2023 Vann Vocal Guest Artists

Steven Crawford, Head Vocal Coach

Maestro Crawford, having completed 9 years on the conducting staff of the Metropolitan Opera with performances of La Bohème, has embarked on an active conducting career and continues to run one of the most successful vocal coaching studios in New York City. Beginning with Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Prelude to Performance in New York City, he has since conducted Don Giovanni with Dayton Opera, Otello with Vero Beach Opera, The Medium/Pagliacci with Syracuse Opera, the professional premiere of Glory Denied by Tom Cipullo, La Boheme with the Inwood Shakespeare Festival, Otello with Louisville Opera, and Turandot with Dayton opera. He recently conducted Kirke Meecham’s Tartuffe in Portland OR, and earlier La Cenerentola with the Cincinnati Opera, where he had been called “the find of the evening” for stepping in on twelve hours’ notice to conduct Il Barbiere di Siviglia, simultaneously accompanying the recitatives on the fortepiano.

After working as Music Director of the Illinois Opera Theatre, Maestro Crawford was engaged as resident conductor of the Florida Grand Opera for five years. During that time, he conducted fifteen different productions, working with such great artists as Sherill Milnes, Carol Neblett, Justino Diaz, and Barbara Daniels. Maestro Crawford has also conducted productions for Chautauqua Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, Nevada Opera and Opera Northeast.

An excellent symphonic conductor and proponent of contemporary music, Maestro Crawford was engaged by the New York Philharmonic as cover conductor for Maestro Kurt Masur for the American premiere of Minoru Miki’s Symphony for Two Worlds.

Maestro Crawford continues to have an active career in accompanying when his conducting schedule permits. He has in the past accompanied Justino Diaz and Pablo Elvira in Puerto Rico, Aprile Millo in Sao Paolo, Richard Cowan on Belle Île en Mer, and Ortrun Wenkel and Håkan Hagegåard in Miami. Recently, he was the recipient of Classical Singer magazine’s Vocal Coach of the Year award.

Kelly Cae Hogan, soprano

Ms. Hogan is thrilled to return to Montgomery, having sung with the Symphony in 2014. Originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Kelly began her career in musical theater as Carlotta in the Broadway National Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, as well as in the Broadway revival of The Sound of Music. She then branched out into operetta and made her New York City Opera debut as The Merry Widow. She continued into the more lyric operatic repertoire in roles such as Musetta (La Bohème) with Washington National Opera, Violetta (La Traviata) and Countess (Marriage of Figaro) in Birmingham, and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with Cleveland Opera and Palm Beach Opera.
In 2003 Kelly was a last-minute substitute in the title role of Salome with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and that was the launching point into the dramatic German repertoire. She sang Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, making her London debut at The Royal Festival Hall with Opera North in 2016, and toured with the production throughout the UK. She has also sung Brünnhilde in Germany and covered the role at the Metropolitan Opera. Other performances throughout Germany, the UK, Japan and the U.S. include Tannhäuser, The Flying Dutchman, Norma, Salome, Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth, Tosca and Der Rosenkavalier. At the Metropolitan Opera Kelly has sung Gerhilde in Die Walküre as well as roles in Richard Strauss’ Elektra, Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and Janáček’s From the House of the Dead. She can also be seen in the Grammy Award-winning performance of Die Walküre on DVD/Blu-ray released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2012. Kelly looks forward to additional performances of Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle in Germany again this spring.

Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano
Maya Lahyani

Praised for her “big, voluptuous sound” and “vigorous stage presence” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Israeli Mezzo Soprano Maya Lahyani sang over 70 performances at The Metropolitan Opera. Making her debut during the 2013-2014 season in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madam Butterfly, Lahyani is the first Israeli born to ever sing on their stage. Other appearances at the Met include Grimgerde in Die Walküre under the baton of Philippe Jordan in Robert Lepage’s breathtaking production of Wagner’s Ring, Rosette in Laurent Pelly’s production of Manon, a Serving Woman in Strauss’ Elektra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Dorothée in Laurent Pelly’s acclaimed production of Cendrillon, Massenet’s Werther directed by Richard Eyre, Rusalka under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin (all productions were seen live in HD), the role of the Palestinian Woman in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, Flora in Willy Decker’s iconic production of La Traviata, and Tisbe in Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Recent career highlights including Sister Helen Prejean in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking andCharlotte in Massenet’s Werther with The Israeli Operaher Latin American debut as Charlotte in Werther with Ópera De Nuevo León in Monterrey, Mexico; and the title role of Carmen with Opera Maine, Opera Las Vegas and Wolf Trap Opera.

Roger Pines, Opera Industry Consultant

Roger Pines, a familiar voice on the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts’ “Opera Quiz” since the 2005-06 season, recently completed his 26-year tenure at Lyric Opera of
Chicago. Among the many roles he filled at Lyric were dramaturg, commentator for the company’s live opening-night broadcasts (2010-18), program editor, pre-
performance lecturer, and special lecturer/consultant for the company’s young-artist program. Roger previously held positions at San Diego Opera, The Dallas Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. He has judged for numerous prestigious vocal competitions nationwide, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (since 1991) and the national competitions of both Classical Singer and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. A regular contributor of many articles and reviews for important American and European publications – among
them Opera News, Opera magazine, and The Times (London) –as well as for programs of every major North American opera company, Roger has also written program notes for CDs on seven major labels, including releases by Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Joyce DiDonato, Anna Netrebko, and Jonas Kaufmann. A frequent lecturer, in recent seasons he has delivered presentations at San Francisco Opera, the Curtis Institute of Music, Chicago’s renowned Newberry Library and the Opera Department of the University of Texas at Austin. During 2021-22, for the third consecutive year, Roger will be teaching the opera repertoire course at
Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

Kristofer Sanchack, Masterclass Pianist/Guest Vocal Coach

Dr. Kristofer Sanchack serves as Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Activities at Alabama State University. Dr. Sanchack’s wide-ranging musical career began with his study of piano, where he rapidly progressed to study with Curtis Institute of Music mainstay Freda Pastor Berkowitz, whose husband, Ralph Berkowitz, co-founded Tanglewood Music Center.  Dr. Sanchack went on to receive a B.M. in Composition with Honors and High Distinction from Pennsylvania State University.  He holds an M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of South Carolina, where he received an assistantship in Accompanying, and a D.M. in Choral Conducting at Indiana University.  Dr. Sanchack has served in such capacities as the Keyboard Artist for the nationally-renowned Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, and répétiteur for the Anchorage Opera.  In addition to accompanying numerous vocal recitals and masterclasses, he has shared the stage with conductors such as Raymond Leppard, Paul Hillier, John Nelson and Nicholas McGeegan and singers including Sherill Milnes, Timothy Noble, Thomas Cooley, as well as Ailyn Perez, Evan Rogister and Lawrence Brownlee (classmates at Indiana University).  Dr. Sanchack has appeared with the Asheville Symphony, Greenville Symphony and Indianapolis Symphony orchestras, and continues to be in demand as a soloist and accompanist around the United States, currently serving as accompanist to a statewide chorus in Indiana.

Derek Taylor, tenor

Hailed for his “ringing top” and “blazing good looks,” American tenor Derek Taylor has garnered wide praise for his appearances in the United States and Europe.

Mr. Taylor recently made his role debut in the title role of Roméo et Juliette with Hawaii Opera Theatre, returned to Theater St. Gallen, Switzerland for a role debut as Pollione in Norma, and Oper Leipzig as Calaf in Turandot before joining the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. He made his role debut as Samson in Samson et Dalila with Virginia Opera, before singing the role in Vilnius, Lithuania, and then joining the Vienna Staatsoper to cover Roberto Alagna in the part.
Concert engagements include Cassio in Otello with Austin Lyric Opera, Don José in Carmen with the Plano Symphony Orchestra, and Rodrigo in Otello with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Additional appearances include Verdi’s Requiem, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Oper Leipzig, and Macduff in Macbeth with New Orleans Opera.
Among his numerous performances with Theater St. Gallen, Switzerland, Mr. Taylor appeared as Cavaradossi in Tosca, Gustavo in Un Ballo in Maschera, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon, Alfredo in La Traviata, Edgardo in Lucia di Lamermoor, Il Duca in Rigoletto, and Don José in Carmen.
Further career highlights include Antonio in the American premiere of Thomas Ades’ The Tempest with Santa Fe Opera, Cassio in Verdi’s Otello with LA Opera, Gustavo in Un Ballo in Maschera at Theater Basel and The Saint of Bleecker Street at Central City Opera. Mr. Taylor has given memorable performances as Enzo Grimaldi in La Gioconda, Rodrigue in Le Cid, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and has frequently appeared as Rodolfo in La bohème. A natural fit for French grand opera, Mr. Taylor has sung the title roles in Faust and Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

Kevin Thompson, bass

Kevin Thompson, acclaimed by the New York Times as a “stentorian bass”, “possesses a voice with extraordinary range, depth, color combined with a commanding stage presence…a mountain of a voice, with resonance from the Escorial of Philip II, to the throne of Boris Godunov, and the majestic court of Sarastro…” (San Francisco Classical Voice).
The 2022/2023 season includes debuts for Mr. Thompson with Washington National Opera in Elektra and with Fort Worth Opera in Aida. Return engagements include with Opera Omaha where he will perform scenes from Boito’s Mefistofele as Mefistofele; with Roanoke Opera for their Opera Gems Gala Concert; with Odyssey Opera to sing three one act operas by Rachmaninoff as The Old Gyspy in Aleko; Ivan in The Miserly Knight and The Ghost of Virgil in Francesca di Rimini.
During the 2021/2022 season Mr. Thompson performed the role of Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni with San Antonio Opera; the Old Hebrew in Samson et Daliah with Bob Jones Opera; Sparafucile in Rigoletto with Nashville Opera; and the First Nazarene in Salome with Tulsa Opera. Concert engagements included the Verdi Requiem, with Roanoke Opera, and in Beethoven’s Ninth with The Florida Orchestra.

In the pandemic season of 2020/2021, Mr. Thompson made his debut in Bulgaria with Ruse State Opera singing the role of Polonius in the world premiere of Hamlet by Joseph Summer. He returned to Tulsa Opera to perform Monterone in Rigoletto and to Shreveport Opera for Sparafucile also in Rigoletto. Singing under the batons of a roster of distinguished conductors, Mr. Thompson has performed in opera houses and concert venues throughout the world: US, Austria, Bulgaria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, South America, and Switzerland.

Mr. Thompson was born in Washington, D.C. He is an alumnus of The Juilliard School in New York, and San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Program.