Voice Performance Faculty
Christopher Arneson is a professional voice trainer and vocologist on the faculty at Westminster Choir College of Rider University where he is Director of Voice Pedagogy and teaches Pedagogy, Literature, and Speech for the Actor. In 2016 he also joined the faculty at Princeton University.
General Director for Tri-Cities Opera, Susan Shiplett Ashbaker brings with her over 30 years of experience in the performing arts. She is active in the opera and vocal world as an artistic advisor/consultant, master class presenter, lecturer, and an opera/vocal coach. Her experience on both sides of the opera industry gives her a rare and comprehensive approach to the key elements of career advancement for singers as well as a unique vantage point in the administration of opera companies, arts organizations and institutions of higher learning.
Dalton Baldwin, professor of accompanying and coaching at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, has worked with many of the great singers of our time: Gerard Souzay, Elly Ameling, Arleen Auger, Jessye Norman, Theresa Berganza, Frederica von Stade, Nicolai Gedda and Jose van Dam. He has also played for instrumentalists such as Henryk Szeryng, Pierre Fournier and the Via Nova Quartet. Mr. Baldwin was permanent pianist of Gérard Souzay for over three decades, during which time they toured extensively on five continents and made numerous prize-winning recordings.
Claudia Catania is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Westminster College of the Arts and at the Mannes School of Music. In the summer she teaches for Wichita State University in Lucca, Italy, and for the Marlena Malas Vocal Institute in Chautauqua, NY. She also maintains a private voice studio for both actors and singers in Manhattan.
Soprano Margaret Cusack is Professor and Chair of the Piano and Voice Department at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she teaches private voice, opera literature, and voice pedagogy. She has been a Regional Governor of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and is currently a member of the Artist Faculty at the Brevard Music Center. Ms. Cusack’s current and former students have sung at the San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Theater of St.
Baritone Elem Eley is Professor of Voice at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, joining the faculty in 1987 after previous teaching positions in Texas and Georgia. He performs frequently in recital and concert, and is active as a teacher of master classes. His current and former students sing with major opera companies and in significant concert venues across the globe.
Soprano Rochelle Ellis, has distinguished herself in a broad repertoire that extends from Bach and Beethoven to Verdi, Barber and Gershwin. Her Carnegie Hall debut was as soloist in Schubert’s Mass in G and Bach’s Cantata 140 with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Westminster Choir conducted by Joseph Flummerfelt. The soprano was honored to give the world premiere of Hold Fast to Dreams composed by the late jazz great Dave Brubeck, based on poetry by Langston Hughes.
Faith Esham has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice at Westminster Choir College of Rider University since 2000. Professionally she has garnered critical acclaim for her outstanding performances in the leading opera houses of the United States and Europe. Since her successful Metropolitan Opera debut as Marzelline in Fidelio, she has returned to the company to sing Nedda and Mélisande.
Harold Evans joined the faculty of Westminster Choir College of Rider University as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice in September 2007. In addition, he maintains studios in New York City and Philadelphia, where he teaches classical voice, coaches singers and teaches conducting. Mr. Evans also has a significant background in operatic, orchestral and choral conducting.
Born in New York City, tenor Thomas Faracco holds degrees in organ, conducting and voice from Westminster Choir College. He continued vocal studies at Indiana University with the famed soprano and teacher Margaret Harshaw.
Soprano Nancy Froysland Hoerl has performed in Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. While studying lieder and opera at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna, Austria, she premiered numerous works for soprano and chamber orchestra and created the lead role of Gabi in Der Krach im Ofen, which premiered at the Theater an der Wien. At the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in Aldeburgh, England, she coached with Sir Peter Pears, Dame Nancy Evans and John Shirley-Quirk.
Born in Austin, Texas, WILLIAM HOBBS received a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, summa cum laude, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Master of Music in Piano Performance, Research and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. His teachers have included Thomas Schumacher, Paul Parmelee, Doris Pridinoff Lehnert and Larry Graham for piano and Neil Varon, Brad Lubman and Allan MacMurray for conducting.
In the words of one reviewer, Katherine Johnson was "the absolute singing actress". During her career she was heard at The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Music Center Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Baltimore Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera/Columbus, Edmonton Opera, Manitoba Opera, Pacific Opera(Victoria), New Jersey State Opera, Florida Grand Opera, L’Opéra de Nice, Opera Orchestra of New York, Canterbury Opera (Christchurch, N.Z.), and L'Opéra de Québec, in a wide range of repertoire including the title roles of Tosca, Elektra, and Jenufa. Ms.
Rachelle Jonck received her musical training at the conservatory of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa majoring in both piano and musicology.
Robin Leigh Massie has established herself as a versatile artist in opera, concert and musical theatre. She made her New York City Opera debut as Flora in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of The Screw. She has also performed with the Tulsa, Kentucky, Glimmerglass and Princeton Opera companies. In musical theatre, she performed the role of Jellylorum in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s CATS in Hamburg, Germany.
Baritone Sean McCarther serves as Assistant Professor of Voice at Westminster Choir College where he teaches studio voice and undergraduate voice science. In May of 2012 he received his doctorate in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy with minors in music theory and movement/postural analysis at Indiana University. He studied voice with Dr. Robert Harrison and pedagogy with the late Paul Kiesgen. Dr. McCarther earned his Master of Music degree with an emphasis in speech pathology at Indiana University and his Bachelor of Music degree at Baylor University, where he studied with Jack Coldiron.
Bass-Baritone Mark Moliterno is an artist/educator who enjoys an extensive performing career in Opera, Oratorio, and Concert singing. He has appeared throughout the United Stated, Canada, Great Britain and the Far East in leading operatic roles and is a frequent soloist on the concert stage in a repertoire that covers a wide range of eras and composers.
Pianist J.J. Penna has performed in recital with such eminent singers as Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, William Burden, Amy Burton, David Daniels, Denyce Graves, Kevin McMillan, Florence Quivar, Andreas Scholl, Sharon Sweet, Christopher Trakas, Indra Thomas and Ying Huang.
Kathy Kessler Price, soprano (M.M., Ph.D.), teaches graduate vocal pedagogy courses and applied voice, and directs the Presser Voice Laboratory at Westminster. She previously served as Voice Area Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Music at Mississippi State University and taught voice/vocal pedagogy and coordinated the School of Music Vocology Laboratory at The University of Kansas. She also worked as an intern in Clinical Voice Assessment at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Additionally, Dr.
Eric Rieger has enjoyed success performing opera throughout Europe where he has sung under such conductors as John Elliot Gardner, Stefano Ranzani, and Franz Welser-Möst. His career has led him to the opera companies of Zürich, Luzern, Basel (Switzerland), Trier, Regensburg, Kaiserslautern, Bremerhaven, Osnabrück, Nordhausen, Konstanz (Germany), and Novara (Italy), as well as Zomeropera Alden Biesen (Belgium), Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Citizens Theatre (Scotland), and Everyman Palace Theatre (Ireland). Known for his interpretations of Rossini, Donizetti, and Mozart, Dr.
Debra Scurto-Davis is a pianist and vocal coach who has made her life’s goal the promotion of excellent artistry, principally through educating others. She is currently on the faculty of Westminster Choir College, where she coaches and teaches English, French, Italian and German diction; and The Shipley School, where she has a studio of 30 pianists. She is also on the Westminster coaching faculties of the CoOPERAtive Program in Princeton, New Jersey and the Florence Voice Seminar in Italy.
Dramatic soprano Sharon Sweet attended the Curtis Institute of Music and completed her vocal studies with renowned vocal pedagogue Madame Marenka Gurewich in New York City. She began her international career with a concert performance of Aida in Munich which brought her an invitation to join the Deutsche Oper Berlin at the beginning of the 1986-87 season, where she was particularly acclaimed for her interpretations of Leonora in Il Trovatore and Elisabeth in Tannhauser.
Nova Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and presently the director of the university’s Music Theater Program. Her teaching responsibilities include private vocal instruction (for both graduate and undergraduate students); dramatic coachings and role preparation; four progressive semesters of classes for the singing-actor; and a special topics course in Bel Canto. Additionally, she is in much demand as a master class teacher and speaker.
Tenor Charles Walker has been a member of the Westminster Voice Faculty since 1994 and Coordinator of Westminster's High School Solo Vocal Artist Institute since 2009. He studied at the Curtis Institute, earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Delaware, studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, studied opera and acting at Boston University with Adelaide Bishop, Mac Morgan and Robert Gartside and attended the Ambler Institute for four seasons where he studied with Todd Duncan and Eleanor Steber.
In a career spanning 34 years, soprano Sally Wolf has sung her brilliant dramatic coloratura and lyric repertoire all over Europe and North America. She achieved acclaimed portrayals of the title role of Norma at Seattle Opera and Florida Grand Opera, Mimi (La Boheme) at Seattle Opera, Violetta (La Traviata) with Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg, and Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) with Seattle Opera. Ms.
Contralto Amy Zorn has sung under the batons of Seiji Ozawa, Henry Lewis, John Harbison, Craig Smith, Yves Abel and Sun Min Lee. She has been heard in the operatic roles of Carmen, Lucretia, Dido, Suzuki, Maurya, Principessa, the Old Lady, Dame Quickly, and Ulrica. Most recently she was engaged to perform the role of Auntie at the Tanglewood Music Festival’s historic revival of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.