Bill Schuman is internationally celebrated as one of the world’s leading teachers of singing. His students represent some of the most important names in the music world.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Mr. Schuman began his vocal studies under B. Gibner King, the coach of such Met luminaries as Ezio Pinza and Margaret Harshaw. Following his studies with Margaret Woodward at Brigham Young University and with Rita Streich at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna, he became a protégé of the famed vocal pedagogue, Luisa Franceschi Verna, herself the teacher of Zinka Milanov, among others. He finished his studies in New York, studying Italian style and repertory with Rita Saponaro Patanè.
Since beginning his teaching career, Mr. Schuman’s success has been completely unique in the opera world. His operatic students are not only major stars in the great opera houses around the world, but they have won an unprecedented number of international vocal competitions and awards. For four years in a row, his students were honored with the Richard Tucker Award, America’s most prestigious award for opera singers. Three of his students were also consecutively bestowed the Beverly Sills Award.
Over the years, Mr. Schuman has also maintained his work with non-classical singers, where his students have included some of the biggest stars from the Broadway, film, TV and popular music worlds and have included numerous Tony, Grammy and Emmy award winners and Academy Award nominees.
Mr. Schuman has been associated with the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Program, the Curtis Institute of Music and was personally invited by Placido Domingo to be one of the inaugural teachers at the Washington Opera Young Artist Program. Since 1989, Mr. Schuman has been on the faculty of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he has exclusively based his academic career.
Mr. Schuman is in demand worldwide for master classes and lectures. He has been featured in numerous articles and books on the art of singing and has been the subject of articles in various publications including Opera News and the Wall Street Journal. In 2008, Mr. Schuman was honored by the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, becoming the youngest voice teacher to ever receive their coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to his career as an opera singer, concert artist, and recitalist, Mr. Stone’s teaching experience includes master classes across the United States and in Europe, as well as positions with the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca, Italy, the University of Illinois, and Temple University (Professor Emeritus).
Mr. Stone has sung extensively in the major opera houses of Europe and especially in Italy, having twice opened the May Festival in Florence as Wozzeck and as Orestes, in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride under Riccardo Muti. His creation of the role of Adam for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world premiere of Penderecki’s Paradise Lost was followed by his debut at La Scala in its European premiere.
His North American opera engagements include the Metropolitan Opera, in Moses und Aron, Wozzeck, La traviata, Sly, Die Fledermaus, Roméo et Juliette, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Madama Butterfly, and the New York City Opera, as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro and the title roles in new productions of Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler and Busoni’s Doktor Faust.
As a concert artist, Mr. Stone has appeared with every major orchestra in the country, including the New York Philharmonic, under Kurt Masur, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under Seiji Ozawa. His long relationship with Robert Shaw resulted in two Grammy Award recordings.
Mr. Stone joined the Academy of Vocal Arts as a visiting guest artist in 2009, and in September, 2010, became a member of the voice faculty. He maintains a private voice studio in Philadelphia as well.
An internationally celebrated interpreter of lieder, chamber music and oratorio, Benita Valente was equally acclaimed for her performances on the operatic stage. In recent seasons, Ms. Valente is increasingly sought after as a Master Teacher. She has served as the Master Artist at the Cincinnati Conservatory program in Lucca, Italy, and the Florence Voice Seminar in Florence; as well as the European Mozart Academy in Poland and at Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists. She also has served as Master Teacher with the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. She has given master classes under the auspices of the Aspen Music Festival, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Chautauqua Opera, Music Academy of the West, the Napa Valley Symphony, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Opera, San Francisco Performances, Santa Fe Opera, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. She also has given master classes at Boston University, Cornell University, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Temple University, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and for the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She has participated on the jury of the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital at the Juilliard School, the Astral Foundation in Philadelphia, the International Schumann Competition in Zwickau, the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation, Young Concert Artists, and the Hugo Wolf Akademie Competition in Stuttgart. Ms. Valente serves on the Board of Directors of Joy in Singing, the Marilyn Horne Foundation and the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation.
Adjunct Vocal Coach
Florence Quivar is renowned for her vibrantly rich mezzo-soprano voice, and is one of America’s most distinguished artists. She was a regular guest of the world’s leading opera companies, musicals, orchestras, and music festivals.
Ms. Quivar has appeared with the great orchestras of the world, including Chicago Symphony, Houston Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestra, among many others. She has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, James Levine, and Zubin Mehta, as well as many more of the leading conductors of our time.
Ms. Quivar has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Houston Grand Opera, and the Salzburg Festival, among others. She possesses a wide range of repertoire, including Laura in La Gioconda, Brangäne in Tristan and Isolde, Goddess of the Water in the world premiere of Amistad by Anthony Davis, Mother Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites, Azucena in Il trovatore, and many more.
Ms. Quivar presents and impressive discography, including a solo album of spirituals, Ride on King Jesus; Luisa Miller (SONY) and Oedipus Rex, conducted by James Levine; and two recordings of the Verdi Requiem with Carlo Maria Giulini (Deutsche Grammophon) and Sir Colin Davis (BMG), to name just a few.
A native of Philadelphia, Ms. Quivar is a graduate of the Philadelphia Academy of Music and a former member of the Juilliard Opera Theatre. She joined the Academy of Vocal Arts staff in 2014.
Mexican baritone Luis Ledesma has established a reputation as a “rich and well controlled baritone” (Opera News). He frequently portrays the heroes and villains of Puccini, Verdi and the bel canto masters as well as roles in recent new works in Spanish including Florencia en el Amazonas and El pasado nunca se termina. His operatic and concert career has advanced in Europe, the United States and South America and includes theaters such as Teatro alla Scala (Luisa Fernanda), the Liceu in Barcelona (Alphonse in La favorite, Riccardo in I puritani and Marcello in La bohème), Klangbogen Festival in Vienna (Leoncavallo’s La bohème), Wexford Festival (Don Pasquale), Teatro Municipal de Santiago (Escamillo), Semperoper in Dresden (Marcello), several roles for Koeln Oper (including Don Carlo and Germont), Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires (Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia), Bellas Artes in Mexico City (Marcello, Germont, and Escamillo ), Macau Festival (Sharpless), Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos (Marcello), Graz Oper (Escamillo), L’opera de Montreal (Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West), Manitoba Opera (Escamillo), Opera Lyra Ottawa (Tonio), the Philadelphia Orchestra (Marcello in a concert version of La bohème and Beethoven Nine) and the Savonlinna Opera Festival (Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor and Escamillo), Bucharest National Opera (Scarpia) and Hungarian State Opera (Alfio and Tonio).
In the United States, Mr. Ledesma has sung with many companies, including Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Diego Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Washington Opera, New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Atlanta Opera, Santa Barbara Opera, Anchorage Opera, Santo Domingo, Madison Opera, Nashville Opera, Portland Opera, Indianapolis and Connecticut Opera, Opera Pacific, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Carolina, Memphis Opera, San Antonio Opera, New Jersey Opera, Minnesota Opera, Florentine Opera, and Hawaii Opera. He also sang two tours with Andrea Bocelli, performing in famous venues such as Madison Square Garden, Hollywood Bowl, Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, Florida, and the Auditorio Nacional Mexico City.
The 2017-2018 season begins with performances of Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Astoria Music Festival. Mr. Ledesma will make two new role debuts in the fall, Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de Perles with Toledo Opera followed by El Duende in Piazzola’s Maria de Buenos Aires for Nashville Opera. Last season featured performances of Florencia en el Amazonas with NYCO and Sinfonica Nacional del Estado de Mexico, Madama Butterfly for Palm Beach Opera and Il barbiere di Siviglia in San Antonio.
Mr. Ledesma made his Carnegie Hall debut in the Faure Requiem and returned for Dvorak’s Te Deum. He has sung Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Mann Music Center with The Philadelphia Orchestra and with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. He has performed a variety of orchestral repertoire including Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Louisville Orchestra, a series of Christmas concerts in Hannover with the NDR Radiophilharmonie and a Verdi concert presented in Die Alte Opera Frankfurt. He also performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for the Filarmonica de Jalisco and Gala concerts with Tampa Opera and with Festival Cultural Zacatecas, and a solo recital with Festival Classique des Hautes-Laurentides in Mont-Tremblant, Canada. His concert performances include La bohème (Marcello) at the Vail Festival and the Mann Music Center with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Handel’s Messiah in Spain with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Asturias.