USA and ITALY
IRELAND and ITALY
Milan, Italy (La Scala)
FOUNDER AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Dr. John Ratledge is Professor Emeritus from the University of Alabama. During his 12-year tenure at UA, he was Conductor of University Singers, Area Coordinator of Graduate Choral Conducting, and Director of Choral Activities. Dr. Ratledge taught graduate conducting, literature, and pedagogy. Professor Charles Snead, Director of the School of Music, stated: ......under Ratledge's tutelage, “The University’s choral program surpassed anything realized in the past. Ratledge is an accomplished scholar and artist, a consummate professional in his approach to music making. His standards are high, his teaching techniques demanding, and he is a consummate professional in his approach to
music making. The results he achieves are amazing. Dr. Ratledge continues to be active as a conductor and clinician on a national and international level, consistent with his reputation as one of the most well established choral pedagogues in the discipline today.”
Ratledge made his European conducting debut in 1996 with the Filharmonia Sudecka of Walbryzychu, Poland, and since that time, he has conducted orchestras in France, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and Spain. He made his Korean conducting debut in 2008 when he conducted the Dangjin-gun Chorus, a professional choir in Dangjin, South Korea. Ratledge returned to South Korea with University Singers in 2011, the first ensemble in the history of the School of Music to travel internationally. With over 1500 people present, University Singers received critical acclaim for their performances at the Seoul Arts Center, the most prestigious performance venue in South Korea. In addition, outstanding performances were given at the Kei Myung Art Center, the Daegu Culture and Arts Center, and the Jeju Halla Art Hall.
During his tenure at Shorter College of Rome, Georgia, the Shorter Chorale distinguished itself nationally and internationally by giving the premiere of the full orchestral version of the Duruflé Requiem in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Greece, the organ version premiere of same in Bulgaria, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms premiere in Poland, and the St. Petersburg, Russia’s premiere of Handel’s Messiah and Conigliano's Fern Hill.. He has received invitations to conduct the Athens and Bulgarian State Orchestras.
Ratledge has conducted at Carnegie Hall five times, including two solo choral concerts. He will return for a sixth concert at the prestigious venue in 2019. He has conducted thirteen concerts at Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, of which, nine of the performances were sold out.
Major works at The University include: Bach Johannespassion, Beethoven Symphony Number 9, Brahms Ein deutches Requiem, Britten Cantata misericordium, Rejoice in the Lamb, Hymn to St. Cecilia, Clausen The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Duruflé Requiem, Lauridsen Lux aeterna, Mozart Requiem, Orff Carmina burana, Vaughan Williams Dona nobis pacem, and the Verdi Requiem. University Choirs performed Mendelssohn's Elijah in April 2016.
Dr. Ratledge has conducted over 350 clinics throughout the United States, in addition to conducting All State and Region Choruses in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. He conducted the Delaware All-State in 2009. Ratledge has been a convention headliner at the Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama Music Educators Association, as well as the Georgia and Tennessee American Choral Directors Association. Named to Who’s Who Among America’s Educators in 1996, 1998, and 2005-2006, Who’s Who in America in 2006-2008. Ratledge is a Life Member of American Choral Directors Association; is a member of Alabama Music Educators Association; Alabama Vocal Association; Texas Choral Directors Association; Music Educators National Conference; Pi Kappa Lambda, national music honor fraternity; Kappa Delta Pi, education honor society; Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, music fraternity; and has been named Outstanding Young Man of America in 1978, 1982, 1985, 1987-1990.
In 2003, Ratledge was named Distinguished Alumnus at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Most recently, he was selected the 2011 recipient of the prestigious Druid City Musician of the Year Award presented by the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa for outstanding contributions to the arts in the community.
Ratledge’s compositions are published by Carl Fischer, Alliance Music, Southern Music, and Cambiata Press. The world premiere of his latest extended work, GASPARA!! Canzoni di passione, lussuria, e amore perduto (Gaspara!! Songs of Passion Love, and Love Lost), will be premiered at Weill Hall of Carnegie Hall, on 15 January 2015–Elizabeth Castillo, Soprano, and Emily Chuan, Collaborative Pianist. Included on this concert will be three new songs for high voice and piano: Blackberry Winter, I AM!, and Una Lacrima.
In recent years, his compositions have received international attention. In June 2016, La Divina Sirena, a cantata scored for soprano and baritone soli, SATB divisi chorus, and piano, received its international premiere conducted by the composer, and performed by Dan Perkins, Collabortive Pianist, Emily Jaworski as Gaspara Stampa, Chris O'Rear as Collaltino di Collalto, and the Brugnatelli Symposium Choir. The cantata is based on the poetry of 16th century Venetian poet, Gaspara Stampa. I Am (text by Rilke) SATB divisi, Mezzo-Soprano and Baritone solos, received its international premiere by Coro Ensamble Vocal Contemporáneo de Tenerife, Maestro Antonio Abreu Lechado, conductor in 2013. The work was premiered in 2004 by the New Hampshire Master Chorale, Dr. Dan Perkins, Conductor. I Am The Secret Fire In All Things, SATB divisi and two soprano soli, was commissioned by Dr. Philip Copeland for the A cappella Choir of Samford University, and was performed at Florilège vocal de Tours, a choral competition in Tours, France in 2012. Secret Fire was premiered in its original SSAA divisi version in 2008 by the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Jon Washburn, Conductor.
Dr. Ratledge is currently the Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Executive Director, Chief Coach and
Born in Milazzo (Province of Messina) – Italy, she began studying the piano at the age of five, in Mar del Plata (Argentina), with Professor Olga Brogno, with whom she also began a study of South American Folk music. She was later accepted into the Luis Gianneo Music Conservatoire in Mar del Plata, where she studied with Marta Scafoglio and Eugenia Rozental,
and took part in numerous recitals and concerts in her home town and province (Balcarce, Tandil, Buenos Aires) both as a soloist and as pianist induo with cello, violin, trumpet and piano duet. In 1997 she attained her diploma in “ Formazione Basica “ in piano at the Conservatoire in Argentina. In 1998, she took part in the VIII campus of Chamber Music with the Spanish Conductor Jordi Mora, and participated as soloist and pianist in the only ensemble of young musicians to be selected for the “Primer Festival Nacional Astor Piazzolla“ in the city of Mar del Plata. In the same year she moved to Italy in order to continue her studies at the “ Arcangelo Corelli“ Music Conservatoire in Messina, under the tuition of maestro Nicolò Di Marco, attaining her diploma in piano with the highest possible marks.
In 2000, she was selected to perform in two pieces by the composer Teresa Procaccini, as piano soloist, with the woodwind orchestra from the Conservatoire Arcangelo Corelli, conducted by Giuseppe Ratti, which had their world dèbut performance at the Vittorio Emanuele Theatre in Messina, and which were later recorded on the cd “Fantasia Romantica”, produced by the recording company Scomegna. In the same year, and in 2002 she took part in concerts organized by the Vincenzo Bellini Music Association, entitled “Young people and Music” both as performer and lecture, with a research about Beethoven, Schoemberg and Tomas Man’s Doctor Faust. In 2003, she performed in numerous concerts with the formation “Prologo e bel Canto“ (soprano, tenor, baritone and piano), in a number of concerts within the Province. In the same year she began a long-standing collaboration with the Milazzo flautist Eliana Russo, with whom she has played in numerous concerts and festivals in Messina, Milazzo and Taormina.
Over the last few years she has participated in concerts in Messina, Palermo, Lucca (in the Review “Notti d’arte a Gioviano”), Taormina (in the Sinopoli project for ‘Taormina Arte’) as soloist and chamber pianist in duo with Eliana Russo, with Salvatore Passalacqua, with the Trio Kalos (flute, clarinet and piano); with the Trio Aulos (flute duo and piano), with the Messina Wind Orchestra, and with the pianist Alba Sofia, in piano duo. She plays with the Woodwind Orchestra and the Symphonic Orchestra from the Corelli Conservatoire as keyboard-player and has played with them at the Teatro Comunale di Vittoria (RG) at the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele in Messina and the Greek Theatre in Taormina. She has played in the performance of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (in the version for two pianos, instruments and choir) at the University of Messina; in The Carnival of the Animals by C. Saint-Saens, and in the festival ”Omaggio a Contilli” at the Sala Laudamo in Messina as celeste player in the ensemble of 11 instruments. She has also taken part in a piano Master Class, with the American pianist Alan Weiss, in Barcelona (Spain); a Specialization Course for Piano Accompanists with Maestro A. Averna, in Sinagra (Me), a special two-year course in Chamber Music with Maestro Bruno Canino at the Accademia di Fiesole and the yearly course held by Maestro Daniel Rivera in Montopoli (Pisa).
She has won chamber music prizes at the National Music Competition “TuttArte” in Paternò (CT), at the International Music Competition “G. Campochiaro di Pedara” ( CT) and at the National Music Competition “Benedetto Albanese” in Caccamo ( PA) P. Mandanici Competition of Barcellona P.G” etc.in 2006 she was the accompanist for a 1 year masterclass of Gianluca Scimioni ( Teatro Reggio di Torino’s first Trombone). In the summer of 2007 she worked with the Tenor Ugo Benelli as piano accompanist and coach, for an International Opera Course, and the production and performance of the opera Cenerentola by Rossini in Montalto Ligure, and in 2008 she worked on productions of The Barber of Seville and Don Giovanni. She also worked as piano accompanist with the Soprano Rebecca Turner at Dublin for a Masterclass of Vocal Music from 21 to 28 June 2009 performing in John Field room of the Concert Hall of Dublin.
In 2009, she gained her Masters of Music Education and in 2010 the II Level Diploma in Piano Performance at the Conservatoire in Messina, attaining the highest possible marks and honors. In May 2012, she earned a Master of Piano Performance at Converse College, Petrie School of Music (Spartanburg, USA) with Dr. Douglas Weeks. As a first year student she won the Young Artist Competition, for the Master Students category, and in October 2011, she performed the L.V. Beethoven 3th Concerto (allegro) with the Converse Symphony Orchestra. During the 3 years in the United States she had an intense musical activity as solo pianist, accompanist, pianist of the Converse Wind ensemble, Pianist for the performances of Tender Land, Hansel and Gretel and Gondoliers, teacher for the Lawson Academy and Coach for the Converse Opera, and Opera scenes. Also she attended master classes with Alon Goldstein (Israel), Joe Nakamatsu (New York), Tempest Trio (Israel), Ensemble Caprice (Canada). In July 2013 she performed with Alison Dalton (First violin’s section, Chicago Symphony) a Chamber recital in Salina (ME) .
In September 2014 she moved to Ireland after being selected for a fellowship in accompanying at the Royal Irish Academy of Music of Dublin.
Coach and Collaborative Pianist
Dearbhla Brosnan began her musical studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music where she studied piano with John O'Conor. She received an honors degree in music from Trinity College Dublin, before commencing her Postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music, London, where her teachers included John Streets and Iain Ledingham. As an accompanist Dearbhla has performed extensively throughout Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, and the United States. She has frequently broadcast on both television and radio and has worked as repetiteur with Opera Ireland, Opera Theatre Company and Lyric
Opera. She has also worked as official accompanist for music festivals including the RTE Musician of the Future Festival, the John McCormack Golden Voice of Athlone Competition and New York's Lake Placid Summer School, collaborating with such distinguished musicians as John Wallace, Michael Collins, Sarah Chang and cellist Martin Lovett of the Amadeus Quartet.
Dearbhla has also worked extensively throughout Ireland and Great Britain as a recitalist and chamber musician in venues from the National Concert Hall to St-Martin-in-the-Fields. Most recently she has performed with soprano Celine Byrne in Portugal, Switzerland, Bratislava, Italy, St. James's Picadilly, London and in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Dearbhla is currently the chief-resident-accompanist at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
Soprano, Voice Faculty
Soprano, Dr. Jennifer Griffith Cowgill, is Associate Professor of Voice at Marywood University. Prior to coming to Marywood, she was an Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Dr. Cowgill is in increasing demand as a vocal pedagogy lecturer and clinician and has presented master classes and presentations in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, New York, Louisiana and recently in the United Kingdom. She presented a paper at the International Voice Foundation Annual Symposium in Philadelphia and she is the author of several articles published in National Association of Teachers of Singing
Journal. Students from her studio are often winners in competitions including the NATS andNATSAA competitions and have earned opera apprenticeship opportunities and music theatre positions throughout the country. As a soprano, she has performed a wide variety of repertoire in recital, concert, opera and musical theater throughout the United States. Her recent opera roles include the role of Hannah in the Merry Widow, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Pamina in The Magic Flute, and most recently, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus with the Pennsylvania Lyric Opera. Dr. Cowgill received the Doctor of Music in vocal performance from Florida State University and the Master of Music from Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Oberlin Conservatory where she studied with the internationally renowned voice pedagogue Richard Miller. Additional training includes studies at the Tanglewood Music Center, The Chautauqua Summer Institute and the Dicapo Opera Young Artists Program in New York City.
Tenor, Guest Artist-in-Residence
Born in Milan, Danilo Formaggia studied piano and singing with Alfredo Kraus and Magda Olivero. In 1996, he made his operatic debut as Contesse in Two by Two Baroni by Paisiello and Cimarosa at the Opera Buffa Festival. He has since then established an international career, performing regularly in several prestigious opera houses and festivals, including the Teatro alla Scala, the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Teatro San
Carlo in Naples, Teatro dell 'Opera di Roma, Teatro Massimo "V. Bellini” of Catania, Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Teatro Petruzzelli of Bari, Operanhaus in Leipzig, Opéra de Monte Carlo, Sydney Opera House, the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Edinburgh Festival, Royal Danish Theatre, and the Festival de Radio France in Montpellier.
Danilo has worked with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Donato Renzetti, Nello Santi, Claudio Scimone and with directors such as Dmitri Bertman, Robert Carsen, Giancarlo Corbelli, Filippo Crivelli, Lindsay Kemp, Denis Krief, Franco Zeffirelli and Graham Vick, and Franco Ripa di Meana.
Formaggia’s repertory includes works by Piccinni, Paisiello, Rossini, Donizetti, Beethoven, Bellini, Mercadante, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Giordano, Cagnoni, R. Strauss, Mahler, Stravinsky and Krenek. His repertory also includes several national and international premieres of contemporary operas such as Puccini Poems by Franco Mannino, The Phantom of the Cabin by Marco Betta, Beauty and the Beast by Marco Tutino, The Tempest by Henry Purcell, Carlo Galante's Mother Monster by Fabio Vacchi, The Punkitititi Mask by Marco Taralli, The Naked King by Luca Lombardi, Same Sea by Fabio Vacchi and Exit Mundi by John Tamborrino.
His discography includes Die Zauberflöte with Claudio Abbado and with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Deutsche Gramophone, 2006), The Masks by Mascagni (Kicco Music), La Cecchina That Is the Good Daughter by Piccinni (Bongiovanni), I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Bellini (Dynamic), Marcella by Giordano (Dynamic) Pelagio by S. Mercadante (Dynamic); King Lear by Cagnoni A. (Dynamic); The Puritans DVD Hardy Classic (homage to Bellini with Vincent Scalera, piano ); Face To Face With Magda Olivero (DVD Hardy Classic).
Soprano, Voice Faculty
Soprano Karen Kanakis is hailed for her fine vocal technique and dramatic flair. Her bright-timbered powerful voice conveys rich emotion, displays brilliant agility, and soars t o a thrilling high extension, making her ideal in both the bel canto repertoire and that of the Italian spinto soprano. Critics have called her singing “splendid,” and “engaging,” and said she “lights up the stage… timing and expressions were priceless.” “Her voice and her stage presence are a
delight,” wrote a critic of herperformance as Sybil in the world premiere of Hans Schaeuble’s Dorian Gray.
In 2020, Ms. Kanakis makes her role debut as Minnie in La Fanciulla del West with Winter Opera Saint Louis. In the 2018-19 season she performed Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus- also with Winter Opera Saint Louis, the Verdi Requiem with the Missouri Symphony, and Anna in Nabucco with UnionAvenue Opera. She wrapped up the season as a soloist in the Missouri Symphony annual holiday concert, The Symphony of Toys, and with a series of recitals in Missouri and Illinois sponsored by St. Louis Art Song. Other operatic highlights include Giorgetta in Il Tabarro, Alice Ford in Falstaff, Donna
Elvira in Don Giovanni, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Violetta in La Traviata.
Ms. Kanakis has been a featured soloist with symphony organizations performing the Verdi Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Messiah, both the Mozart and Fauré Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. She is a frequently sought-after solo recitalist, and made her Carnegie Hall debut in the Weill Recital Hall performing ajoint program with her husband, baritone Jacob Lassetter. An enthusiastic performer of modern compositions, she was the American Tourist in the 2017 World Premiere of Borgia Infami, Ingram in
Eric Chasalow’s The Puzzlemaster, and can be heard on American composer Brooke Joyce’s CD“Waves of Stone” on the Innova label.
Ms. Kanakis is based out of St. Louis, Missouri, where she teaches aspiring and current professional classical singers. Her students frequently win competitions, attend top graduate schools for voice and opera performance, and enjoy successful professional singing careers. Ms. Kanakis has produced district and regional winners, and a national semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (MONCA), and finalists and winners of other competitions including the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Opera Index, The Richard Tucker Foundation, Queen Sonja International Music Competition (Norway), FAVA (Franco-American Vocal Academy) Grand Concours de Chant, the International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition (Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, Czech Republic), Palm Beach Opera Competition, the AIMS (American Institute of Vocal Studies) Meistersinger Competition (Graz, Austria), Schubert Club Competition (Minne- apolis, MN), the Classical Singer National Competition, and NATS (National Association ofTeachers of Singing) Student Auditions. Ms. Kanakis’ students have appeared in young artist programs and on the mainstage with the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glyndebourne Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Wolftrap Opera, Seattle Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Kentucky Opera, Dayton Opera, Knoxville Opera, and the Cedar Rapids Opera. Two of her former students (Emily Fons, mezzo-soprano and Andrew Stenson, tenor) were featured on the October 2015 cover of Opera News magazine as “Opera’s 25 Top Rising Stars.”
Baritone, Voice Faculty
With his powerful voice and commanding stage presence, baritone Jacob Lassetter enjoys an exciting and vibrant career on both the operatic and concert stage. Critics have praised his dignified characterizations, his soaring high range, and his deep, rich tone quality.
In the 2019–2020 season Dr. Lassetter sings Sonora in La fanciulla del West with Winter Opera Saint Louis, and both Schubert’s Winterreise and Argento’s The Andrée Expedition in recital. In
the 2018–2019 season he sang Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus with Winter Opera Saint Louis, Carmina Burana with the Washington University Symphony Orchestra, Verdi’s Requiem and A Symphony of Toys with The Missouri Symphony, Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore and Il Gran Sacerdote in Nabucco with Union Avenue Opera, and a series of three recitals with St. Louis Art Song. Opera audiences have recently seen Dr. Lassetter as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Annapolis Opera,
Wolfram in Tannhäuser with Apotheosis Opera (New York City), Peter in Hänsel und Gretel with Union Avenue Opera, and Rodrigo in the world premiere of Borgia Infami with Winter Opera Saint Louis. Concert performances include Schubert’s Mass in A-Flat at Carnegie Hall, Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Robbiate, Italy, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Bach Chamber Players of Saint Paul, Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble, and a recital on the Shepley Concert Series at Christ Church Cathedral (Saint Louis).
Dr. Lassetter’s additional operatic credits include Germont in La traviata (including his Italian debut in Castelfranco Veneto), Michele in Il tabarro, the title roles in Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Horace Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, and Griswold in Argento’s The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe. Other concert credits include Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Bach’s St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion. He has earned critical acclaim for Orff’s Carmina Burana, including a performance at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, where he also sang Fauré’s Requiem. A frequent recitalist, he made his debut at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 2008 alongside his wife, soprano Karen Kanakis. A recent Finalist in the National Opera Association Vocal Competition, Dr. Lassetter has been a Semi-finalist inthe Marguerite McCammon Voice Competition, a Regional Finalist in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award Competition, and received the Encouragement Award from the Southern Ohio District of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He is an alumnus of the Young Artist Programs of Chautauqua Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Utah Festival Opera, and holds degrees from Louisiana State University, The University of North Texas, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Dr. Lassetter holds a Bachelor of Music degree, magna cum laude, from Louisiana State University, the Master of Music degree from The University of North Texas, and the Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has served on the faculties of Luther College, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, The University of North Texas, Lutheran Summer Music, and the
Bassi Brugnatelli International Conducting and Singing Symposium. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera Studio at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Coach, Collaborative Pianist
Born in Carrara, Tuscany in 1969, Bruno Nicoli graduated with a certificate in piano and composition at Lucca Conservatorio, and has a LAUREA CUM LAUDE from Pisa University. In addition, he has a LETTERE MODERNE AD INDIRIZZO MUSICALE, where his thesis was, "Turandot e il finale di Alfano." He studied orchestral conducting at Civica Scuola di Milano under M.Emilio Pomarico, and he has a specialisation in opera conducting under M.Bruno Rigacci.
Bruno has worked at Teatro alla Scala from 1996 to the present, and he has been the choral collaborative pianist (repétiteur), pianist and choral assistant, prompter, and rehearsal conductor. Currently, he is the official music-stage conductor of Teatro alla Scala.
As conductor, he has worked in Vienna, Musikverein, Festival Puccini in Torre del Lago, Teatro del Giglio of Lucca and many theaters in Lombardia for As.Li.Co Association. He teaches choral répétiteur courses in La Scala's annual Accademia, an intensive school for young, aspiring artist. As pianist, he has collaborated with artists such as Ghena Dimitrova, Raina Kabaivanska, Luciana Serra, Salvatore Licitra, and Giuseppe Filianoti.
Mildred Roche is an alumna of Converse College, class of 1979. After graduation she spent three years in Spartanburg teaching at the Pre-College (now Lawson Academy) and accompanying for the opera and voice studios. Mildred earned a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano from Boston University, where she studied with Allen Rogers. While in Boston, she served as coach/accompanist for the Boston University Opera Theater, as staff accompanist for the Boston University Vocal Department, and worked with many local opera and choral groups. Mrs. Roche
spent the summers from 1981-1996 as coach/accompanist for the Brevard Music Center Opera Workshop.
In 1988 Mildred returned to work for Converse and she became full-time instructor in 1996. She is director and coordinator of the Accompanying Program, works directly with the Opera program, and teaches related classes such as Song Literature, Diction, Musicianship, and Accompanying.
Besides her duties at Converse, Mrs. Roche is Minister of Music at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, and has been music director for many of the productions of the Spartanburg Repertory Company, a community opera/operetta group. She has worked with singers and directors such as Phyllis Curtin, John Haber, Richard Cassily, Shirlee Emmons, Frederica von Stade and Thomas Dunn, and she has performed in recital with Mark Oswald and Sylvia McNair.
Mildred enjoys spending her summers with her husband John, also a musician, and their six children: Katie, Marija, John, Michael, Sabrina, and Emily.