Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, Artistic Director, is considered to be one of the most highly respected and critically acclaimed artists of her generation.
Ms. Blythe has sung in many of the renowned opera houses in the US and Europe, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Opera National de Paris. Her many roles include the title roles in Carmen, Samson et Dalila, Orfeo ed Euridice, La Grande Duchesse, Tancredi, Mignon, and Giulio Cesare; Frugola, Principessa, and Zita in Il trittico, Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, Azucena in Il trovatore, Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Ježibaba in Rusalka, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex, Mere Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites; Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, and Ino/Juno in Semele.
Ms. Blythe has also appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Minnesota Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Ensemble Orchestre de Paris, and the Concertgerbouworkest. She has also appeared at the Tanglewood, Cincinnati May, and Ravinia festivals, and at the BBC Proms. The many conductors with whom she has worked include Harry Bicket, James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Alan Gilbert, James Levine, Fabio Luisi, Nicola Luisotti, Sir Charles Mackerras, John Nelson, Antonio Pappano, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Robert Spano, Patrick Summers, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
A frequent recitalist, Ms. Blythe has been presented in recital in New York by Carnegie Hall in Stern Auditorium and Zankel Hall, Lincoln Center in both its Great Performers Series at Alice Tully Hall and its American Songbook Series at the Allen Room, Town Hall, the 92nd Street Y, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also been presented by the Vocal Arts Society and at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., the Cleveland Art Song Festival, the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Shriver Hall in Baltimore, and San Francisco Performances.
A champion of American song, Ms. Blythe has premiered several song cycles written for her including Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson by the late James Legg; Covered Wagon Woman by Alan Smith which was commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and recorded with the ensemble (CMS Studio Recordings); and Vignettes: Ellis Island, also by Alan Smith and featured in a special television program entitled Vignettes: An Evening with Stephanie Blythe and Warren Jones.
Ms Blythe starred in the Metropolitan Opera’s live HD broadcasts of Orfeo ed Euridice, Il trittico, Rodelinda, and the complete Ring Cycle. She also appeared in PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Carousel and her acclaimed show, We’ll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith. Her recordings include her solo album, as long as there are songs (Innova), and works by Mahler, Brahms, Wagner, Handel, and Bach (Virgin Classics).
This season, Ms. Blythe returned to the Metropolitan Opera for the new production of Falstaff and made her debut at the San Diego Opera in Un ballo in maschera. She also appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic and toured the US with Les Violons du Roy. Upcoming engagements include recitals in Princeton and San Francisco and the role of Gertrude Stein in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27 at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis. Next season’s many engagement include her returns to the Metropolitan Opera for The Rake’s Progress, the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Il trovatore, Seattle Opera as Juno in Semele and Carnegie Hall for a recital in Stern Auditorium.
Ms. Blythe was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year for 2009. Her other awards include the 2007 Opera News Award and the 1999 Richard Tucker Award.
Carleen Graham, Executive Director, is the founding Executive Director of the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar and Distinguished Teaching Professor of Opera at The Crane School of Music, State University of New York – Potsdam. Her productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors, On The Town, L’Egisto, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Mikado have received awards from the National Opera Association, The American Prize and the American College Theater Festival. Guest stage directing credits include Hawai’i Performing Arts Festival (2016), Tri-Cities Opera, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Curso Internaçional de Música Vocal in Aveiro, Portugal, Baltimore Summer Opera Workshop, Tanglewood Music Center, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Opera Company, Eastman School of Music, and Central City Opera.
Dr. Graham earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Ohio University-Athens, a Master of Music and Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory, and a Doctor of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Deeply committed to the pedagogy and teaching of opera and lyric theatre, she is a recipient of the 2014 Ohio University School of Music Alumni Distinction in Music Award, 2009 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the 2007 SUNY Potsdam College Foundation’s Fund-Raising Volunteer of the Year Award, and the 2006 SUNY Potsdam President’s Excellence in Teaching Award. She is an active presenter at conferences and her publications include articles for The Opera Journal, Journal of Singing, OPERA America’s Perspectives Series, and Classical Singer magazine. Dr. Graham is Vice President of Conventions for the National Opera Association and a member of OPERA America’s Singer Training Forum.
Pianist Alan Smith, Music Director, enjoys a reputation as one of the United States’ most highly regarded figures in the field of collaborative artistry. His performing experiences have included associations in major musical venues with such musical personalities as bass-baritone, Thomas Stewart; soprano, Barbara Bonney; mezzo-soprano, Stephanie Blythe; violist, Donald McInnes; baritone, Rod Gilfry; violinist, Eudice Shapiro; as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Virtuosi. Broadcasts of his performances, compositions, and interviews have been aired internationally. His expertise and experience in song literature, chamber music, and opera make him much sought after as an accompanist, coach, faculty colleague, teacher of master classes, and adjudicator of area and international competitions, including regular engagements as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
At the USC Thornton School of Music, Professor Smith serves as the chair of Keyboard Studies and serves as the director of the Keyboard Collaborative Arts Program, one of the oldest and largest programs of its kind the country. Having studied with the legendary Martin Katz, Dr. Smith has become a teacher of renown himself; among his awards are the Virginia Ramo Award for excellence in teaching and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Thornton School and the Inaugural Mellon Award Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Mentoring. His current and former students maintain important positions internationally in the field of collaborative piano and coaching. He has served for 25 years as a member of the vocal coaching faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center in western Massachusetts, was formerly that program’s vocal program coordinator, and for a time served as the coordinator of the piano program, for which he held a named chair as the Marian Douglas Martin Master Teacher. In addition to being the Musical Director for the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, Dr. Smith will teach on the faculty of SongFest to be held at the Colburn School in Los Angeles in the summer of 2014.
His own compositions for voice and piano have received performances in many parts of the world by some of the world’s most acclaimed artists in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Tanglewood Music Center, Music Academy of the West, and the Ravinia Festival. Commissions include Tanglewood Music Center, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, The Boston Symphony Orchestra for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Stephanie Blythe, as well as Virginia Tech. His most recent premiere in March of 2014 was a set of five songs on his own poetry performed in Los Angeles by soprano Diana Newman, for whom the songs were written, and pianist Vivian Fan.
Dr. Smith has had articles published in Piano and Keyboard magazine and his articles and reviews on various aspects of collaborative artistry have appeared in the magazine, The American Music Teacher. He is president of the Eta chapter of the Pi Kappa Lambda national music honor society.
Daniel Mertzlufft, Assistant Director, recently graduated from the Crane School of Music with bachelor degrees in Composition and Music Education. His work as as a composer, orchestrator, and arranger has been performed around the country; most notably with the Transcendence Theatre Company in Sonoma, CA and recently with iTheatrics in New York City. Original works include his opera, The Letter, his musical Tying The Knot, and numerous song cycles, including time be kind, premiered by tenor Donald George. A recipient of multiple research grants, Daniel has presented his research around the country, including his project “Recreating Donizetti’s Teresa E Gialfandoni for the 21st Century” at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Lacrosse, WI. He has also served as Head and Assistant Music Director for a number of shows and concerts, including: When You Believe (Jubilus Choir), Oh, What a Night! (Transcendence Theatre Company) and the world premiere of Mary Poppins JR. (iTheatrics). Daniel has proudly worked with the Island Seminar since their 2014 season.
Gary Busch, Lecturer for The Worlds of Charles Ives: the Ideas Behind the Songs has been active in the roles of performer and lecturer for audiences and teaching organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. As a writer he is a frequent contributor of program notes for recitalists and orchestras, and his publications include a number of annotated editions of piano works. Korean language translations of several of his acclaimed editions of Robert Schumann and Edward MacDowell were recently released in Asia. Dr. Busch has long held a dedication to the research and teaching of American music history, the German lied, and the early American popular song. An avid collector of recordings from the dawn of the acoustic era, he restores antique phonographs, cylinder players, and other early mechanical recording devices.
Principal piano studies were with Béla Siki at the University of Washington and with Artur Balsam at the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned the D.M.A. in Piano Performance. Dr. Busch is Professor of Music on the Music History and Piano faculties at the Crane School of Music of SUNY Potsdam, where he has been in residence since 1983.