Meet the 2017 Artists

THEO BLECKMANN

GRAMMY® nominated jazz singer and new music composer Theo Bleckmann’s diverse recorded work includes albums of Las Vegas standards, Weimar art songs, and popular “bar songs” (all with pianist Fumio Yasuda); a recording of newly-arranged songs by Charles Ives (with jazz/rock collective Kneebody); and his acclaimed Hello Earth - the Music of Kate Bush. Bleckmann has most recently appeared as a special guest on recordings by Ambrose Akinmusire for Blue Note Records and Julia Hülsmann’s trio for ECM Records. In January 2017, ECM will release Bleckmann’s recording with his new Elegy Quintet, produced by legendary label head and founder, Manfred Eicher. Bleckmann has collaborated with musicians, artists, actors and composers, including Ambrose Akinmusire, Laurie Anderson, Uri Caine, Philip Glass, Ann Hamilton, John Hollenbeck, Sheila Jordan, Phil Kline, David Lang, Kirk Nurock, Frances MacDormand, Ben Monder, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kenny Wheeler, John Zorn, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and, most prominently, Meredith Monk, with whom Bleckmann worked as a core ensemble member for over fifteen years. He has been interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air and appeared on the David Letterman show with Laurie Anderson. In 2015, Bleckmann premiered a new work for the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and in 2016 he brings new work to the New York Philharmonic Biennial and the LA Philharmonic. Bleckmann has consistently appeared in the top-five spots in the DownBeat Critics’ Polls for Best Male Vocalist, and top-ten spots in their Readers’ Polls, and his work on Phil Kline’s “Out Cold” helped place that production on WQXR's Operavore "Best Opera of 2012". In 2010, Bleckmann received the prestigious JAZZ ECHO award from the Deutsche Phono-Akademie in his native Germany.

Listen to our interview with Theo Bleckmann

Mary Bonhag

The “extraordinary” (Classical Voice America) soprano Mary Bonhag is captivating audiences around the country with her “marvelous versatility” and “supple, expressive” voice (San Antonio News). Passionate about the development and performance of new music, Bonhag has premiered and commissioned numerous pieces for voice, including works by Evan Chambers, Lembit Beecher, C. Curtis-Smith, Shawn Jaeger, Padma Newsome, and Evan Premo (The Diaries of Adam and Eve). Bonhag was hailed by The New York Times as giving a “wrenching portrayal” in a 2009 workshop performance of David T. Little’s Dog Days at Carnegie Hall, and she offered a “riveting performance” of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 with the Vermont Philharmonic in 2017, delivering “the subtle drama of the vocal line with a quiet expressiveness that plumbed the words’ depth gorgeously” (Rutland Herald, VT). A consummate collaborator, Bonhag has performed with the Aizuri Quartet, Decoda, and the Spektral Quartet, as well as at chamber music festivals around the country, including Cactus Pear, San Francisco Contemporary Players, 21st Century Consort, and Yellow Barn. Bonhag is co-artistic director of Scrag Mountain Music, along with composer/double bassist Evan Premo. Together, they organize chamber music residencies and innovative and affordable concerts around Vermont.

KAYLEIGH BUTCHER

Hailed for her “flawless rhythms and nuanced articulations” as well as her “formidable talent” by I Care If You Listen, Kayleigh Butcher has gained critical and audience acclaim as a soloist and contemporary chamber musician all over the country.

As a fervent supporter and advocate for contemporary music, Kayleigh has also worked with many composers including David Lang, Tristan Perich, Eve Beglarian, Holly Herndon, John Luther Adams, Chris Fisher-Lochhead, David Reminick, Jennifer Walsh, Robert Honstein, Danny Clay, Alex Temple, Molly Herron, Fjola Evans, Levy Lorenzo, Morgan Krauss, Eliza Brown, Jonathan Sokol, Max Grafe, Amanda Feery, LJ White, Bethany Younge, Ravi Kittappa, and Jennifer Jolley.

She has also collaborated with many new music ensembles including Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble Dal Niente, Opera on Tap NYC, the Morton Feldman Chamber Players, the Grant Wallace Band, Anti Social Music, thingNY, Fonema Consort, a.per.i.o.dic, and Rhymes With Opera, to name a few.

Kayleigh is also a founding member and the director of Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, an all-female, a cappella vocal quartet that explores experimental vocal techniques and improvisation.

Listen to our interview with Kayleigh Butcher 

HAI-TING CHINN

American Mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn performs in a wide range of styles and venues, from Purcell to Pierrot Lunaire, Cherubino to The King & I, J.S. Bach to P.D.Q. Bach. She was featured in the revival and tour of Phillip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, performed at venues around the world from 2011–2014, and she is currently singing the role of Belle in Glass’s La Belle et la Bête, also on tour. She has performed with New York City Opera, The Wooster Group, OperaOmnia, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Waverly Consort; and on the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Mann Center in Philadelphia, the Edinburgh Festival, the Verbier Festival, and London’s West End. She has premiered new works by Amy Beth Kirsten, Du Yun, Conrad Cummings, Stefan Weisman, Yoav Gal, and Matt Schickele. Hai-Ting is also an Artist in Residence at HERE arts center, where she is developing Science Fair, a staged solo show of science set to music.

JOAN LA BARBARA

Joan La Barbara’s career as a composer/performer/soundartist explores the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument expanding traditional boundaries in developing a unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques: multiphonics, circular singing, ululation and glottal clicks that have become her "signature sounds". In 2008, La Barbara was awarded the American Music Center's Letter of Distinction for significant contributions to the field of contemporary American music. Creating works for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, music theater, orchestra and interactive technology, her awards in the U.S. and Europe include: 2016 John Cage Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts; 2013 Civitella Ranieri Fellowship; 2011 Premio Internzionale "Demetrio Stratos" Per la sperimentazione musicale; 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition; DAAD Artist-in-Residency in Berlin and 7 National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in Music Composition, Opera/Music Theatre, Inter-Arts, Recording (2), Solo Recitalist and Visual Arts; ISCM International Jury Award; Akustische International Competition Award; Aaron Copland Fund for Music; Foundation for Contemporary Arts; Collaboration Award of NY Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts and Media; Meet The Composer and ASCAP Awards.

Listen to Our interview with Joan La Barbara

ODEYA NINI

Odeya Nini is a Los-Angeles-based experimental vocalist and contemporary composer. At the locus of her interests are textural harmony, gesture, tonal animation, and the illumination of minute sounds, in works spanning chamber music to vocal pieces and collages of musique concrète. Her solo vocal work extends the dimension and expression of the voice and body, creating a sonic and physical panorama of silence to noise and tenderness to grandeur.

Odeya has collaborated extensively with dancers, visual artist, filmmakers and theater directors as both a composer and soloist and has worked with Meredith Monk, Butch Morris, Lucy & Jorge Orta, The Industry & Wild Up.

Odeya’s work has been presented at venues and festivals across the US and internationally, such as The Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Joyce Soho, Art Basel Miami and the Banff Centre, from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv, Canada, Mongolia, Madagascar and Vietnam. Odeya also leads vocal meditations and workshops exploring the creative and healing qualities of voice and movement. 

Odeya holds a BFA from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and an MFA in composition from California Institute of the Arts. Her debut album Vougheauxyice (Voice), for solo voice, was released in April of 2014 on pfMENTUM records.

KAMALA SANKARAM

Praised as “strikingly original” (NY Times), Kamala Sankaram has received commissions from Beth Morrison Projects, HERE Arts Center, Opera on Tap, and Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Orchestra, among others. She is the recipient of a Jonathan Larson Award from the American Theater Wing, and has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, MAP Fund, and Opera America, among others. THUMBPRINT, her second opera (written in collaboration with playwright Susan Yankowitz), premiered in the 2014 PROTOTYPE Festival, and was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Agence French Presse, and over 25 media outlets around the world. THUMBPRINT was recently produced as part of the 2016/17 season at LA Opera and Opera Ithaca.

As a performer, Kamala has been hailed as “an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes” (Wall Street Journal). She has performed with and premiered pieces by Anthony Braxton, Beth Morrison Projects, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Wooster Group, Anti-Social Music, and Petr Kotik, among others. She is the frontwoman for the band Bombay Rickey, whose debut album won the 2015 Vox Pop Award for Best Eclectic Album from the Independent Music Awards. Bombay Rickey’s opera cabaret on the life of Yma Sumac premiered in the 2016 PROTOTYPE Festival, where it was praised as a “rocking musical show” (Wall Street Journal). 

DAVÓNE TINES

Davóne Tines, deemed a “…singer of immense power and fervor…” by The Los Angeles Times and a “…charismatic, full-voiced bass-baritone…” by The New York Times, is building an international career commanding a broad spectrum of opera and concert performance. The 2015-16 season offered breakout performances on both sides of The Atlantic: the Dutch National Opera presented his company debut starring opposite French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky in the premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains, directed by Peter Sellars, and The Los Angeles Times exalted Tines as “the find of the season” for performances of Caroline Shaw’s By & By with the Calder Quartet, as well as Kaija Saariaho’s Sombre with members of ICE at the Ojai Music Festival.

Highlights of the recent past include the world premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s opera, Crossing, directed by multi Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus, for which The Wall Street Journal called him a “glowing bass-baritone,” and during which the Stylus Music Journalsaid stated he “…brought the house down with his eloquent and painful singing” in the leading role of Freddie Stowers. Tines also premiered the one-man chamber opera, American Gothic, for which Details applauded his “…lush voice” and stated that “each section of the work benefits from Tines’ heartbreakingly rendered supplications….”

JENNIFER WALSHE

Jennifer’s work has been performed and broadcast all over the world by ensembles such as Alter Ego, ensemble récherche, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro La Fenice, Nadar Ensemble, Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop, Ensemble Resonanz, and Q-02, among others. Walshe has written many operas, ranging from XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS!!! (2003) for Barbie dolls and ensemble to most recently Die Taktik, an opera commissioned by the Junge Oper Stuttgart, which received 14 performances in Stuttgart in 2012.

In addition to her activities as a composer, Jennifer frequently performs as a vocalist, specializing in extended techniques. Many of her compositions are commissioned for her voice either as a soloist or in conjunction with other instruments, and her works have been performed by her and others at festivals such as RTÉ Living Music (Dublin), Båstad Kammarmusik Festival (Sweden), Maerzmuzik (Berlin), and Wundergrund (Copenhagen), among others. Jennifer is also active as an improviser, performing regularly with musicians in Europe and the U.S., and in her duos: Ma La Pert with Tony Conrad, and Ghikas & Walshe with Panos Ghikas. Other collaborators include film-maker Vivienne Dick and Drew Daniels’ The Soft Pink Truth.