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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.