November 17, 2013
Featuring Liana Valente
Sara Bong received her B.M. degree cum laude in piano from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Sara began her piano studies at the age of five and was a student of Marjorie Morrow and Howard Karp. She made her Carnegie Hall debut at age 16, appearing in concert with the pianist Eugene List, with whom she coached for three years as his youngest student. Further musical studies took place at the Aspen Music Festival, the Southern Vermont Arts Festival, and Interlochen‘s National Music Camp, where she also served a staff accompanist for two years.
Sara began her tenure at MidAmerica Productions in 1988 as the Assistant to the Director and was also the administrator for MidAmerica's Performers Management Exchange before being appointed Director of Marketing and Program Development in 1990, and Vice President in 2007. MidAmerica Productions is the largest producer of classical events at Carnegie Hall, having surpassed 500 concerts there in Spring 2013. Previously, Sara held administrative positions at the University of Cincinnati, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and the Kohler Arts Center, where she coordinated fund raising activities and events development. She also served as a staff accompanist at Interlochen's National Music Camp for two summers. In 2011 and 2012, Sara was a key coordinator of MidAmerica's Festival of the Aegean, a three-week multi-disciplinary festival of concerts, opera, drama, and dance on the Cyclades island of Syros, Greece; and in 2013 took on the additional responsibility of festival accompanist. Sara released her first solo keyboard recording, “What if the King Should Come to the City,” on the Penguin on the Telly label, and has been heard in solo and chamber music performances in New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and throughout the Midwest. She is also active in the international music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota: performing regularly at local, regional and national events; serving as as the chair of the Inter-American Music Awards competition; and holding multiple positions within the New York Alumnae Chapter. Sara is a charter member of the Epsilon Nu Chapter of the honor music fraternity, Pi Kappa Lambda, at the University of Wisconsin; and a member of ACDA.
Admired for her work singing traditional soubrette/lyric opera, oratorio and song literature, Dr. Liana Valente is praised as an exciting performer of new music. She regularly commissions and premieres works written by emerging and established composers, appearing in concert and as a presenter throughout the US and abroad. Some of the composers with whom she has collaborated include Violet Archer, Derek Healey, Timothy J. Brown, William Vollinger, Christine Arens, Judy Ross, Marty Regan and Jason Lovelace. She is a frequent presenter at regional and national conferences hosted by the College Music Society, Music Teachers National Association and Sigma Alpha Iota and was a presenter at The Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium VII held at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada in 2011. A native New Yorker, Dr. Valente currently lives in Central Florida with her husband, Michael Shook. When not on stage performing or in the studio teaching, “Doc” can be found either on the back nine at the local golf course, tending her butterfly garden rearing Monarchs and Black Swallowtails, or creating stained glass creations with her husband for Art-O-Mat.
Derek Healey studied composition with Herbert Howells at the Royal College of Music, London, and with Boris Porena and Gofredo Petrassi in Italy. He has won prizes in the UK, Italy and the USA and has taught at the Universities of Victoria, Toronto, Guelph, Oregon, and the RAF School of Music. He has written works in most genres, having over fifty works published in the UK, Canada and the USA. His opera Seabird Island was the first contemporary opera to be taken on a cross-Canada tour and his Morgenstern Lieder was premiered in Berlin in April this year. Healey, who has his doctorate from the University of Toronto, is now retired, living in Brooklyn, NY. For further information visit http://www.DerekHealey.com
Born and raised in Illinois, Judy Strubhar Ross has for most of her ninety-one years been a composer and a teacher. She began composing at the age of eight. Two operettas, written at ten and thirteen, were given major productions in her home town of Peoria. Peorians took her music to their hearts and throughout her school years she gave public performances in the community. Upon Graduation from Eastman School of Music she settled in Miami, Florida, where she became music director of Radio Station WGMS, Miami’s CBS affiliate. Later, when her direction turned to teaching, she served on the faculties of Miami Conservatory and Miami/Dade Community College. She was composer/arranger for Greater Miami Philharmonic Society and music critic for The Week magazine. She also gave programs in nursing homes. A particular joy for her was teaching the blind, for whom she learned both literary and music Braille.Judy’s compositions are both sacred and secular, choral, orchestral-chamber music, vocal solos & instrumental ensembles.
William Vollinger’s music is described as “3D: different, direct and deep”, performed by artists including the Gregg Smith Singers and NY Vocal Arts Ensemble, whose performance of “Three Songs About the Resurrection” won first prize at the Geneva International Competition. “Violinist in the Mall” won the Friends and Enemies of New Music Competition. He is published by Abingdon, API, Heritage, Kjos, Lawson-Gould, and Laurendale. Five works were editor's choices in the J.W. Pepper Catalogue. Navona Recordings released “Raspberry Man” in 2011.