut at the acclaimed Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy in the role of Juno in Semele, which lead to an invitation by famed composer and festival founder Gian Carlos Menotti to perform the role of Mme Flora in his opera La Medium, directed by the composer. Ms Dowd appeared as guest artist with the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg Festival, Germany. She also appeared as Maddalena in Rigoletto with The American Opera Theatre at the National Theater in Taipei, Taiwan. Other international credits include Orphee in the Les Amis du Lyrique en Bretagne production of Orphée et Eurydice, Mary in Der Fliegende Hollander with the Tokyo City Symphony in Tokyo, Japan, Pauline in the world premier of The Seagull in Szeged, Hungary. Most recent appearances include Marcelina in Marriage of Figaro with Long Island Opera, Amneris in Aida with New York Lyric Artists, 1st maid in Elektra with Create Opera, Berio's Folk Songs and Beethoven's 9th symphony with Santa Rosa Symphony, an encore performance of the Berio Folk Songs with members of the Santa Rosa Symphony at the Moke Hill Music Festival, as well as the role of Azucena in Il Trovatore with New Rochelle Opera. Upcoming performances include Verdi’s Requiem with San Francisco Choral Society at Davies Symphony Hall, the role of Mary in Der Fliegende Hollander with Livermore Opera. Ms. Dowd is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and a recipient of The Gerda Lissner Foundation Award.
Cameron Schutza, Tenor
Noted for his "clarity of tone" and "ringing high notes" (Opera) tenor Cameron Schutza is a two-time Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Arizona District), as well as a Regional Finalist. The 2014-2015 season includes his role debut as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen with the Walla Walla Symphony, his international debut as Narraboth in Strauss’s Salome with the Orquesta Sinfònica Nacional at The Palacio de Bellas Artes with Mo. Carlos Miguel Prieto, and a gala performance with soprano Angela Meade for Portland Summerfest’s Opera in the Park. His fall season began with a concert celebrating 150 years of Richard Strauss with soprano Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs. Mr. Schutza’s season continued with Wagner’s Die Meistersinger at the Metropolitan Opera and Tenor soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the Houston Masterworks Chorus. In 2013 he appeared in Beethoven’s Fidelio with soprano Christine Goerke under the baton of Mo. Christian Badea at Michigan Opera Theater. This season’s highlights include his role debut as Manrico in Verdi’s Il Trovatore with soprano Angela Meade at both the Astoria Music Festival and Portland Summerfest, his return to Caramoor to cover Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera for Strauss’s Salome. Mr. Schutza’s performance is made possible by the generosity of The Metropolitan Opera.
David Leigh, Bass
David Leigh's deep, visceral bass voice and intelligent singing have drawn acclaim throughout the United States. In the 2016-2017 season, he will join the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera and make his debut with Florentine Opera as Commendatore in Don Giovanni.
In 2016 he was a grant winner in the McCammon Competition at Fort Worth Opera and a finalist in the Concorso Internacional Francisco Viñas; he is also the recipient of awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2015 National Semifinalist), and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
2015-2016 operatic engagements include his first season as an Apprentice Artist at Santa Fe Opera and his Queen City Opera debut as Fafner in Siegfried. Concert engagements include his debut at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute and a debut in the Verdi Reqiuem with the Choral Society of Northeast Pennsylvania, as well as the recent New York City Opera Gala in honor of Julius Rudel with Fredericka Von Stade, Christine Goerke, Placido Domingo, and many others.
In addition to the Young Artist programs at Santa Fe and Ravinia, he is also an alumnus of the training programs at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Music Academy of the West, and Chautauqua Opera.
David comes from a family of artists: his father was a Tony Award-winning composer, his mother is a painter, and his sister is a multiple award-winning playwright. He studied music composition at Yale University and holds masters degrees in Voice and Opera (respectively) from Mannes College and Yale School of Music, from which he received the Harriet Gibbs Fox Prize.
West Point Glee Club
The West Point Glee Club is one of the U.S. Military Academy’s most visible cadet organizations. For over one hundred years, its members have touched audiences around the world through live performance in the nation’s finest concert halls, national network and feature film appearances, and CD and DVD recordings. The Glee Club enhances life at West Point through its traditional ceremonial duties, and represents West Point and the U.S. Army at official events.
Under the direction of Constance Chase since 1999, the Glee Club has performed in recent years at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Tanglewood, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Grand Ole Opry, and Ground Zero on the first anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. It has appeared with the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, given scores of concerts throughout the United States, and produced recordings including the CD Live at Notre Dame (2007); the DVD/CD Stand Ye Steady (2005) with guest artist Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga; the CD Voice of the Corps (2003), and the original hymn Mansions of the Lord for the closing credits of the Paramount feature film We Were Soldiers (2002). The Glee Club recorded ‘Til the Last Shot’s Fired,” with country artist Trace Adkins, which they performed with him at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards Show in Las Vegas, aired live on CBS. A live concert for PBS with the West Point Band and pianist Marina Arsenijevic, Marina at West Point: Unity through Diversity, continues to air nationally on PBS affiliates. The Glee Club’s 2008 Carnegie Hall performance drew critical praise from the New York Times for its “robust, well-prepared singing,” of the Rimsky-Korsakov opera The Tsar’s Bride with the Opera Orchestra of New York, Eve Queler, Conductor. Last season the Glee Club appeared in the Fox News holiday special, A West Point Holiday, and the Showtime Sports/CBS Sports docu-drama A Game of Honor. The Glee Club is in frequent demand for nationally televised appearances by invitation of the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, New York Yankees, Knicks and Rangers, Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, the BCS National Championship, the Fiesta Bowl, the Breeders Cup, Super Bowl XXXIX, and Madison Square Garden. They also recently recorded an album at Skywalker Sound, one of the world's premier recording venues.
Upon graduation from the Academy, cadets are commissioned as Second Lieutenants and begin their service to the nation as officers in the United States Army. Many former Glee Club members return to the West Point Alumni Glee Club after their years in the Army. The camaraderie enjoyed by Glee Club members in their pursuit of performance excellence is best summed-up in the club’s time-honored motto: "No fun without music, no music without fun!"
New Amsterdam Singers
New Amsterdam Singers is a chorus of 70 skilled singers whose concert performances in New York City and abroad have won critical acclaim. The group is known for the variety and interest of its repertoire, ranging from the 15th century to the present day. The chorus specializes in a cappella and double chorus repertoire and regularly performs 20th century, contemporary and commissioned works. It continues to rehearse on the Upper West Side, performing three subscription concerts and giving a number of other performances around the greater metropolitan area each season.
All subscription concerts are performed in Manhattan at such locations as Merkin Hall, St. Peter's Church at Citicorp, St. Ignatius Episcopal Church and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The chorus has also performed at most of the city's major halls, including Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall, and in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Washington, D.C., Westchester and New Jersey.
Young New Yorkers' Chorus (YNYC)
Currently in its 15th season, the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus (YNYC) brings together the finest choral musicians from the tens of thousands of young people who flock to the city for its excitement, art, and culture. As a post-collegiate community choir, YNYC has the unique pleasure of performing for a large and devoted youthful audience, exposing the demographic to the beauty and transcendent potential of the choral arts.
Guided by the artistic vision of conduction Michael Kerschner, the choir performs a vast variety of music, from works by classical greats to those of prominent living composers, in venues including Avery Fisher Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn Fire Proof, Chicago Symphony Center, and many of the finest churches in New York City. In 2011, YNYC performed at the American Choral Directors’ National Convention in Chicago. YNYC has collaborated with visual artists Eyebodega and Marco Brambilla and composers including Caroline Shaw, Christopher Cerrone, Mohammed Fairouz, and Shara Worden, and recently performed at the Brooklyn I=U Festival. In March 2014, YNYC completed a performance tour to Philadelphia and Washington DC.
Committed to the growth of new repertoire, YNYC debuts three original works annually through its Competition for Young Composers. YNYC also provides a close-knit fellowship for talented singers in their twenties and early thirties.
Lauded for “superb playing” and “poised, alert musicianship” by the Boston Globe, and labeled “definitely a man to watch” by London’s The Independent, American pianist SPENCER MYER is one of the most respected and sought-after artists on today’s concert stage.
Spencer Myer includes in his current season debuts with the Evansville Philharmonic, Macon Symphony Orchestra, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus and Symphony of the Redwoods, as well as return engagements with the Traverse, Springfield (MA and OH), Bozeman and Wyoming Symphonies and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, in addition to recital appearances in Connecticut, Houston, Washington and Idaho.
Spencer Myer’s orchestral, recital and chamber music performances have been heard throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia. He has been soloist with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cape Town, Johannesburg and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestras, the Indianapolis, New Haven, Phoenix, Santa Fe and Tucson Symphony Orchestras, Mexico’s Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco and Beijing’s China National Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with, among others, conductors David Bernard, Leslie B. Dunner, Robert Franz, Bernhard Gueller, Jacques Lacombe, Jahja Ling, Kevin Rhodes, Klauspeter Seibel and Victor Yampolsky. His 2005 recital/orchestral tour of South Africa included a performance of the five piano concerti of Beethoven with the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa, followed by return orchestra and recital tours in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015.
An in-demand chamber musician, he has appeared the past four summers at the Lev Aronson Legacy Festival in Dallas with cellists Lynn Harrell, Ralph Kirshbaum and Amit Peled. Other artistic partners include clarinetist David Shifrin, sopranos Nicole Cabell, Martha Guth and Erin Wall, the Miami, Jupiter and Pacifica string quartets and the Dorian Wind Quintet. He enjoys an esteemed reputation as a vocal collaborator since winning the 2000 Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition.
Spencer Myer’s career was launched with three important prizes: First Prize in the 2004 UNISA International Piano Competition in South Africa, the 2006 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship from the American Pianists Association and the Gold Medal from the 2008 New Orleans International Piano Competition. Mr. Myer was a member of Astral Artists’ performance roster from 2003-2010.
An enthusiastic supporter of the education of young musicians, Spencer Myer has served as a guest faculty at the Oberlin and Baldwin-Wallace Conservatories of Music, and in the fall of 2015, he was appointed Artist-Teacher of Piano and Collaborative Piano at Boston’s Longy School of Music of Bard College.
Spencer Myer’s debut CD for harmonia mundi usa - solo music of Busoni, Copland, Debussy and Kohs - was released in the fall of 2007 to critical acclaim by Fanfare and Gramophone magazines. Mr. Myer’s most recent recording — “Bolcom: Selected Rags” — is scheduled for release in January of 2017 on the Steinway & Sons label.
Spencer Myer is a Steinway Artist.