Artistic Director, Vocal and Acting Instructor
After completion of his vocal studies with Margaret Harshaw, Joseph McClain began his career as a tenor on American and German opera stages. During his 10 years of activity in Germany, he made the transition from performer to stage director.
Returning to the United States, he founded Austin Lyric Opera and as General Director guided the company through years of extraordinary growth and success. Under his leadership the company launched important new artistic initiatives including the co-commissioning of major new American works such as Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree; national co-production ventures of such works as Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; and a series of acclaimed productions produced outside the theater in environmental settings, including Carmen and Rigoletto.
In 2003 he resettled to San Miguel de Allende and founded Ópera de San Miguel, initiating a nationwide competition for young singers, Concurso San Miguel, which has rapidly become one of the leading operatic competitions in Latin America. At present McClain is Director Artístico Emeritus of the San Miguel organization.
As a stage director he has directed productions of virtually all the international operatic repertoire on stages in the United States, Europe and Canada. He has specialized in training for singers designed to release the artist’s full potential as a singer and an actor.
General Director and Vocal Instructor
Tenor Michael Sylvester, widely considered one of the finest lyric spinto tenors of his generation before turning his skills to teaching, holds a B.M. from Westminster Choir College and a M.M. from Indiana University. Mr. Sylvester has sung leading roles in the major opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, London’s Covent Garden, Milan’s La Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, Opera Australia’s Sydney Opera House, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dallas Opera, Paris Opera, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colon, Houston Grand Opera, Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, Staatsoper Berlin, Grand Theater de Geneva, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Florence’s Maggio Musicale, Hamburg Staatsoper, Bonn Staatsoper, Frankfurt Staatsoper, Opera de Toulouse, the New Israeli Opera and many others. During the 1990s, Mr. Sylvester sang more performances at the Metropolitan Opera of Radames in Verdi’s opera AIDA than any other tenor. A 1989 article in USA Today named Mr. Sylvester as one of the two most important tenors of his generation.
Among others his opera repertoire includes Radames in AIDA (which he has sung over 150 times), the title role Don Carlo in DON CARLO, Adorno in SIMON BOCCANEGRA, Cavaradossi in TOSCA, Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, Calaf in TURANDOT, Rodolfo in LA BOHEME, Bacchus in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, Der Kaiser in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN, Samson in SAMSON ET DALILA, Don Jose in CARMEN and Pollione in NORMA. All in all, he has performed close to fifty leading roles. The many works he has performed in concert include Verdi’s REQUIEM, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Symphony #8 and Beethoven’s Symphony #9 with orchestras worldwide.
Among his recordings are the title role in DON CARLO with James Levine (Sony Classics), Adorno in SIMON BOCCANEGRA with Sir George Solti (Decca), Calaf in TURANDOT (EMI video), Mahler’s Symphony #8 with Robert Shaw (Telarc) and Mendelssohn’s Die ertse Walpurgisnacht (Arabesque). Additionally, he has been featured in numerous Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and in other broadcast and televised performances around the world.
Currently, Mr. Sylvester is an Associate Professor of Voice at Wichita State University and was previously on the faculty at DePaul University and Indiana University. He also maintains a studio of young professional students. He is Co-Director of the San Miguel Institute of Bel Canto. Mr. Sylvester served as Master Teacher-in-Residence for the 2014 Concurso San Miguel. In 2013 he was invited to be the Artist-in-Residence at the Art Song Festival at the University of Toledo. Mr. Sylvester teaches annually at the iSing! International Young Opera Singers Festival in Suzhou, China and at Chicago Summer Opera, where he teaqches voice and German diction. He has students performing in North America and Europe and several that have been successful in national competitions.
In recent years, Mr. Sylvester has turned his performing talents toward recital and concert work, having given recitals in Chicago, Wichita (KS), San Miguel de Allede (Mexico), Rochester (NY), Atlanta, Toledo (OH), Indianapolis and Ridgefield (CT). Concerts have included Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Beethoven’s Symphony #9.
He has just finished his first book, English Diction and Enunciation for North American Singers, and is finalizing its publication and eventual e-book publication. Currently he is working on a project called A Survey of Historically Important Classical Singers of the 20th Century, an audio project aimed at introducing young singers to the singers that came before them.
Music Director and Vocal Coach
Equally at home in the pit conducting a repertoire of over 50 operas and musicals, on the stage accompanying some of the world's pre-eminent vocalists or appearing in the country’s top cabaret venues, TED TAYLOR enjoys a varied international career. As pianist he has appeared with such luminaries as Sylvia McNair, Christine Schäfer, Ben Heppner and Kathleen Battle, for whom he played thirty-four concerts, and in March 2013, he co-conducted LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Seiji Ozawa in Tokyo and on tour in Japan.
Maestro Taylor has been a member of the conducting staffs of the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera, and has appeared with many American opera companies, including New York City Opera, where he made his debut in 2003 leading LA TRAVIATA, as well as those of Atlanta, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Wolf Trap and Central City. World premieres include the April 2009 production of Libby Larsen’s opera PICNIC for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In the early years as conductor, he was appointed music director by Beverly Sills of the New York City Opera National Company for two years, and he served in the same capacity for Mobile (Alabama) Opera for eight seasons.
Praised in the New York Times as a “sophisticated and unusually sensitive accompanist” (with Jan Opalach) whose “playing had a full lusciousness ideal for Strauss” (with Christine Schäfer), as well as for his cabaret appearances (“one of the best in the business,” raves Associated Press), Mr. Taylor has appeared over the years with many wonderful singers, among them the legendary Eileen Farrell, whose CBS cable show for which he was pianist ran the musical gamut from lieder to blues. As a pianist in master classes, he has worked with such great artists as Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Regine Crespin and Carlo Bergonzi. On CD, he may be heard as harpsichord soloist with Seiji Ozawa in the Philips recording of Stravinsky's THE RAKE'S PROGRESS and as pianist with Sylvia McNair in a disc of Gershwin songs on BBC Worldwide, live from London's Wigmore Hall.
Appearances by Mr. Taylor include the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Festival, and the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Music Series, Castleton Festival, Newport Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society Summerfest, The Princeton Festival and Music Mountain. Among his cabaret venues are the Algonquin’s Oak Room, Feinstein’s, Café Carlyle, the Royal Room of The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, and most recently, Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie with Joyce Castle.
As vocal coach and teacher, his students and clients regularly appear with the great performing organizations of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra and National Symphony, among others.
Mr. Taylor’s earliest professional years in the music business were in Nashville, where his work as pianist, show conductor and arranger led to an extensive tour of the Soviet Union with ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford in 1974. Following graduate studies in conducting and opera at Indiana University, he began his coaching career with Santa Fe Opera, subsequently moving to New York, where he soon joined the music staff of New York City Opera.
In the field of contemporary opera, Mr. Taylor served as assistant to Academy Award winning composer Tan Dun for the premiere of his first opera, MARCO POLO, at the Munich Biennale and prepared the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Tokyo Philharmonic orchestras for subsequent performances. For New York City Opera, he led excerpts of new works for the company's Showcasing American Composers series.
As an educator, in addition to his sixteen years on the faculty of the Opera Program at Mannes College THE NEW SCHOOL For Music in New York City and his ten years with the Institute of Sacred Music and School of Music at Yale University, he has been invited to guest conduct at such prestigious music schools as Indiana University, where he led the university premier of Mark Adamo's LITTLE WOMEN, and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, conducting Rossini's IL VIAGGIO A REIMS, awarded first place in its category in the National Opera Association Competition. This summer will find him teaching for the seventh time in University of Houston’s institute LE CHIAVI: THE KEYS TO BEL CANTO and he has served as master coach for eight years at CoOPERAtive of Westminster Choir College in Princeton. A frequent adjudicator, he has judged the Connecticut, New York and Western Tennessee District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and for four years has coached and played the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Final Awards at the Met.
A native Texan, he makes his home in Manhattan, where he maintains an active studio as coach and teacher.
Stage Director and Acting Instructor
A native of Mexico, Ragnar Conde studied Graphic Design at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana- Azcapotzalco and Performing Arts at Casa del Teatro. Since 1992, he has served as teacher, coach and stage director in both the educational and professional sectors. These institutions and companies include SIVAM, ARGOS, Artepost Productions, San Benito Abad Theater, Universidad del Valle de México, Alas y Raíces para los niños, Nickelodeon, Artescenica, ITESM-CEM, National Fine Arts Opera Company, Zacatecas Opera Company, the Madrigalistas Choir, Solists Ensemble, Pro Opera, FIGAROSY, the Centro Histórico Children's Choir, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, West Bay Opera, Golden Ceiba Productions., Mobile Productions, Morelos Opera Company, Xcaret Archeological Park, Skylight Music Theatre and Pro-Musica .
Mr. Conde has participated in over 70 Performing Arts projects in Mexico, United States, France, Switzerland, Italy and Columbia.. This projects include Theatre, Opera, Musicals, Concerts and Films, sharing credits as Stage Director, Producer, Writer, Acting Coach or Scenic, Lighting and Costume Designer.
His opera productions include L’Enfant et le Sortiléges, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Sour Angélica, Il Segreto di Susana, Bastien und Bastienne, The Telephone, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Don Pasquale, La Bohéme, El Rey Poeta, Agamenón, Leoncio y Lena, Le nozze di Figaro, I Pagliacci, Hänsel und Gretel, Carmen, La Scala di Seta, L'occasione fa il ladro, Dido and Aeneas, Samson et Dalila, Il Trovatore, Traviata, Elisir d'amore, Despertar al Sueño, Rigoletto, Madama Butterfly, La Creciente and La Voix Humaine. He served as Associate Stage Director for Peter Webster`s production of Little Women, the international première of this most popular opera by Mark Adamo (Mexico City). Conductors and Musical Directors he has worked with include Teresa Rodríguez, James Demster, Enrique Batiz, Luis Fernando Luna, Rodrigo Macías, Gabriela Díaz-Alatriste, Juan Carlos Lomónaco, Roberto Kalb, Benjamín Juárez Echenique, José Luis Moscovich, Andrés Dos Santos, Johannes Debus, Marco Parisotto and Edoardo Muller.
In film, he is the co-writer of No Turning Back, an international feature film (Mexico-Columbia), where he worked also as Acting Coach and Second Assistant. He also worked as Acting Coach in Balls, a Columbian feature film Mr. Conde also adapted the script for the film Seven Years of Marriage, to be feature in Mexico in 2012, and wrote the script for Enamorándome de Abril, to be filmed in the next few months.
Mr. Conde has taught classes in acting, dance, corporal expression and arts. He has extensive experience working with children in professional staging for theatre, opera and concerts, and in coaching acting with opera singers. He has also worked in design, production management and stage management in several national and international projects.
In December 2012 he worked as stage director in the world premier of Viva Verdi, the 200 years celebration of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, in the Hallenstadion, Zürich, under the artistic advice of Mr. Lotfi Mansouri.
He is the General Director of Escenia Ensemble, A. C., a performing arts company in Mexico City.
Ruth Williams Hennessy, the founder of Hennessy Whole Body Voice™ and the creator of the instructional DVD Voice at the Center™, helps people find simple, organic ways to release their unique and authentic voices. For over 30 years, Ruth’s workshops, university teaching, and private lessons in her New York City studio have assisted actors, singers, and speakers of every style. Ruth’s Vocal BodyWorkShops©, offered weekly in NYC, are also sought after by universities, choral organizations, and national singing organizations, including the Voice Foundation, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and Classical Singer magazine. Her DVD, Voice at the Center™, is used in homes, studios, and vocal pedagogy classes around the world. Ruth’s articles have appeared in Classical Singer, The Soul of the American Actor, and other publications.
Teaching positions have included the University of Northern Iowa (Chair, Vocal/Choral department); Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (Director, Professional Division); Hunter College; and New York University. Having earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Voice from Indiana University, Ruth’s lifelong studies include vocal technique, breathing, the physiology of the body and the vocal tract, massage and other release therapies, and numerous bodywork disciplines. You can see video clips of Ruth’s work at HennessyWholeBodyVoice.com and VoiceAtTheCenter.com.
Collaborative Pianist and Repetiteur
Bridget Hille is a collaborative pianist and teacher in Wichita. She began her piano studies at age four with her mother, Regina, as teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Emporia State University and a Master of Music in Piano Performance, special emphasis in Accompanying, from Wichita State University. Her teachers include Paul Reed, Andrew Trechak, Paul Moore, pedagogue Ingrid Jacobsen Clarfield, and Aldo Mancinelli, a Busoni winner and student of famed pianists Claudio Arrau and Carlo Zecchi.
Bridget is the coordinator of the Wichita State University Accompanists Guild and chair of their Advisory Board. As an accompanist, Bridget is in high demand in the WSU Music Department, collaborating with vocal and instrumental students, faculty and guest artists resulting in twenty to thirty recitals each year. In the fall of 2014, she was appointed accompanist for the WSU Opera Theatre program. In addition to her busy accompanying schedule, Bridget has also maintained a private piano studio since 1987, first in her hometown of Independence, Kansas and in Wichita since 1995.
American bass Kevin Langan has been pursuing a career in the international operatic world now for 42 years. Classical Singer recently devoted a cover article to him on his incredible longevity in the business which he attributed to embracing a secure vocal technique which lasted him decades after working early on with one of America’s greatest vocal pedagogues of the 20th Century; Margaret Harshaw at Indiana University. In his early days he also pursued interpretive vocal studies with the legendary German soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf. He was the last Protégé of the legendary EMI record producer Walter Legge, who also built the recording career of the great singer Maria Callas. Mr. Langan was a Grand Finals winner of The Metropolitan Opera Auditions (1980), The San Francisco Opera Auditions (1980), Opera America Auditions (1981), and recipient of a Richard Tucker Foundation Grant Award (1983). His four decades long career has been in leading roles in many of the world’s leading opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, The San Francisco Opera, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Saito Kinen Festival (Japan), The Maggio Musicale (Florence), The Royal Flemish Opera (Antwerp), The Netherlands Opera, Geneva Opera, Opera de Lyon, Los Angeles Opera, Houston Opera, Washington Opera, Seattle Opera, Canadian Opera, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Vancouver Opera, San Diego Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Central City Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Colorado, Austin Lyric Opera, Tulsa Opera, Omaha Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Co. of Philadelphia, Opera Carolina, Eugene Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Toledo Opera, Baltimore Lyric Opera, Knoxville Opera, West Palm Beach Opera, Portland Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Greensboro Opera, Edmonton Opera, Calgary Opera, Manitoba Opera, and Hamilton Opera.
He recently became the first leading artist ever to achieve 300 performances with The San Francisco Opera in the company’s 88-year history. With almost 1400 career performances, he has performed over 80 different operatic roles. Those roles include Mephistopheles in Faust, Phillip II and Il Grand Inquisitore in Don Carlos, Sarastro and The Sprecher in Die Zauberflőte, Osmin in Entfűhrung aus dem Serail, Seneca in L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Leporello and Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Timur in Turandot, Ramfis in Aida, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Padre Guardiano in Forza del Destino, Pimen in Boris Godunov, Rocco in Fidelio, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Alvise in La Gioconda, Daland in Der Flieghende Holländer, Basilio in Barbiere di Siviglia, Colline in La Boheme, Wurm in Luisa Miller, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, Henry VIII in Anna Bolena, and The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance.
Orchestral appearances include The Symphony Orchestras of Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Houston, Oakland, Richmond, Santa Fe, New Jersey, The National Symphony (Wash. DC), St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Concert Opera, and The Mostly Mozart, Caramoor, and Cincinnati May Festivals. He has appeared with these orchestras as bass soloist in such works as The Verdi and Mozart Requiems, Beethoven Ninth Symphony, Rossini Stabat Mater, The Messiah, and various concert versions of major operas.
Discography includes the Grammy nominated Le Nozze di Figaro (Teldec) under Niklaus Harnoncourt, and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline (Albany) recorded live at its world premiere with Santa Fe Opera.
DVD credits include the David Hockney production of Turandot with Eva Marton, Aida with Luciano Pavarotti, Samson et Dalilah with Placido Domingo, Orlando Furioso with
Marilyn Horne, and Cunning Little Vixen at The Saito Kinen Festival, Japan, and Maggio Musicale in Florence, Italy, conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
He has given solo recitals at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London, as well as Kurt Weill at Carnegie Hall in New York, and The Vorpal Gallery in San Francisco.
He has performed and recorded with conductors Harry Bickett, Richard Bonynge, James Conlon, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoff von Dohnanyi, Niklaus Harnoncourt, Grahme Jenkins, Sir Charles MacKerras, John Mauceri, Nicholas McGegan, Eduardo Müller, John Nelson, Andris Nelsons, Seiji Ozawa, Martin Pearlman, Sir John Pritchard, Eve Queler, Donato Renzetti, Nicola Rescigno, Julius Rudel, Donald Runnicles, Gerard Schwartz, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Edo de Waart.
His academic teaching experience includes being a Visiting Assistant Professor of Voice at Montclair State University in New Jersey, Guest Visiting Voice Instructor at Westminster Choir College/Rider University, and The University of Minnesota. He has presented Master Classes in Vocal Performance at Lamont School of Music/University of Denver, Southern Methodist University, The University of Oklahoma/Norman, Metropolitan State University, Denver, The Austin Lyric Opera Apprentice Program, The San Diego Opera Apprentice Program, Opera New Jersey Apprentice Program, and The Festival Lyrique at Belle-Ille (France) Young Artists Program. He has also given Individual Clinical Vocal Instruction at the prestigious Lyric Opera of Chicago Apprentice Program, The Portland Opera Apprentice Program, and is currently a guest vocal instructor annually at Westminster Choir College/Rider University’s prestigious Florence Voice Program in Florence, Italy.
He has also developed a Seminar on “Financial and Professional Implications for The Professional Self-Employed Opera Singer” which he has given at The Central City Opera Apprentice Program and at The CoOPERative Program at Westminster Choir College/Rider University in Princeton, NJ.
He maintains a private studio teaching voice to advanced young singers who are making the transition to professional careers as well as singers already in the business needing and desiring further vocal technique attention.
David Manning is an experienced executive coach for educational leaders and a practiced leadership consultant. His coaching practice focuses on building leadership capacity through one-on-one coaching sessions specifically designed for the individual needs of each leader. This intense coaching process maximizes leadership potential while harnessing the commitment and energy needed to meet and exceed personal/professional goals. He uses a solutions focused, results oriented process to support the leader in building cultures of responsibility and high performance beginning with self.
David Manning coordinated, and developed the Coaching for Educational Leaders program in Texas, training over 200 educational coaches and providing executive coaching to over 400 educational leaders in less than of 4 years.
As an innovator in leadership development, Mr. Manning provided leadership as the Program Manager for Turnaround Principal Recruitment and Selection for Texas Initiatives, Region XIII Education Service Center, Austin Texas. The selection process included using competency based interviewing techniques. This Behavioral Event Interview (BEI) process was used for the first time with specific applications to educators through this initiative.
He is the founder of the first principal preparation program for alternative principal certification in Texas and received national recognition for quality. The program served as a model for alternative principal certification efforts. Many of the states finest leaders holding positions as Superintendent, Asst. Superintendent, Central Office Directors and principals are graduates of the program.
Over the span of 36 years, Mr. Manning has been an Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools, Elementary Principal, High School Principal, Director of Special Programs, Middle School Counselor and Director of Education at the largest psychiatric hospital in San Antonio. He has also held a statewide professional association leadership position as President of the Texas Association for Alternative Education.
Marcie Stapp, Professor of Lyric Diction at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, is the author of The Singer’s Guide to Languages, a well-known vocal coach, accompanist and translator whose operatic translations are performed by leading music schools and professional companies across the country. She taught English and French at the Mangold Institute in Madrid, served as conductor/coach for the Academy of Vocal Arts, the Curtis Institute of Music, Indiana University, the Mozart Opera Studies Institute in Austria, Japan’s Osaka College of Music and Sakai City Opera, the Gernot-Heindl Opera Studio of Munich, San Francisco Opera Center and Hawaii Opera Theatre, among others. Stapp has accompanied the master classes of Margaret Harshaw, Renato Capecchi, Max Rudolf, Jess Thomas and Gerhard Hüsch and has appeared in recital with members of the Metropolitan, San Francisco and New York City opera companies. The Metropolitan Opera’s renowned diction coach Nico Castel selected her as the editor of his popular Opera Libretti Series, and the two collaborate annually on the Castel-Stapp Master Classes in San Francisco.