Once a year, we come together to celebrate Little Opera’s work bringing together K-8 students from diverse backgrounds to write, compose, design, rehearse, and perform original opera as a team.
Our 2017 Little Gala, hosted by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, will be on Wednesday, March 22nd at 7pm. The evening will begin with an expert performance by young professional singers of the 2016 opera Outlaws in Love, a cinderella-meets-classic-western tale originally created and performed by Little Opera’s middle school students, and composer Alex Stein. 100% of Little Gala proceeds go toward covering the cost of the after-school program for families who could not otherwise afford to participate.
The 4th annual Little Gala
Wednesday, March 22nd
7pm at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Matt Boehler (Bass): Father
Composer and singer MATT BOEHLER has performed in some of classical music’s most prestigious venues, appearing as a soloist with The Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Dallas Opera, Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Canadian Opera Company, among many others. His work as a singer uniquely informs his work as a composer by lending his music an innately theatrical bent. Recent commissions include works for Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine (NYC). Having earned his B.A. in Theater Arts at Viterbo University, and an A.D. in Opera Studies from Juilliard Opera Center, he is presently pursuing his M.M. in Composition at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he recently was awarded first prize in their Bi-annual Choral Composition Contest and is a recipient of their inaugural Pankonin Art Song Award.
Natasha Czajka (Soprano): Stepsister & Town Gossips
American soprano Natasha Czajka was the winner of the 2017 North State Symphony Young Artist Competition, and will be featured as a soloist in their 2018 season. In spring 2017 she will be performing the role of the Second Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), where she is currently studying voice privately with world renowned soprano Deborah Voigt. She has sung works ranging from Monteverdi to Sondheim, but her current major interests are in the works of Richard Strauss, Puccini, and Rachmaninov. In 2013, she was the winner of the Shasta Symphony Concerto Competition in Redding, California. As a result she sang Ah non credea mirarti/ Ah non giunge, from Bellini’s La sonnambula, with the Shasta Symphony, and has also appeared with the orchestra as soloist singing the mezzo roles in Haydn’s Mass in B-flat Major, and Handel’s Messiah.
Alexandra Gilliam (Soprano): Josie
Coloratura soprano and Philadelphia native Alexandra Gilliam is currently pursuing her Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is a beneficiary of the Barry Manilow Scholarship and the Phyllis C. Wattis Memorial Scholarship Fund. Recent performance engagements include the role of Miss Jessel in SFCM’s production of The Turn of the Screw by Benjamin Britten, along with the role of The Lark in Festival Opera’s workshop production of Rated R for Rat, a new opera by Wang Jie.
She has also interpreted scenes as La Fée from Massenet’s Cendrillon in collaboration with San Francisco Opera’s Educational Outreach program, along with excerpts from Der Rosenkavalier (Sophie) by Strauss, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Juliette), Candide by Leonard Bernstein (Cunegonde), and Le nozze di Figaro (Susanna). Gilliam has participated in several prestigious festivals, including the Taos Opera Institute and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She made her Sydney Opera House debut in the summer of 2015, performing at the Australian International Music Festival as a featured soloist. Gilliam received her Bachelor of Music degree in 2015, graduating with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with tenor Bradley Williams.
Kevin Gino (Tenor): Smithy
Recognized for his “strong, utterly determined” singing, Filipino-American Tenor Kevin Gino performs widely throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He studies with Cesar Ulloa and holds a Master’s Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he has performed Peter Quint in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Don Jose in Bizet’s and Brook’s La Tragedie de Carmen. Additionally, he has sung as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, both with the Peninsula symphony in 2016 and the Music Academy of the West in 2015.
Gino is an alumna of both the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center, where he sang Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberfloete and was a soloist in Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music, and the Music Academy of the West, working with John Churchwell, Martin Katz, and Fred Karama. He has participated in master classes with some of the best, including Sir. Thomas Allen, Marilyn Horne, Patrick Summers, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Linda Watson. When Gino isn’t singing, he is crafting leather goods, trying out a new recipe, and having difficulty deciding which dog he wants to rescue. kevingino.com
Alexandra Mena, Mezzo-Soprano (Stepmother)
Alexandra Mena, mezzo-soprano, has appeared as a soloist with West Bay Opera, the San Francisco Choral Society, Bel Cantanti Opera, the Santa Cruz Symphony, the Palo Alto Philharmonic, the Santa Clara Chorale, and the Fortnightly Music Club. She made her Davies Symphony Hall debut as Elizabeth Bennet in excerpts of Kirke Mechem’s new opera Pride & Prejudice. She has also appeared as Lady Bertram in the West Coast Premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park.
Alexandra is a recent graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she earned a Master of Music degree in vocal performance. Alexandra runs a private voice studio in the East Bay, where she specializes in musical theatre, and contemporary music, for middle and high school students on a performance track. For more on Alexandra, please visit her website at: www.alexandramena.com.
Winnie Nieh, Soprano (Stepsister & Fairy Godmother)
Soprano Winnie Nieh (pronounced “near”) from Hong Kong graduated from Harvard and received Associate diplomas from Trinity College London in piano, violin and voice at ages 13, 14 and 15. Gifted with perfect pitch and a “well-focused”, “impeccably pure and heart-breaking” voice “able to soar above piano or orchestra”, she has performed for Justice Sotomayor and appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Austrian Embassy. She made her European solo debut with legendary Maestro Helmuth Rilling in Bach’s Cantata BWV 147. She won First Place in St. Andrews Arts Council (Canada)’s International Aria Competition, Third Place & Audience Favorite in Madison Early Music Festival’s Handel Aria Competition, and was a National Finalist in New York Lyric Opera’s Competition. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Grammy award-winning vocal ensemble, Chanticleer.
She is thrilled to be making her Little Opera debut. This season, she is also appearing as soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Dixit Dominus and Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, Mozart’s Requiem and Howells’ Requiem in New York, San Francisco, New Jersey and Colorado. She premiered new works for soprano and cello written for her and cellist Matt Schwede at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Other recent performances include Holst’s Four Songs for Voice and Violin and Vaughan Williams’ Along the Field in Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s chamber series; Belinda in Dido and Aeneas and She in King Arthur in Utopia Opera’s Purcell double-bill at Hunter College in New York City; and Arvo Pärt’s Magnificat in San Francisco’s prominent Old First Concerts series with Lacuna Arts Chorale.
Briana Ung, Pianist
A Bay Area native and resident, pianist Briana Ung is passionate about musical collaboration of all varieties. Whether playing for trombone recitals, violin masterclasses, or vocal competitions, Briana thrives on exploring repertoire as eclectic as possible. Briana is particularly enthusiastic about partnering with composers and New Music ensembles. In 2017, Briana was a recipient of the Kristin Pankonin Award, a commission designated for the collaboration between composer, singer, and pianist in the creation of new vocal music. In addition to her love for collaboration, Briana is delighted to work with young musicians, both in her private studio and her accompanist positions at Ohlone College and Fremont Christian School. Briana graduated from Biola University with a B.M. in Piano Performance, and she is currently pursuing her M.M. in Collaborative Piano at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.