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, Ailyn 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 Fauré 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 nineteen years.
Master Vocal Coach
Danielle Orlando is enjoying an active career as accompanist to many international opera singers as well as serving as a distinguished vocal coach and artistic consultant to several prestigious organizations throughout the musical world. She is Principal Coach of Curtis Institute of Music and Master Coach for the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Ms. Orlando has been seen on Good Morning America, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Live by Request on A&E and the Rosie O’Donnell Show accompanying celebrities Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and Michael Bolton. She also appears in the Metropolitan Opera documentary The Audition.
Ms. Orlando collaborated with Luciano Pavarotti as accompanist, judge and artistic coordinator for the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competitions and spent nine seasons in Spoleto, Italy working with Gian Carlo Menotti for the Festival Dei Due Mondi. She was Artistic Administrator and Head of Music Staff for 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 world including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Dresden Semperoper and Savonlinna Opera Festival. She is a guest coach for WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, Palm Beach Opera’s Young Artist Program and a guest judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has had recent collaborations with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Ms. Orlando has performed in the Châtelet (with bass Eric Owens), in the Supreme Court of the United States (with tenor Marcello Giordani and again with tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Pérez) and in Carnegie Hall. She added recently the Harriman-Jewell recital series, Peralada Festival in Spain (soprano Angela Meade), Schubert Club (tenor James Valenti), Vocal Arts DC (Michael Fabiano), Festival Classique des Hautes- Laurentides (baritone Luis Ledesma), Drake University Jordan Concert Series, Florida Opera Festival, Music at the Morgan Library, recital at the Phillips Collection, FPC Concerts, Inc and the Astoria Music Festival.
Recent residencies include Curtis Summerfest, University of Tennessee, Knoxville and University of Peking Academy of Opera in Beijing, China.
Master Vocal Coach
For over thirty-two years, Richard Raub has played an influential part in the musical life of Philadelphia and beyond as pianist, vocal coach and conductor.
Mr. Raub’s piano studies with Benjamin Whitten at West Chester University and with Martin Katz in New York prepared him well for the demands of accompanying singers and playing orchestral reductions. He has been fortunate to collaborate with AVA alumni for their recital debuts: Latonia Moore and Stuart Neill (Opera Orchestra of New York, Lincoln Center), Wanda Brister (Carnegie Hall), John Packard (Ravinia Festival, Chicago), 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 Il barbiere di Siviglia, Così fan tutte, Dido and Aeneas, Die Fledermaus, Hansel and Gretel, L’italiana in Algeri, Don Pasquale, Le villi and in 2010, the world-premiere of Margaret Garwood’s The Scarlet Letter at the Merriam Theater.
For over twenty-five years, Mr. Raub has served as the official pianist for The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Philadelphia District, as well as for the Mid-Atlantic Regionals held at The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC. He has also been the pianist for The Voice Foundation’s concerts and master classes for over twenty years; in 2010, he was presented with the prestigious V.E.R.A. Award for his contribution to the field of vocal communication.
Master Vocal Coach
Luke Housner has maintained a balanced schedule with a combination of opera assembling, music direction, vocal coaching, extensive performing, and choral preparation.
In February 2016, Mr. Housner served as music director, principal coach and performance pianist for a conductor-less, fully staged production of Massenet’s Werther as part of the Academy of Vocal Arts 2015-2016 season. This was Mr. Housner’s eighth production in this capacity at AVA, having done the same with Debussy’s Pelleas et Mélisande, Janácek’s Kát’a Kabanová, Barber’s Vanessa, Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Strauss’s Arabella, Capriccio and Elektra.
For the past seven consecutive summers, Mr. Housner has musically directed and performed complete operatic works of Mozart, Humperdinck and Wagner in opera workshops held in Vancouver, BC, Portland, OR, Toronto, ON and Bloomington, IN.
From 2007-2010, Mr Housner was principal coach and performance pianist for Astoria Music Festival in Oregon and then went on to coach and musically direct a production of Cosi 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 Festival, Portland Opera, Utah Opera Festival, Brevard Music Festival and at the Hong Kong’s Academy of Performing Arts.
For twenty years with The Philadelphia Singers, Mr. Housner performed on various subscription series concerts as pianist, organist and harpsichordist, served as rehearsal pianist and vocal coach for soloists and has played under the batons of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 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 University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with instruction from 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.
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, The Philadelphia Singers and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.
In 1996, Mr. Meirson founded PrivateLessons.com, 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.
In 2011, Mr. Meirson founded Russian Opera Workshop (RussianOperaWorkshop.com), a top-tier independent summer program based in Philadelphia. The program attracts aspiring opera singers and professionals from across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Russian Opera Workshop repertoire includes Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Iolanta, The Queen of Spades (Pique Dame), Romeo & Juliet (Fragment), The Maid of Orleans, and Mazepa; Rachmaninoff’s Aleko and Francesca da Rimini; Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon, Alexander Dargomyzhsky’s Rusalka, and Borodin’s Prince Igor.
Ghenady Meirson is a faculty member of both the Academy of Vocal Arts and Curtis Institute of Music.
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 vocal coaching. She continued her doctoral studies, in parallel with her solo piano career, at the Université de Toulouse and graduated with a PhD in Greek philosophy.
Ms. Saint-Gil began her career at the Théâtre du Capitôle in Toulouse and her international career at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria under the direction of Bertrand de Billy. At 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 Cincinnati Opera Festival, Ravinia Festival, Caramoor International Music Festival, Festival del Sole, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, New York City Opera and LA Opera under the direction of James Conlon and Placido Domingo.
Ms. Saint-Gil 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 at the Metropolitan Opera. She was also recently commissioned to write the film score for a documentary on James Salter by the Checkerboard Film Foundation.
She is currently the assistant conductor to Maestro James Conlon and Maestro Plácido Domingo at LA Opera and is part of the music staff of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.