Linda Hirt | Artistic Director, Vocal Coach

Linda Hirt, who made her New York Carnegie Recital Hall debut under the auspices of the Concert Artist Guild, has performed and taught and on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Among her professional achievements are live radio appearances in New York and Chicago and recordings for Vanguard Records and German national television.  As founder and artistic director of Musica nelle Marche LLC, she has shared her passion for Italian music and culture with hundreds of aspiring young artists. Ms. Hirt is a vocal coach and mentor at DePaul University School of Music where she also served as Vocal Coordinator for ten years.

Geoff Hirt | General Director

Geoffrey Hirt Ph.D. is an internationally known author of finance and business textbooks that have been translated into more than 13 languages. Dr. Hirt taught at DePaul University in the Department of Finance for 30 years and served as department chairman for 11 years. While at DePaul, he directed international MBA programs in Hong Kong, Bahrain and Prague. He has also taught in Italy, Poland, Germany and Thailand and has a great appreciation for international education. He is currently on the Dean’s advisory board and executive committee of DePaul’s School of Music. He also serves on the board of directors of the James C. Tyree Foundation, a Chicago based foundation that funds innovative educational programs in the Chicago area. Since 2007, Dr. Hirt has been the general director and business manager of Musica nelle Marche LLC.

Jane Bunnell, Mezzo-Soprano | Voice and Stage Direction

Mezzo-soprano Jane Bunnell joined the faculty at MSU’s College of Music in August 2015 as professor of voice. She has enjoyed an illustrious international career for almost 30 years. She has an especially long association with the Metropolitan Opera where she has sung 30 roles in more than 350 performances, including new productions of Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Otello, Les Troyens, Faustand Romo et Juliette and the Metropolitan Opera Premieres of Brittens A Midsummer Nights Dream and Wolf-Ferraris Sly. She has also recorded with the Met for Sony/BMG and has toured to Europe and Japan.

She has sung with the Saito Kinen Festival, and with the opera companies of Toulouse, Vienna, Cologne and Schwetzingen and with such American opera companies as Houston Grand Opera, San Diego Opera, Minnesota Opera, Florida Grand Opera and New York City Opera. She has collaborated with such notable conductors as James Levine, Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Andrew Davis and Robert Shaw, and has appeared in concert with the Boston Symphony, Lincoln Centers Mostly Mozart Festival, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. Ms. Bunnell was on the faculty of New York University for nine years and on the faculty at DePaul University School of Music from 2006 to 2015.

Marc Embree, Bass/Baritone | Voice and Stage Direction

Marc Embree is an associate professor of voice at MSU’s College of Music. A respected singing actor, Embree was a principal singer with the New York City Opera for several seasons and has performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Europe. He has sung with many regional houses including Edmonton, New Orleans, St. Louis, Houston, Sarasota, Omaha, Kansas City and Virginia. His extensive repertoire boasts such roles as Wotan, Iago, Conte d’Almaviva, Don Giovanni, Scarpia, the Four Villains in Les contes d’Hoffman.

Embree received critical acclaim for his performance of Frank Marraunt in the Berlin Ludwigshafen production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene; filmed for television, it has been released on DVD and broadcast in Europe, Japan, Mexico and on the BRAVO Channel in the United States. Recent highlights include live television broadcasts of Wozzeck (Doctor) and Das Rheingold (Fasolt) from the Bellas Artes in Mexico City; Horace Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe with the Augusta Opera and Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse with the Nashville Opera and Hindemith’s Das Nusch-Nuschi at Avery Fisher Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra. His recordings include Carlos Chavez’s The Visitors, Kurka’s The Good Soldier Schweik, and the recently released Lincoln Center Production of Rain by composer Richard Owen. – See more at: http://www.music.msu.edu/faculty/profile/marc#sthash.s0xSVrzp.dpuf

Massimo Sabbatini | Conductor and Coach

Maestro Massimo Sabbatini is a well-known Italian conductor who has worked with Andrea Bocelli and Daniela Dessi as well as other international performers. He is an accomplished pianist and opera coach and Musica nelle Marche is delighted to have him on our faculty.

He received a diploma from the G. Rossini Conservatory of Music in Pesaro, Italy where he studied violin, composition and orchestral conducting. He is active as a violinist, pianist and conductor of orchestral and choral music. He has taught choral and orchestral conducting at various Italian conservatories. His choirs have performed throughout Europe and recently performed at the University of Paris where a standing room audience greeted his choir.

Michael McElvain | Coach/Accompanist

Active as a conductor, pianist, and vocal coach, Michael McElvain has been heard on Chicago’s WFMT radio broadcasts, including a live, month-long cycle of the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven, the WFMT Membership Drive, and the contemporary music program Relevant Tones, leading VOX 3 in the concert premiere of Patricia Morehead’s new opera, Black Hawk Speaks. As a soloist and collaborative artist, Mr. McElvain has appeared in masterclasses led by Leon Fleisher, Emanuel Ax, David Daniels, and preeminent vocal coach, Martin Katz. Beyond classical music, he has toured Europe as keyboardist for the progressive rock group, Pavlov’s Dog.

Mr. McElvain has been a featured conductor and concerto soloist with the Webster Symphony Orchestra, served as Chorus Master for The Chicago Bach Ensemble, Music Director for CUBE Ensemble’s first-ever opera production, conducted musical theatre works by Stephen Sondheim, and recently led The Metropolitan Orchestra of St. Louis in the final concert of their 2013-14 season. He presently serves on the accompanying staffs of Columbia College and DePaul University, Chicago.

Sasha Gerritson | Stage Director

Sasha has enjoyed a diverse career as an opera and musical theatre stage director, an opera producer and general manger and as a choral conductor and singer. As a director, Sasha has made her mark doing new interpretations of standard repertoire works. Based in the Chicago area, Sasha teaches at Northeastern Illinois University as their opera director, and enjoys freelancing for other prestigious universities such as DePaul (her Alma Mater) and Northwestern (cherub MT program). As a singer and choral conductor, Sasha has appeared in many respected venues in the USA and Europe, including Ravinia Festival, Carnegie Hall, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to name a few.

Sam Handley | Bass-Baritone

On both the operatic and concert stage, Tennessee-born Sam Handley has earned praise for his “rich, burnished” voice and the “genuine emotional depth of his characterizations.” With a growing repertoire of nearly one hundred roles and dozens of orchestral masterworks and recital programs, he has worked with some of the most prestigious organizations in the world, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, The National Centre for Performing Arts (Beijing), National Symphony, Houston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra at both Severance and Carnegie Hall. Handley’s recordings include Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming on Newport Classic and a DVD of his collaboration with Peter Schickele for P. D. Q. Bach’s Houston: We Have a Problem!

Handley earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, a Master of Music from UW-Madison and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Houston. His operatic training includes apprentice programs of Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Merola and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center. He has long loved sharing his knowledge of the art of singing, and was a Teaching Fellow during both his Master and Doctoral studies. Dr. Handley has taught at UW-Platteville, Lee College, San Jacinto College, and Madison Summer Music Clinic and is in demand as a Master Teacher, Clinician and Adjudicator. He serves on the faculties of North Park University and DePaul University, both in Chicago, and is a member of the Associate Board of Directors of Green Lake Festival of Music.

When not teaching or traveling for performances, Sam lives in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter sailing, hiking, camping, cooking and fine dining.

Bergen Baker | Diction Coach, Associate Program Manager (on leave)

Hailed by the Star Tribune as having a “fetching blend of grace, warmth and humor on stage,” Bergen Baker has been a featured performer with companies such as Minnesota Opera, The Minnesota Orchestra, Skylark Opera and Florentine Opera. Ms. Baker’s concert and oratorio experience includes performances of Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces, as well as many programs of art song.  In addition to performance on the operatic and concert stage, Ms. Baker served as Teaching Artist for Minnesota Opera from 2012-2014. During her tenure, Ms. Baker organized community residencies and performances that served nearly 15,000 opera lovers across the state of Minnesota.  She currently manages opera and music theater programs for students through the University of Minnesota and Musica nelle Marche LLC in Urbino, Italy. She remains a highly sought after Teaching Artist, offering residencies, workshops and master classes to students and communities across the country.

Ms. Baker holds Bachelor and Master degrees in vocal performance from DePaul University and the University of Minnesota, respectively. More info at bergenbaker.com

Amanda Majeski | Vocal Coach

Ms. Majeski is on the voice Faculty at DePaul University and has garnered accolades for her many and diverse roles at major international and U.S. operas houses including the Metropolitan Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Washington  National Opera, Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires, Argentina),Oper Frankfort, Opernhaus  Zurich, Teatro Real in Madrid, Semperoper Dresden, Paris Opera, Opera Philadelphia and Pittsburg Opera.

Her many roles include Fiordilgi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Vitellia in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Eva in Kasper Holten’s new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,  Countess Madeleine in Capriccio,  Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier and Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare. In addition to her operatic roles she has performed as a soloist with major symphony orchestras such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Ms. Majeski made her New York City recital debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation and returned for her solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 2014. This was soon followed by her Metropolitan Opera debut on the opening night of the 2014/2015 season as Countess Almaviva in a new production of Le nozze di Figaro, which was broadcast in HD internationally and on PBS across the United States. An alumna of the Ryan Opera Center, she made her mainstage Lyric debut with only a few hours’ notice as Countess Almaviva conducted by Andrew Davis. Named “Best Breakout Star” by Chicago Magazine, she has since continued her relationship with Lyric audiences as Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and as Marta in The Passenger, hailed as a “shattering, star-making performance” by the Chicago Classical Review. She made her critically acclaimed role debut as the Marschallin in Claus Guth’s new production of Der Rosenkavalier at Oper Frankfurt, where she has also been seen as the Goose-Girl in Humperdinck’s Königskinder, Vreli in Delius’s A Village Romeo and Juliet, and the title role in Dvorák’s Rusalka. Ms. Majeski made her European debut at the Semperoper Dresden where her performances included new productions of Alcina and La clemenza di Tito, as well as revivals of Le nozze di Figaro and Capriccio. Her significant international debuts include the Glyndebourne Festival as Countess Almaviva and Eva, Opernhaus Zürich as Marguerite in a new production of Faust, and Teatro Real in Madrid as Vitellia in the much-acclaimed Herrmann production of La clemenza di Tito. In addition to her work New York and Chicago, she has appeared at Opera Philadelphia as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Pittsburgh Opera as Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, and Santa Fe Opera in Vivaldi’s Griselda as Ottone in a production by Peter Sellars. On the concert stage, Ms. Majeski debuted with Sinfonieorchester Aachen singing Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder and Mozart’s Requiem.

Saori Chiba | Vocal Coach

Acclaimed by the Chicago Daily Herald, “brilliant Japanese pianist” Saora Chiba is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for her superb keybord artistry. Her five current albums are regularly featured on nationally prominent radio stations. WFMT, WFIU, KING, and KUAT with two recordings capturing the Daily Herald’s coveted TopTen Classical CDs of The Year Award, and the Grammy Award Entry List for Best Chamer of Music Performance.

Ms. Chiba’s materclass associations include such names as Joyce DiDonato, Dalton Baldwin, Martin Katz, David Schrader, Denyce Graves, and Samuel Ramey, and she recently collaborated with globally recognized artists, Maestro Christoph Eschenbach and violinish Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg at the Ravinia Festival. She has also appeared on renowned radio broadcasts includingthe Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts and the PianoForte Salon Series. Highly sought after as a répétiteur and coach, Ms. Chiba frequently assists with Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Santa Barbara, and Italian summer festivals, Orvieto Musica, and Musica nelle Marche.