Assistant Professor John Denis has 8 years of Texas band directing experience working with middle school and high school students. He recently completed a PhD degree at the University of North Texas and is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, the Texas Music Adjudicator's Association, NAfME, Pi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Dr. Denis has been active as a clinician in North Texas and Oregon. He has also presented at the TMEA Convention, California All-State Music Education Conference, Maryland Music Educators February Conference, the NAfME Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference, ISME World Conference, and NAfME Teacher In-service Conference.
Assistant Professor Richard Novak has taught voice at Trinity University, George Mason University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Louisiana-Monroe, Angelina College, and University of the Incarnate Word. He has performed with the Washington Concert Opera, Opera Carolina, San Antonio Opera, Opera Piccola, Annapolis Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Wichita Grand Opera, The Living Opera, Wagner Society of Washington, San Antonio Symphony, Opera Piccola, San Antonio Chamber Choir, San Antonio Choral Society, Chautauqua Symphony, Prince William Symphony, the Monroe Symphony, the Conservatorio di Musica Agostino Steffani in Castelfranco Veneto (Italy), and the Institute of Culture in Culiacán and Mazatlán (Mexico). Recent performances include soloist in the world premiere of Kevin Salfen’s Birding Super Flumina Babylonis, Handel’s ‘Messiah’ with the San Antonio Choral Society, the tenor soloist in Richard Danielpour’s An American Requiem at Stephen F. Austin State University, and the tenor soloist in Missa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez with the San Antonio Choral Society. In 2005 and 2006, he won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Tulsa District). He is also a former 1st Place winner of the Texoma NATS ‘Singer of the Year’ award. Dr. Novak holds a BM and MM in Vocal Performance from Stephen F. Austin State University, and the DMA in Vocal Performance from the University of North Texas. Training programs included the Chautauqua Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Wichita Grand Opera, Wesley Balk Singing/Acting Institute, and the Evelyn Lear/Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers (at the request of Evelyn Lear). He serves as Director of Music at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in New Braunfels.
Lecturer Youna Jang Hartgraves has sung leading operatic soprano roles throughout the United States, including the title role of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which she sang when she was 23 years old at Opera Delaware. She was then invited to sing Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème as well as many recitals and concerts. At Temple University, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s in Voice and Opera Performance, she performed Natalia Petrovna in Hoiby’s A Month in the Country, Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Mimì in La Bohème, Climene in L'Egisto, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and Antonia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann. At The University of North Texas, she sang the role of Susan B. Anthony in Thomson's The Mother of Us All and Liù in Turandot. In two seasons at Opera Saratoga, she sang the role of Louise in La Vie Parisiènne and covered the title role of Madama Butterfly. She participated in the apprentice and studio programs at Sarasota Opera and sang the title role of Madama Butterfly at the Sarasota Chalk festival. As a resident artist at The Academy of Vocal Arts, she sung the roles of Amelia in Un ballo in maschera and Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. She has participated and won awards from the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation, The Annapolis Opera Competition, Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Gerda Lissner International Competition, New Jersey State Alfredo Silipigni Vocal Competition, Compositione dell’opera in Germany and Hariclea Darclée Competition in Romania.
Lecturer Myra Vassian grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, where some of her earliest musical influences were Appalachian folk music, jazz standards and opera. After receiving degrees in vocal performance from Baylor University and Western Carolina University, she was awarded an International Rotary Scholarship to attend the Conservatory of Music in Zürich, Switzerland. She remained in Switzerland for five years, earning a Performing Artist Diploma from the Biel Opera Studio. She made her European debut in the role of “Lauretta” from Gianni Schicchi and continued to sing the roles of “Norina” from Don Pasquale, “Zerlina” from Don Giovanni and “Madeleine” from Le postillon du Lonjeumeau in opera theaters throughout Switzerland. Upon returning to the United States, she performed the role of “Susanna” in The Marriage of Figaro with Opera Carolina and taught voice at Davidson College. From 1997 to 2007 she was Director of Music at The City Church, New York, and most recently served on the voice faculty of the Evening Division of the Juilliard School of Music for 10 years. Ms. Vassian has maintained a studio of private voice students in Manhattan since 1996 and in recent years enjoyed performing cabaret shows at the Metropolitan Room and the Duplex and Laurie Beechman theaters.
Lecturer Michelle Haché moved to Austin after completing her graduate degree at the Juilliard School. While at Juilliard she was awarded the Bori Prize grant for language study and performed the title role in Cavalli’s La Calisto. Ms. Haché has appeared in leading roles in both opera and music theatre in the United States and abroad. Since arriving in Austin, she has received five B. Iden Payne award nominations, winning for Performer of the Year in 2010 and 2013 and as Director of the Year in 2016 for The Gondoliers. Additionally, Ms. Haché is a reviewer for The Austin Chronicle and Broadway World, and a national adjudicator for the NATS and Hal Leonard Vocal Competitions. Continuing the legacy of vocal pedagogy passed on by mentors Marlena Malas, Ellen Faull and Florence Birdwell, Ms. Haché has been an award-winning instructor in voice for over 14 years. Her students have achieved top placements in the country’s largest vocal competitions, earned spots in leading conservatories and young artist programs, and have been awarded roles in Broadway productions. She is an active member of The Juilliard Teacher Directory, The National Association of Teachers of Singing, TMEA, and The Educational Theatre Association. Ms. Haché holds a Graduate Diploma from The Juilliard School.
Lecturer Josh Miller has served on the directing staffs of the Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera San Antonio, ZACH Scott Theatre, and Austin Shakespeare. His most recent directing credits include Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi (Portland State Opera), Le nozze di Figaro (Virginia Tech & University of Texas at Austin), a double-bill of The Italian Lesson & Trouble in Tahiti (Alamo City Opera), Sweeney Todd (UT Austin), and The Rape of Lucretia (Spotlight on Opera). His production of Three Decembers was a winner of Opera America’s Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase. He and his design team presented their production concept to artistic directors and industry professionals during a special session of the National Opera Conference in Washington, DC. Dr. Miller received his DMA in Opera Directing from UT Austin, a master’s in Conducting from Ohio State University and a BA in Music Education from Marshall University.
Lecturer Ken Stephenson received a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the University of Iowa in 1989. Having taught as a member of the music faculties at Westminster Choir College (one year), the University of Oklahoma (25 years), and the University of Tennessee (two years), he has published a book on analysis of rock music, a book on teaching sight-singing, and a verse translation of Guido's Regule Ritmice. From 2005 to 2009 he served a term as Chief Reader of the AP Music Theory Exam. Though he spent a lot of time at an institution farther north up I-35, he says he “would Sooner be a Bobcat.”