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.
Executive Director David Williams, Before deciding upon law school, David Williams (Executive Director) worked simultaneously as an underwriter in Manhattan’s financial district and as an assistant to an artist manager. After law school, he assumed various roles of increasing responsibility specializing in the drafting and interpretation of professional liability contracts. In 2002 he launched a part-time consultancy practice, now known as Enterprising Artist Consulting (www.EnterprisingArtistConsulting.com), helping musicians, actors, and other creative people with contract-related matters. Soon, he was invited to speak on topics relating to performers’ contracts at Tanglewood, Yale, Seagle Music Colony, the American Singers Opera Project, the Manhattan School of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, among others. A fierce advocate for artists’ rights, he left the corporate setting in 2015 to dedicate himself to this work full time focusing on completing his first book, The Enterprising Musician’s Guide to Performer Contracts (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). Geared to emerging artists without regard to genre, the book explains music industry contracts in plain language.
David Williams holds a JD from New York Law School, and degrees in vocal performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (DMA), and the New England Conservatory of Music (MM), as well as a BM in Musical Studies from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. Aside from his role as Executive Director, Dr. Williams is a faculty member at The New School in Manhattan where he teaches Entrepreneurial Musicianship (at The Mannes School of Music) and Music Industry Law/Management (within the new MA program in Arts Management Entrepreneurship) and the Crane Institute for Music Business at SUNY Potsdam where he is faculty supervisor for that program’s student internship placements. As a writer, he is a contributor to Modern Singer Magazine and is currently at work on his second book which focuses on entrepreneurial-themed legal issues relevant to emerging artists working in the music and theatrical production space.
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 at SUNY Potsdam, with degrees in Music Education and Composition with a concentration in voice. He is an active teacher, music director, composer, and arranger. He has composed, arranged, and orchestrated music for productions around the world, most notably in New York City, St. Louis, MO, Sonoma, CA, and Sydney, Australia with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Original works include his opera, The Letter, musicals, Tie The Knot and …Who Lived in a Shoe, and numerous song cycles, including 3 Songs on e. e. cummings, premiered by tenor Donald George, and a recent commission by The Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar,far memory, premiered by world-renowned Mezzo-Soprano Stephanie Blythe and pianist Alan Louis Smith.
As an educator, he leads workshops at the international iTheatrics Junior Theatre Festivals, Junior Theater Celebrations throughout the United States, and specialized music workshops for the Shubert Foundation and the NYC Department of Education.
Daniel has proudly worked with the Fall Island Vocal Arts 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.