Laurence Albert, bass-baritone
[B.M., Morehouse College; Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance, St. Louis Conservatory]
Laurence Albert made his professional debut with the Detroit Opera in 1977, and has since performed a repertoire of over 50 operatic roles. He has been invited to perform in theaters such as the Paris Opéra (Bastille), the Frankfurt Oper, Opera Ireland, and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. He has performed in concert throughout the United States, Great Britain, Europe and South Africa; and has performed in recital a repertoire of over 300 songs in seven languages. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, he studied classical singing and interpretation at Morehouse College (B.A.), the University of Michigan, the University of Memphis, and the St. Louis Conservatory (Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance). Laurence Albert is the first African-American national prize winner representing the Mid-South Region in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions held at Lincoln Center in New York (Opera). He is also prize-winner of the Concours de Chant de Paris (Opera and Song), the International Concours Tryptique de Paris (Grand Prize - French Melodie), and the Franz Schubert Institut of Austria (German Lieder). The University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC), Rhodes and LeMoyne-Owen Colleges in Memphis have provided him a setting for working with gifted young American singers. In Europe, Albert has taught master classes for Les Semaines Musicales de Quimper Festival, l’Ecole d’Ete Claude Debussy, and has served on juries for England’s Elgar School of Music in Worchester (with Dame Janet Baker presiding as president), the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique of Paris, and the Conservatoire National de Region of Nice.
Carole Blankenship, soprano
[B.A., Rhodes College; M.M., D.M.A., University of Memphis]
Carole Blankenship, soprano, is Assistant Professor of Music at Rhodes College where she is the Coordinator of the Voice Division. She received the M.M. and D.M.A. in Vocal Performance from the University of Memphis. Regularly performing in recitals, chamber music concerts, and oratorio performances in the Mid-south region, Dr. Blankenship has most recently presented recitals and lectures in Lisbon, London, and Scotland (2010-2011). Dr. Blankenship has performed solo recitals in Marktoberdorf, Germany; at The Cell Theatre, New York, New York; The University of California, Santa Cruz; The University of the Pacific; The University of Delaware; and at The University of Texas, San Antonio. Her research is focused in American song, particularly of Paul Bowles, and those created under the direction of the Federal Music Project 1935-1940. She is co-director of the Memphis Music and Religion Archive at Rhodes College. Currently serving as Tennessee Governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, she has also served as the President of the Memphis Chapter of NATS.
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.
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.