Reflections of Us Speaker Series

This speaker series is intended to connect UNO Choral students with professional musicians who have adjusted and adapted to the career constraints brought on COVID-19 pandemic. These musicians, educators, playwrights and composers will talk about the innovative strategies they used to find success during the pandemic.

Zachary James

Zachary James created the role of Abraham Lincoln in Philip Glass’ The Perfect American (Teatro Real, English National Opera, Opera Queensland), Terry in Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking The Waves (Opera Philadelphia), Oberon in Il Sogno (Teatro Citta della Pieve), Lurch in The Addams Family (Broadway) and the Scribe in the Olivier Award winning English National Opera production of Akhnaten. Zach made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Akhnaten. As a Broadway actor, Zach created the role of Lurch in the Original Broadway Cast of The Addams Family. Zach has appeared on TV as Carl on 30 Rock opposite Steve Martin and Tina Fey, on the series finale of Murphy Brown as the Secret Serviceman to Mike Pence and on the 2010 Tony Awards live from Radio City Music Hall. Learn more about Zach at www.ZachJames.com

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Kenny Overton

Baritone Kenneth Overton is a 2020 Grammy Award Nominated artist for the title role in The Naxos Label Recording of Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua with the Buffalo Philharmonic. For his portrayal of Stephen Kumalo, in Kurt Weill’s Lost in The Stars, Baritone Kenneth Overton was nominated for the 2019 St. Louis Theatre Circle Award for “Outstanding Performance in an Opera.” Kenneth is enjoying singing leading roles at some of the world’s great opera houses such as, San Francisco Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Palacio Bellas Artes, New York City Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Royal Danish Opera as well as many regional opera houses in the U.S. Kenneth is also the associate producer of the upcoming documentary, BLACK OPERA For more information www.KennethOverton.com and www.BlackOperaFilm.com

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Dr. Andrea Ramsey

Dr. Andrea Ramsey enjoys an international presence as a composer, conductor, scholar, and music educator. Her teaching experiences range from work with adolescent and children's voices to high school and collegiate voices. She enjoys regular opportunities to conduct all-state and divisional level honor choirs, festival events at Carnegie Hall, and serves as a principal conductor for the Pacific International Young Women's Choral Festival in Eugene, Oregon. Before leaping into full time composing and guest conducting, Andrea held positions in music education and conducting at The Ohio State University and the University of Colorado, respectively. An ASCAPlus award-winning composer, Andrea believes strongly in the creation of new works. Her compositions are available with traditional publishers and also through MusicSpoke, a digital sheet music marketplace. Learn more about Andrea at www.andrearamsey.com

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Dr. Masi Asare

MASI ASARE is a composer, lyricist, playwright, voice teacher and Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northwestern University, where she teaches musical theatre history, musical theatre writing, and vocal performance studies. She holds commissions from Broadway producers and Marvel, and is a lyricist for Monsoon Wedding the Musical, slated to tour India, Dubai, Singapore, and London in 2022. Her shows include: The Family Resemblance (Theatre Royal Stratford East commission, Eugene O’Neill Center); Mirror of Most Value, a one-act play about super hero Ms. Marvel; Rishvor, a new musical about racial passing; and secret agent musical Sympathy Jones. A past Dramatists Guild Fellow, Masi won the Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award for a woman composer of musicals. Masi’s scholarly book project examines the impact of blues singers on Broadway belting and makes the case for the need to feel the racial history in contemporary musical theatre performance. Learn more about Masi at masiasare.com

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Robert Gibson

Houston native Robert T. Gibson is a conductor, educator, and clinician who desires to develop future music educators for the next generation. He has held middle school, high school, collegiate positions, and has served as guest clinician in Texas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, Kansas, Tennessee, and New York. Robert currently resides in Springfield, MO where he is the director of choirs at Reed Academy as well as adjunct professor at Missouri State University.  Learn more about Robert at roberttgibsonmusic

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Chad Beguelin

Chad Beguelin is a six-time Tony Award® nominee. His Broadway works include The Prom (Tony Award nomination for Best Book and Best Original Score, Drama Desk Award Nomination for Best Book and Outstanding Lyrics), Disney’s Aladdin (Tony Award nomination for Best Book and Best Original Score, Drama Desk Award Nomination for Best Book and Outstanding Lyrics), and The Wedding Singer (Tony Award nomination for Best Book and Best Original Score, Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Lyrics). He also wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical Elf. Chad co-wrote the screenplay for The Prom currently available on Netflix and starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and James Corden. Learn more about Chad at www.chadbeguelin.com

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Rob Dietz

Rob Dietz is a multiple CARA winning producer who has been arranging, composing, teaching, and performing contemporary a cappella music for over fifteen years. Based in Los Angeles, Rob is best known for his work as an arranger and group coach for NBC’s The Sing-Off. As a performer he is an award-winning vocal percussionist, and his distinctive sound has been featured on several TV shows, including FOX's Glee and The Late Late Show with James Corden. Rob has a deep passion for education, and is a founding co-director of A Cappella Academy. Rob is also the director of Legacy - an auditioned, community youth a cappella group based in Los Angeles. Rob led the group to win the International Championship of High School A Cappella in 2018. His compositions have been performed by choirs all over the world, and are recognized for their distinct fusion of traditional choral writing and an exciting, modern pop aesthetic.Learn more about Rob at www.robdietzmusic.com.

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