Berkshire Choral International

Professionals you can learn from

The faculty who teach our workshops and classes are career singers and musicians with advanced training and performance experience. If it’s possible to come away from BCI without learning something new, no one has done it yet.

2019 Faculty Members

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Diane Walters

Soprano

Diane Walters described as a “clear, beautifully colored soprano” by the Broad Street Review in Philadelphia and “sweetly endearing” by Music in Cincinnati, is an artist based in Brownsville, Texas. A frequent soloist, she has performed such works as Mozart’s Requiem, Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Honeggper’s King David, Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Purcell’s Come Ye Sons of Art, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.

A specialist in collaborative music, Diane has sung with ensembles across the country and in Europe including the Grammy award-winning ensemble The Crossing, Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, Taylor Festival Choir, Weimar Bach Cantata Academy, Chorosynthesis, Berwick Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival, Schola Cincinnati, Dallas Choral Festival, and JSB Ensemble of the International Bachakademie Stuttgart. Diane recently founded Alium Spiritum, a professional vocal quartet with her husband, Sean Taylor. 

Before moving to Brownsville, Diane taught elementary music and directed the Carroll High School Drama Club. She received a Bachelor of Music from Capital University Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music and a Professional Studies Diploma from the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University. Diane joins us as a faculty member in Boston this year, returning for her eighth season with BCI after having both apprenticed and served as an administrative assistant.

Kirk Averitt

Bass

Kirk Averitt  is the Director of Choral Music at Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, MA, where he teaches choral ensembles from grades 6 through 12. In addition to teaching, Kirk serves as music director at Weston Congregational Church. He holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. At UMass he conducted the University Women's and Recital Choirs and taught an undergraduate course in Arts Appreciation. 

Kirk is originally from Decatur, AL. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. While in Nashville, Kirk held positions as the interim choral director at Brentwood High School and baritone section leader at West End United Methodist Church. He also performed with a number of choral groups including Music City Baroque and the Nashville Chamber Singers. This is his sixth season with BCI, where he started as an apprentice. He joins the faculty in Boston this year.

Paul Conrad

Pianist

New Jersey-based Paul Conrad received his B.M. in piano performance and M.M. in collaborative piano from Mason Gross School of the Arts. He is in high demand as an accompanist for both soloists and ensembles as a staff pianist at MGSA. Paul was selected twice as Accompanying Apprentice at Berkshire Choral International, where he played master classes with prominent singers and conductors, including Tim LeFebvre, Jerry Blackstone, David Hayes, and Craig Hella Johnson.

Paul is the recipient of many collegiate awards, including the RUGC Aspinall Award, Presser Foundation Award, Arthur G. Humphrey Memorial Prize, and the NJ State Governor’s Scholarship. Under the direction of MGSA professor Min Kwon, he performed at Weill Recital Hall as part of a Franz Liszt 200th Anniversary Recital. Paul sang with and now accompanies the Rutgers University Glee Club, the university’s internationally acclaimed male choir, conducted by Dr. Patrick Gardner, as well as the university’s premiere mixed ensemble, Kirkpatrick Choir.

Throughout his studies of collaboration and chamber music, Paul has received coaching from artists Barbara Gonzalez-Palmer, Allison Brewster-Franzetti, Matti Hirvonen, and Warren Jones. He has worked extensively as pianist and musical director in collaboration with soprano Lori Mirabel for the Maplewood/South Orange Coalition on Race child-friendly operatic productions, including Robert Kapilow’s adaptations on Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and Gertrude McFuzz, as well as Verdi’s Aida and Dvořák’s Rusalka.

Paul is an avid ballet pianist, playing regularly for the Rutgers University Dance Department, Lustig Dance Theatre (New Brunswick, NJ), and annually at the Cecchetti International Summer School at Hope College, MI. Paul also accompanies the Highland Park Community Chorus (NJ) under the direction of Benjamin T. Berman, and serves choir director and organist at Middlebush Reformed Church in Franklin, NJ.

Originally a Berkshire Scholar at BCI, Paul returns for his seventh season this year, where he will be an accompanist faculty member in Boston.

Mary Gerbi

Mezzo-Soprano

Mary Gerbi is a versatile soloist and chamber musician whose repertoire ranges from medieval chant to new music premieres. She has been praised for her “earthy tone and crisp diction,” “trumpet-like projection,” and “impressive control,” (Boston Musical Intelligencer); and for “project[ing] emotion with easy power” (Boston Globe).

Mary has performed as an oratorio soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society, Emmanuel Music, Arcadia Players, Berkshire Bach Society, Boston Cecilia, and Maryland Choral Society, among others. An experienced interpreter of early music, she has presented lecture-recitals at the Peabody Essex and Concord Museums and is currently a core member of Ensemble Origo, a group that presents early repertoire in historical contexts.

A naturally gifted actress, Mary has performed Baroque operatic roles with Connecticut Early Music Festival, Amherst Early Music, and La Donna Musicale. Also an advocate of new music, she performed David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project “with outstanding sensitivity and skill” (Boston Classical Review). She appears on True Concord’s Grammy-nominated album Far in the Heavens and on a dozen other recordings with groups such as Boston Baroque, Cut Circle, and Lorelei Ensemble. Raised in Millbrook, NY, she studied at Boston University and has resided in the Boston area ever since. Richmond marks her ninth season as a BCI faculty member.

Mitchell Vines

Pianist

Mitchell Vines’ active performing career has taken him to Europe, South America, Asia and throughout the United States. The German newspaper Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine wrote “The sensitive playing of American pianist Mitchell Vines captivated the audience. He performed with virtuosity and bravura.”

Mitchell’s professional associations include Berkshire Choral International, New York Summer Opera Scenes, Trinity Church Wall Street, CantaLyrica Chamber Choir, and the Vermont Music and Arts Center. He was twice soloist with the New York Repertory Orchestra, performing Bartok’s 3rd piano concerto and Milhaud’s Le Carnaval d’Aix. Mitchell has performed with numerous singers and instrumentalists, and is in high demand as a collaborative pianist.  

His teaching experience includes positions with the Aspen Music Festival, Mannes School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and the Harlem School of the Arts, and he is a music director for theater, opera and cabaret. Mitchell can be heard on the CD "American Music for Trumpet and Piano" on Capstone Records, and he is featured on a CD of vocal chamber music by North German composers on the Syrinx label. Recent recordings include a CD of compositions by Paul Zeigler, a recital with Japanese soprano Selena Miyazaki, and a collaboration with flutist Tia Roper on Albany Records.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Mitchell holds a Bachelor of Arts from Portland State University and a Master of Music from the Eastman School of Music. While at Eastman, he held a Fellowship in accompanying and was awarded the Performer's Certificate, the conservatory’s highest honor. Previously music director of Bay Ridge United Methodist Church and Beacon Unitarian Church in Summit, New Jersey, Mitchell is pianist at Temple Israel of New York City. This will be his ninth year accompanying BCI choristers when he joins the faculty in Richmond.

Madeleine Holmes

Soprano

Madeleine Holmes studied French and Italian at Cambridge and on ENO’s “Knack” programme for young singers and has since played Mimi and Musetta (La Bohème), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), Giorgetta (Il Tabarro), Romilda (Xerxes) and Naiad (Ariadne auf Naxos). Last year she studied Massenet’s Manon in masterclass as a Crear scholar with Malcolm Martineau. She appeared as Mrs Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at Dartington International Festival, and this year plays Lucy Barker in a staged production of the same musical at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Madeleine loves bringing new works to life and creating new characters, notably in the form of Eve and Dragonfly in new operas for Tete-a-Tete and the Arcola, and in the world premiere of Julian Philips’ dramatic monologue Life Lessens at the Wigmore Hall.

Equally passionate about song and obsessed with all things in Italian, Madeleine received a travel scholarship from the Finzi Trust to begin research into the little-performed 20th century Italian repertoire and performs regularly in recital with pianist Gavin Roberts (Song in the City, St Marylebone Festival, LSO St Lukes, ROH Clore ‘New Dots’ Symposium).

Recent oratorio appearances include Mozart Requiem (St Martin-in-the-Fields), Orff Carmina Burana and Haydn Creation (St John’s Waterloo), Bach St John Passion (St George’s Cathedral) and Mozart Coronation Mass (Anghiari Festival).

Madeleine further combines her love of words and music in her teaching work as a vocal tutor at Morley College and as vocal coach to The Actors’ Richmond Centre. She is a regular member of the professional church choir of St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place, and in her spare time she can most likely be found striding the Suffolk coastal paths or practising yoga on the beach.

Madeleine joins BCI’s faculty for a second time, this year in Prague

Bernadett Nagy

Mezzo-Soprano

Hungarian Bernadett Nagy is a graduate classical singer from the class of Sasja Hunnego in the Koninklijk Conservatorium, The Hague. In Hungary she has studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, where she graduated as music teacher and choir conductor.

Because of her good vocal and theoretical skills and social sensitivity, Bernadett was selected to become a regular participant in the World Youth Choir as a singer and as a section leader. During these periods she had the opportunity to work with great conductors such as Tonu Kaljuste, Frieder Bernius, Grete Perdersen, Georg Grün, Johannes Prinz, Johan Duijk and Peter Dijkstra. As a closure of her youth-choir carreer, she had the honor of singing the solo part of In the Beginning by Aaron Copland in the summer session of 2009.

Since 2000 Bernadett is singing in several professional choirs, including the Purcell Choir, Budapest, with György Vashegyi; Hungarian Radio Choir, Budapest, with Zoltán Pad; Nederlandse Bachvereniging, Utrecht, with Jos van Veldhoven, and vocal ensembles including Discantus Vocal Ensemble with Péter Mészáros. 

As a soloist she mainly performs classical and baroque oratorios. She frequently sings at song recitals and has been involved in the premiere of several contemporary works.

Currently Bernadett is a member of the National Choir (conductor Csaba Somos). She joins BCI for her third season as faculty in Prague.

Kyle Sackett

baritone

Kyle Sackett, baritone, holds the M.M. in voice and opera performance from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and the B.M. in music education from SUNY Fredonia. Based in Chicago, Kyle works extensively both teaching voice and performing. He joined the voice faculty within the theatre conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in 2018 where he continues to teach music theatre voice. Prior, he taught at Carthage College (Kenosha, WI) from 2015-2018, teaching both classical and music theatre voice. 

In 2018, Kyle performed a leading role in the staged workshop of Augusta Read Thomas’ new opera Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun, commissioned by Santa Fe Opera Company as part of the Opera for All Voices initiative. Additional opera credits include Lycas (Ariane et Bacchus), Owen Hart (Dead Man Walking), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Friedrich Bhaer (Little Women), Schaunard (La Boheme), The Four Villains (Les contes d’Hoffmann), and Herr Fluth (Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor), as well as ensemble work with Chicago Opera Theater, Haymarket Opera Company, and Opera Atelier. 

He has performed numerous times with maestro Glen Cortese and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, including the roles of Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte) and Mr. Kofner (The Consul), and the bass soloist for Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolia and Vivaldi’s Magnificat. During the 2015-16 season, Kyle sang the role of Papageno in Opera for the Young’s touring adaptation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He has been a featured baritone soloist for many concerts and oratorio, including Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, Mozart’s Requiem, Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, Duruflé’s Requiem, and Faure’s Requiem.

A passionate choral singer, Kyle has performed and recorded with top-tier ensembles including the GRAMMY-winning new music ensemble The Crossing (Philadelphia), Music of the Baroque (Chicago), Grant Park Symphony Chorus (Chicago), Chicago Symphony Chorus, Bella Voce (Chicago), Vocális Chamber Choir (Buffalo), Berkshire Choral International, and is a founding member of the Chicago-based Constellation Men’s Ensemble.

As a conductor and educator, Kyle served as the assistant music director of the Hannah Hasbrouck Petersen Concert Series in Fredonia, NY, and as chorus master for the 2012 Hillman Opera production of Suor Angelica. He joined Berkshire Choral International as a staff instructor in the summer of 2017 after two previous seasons as an apprentice. He joins us as a member of the Richmond faculty this year. 

Daniel Mahoney

Tenor

Daniel Mahoney is a Boston-based conductor who has been working regularly at home and abroad. In January 2018, he made his Symphony Hall (UK) debut, preparing the University of Birmingham Voices for John Wilson and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s centenary celebration of Leonard Bernstein, and he lead the Birmingham University Singers on their 2018 tour to Germany. He has also conducted Rundfunkchor Berlin in their International Conducting Masterclass. He also holds the Conducting Fellowship of Schola Cantorum of Oxford, one of the longest established and most widely known chamber choirs in the UK. In 2017, Daniel conducted the UK student première of Jonathan Dove’s The Enchanted Pigat the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

At home, Daniel has prepared the One City Choir for the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and appeared as guest conductor for The Boston Cecilia. In August 2016, he conducted in the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize winning composer, David Lang’s the public domainin New York City’s Mostly Mozart Festival. That same year,he formed The Janvs Project chamber orchestra through the Boston Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Grant. He also served as assistant conductor of the Newburyport Choral Society and music director at the Congregational Church of Weston. Daniel was two-time a fellow at Yale University’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and conducting fellow at Chorus America’s national conference. Daniel is currently the Director of the Schola Cantorum at the College of the Holy Cross.

As a singer, Daniel has performed at the BBC Proms with Sir Simon Rattle and Edward Gardner as a member of the CBSO Chorus, and regularly sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. He has sung with Cantata Singers, Boston’s acclaimed Renaissance Men and Canto Armonico, and has also performed at Trinity Wall Street in New York.

Daniel completed his conducting studies as a student of Simon Halsey CBE and Simon Carrington at the University of Birmingham. He also holds degrees in conducting from the Boston Conservatory and music education from Ithaca College. Initially coming to BCI as a Berkshire Scholar, this is Daniel’s sixth summer with BCI, where he was also an apprentice, staff conductor, and now faculty member in Richmond.

Patrick T. Waters

tenor

Patrick (B.M. Manhattan School of Music; M.S.M. Boston University) holds degrees in composition, conducting and sacred music, with additional studies in piano and vocal performance. He has studied conducting with Dr. Ann Howard Jones, Bruce Hangen, Robert Isaacs, and Paul Brantley, and has worked in master classes with John Alexander, Jane Glover, Frank Nemhauser, and Kathy Saltzman Romey. He has completed coursework pursuing the Performance Diploma in voice at Boston University, studying with James Demler. He has participated in Berkshire Choral Festival since 2009, first as a conducting apprentice, later joining the faculty as staff instructor; in 2009, he was a featured soloist in the Festival’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil.

Patrick performs regularly with Cambridge Concentus, earning acclaim with the group in their landmark performance of Haydn’s Mariazellermesse at Boston University’s Haydn & Landon Musicology Conference in 2009, and in his critically lauded performance of Bach’s cantata Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben in 2011.  He has performed with the Bermuda Chamber Choir to high praise as a soloist (Mass in C, Beethoven; Messiah, Handel; Oratorio de Noel, Saint-Saëns) and has joined semi-staged productions with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (A Midsummer Marriage, Tippett; Four Saints in Three Acts, V. Thomson) and the Boston Youth Symphony (Rigoletto, Tosca). He also appears frequently with the Back Bay Chorale (Carmina Burana, Handel's Saul) and the Handel and Haydn Society. Patrick has collaborated with Music at Boston University Marsh Chapel as a member of the music staff since 2009, and returns to BCI for the sixth year as a faculty member in Boston.

Megan Friar

Mezzo-Soprano

Megan Friar is a familiar face to audiences as a soloist in opera, oratorio and musical theater.  She has performed with the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera and has appeared with opera companies, including Sarasota, Connecticut, Virginia, Des Moines, the Center for Contemporary Opera and the NY Gilbert & Sullivan Players.  She has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera Chorus in their productions of Die Meistersinger, War and Peace and Turandot.

Megan has appeared as a soloist with many symphony orchestras and choirs, including Sioux City, Detroit, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Eastern Connecticut, AmorArtis, Musica Sacra, Voices of Ascension, Gregg Smith Singers, New York Choral Artists and the Fairfield County Chorale.  She has been a soloist with the Mark Morris Dance Group, as well as with the Dave Brubeck Quartet at Carnegie Hall. An accomplished ensemble singer, Megan has sung and recorded with all of the professional choruses in the New York City area for many years. She has appeared on the Garrison Keillor Radio Show, The David Letterman Show, and The Guiding Light.  She frequently performs with jazz pianist and husband, Ron Drotos.

Megan is originally from Connecticut and earned her BS and MM degrees from the University of Connecticut.  She resides in the Bronx and is happy to be joining the BCI faculty in Boston this year.

Margaret Taylor Woods

Soprano

Soprano Margaret Taylor Woods is an artist based in Richmond, VA, establishing a diverse career of concert work, opera, teaching and church music. Margaret serves as adjunct music faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, teaching applied voice lessons and voice methods. She also runs a private voice studio and is quickly becoming one of the most sought after voice teachers and clinicians in the Richmond area.

As a soloist, Margaret is known for her musical and dramatic interpretations and is an active recitalist specializing in contemporary song. In the 2018/2019 season, Margaret has made appearances at the Gellman Room Series for the Richmond Public Library, performing a lecture recital featuring John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, the Garden State Philharmonic singing the soprano solos for performances of Messiah and More, the Richmond Mozart Festival, the International Heitor Villa-Lobos Festival, the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall performing a faculty recital featuring contemporary song and a performance as soprano soloist in Schubert’s Mass in G with Reveille United Methodist Church. This summer, Margaret will travel to Los Angeles to participate in SongFest as a Colburn Foundation Full Tuition Fellow.

Margaret’s singing resume includes a variety of operatic roles such as Blanche (Dialogues des Carmélites), Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and other various roles performed through young artist and training programs such as Classic Lyric Arts: La Lingua Della Musica, Jeunesses Musicales Croatia, Crittenden Opera Workshop  and the American Singers’ Opera Project. Past performances include a masterclass with Tom Cipullo for World Voice Day NYC NATS, masters recital in collaboration with esteemed pianist JJ Penna, Westminster Choir College’s Lindsey Christiansen Art Song Festival and as soprano soloist for the Virginia Masterworks Chorale.

In addition to her roles at VCU, Margaret serves as the elementary choral director for City Singers Youth Choirs and Music Assistant at First Presbyterian Church Richmond. She holds degrees from Lebanon Valley College in Music Education (B.S.) and Music (B.A.) and an M.M. in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College. This is Margaret’s first year serving on the faculty of BCI, she will be in Richmond

Thomas Böttcher

Bass

Thomas Böttcher was born in Waidhofen/Ybbs in Lower Austria. He holds a MA degree in Music Education and studied composition and conducting in Vienna for several years.

He has served as choral conductor of the Youth Vocal Festival in Lower Austria and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Amstetten. He has accompanied the vocal classes of Vienna’s Academy of Music and Performing Arts as well as the “New Opera Vienna” and the “Vienna Summer Opera.” Recent conducting engagements for this institution included performances of the operas “L´Italiana in Algeri”, “The bartered bride” and “The Magic Flute”, “Les contes d´Hoffmann” and others.

Thomas Böttcher has been conductor and pianist for the Vienna Boys Choir since 1991 in more than 500 performances worldwide. Since 1997 he has taught in the voice department of the University of Music in Vienna.

Being invited for several times,Thomas Böttcher used to teach Choral singing and Choral conducting in Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide).

In 1999 he started working as a Chorus Master and conductor of the stage orchestra in the Vienna Volksoper. In February 2012 he was appointed to be the First Chorus Director of this Opera house.

Since 2014 is Thomas Böttcher is the Church Music Director of the well – known Augustinerkirche in Vienna and conducted in this function all the Mass-compositions W.A. Mozart, Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert.

He will be joining BCI in Prague this year. 

Michael Schneider

Tenor

Michael Schneider, was born in Salzburg. He developed an interest in music, especially in conducting, early in his life and began his music education in his hometown where he founded his first choir even before studying in Vienna.

Schneider studied piano and voice pedagogy as well as orchestral conducting with Prof. Mark Stringer at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.

He is the artistic director of “Chorus Viennensis” a male choir with former Vienna Boys Choir singer and second conductor in St. Augustin, Vienna.

During summer 2017 he was appointed choir master of the Opera Festival Klosterneuburg where he also conducted the performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater. In addition to his choral conducting Michael works freelance as an orchestral conductor. 

He has worked as assistant choir master with both the Vienna Singverein and the Salzburg Bach Choir where his latest projects include overseeing the Vienna Singverein during their Japan tour and working on “West Side Story” with the Salzburg Bach Choir during the 2016 Salzburg Whitsun Festival. In the course of his work as assistant choir master, he has had the opportunity to work with many renowned conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Franz Welser-Möst, Daniele Gatti and Ingo Metzmacher.

In addition to his artistic work, Michael Schneider is increasingly active in teaching choral conducting in different master classes in Austria and most recently in Shenzhen, China. He will be joining BCI in Prague

Balázs Székely

Pianist

Balázs Székely, attended the Bartók Conservatory of Music in Budapest for piano, composition and music theory (1984-1990) and the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest receiving a degree in piano, music education, music theory and choral conducting (1990-1995). His teachers were András Kemenes, Erzsébet Legányné Hegyi, József Maklári, István Párkai, among others. He also attended the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna, for vocal accompanying by David Lutz (1995-2000) and various masterclasses with Attila Némethy, Daniel Immelman and Charles Spencer.

Since 1998 he has been working at Leó Weiner Conservatory of Music as accompanist and has also taught at the Liszt Academy 1999-2005. Since 2012 he has been teaching chamber music, piano and score reading at the Kodály Institute in Kecskemét and was accompanist at the 27th, 28th and 29th International Kodály Seminar.

Between 2000 and 2006 he was guest teacher with his wife at the Music Education Department of Central Conservatory of Music, in Beijing as well as at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music (2001) and at the Canton International Summer Music Academy (2006).

He has given solo and chamber music concerts in Austria, Czech Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and China.

Székely has also published László Weiner: Triple concert, with Mónika Hegedűs, László Fehérvári, Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and conducting by Tamás Vásáry (CD). He will be the accompanist in Prague for the 2019 season. 

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