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First Concert of the 79th Season

A Family Portrait

Monday, October 16th, 2017
Cordier Auditorium
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  Ashokan Farewell Jay Unger  
  Elizabeth Smith, violin
Scott Humphries, piano
  Tara, A Short Tone Poem for Orchestra from Gone with the Wind Max Steiner
(arr. Frank Campbell-Watson)
  Point Lookout (A Fantasy on Civil War Songs) Brian Balmages  
  A Moment for Peace Brian Balmages  
  A Family Portrait Debra Lynn  

I. The Threads that were Spun -- chorus
II. Matty was insulted awhile ago (from Lanie to her sister, Etta) -- mezzo-soprano
III. All the Flowers are in Bloom (from Tyler, a soldier, to his family) -- baritone & chorus
IV. Black-Berrying (from Percy, a child, to his Aunt Etta) -- mezzo-soprano & chorus
V. If Only I had the Wings of a Dove (from Tyler to his family) -- baritone & chorus
VI. Let's Imagine (from Percy to Esther, his betrothed) -- mezzo-soprano & baritone
VII. We All went out to Children's Day (from Lanie to her sister, Altha) -- mezzo-soprano
VIII. Remember Me in Love (from Tyler to his family) -- baritone & chorus
IX. Be Tender to My Children (Lanie's last letter to Etta) -- mezzo-soprano
X. The Threads that were Spun (Finale) -- soloists & chorus

  Judy Marlett, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Belcher, baritone
Letter Readers: Andrew Chinworth, Kira Hawkins, Olliver Pettit
with Manchester University Chamber Singers
Dr. Debra Lynn, conductor
  This performance of A Family Portrait was recorded
for broadcast on PBS39 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The recording can be watched online on

The Adams Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Ashokan Farewell Jay Unger
(b. 1946)

The Ashokan Farewell, written in 1982, was made popular by Ken Burns, the documentary maker, who used it in two of his films, the most notable of which was his series on the Civil War. It is a waltz, played regularly as the "good night" piece at the annual Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp at the Ashokan Center in upstate New York, run by the composer and his wife, Molly Mason.

Unger writes that when the annual Fiddle and Dance Camp series ended, he was left with "a sense of loss and longing," and that mood is evident in the music.

It has been performed in many different instrumental combinations, but the violin always dominates as a fiddle should in such folk-like music. Today, we hear it as a duet, with the violin accompanied by the piano.

  Tara's Theme from Gone with the Wind Max Steiner

Max Steiner was an Austrian-born American composer whose work changed the character of film music. With the advent of sound-movies, the addition of background music was a logical step, but initially it was used sparingly. Directors were afraid it would distract the audience. Then standard classical music began to be used because it was often royalty-free and, therefore, cheap. Max Steiner was instrumental in changing that viewpoint.

Steiner believed that each character should have a theme. That principle also meant that his film scores would be longer than most. Among his most successful compositions are the scores for King Kong, Now Voyager, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Casablanca, The Fountainhead, Sergeant York, The Adventures of Don Juan, and The Searchers.

No doubt, his most famous score was for Gone with the Wind, a film directed by David O. Selznick, for whom Steiner worked on many films. Selznick wanted him to use existing classical music, with perhaps a few of his own themes, for two reasons. It would be cheaper and it would be faster. Selznick gave Steiner only three months to complete the score. Steiner insisted on writing original music for the entire film, which lasted almost three hours. It was the longest film score written at that time. What's more, Steiner completed scores for twelve other films that year! During his career, he composed over three hundred film scores. He was nominated for twenty-four Academy Awards, winning three.

The score contained sixteen main themes, of which Tara's Theme is the best-known.

  Point Lookout (A Fantasy on Civil War Songs) Brian Balmages
(b. 1975)

Brian Balmages is a versatile man ... a composer, conductor, arranger, and performer. He graduated with a B.A. in music from James Madison University in Virginia, and received his Master's Degree from the University of Miami in Florida. He specializes in wind instruments, particularly brass, and enjoys working with school orchestras, for whom he has produced many age-appropriate works. He has played with professional symphony orchestras, and his music has been performed by many important orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the Manchester Symphony.

As a conductor, he has worked mostly with bands, especially with regional band clinics, such as the Midwest Clinic, the Western International Band Clinic, the College Band Directors Eastern Regional Conference, and others.

The work we are to hear today is a medley of songs related to the Civil War. The title refers to the Point Lookout State Park in Maryland, which held a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War. It was the largest such camp in the country, holding more than 50,000 Confederate soldiers at one time. Almost four thousand of the prisoners died in that camp. Their names are found on a bronze plaque at the foot of an obelisk commemorating that event. A United States flag flies near the monument, but a Confederate flag flies just outside the gate.

Civil War songs heard in this fantasy include The Battle Cry of Freedom, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again. The re-union of the country is symbolized at the end by a full rendering of America the Beautiful, bits of which we have been hearing throughout the medley.

  A Moment for Peace Brian Balmages
(b. 1975)

For biographical information about Brian Balmages, I'll refer you to the notes I've written for Point Lookout, the other Balmages work being performed in this concert.

Balmages is a prolific composer of music for student ensembles. He is very concerned with writing for student groups, and his scores are graded in terms of difficulty. A Moment for Peace has been performed in numerous versions for varying groups of performers, depending on grade level.

Balmages thinks of himself as an "organic" composer (which, to me, means that he is alive, and carbon-based!), but he describes himself as a composer who doesn't believe that a piece of music written, say, or the violin, could easily be re-scored for the trumpet. When he writes for one instrument, he thinks of its particular sonic characteristics and takes advantage of those. As a painter, I can make the analogy that some scenes will seem to be suited for watercolor, while others would work better as oil paintings. I think that sort of distinction is what Balmages thinks of as "organic." Each performer has a moment suited especially to the character of his or her instrument.

It will be obvious that Balmages' A Moment for Peace has a melancholic element. It was said to have been inspired by Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, which is quite sobering. In this music, Balmages recognizes the tragedy and chaos of the world, but seeks to provide a calm and reassuring optimism, most notably referred to in the rising crescendo about five minutes through the eight-minute piece.

The work is in theme-and-variations form, based on a five-note theme.

  A Family Portrait
Program Notes by Debra Lynn
Debra Lynn
(b. 1963)

This piece was commissioned by the family of mezzo-soprano, Judy Sadler Marlett. It was inspired by a collection of letters written during the years surrounding the Civil War in the U.S. (mid-late 19th Century). Of all the letters sent to me, I decided to focus this composition on letters written by three main characters: Tyler, Lanie, and Percy Houghtaling. One of the things I love most about composing vocal music is the element of text. Poems have a clearly defined meter, but the texts for this composition are excerpted from letters, so there is less in the way of a prescribed rhythm to the words. I chose to set multiple letters by each character to establish recurring themes and show how their writing evolved through time, due to their changing circumstances. Given the rich body of American folk music and hymn tunes from the time, it made sense to derive the themes for each character from this beloved repertoire. An excerpt from Walt Whitman's To Think of Time seemed a perfect text to serve as bookends for the entire work.

Tyler's Letters
All three letters by Civil War soldier Tyler Houghtaling are dated 1861-1862, and show the progression of his feelings throughout those years -- moving from optimism and wonder to impending doom and regret. In one letter, he mentions a folk-song called "The Banks of the Schuylkill" and wishes he were home to sing it with his friends and family. The Schuylkill River is located in Pennsylvania and the source of its eastern branch is in the Appalachian Mountains. The setting of the first letter opens with this folk-tune, which continues to be heard throughout each of Tyler's letter settings -- especially when he is remembering his home. It is often sung by the chorus as Tyler might have been remembering it while writing.

The chorus also layers in other folk-songs in each subsequent letter setting. "Tenting Tonight" was very popular during the Civil War and is introduced in the second letter setting. It describes conditions at a military camp. Each verse becomes more despairing than the previous until the final chorus text becomes "dying tonight." The chorus sings the words "dying tonight" in the third letter setting while "Taps" is heard in the distance. The third letter setting is definitely the most heart-wrenching. It retains the previous folk-songs, but adds to them "The Vacant Chair" (a favorite of Abraham Lincoln) sung by a family mourning the loss of their war dead. This tune, also referenced by Tyler in his letters, appears at first in a minor key, played by the clarinet solo, then in its original major mode, sung by the chorus.

Tyler's words, always sung by the soloist, function more like a descant above the folk-song tunes. This indicates the conflict within Tyler -- torn between his longing for home and his duty as a Union soldier. Fortunately, Tyler survived the Civil War and returned home to marry and raise a family. Tyler was Judy Marlett's great-great-grandfather.

Lanie's Letters
Lanie Houghtaling's letters astounded me. My immediate impressions of her included: sarcastic and ironic wit, highly intelligent and articulate, well-educated (especially for a woman of her time), busy, and a woman of strong faith. I have enjoyed getting to know Lanie through her letters. They have a distinctive form apart from all the other I read from this family. Lanie lists a few facts, then offers short (sometimes sardonic) personal commentaries about those facts. I kept envisioning what this would look like in a stage production: there would be dry plot exposition, followed by colorful asides to the audience. When setting her words to music, these little "asides" are set apart in a recitative (recitation) style. The audience will feel frozen in time for a moment while Lanie delivers her "punchline," and then the orchestra will propel us back for more plot exposition.

About half of the first letter, from Lanie to her sister Etta, describes an incident in which a friend was accosted by a group of young people at a dance. Therefore, the solo themes are derived from a couple of contrasting folk tunes that would likely have been played at a dance during that era -- "Turkey in the Straw" and "Sweet Betsy from Pike." The orchestra plays those songs as a fitting soundtrack for the events being described in Lanie's letter. The accosting adolescents are characterized by members of the chorus and the woodwind section, who shout lines of text, censored by the brass.

The second letter, to another sister, Altha, is similar in tone and spirit. Lanie is writing in the morning (before her young son Percy is awake), therefore the tune "My Lord What a Morning" is incorporated. She describes attending a Children's Day event (these were popular at that time), which spurred a lot of bickering by its planners, not the least of which included having the children march to a waltz. The tune "My Lord What a Morning" is then transformed into a comical waltz to help the listener visualize the incident. The children's song "Old Molly Hare" propels most of the orchestral material in this movement.

Lanie's final letter, addressed to Etta, is a sad occasion. Lanie was writing from her deathbed, realizing she would not be able to see Etta again. Gone are the witty "asides." All Lanie had strength to write were expressions of thankfulness and peace. It's an entirely different side of Lanie, but she leaves no doubt about her faith in God and her love for her family. The "Sweet Bye and Bye" tune appears in this letter setting rather prominently. Lanie was Judy Marlett's great-grandmother.

Percy's Letters
The first letter by Percy Houghtaling (Lanie's son and Judy Marlett's grandfather) was written when he was very young, and is addressed to his mother's sister, Etta (the sister to whom two of Lanie's letters were addressed). The music attempts to convey some of the "stream-of-consciousness" so evident in the writing and story-telling of young children. Much seems random and the emotional range is extreme. This achieved musically by setting the movement in two different keys simultaneously -- about half of the orchestra and the chorus perform in D Major, while the other half of the orchestra and the soloist perform in G-flat Major. Recognizable tune fragments appear as well: Nursery songs ("Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Pop Goes the Weasel," and "Ring Around the Rosy") and a favorite hymn tune of the time ("Sweet Bye and Bye" -- which represents both Percy and Lanie's affection for Etta). Frequent interruptions by his mother help keep Percy "on task" as he writes. Since much of the letter describes berry-picking, a frolicking 6/8 meter helps the listener envision Percy leaping through nearby berry patches. Since Percy was a young boy when he wrote this letter, I've set this solo for mezzo-soprano.

Percy's second letter was written when he was a young man, and it is addressed to his step-sister, Esther, to whom he had just become engaged. This letter, scored for baritone solo, is evidence that Percy inherited some of his mother's tender, yet humorous, disposition. He tells Esther that, even though they grew up in the same household, they should pretend they just met -- to keep it "more romantic." He also hints that he hopes she doesn't want a diamond engagement ring, because that would bankrupt him to the point where he wouldn't be able to buy them any bedroom furniture. This is the only letter set as a duet or an actual conversation. Since no surviving reply letter from Esther exists, I formed her answer to Percy from a popular love song from the time period, "Come dearest, the daylight is gone."

Note of Thanks
I love writing for musicians I know personally. Thanks to Judy Sadler Marlett for inspiring the composition with your beautiful voice and your love of history. Thanks also to Daniel Belcher for lending your beautiful voice to Tyler and Percy's words. Finally, thank you to Scott Humphries and the Manchester Symphony Orchestra for the care with which you have approached and prepared this music.


Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

  Violin I
Elizabeth Smith, Concertmaster
Kayla Michaels, Student concertmaster +^
Rachel Felver
Kristin Westover
Pablo Vasquez
Ilona Orban

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Hailey Schneider +
Paula Merriman
Alexandria Roskos +^
Wendy Kleintank
Pryce Whisenhunt +^
Lachlan Sharp +^
Linda Kummernuss

Julie Sadler *
Olivia Jenks +^
Margaret Sklenar
Josie Burton
Colleen Phillips
Liisa Wiljer

Robert Lynn *
Wallace Dubach
Daniel Kubischta +^
Zoe Gowens-Evans +^
Anna Wright +^
Monique Hochstetler +^

Darrel Fiene *
Katie Huddleston
Rod Sroufe

Kathy Davis *
Kathy Urbani
Laura Stepanovich +^

George Donner *
Nyssa Tierney
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark Huntington
Cathy Huber

Bass Clariner
Mark Huntington

Erich Zummack *
Freddie Lapierre +^

Christen Adler *
Jamie Weidner
Matt Weidner
Laura Dickey +^

Steven Hammer *
Mykayla Neilson

Jon Hartman *
Katrina Murray +^
Dakota Brown

Nathan Crain

Drew Cox

David Robbins *
Joel Alexander +^
Mason McBride +
Zarek Taylor

Pamela Haynes

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MU student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
** Denotes assistant principal

Choral Personnel

WHS - Maren Andrews
NHS - Kaitlyn Arbuckle
NHS - Destiny Baugher
MSC - Christine Beery
WHS - Jenna Bleile
WHS - Rachel Boyle
MSC - Erin Brock
FHS - Kodi Carpenter
NHS - Lyndsey Carter
MU - Kayla Carver
WHS - Daniela Cervantes
NHS - Kennedy Chamberlain
NHS - Emily Clendenon
MU - Hayley Cochran
WHS - Chloe Damron
NHS - Brionna Davidson
WHS - Sierra Davis
NHS - Courtney Dillingham
MU - Courtney Douglas
NHS - Nikita Dunn
MSC - Beverly Eikenberry
FHS - Cheyene Emmons
FHS - Halee Fisher
NHS - Jasmine Fisher
NHS - Cassie French
MSC - Kathy Fry-Miller
WHS - Mikayla Galbraith
NHS - Brittin Golliher
NHS - Hannah Griffith
WHS - Madison Hales
WHS - Mackenzie Hamilton
MU - McKenzie Hare
WHS - Kyleigh Herring
NHS - Adrianna Hershberger
WHS - Chloe Hoskins
WHS - Lauren Housel
NHS - Kayleigh Huss
WHS - Olivia James
FHS - Kandy Jensen
MSC - Angelina Jung
MU - Madi Kaylor
MU - Sarah Kerkes
MU - Shannon Lee
MU - Sierra Leyman
WHS - Sophia Long
NHS - Maddie Lloyd
MU - Emily Lynn
WHS - Megan McKean
NHS - Destiny McKinney
FHS - Katherine Meyer-Reed
FHS - Kiley Miller
WHS - Macy Miller
NHS - Emily Miner
NHS - Shayna Mogan
WHS - Natalie Moore
MU - Brooke Mosbaugh
FHS - Hailey Mullins
FHS - Katy Myer-Reed
MSC - Judy Myers-Walls
NHS - Madison Nevil
WHS - Cassidy Neubaum
WHS - Lori Pennington
WHS - Meredith Phipps
NHS - Kassidy Powell
NHS - Erin Probstle
FHS - Kate Reese
MSC - Tina Riemann
NHS - Chey Ruff
WHS - Sophia Schlitt
FHS - Sarah Shank
FHS - Hannah Shetler
NHS - Trinity Shockome
NHS - Desirea Shrock
WHS - Madisen Smith
MSC - Carol Streator
FHS - Jamie Tarman
MSC - Sabina Thomas
NHS - Jamie Vance
NHS - Athena Varner
WHS - Anna Wainscott
NHS - Hallie Zolman

FHS - Nathan Apple
MU - Bryan Bathke
NHS - Jacob Clark
FHS - Deron Corbin
NHS - Kenzie Easterday
FHS - Donovan Edwards
WHS - Joshua Fisher
MSC - Paul Fry-Miller
FHS - Riah Haarer
WHS - Gordon Horton
MU - Ben Johnson
WHS - Damian Jordon
FHSD - Benjamin Kambs
FHS - Wade Kammerdiener
FHS - Dylan Kaufman
FHS - Brendon Klase
FHS - Jackson Landes
MU - Clayton Marcum
MU - Mason McBride
FHS - Bentley Miller
NHS - Devin Melson
WHS - Leytan Perry
NHS - Ellie Proebstle
WHS - Zane Reed
WHS - William Robison
WHS - Matthew Shapiro
NHS - Dylan Smith
MU - Jake Svay
FHS - Clayton Thomas
FHS - Bryce Willard
MU - Preston Wright
WHS - Emily Albright
WHS - Michele Apeland
WHS - Cassandra Ashenfelter
MU - Berklee Blackman
NHS - Danielle Bumbaugh
NHS - Brittany Burnworth
NHS - Cassidy CArter
WHS - Yvonne Castillo
WHS - Madison Chew
WHS - Emily Cole
WHS - Kaitlyn Dailey
WHS - Ellen Davenport
MU - Mallory Fletcher
NHS - Siarah France
MSC - Sandy Funk
MSH - Katherine Haff
NHS - Addison Harner
WHS - Annalise Harstine
WHS - Ashlynn Hepler
WHS - Lei Hlavaty-Cox
FHS - Sidney Hochstedler
NHS - Lexi Hodges
MSC - Pat Hoover
WHS - Ivy House
WHS - Madison Howard
FHS - Gabi Khailo
FHS - Abbey Kidd
NHS - Bianca Kinzie
NHS - Mariah Kirtlan
WHS - Katie Lauck
WHS - Alisson Layne
NHS - Madison Lester
NHS - Sydney Lester
MU - Madie Livinghouse
WHS - Alyssa Madden
MU - Kayla Maynard
NHS - Ashly McDonald
FHS - Nicole Miller
WHS - NaevEnya Moore
FHS - Samanta Moreno
MU - Haley Neilson
MU - Emma Nickel
WHS - Emily Oler
FHS - Maggie Otis
WHS - Megan Ousley
MU - Katie Peden
NHS - Katy Pefley
NHS - Alina Reed
WHS - Rachel Smith
FHS - Jade Sparkman
MU - Emma Stefanatos
MU - Laura Stepanovich
MSC - Joy Stifler
MSC - Laura Stone
WHS - Anna Sullivan
WHS - Bri Tran
MSC - Janina Traxler
NHS - Mamie Vance
FHS - Cami VanVynckt
NHS - Arlana Varner
FHS - Maddie Wampler
WHS - Kara Weeks
MSC - Marie Willoughby
WHS - Katrielle Wood
FHS - Tamika Yoder
NHS - Alexis Zahler

MU - Daniel Baker
WHS - Conner Bale
FHS - Chase Blucker
MU - Alvara Castillo
MUF - Alan Chambers
FHS - Jediah Corbin
FHS - Seth Corbin
NHS - Michael Fort
FHS - Cade Gall
WHS - Payton Green
MSC - Matthew Grothouse
WHSD - Thomas Hall
FHS - Aiden Hochstetler
FHS - Tim Hostetler
FHS - Nick Huber
MUF - Scott Humphries
NHS - Jason Kinsey
WHS - Kyle Kuhn
NHS - Paul LaBonte
MU - Freddie Lapierre
FHS - Zac Maierle
FHS - Craig Martin
FHS - Derek Martin
FHS - Wyatt McCoy
FHS - Skyler Mullet
NHSD - Mark Nevil
NHS - Jeremy Okuly
FHS - Alex Ortiz
WHS - Patrick Priest
WHS - Avery Remecaldo
WHS - Kyle Rickert
NHS - Braden Ripplinger
MSC - Samuel Rowland
MSC - Michael Rueff
MSC - Hamilton SAdler
WHS - Dominic Smith
WHS - Adam Stewart
WHS - Ethan Thompson
MSC - Orion Toepfer
MU - Anthony Vega
FHS - Ethan Wessler
MU - Rohan Willoughby
FHS - Marco Zamora

  FHS - Fairfield High School
Benjamin Kambs, director
Larry Becker, pianist

NHS - Northfield High School
Mark Nevil, director

WHS - Warsaw High School
Thomas Hall, director

MU - Manchester University
MUF - Manchester University Faculty
MSC - Manchester Symphony Chorus
Debra Lynn, director
Alan Chambers and Elizabeth Smith, pianists
Debra LynnDr. Debra J. Lynn is beginning her twentieth year at Manchester University where she serves as Director of Choral Organizations and Vocal Studies. She teaches applied voice, conducting, vocal pedagogy, opera workshop, history of the Requiem Mass, and music for stage and film. Choral ensembles under her direction include the A Cappella Choir, Chamber Singers, Cantabile, and Manchester Symphony Chorus. Her ensembles have performed at various locations throughout the U.S. including Carnegie Hall in New York, Sacred Heart Basilica at Notre Dame University, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Her A Cappella Choir has traveled to Italy to perform High Masses at the Vatican in Rome and Basilica di San Marco in Venice. In addition, they presented a standing room only concert at the Upper Basilica at St. Francis of Assisi. Other tours have included such destinations as Austria and London. Whether domestic or international, her tours carry a theme of world peace.

Debra holds a Doctor of Arts in Music degree with an emphasis in choral conducting and voice performance from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Prior degrees from Truman State University and William Jewell College include emphases in choral conducting, voice performance, and music education. She has worked with Metropolitan Opera singers Nicholas DiVirgilio and Mignon Dunn as opera chorus director for Illinois Opera Theatre, based at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Dr. Lynn has studied conducting under the tutelage of maestros Paul Vermel, Douglas Amman, Fred Stoltzfus, Paul Crabb, and Arnold Epley. As a composer, Dr. Lynn writes both instrumental and vocal music, and has received several commissions including Lily and Plowshares Foundation requests. She is in demand as a guest conductor and clinician for various composer forums, choral festivals, and voice and conducting master classes. She is married to cellist and tubist, Robert Lynn. They reside in North Manchester, Indiana, where they tag-team parent four daughters and four cats when they are not making or teaching music.
Daniel BelcherGrammy Award-winning baritone Daniel Belcher has performed in many of the world's music capitals, including Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Stuttgart, Amsterdam, Geneva, Toronto, Montreal, Tokyo, Seoul, and Houston. With a repertoire of more than 70 operas, Belcher has championed roles from the Baroque to those composed expressly for him. He came to international attention in 2004 creating the role of Prior Walter in Peter Eotvos' Angels in America for the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris for which he was hailed by London's The Guardian as "possessing the kind of powerhouse stuff that indicates a star in the making." Belcher most recently created the roles of Lord Bellingham in Lori Laitman's The Scarlet Letter at Opera Colorado (recorded for an August 2017 release by Naxos), Brian Castner in Jeremy Howard Beck's The Long Walk with Opera Saratoga, and Robert Kennedy in Robin de Raaff's Waiting for Miss Monroe for his debut at The Netherlands Opera. Other world premiere roles include John Brooke in Marke Adamo's Little Women (released on the Ondine label and recorded by PBS' Great Performances), Andy Warhol in Michael Daugherty's Jackie O (released by Decca on the Argo label), and multiple roles in Tod Machover's Resurrection (released on the Ondine label), all at the Houston Grand Opera.

He comes to North Manchester from Opera Philadelphia where he created the role of Inspector Kildare in the World Premiere of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell's Elizabeth Cree. Later this season he returns to Houston Grand Opera as James "Dad" Addison Mills III in the World Premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek's The House Without a Christmas Tree, and Utah Opera as Gabriel von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus. He debuts as the Street Singer and Tiger Brown in The Threepenny Opera and Boston Lysic Opera and as the Captain in Hans Werner Henze's The Bassarids for his first performances in Madrid.

Last season, he returned to Opera Philadelphia as Ping in Turandot, Lyric Opera of Kansas City for his role debut as Owen Hart in Dead Man Walking, Utah Opera as Brian Castner in The Long Walk, Chautauqua Opera as Orfeo in the Resphigi version of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, and made house debuts at Michigan Opera Threatre as Father Palmer in Silent Night and Atlanta Opera for performances of Ping in Turandot. He also debuted with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal for concerts and a recording of Bill in Bernstein's A Quiet Place with Kent Nagano. It will be released in a future season by Decca.

As a graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, he has returned for numerous roles including his role debut as Billy Budd, Papageno, Schaunard in La Bohème, Monteverdi's Orfeo and Mercutio. At HGO, he also performed roles in A Little Night Music,Carmen, Madama Butterfly, and Arabella.

Mr. Belcher is one of the premiere interpreters of Rossini performing today, and he is closely associated with the roles of Dandini in La Cenerentola, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Taddeo in L'Italiana in Algeri. He has performed Dandini with San Francisco Opera, Opera Colorado, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and Utah Opera; Figaro with Arizona Opera, Portland Opera, Lake George Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Florentine Opera and Utah Opera; and Taddeo with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Florentine Opera, and Utah Opera.

Mr. Belcher holds a Bachelor of Arts in voice performance from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and a Master of Music from the Julliard School of Music in New York. He is a recipient of Le Cercle International des Amis et Mécènes du Châtelet Award (International Circle of Friends and Patrons of Théatre du Châtelet, CIAM) for his acclaimed performance of Prior Walter in Angels in America. He also received a Robert Jacobson Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation for his work with Wolf Trap Opera, and the Sullivan Foundation Award. He received the Apprentice Artist Award from the Santa Fe Opera and the Young Artist Award and Outstanding Studio Artist Award from the Central City Opera.
Judy MarlettDr. Judith Marlett, a native of upstate New York, has lived in Nampa, Idaho, since 1996, when she began her collegiate teaching career. Dr. Marlett earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York. At Roberts, she studied with Dr. Robert Shewan.

Dr. Marlett continued her education by attending Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. After completing a Master of Music in Music Education, she taught public school in both urban and rural New York state. She taught music in Greece and Watkins Glen, New York, before beginning doctoral studies.

A Doctor of Arts degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, was awarded to Dr. Marlett upon completion of her dissertation Musicianship, Longevity, Career Choices: Marilyn Horne as a Model of Vocal Success. One highlight of her research was an interview of Ms. Horne in December, 1999.

In 1996, Dr. Marlett accepted a position at Northwest Nazarene University as a professor of voice and choral music. During her tenure at NNU, Marlett has conducted every choir in the music department, and is currently the director of NNU's premier women's choir, Bella Voce. Her job has expanded over the years to include direction of the music education program, conducting, and supervision of student teachers.

She has appeared in numerous recitals and concerts as a professional soloist and has performed many roles in opera, including Rosina in the world-premiere performance of Thomas Pasatieri's Signor Deluso; La Principessa, Suor Angelica; Suziki, Madama Butterly; Ruth, Pirates of Penzance; and, most recently, Marta, in Gounod's Faust.

Dr. Marlett has also been a soloist in oratorios, including Messiah, Bach's B Minor Mass, and the Mozart and Rutter Requiems, and has also performed in Broadway shows including West Side Story, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Oklahoma. Although Marlett is primarily a recitalist who recently produced and sang "Seasons of a Woman's Life," an evening of poetry and music featuring Frauenliebe und Leben, she also made her directing debut with NNU's production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Marlett performed in the world premiere of Debra Lynn's A Family Portrait, with Grammy award-winning baritone, Daniel Belcher. The oratorio is a work for mezzo and baritone soloists, choir, and orchestra, with a libretto compiled by Lynn from letters written by Marlett's ancestors and American folk songs. The work was premiered on the Northwest Nazarene University campus in November, 2013.

Outside of music, Marlett is an avid reader and passionate cook who enjoys crocheting and scrapbooking. She loves to spend time at home and traveling with her husband and two boys.