2016-2017 Guest Artists

Tessa Lark



Winner of the prestigious Naumburg International Violin Award in 2012, Tessa Lark is one of the most captivating artistic voices of her time.  She has been consistently praised by critics and audiences alike for her astounding range of sounds, technical agility and musical elegance.  Tessa, now age 26, was named the Silver Medalist of the 2014 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, making her the highest-ranked American-born winner in the Competition's history. She is a recipient of a career grant from the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Svetlana Smolina

SVETLANA SMOLINA performed with orchestras and in recitals worldwide. Notable appearances with orchestras include Mariinsky Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher,St.Petersburg, Philharmonic, Orchestra National de France, Odessa and Nizhny Novgorod Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, New Florida Philharmonic, Shreveport Symphony, New York Chamber. In 2014 Svetlana won “Live on Stage” live showcases and was chosen as their only Classical Pianist Artist for 2015-16 season. 

Jeffrey Biegel

The fascinating career of pianist/composer/arranger Jeffrey Biegel takes its roots from the beginning. Until the age of three, Mr. Biegel could neither hear nor speak, until corrected by surgery. The 'reverse Beethoven' phenomenon explains his life in music, having heard only vibrations in his formative years. Born a second-generation American, Mr. Biegel is of Russian and Austrian heritage. His cousin, pianist Herman Kosoff, emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century, and had studied with the legendary pianist, Leopold Godowsky in Austria. Mr. Biegel's grandmother's cousin, pianist Dr. Sonia Slatin, graduated from Columbia University and actively performed and taught Schenkerian analysis at Brooklyn College.

Guest Artists



Mara Bonde


Soprano Mara Bonde has thrilled audiences in diverse venues throughout the United States and Europe with her electric stage presence and musical artistry. Her voice has been described as having “sweet purity of tone” (Boston Herald) and “ravishing” (The Boston Globe). Equally at home in both classical and popular styles, Mara is no stranger to the world of “symphony pops”. She has been the guest artist for “Holiday Pops” with the Boston Pops, the Naples Philharmonic, the Syracuse Symphony, the New Haven Symphony, and the Charlotte Symphony. She made her Boston Pops debut under the direction of Keith Lockhart in “Brush up your Shakespeare”, which was nationally televised on PBS’s Evening at Pops.

Janna Baty


Praised by the Boston Globe for a rich, viola-like tone and a rapturous, luminous lyricism, mezzo-soprano Janna Baty enjoys an exceptionally versatile career. As a soloist, chamber musician, and recitalist, she has performed at festivals worldwide, including the Aldeburgh and Britten Festivals in England, the Varna Festival in Bulgaria, the Semanas Musicales de Frutillar Festival in Chile, and the Tanglewood, Norfolk, Monadnock, and Coastal Carolina festivals in the United States. An alumna of Oberlin College and the Yale School of Music, she joined the faculty of the Yale School of Music in 2008.

Bobby Nesbitt


Davron Monroe


Davron S. Monroe has been called  one of the most Brilliant young performers of Musical Theater and Opera today. He has appeared in a long list of stagings that run the gamut from A to Z, From Opera to Musical theatre, Jazz to Gospel.  Mr. Monroe delivers performances that are rich, full of life and true to each form. In Opera Mr. Monroe has appeared in full stage and concert/scene productions of Carmen, El Remendado; Treemonisha, Luddud; Rigoletto; Lucia di Lammermoor; La Fille du Regiment; L'elisir D'amore; Cosi fan Tutte: Die Fledermaus, The Gondoliers; Die Zauberflute and Aida. Mr. Monroe did his graduate Studies at The Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA and studied with the amazing technician, Donna Roll. 

John Whittlesey


John Whittlesey, baritone, performs regularly in opera, concert, and recital, having appeared with Palm Beach Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, New England Light Opera, Cape Cod Opera, Longwood Opera, the Masterworks Chorale, Wellesley College, Trinity College, the Salisbury Singers, the Concert Singers of Lynn, the Quincy Choral Society, the Louisville Master Chorale, the Chorus North Shore, and the Middletown Civic Chorus. John made his debut with the South Florida Symphony this past April with a recital in Key West and at Pier 66. Before moving to Ft. Lauderdale in 2014, John was the founder and artistic director for Intermezzo: The New England Chamber Opera Series, producing contemporary chamber opera, including ten commissioned operas in its twelve year history. 

Neil Nelson


Born in Kingston, Jamaica bass baritone Neil Nelson moved to the United States with his family at the age of 2, settling in Queens, New York. It has been said by colleagues and critics alike, that Mr. Nelson possesses one of the purest and most resonant bass baritone voices of recent times. An excellent musician and linguist, Mr. Nelson graduated from The New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in music performance. Winning awards such as the Stephen Shrestinian Award for Excellence (Boston Lyric Opera), the Heinz Refuss Singing Actors Award (Orlando Opera), and appearing as a finalist in the New York Metropolitan Opera Auditions launched him into his professional career. 

Bridgette Gan


Soprano BRIDGETTE GAN, who has been praised as outstanding (Baltimore Examiner) and hailed by the Washington Post for her gorgeous singing, is quickly establishing herself as an exciting and upcoming artist in some of the country's most renowned opera programs, stages and competitions. Ms. Gan recently made a last minute acclaimed debut as Marie in Palm Beach Opera's production of Le Fille du Regiment where critics called her performance a tour de-force vocally beautiful and consistent with a rich tone and sparkling high notes.

Singer/pianist Bobby Nesbitt is a cabaret artist who specializes in the classic American songbook. Originally from Rochester, NY, Bobby was trained at an early age in classical piano. But Beethoven and Grieg were soon replaced by Berlin and Gershwin as he discovered and concentrated on the masters of 20th Century song. A resident of Key West, FL , Bobby has performed at all the major resorts on the island. In the mid 80s he moved to Europe and was under contract to Harry’s New York Bar, performing in Berlin and Munich. He returns to Munich on a regular basis, performing at Pusser’s Bar, Germany’s number one cocktail bar. Bobby is an entertainer of the old school, no drum machines, tracks, synthesizers. Just piano and voice, performing the songs of the masters of American songwriting.

Tom Hormel


Much of Tom’s life interest has been absorbed in creating music and art.  “Legend of Bird Mountain” came about in 1990, when members of The New York City Ballet (including director Jacques d’Ambiose, lead dancer Christopher d’Ambiose and other prominent dancers from New York City Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet) joined the Sun Valley Summer Arts Festival for a three-week class.  Prior to coming to the summer festival, Jacques d’Ambiose, instigated a contest to select a local composer.  With a four-minute composition that is included in the now 23:18 minute version of “Legend of Bird Mountain”, Tom Hormel was selected for the collaboration. Tom has done other serious orchestral compositions, including "Go For Baroque”, which had its World Premiere performance at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills and also performed by the Cape Cod Symphony.  Tom continues to write music and is focused on reorganizing several older compositions to be orchestrated and/or choreographed.  

Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Feinstein has been likened by the Los Angeles Times to "a young Horne, so rich is her mezzo and so full of spark was she on stage." Engagements during the 2015-16 season include her theater and role debut as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Theater Münster, a return to Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern for Olga in Eugene Onegin, role debut as Carmen with St. Petersburg Opera, and joining the roster of Teatro dell'Opera di Roma to cover Agave in Mario Martone's new production of Hans Werner Henze's The Bassarids. Future seasons include a return to Carmen for Musica Viva Hong Kong, and a debut as Laura in La Gioconda.

Jennifer Feinstein