Faculty & Guest Artists




José Meléndez

Assistant to the Music Director/Librarian

Pianist José Meléndez is in demand as a vocal coach, conductor, and collaborative artist. His professional engagements have taken him to Europe, South and Central America, Asia, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and throughout the mainland United States. He is committed to the artistic development of young and emerging singers, and has been associated with numerous young artist programs, competitions, and training centers. He holds a full-time position at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he is Assistant to the Music Director, Orchestra Librarian, and part of the music staff. He serves as Assistant Conductor, Collaborative Pianist, and Vocal Coach for various AVA productions and events, and he is also the Music Director of Concert Operetta Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to the performance of operetta in concert.

Mr. Meléndez has held professional positions with Glimmerglass Opera (Principal Coach), Opera Company of Philadelphia, Hawaii Opera Theatre (Chorus Master, Repetiteur, Studio Artist Coach), Ocean City (NJ) Pops Orchestra (Conductor), Connecticut Grand Opera, Bay Area Summer Opera Theater (Conductor), Westminster Opera Theater (Music Director), Indianapolis Opera, and Opera de Puerto Rico. He worked with Opera New Jersey for over a decade as Assistant Conductor and Principal Coach, and as Music Director of the Young Artist Program. He made his Carnegie Hall debut as a solo pianist in a recital with pianist José Ramos Santana in May of 2011.

He continues his role as Principal Coach and Pianist for the Puerto Rico Metropolitan Council District and Regional Auditions, a position he has held for over 20 years. He has worked with the Castleton Music Festival (C.A.T.S. Principal Coach), Curtis Institute of Music (Music staff), L’Académie Internationale d’Été de Nice (France), Casals Festival (Puerto Rico), Culturarte (Puerto Rico), Francisco Viñas International Voice Competition (Barcelona), and Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s World Opera Competition.

As a collaborative pianist, Mr. Meléndez is known for his colorful and sensitive playing, as well as his innovative programming. He has enjoyed a partnership with mezzo-soprano Maya Hoover for 19 years. They are known for their programs of all Latin American art song, and for their carefully crafted recitals featuring lesser-known repertoire, which often include new arrangements written by Mr. Meléndez. Mr. Meléndez is a frequent guest artist at the University of Hawaii, where he has presented master classes on the art of collaboration and has played for several seasons on the Music at Mãnoa concert series. He has served on the faculty of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and in summer 2014, he joined the Music Staff of Seagle Music Colony as Coach for their Young Artist Studio. This summer 2016, Mr. Meléndez joined: Opera Company of Middlebury as Principal Coach/Assistant Conductor, and as music staff at Opera Saratoga for their production of Daniel Catan’s Il Postino.

José Meléndez holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico and a Master of Music degree in Piano Accompanying and Coaching from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he studied with Dalton Baldwin, José Ramos Santana, and J.J. Penna.


Elise Auerbach


Elise Auerbach’s wide-ranging interests and expertise span the spectrum of the collaborative pianist.

Ms. Auerbach has appeared with singers and instrumentalists in such venues as Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Alys Stevens Performing Arts Center, and the Kimmel Center.  Other performance highlights include orchestral appearances with the Delaware and Temple University Symphonies, live broadcasts on Cincinnati Public Radio WGUC, premieres of new works for keyboard, and numerous recitals throughout the region. She has participated in and performed at festivals in Japan, Italy, Canada, and the United States, and toured twice in Germany as part of the Ribbeck/Auerbach violin and piano duo.

Ms. Auerbach frequently serves as music director and pianist for productions by local opera companies, and has been on staff for the Russian Opera Workshop.  She is Principal Pianist for the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and Symphony in C, and has been a member of the coaching staff at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance for fifteen years.  A devoted chamber musician, she is a founding member of Philalea, a Philadelphia-based chamber ensemble.  She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University and a Master of Music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.