2014 Benefit Concert
We have put together another fantastic musical program for this season's SFA Concert. This year we will feature Broadway star Marcus Lovett and Metropolitan Opera soprano Marie Plette. They will be joined by local favorites Nicolle Foland, Shawnette Sulker, Michelle Jasso, Rachelle Perry, Pedro Rodelas, and Buffy Baggott. Our amazing chorus will be performing pieces by Bernstein, Copland, and Conte. You don't wont to miss this! And remember, your ticket not only buys you admission to this amazing musical evening, but also supports artistic and charitable organizations throughout the Bay Area.
Date: Sunday, March 30, 2014
Place: Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
3301 Lyon Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Marcus Lovett began his professional career at nineteen in Chicago in One Shining Moment at Drury Lane, Watertower. One month after graduating Carnegie Mellon University (BFA ‘86), he landed his first Broadway job in the original Broadway production of Les Misérables. His other Broadway and West End credits include: King David (title role), Phantom of the Opera (title role), Whistle Down the Wind (The Man), Carousel (Billy Bigelow), Aspects of Love (Alex Dillingham). Marcus made theatre history in 1994 by performing the lead in two Broadway shows within a two day stretch. Having played what turned out to be his final performance of Phantom, he was asked by Lincoln Center to leave Phantom to learn the role of Billy Bigelow, to fill in for their ailing star (they had temporarily closed their production). He did his first performance of Billy Bigelow at the Vivien Beaumont, forty-seven hours later. His Off-Broadway credits include: Urinetown (Bobby Strong), Queen Amarantha, The World Goes ‘Round: The Music of Kander and Ebb. Workshops of Up Against It and The Knife. His film credits include Jeffrey, Pieces of April and the musical animation “Young Herc” (Title Role). He has been a soloist at Carnegie hall, L’Opera De Paris and the Royal Albert Hall. He is on the cast albums for Les Misérables, Whistle Down The Wind and Andrew LLoyd Webber’s Fiftieth Birthday Celebration at The Royal Albert Hall. His debut solo album, Marcus Lovett, The Give Moment, was released in 2008. In addition to his stage and music career, Marcus has recorded thousands of promotions and commercials for television, and is currently the voice of “Good Morning America” on ABC, and for the promotions for “The Late Show with David Letterman.” He is working on a project with multi-Grammy winning composer and lyricist, Jim Steinman, and Grammy winning producer Steven Rinkoff, and another original project with his collaborator, Nolan Gasser.
David Conte is currently Professor of Composition and Conductor of the Conservatory Chorus at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has received commissions from Chanticleer, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Dayton, Oakland and Stockton Symphonies, the American Guild of Organists, Sonoma City Opera and the Gerbode Foundation. In 2007 he received the Raymond Brock commission from the American Choral Directors Association. Conte has composed five operas: The Dreamers; The Gift of the Magi; Firebird Motel; and America Tropical; (these last two commissioned by San Francisco theater company Thick Description, for whom Conte has been Composer-In-Residence since 1991); and Famous, based on the book "Famous for 15 Minutes - My Years with Andy Warhol" by Ultra Violet. He is also the composer of a musical, The Passion of Rita St. James, produced at the SF Conservatory in 2003. His operas have been produced at the Berlin International Opera, USC, University of Minnesota, Hidden Valley (Carmel CA), and many other colleges, universities, and regional companies. He has also composed songs for singers Barbara Bonney, Thomas Hampson and Phyllis Bryn-Julson. His work is represented on many commercial CD recordings. A Fulbright Scholar in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, a Ralph Vaughan Williams Fellow and an Aspen Music Festival Conducting Fellow, Conte earned his Bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Ruth Inglefield and Wallace DePue, and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Cornell University where he studied with Karel Husa, Robert Palmer, Steven Stucky and Thomas Sokol. In 1982, Conte worked with Aaron Copland preparing a study of the composer’s sketches. He has taught at Cornell University, Keuka College, Colgate University and Interlochen. With composer Todd Boekelheide, Conte co-wrote the film score for the documentary Ballets Russes, shown at the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals in 2005, (now available on DVD), and composed the music for the PBS documentary, Orozco: Man of Fire in 2006, shown on the American Masters Series in the fall of 2007. In 2010 he was appointed to the composition faculty of the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, and in 2011 he joined the board of the American Composers Forum.
Michelle Jasso is versatile, active performer with credits encompassing opera, early music, various types of theatre, television and film. A regular within the San Francisco theatre scene, Michelle was recently awarded a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle award for Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of The Beggar Woman in SWEENEY TODD. Having recently returned from the beautiful Yosemite Valley in her reprisal of the role of The Minstrel in the historic BRACEBRIDGE DINNER at the Ahwahnee Hotel, Michelle will next appear with Goat Hall Productions in a new “cabaret rock opera” entitled SEVEN DEADLY PLEASURES (written by local treasure Allison Lovejoy), and will then sing the title role in Puccini’s SUOR ANGELICA with Verismo Opera. Also a stage director, Michelle will direct West Marin Players’ production of HMS PINAFORE this summer, and will then sing the title role in Hector Armienta’s LA LLORONA with Opera Cultura. Nationally, Michelle has sung leading and supporting roles with Portland Opera, with Opera Grand Rapids (MI) and with Ensemble Green in Los Angeles.
Pedro Rodelas is a graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio and has performed with opera companies, orchestras, and ensembles throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South America. Pedro’s operatic stage credits include primo tenore roles in La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, La Fanciulla del West, Faust, Gianni Schicchi, The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus, I Pagliacci, The Magic Flute, Il Tabarro, Macbeth, The Bartered Bride, The Secret Marriage, and Amelia Goes to the Ball. Pedro is equally at home in the musical theater repertoire, He has wowed audiences as Pedro has also been featured in concert performances of Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, as well as numerous opera galas and benefits.
2013 marked Pedro’s ninth year as Chef Pierre in The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite and member of the Andrea Fulton Chorale. Pedro also performs regularly as a member of The Three Waiters, an internationally acclaimed entertainment group with headquarters in Sydney, London, and New York City. 2014 also marks Pedro's third season as a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus. Recent and upcoming performances include Che in Raven Theater's production of "Evita" and Aroldo in West Edge Opera's production of "Aroldo."
Rachelle Perry, Soprano, divides her performing time between the worlds of opera, the concert stage, and sacred music. She resides in the Bay Area, where she performs as a full time chorister with San Francisco Opera, sings concerts and recitals throughout. Rachelle has been a solo performer for Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Utah Festival Opera, New York City National Opera here in the USA, and Kiel Opera, Essen OperaTheater, Bremerhaven Opera, Wiesbaden Opera Companies in Germany. Rachelle has and continues to do concert work in Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. She also can be heard in Family Concert Recitals through out the USA and Europe.
American soprano Marie Plette is acclaimed in the major opera houses of North America and Europe for her compelling portrayals from Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly to Love Simpson in Cold Sassy Tree and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. Her performances of Madama Butterfly prompted the New York Times to remark, "The opera did partake of the other great unifying factor here: a star turn, by Marie Plette in the title role." In season 2012-13 Marie Plette sang the title role in Tosca with Anchorage Opera. Her recent highlights include singing as soloist in Carlson’s Promise of Time with Santa Rosa Symphony; in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Las Vegas Symphony; joining the roster of Washington National Opera for its production of Iphegenie en Tauride; her return to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2; to Seattle Opera to reprise Freia, Ortlinde and Gutrune in Wagner’s Ring Cycle; to the Metropolitan Opera for its production of Don Giovanni; singing as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly with Michigan Opera Theatre; as soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; and in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Florida Orchestra. Other past highlights include performances of the title role in Iphigenia in Tauris for her return to Seattle Opera; Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with San Francisco Opera; Larina in Eugene Onegin with Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role in Tosca with Sacramento Opera; performances of Cio-Cio San with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with Arizona Opera; Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder with the Phoenix Symphony; Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Antonia in Les Contes d' Hoffmann, bothwith Seattle Opera; and reprises of Freia in Das Rheingold and Gutrune in Götterdämmerung, as well as Ortlinde in Die Walküre, in Seattle Opera's Ring Cycle.
An alumna of San Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellowship program, Nicolle Foland began her career with the San Francisco Opera singing many roles with the company, including Musetta in La bohème, Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow among many others. She has sung the role of Violetta in La traviata with Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Michigan Opera Theater and has performed with Los Angeles Opera, Opera Bilbao in Spain, and Seattle Opera as Musetta. She has debuted in many other leading roles with such American companies as New York City Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Boston Lyric Opera, Minnesota Opera, Arizona Opera, Central City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Colorado, and Opera Boston. She has made multiple appearances with the San Francisco Symphony and has sung with many other orchestras, including American Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, and Colorado Symphony. She is also an avid recitalist, appearing on performing arts series throughout the U.S. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Ms. Foland received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Iowa.
A resident and native of Oakland California, Alexander Taite graduated in April 2007 from Pepperdine University where he obtained his degree in music theory and composition with a main emphasis in vocal performance and a minor emphasis in jazz piano.
Alexander has a young and fresh sprit with an abundant performance experience under his belt including Barbershop, Spirituals, Opera, Jazz, Blues, Choral, Renaissance/Baroque, and Hip-hop. He was selected to participate in a summer program to study opera in Germany with accomplished tenor Dr. Henry Price III. He has been cast to sing at The Berkeley Opera Company, San Francisco Parlor Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, Virago Opera, the Walnut Creek Festival Opera Company, and the San Francisco Opera where he is currently singing full time in the regular opera chorus. He is a co-producer, musical director, vocalist, and vocal percussionist for local rap/hip-hop group Laced Out Crew.
Alexander has also been a pianist/keyboardist since he was 8 years old, studying both classical and jazz. Over the years he has played in many types of bands ranging from jazz/funk/R&B to rock, hip-hop and pop. He has also been selected as a piano finalist in the Young Performers Concert series in San Francisco. Since graduating from Pepperdine, he has found great joy in both performing and teaching music.
California native Buffy Baggott has gained recognition throughout the United States as a highly versatile lyric mezzo soprano. She studied vocal performance at UCLA and San Francisco State Universities, completed two apprenticeships with Santa Fe Opera and is an alumnus of The Ryan Center: Lyric Opera Chicago’s prestigious young artist program. The role of Carmen is Ms. Baggott’s signature role. She has performed it with the Lyric Opera Chicago, Arizona Opera, France’s Festival de Belle Ile en Mer and West Edge Opera (among others). Some recent and upcoming performances include: Secretary 2 (Nixon in China) for San Francisco Opera and San Diego Opera, Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd) for Hawaii Opera Theater and St. Petersburg Opera (for which she won the Best Actress in a Musical award from TTBA), Miss Jessel (Turn Of the Screw) for West Edge Opera, Meg Page (Falstaff) for Opera San Jose and Carmen for the Grand Junction Symphony. www.buffybaggott.com
Shawnette Sulker has been described as a singer “…displaying a bright, superbly controlled soprano with perfectly placed coloratura.” On the operatic stage, Ms. Sulker has been a featured artist in three San Francisco Opera productions: Porgy and Bess, The Mother of Us All and Louise. She was also a part of the joint production of Dido and Aeneas between San Francisco Opera and the Crucible, singing the roles of Second Woman and Second Witch. Ms. Sulker has sung leading roles with many other companies including Hawaii Opera Theatre, Internationale Opera Producties (The Netherlands), Festival Opera, Union Avenue Opera, Natchez Opera Festival, Mendocino Music Festival, West Bay Opera, Berkeley West Edge Opera and Livermore Valley Opera, to name a few.
Roles in the soprano’s repertoire include Die Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte), Olympia/Giulietta/Antonia (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Musetta (La Bohème), Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Clara and Serena (Porgy and Bess), Micaëla and Frasquita (Carmen), Treemonisha (Treemonisha), Despina (Così fan tutte), Félicie (La Belle et la Bête), Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Amore (Orfeo ed Euridice), Rosabella (The Most Happy Fella), Little Red Riding Hood (Little Red Riding Hood). Ms. Sulker created the role of Corina in the world-premiere of David Conte’s opera Firebird Motel for Thick Description. She has also sung Servilia in a concert version of La clemenza di Tito with the vocal ensemble Voci Feroci.
Erich Stratmann is the driving entrepreneurial personality behind the idea of Sing for America... putting into the hands of singers the means to help others via their voices. An incorrigible choral singer, he early on recognized the community of choral singing that allowed people of surprisingly different social leanings, to join together in one voice to benefit others. SingforAmerica allows this force to be gently steered toward very real funding of the choristers' choice of charities.
Erich himself sings in three choruses, following on his fore bearers as his mother and father where at the core of the original San Francisco Symphony Chorus (Muncipal Chorus) of the 1930s. He sings as well with the San Francisco Opera Chorus.
This business bent follows on his business degree from the University of California, Berkeley (singing there with the Glee Club under Robert Commanday) and 25 years as a manufacturer in San Francisco. He has used his practical talent in honing his fundraising skills as financial manager for the San Francisco Boys Chorus in the past 15 years and now is totally focused on Sing for America.