The Academy of Vocal Arts

Vocal Coaches

David Antony Lofton
Master Vocal Coach

David Antony Lofton is a native Philadelphian and a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied piano accompanying with Dr. Vladimir Sokoloff. While at Westminster Choir College he developed his choral conducting skills and studied the organ. He has served as artistic director of Opera North (Opera Ebony) and as conductor of La traviata, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Faust, L’elisir d’amore, Die Zauberflöte, Susannah, and Der Vampyr for Mozart & Friends Opera Company.While at Curtis, he was the accompanist and vocal coaching apprentice of the late Todd Duncan for eight years.

He has been a recital collaborator for many renowned singers including, Stephen Costello, Aylin Pérez, Marietta Simpson, Angela Brown, Indra Thomas, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Eglise Gutiérrez, Burak Bilgili, John Packard and Othalie Graham. He has also served as coach and accompanist for the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition and participated in the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, where he was assistant conductor for televised productions of Carmen and Amahl and the Night Visitors, staged by the composer Gian Carlo Menotti himself.  Mr. Lofton has performed as a pianist in both solo and chamber music performances. He appeared as piano soloist in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the New Jersey MasterChorale. He has conducted full concerts of operatic and symphonic music including one with the famed Harlem Boys Choir at Carnegie Hall and Hansel and Gretel with the University of Minnesota at Duluth.

Prior to joining the AVA faculty, he began a ten-year period as faculty member of the Curtis Institute of Music and was also on the faculty at the Combs College of Music. Aside from being a conductor and accomplished pianist, Mr. Lofton has composed spanish music for television commercials and served as a vocal consultant for Sony Recordings. He has conducted the Mozart and Faure Requiems and was pianist for numerous recitals at Neumann University. Three times he was chosen to conduct “Opera on the Square” for Sunoco’s Welcome America Celebration. In 2010 Mr. Lofton made his debut with Opera Delaware conducting Puccini’s La bohème. He is Music Director of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Elkins Park, which presents a series of recitals each year with AVA artists.

David Antony Lofton has been the exclusive Music Director and Conductor of AVA’s Jubilate for fourteen years.


Danielle Orlando
Master Vocal Coach

Danielle Orlando is enjoying an active career as an accompanist to many international opera singers as well as serving as a distinguished vocal coach and artistic consultant to many prestigious organizations throughout the musical world.  She is presently the Principal Opera Coach of The Curtis Institute of Music and a Master Coach for the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

Ms. Orlando collaborated with Luciano Pavarotti as accompanist, judge, and artistic coordinator for all of the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competitions.  She spent nine seasons in Spoleto, Italy working with Gian Carlo Menotti for the Festival Dei Due Mondi as artistic coordinator and coach for the operas, in addition to editing several of his compositions and performing annually in the festival recital series.

She was the Artistic Administrator and Head of Music Staff for the Opera Company of Philadelphia for many years and has served on the music staffs of numerous opera companies, festivals, and young artist programs around the globe. These include the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston (South Carolina), Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, AIMS in Graz (Austria), ECOV (Belgium), and Curso de Perfeccionameinto in Mexico, and as an Artist-in-Residence for Opera North.  She is presently a guest judge for the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was recently the principal judge in Budapest, Paris, and New York for Armel Opera Festival’s 2012 Competition (Szeged, Hungary). In 2013, she added work with the Junges Ensemble of the Dresden Semperoper and will return there in 2014.

Ms. Orlando has performed with the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland, where she accompanied soprano Eglise Gutiérrez in recital, and returns for her third season on their music staff.  She is also a Master Coach for Oberlin in Italy which is held annually in Arezzo and continues with the Washington National Opera as a guest music coach of the WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. She has performed for the Supreme Court of the United States Musicale Series: first with tenor Marcello Giordani and again with tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Pérez. She has also accompanied Mr. Costello in recital for the Harriman-Jewell Series. In 2013, she accompanied her husband baritone Luis Ledesma in a joint recital with bass Burak Bilgili for TAFSUS – Turkish American Friendship Society of US and the Alliance Française de Philadelphie, followed by recitals with tenor James Valenti for the Schubert Club and soprano Angela Meade for the Peralada Festival in Spain. This season, she will accompany tenor Michael Fabiano in a recital at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


Richard A. Raub
Master Vocal Coach

For over twenty-eight years, Richard Raub has played an influential part in the musical life of Philadelphia and beyond, playing rehearsals and coaching at The Academy of Vocal Arts, Temple University, The University of the Arts, The Opera Company of Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center.

Mr. Raub’s piano studies with Benjamin Whitten at West Chester University and Martin Katz prepared him well for the demands of accompanying singers and playing opera orchestral reductions. He has been fortunate to collaborate with AVA alumni for their recital debuts, including Latonia Moore and Stuart Neill (Opera Orchestra of New York), Wanda Brister (Carnegie Hall), John Packard (Ravinia Festival), Richard Troxell (Salem College and Penn State University), Stephen Costello (The University of the Arts Graduation), and Angela Meade (Astral Artists).

With AVA, he has conducted Dido and Aeneas, Così fan tutte, Don Pasquale, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Puccini’s Le villi, Richard Wargo’s The Music Shop, and the world- premiere of Margaret Garwood's The Scarlet Letter at the Merriam Theatre.

For over twenty-five years, Mr. Raub has served as the official pianist for The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the Philadelphia District, as well as for the Mid-Atlantic Regionals at The Kennedy Center. Last summer, he returned for his third summer at The Crested Butte Music Festival where he conducted Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi.


Luke Housner
Vocal Coach

Luke Housner maintains a balanced schedule with a combination of opera assembling, music direction, vocal coaching, extensive performing, and choral preparation.

In February 2012, Mr. Housner served as music director, principal coach and performance pianist for a conductor-less, fully staged production of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande as  part of the Academy of Vocal Arts' 2011-2012 season. This is Mr. Housner's seventh production in this capacity at AVA, having done the same with Janácek's Kát'a Kabanová, Barber's Vanessa, Wagner's Das Rheingold and Strauss' Arabella, Capriccio and Elektra.

From 2007-2010, Mr. Housner was principal coach and performance pianist for the Astoria Music Festival in Oregon and then went on to coach and musically direct a production of Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro for the Lyric Opera Studio of Weimar in Germany. Mr. Housner has served as assistant conductor, vocal coach, and accompanist at the Central City Opera Festval, Portland Opera, Utah Opera Festival, Brevard Music Festival and at the Hong Kong's Academy for Performing Arts. In July 2011, Mr. Housner will return for his third year of private week-long opera workshops in Vancouver, B.C. and Portland, Oregon.

Over the past fifteen years with the Philadelphia Singers, Mr. Housner has performed on various subscription series concerts as pianist, organist and harpsichordist. He has also served as a rehearsal pianist and vocal coach for soloists and has played under the batons of Yannick Nézét-Séquin, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Andrew Davis and Kurt Masur.

Native of western Massachusetts, Mr. Housner earned a Master's Degree of Music in Vocal Accompanying and Coaching from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with instruction from the internationally acclaimed vocal coach John Wustman. Previously, he received a Bachelor's Degree of Music, with a double major in Piano Performance and Vocal Accompanying from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.



Ghenady Meirson
Vocal Coach, Russian Repertoire

Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Ghenady Meirson graduated from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome and the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied piano with Seymour Lipkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski, and accompanying with Vladimir Sokoloff.

In 1982, Mr. Meirson wrote a singer’s handbook entitled Do Sing in Russian and began to focus on Russian vocal repertoire. He prepared many artists for opera, oratorio, recitals, and recordings, and helped such organizations as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Singers and Mendelssohn Club Chorus.

In 1996, Mr. Meirson founded, a membership-based network for independent music teachers. Now a leader in its niche, the network helps teachers attract private music students across the United States and Canada.

Meirson's newest project is Russian Opera Workshop (, a summer program based in Philadelphia. It aims to help university voice and collaborative piano students to learn and perform Russian works. The 2014 summer workshop will include Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orleans (Philadelphia premiere) and Eugene Onegin. Previous summer workshops covered Francesca da Rimini (2013), Aleko (2012), The Queen of Spades (2012), Iolanta (2011) and Eugene Onegin (2011).

Ghenady Meirson is a faculty member of both the Academy of Vocal Arts and the Curtis Institute of Music.


Audrey Saint-Gil
Vocal Coach

A native of France, Audrey Saint-Gil attended the Conservatoire National de Musique de Toulouse where she was awarded three first prizes with distinction in piano solo, chamber music, and coaching. She continued her doctoral studies at Université de Toulouse, and graduated with a PhD in Greek philosophy.

She began her career at le Théâtre du Capitôle in Toulouse and her international career at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria under the direction of Bertrand de Billy. The same time, she was appointed Head Vocal Coach of the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris.

Ms. Saint-Gil made her American debut as assistant conductor with Michigan Opera Theatre and has since been working with major Opera houses such as Sarasota Opera, Martina Arroyo Foundation, Opera Grand Rapids, Ravinia Festival, Caramoor Summer Music Festival, Covent Garden, New York City Opera, and LA Opera (under the direction of James Conlon and Plácido Domingo).

She has been frequently invited to give master classes and is also the author of several books on French diction. She has served as a judge for several major vocal competitions, including the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition. She was also commissioned to write the film score for a documentary on James Salter by the Checkerboard Film Foundation.

Ms. Saint-Gil has collaborated with many renowned opera singers such as Erwin Schrott, James Valenti, Burak Bilgili, Eglise Gutiérrez, Angela Meade, Jennifer Check, Jennifer Larmore, John Osborn, Stephen Powell, Marian Pop, Plácido Domingo, Julianna Di Giacomo, Leah Partridge, Talise Trevigne, Deborah Polaski, Tómas Tómasson, Elisabete Matos, James Creswell, Sondra Radvanovsky, Marco Berti, Lado Ataneli, Ailyn Pérez, Patricia Bardon, Brandon Jovanovich, Ildebrando d'Arcangelo, Jane Henschel, Jean-Philippe Lafont,  Francesco Meli, and Marina Poplavskaya.

She is currently the Assistant Conductor of Maestro James Conlon and Maestro Plácido Domingo at LA Opera.