Philadelphia classical music events, discussion, and directory
AVA's Giargiari Bel Canto Competition is one week away! Learn more about this year's judges before it begins.
Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
Ms. Nichols joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2000 as Executive Director of the National Council Auditions. She brought to the Met two decades of experience as a singer, teacher and career advisor. From 1992-2000, she was Director of Houston Opera Studio, the young artist development program at Houston Grand Opera, where she created and individualized the training both for singers and pianists. Ms. Nichols auditions hundreds of singers across North America every year and in her travels addresses many universities, conservatories, and festivals on developing the next generation of opera singers. She is a frequent adjudicator in national and international competitions and consults for other young artist programs across the country.
Benita Valente, soprano
An internationally celebrated interpreter of lieder, chamber music and oratorio, Benita Valente was equally acclaimed for her performances on the operatic stage. In recent seasons, Ms. Valente is increasingly sought after as a master teacher. She has served as the Master Artist at the Cincinnati Conservatory program in Lucca, Italy, and the Florence Voice Seminar in Florence; as well as the European Mozart Academy in Poland and at Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists. She also has served as Master Teacher with the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. She has given master classes under the auspices of the Aspen Music Festival, with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Chautauqua Opera, the Music Academy of the West, the Napa Valley Symphony, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Opera, San Francisco Performances, Santa Fe Opera, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. She also has given master classes at Boston University, Cornell University, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Temple University, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and for the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She has participated on the jury of the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital at the Juilliard School, the Astral Foundation in Philadelphia, the International Schumann Competition in Zwickau, the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation, Young Concert Artists, and the Hugo Wolf Akademie Competition in Stuttgart. Ms. Valente serves on the Board of Directors of Joy in Singing, the Marilyn Horne Foundation and the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation.
Ken Benson, Vocal Consultant and Lecturer
Ken Benson joined Columbia Artists Management, Inc. in 1986 and for 25 years headed his own division as Vice President.
Highlights of his 2011-12 season include interviewing Jonas Kaufman for the Wagner Society of New York, giving lectures on The "Ring" cycle for the Metropolitan Opera and giving a pre-concert lecture at the Caramoor Festival.
Well-known and respected for his broad knowledge of repertoire and voices, he represented Harolyn Blackwell, Patrick Carfizzi, Rod Gilfry, Marcello Giordani, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Lucas Meachem, Susanne Mentzer, Aprile Millo, and Florence Quivar, among many others.
He is presently the Executive Director of the Marcello Giordani Foundation.
Mr. Benson appears frequently as both host and panelist on the Opera Quiz of the Metropolitan Opera's radio broadcasts, and as a writer, he contributes to Opera News and Classical Singer magazines.
He is regularly invited to give classes at Yale, DePaul, Roosevelt, and Indiana Universities, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College, Hartt School of Music, and U.C.L.A. as well as for many of the Young Artists Programs of major opera companies throughout the U.S. He also offers individual consultations to singers on auditioning techniques and career direction.
This fall he returns for his third season as in-house consultant to the Masters students of Vocal Arts, Juilliard.
Mr. Benson adjudicates vocal competitions for the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Index, Palm Beach Opera, Astral Artists, and for various foundations including: The George London Foundation, The Richard Tucker Foundation, Licia Albanese/Puccini Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation, Giulio Gari Foundation, The Loren Zachary Foundation, and the Liederkranz Foundation.
Since 1996, he has appeared each season on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcasts, on the Opera Quiz, Record Collector’s Roundtables, panel discussions and presenting biographies of great singers.
In 2010-11 he launched the New York City Opera's "Listening Room" series, with recorded material and discussion for each opera in the season's repertoire.
For more information about the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition visit www.avaopera.org
Tickets are available for purchase through the Kimmel Center box office by phone at 215.893.1999 or go to http://www.kimmelcenter.org/events/index.php?id=3641
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