Arias and Vocal Ensembles by Mozart and Friends

April 20, 2017 | 7:30 pm

On Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7:30 pm, at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, Friends of Mozart presents recent graduates of the vocal program of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, in a concert of arias and ensembles from Mozart operas and songs and vocal ensembles by Beethoven and Schubert.  Maria Lacey, soprano, Hannah Kurth, mezzo-soprano, Matthew Swensen, tenor, and Isaac Assor, baritone, are accompanied by Russell Miller, professor of vocal coaching and repertoire at the Eastman School of Music, in a program that exemplifies the range of vocal expression in Mozart’s stage works and a special repertoire of Beethoven songs and Schubert vocal ensembles.


Maria Lacey, soprano
is a 2015 graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Rita Shane, and performed the role of Rose Maurrant in Street Scene.  She is matriculated in the Master of Music in Opera Performance degree program at the Mannes School of Music in New York, where she studies with Amy Burton.  At Mannes Opera, her roles have included Despina (Così fan tutte) and Amy (Adamo’s Little Women). Last summer, she appeared as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with the Miami Music Festival, and returns in 2017 in the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro.

Ms. Lacey, a native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, has appeared as soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.  In fall 2016, she was a finalist in the Canadian Opera Company’s Centre Stage competition and performed with the Canadian Opera Company orchestra, led by Johannes Debus.


Hannah Kurth, mezzo-soprano
received the Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance & Literature in 2015 from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with mezzo-soprano Katherine Ciesinki.  At Eastman, she performed the role of Florence Pike in Albert Herring and covered the role of Mother Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites.  She also appeared as a soloist with the Repertory Singers, the Women’s Ensemble, the Eastman-Rochester Chorus, and the Bach Cantata series. 

Ms. Kurth, an Iowa native, is a resident of New York and this season made her New York City debut in The Mikado: Re-Imagined with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, and appears in their upcoming tour of H.M.S. Pinafore.  She has spent recent summers performing with the Ohio Light Opera Company in various roles, Lane/Bianca (Kiss Me, Kate), Cäcille Kurt (Ivor Novello’s The Dancing Year), Molly Grant (One Touch of Venus), and Kate (Pirates of Penzance)

Ms. Kurth received the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she performed roles including the Old Lady (Candide),the Third Lady (Zauberflöte), and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro).  She studies privately with Claudia Catania and is a member of Actor’s Equity. 


Matthew Swensen, tenor
is a 2015 graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Kathryn Cowdrick and Robert Swensen, and performed in roles ranging from George Gibbs in Our Town, Father Confessor in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Stephen Kodaly in She Loves Me, to Lippo Florentine in Street Scene

This spring, Swensen receives the Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, where he has studied with Robert C. White.  At Juilliard, his roles included Bill (Jonathan Dove’s Flight), Le Fils (Mamelles de Tiresias), Pane (La Calisto), and covered Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) and Kudras (Kátja Kabanová).   During the 2016-17 season, he appeared as soloist in J.S. Bach’s Magnificat with the St. Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Voices of Ascension Chorus and Orchestra, and Mozart’s Requiem in Alice Tully Hall.

In fall 2017, he joins Theater Basel in Switzerland, following his debut at Opera Theater of St. Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist.  Role debuts in Basel will include Aufidio (Lucio Silla) and Giuseppe (La Traviata).


Isaac Assor, baritone
received the Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance & Literature in 2016 from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Katherine Ciesinki.  At Eastman, he performed the title role in Le nozze di Figaro, the bass-baritone in Philip Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox, and Sam in Rorem’s Our Town.  He appeared as soloist in J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Bruckner’s Mass in F Minor, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and Rossini’s Petite messe solenelle.

In fall 2016, Assor performed in the world premiere of No se culpe a nadie by Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, professors of composition at the Eastman School.  The multi-media opera was a co-production of PUSH Physical Theatre and Eastman BroadBand ensemble.  In the summer, he appeared with the Ohio Light Opera, as a member of the Young Artist Program, in roles of Hortensio (Kiss Me, Kate), Pish-Tush (The Mikado). 

An avid teacher, Mr. Assor recently obtained the Eastman Certificate in College and Community Music Teaching.  He completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a double major in music and psychology.


Russell Miller, piano
has been has been a coach and teacher of vocal repertoire at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York since 1995, and is currently chair of the Voice & Opera Department. He has performed throughout the United States and abroad as soloist and accompanist, including concert tours to Korea, Hong Kong, Alaska and the former Soviet Union. Notable vocal collaborations include recitals with Julia Broxholm, Anthony Dean Griffey, Kathleen Roland-Silverstein, Jan Opalach, Robert Swensen, and Marilyn Horne.  Miller served as pianist and harpsichordist for productions of Eastman Opera Theatre and the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, and is active as a visiting accompanying teacher and coach across the country, most frequently at the University of Kansas. This season, he presents at international vocal and collaborative symposiums in Taiwan and Sweden. A native of Los Angeles, Dr. Miller studied at the University of Southern California, the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard School’s American Opera Center, and holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He has also been a regular participant in orchestral conducting workshops held in Chicago, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria with Donald Schleicher and Larry Rachleff.