Meet the Summer 2020 Cohort
BMP: PRODUCER ACADEMY
Raquel Acevedo Klein is an active conductor, vocalist, instrumentalist and visual artist. She has premiered works by Philip Glass, John Adams, Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw, Paola Prestini, Bryce Dessner, Anthony Braxton, Missy Mazzoli, and George Lewis, to name a few. Raquel has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, Town Hall, BAM, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Celebrate Brooklyn!, National Sawdust and elsewhere. She has recorded and performed with the likes of Alicia Keys, Glen Hansard, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, The National, Grizzly Bear, John Legend, and NY Philharmonic among others. She conducts for Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
RAQUEL ACEVEDO KLEIN
Fulbright scholar Dr. Derrell Acon is a dynamic artist-activist who has appeared in venues across the nation, Africa, and Europe. He is a uniquely accomplished bass-baritone whose repertoire ranges from the comic to the tragic and even the sensual. He has proven himself a persuasive advocate for American opera of the 20th and 21st centuries. Dr. Acon is also an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grantee for his production work and has presented as opera lecturer at such venues as The Chautauqua Institution, Portland Opera, Long Beach Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, and Des Moines Metro Opera. Drawing from literature, advocacy, story, and voice, Dr. Acon uses the power and immediacy of performance to engage and empower audiences.
Originally from the Texas Panhandle, Desiree Alejandro received her master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Houston in 2009. After graduating, she moved to New York to continue her artistic growth. While in New York she began working as a stage manager, assistant director, and eventually was able to direct and produce her own musical events. In 2018, she returned to Houston and realized her passion for representation, equity and accessibility. In the seemingly black and white world of social media, and the era of instant gratification, she strives to create space for nuance, reflection, and growth.
Autumn Allee (she/her) is a creative producer and active performer based in Oakland, CA. Her fledgling performance series Exquisite Corpse Projects is an interdisciplinary artistic collaboration experimenting with pushing the boundaries of form and subverting expectations. As a performing soprano, she has been contracted to sing leading roles with Mendocino Music Festival, Cutting Ball Theater, Pocket Opera, Lamplighters Music Theater, Phenix Opera, Opera Theater Unlimited, and others. Her artistic world is filled with innovative performances, brilliant friends and collaborators, and endless inspiration for new experimental projects.
As an ethnomusicologist, violist, writer, and arts administrator, Bridgid Bergin has a passion for the sustainment and preservation of the arts while creating connections to a larger cross-cultural network via various art forms. Her research has focused on Carnatic music, gender and music, and urban theory, questioning notions of space, place, and identity. She received her B.M. in Musical Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies from SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music in 2015 and M.A. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University in 2017. Bridgid currently works as the Production and Communications Manager for the International Contemporary Ensemble.
James Blaszko is a queer first-generation American director. In the 2017/18 season, Blaszko staged Puccini’s Il Trittico in South Korea, the opening ceremony of the Harare International Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe, and Britten’s Les Illuminations with selections of Debussy and Patti Smith in Maine. In 2019, Blaszko was the Directing Fellow at the Kurt Weill Foundation of Music and Resident Assistant Director at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He is currently the assistant show manager of The Peculiar Patriot by Liza Jessie Peterson, last performed and recorded live at Angola State Prison in January 2020. www.jamesblaszko.com
Jessie Bodell holds an MA degree in Musicology from the University of Amsterdam, and a BA degree in Musicology/Ethnomusicology from Portland State University. He has been working as an administrator at Portland Opera since 2018. As a queer, transgender man and intersectional feminist, Jessie is committed to expanding upon feminist musicological research, including examining the performance of gender in theater and advocating for authentic transgender representation on the operatic stage.
Described by critics as “exquisite” and “evanescent,” soprano Erin Brittain has performed over 30 different roles in opera, operetta, and musical theater and sung for audiences both regionally and overseas. As a founding member of The Perspective Collective, Erin participated in the commission, development, and performances of Mike Leibowitz’s For Love of Country in 2019, and Sunny Knable and Jim Knable’s The Pride of Pripyat in early 2020, both mini-operas premiered at the Asheville Fringe Festival in North Carolina. Erin holds an undergraduate degree from New York University and a Masters Degree from The Peabody Institute in classical voice, and currently resides in Jersey City. Website: www.erinbrittain.com
Karla Brom is a photographer, producer, and arts administrator. She is currently the general manager for the International Contemporary Ensemble. Prior to her work with ICEensemble she was a freelance performing arts producer and worked with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music series, New Amsterdam Presents and as producer for the 2017 Ecstatic Music Festival. She has worked in 60+ countries and has heard great music in all of them! Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota but a longtime New Yorker, Karla has her BA from Wellesley College and MA in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Iranian-American mezzo soprano, Shannon Delijani is a filmmaker, stage director, performer, and creative producer based in Los Angeles. Her work explores using cinematic storytelling to reclaim outdated narratives in classical music. As a performer she is passionate about workshopping new music but her repertoire ranges from early music to bel canto to musical theater. She has performed across the US and overseas with the Trentino Festival, Classic Lyric Arts France, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and the Mannes Festival. She is a graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music and holds a Master of Music in Voice from Mannes College at The New School.
Carlos Diaz Stoop is an Arts Administrator based in Philadelphia, PA, with a diverse background in performance, stage management, production, and education. Carlos has a master’s degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University, which fuels his passion for the arts as they relate to individuals, their communities, and diversity on a demographic level. As an inaugural member of The Walnut Street Theatre’s Teaching Artist Membership Program, Carlos found a new love for teaching neuro-diverse communities, which led him to the realization that art, truly, is for everyone. He is humbled to be a part of BMP’s first Producer’s Academy.
CARLOS DIAZ STOOP
Rachael (she/her) a freelance, non-union stage/production/company manager. She has worked with Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, USITT, Contemporary American Theater Festival, and The Walt Disney Company. Also, she is on the Membership Committee of the Stage Managers’ Association. As a 2019 cum laude graduate of Allegheny College with a major in Theatre and minor in Psychology, her senior thesis focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion within theatrical management. Rachael is excited and honored to learn more about producing with BMP.
Ethan Gans-Morse is a critically acclaimed composer and producer of new concert and operatic works that address urgent social and environmental challenges. Together with his wife and creative partner, the librettist Tiziana DellaRovere, he is the co-founder of Anima Mundi Productions and the creator of three operas, including The Canticle of the Black Madonna—which The Oregonian called “A huge achievement… generous, carefully crafted and supremely compassionate”—and the Native American-themed program Symphony How Can You Own the Sky?, of which conductor Martin Majkut wrote, “it provides emotional catharsis on par with the great masterworks of the past.”
Chase Hopkins, is currently leading Haymarket Opera Company as the Interim General Director, while also serving as the Artistic Director of Opera Edwardsville. At Haymarket, Hopkins will produce a triptych of Handel operas to be presented in film as part of the company’s 10th Season. Hopkins’ vision for Opera Edwardsville has created a new platform for opera in Southern Illinois garnering performances from international artists including Christine Brewer, Craig Terry, and more while also providing educational programming with reach to over 1500 local students. On the operatic stage, Hopkins has been described as a “strong and convincing presence” (Opera Today) delivering “thoughtful and disciplined” performances (Operawire). Hopkins is an alumnus of Northwestern University and the Royal Northern College of Music.
Yejin Kim has been bringing live music, music education and community events to life in the NYC metro area and South Korea. Recently, she received a Master’s degree from NYU in Performing Arts Administration. Her most recent activity was working for the New York Philharmonic as an Education intern. Ms. Kim previously held the position of Assistant Manager of Artistic Planning for the Korean Symphony Orchestra which also works with the National Opera and National Ballet organizations in South Korea as their official orchestra. She has a musical background in Jazz/Commercial Music with Music Business concentration froom Five Town College. Her first major was Classical Music Composition at Kyung Hee University in South Korea.
An accomplished young conductor and producer, Trevor Kroeger is the Director of Music at St. Rose Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. During his tenure at St. Rose, Trevor has built a thriving music program which is now home to an acclaimed professional chorus and choral-orchestral concert series. Trevor is the Managing Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Breath Collective, an emerging vocal music production company, and he serves as the Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Camerata. Trevor holds a Bachelor of Music degree in music education and a Master of Music degree in conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Carmen C. Kruse is an award-winning opera stage director and new works collaborator. As Artistic Director of Vienna-based Civic Opera Creations, she is actively invested in new opera. Her artistic work is shaped by an in-depth, psychological exploration of broad societal themes and their effects on individuals, and fed by first-hand accounts and community input. Kruse explores traditional constellations by creating immersive, live experiences that change the relationship between orchestra and dramatic action, and present reflective worlds that inspire and empower. Productions and scholarships brought her to renowned places such as Osterfestspiele Baden-Baden, Ensemble Modern, and Lincoln Center’s Directors Lab in Europe, Australia, and North America.
CARMEN C. KRUSE
Mari Lee is an artist dedicated to engaging her audience by instilling curiosity for music. A violinist and entrepreneur, she aims to bridge the gap between audiences, performers, and composers. Praised as “extremely impressive” by the Strad Magazine, Mari has performed internationally at the Wigmore Hall, Philharmonie de Paris, and Carnegie Hall, as well as at renowned festivals including Ravinia, Verbier, and Marlboro.
Exemplifying her strong interest in interdisciplinary art, Mari co-founded Salon Séance, an orga- nization that presents concerts with incidental theatre. Salon Séance has won multiple awards including Tarisio’s Young Artists Grants and the Britten-Pears Foundation’s Britten Award.
Scott Richard Lord is long-time opera lover, born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles. Scott has served on the Board of the LA Opera from 2006 through 2012 and rejoined the Board in 2019. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco. Scott previously served on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Board of Overseers and the Board of Trustees of the Archer School for Girls. Scott is an attorney whose practice emphasizes construction law and litigation. He holds a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, 1976, and a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law, 1979.
Kate McCallum is an award-winning LA-based multi-disciplinary creative producer, writer, media strategist, and artist. 20 years of experience at NBCUniversal and Paramount Studios in the development/production of television/feature film honed her skills for storytelling and creating in visual mediums. Kate worked with LA Opera for 2.5 years, and as a trained operatic vocalist, she recently collaborated and performed in the performance art piece ESSENCE. Kate founded her media company, Bridge Arts Media, LLC and the c3: Center for Conscious Creativity, and launched an innovation lab and AIR: Artist In Residence program at The Vortex Dome theater in LA for Vortex Immersion Media.
Caitlin McKechney is an opera and theater performer, an actor-musician, composer and the bandleader of The Opera Cowgirls, an all-female opera-country fusion band. Favorite performances include the title role in Carmen (Opera Memphis, Tacoma Opera, Painted Sky Opera), Inez Serrano in Andy Vores’s No Exit (Florida Grand Opera), Ruth in Pirates of Penzance (Opera North), Hydrogen Jukebox (Nashville Opera) and Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate (Broadway Theater of Pitman, North Street Playhouse, NightBlue Theater). Caitlin’s original musical, Women of Picasso, is currently being workshopped by The Shrill Collective in New York City. www.caitlinmckechney.com www.operacowgirls.com
Johanna Moffitt, has performed all over the Windy City, making a name for herself particularly in the repertoire of Puccini and Mozart where her “brilliant and silvery” voice shines. Recent highlights include Mimí in La BOHEME 2.0 with /kor/ productions, Margery (cover) in The Dragon of Wantley with Haymarket Opera Company, Paquette (cover) in Candide with Music Theater Works, and the title role in Madama Butterfly with Main Street Opera. As a producer, she has sought to bring opera to non-traditional venues with her company /kor/ productions, through sold-out performances of Bohème in a Bar, Falstaff, CARMEN!, and Le Nozze di Figaro. Most recently, she has produced La BOHEME 2.0, an innovative online version of Puccini’s beloved masterpiece, La Bohème, using acclaimed singers from across the United States and being live-streamed on YouTube.
Marianna Mott Newirth is a NY librettist, playwright & creative producer. Her commissioned opera works include: Musical Tales Concerto – New Ulm MN; Blue Hum -Toronto, ON; Where is the Stillness – Bonn, Germany; and Transportation Transformation - NYC. Co-librettist for Growing Young – Brooklyn SU CASA; Nia Wa Ja Shu – Munich, Germany; and dramaturg for Princess Maleine. Straight theatrical pieces include: Bachelor’s Agreement; Correspondence Theory; and Interabled. As Artistic Administrator for dell'Arte Opera Ensemble, Marianna sits on the board of New York Opera Alliance. Independently she’s producing When Falling...Dive; studies with Guerilla Opera and serves on a think-tank for White Snake Projects.
Taneshia Nash Laird is president & CEO of Newark Symphony Hall, the historic landmark performing arts center which opened in 1925 in Newark, NJ. As an independent creative, Taneshia has produced live events for venues ranging from neighborhood arts centers to museums. Her filmed and streamed production credits include "Battle Sounds: A Hip Hop DJ Documentary" and "Def Poetry Jam: An Evening of Healing, Power & Poetry". She is also an adjunct professor of entertainment and arts management at Drexel University. Taneshia is excited about being part of the BMP: Producer Academy and looks forward to producing her first opera production.
MARIANNA MOTT NEWIRTH
TANESHIA NASH LAIRD
Scottish-Australian Jenna Robertson is a Soprano and Independent Creative Producer based in Queensland, Australia with a portfolio of work across the country. Jenna performed 14 roles and appeared as soloist with 7 orchestras. In 2020-2021 she is part of the Australia Council for the Arts Future Leaders cohort, Creative Producer of a community-engaged La traviata in Western Australia (WA), and Lead Artist for Spirit Orphan, a contemporary opera and dance work. Through her leadership of company OperaBox in Perth, WA “Robertson made a significant contribution to supporting emerging artists and broadening the operatic repertoire for WA audiences” (Limelight Magazine, 2017). www.jennarobertson.com
Kate Sain is the Executive & Artistic Director of Opera In The Rock in Little Rock, AR and holds a MM in Vocal Performance from the University of Central Arkansas and a BA from Columbia University in Music & Jazz Studies. She is also a professional Music Copyist with longtime clients including the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra along with other influential jazz artists and theatrical productions in development. She formerly worked as an Assistant in Programming and Concert Administration at Jazz at Lincoln Center and as Executive Assistant to commercial theater producer Elizabeth Williams of Grain of Sand Productions. A Soprano, Ms. Sain also teaches Pre-Teen Voice and Audition Coaching with Adventures in the Arts Academy.
Chanel Smith Sorenson is a performing artist, director, choreographer, and has served as program director in dance for multiple youth programs in Virginia, Washington D.C. and Utah. Sorenson received her BA in Dance and Minor in Molecular Biology from Brigham Young University and continued her education by completing her certification as a Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA) from Integrated Movement Studies program and Post Baccalaureate Certification in Dance from Hollins University. Currently, Sorenson is pursuing her MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College. Website: www.chanel-smith.com
Camilla Tassi is a projection designer+musician from Florence, Italy. With backgrounds in computer science and voice, her design credits include Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (Apollo’s Fire), Pollock’s Stinney (PROTOTYPE), Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol (Yale Opera) and Mozart’s Magic Flute (Berlin Opera Academy). Tassi enjoys bringing design to traditionally unstaged compositions (choral, art song, recital, oratorio), recontextualizing the repertoire with today’s audiences. She has produced early and contemporary performances (Williams and Delinger’s Talk to Me Like the Rain, staged Carissimi’s Jepthe, and the US Premiere of Morricone’s Se questo e` un uomo). She translates Italian libretti/sings with the Yale Schola Cantorum. camillatassi.com
CHANEL SMITH SORENSON
Originally from China, Mo Zhou is a stage director based in New York City. Her work has been seen at Staatsoper Berlin, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, China National Centre for the Performing Arts, Santa Fe Opera and Florida Grand Opera, to name a few. As a staff director, she has worked at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and Dallas Opera. She has received directing trainings at the Juilliard School, Merola Opera Program and Wolf Trap Opera. Her production of The Diaries John Rabe is turned in to a 4K movie that is slated to release in December this year. MFA: Columbia. www.mo-zhou.com