James Bagwell maintains an active international schedule as a conductor of choral, operatic, and orchestral music. He was recently named associate conductor of The Orchestra Now (TŌN), and in 2009 was appointed principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. From 2009 to 2015, he served as music director of The Collegiate Chorale. Highlights of his tenure include conducting a number of operas-in-concert at Carnegie Hall, including Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon, and Boito’s Mefistofele. He conducted the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s “Toltec” Symphony and Golijov’s Oceana, both at Carnegie Hall. Since 2011, he has collaborated with singer and composer Natalie Merchant, conducting major orchestras across the country, including the San Francisco and Seattle Symphonies.
He has trained choruses for numerous American and international orchestras, including the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and American Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with conductors including Charles Dutoit, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel, Alan Gilbert, Gianandrea Noseda, Yannik Nézet-Séguin, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Louis Langrée, Ivan Fischer, Jesús López-Cobos, and Robert Shaw.
Bagwell prepared The Collegiate Chorale for concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland; in 2012, the Chorale traveled to Israel and the Salzburg Festival for four programs with the Israel Philharmonic. Since 2003, he has been director of choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the summer festival at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. He frequently appears as guest conductor for orchestras around the country and abroad, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Symphony, and the Interlochen Arts Festival. He is professor of music at Bard College, director of performance studies, and codirector of the Graduate Conducting Program at Bard College Conservatory of Music.
Stephanie BlytheA renowned opera singer and recitalist, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe is one of the most highly respected and critically acclaimed artists of her generation. Her repertoire ranges from Handel to Wagner, and German lieder to contemporary and classic American songs. Blythe has performed on many of the world’s great stages, such as Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Paris National Opera, San Francisco, Chicago Lyric, and Seattle Opera. She was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year in 2009, received an Opera News Award in 2007, and won the Richard Tucker Award in 1999. Blythe recently released her first crossover recording on the Innova Recordings label with pianist Craig Terry.Blythe’s performances include the title roles in Carmen, Samson et Dalila, Orfeo ed Euridice, La Grande Duchesse, Tancredi, Mignon, and Giulio Cesare; Frugola, Principessa, and Zita in Il Trittico; Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre; Waltraute in Götterdämmerung; Azucena in Il Trovatore; Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera; Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress; Ježibaba in Rusalka; Jocasta in Oedipus Rex; and Ino/Juno in Semele. She also created the role of Gertrude Stein in Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27 at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.Blythe has appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Opera Orchestra of New York, Hallé Orchestra, and Concertgerbouworkest, among others. She has also appeared at the Tanglewood, Cincinnati May, and Ravinia festivals, and at BBC Proms. Conductors with whom she has worked include Harry Bicket, James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Robert Spano, Patrick Summers, and Michael Tilson Thomas.Blythe has been presented in recital in New York by Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in both its Great Performers Series at Alice Tully Hall and American Songbook Series at the Allen Room, Town Hall, 92nd Street Y, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also been presented by the Vocal Arts Society and at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.; Cleveland Art Song Festival; University Musical Society in Ann Arbor; Philadelphia Chamber Music Society; Shriver Hall in Baltimore; and San Francisco Performances.She has premiered several song cycles written for her, including Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson by the late James Legg; Covered Wagon Woman by Alan Louis Smith, which was commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and recorded with the ensemble (CMS Studio Recordings); and Vignettes: Ellis Island, also by Smith, featured in a television program entitled Vignettes: An Evening with Stephanie Blythe and Warren Jones. She is also artistic director of the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar at the Crane School of Music and artistic director of the Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program.
Ira ColemanIra Coleman was born on April 29th, 1956 in Stockholm, Sweden. He was raised in France until 1968 and thereafter lived in Germany for fourteen years. Ira studied bass at Germany’s “Hochschule für Musik, Köln” from 1980 to 1982. Thereafter, he moved to the US to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated in 1985.
Ira Coleman currently resides in Rhinebeck, New York and has performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Jessye Norman, Milt Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Grover Washington Jr., Barbara Hendricks, Branford Marsalis, Betty Carter, Kathleen Battle, Tony Williams, Baaba Maal, Michel LeGrand, Billy Taylor, Cab Calloway, Billy Cobham, The Carnegie Hall Jazz Ensemble, The Duke Ellington Orchestra under the direction of Mercer Ellington and many other artists.
Ira Coleman was the musical director for Ernest Ranglin’s Ska Ensemble from 1996-1999 and Dee Dee Bridgewater from 2002-2009. Ira Coleman has branched out to play world music and has arranged, recorded and produced for musicians from Senegal and Mali.
Ira Coleman has performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Tokyo’s Budokkan Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertsgebouw, Paris Olympia and Salle Pleyel, Montreux Stravinsky Hall, Lucerne KKL, Cologne Philharmonie, the Hollywood Bowl, Beiteddine (Lebanon), Berkeley’s Greek Theatre as well as at the JVC, Nice, Berlin, Paris, Playboy, Antibes, North Sea, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Pori, Montreal Jazz and Womad Festival to name a few.
John EspositoJohn Esposito is an American pianist/composer/drummer/producer who works on a wide array of creative music projects. His technical skills and the range of his artistic palette extend across the stylistic boundaries of the Stride Piano, Swing, Bebop, Modal and Free Music movements. He has performed and recorded with artists including Nick Brignola, Dave Douglas, Dave Holland, Carter Jefferson, Franklin Kiermyer, Joe Lovano, J.R. Monterose, David “Fathead” Newman, Eric Person, Arthur Rhames, Sam Rivers, Roswell Rudd, Pharaoh Sanders and John Stubblefield.
John is the owner/executive producer of Sunjump Records. He has created music for theater, dance, film, TV commercials, and multimedia performance art. He is a music faculty member and artist-in-residence at Bard College and resides in New York State’s Hudson Valley.