Founder & Director
Erin is a San Francisco playwright and Teaching Artist. As an educator, she has led nearly 100 classes through the creation of original operas. She has taught and developed curriculum for San Francisco Opera’s ARIA program, where the astoundingly high quality of mini-operas her classes kept churning out became the impetus to begin Little Opera. Her own work has been produced throughout the Bay Area, and developed across the country. Erin is a proud recipient of a 2014 Individual Artist Commission Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission for an upcoming musical collaboration with composer Alex Stein.
Naya Chang is a theater director, actress, violinist and painter. She received her MFA in Theater Acting with a special emphasis in Directing and BA in Music Composition from Brandeis University. Her recent works include: director and narrator for Harmony of Nature by Bunun Mountain Traditional Music Chorus and Cellist Annie Chang in Esplanade Singapore, director and stage designer for the concert Wu Man and Aboriginal Friends, commissioned by the National Theater and Concert Hall, as part of the 2012 Taiwan International Festival of the Arts, and assistant director for the original opera La peintre, Yu-Lin produced by the Nations Symphony Orchestra Taiwan, premiering at the National Theater Hall in Taipei. She was assistant director for Stuck Elevator premiered at American Conservatory Theater (ACT) and traveled with the touring version of the production to International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven. Naya has a passion for education and taught a theatre course she developed called “Speak, Act, Because We Care” at the Urban Scholars Program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Naya is also devoted in connecting Eastern and Western cultures, as well as social issues and healing. www.nayachang.com
Danny is a composer and general noise-maker based in San Francisco who works in a variety of media. He “daylights” as an elementary school music teacher, where he has curated collaborative projects between young creative minds and professional organizations around the country, including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), 826 Valencia, Nonsemble 6, the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival, and Friction Quartet. As a teaching artist, he works with Little Opera and the San Francisco Opera ARIA Network. He has been commissioned by groups such as Kronos Quartet, Phyllis Chen, Sarah Cahill, and many groups throughout the Bay Area.
Jenny comes from a family of folk musicians and grew up listening to her large family playing guitar and singing harmonies at family gatherings. She began studying flute in high school with Ruth Giles, professor at Minnesota State University at Mankato/Gustavis Adolphus College, and completed her degree in Flute Performance at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities studying with Julia Bogorad Kogan, Adam Kuenzel and Keith Underwood. Jenny holds a Masters Degree at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities n Flute Performance studying with Julia Bogorad Kogan and Immanuel Davis. After graduating, she started an all girl punk rock band called Eufio. You can read more about her and her work in this interview in the Mount Olivet School of Music newsletter.
Eva’s background is in theatre and cultural anthropology, and she’s had training in counseling psychology and drama therapy. In addition to teaching at Little Opera, she currently works as a freelance ghostwriter and editor, and is collaborating on a musical comedy in which, finally, she confesses to being a clown.
Colombian-born countertenor Albert has most recently been awarded a post-graduate diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and brings many years of opera experience to the Little Opera collective. He is a vocal coach at the Kipp School and Little Opera’s resident music and voice teacher.
Alex Stein is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. Alex’s works have seen premieres by at the Bowdoin International Music Festival and by the Mimesis Ensemble and Choral Chameleon. He was a 2013 Artist-in-Residence at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Among his many activities as a music educator, Alex works as a teaching artist with the San Francisco Opera’s ARIA program, helping children create original mini-operas. Alex holds a Master’s Degree in composition from the Mannes College of Music where he studied with David Loeb. While at Mannes, he was a winner of the 2008 Jean Schneider Goberman composition competition, the Martinu prize for orchestral composition, and the Composer-in-Residence Chamber Ensemble commission. He is currently working on a musical about startups.
Suzanne Vradelis brings 23 years of classroom experience to Little Opera. She is a recipient of the 2007 SF State University Alumni Award for Teacher of the Year, and 826 Valencia’s Teacher of the Month prize. During her tenure at West Portal she wrote, directed, and produced 13 original musicals with 1,000 students. Suzanne trained in ballet and modern dance — she taught dance at Antioch college in Ohio and worked as dance director for Otrabanda Theater Company in New Orleans before coming to San Francisco.
- Lauren Fernandez (Treasurer) is currently a Program Manager at Google, and holds an MBA from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, and a BA from Williams College. She has over 8 years of experience across a range of business operations, including management consulting, business development, corporate strategy, and user care. Lauren benefited from music education as a child in the San Francisco Unified School District, and wrote her undergrad thesis on the effects of school choice policies on student diversity.
- Altay Guvench is a computer programmer and serial entrepreneur living in San Francisco. His latest venture, 10x Management, is a talent agency representing over 100 of the world’s top independent technology consultants, and has been featured by numerous media outlets, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, CNN, ABC News, and NPR. Outside of his technology work, Altay has been an avid musician his whole life, playing bass, guitar, cello, Tibetan singing bowls, and a number of other instruments. Music has not only been his greatest source of individual joy, but also his strongest means of connecting to people from all walks of life, and he’s excited to help bring that same experience to Little Opera students. Altay has a degree in neuroscience from Harvard College.
- Joyce Ohgi (Secretary) worked as a user researcher/principal usability engineer at Oracle for 13 years with the objective of making Oracle software more intuitive for users. She studied Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford (BS in Symbolic Systems), so this was a natural fit. Joyce left Oracle in February 2015 looking for a more meaningful life. Part of that has meant getting involved with Little Opera. She has started tutoring one of the Little Opera students and hopes, as a board member, to help Little Opera grow and reach more students who want music, art and creativity in their lives.
- Jonas Wright (President) went to work in film exhibition at US based film festivals after completing a degree in Film Studies, eventually leading to a position at the American Film Institute working with the graduate students. From there, he pivoted into the education sector where he has been since. He has also worked at the Presidio Graduate School, an MBA program, and is currently at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After hearing about Little Opera on a local NPR station, he found the avenue he was looking for to help promote arts education, particularly opera, to younger audiences. Jonas received his BA in Film Studies at the University of Buffalo. He is currently Associate Dean, Academic Affairs at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
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