MEET THE ARTISTS OF CALLIOPE’S CALL
WES HUNTER, tenor
Praised for his "drama, heart, and shining tone," tenor Wes Hunter is emerging as a charismatic interpreter of both standard repertoire and new works. A native Floridian, Hunter now resides in Boston where he performs a variety of styles ranging from Baroque opera to new concert works. Hunter debuted his solo cabaret to a sold-out audience at Club Café in Boston, featuring various selections from musical theatre composers.
Recent highlights include the title character in Rossini's Le Comte Ory with Lowell House Opera, Oronte in Handel's Alcina with Opera del West, Gastone in Verdi's La Traviata with Southern Vermont Lyric Theatre, the workshop of Julian Wachner's Rev 23 with Beth Morrison Projects, and Laurie in Adamo's Little Women with MassOpera. Hunter also premiered the role of Eugene in the The Body Politic by New York composer Leo Hurley with Juventas New Music Ensemble. Other credits include covering Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Boston Midsummer Opera, Gastone (cover) in La Traviata with Sarasota Opera, Count Almaviva (cover) in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Boston Midsummer Opera, Goro (cover) in Madama Butterfly with Martina Arroyo's Prelude to Performance, Lindoro in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri with The Boston Conservatory, and Monostatos in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with Raylynmor Opera.
A versatile artist, Hunter was featured in a concert with renowned countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, performing pieces by composer Nico Muhly, produced by Beth Morrison Projects. He made his New England debut as a concert soloist joining the Newburyport Choral Society in performances of Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music. Other concert repertoire performed includes Handel's Messiah with Belmont Open Sings, Mozart's Requiem with the Paul Madore Chorale, Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, and Schubert's Mass in G in Washington, D.C. His engagements have taken him around the greater DC Metropolitan area to Christ Lutheran Church, St. Luke's Church, St. Ambrose Catholic Church, and the Takoma Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Hunter received his M.M. in Opera Performance from The Boston Conservatory in May 2015. In 2013 he graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Vocal Performance and a minor in Germanic Studies. While attending the University of Maryland he made his operatic stage debut as Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte with Hub Opera Ensemble.
EVANGELIA LEONTIS, soprano
Evangelia Leontis, soprano, has extensive experience on the opera, concert and recital stages. She has been seen on the operatic stage in roles including Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Frasquita in Carmen, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Lucy in The Telephone, Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflӧte, Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro and Le Feu in L'Enfant et les Sortilèges. On the concert stage, Dr. Leontis has been the soprano soloist in works by Britten, Haydn, Fauré, Rossini, Bach, Bizet, Mozart, Grieg, and Handel with Greensboro Opera, the Greensboro Oratorio Society, the Newburyport Choral Society, Newton Choral Society, Clear Lakes Chorale, Fine Arts Chorale, Polymnia Choral Society, the UNCG Sinfonia, and the UTRGV Master Chorale and Orchestra.
An avid recitalist, Dr. Leontis has sung recitals in Rochester, NY, Greensboro, NC, Brownsville, TX, and Boston, as well as in her hometown of Bowling Green, OH. In recital she aims to program music by women composers. Dr. Leontis won the Bel Canto Award in the 2015 Orpheus Competition, was a finalist in the 2015 Kentucky Bach Choir Competition, a semi-finalist in the American Prize in Voice Professional Art Song Division Competition in 2015, and was a winner of the 2010 Greek University Women’s Club Music Competition.
Dr. Leontis holds the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts from UNC Greensboro, a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Boston University, and a Bachelors of Music degree in vocal performance from the Eastman School of Music. Her research interests lie in the work of women composers and in the ways yoga and meditation can enhance performance. Dr. Leontis currently serves on the voice faculty of Keene State College where she teaches voice and diction. She has previously served on the voice faculties of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, Guilford College, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. She also serves as Director of Development for Calliope’s Call, a New England-based ensemble dedicated to the performance and promotion of art song.
As a yogi, she completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in Bali, Indonesia with YogaWorks and has presented Yoga for Singers Workshops at the Boston Conservatory, the Manchester Music Festival, the New Music School, the NEC Preparatory School, Greensboro College and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Her blog entitled Inner Voice: the Intersection of Yoga and Singing explores topics relating to the ways yoga can help singers. More information can be found at evangelialeontis.com.
MAKAYLA M. MCDONALD, soprano
MaKayla McDonald, Soprano, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, where she holds both a Bachelor and Master of Music in Voice Performance. MaKayla has a passion for studying and performing new music; she has premiered various contemporary works. Currently, MaKayla is singing with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble for their 2019 summer festival, “Voices from the Tower”; she will be premiering the role of Ursula in Princess Maleine and singing Cendrillon in Viardot’s Cendrillon. Additional roles include: Peep-Bo in The Mikado with Bronx Opera, Harriet Tubman in the New York premiere of Thea Musgrave’s The Story of Harriet Tubman with Utopia Opera, Frasquita in scenes from Carmen with City Lyric Opera, and Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Old Capitol Opera. Off stage, MaKayla works for the music department at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, cantors regularly, and has a small private voice studio. When she isn’t working, you can find MaKayla out exploring the city, searching for tacos, or drinking rosé on a blanket in Prospect Park!
MEGAN ROTH, mezzo-soprano
Known for her “rich character portrayals” and “versatile voice,” mezzo-soprano Megan Roth enjoys a varied career performing opera, oratorio, art song, and chamber music, with repertoire spanning from early to contemporary music.
Most recently, Megan “smoldered” in the role of Tisbe in La Cenerentola with Boston Midsummer Opera, receiving accolades as she “...vamped about with sufficient trashy glitter, bringing the angry coloratura across the footlights with comic menace.” Additional roles include Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Summer Garden Opera in Virgina and in Little Women with MassOpera, where she was praised for her “warm and sonically sumptuous Meg.” Other notable engagements include soloist in Copland’s In the Beginning with Vox Humana in Dallas, Texas, Handel’s Messiah with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra, and Dixit Dominus with the Metropolitan Chorale.
On the operatic stage, Megan made her debut with Boston Midsummer Opera as Dorabella in Così fan tutte and was invited back to sing the Woman in the Jazz Trio of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, where she was praised for her “lovely singing” and for being “most at home with her Andrews-Sisteresque routines.” She reprised the role of Dorabella with Opera Providence the subsequent season. With Opera Boston, Megan sang the role of Francisca in Maria Padilla and covered Beatrice in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, after her debut the previous season as Amélie in La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein. Other favorite roles include Angelina in La Cenerentola, Costanza in the rarely performed L’isola Disabitata by Haydn, and Sesto in Giulio Cesare.
Highlights of her solo concert performances include Bach’s B Minor Mass, Magnificat and Weihnacht’s Oratorium, Gretchaninov’s Passion Week, de Falla’s El amor brujo, Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore and Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria & Magnificat, and Duruflé Requiem. Megan was a 2014 finalist in The American Prize Competition, both in the Chicago Oratorio Award and Opera Division categories.
As an active chamber musician, Megan performs with several renowned national ensembles including the GRAMMY® winning ensemble Conspirare out of Austin, Texas, GRAMMY® nominated Skylark Vocal Ensemble and True Concord, Lorelei Ensemble, and Yale Choral Artists. She also relishes collaborations with other artistic mediums and recently performed as guest artist with the Contemporary Dance Theatre at Indiana University and in a reprise performance with Nugent Dance at the Indianapolis Museum of Art performing Per te lascai la luce by Handel. She was also invited to give voice to the otherwise silent character Octavia in Britannicus, a play by Jean Racine at the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.), where she was acclaimed for “her gorgeously sung arias that act as haunting respites in this gripping drama.”
Ms. Roth holds an Artist Certificate in Opera and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Florida State University. Ms. Roth is also an accomplished violinist, and holds a Bachelor of Music with honor in Violin Performance from DePaul University. Outside of her musical endeavors, Megan enjoys reading contemporary fiction, practicing yoga, and hiking with her husband Adam. Megan belongs to Beyond Artists, a coalition of artists that donates a percentage of their concert fees to organizations they care about. She supports NYC Second Chance Rescue and REACH Beyond Domestic Violence through her performances. www.meganroth.com
SONJA TENGBLAD, soprano
Praised by The Boston Globe for her “crystalline tone and graceful musicality”, recent highlights for soprano Sonja DuToit Tengblad include Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with the Boston Philharmonic, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra; Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Drusilla, Fortuna) and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (La Fortuna, Giunone; Grammy-nominated recording with Linn Records), Vivaldi’s Juditha triumphans (Abra and Ozias), and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (First Lady) with Boston Baroque; Bach’s St. John Passion and Purcell’s Fairy Queen (2nd Fairy, Juno) and Dido and Aeneas (2nd Woman) with the Handel and Haydn Society; Porpora’s Calcante ed Achille (Achille) with A Far Cry; Handel’s Acis and Galatea (Galatea) with the Blue Hill Bach Festival; Francesca Caccini's Alcina with the Boston Early Music Festival; Handel's Messiah with the Rhode Island Philharmonic; guest appearances with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and Minnesota’s Oratory Bach; Puccini's Suor Angelica (Sister Dolcina) with the Lorelei Ensemble and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; numerous works, premieres and recordings with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and her Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center debuts, both with the New York City Chamber Orchestra. She was awarded 2nd place in the 2014 American Prize competition’s art song and oratorio division.
A champion of new music, Ms. Tengblad curated Modern Dickinson (with Seattle Opera regular Eric Neuville, tenor, and Austin Chamber Music Festival’s artistic director Michelle Schumann, piano), a touring program featuring all 21st century settings of Emily Dickinson’s poetry that was named the #3 Best Arts Event in Austin, Texas 2015 and nominated for four Austin Critic’s Table Awards. She has premiered and recorded two works with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and in 2015 premiered Shirish Korde’s Questions for the Moon with members of the Silk Road Ensemble. A highlight for Ms. Tengblad was appearing in a concert celebrating the 80th birthday of composer Dominic Argento (in attendance) for which the Minnesota Star Tribune reported her to have given “the most affective performance of the evening”. In 2017 she co-founded the soprano/percussion duo Beat Song with percussionist Jonathan Hess, featuring world premieres by Emmy award-winning composer Kareem Roustom, ASCAP Nissim Prize winner Matthew Peterson, and Adam Jacob Simon.
Ms. Tengblad performs with the Grammy-winning ensemble Conspirare out of Austin, Texas; and Boston’s Blue Heron and the Lorelei Ensemble which enjoyed their debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2017. Upcoming highlights include Shostakovich Symphony 14 with A Far Cry, Ariodante (Dalinda) with Boston Baroque, national tours of Considering Matthew Shepard with Conspirare, as well as a climate change-centered program with Calliope’s Call, Boston’s premiere art song organization.
In 2019, Ms. Tengblad founded Beyond Artists, a coalition of artists that pledge a portion of their concert fees to organizations they care about. With every performance she supports climate change work through Mothers Out Front, 350.org, or the Environmental Defense Fund in addition to Better Angels, an institution that cultivates effective bipartisan conversation.
CHRISTINA WRIGHT-IVANOVA, piano
Dr. Christina Wright-Ivanova, hailed by critics as “a brilliant pianist” (Wiener Zeitung, Vienna) and “an ideal partner” (Huffington Post), is currently Assistant Professor of Music and the Coordinator of Piano & Collaborative Piano at Keene State College, NH and is on faculty at New England Conservatory’s ‘Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice’. She is also the Vocal Coach at UMass Amherst.
Dr. Wright-Ivanova has premiered over one hundred works by living composers and has performed both solo and collaborative new works in such venues as Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Berklee School of Music, MIT, The Harvard Club, Opera America (NY), Jordan Hall, Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, Old North Meeting House, and in the NEXTET series in Las Vegas. Recent international concert performances at the Berlin Art Song Festival, Teatro Sociale in Como, Reaktorhalle (Munich), Humboldt University, École Normale Supérieure Lyon, Joanneumsviertel Museum, Amici della Musica Paisello Concert Hall (Lucera), and Schloss Frohnburg (Salzburg).
She has enjoyed collaboration with singers from the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Greek National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Lithuanian National Opera, Calgary Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and has been the official pianist for the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. As a chamber musician, she has been heard in over fifteen countries throughout North & South America, UK, Europe, Asia and Australia, appearing in recital with many established musicians, including members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Kansas City Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and Boulder Philharmonic.
Previous Employment: University of Nevada Las Vegas, Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, BU Tanglewood Institute, and AIMS (Austria). Artistic Director: ‘Bijou de la Vida Concert Series’ in Boston (NEMPAC); Recordings: Albany, New World Records, ARS Produktion, MSR Classics. Degrees: University of Texas at Austin (DMA), New England Conservatory (MM), University of Victoria, Canada (BM). www.christinajwright.com
CHELSEA WHITAKER, piano
Chelsea Whitaker is an American collaborative pianist based in Boston, enjoying a diverse career including art song, opera, chamber, and musical theatre work in North America and Europe. A native of Kansas, she received her BM in Piano Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City: Conservatory of Music and Dance under the instruction of Dr. Robert Weirich. She continued her studies at the University of Southern California: Thornton School of Music and received her MM in Keyboard Collaborative Arts, studying under Dr. Alan Smith. She completed her DMA in Collaborative Piano at New England Conservatory under the instruction of Cameron Stowe and Jonathan Feldman.
Chelsea’s most recent work in the Boston area has included a faculty position as a vocal coach at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Vocal Program; a staff pianist position in the voice department at Boston University; teaching fellowships at New England Conservatory in the voice and piano departments; music directing for Boston Opera Collaborative productions; and serving as the assistant music director and keyboardist for Show Boat at the Shubert theater. Passionate about American art song, and particularly that of living composers, she has worked with composers such as John Harbison, Jake Heggie, John Musto, Ben Moore, Paul Moravec, Alan Louis Smith, John Heiss, and Matthew Recio. As a guest performer of Stephanie Blythe and Alan Smith, Chelsea appeared in recital at Merkin Hall in New York City in an all-American art song program through Sparks and Wiry Cries. She currently serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.