Benjamin Binder, pianist and musicologist, is the artistic director of the Pittsburgh Song Collaborative. A specialist of art song, Dr. Binder has accompanied vocal recitals throughout North America, Europe and the Caribbean, working with singers from companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Sarasota Opera. He has been a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Cleveland Institute of Music Art Song Festival. In Pittsburgh, he has also served as the artistic director and principal accompanist of the Member Song Soirée concert series at the Carnegie Museum of Art and The Andy Warhol Museum. As a musicologist, Dr. Binder has published scholarly articles in Current Musicology and presented papers on art song at conferences of the American Musicological Society and The Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium. He is also the director and co-founder of the Vancouver International Song Institute’s Interdisciplinary Song Scholarship and Performance program.
Dr. Binder is Assistant Professor of Music History and Theory at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music. He holds a M.M. in piano performance from Washington University and a Ph.D. in musicology from Princeton University.
Hailed as “nothing short of sensational” by Opera magazine and “a real creature of the stage” by Opera News, Soprano Sari Gruber’s voice has been described as “luminous” and “show-stopping great,” while her vibrant and passionate portrayals have “lit up the stage” in repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary works. A prized artist on the international stage, she has garnered praise for her “shining soprano and vibrant presence” (Opera News), her “direct musicality” (NY Times), as well as her “detailed, charming, resourceful and sympathetic” characterizations (Boston Herald). For her artistry as a recitalist, she was awarded the first prize of the 2005 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation International Vocal Competition.
Sari Gruber’s engagements in 2010-11 include her company debut with Opera Colorado as Musetta in La Bohème, and her signature role, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. She will appear in concert with New York Festival of Song, Oklahoma City Philharmonic for Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Messiah with Winston-Salem Symphony and a workshop of Lori Laitman’s opera The Scarlet Letter at Opera America’s Salon Series, as well as in recital at the Kupferberg Center in New York, Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, and with the Pittsburgh Song Collaborative, of which she is a founding member. In 2011-12, she will appear as Leila in Pearl Fishers with Hawaii Opera Theater, and in concert with Oklahoma City Philharmonic for Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, as the featured guest for a special New Year’s Eve Strauss gala with North Carolina Symphony, and with the Skaneateles Festival for Villa-Lobos’ Bachiannas No. 5 and several recitals.
Ms. Gruber’s operatic credits include appearances with Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Netherlands Opera, Maggio Musicale di Firenze, Saito Kinen Festival, Seiji Ozawa’s Ongaku-Juku Opera Project, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Pacific, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Portland Opera, Connecticut Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Berkshire Opera, Opera East Texas, Madison Opera, among others, where she has performed leading roles including Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Norina in Don Pasquale, Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Gilda in Rigoletto, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Rose in Street Scene, Alexandra in Regina, Anna in Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, Musetta in La Bohème, Nannetta in Falstaff, Aricie in Hippolyte et Aricie, Poppea in Agrippina, Carolina in Il Matrimonio Segreto, Marzelline in Fidelio, Despina in Così fan tutte, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Beth in Little Women, Lisette in La Rondine , and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Audiences nationwide saw her perform Gretel as a member of the prestigious Juilliard Opera Center in a 1997 live Great Performances telecast of Hänsel und Gretel on PBS. She has recorded for Deutsche Gramophon and Albany labels, and has been heard on broadcasts on NPR and a number of local radio stations.
An accomplished recitalist whose song repertoire spans nine languages, Sari Gruber has appeared numerous times in recital at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, in addition to other noted recital venues, including New York’s 92nd Street Y and Miller Theater, San Francisco Performances at the Herbst Theatre, anf Chicago Humanities Festival. Ms. Gruber enjoys a special relationship with New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), and is honored to serve on its Artists Council in addition to performing with the group annually. She has given dozens of recitals throughout the United States under the auspices of the Naumburg Foundation and the Marilyn Horne Foundation. Other notable recital credits include a pre-concert recital of Copland’s Poems of Emily Dickinson for New York Philharmonic’s Copland Festival, appearing as the featured recitalist for the MTNA/NATS national convention in Salt Lake City, and solo recitals at Skidmore College and with San Francisco Opera Center’s Schwabacher Debut Recital Series.
On the concert stage, Ms. Gruber has sung with St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Boston Baroque Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, ProMusica Chamber Ensemble, Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic, Berkshire Choral Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Gettysburg Festival, Jacksonville Symphony, Omaha Symphony, and San Jose Symphony in repertoire ranging from Handel’s Messiah to Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 to Bernstein’s Songfest.
Ms. Gruber holds a B.A. from Yale University, and a Master of Music in Voice from The Juilliard School. She pursued further training at the Juilliard Opera Center, and San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program. Her love of recital brought her to study song literature at both the Tanglewood Music Center and the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute. A semi-finalist in the 1996 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Gruber has also been awarded the Sara Tucker Grant from the Tucker Foundation, the William Sullivan Grant, a study grant from the Licia Albanese Foundation, two Richard F. Gold Career Grants, the DeRosa Prize from The Juilliard School, and the prestigious Louis Sudler Prize for Excellence in the Arts given to one graduating senior from Yale College each year at Commencement. Having grown up in Germany and the United States, she now resides in Mt. Lebanon, PA with her husband, opera administrator William J. Powers and their daughter.
Internationally acclaimed baritone DANIEL TEADT has performed throughout the United States and Europe in over thirty operatic roles in repertoire spanning more than 400 years. His range of repertoire includes his recent New York City Opera debut as the title role in Telemann’s Orpheus which followed his critically acclaimed portrayals of Charlie in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers and the title role in Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Upcoming seasons will find him performing concerts in The Netherlands, a return to Arizona Opera and Opera Theater Summerfest of Pittsburgh as well as a debut with the renowned Music In A Great Space Recital Series. Other notable highlights include Grammy Award winning performances with the London Symphony Orchestra, appearances with Pittsburgh Opera, San Francisco Opera, Aix-en-provence Festival, Arizona Opera, Opera Theatre of St Louis, Anchorage Opera, Ashlawn Opera Festival, Central City Opera among others. A lauded concert singer and recitalist Mr Teadt has also appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Chatham Baroque, Los Angeles Master Chorale, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, Victoria Bach Festival, the Orchestras of the San Francisco and Metropolitan Opera as well as recitals with the Ravinia Festival, Pittsburgh Song Collaborative, New York Festival of Song and San Francisco Opera Schwabacher Debut Recitals. His accolades include the Theodore Uppman prize from the George London Foundation, a Matteus Sullivan Career Grant, top honors from the MacAllister and Palm Beach Opera Awards and the Ganzalus Prize for Singing. Daniel is also an Artist-Lecturer in Voice at Carnegie Mellon University.
Joseph Gaines, Tenor, is a highly versatile and increasingly sought-after operatic and concert artist. Praised for his beautifully-sung and well-acted interpretations of character roles, Gaines has been described as “such an exuberant performer you couldn’t help but smile” (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune). Opera News raved about several of his performances, including Indianapolis Opera’s productions of FALSTAFF (“the sweet-voiced Bardolfo of Joseph Gaines could have been singing Fenton”) and THE MAGIC FLUTE (“Gaines sang Monostatos’s music beautifully while cavorting about the stage”). Opera Today enthusiastically received his Glimmerglass Opera debut as Mercury in ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD: (“Joyce Castle (Public Opinion) and Jake Gardner (Jupiter) performed with skill and comic nuance, sang well, and comported themselves like the seasoned pros that they are. They were matched by a wonderfully fey, wonderfully sung Mercury from tenor Joseph Gaines, who by the way, also gave a lovely Young Artist’s recital at week’s end”). His 2008 return to Glimmerglass Opera in Wagner’s DAS LIEBESVERBOT was described variously as “impressive” (The New York Times), “entertaining” (The Wall Street Journal), and “blessedly cliché-free” (Opera Today).
On the concert stage, he has been a featured soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and a number of chamber ensembles in the United States and abroad.
His 2010-2011 season includes Pittsburgh Opera (TURANDOT/Pong), Ars Lyrica Houston, The Pittsburgh Concert Chorale, Pittsburgh Song Collaborative, Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, and a return to New York’s Teatro Grattacielo for their double-bill of IL RE and I COMPAGNACCI at Lincoln Center.
Future engagements include Pittsburgh Opera, Ars Lyrica Houston, The Pittsburgh Concert Society, and Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Joseph Gaines’ commercially available recordings include “Handel’s Messiah — The Mozart Orchestrations” (The Choir of Men and Boys of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, John Scott, conductor); and two recordings with the Grammy-nominated period ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston.
Grants and awards include: The Pittsburgh Concert Society; The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council; The Sullivan Foundation; The Rotary Foundation; The Jensen Foundation; The Anna Sosenko Assist Trust; and Central City Opera’s McGlone Award for Outstanding Young Artist.
Gaines studied singing with Joseph Evans at the University of Houston, and with Christina Wartenberg at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Leipzig, Germany. He now studies with Leyna Gabriele in New York, and is represented by John Miller of Pinnacle Arts Management. A native of Houston, Gaines currently resides in Pittsburgh.
Laura Knoop Very
Soprano Laura Knoop Very has performed recitals, opera and oratorio all over the United States. With degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Yale School of Music she continued studies at the Tanglewood Festival, Ravinia Festival and Norfolk Festivals where she honed her recital skills. Operatic training and apprenticeships were completed at Pittsburgh Opera Center, Santa Fe Opera and Houston Grand Opera. She is a two-time winner of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation. Her Operatic roles include the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, the title role of Manon, Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito, Alma in Lee Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke, Pamina and First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, and Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow. She has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Washington Summer Opera, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Mobile Opera, Opera Omaha, Arizona Opera and Eugene Opera. She has recorded the world premiere of Robert Moran’s The Dracula Diary, and appears with Cecilia Bartoli on London/Decca’s video of La Cenerentola as Clorinda. On the concert stage, she has appeared with the National Symphony, Peabody Symphony, Houston Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Jacksonville Symphony and Milwaulkee Symphony. Her Concert Repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah, Barber’s Knoxville, Summer 1915, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, Regina Coeli, and Vespers, Mahler’s Symphony No 4, Poulenc’s Gloria and Faure’s Requiem. Ms Very has taught at Point Park’s Conservatory of Theater and is currently on faculty at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music.
Karen Roethlisberger Verm
Originally from Beaver, Pennsylvania, pianist Karen Roethlisberger Verm has been working as a Vocal Coach and Collaborative Pianist in the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 2005. She coordinates the Chamber Music Program at Carnegie Mellon as well. This season, Ms. Verm will be collaborating with both the Pittsburgh Symphony as well as the Mendelssohn Choir.
In Pittsburgh, Ms. Verm has appeared with the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, and Pittsburgh Opera, in the Opera Orchestra as well as with their Education Outreach Program. She has performed with the Lyrique-en-mer Festival (Belle-Ile, France), Robert Page Festival Singers (Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna, Austria), Duquesne University, Point Park University, Aspen Music Festival, Cincinnati Opera’s Education Outreach Ensemble, Rocky Ridge Music Center, and Saltnote Stageworks. She has participated in the Opera Theater of Lucca (Italy), Grandin Festival, Bowdoin Music Festival, and Eastern Music Festival.
Ms. Verm is a recipient of numerous awards including first prize in the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Chamber Music Competition, Vocal Arts Resource Network Artsong Competition, Tuesday Musical Club of Pittsburgh Scholarship, NY State MTNA competition, and the Pittsburgh Concert Society Auditions with her husband, baritone Craig Verm.
Ms. Verm is a graduate of Syracuse University (BM, Piano Performance) and University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (MM, Piano Performance; MM, Vocal Accompanying; and Artist Diploma, Opera Coaching). Her major teachers include Kenneth Griffiths, Donna Loewy, Sylvia Plyler, Frank Weinstock, and Fred Karpoff.