Proposed Slate of Officers for 2021 Ohio Board Elections
In January, a Nominating Committee was created to consider Ohio NATS members in good standing for Board positions which will expire this spring. The committee was comprised of Dr. Misook Yun (Youngstown State University) as chair, Andrew Ryker (Ohio University) and Raquel Román-Rodriguez (Notre Dame College and Independent Voice Teacher). On February 16, 2021, they presented their nominations of the following individuals (bios below):
Beth Cram Porter – President (2-year term)
Susan Wallin – Vice President (2-year term)
Tracy Grady – Secretary/Treasurer (2-year term)
Dione Bennett – Board Member (2-year term)
Hannah Jencius Flower – Board Member (2-year term)
Jay White – Board Member (2-year term)
Benjamin Smolder (completing last two years of Susan Wallin’s 3-year Board Member position)
On faculty at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio since 1997, Beth Cram Porter is currently Associate Professor of Voice and serves as Chair of the Department of Music and Worship. She earned a splendid reputation as soloist and recitalist. She toured France with Maestro Robert Shaw, performing and recording Bach’s B minor Mass and Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes. At the Oregon Bach Festival, she sang in the North American Premiere of Mendelssohn's opera Der Onkle aus Boston with Helmuth Rilling and was the soprano soloist for the production of Honneger’s King David. She was invited to be the featured soloist at the White House National Day of Prayer ceremony where she sang for President George W. Bush and 200 of his invited guests.
Susan Wallin, soprano had an international singing career that took her to Germany, Oper der Stadt Köln, and France where she sang her most notable role as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte.
Favorite roles include: Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance and many G&S ingenues, with notable companies Cleveland Opera, New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Carolina and others. She made her Carnegie Hall debut singing Messiah and has performed with the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Canton, Akron, North Carolina Symphonies. Her graduating seniors have been accepted to top-rated schools including Eastman, Cincinnati Conservatory, Oberlin, Michigan, Baldwin Wallace, Berklee, Boston Conservatory, AMDA, NYU in Vocal Performance and Music Theatre. Her students have performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, Disneyland and regularly win competitions such as NATS, Schmidt, VOCI and receive substantial collegiate scholarships. A graduate in Vocal Performance from Kent State, Ms. Wallin is currently serving as a Board Member for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Ohio Chapter. She has taught at The College of Wooster and Akron School for the Arts. Susan made her directorial debut in 2018 with Bye, Bye Birdie and School of Rock, 2019 at Weathervane Community Playhouse. Since 1997, she has owned the thriving music studio, West Side Vocal Academy and in 2017, joined the Voice Faculty at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. Recent accomplishments include a performance with Akron Baroque, creating and hosting the 1st - Independent Voice Teachers Conference and 3 years in a row her students have won Best Actress at the Dazzle Awards in Cleveland.
Tracy Grady has served as the Ohio NATS secretary-treasurer since June 2012. She plans to go down in the NATS hall of fame as the longest serving person in any one position in the history of the organization. Tracy teaches at Baldwin Wallace University where she is part of the Voice and Theatre faculties, as well as the Music Theatre Program Coordinator. She’s been there forever, too….21 years. #notafraidtocommit
Dione Parker Bennett has performed with such orchestras as the Akron Symphony, Warren Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony, Eastern Illinois Symphony as well as Cleveland Opera and Opera Western Reserve. Her recital repertoire consists of diverse works from Art Song to Spirituals. She was a featured presenter at the African American Art Song Alliance Conference held in Irvine, California. As a master class clinician, Dr. Bennett is sought after by both universities and churches.
Currently the Director of Vocal and Choral Studies at Ohio Christian University, Dr. Bennett also maintains a thriving voice studio at Capital University Conservatory of Music. Previously, Bennett served at Ashland University, Illinois State University, and Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She recently served as Artistic Director of Opera Project Columbus. Ms. Bennett earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois and Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Akron.
Hannah Jencius Flower, mezzo-soprano, holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in voice performance from Kent State University. She has performed in both scenes and fully staged productions through the Kent State University Opera program, has been selected twice as a Young Artist with Nightingale Opera Theatre and has been a featured soloist in area concerts with repertoire ranging from bluegrass to Beethoven. Hannah has maintained a private voice studio since 2011 and has taught through the Aurora School of Music since 2014. She is a sought-after teacher for her focus on technique and artistry, and her students pursue performance in a wide range of musical genres.
Jay White has realized a performing career as a professional chorister and alto soloist spanning more than 35 years. He sang eight seasons with the internationally acclaimed ensemble, Chanticleer, with whom he traveled to over 40 states and 15 foreign countries. No stranger to the recording process, Jay can be heard on more than 45 albums, including three nominations and two GRAMMY® Award-winning recordings with Chanticleer. Most recently, Jay has been at the helm of the small vocal ensemble Quire Cleveland as its Artistic Director. Dr. White received his training at the Early Music Institute at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the University of Maryland School of Music and Maryland Opera Studio. He holds Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees, with studies in vocal performance, musicology and performance practice, and pedagogy and vocology. He has served in higher education over 15 years on the faculties of University of Maryland, University of Delaware, and DePauw University. Dr. White is currently Professor of Voice at the Kent State University Hugh A. Glauser School of Music. Dr. White is a proud member of NATS since 2004.
Benjamin Smolder is Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera at Miami University. Smolder has enjoyed a varied career as a singer, conductor, arts administrator, and stage director. His solo career has included principal roles with opera companies in the US and Europe and include solo performances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Santander Festival, Festival Internacional de Música Pau Casals, and the Spoleto Festival. His work as director and conductor of Miami University Opera has been recognized with multiple awards from the National Opera Association. From 2011-2019, Smolder served as Director of the Schmidt Vocal Competition where he and his team expanded the offering from six to sixteen sites across the United States.