Carole Blankenship, soprano
[B.A., Rhodes College; M.M., D.M.A., University of Memphis]
Carole Choate Blankenship, soprano, is Associate Professor of Music at Rhodes College. She is heard regularly in recitals, chamber music concerts, and oratorio performances. Dr. Blankenship has performed solo recitals in Marktoberdorf, Germany; The Cell Theatre, New York, New York; The University of California, Santa Cruz; The University of the Pacific; The University of Delaware; The University of Texas, San Antonio, and at The Foundling Museum, London, summer 2011. In October 2010, she presented a paper for the International Paul Bowles Conference at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Together with Irene Herrmann she co-edited Three Songs from the Sierras by Paul Bowles for Classical Vocal Reprints. Dr. Blankenship has led voice masterclasses in Melbourne, Australia, at Middle Tennessee State University, Wheaton Conservatory, and Western Kentucky University. She received the D. M. A. from the University of Memphis where she also received the Graduate Document Award. Dr. Blankenship continues her research in American song; particularly the songs created under the direction of the Federal Music Project 1935-1940, New York and recently presented that work for the Society of American Music National Conference 2013. In July she will present a lecture recital featuring Paul Bowles’s songs for the International Congress of Voice Teachers 2013, Brisbane, Australia. Dr. Blankenship currently serves as Vice President of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Artist Awards.
Sandra Franks, soprano
[B.M., University of Mississippi; M.M., Louisiana State University; D.M.A., University of Mississippi]
Dr. Sandra Franks, soprano, is heard regularly in recitals, chamber music concerts and choral works in the Mid-South area. As a soloist, she has performed with Opera Memphis, the Oxford Community Chorus, the Memphis Vocal Arts Ensemble, the Rhodes MasterSingers Chorale and as a recitalist with the Memphis Chamber Music Society. Her operatic roles include Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Laetitia in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, Susannah in Floyd’s Susannah and Diana in Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers. Mozart roles include Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.
As a Singing Voice Specialist and Vocal Pedagogue, Sandra specializes in the care of the professional voice. She maintains a private voice studio of students with diverse musical styles, assists in diagnosis of voice patients referred by several physicians in the area, and directs research projects, seminars and masterclasses throughout the Southeast. On several occasions, she has been on the faculty and presented research projects at The Voice Foundation’s Symposium on the Care of the Professional Voice. Dr. Franks is also a contributor to the book, The Larynx, edited by Robert H. Ossoff.
Dr. Franks has been on the faculty of the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, where her responsibilities included teaching voice and undergraduate and graduate vocal pedagogy. She is currently Adjunct Professor of Voice at Rhodes College and currently serves as the Treasurer for the Memphis Chapter of NATS. Dr. Franks is also the coordinator of Children’s choir program at Germantown Presbyterian Church. She spends a portion of each summer working with young singers in the Opera Memphis Opera Conservatory program.
James Harr, tenor
[B.A., Rhodes College; M.M., Washington University, St. Louis]
James Harr is currently finishing his doctoral studies in vocal performance and studying with Randal Rushing at the University of Memphis. A native of Chattanooga, TN, he holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from Washington University. After receiving his degree, he joined their faculty to teach applied voice. While in St. Louis, he sang with the St. Louis Symphony for seven years as a principal singer. With that ensemble, he has covered solos in The Messiah, Haydn′s The Seasons, Mozart’s Requiem, Berlioz’s Requiem, and Britten′s War Requiem. He recently debuted with the St. Louis Symphony singing in the sextet for the Berlioz Huit Scènes de Faust and as the 1st Prisoner in Beethoven′s Fidelio. While in Memphis, James has sung with the Memphis Symphony in Schubert′s Mass in G, Bernstein′s Chichester Psalms, and Israel in Egypt. In opera, James has performed roles in The Crucible, Die Zauberflöte, Le nozze di Figaro, Lucia di Lammermoor, Falstaff, Eugene Onegin, Tosca, Carmen, Albert Herring, Handel′s Partenope, Hänsel und Gretel, Die Lustige Witwe, and the world premiere of John Peterson’s opera Silent Partners. Mr. Harr will serve as vocal coach and director for the Jr. and Sr. Conservatories with Opera Memphis. He currently teaches voice as adjunct faculty at Rhodes College.
Matthew Hayner, baritone
[B.M., Bowling Green State University; M.M., University of Memphis]
Originally from Buffalo, NY, baritone Matthew Hayner recently received a Master of Music degree from The University of Memphis, where he continues to study with Mr. Evan Jones. He received his Bachelor’s degrees from Bowling Green State University in Music Education and Performance. Mr. Hayner has a particular interest in German Lieder and studied at the Franz Schubert Institut in Baden, Austria. He was fortunate to learn from esteemed artists such as Elly Ameling, Robert Holl, Helmut Deutsch, Julius Drake, Wolfram Rieger, Rudolf Piernay, and Edith Wiens.
His operatic repertoire includes roles from Tartuffe, Idomeneo, The Old Maid and the Thief, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Don Quichotte auf der Hochzeit des Comacho, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, and the North American premiere of Cavalli’s La virtù de′ Strali d′Amore at Eastman School of Music. He also performs regularly with the Memphis Symphony and Rhodes College Mastersingers--most recently in Bach’s B Minor Mass, Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, and Handel’s Israel in Egypt.
Mr. Hayner is Director of Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Holly Springs, MS and a private voice instructor at Lausanne Collegiate School in East Memphis.
Mona Kreitner, soprano
[B.M., Mansfield University; M.M., Eastman School of Music; Ph.D., University of Memphis]
Soprano Mona Kreitner has appeared in solo recitals and chamber music concerts at Rhodes College, the University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University, and Lyon College in Arkansas. She has appeared locally under the auspices of the Rhodes MasterSingers Chorale, Memphis Chamber Music Society, Calvary and the Arts, and the University of Memphis Imagine Festival. Since 2002 she has been the vocal soloist for The Great Western Rocky Mountain Brass Band based in Silverton, Colorado. With them she has performed and recorded arias by Donizetti, Bellini, Puccini, Rossini, Franz Lehar, Johann Strauss, and John Philip Sousa. Her orchestral solo appearances include the Bach Magnificat, Copland Old American Songs, Haydn Creation, Poulenc Gloria, Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio, and Barber Prayers of Kirkegaard.
Dr. Kreitner has performed and recorded with the Memphis Chamber Choir and the Memphis Consortium for Early Music. She was the soprano soloist for the Kamran Ince Ensemble in recordings of the composer’s scores for the films Love Under Siege, Sarkici, and Aphrodisiac. She was vocal soloist with Kamran Ince on two international tours to Turkey and Northern Cyprus. Her work may be heard with the Memphis Chamber Choir on the Pro Organo label, and with the Kamran Ince Ensemble on the Raksmusik label.
Dr. Kreitner′s research interests include gender studies in music, 17th-century performance practice, and American music. Her dissertation, "A Splendid Group of American Girls: The Women Who Sang with the Sousa Band," received the Rudi Scheidt School of Music Graduate Document Award in 2008. She has presented scholarly papers at regional and national meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music, and two articles of hers will appear in a forthcoming revised edition of The Grove Dictionary of American Music.
Dr. Kreitner has directed collegiate, church, and community choirs in and around Memphis since 1998; and has commissioned choral works by David Shotsberger, Nancy Hill Cobb, and Rhodes student Rene Orth. She serves on the music advisory panel of the Tennessee Arts Commission.