Judges 2017

Elizabeth Buccheri

Pianist Elizabeth Buccheri, a native of South Carolina, was educated at Winthrop University and the Eastman School of Music, from which she received the Performer’s Certificate in Piano and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree. At Eastman, she was a student of the imminent collaborative pianist, Brooks Smith. During these Rochester years, she was pianist for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and also performed and toured with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Her varied career as coach and accompanist has included twenty-eight seasons as accompanist for the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the legendary Margaret Hillis; pianist coach for the opera companies of Rochester’s Opera Under the Stars and the Brevard (N.C.) Music Festival; accompanist/coach for conductors Sir Georg Solti, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, Sir Andrew Davis, and Christoph Eschenbach; and since 1987, assistant conductor at Lyric Opera of Chicago. An experienced recitalist, she has appeared in concert with singers Nicole Cabell, Susanne Mentzer, Susan Graham, Michelle DeYoung, Samuel Ramey, Elizabeth Futral, and Sherrill Milnes, with the Shanghai and Vermeer String Quartets, and with violinists Midori and Gil Shaham. These concerts have taken her to all parts of the United States and to many countries in Europe. Buccheri has recorded extensively on the CRI, Sony, Boston, Cedille and Albany labels and was responsible for musical preparation on London Records’ issues of Schönberg’s Moses und Aron, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürenberg, and Verdi’s Otello, Sir Georg Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists. For this work, Elizabeth Buccheri received the Solti Foundation Award, the first American musician to be so honored. In previous years, Buccheri assisted Maestro Pierre Boulez, the Cleveland Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists with preparations for performances at Severance Hall, Cleveland and Carnegie Hall, New York. She is the founder and music director of Chamber Music at North Park, and was awarded the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by North Park University in May 2004. A dedicated teacher, Buccheri has given master classes at Juilliard, Eastman, Northwestern, and at the music academies of Lithuania and Latvia. In 2013 Buccheri was named Head of Music for the Opera Program at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Miyoko Lotto

Born in Japan, Miyoko Nakaya Lotto began piano lessons at the age of three, enrolling in the preparatory division of the Toho School of Music. At age 17, she captured the Third Prize in the prestigious Mainichi-NHK Music Competition and toured throughout Japan as a prizewinner.

Lotto entered the Juilliard School at age 18, and quickly became assistant to Sascha Gorodnitzki in her junior year at the Juilliard School. Lotto received her B.S., M.S. and Post Graduate Diploma from the Juilliard School.

Awards: Finalist in the Kosciuszko Chopin Competition, Second Place in the Juilliard Orchestra Concerto Competition, Finalist in the Concert Artist Guild, Finalist in the Young Concert Artist Competition, First Prize winner of the Sterling Staff Competition and Finalist in the F. Busoni International Piano Competition in Italy.

Lotto has performed in more than 40 states across the U.S., including her New York City debut at Alice Tully Hall. She has given numerous Master Classes throughout Japan and the U.S., Germany, Israel, China and Spain, and has served as juror on the panels of several international competitions such as the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition.

Lotto is on the faculty at New York University, the Manhattan School of Music and the Perlman Music Program. Her students have been prize winners of numerous major international piano competitions such as the Leeds Competition, Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, International Chopin Competition, International Hamamatsu Piano Competition.

She has worked with Daniel Barenboim as music editor and consultant on the documentary “Barenboim on Beethoven” which aired on PBS’s‘Great Performances’ on March 22, 2007. It will also be aired on BBC, ARTE France, NHK and numerous other TV networks around the world. The project was released as a 6 DVD set in February of 2007 from EMI and it is in its second printing. Her latest project, DVD “Mahler: his New York year” form ARTE France where she was a monitor for a three-way conversation with Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez and Henri la Grange who has written the definitive biography on Gustav Mahler.

Maria Schleuning

MARIA SCHLEUNING, violinist, has been a member of the Voices of Change Modern Music Ensemble since 1996 and Artistic Director since 2009. An advocate of new music, she has worked with many of the leading composers of our day, including the legendary Witold Lutoslawski, George Crumb, Aaron Kernis, John Corigliano, Augusta Read Thomas, Sebastian Currier, Bright Sheng, Samuel Adler, Donald Erb, David Dzubay, and Pierre Jalbert. She has premiered many new works, including “Dream Catcher”, a solo violin work written especially for her as a gift by Augusta read Thomas. The world premiere performance was on May 3, 2009 in Dallas, TX.

An active chamber musician, Ms. Schleuning has performed in venues such as New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall, Merkin Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as at numerous festivals throughout the United States and Europe. From 1993-2012 she was a faculty member and performer at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine and served in the same capacity at Idyllwild Arts in CA from 2007-2010, and the Bennington Music Festival, VT in 2012. She has recorded with Continuum modern music ensemble in NYC, as well as in Dallas with GRAMMY®-nominated Voices of Change, and the Walden Piano Quartet. In addition, she serves as Principal Second Violin of the New York Women’s Ensemble and Principal Second Violin of the Classical Tahoe Orchestra, where she was a guest concertmaster in 2014.

A member of the Dallas Symphony since 1994, she has been featured as soloist with the orchestra on many occasions. Other solo highlights include appearances with the Oregon Symphony, Seattle Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Abilene Symphony, Laredo Symphony, Bozeman Symphony and with the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra on a tour of Eastern Europe including concerts at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and the Rudolfinuum in Prague, in addition to a tour of China in 2015. She studied with Josef Gingold at Indiana University, where she was awarded a performer’s certificate; with Yfrah Neaman at the Guildhall School in London, with a grant from the Myra Hess Foundation; and with Joel Smirnoff at the Juilliard School, where she received her master’s degree.

William Florescu

William Florescu became the General Director of Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera Company in May of 2005. During his tenure, he has overseen the expansion of the Company’s repertoire, producing works including the Florentine’s first Bellini opera (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), first Baroque opera (Handel’s Semele), the Midwest premiere and recording on the Naxos label of Aldridge’s (2 time winner, and three time nominee for the 2012 Grammy Awards) Elmer Gantry and a world premiere of Don Davis’s Río de Sangre (October 2010). The Florentine production of Rio was also released commercially on the Albany Records label, and won a 2013 Grammy. He has also directed main stage operas including The Barber of Seville, The Magic Flute, Rigoletto, a double bill of Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Susannah, as well as touring education operas by nationally renowned arts educator John Davies, including Little Red’s Most Unusual Day, The Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio (which was televised by Milwaukee Public Television in April of 2009), Jack and the Beanstalk, The Billy Goats Gruff, and most recently a reprise of Little Red’s Most Unusual Day . In October of 2008, Mr. Florescu oversaw the creation of the Florentine Opera Studio, a nine-month program for young professional singers, which is in its sixth year for the Florentine’s 2013-2014 season.

From 1999 until early 2005, he was the General Director of Lake George Opera (now Opera Saratoga) in Saratoga Springs, New York. Previously, he served as General Director of the Columbus Light Opera. While in Ohio, he was also Associate Dean and Director of Opera/Musical Theatre at the Capital University Conservatory of Music, and served a season as Assistant Artistic Director for Iowa’s Dorian Opera Theatre.

Opera audiences around the country have seen his work as a stage director, including Augusta Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Nashville Opera, Opera Columbus and Opera Birmingham. On the operatic stage, he has appeared in leading and supporting roles with Opera Columbus, Columbus Light Opera, Iowa’s Dorian Opera, Toledo Opera, National Opera Company and the Whitewater Opera, among others. On the concert stage, he has sung with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Mansfield Symphony Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, the Indianapolis Summer Pops and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

He has presented master classes for Westminster Choir College, Peabody Institute, Capital University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Opera Saratoga. He is also a frequent judge of vocal competitions, most recently for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, The Eastman School of Music, The Montreal International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition, and Fort Worth Opera’s McCammon Vocal Competition. In addition, he produced, with Opera America, a singer Training Workshop in Milwaukee in March, 2012.

Mr. Florescu has served on the Opera Review Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts, and has served as an on site reporter for the Endowment. He serves on the Board of Directors of Opera America, as well as their Strategic Planning Committee and New Works Forum.

During the 2012-13 season, he directed a new production of Britten’s Albert Herring, celebrating the composers’ 100th birthday for the Florentine, judged both the Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year Competition and the Metropolitan Opera regional Auditions in St. Louis, and presented Master Classes at Rutgers University in New Jersey. In July, he directed The Tales of Hoffman for The Festival of International Opera of the Americas in Brazil, and presented masterclasses in Novafeltria, Italy for La Musica Lirica.

For the 2013-14 season, he will direct both La Traviata and La Boheme for the Florentine Opera, as well as Candide for the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and will continue to serve as judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in various cities. In addition, he will return to La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy, in summer, 2014 as guest director. He also maintains an active blog, The Opera Audition.

Mr. Florescu received his training at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Trinity College of Music in London, England, Miami University and the Ohio State University.

Cynthia Estill

Cynthia Estill has been a faculty member of Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music since 1972. After 44 years of service, she has recently retired as the Principal Bassoonist of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Estill has also performed as principal bassoon of the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Festival der Zukunft in Ernen, Switzerland, and in the Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin. Additionally, she served as the bassoonist in the Blair Woodwind Quintet for 40 years. Ms. Estill studied at the Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University, and the Mozarteum.

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