ASAKO HIRABAYASHI & REBECCA NICHLOSON
A harpsichordist and composer, Asako Hirabayashi’s first recording on Albany Label, whose program is entirely composed and played by herself, was selected as one of the top 10 albums of the year 2018 and won the Gold Medal Award by the Global Music Awards. It was also selected as one of the five best classical CDs of the year in 2010 by the Star Tribune. It received seven favorable reviews internationally. She won numerous grants and awards including the 2009 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians and two Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artist Initiative grants as a soloist. She has appeared as a featured guest soloist in international festivals and concert series worldwide since her New York debut recital at Carnegie Hall. Her live performance of her own composition was featured in the United States’ most popular classical music program Performance Today in 2018. As a composer, she won 2016 McKnight Fellowship for Composers, several first prizes in Alienor International Harpsichord Composition Competition (won the sixth, seventh and eighth consecutively) and NHK International Song Writing Competition in Japan. She was awarded 2012 Jerome Fund for New Music by American Composers Forum to write her first opera Yuki-onna (Snow Witch) and a 2019 Schubert Club Composer Award to complete her second opera Hebi-onna (Snake Woman). Her compositions have been performed in 14 countries. She holds a doctorate’s degree in Harpsichord Performance from the Juilliard School and a master’s degree in composition from Aichi Art University in Japan.
Rebecca Nichloson (She/Her): Rebecca is a singer/songwriter, composer, poet, fiction writer, playwright and theatre maker. She is the author of numerous creative works, including Mara, Queen of the World (an acapella musical), The Wild, Bold Enlightenment of Velvet the Mistress, Cooking With Keisha (or Anatomy of Pie), and Jill, Jack & the Martian Lady; a play she created for a children’s educational workshop at Minnesota Opera. Her fiction and performance pieces include Children of the First Hummingbird, Intelligence, and Zar-Baby, among others. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting (Multiplatform Writing) from Columbia University and an M.A. in English Literature. She was also the recipient of a 2020 Commission from the Cedar Cultural Center for which she created Multicolored Musings: Jewels of Love, Loss, & Triumph (a three-part collection of songs exploring her African and African American heritage and passion for genre eclectic music) and received a 2020 honorable mention from the McKnight Foundation (Spoken Word). In addition, she is the recipient of the Liberace Award, the Howard Stein Fellowship, The Matthew’s Fellowship, an America-in-Play Fellowship and a Many Voices Fellowship from the Minneapolis Playwrights Center (2008-2009). She is currently working on a collection of poetry and new music. Learn more at www.RebeccaNichloson.com.
Sally Dorer (Cello) Cellist Sally Dorer is a member of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra and performs frequently with the Minnesota Orchestra. She is on the string faculty of the Northern Lights Music Festival, and she has served on the faculty of Carleton College and Augsburg College as a cello instructor. Ms. Dorer has been member of the New Mexico Symphony, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. She was the Assistant Principal Cellist of the Florida West Coast Symphony (Sarasota, Florida), and a member of the New Artists String Quartet. She has performed at many summer music festivals, including Tanglewood, Colorado Music Festival, the Banff Centre, and Sarasota Music Festival. A graduate of the New England Conservatory, Ms. Dorer also studied at the Eastman School of Music. Her cello teachers have included Timothy Eddy, Dudley Powers, Robert Sylvester, and Martha Gerschefski.
CHARLIE MCCARRON & OANH VU
Charlie McCarron is a film composer, songwriter, video producer, visual artist, and board game designer in Minnesota. He is the executive director of Film Score Fest and produced the podcast Composer Quest. Notable films Charlie has composed for are Emmy-nominated Beneath the Ink, STARZ documentary Silicone Soul and Kare 11’s Love Them First: Lessons From Lucy Laney Elementary, the best-selling film in the history of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Film Festival. For his podcast Composer Quest, Charlie crowdfunded a tour throughout the US, Australia, Taiwan, and Japan, interviewing and writing music with composers there. In 2018, Charlie was selected as a finalist in the Banaue International Music Composition Competition for his orchestral piece “Balitúk: The Divided Child,” traveling to the Philippines for a three-week immersion program in the mountain village of Banaue. In 2019, Charlie was a guest speaker at Catalyst Content Festival, presenting about film scoring with members of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra performing his scores live onstage. With over 25 self-produced albums to his name, Charlie often approaches composition as a record producer does: building the journey layer by layer. His songs often involve intricately woven melodies and rhythms, with the aim of giving each instrument or electronic layer a unique role to play.
Oanh Vu is a puppeteer, filmmaker, educator and community organizer. She is a second generation Vietnamese American who grew up in rural Minnesota. She uses humor and the playfulness of puppetry to tell stories of healing for herself and her Southeast Asian community. Her stories feature characters grappling with the past and their pain. Ultimately, they are transformed by the struggle, and able to walk through the world from a place of hope and power. She was a 2020 Puppet Lab Artist and her work has been shared through Monkeybear’s New Puppetworks, Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Lady Midnight (Voice of Thi Phan) is an experience. She is an ethereal vocalist and performance artist who draws upon her multidisciplinary background in visual art, dance and Afro-indigenous roots to create work that timelessly reflects our collective lives. The City Pages named Lady Midnight Best Twin Cities Vocalist of 2017 and named her highly anticipated debut album Death Before Mourning Best Album of 2020. As Lady Midnight, she has performed at The Red Rocks Amphitheatre, scored a silent film for visual artist Kara Walker and performed with internationally acclaimed icons Common, Moby, Andra Day, and Aloe Blacc, among others. Recently, she has stepped into the realm of curating virtual reality performances as she continues to hold space for BIPOC youth within her creative residencies. Lady Midnight has dedicated her life to using the arts as a power for change and confronting trauma.
Monique Bach Hac Nguyen (voice of Bà Ngoại Liên) is a singer and recitationist specializing in Vietnamese traditional recitation forms. This a centuries-old form of poetic recitation that has both folk and courtly origins, and is highly popular in Vietnamese culture. Monique Bach Hac arrived in the U.S. in 1981, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1987. She currently resides in Katy, Texas, is a business woman, and a mother of four grown children.
Andrew Young (Director, Puppeteer) is a Taiwanese-Indonesian-American puppeteer, artist, and educator based in Minneapolis. They received puppeteer training through Monkeybear’s Harmolodic workshop, a Black, Native, and POC focused puppetry organization and have since worked for Mayday and Barebones as a staff artist, as well as performed their own work at Heart of the Beast and Open Eye Figure Theater. They are interested in collaboration and community building, exploring the natural world, and aiming light towards mental health and our inner worlds. Andrew also teaches youth through Urban Boatbuilders, Mia, and COMPAS, and has taught at the Mississippi Creative Arts School through residencies with the Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts.
Liping Vong (Puppeteer – Thi Phan) got her puppetry start in MonkeyBear’s New Puppetworks Program (2019 Cohort) and has continued performing and telling stories with a variety of puppet people. Also this is not part of the bio, but just make sure it’s clear that liping prefers to spell her name in all lowercase.
Ty Chapman (Puppeteer) is a Twin Cities–based author, poet, puppeteer, and playwright of Nigerian and European descent. He has long created art with social justice themes and is passionate about speaking to the Black experience in America. His recent accomplishments include crafting a one-man marionette show through Puppet Lab, being named a Loft Literary Center Mirrors and Windows fellow, and publishing poems through SOFTBLOW, and Oyster River Pages.
RITIKA GANGULY & ROSHAN GANU
Ritika Ganguly, PhD., is a Minneapolis-based singer, composer, performance artist, and anthropologist, born and raised in New Delhi, India. She applies anthropological insights to practical problem-solving in the areas of equity in the arts and cross-cultural medicine. Her consulting practice and artistic practice both strive for an equality based on difference, rather than on the similarity of things, people, and knowledges. Ritika was commissioned as a composer by The Cedar Cultural Center in 2016, received the Jerome-supported Naked Stages award in 2017, and an MRAC Next Step award in 2018 for her research and new musical work in Baul (Bengali Sufi music/poetry). She has trained in multiple genres within Bengali music and in contemporary Indian musical theater. Her vocal and compositional work bring disparate musical styles, literatures, and disciplines together.
Roshan Ganu is a storyteller and a visual-experimental artist who uses different mediums to tell stories about our everyday lives. She has successfully collaborated with the Minneapolis Institute of Art on a two-part storytelling series titled Chappal Visits MIA where a slipper from the Indian subcontinent expresses her views on the exhibits in the museum. Her storytelling work has found a mention in the Star Tribune and has been exhibited at ArtReach St.Croix-Stillwater, Soo Visual Arts Center, the Twin Cities Zine Fest, Women Who Influence Conference and Solid State Records among others. Ganu is also the creator and founder of The Banyan Tree Project which is a participatory, public art, storytelling project that uplifts the notion of community in adversity.
Shinjan Sengupta (Libretto, Composition, Guitar, Ukulele, Vocals) is a software engineer and a music enthusiast. He grew up in Kolkata, India, immersed in music of genres ranging from Indian semi-classical, Bengali folk and Baul, to classic rock, blues, western folk, and country. He is constantly exploring ways to amalgamate sounds from various origins to create his own style. Shinjan takes a lot of pleasure in playing instruments and has picked up different instruments at different points in his life, most prominent of them being the Indian Bansuri. At present, in his recent works, he is enjoying the minimalistic pairing of guitar and voice.
Benjamin Osterhouse (Cello) holds a Masters and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in cello performance from University of Minnesota. While completing his graduate degrees he was chosen to solo with the University of Minnesota orchestra and was featured in two showcase concerts performing his own compositions. As a freelance cellist, he has performed with Minnesota Opera, Joffrey Ballet, Royale Winnipeg Ballet, and Ballet West, as well as with Amy Grant and Jenny Lewis. He was featured twice as the guest artist with the Two Rivers Chorale and has performed the Lalo cello concerto with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. He won first and second place, respectively, in the Schubert Club and Thursday Musical Competitions and was the guest performer for two Schubert Club courtroom concerts that featured his compositions. In addition to playing in regional orchestras in the Midwest, he has participated in orchestras in China, Germany, Norway, Canada, and Mexico. Benjamin has taught cello lessons in the Twin Cities for more than ten years.
Matt Barber (Percussion) has been the principal percussionist with the Minnesota Opera for the past 20 years. Concurrently he has been the percussionist at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and had previously been the house percussionist at the Guthrie Theater, where he also served as assistant conductor and Music Director for several productions.
KASHIMANA AHUA & KHARY JACKSON
Kashimana is a mother, musician, composer, producer, and teaching artist with a rich soulful blues voice that soars through their original compositions. The name Kashimana means ‘that’s their heart’ and you can hear Kashimana’s heart beating in the compelling sound of her music which is a mix of pop, soul, R&B, folk and rock. Kashimana often draws inspiration from her experiences growing up in Nigeria, Kenya, traveling through Africa, Europe and finally settling in the United States. Kashimana was the 2018-19 In Common Composer in Residence in Willmar, Minnesota, a community residency geared towards teaching songwriting as a tool to encourage community sharing of stories. Kashimana was also a 2019 Cedar Commissions Artist, where her project, ‘Phantom Cries’ – a musical exploration of new motherhood while shedding some light on the higher maternal mortality rate of African American women. Kashimana was a Northern Spark Festival Artist in 2018 (Applause Posse) and in 2019 (Soundscape of stories). Kashimana is also one of the teaching artists at COMPAS.
Khary Jackson is a writer, dancer and musician. He has written several plays, one of which (Water) was produced in 2009 at Ink and Pulp Theatre in Chicago. As a hip hop/street dancer he was fortunate to create and perform a piece at the 2018 Choreographers’ Evening at the Walker Art Center. He has been a recipient of several generous grants, including the 2019 Jerome Artist Fellowship, the 2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship in Writing, the Minnesota State Arts Board’s 2012 Cultural Community Partnership Grant and 2010 Artist Initiative Grant for Poetry, the Many Voices Fellowship from The Playwrights’ Center in 2005 and 2007 as well as the 2009 VERVE Spoken Word Grant from Intermedia Arts. He is an alumnus of Cave Canem, the esteemed writing fellowship for black writers. His first poetry book, Any Psalm You Want, was published with Write Bloody Publishing in the spring of 2013.
Victoria Korovljev (vocals) is an aspiring soprano from Detroit, Michigan. A recipient of the Harvey Berkening Fellowship and College of Liberal Arts Merit Award, she completed her Masters of Music at the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Professor Adriana Zabala. Most recently, Victoria was a part of Minnesota Opera’s chorus in Edward Tulane. In 2019, she sang First Wood Sprite in Rusalka as well as Mimí in Puccini’s La Bohème, Act 3. Victoria looks forward to the coming years and discovering her developing voice. Passionate about teaching, she enjoys sharing opera with children and helping others to find their true voice.
Allen Michael Jones, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is currently a Resident Studio Artist with Minnesota Opera. This season he was scheduled to cover Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, and the Father, in Jeanine Tesori’s award-winning new opera, Blue. He would have made his house debut singing as Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, Police Buddy 3 in Blue, and Singer Ranger in The Shining. Last season, Allen Michael finished his second year as a Studio Artist with Michigan Opera Theatre; singing the role of Masetto in Don Giovanni. In the 2018 season he sang Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Maximillian in Candide, and Policeman/Man in Suit/Man in the Barn in Ricky Ian Gordan’s highly celebrated Grapes of Wrath.