A native of Philadelphia, soprano Leah Hawkins is in her final season of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera. In the 2017- 18 season she appeared at WNO as Ma Zegner in the world premiere of Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, and Voce dal cielo in Verdi’s Don Carlo. In the 2016-17 season she appeared at WNO to great acclaim as the I-Will-Sell-My-Children-Mom in the premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife; Cousin Blanche/Sadie Griffith in Champion, Terence Blanchard’s “opera in jazz”; and in Justice at the Opera with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, performing scenes from Aida and Un ballo in maschera with the Washington National Opera Orchestra.
On the concert stage she has appeared with Yale Philharmonia, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Recently she appeared with The Apollo Orchestra in Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder; the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in A Celebration of Black History; the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra in Holiday Joy; the National Symphony Orchestra in Songfest by Leonard Bernstein; at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in a concert of vocal works by Beethoven, and as a guest artist in concert in Accra, Ghana.
Leah’s summer festival credits include The Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance Program, Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artist Vocal Academy (YAVA), Central City Opera, The Chautauqua Opera Company and The Glimmerglass Festival. She has received awards from The Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera Competition, The Sullivan Foundation, The Chautauqua Opera Guild, Yale School of Music, George London Foundation, Marcello Giordani Foundation, Opera Ebony, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Leah received her Master of Music in Voice from Yale University and Bachelor of Arts in Music from Morgan State University
Christian Simmons, bass-baritone, is a young artist from Hyattsville, MD. Christian has performed in roles such as Jabez Stone in Douglas Moore's The Devil and Daniel Webster with the Morgan State University Opera Workshop, The Duke in Charles Gounod's Roméo et Julliette with the Castleton Festival, and Figaro in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Naples, Italy. Christian also has premiered as The Cowardly Lion in Charlie's Smalls's The Wiz at Morgan State University for the university's 150th Year (Sesquicentennial) Celebration. This summer, Christian will be premiering as the role of Seneca in Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Berlin Opera Academy in Berlin, Germany. Christian has been featured as the bass soloist in such works as G.F. Handel’s Messiah, J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, and Franz Schubert’s Mass in G Major. Christian have received honorable awards such as winner in the National Association of Teaching Singing (NATS) 2016 regional competition, winner in the Harlem Opera Theater 2017 Vocal Competition, and an honorary lifetime membership in the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA). Christian is a graduating Senior at Morgan State University pursuing a Bachelor's degree in music, where he has studied in the studio of Dr. Ridley Chauvin, and is currently studying in the studio of Mr. Kevin Short. Christian is a proud member of the nation's first and largest music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America.
Jouelle Roberson(Soprano)hails from Washington, D.C. She Began Her Musical studies at the Duke Ellington School Choir. After Gaining An Enormous Love For Opera,she was accepted into the Vocal Studies Program at Morgan State University where she is currently a senior studying vocal performance under the direction of Marquita Lister. In 2015,she advanced to the Regional auditions of the National Association of Teachers Of Singing Student Auditions. Later that year, she performed the role of Marenka in Bedrich Smetana's Bartered’ Bride with the Bethesda Summer Music Festival.following her successful performances as Marenka,she was invited by the AAMS Opera to perform the role of the Countess (excerpts)from Le Nozze di Figaro in Ischia,Italy. Ms. Roberson is currently a graduate student at Morgan State University, where she is studying vocal performance. During her undergraduate studies at Morgan State Jouelle participated in opera workshop scene and fully staged productions. She has also had the opportunity to travel nationally and internationally as a member of the renowned Morgan State University Choir. Ms. Roberson is a proud member of Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity.
JoyAnne Amani is a Collaborative and Creative Artist.
Since moving to the Baltimore area in 2011, she has taught on the Morgan State University music faculty and held the position of Music Director for Opera@Morgan. She has taught piano for the Carter School of Music at New Shiloh Baptist Church, served in the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church Music Ministry and led the Music Ministry of Metropolitan United Methodist
Ms. Amani has served as collaborative pianist for Delaware State University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Also a composer, several of her compositions have been premiered by the Jubilee Singers of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, under the direction of Professor Janice Jackson.
In 2016, she was commissioned by the Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church Music Ministry to compose a piece for the “Celebration of Dr. John C. Walker,” Minister of Music/Organist Emeritus. At present, her arrangement of “Little David Play on Your Harp” is in the Alliance Publications Library.
Ms. Amani has collaborated with Janice Chandler-Eteme, Denyce Graves, Janice Jackson, Priscilla Baskerville, Marvis Martin; as well as, Maestros Zubin Mehta Roland Carter and Julius Williams. She has also worked in Theater- regional and on “Broadway.” In 2014, she conducted the premiere of the opera, Qadar, by Tony Smalls and commissioned by the Smithsonian African Museum of Art, at the University of Maryland.
Currently, Ms. Amani works as a freelance Collaborative Artist and rehearsal coach, Accompanist for the Olson Singing Society and Minister of Music at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Rockville Maryland.
Aaron Thacker is an accomplished pianist, who has performed extensively in the realm of Opera. He has served as rehearsal pianist for North Carolina Opera, Baltimore Lyric Opera, Peabody Conservatory, and The Ford's Theatre. He has appeared on NPR
with famous tenor Noah Stewart and played for many other of the greatest and most sought after opera singers in the country,
including Christine Goerke, Anthony Dean Griffey, Nathan Gunn, Soloman Howard, Denyce Graves, and Steven LaBrie. He
has also recently begun studying voice with widely-acclaimed Verdi baritone Stephen Powell and is in the process of building his
career as an operatic dramatic bass.
Joycelyn Jolly, a native of New York, is an author, educator, visual artist and classical musician. Currently living in Baltimore City, she is founder/director of Joystar Studios, Inc., an organization that offers affordable instrumental music instruction and produces music events. (www.joystarstudios.com)
As an international soloist and orchestral musician, Ms. Jolly has performed extensively in Latin America with SiguaMusica and South America with the National Symphony of Brasil. Currently, Ms. Jolly plays with the Johns Hopkins Concert Orchestra and does freelance work in the Baltimore-Washington area.
Ms. Jolly holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education with advanced studies in ‘cello at the Hartt School of Music and Peabody Conservatory.
Ms. Jolly is also founder of Affinity Consortium, a Baltimore-based network of service organizations dedicated to the arts, education, health, wealth and entrepreneurship. She is working on the final stages of her book, Divina, a book of poetry and prose on the global life experiences of women and girls.
Her proudest achievement is being the mother of Daniela Bahia, a violinist and visual artist in her own right.
SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE is Baltimore's newest chamber orchestra, performing substantial works by emerging composers, alongside riveting masterworks, beloved classics, and a twist of pop. SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE brings together great composers of the past, virtuoso performers of the present, and the leading compositional voices of the future, creating electrifying concert experiences for all of Baltimore.
Praised for presenting "full-length freshness on each program" by the Baltimore Sun, the orchestra was founded in 2015 by Music Director Jordan Randall Smith after recruiting a creative team of colleagues from the Peabody Conservatory: Nicholas Bentz, Sean Meyers, Melissa Lander, and Christopher Ciampoli. In just one year's time, SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE has premiered new works of over a dozen composers, released two "must get" albums (available for purchase or download on Amazon & iTunes), and performed at Baltimore's inaugural Light City Festival. The orchestra was also highlighted in Baltimore STYLE as "brazen...like an indie rock band", featured on the acclaimed television show MPT Artworks, granted the "Category Buster" award by Baltimore Magazine for their Best of Baltimore 2016, and chosen as runner up for Baltimore's Best Band in this year's 2016 Best of Baltimore Reader's Poll.
SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE develops close working relationships with young and emerging composers, gives new works multiple hearings, produces substantial recordings, and creates unique concert experiences for the public by juxtaposing new music with the classical canon.
Stephen Jones Jr.
Symphony Number one,
Christian Simmons, Bass
Jouelle Roberson, Soprano
Leah Hawkins, soprano
Marquita Lister, Soprano
Aaron thacker, Pianist
Joyanne Amani, pianist
Marquita Lister has earned worldwide critical praise for the past two decades.
Critics all over the world rave about soprano Marquita Lister's poignant,
precise and intelligent technique.
With an impressive repertoire that includes the masterworks of Verdi, Strauss, Puccini and Gershwin, her courage and a determination to dare the utmost in performance are her hallmark. Ms. Lister has sung with major opera companies such as the San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Montreal Opera, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg, La Scala, Semperoper Dresden, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opera Bastille Paris, Michigan Opera Theater, to name a few. She has performed with world renowned artists,
including Placido Domngo, Justino Diaz, Frederica Von Stade, Simon Estes, Sherrill Milnes and Marcello Giordani.
Her convincing performance as Bess in New York City Opera's Emmy nominated production of Porgy and Bess earned her the ''NYCO Diva Award 2002." Ms. Lister
also received the "Artist of the Year Award," from the Pittsburgh Opera, and has appeared in television broadcast productions of An Evening with the Pops; Keith
Lockhart and the Boston Pops (PBS), A Christmas Celebration:
Dallas Symphony Orchestra (KXAS- TV), and Live from Lincoln Center
(PBS). In studio, Ms. Lister recorded George Gershwin's Blue Monday and Excerpts from Porgy and Bess for Telarc Records with Erich KunzeI and the Cincinnati Pops (Grammy nominated), Where the Sunsets Bleed: The Chamber Music of Edward Knight on Albany Records, and the critically acclaimed Porgy and Bess recording on the Decca label hailed by Opera News as one of the best recordings of 2006. In
2012, Ms. Lister recorded composer Michael Ching’s contribution to the Opera America Songbook commissioned for opening celebrations of the National Opera Center in New York.
Her renown spreading beyond the stage, Ms. Lister received the National Rehabilitation Hospital’s prestigious Victory Award in December of 2011, enshrining her achievements alongside those of fellow musician honorees Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, actress Teri Garr and Senator Robert Dole. Her portrait now hangs in the hallways gallery of the Medstar National Rehabilitation Network. She is regularly featured on radio airwaves with hosts eager to learn more about her intriguing and multi-faceted persona. Of special note are her multi-segment talk show interviews
with program host Doug Llewllyn on Close-Up Talk Radio and regular appearances on WAMU radio. At the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Ms. Lister was host and soloist for Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s innovative Outreach and Educations program “America the Beautiful” – a musical tour of the American Landscape.
In collaboration with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony, Ms. Lister was the featured soloist in the debut of Mother’s Lament, an orchestral work created by composer James Lee and lyricist Vincent Stringer that addresses the violent tragedies of police violence and racial profiling. A passionate advocate for education and the arts, Marquita Lister has spearheaded fundraising efforts and appeared in performance to benefit numerous charitable concerns, particularly scholarship programs of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., and The “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation where there is a scholarship in her name.
In 2017, she established the Composer’s Prize for the distinguished George Shirley African-American Art Song and Operatic Competition.
Ms. Lister is presently collaborating with soprano Louise Toppin to pioneer The African American Art Song and Arranged Negro Spirituals for a New Generation
Project. The project commissions
original work from poets and composers that will comprise a new songbook affirming the importance and relevance of America’s art songs and spirituals in a contemporary milieu. Together,
Ms. Lister and Ms. Toppin premiered many of these works in Havanna, Cuba.
Ms. Lister is enjoying a long list of master class credits in both the U.S. and Canada which includes the National Association of Teachers of Singing Southwest Regional Convention, Baltimore School
for the Arts, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Edmonton Opera, Calgary Opera and numerous universities and colleges. She will begin her spring master class schedule with the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, followed by a workshop presentation at the 2018
Voice Foundation Symposium.
Ms. Lister received her Bachelor of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music, where she graduated with distinction. She received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Oklahoma City University. She is the Coordinator of the Vocal Studies Program and Director of Opera. She is a lifetime member of Sigma Alpha Iota.
Joycelyn Jolly, Cellist