2021 Vann Vocal Guest Artists

Rachele Gilmore, soprano
Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano
Kristofer Sanchack, pianist
Kevin Short, bass
Dinyar Vania, tenor
Howard Watkins, pianist

Rachele Gilmore, soprano

Rachele Gilmore has established herself as one of America’s most sought after coloratura sopranos, and continues to thrill audiences around the globe combining what Opera News describes as a “silvery soprano…with an effortlessness that thrills her audience.” A regular performer in America, Europe, and Asia, Ms. Gilmore is consistently praised for being “the vocal standout” and a dynamic actress; “displaying more talent and charm than any one person should be allowed to possess.” Most notably, Ms. Gilmore made a “show-stopping” [Classical Source] debut with the Metropolitan Opera, in the role of Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann.  Career highlights include her debut with Teatro alla Scala, as Olympia in Robert Carsen’s production of Les contes d’Hoffmann; Blondchen in Die entführung aus dem Serail with Grand Théâtre Genève, Alice in Wonderland with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, NCPA Beijing as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, as Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail in a debut with Festival d’Aix en Provence, the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor for her debut at Opéra de Lille; as Ophélie in Hamlet with La Monnaie in Brussels, and as the Queen of the Night in Opera Philadelphia’s production of Die Zauberflöte. She was a member the Young Artist Programs of Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Aspen Music Festival’s Opera Center. She was a winner in Placido Domingo’s Operalia World Opera Contest in Paris.

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 and Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther with The Israeli Opera; her 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.

Kristofer Sanchack, pianist

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.

Kevin Short, bass

Kevin Short

Versatile American bass-baritone Kevin Short is thrilling audiences around the globe in repertoire ranging from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Monteverdi’s L’Coronazione di Poppea to Verdi’s Attila, Carmen’s Escamillo and Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer.  His North America appearances include performances with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera, and Seattle Opera.  His European and Asian credits feature appearances with multiple opera companies, orchestras, and festivals including Paris’ Opera Comique, Welsh National Opera, Kazan State Theater-Russia, Grand Theatre du Luxembourg, Semperoper Dresden, Stadttheater Stuttgart, Theater Basel, Bregenzer Festspiele-Austria, Baden-Baden Festspiele-Germany, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence-France, Festival Montpellier-France, and Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan.  Kevin also enjoys an active concert and recital schedule and has performed with the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Swiss and Italian RAI Orchestra, Radio France Orchestra, Marseille Philharmonie, Moscow Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Symphony, and New Japan Philharmonic.  His Mephistopheles and other Bad Guys was listed by New York City’s WQXR radio station as one of the outstanding classical recordings of 2018, along with Don Carlo with the Metropolitan Opera on Sony classics. Upcoming releases will include San Francisco Classic’s recordings of La Fanciulla del West, Madama Butterfly, and Porgy and Bess.

Dinyar Vania, tenor

Dinyar Vania

Dinyar Vania has definitively emerged as one of the country’s most exciting young tenors, having recently joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for its legendary production of La bohème.  With a voice that combines both power and beauty, he has earned critical acclaim portraying several of the most recognized leading roles in opera.  Among Mr. Vania’s engagements in the 2019-2020 season were Don José in Carmen in his Irish National Opera debut, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Delaware Symphony Orchestra.  In the 2017-18 Season, he portrayed Don José in Carmen, Cavardossi in Tosca, and Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Recent performances include the Duke (Rigoletto), Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut), and Roberto in Puccini’s Le Villi for the Spoleto Festival, USA.  He has performed the role of Rodolfo (La bohème) with New York City Opera, Cavaradossi (Tosca) with Dallas Opera and made his Carnegie Hall debut as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.  Awards and distinctions for Mr. Vania include Syracuse Opera’s “Artist of the Year” award, as well as First Place in the Giulio Gari Vocal Competition, Second Prize in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Competition, and semi-finalist in Placido Domingo’s Operalia competition in Madrid, Spain.

Howard Watkins, pianist

Howard Watkins

American pianist Howard Watkins is a frequent associate of some of the world’s leading musicians on the concert stage and as an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.   His appearances throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Russia, and Israel have included collaborations with Joyce DiDonato, Diana Damrau, Kathleen Battle, Grace Bumbry, Mariusz Kwiecien, Anna Netrebko, and Matthew Polenzani at such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Spivey Hall, Kennedy Center, the United States Supreme Court, Alice Tully Hall, the three stages of Carnegie Hall, and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.  His current and former faculty affiliations include The Juilliard School, the Bard College Conservatory of Music, the Yale School of Music as a Visiting Presidential Fellow, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Mannes School of Music, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the International Vocal Arts Institute (Israel, Japan, and China), IIVA in Italy, the Brancaleoni Music Festival in Italy, the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy (TIVAA), and VOICExperience in Orlando, Tampa, and Savannah.  Currently a guest Master Coach for the Cafritz Young Artists of Washington Opera and the Opera Theater of St. Louis, Mr. Watkins has worked on the music staffs of Palm Beach Opera, the Washington National Opera, and the Los Angeles Opera.  A native of Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Watkins completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Accompanying and Chamber Music at the University of Michigan.  He is also the 2019 recipient of the Lift Every Voice Legacy Award from the National Opera Association.