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Douglas Ahlstedt

Professor of Voice, tenor

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Douglas Ahlstedt has sung professionally in the world's greatest opera houses and concert halls, from the renowned stages of Europe, South America, the Far East, and Africa, to the Metropolitan Opera, where he has sung 189 performances to date. He is the only American tenor featured in leading roles, including Fenton in Verdi's Falstaff and Pelleas in Dubussy's Pelleas et Melisande on the James Levine 25th Anniversary Collection of notable scenes from Metropolitan Opera broadcasts.

Leading roles of Ahlstedt's career have included Lindoro in Rossini's Lâ Italiana in Algeri, Almaviva in Barbiere di Siviglia, Narciso in Turco in Italia, Idreno in Semiramide, Pilade in Ermione and Ramiro in La Cenerentola; Fenton in Verdi's Falstaff; Pelleas in Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande; Ferrando in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Sifare in Mitridate, Belmonte in Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, Tamino in The Magic Flute, and Alessandro in Il Re Pastore; Rinuccio in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi; Ernesto in Donizetti's Don Pasquale; Lorenzo in Auber's Fra Diavolo; Junge Graf in Zimmermann's Die Soldaten; Flammand in Strauss's Capriccio; and Eisenstein in Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

Douglas Ahlstedt's singing career began with the American Boys' Choir, with whom he toured the United States and Canada. During that period, he sang the role of Miles in the American premiere of Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw.

Ahlstedt earned a bachelor of science in music education from the State University of New York at Fredonia, and completed his master's degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

In addition to his notoriety as a worldwide performer, Ahlstedt is known to be a formidable educator both in his studio and throughout the nation. Active in the promotion of arts, cultural, and education partnerships, Douglas Ahlstedt is well known as a national advocate for the advancement of the Arts in Education and as an authority on vocal health.

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Alberto Almarza

Associate Professor of Flute

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Described as a virtuoso flutist by the Boston Globe, Alberto Almarza brings a unique and passionate approach to music. His versatility and musicianship have led him to perform and record some of the most adventurous and challenging pieces from the music of today as well as works from the standard repertoire and Baroque literature on period instruments.

A native of Chile, Mr. Almarza previously held the position of Principal Flute of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago. He later came to the United States to study with Jeanne Baxtresser in New York and with Julius Baker at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he obtained his master's degree. He currently serves on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon as Associate Teaching Professor of Flute. 

His skills as a pedagogue, lecturer and recitalist have led to invitations from international festivals in the U.S., Mexico, Germany, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru. He is a resident artist and member of the faculty at The Jeanne Baxtresser International Master Class and has been recently appointed to the National Flute Association Advisory Board for New Music.

Mr. Almarza has appeared as soloist with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Memphis Symphony, BachFest Chamber Orchestra, and the Symphonic Orchestra of Chile and has collaborated with such artists as Julius Baker, Andrés Cárdenes, Lionel Party and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, among others. As a leading proponent of new music for the flute, Mr. Almarza has been instrumental in expanding the repertoire with numerous commissions and premieres of works by composers from around the world. Pieces written for him include five flute concertos and dozens of solo and chamber works. 

He can be heard on radio broadcasts of International Music from Carnegie Mellon throughout North and South America, on compact discs from New Albion, Albany Records and Centaur Recordings as well as on a recently released Naxos Records compact disc of the Flute Concerto by Reza Vali with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

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Donna Amato

Artist Lecturer in Piano, Staff Pianist

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Donna Amato was born in Pittsburgh, where she also received her earliest musical training. She later studied with Ozan Marsh, Louis Kentner, Gaby Casadesus, Guido Agosti and Angelica Morales von Sauer. She has made concert appearances in Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, Norway, Mexico, Canada, Russia and the United States, and radio broadcasts on the BBC as well as the inaugural live broadcast on Classic FM. Her concerto performances have included the Mozart Concerto, K.488, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, Daniel Dorff's Piano Concerto, Nancy Galbraith's 2nd Piano Concerto and the 4th Piano Concerto ʻAurora Borealisʼ by Geirr Tveitt (which can be seen in its entirety on YouTube). She performed works of Giacinto Scelsi in Rome at the invitation of the Scelsi Foundation, and toured with Pittsburghʼs River City Brass Band in a series of performances of the Jazz Concerto in D by Dana Suesse. Other performances with orchestra have included the Skryabin Piano Concerto, the 2nd Piano Concerto of Edward MacDowell, the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 4, Leonardo Baladaʼs Concerto for Piano, Winds and Percussion, and the world première of Sorabjiʼs 5th Piano Concerto. In 2005 she performed Michael Daughertyʼs Le tombeau de Liberace in Arizona, and Messiaenʼs Couleurs de la cité célèste with the Carnegie Mellon University Wind Ensemble, conducted by George Vosburgh. A number of leading composers have written works especially for her, which she has performed, broadcast and recorded.


Her recordings include the two concertos of MacDowell with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on the Alto label, the sonatas of Dutilleux and Balakirev, a recital disc entitled ʻA Piano Portraitʼ, a Scriabin disc, two collections of works by Sorabji, a disc of music by Ethelbert and Arthur Nevin, MacDowellʼs complete piano sonatas, Nancy Galbraithʼs Piano Concerto No. 2, and a disc of the early piano works of Scelsi. Other releases include piano music of Carson Cooman (Naxos), Arnold Rosner (Albany), and Thomas L. Read (Zimbel), a second volume of Coomanʼs piano works (Altarus), and Sorabjiʼs ʻSymphonia brevisʼ (Piano Symphony No.5) (Altarus).

She has a long-standing association with Sorabjiʼs music. She produced performing editions of his Passeggiata Arlecchinesca and Toccatinetta sopra C.G.F., and corrected editions of Fantaisie espagnole and Valse-fantaisie, all of which she has also performed in concert. She has also acted as consulting editor on other works, and gave world premières of two of his compositions in an all-Sorabji concert in the Vienna Festival in 1993. In 1992 she presented a lecture-recital in Montréal, Canada, on Sorabji's life and music. In March, 2003, she gave the world première of Sorabjiʼs published piano concerto, now regarded as his 5th (it was published in the 1920s as Concerto II). The concert, which also featured works written around the same time by Busoni and Grainger, was given in Vredenburg Music Center, Utrecht as part of a series of events ʻAround Kaikhosru Sorabjiʼ organised by Netherlands Public Radio, which broadcast the performance (now available on YouTube). The orchestra was the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ed Spanjaard. In 2004 she gave the world première of Symphonia brevis (Piano Symphony No.5) at New Yorkʼs Merkin Hall.

Donna Amato currently teaches piano at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and works at Carnegie Mellon as an Assisting Artist, while maintaining a busy schedule of solo and chamber-music concert appearances.
Click Here, for more information on the artist.

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Jennifer Aylmer

Assistant Professor of Voice, soprano

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American soprano Jennifer Aylmer has developed a sterling reputation for her beautiful voice, compelling stage portrayals, and impeccable musicianship. The New York Times has hailed her for her, "awesome accuracy," while The Chicago Sun-Times has recommended that listeners, "bask in the aural delight of Aylmer's dazzling shifts from regal command to cool insouciance and fatally attractive seduction." This season Jennifer is a guest artist at Virginia Tech and Stony Brook Universities, and is soloist with the National Chorale at their annual Messiah sing-in.  Recent engagements include a return to Portland Opera as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, performances of Despina in Cosí fan tutte for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, in addition to concerts with the Haydn Orchestra, Skaneateles Music Festival, and Kansas City Symphony. She will be making her Dallas Opera debut in 2014.

Recently, Jennifer made her debut singing Monica in The Medium with Spoleto Festival USA and has appeared as a soloist with Lyric Fest!, the Sarasota Performing Arts series, the New York Festival of Song, and at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston with baritone Randall Scarlata and pianist Laura Ward in their Tin Pan Alley concert program.  Ms. Aylmer has performed the title role in Rodelinda with Portland Opera, and as Martha in the new opera John Brown with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, as Hannah in Opera New Jersey’s The Merry Widow, and as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel for her Atlanta Opera debut, which she also covered for the Metropolitan Opera. Other favorite operatic engagements have included the title role in Semele with Florentine Opera, Kathie in The Student Prince with Nashville Opera, Mařenka in The Bartered Bride with Opera Boston, Rosasharn in The Grapes of Wrath at Utah Opera and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at the Green Mountain Festival. Additionally, Jennifer has enjoyed a long career at the New York City Opera, where her roles included Gretel, Pamina, Papagena, Barbarina, and leading heroines in Handel's Flavio, Ariodante, and Orlando. Other highlights in the opera arena include leading roles in Don Pasquale, Die Zauberflöte, Le nozze di Figaro, Der Rosenkavalier, Street Scene, Falstaff, and The Turn of the Screw with such companies as Minnesota Opera, Orlando Opera, Utah Opera, the Aspen Festival, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Kentucky Opera, and Berkshire Opera. With Austin Lyric Opera she has performed both Gilda in Rigoletto and Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire. As a member of the Houston Grand Opera studio, she created the role of Amy in the world premiere of Mark Adamo's Little Women.

Jennifer made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2005-2006 season as Bella in the world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. She returned to the Met the following season as Papagena in the first world-wide broadcast of Julie Taymor's The Magic Flute.  Also that season, she returned to the Alabama Symphony for Mozart's Requiem, and their "Viennese New Year's Concert."  Other engagements at the Met include covering Clorinda, Gretel, Berta, and Mme. Pdtochina's Daughter in The Nose.   

Equally accomplished in oratorio, concert, and an especially sought-after recitalist, Jennifer has been a featured soloist with the Haydn Orchestra in Bolzano, Italy, the Phoenix Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic, and the Beijing Music Festival. She sang Eurydice in Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall, and during the summer of 2005 made her San Francisco debut singing Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles with Michael Tilson Thomas. Jennifer made her New York recital debut as the 2001 recipient of the Alice Tully Hall Vocal Arts Debut Recital from the Juilliard School and has been presented across the country by the Marilyn Horne Foundation. A native of Long Island, Ms. Aylmer is a graduate of Eastman School of Music and alumnus of the Juilliard Opera Center. She also received her Master of Music in Vocal Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College, and currently teaches voice at the Seagle Music Colony.  Her many honors and awards include a Career Grant from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, the Richard F. Gold Career Grant, the National Society of Arts and Letters and the Catherine Filene Shouse Career Grant from the Wolf Trap Opera Company.

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Leonardo Balada

University Professor of Composition

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A native of Spain, Leonardo Balada graduated from Barcelona's Conservatorio del Liceu and the Juilliard School. Balada's works have been performed by the world's leading orchestras, including the philharmonics of New York, Los Angeles, Israel, Philadelphia Orchestra, the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Detroit, Washington DC, Prague, Dusseldorf, Barcelona, Jerusalem, the national orchestras of Ireland, Peru, Colombia, the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, the radio orchestras of Berne, Leipzig, Moscow, BBC, Luxembourg etc. conducted and performed by artists like Rostropovitch, Fruhbeck de Burgos, Mariss Jansons, Nevill Marriner, Lopez-Cobos, Lukas Foss, Alicia de Larrocha, Yepes, Segovia, American Brass Quintet etc. Balada has been a faculty member of Carnegie Mellon School of Music since 1970 where he is University Professor of Composition. 

He has been commissioned by the Aspen Festival, San Diego Opera, the orchestras of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Lausanne, National of Spain, Radio Berlin, and others, and has received several NEA awards. He has collaborated with Salvador Dali and Nobel Prize Laureate C.J. Cela. A large number of his compositions are recorded including Steel Symphony and Music for Oboe and Orchestra with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Lorin Maazel. Naxos Records has released 16 CDs of his music including the operas “Christopher Columbus” and “The Death of Columbus”. “Christopher Columbus” was commissioned by the Spanish government for the 5th centennial of the Americas. It was premiered with Jose Carreras and Montserrat Caballe and received international acclaim. The Washington Times described the opera as “a masterpiece…a landmark score in the lyric theater of our time”. Balada has received several international awards, such as the B. Martinu, City of Zaragoza, and City of Barcelona. 

Recent world premieres of Balada's works includes: “A Little Night Music in Harlem” by the Hungarian Chamber Symphony Orchestra; “Concerto for Three Cellos and Orchestra” by the Berlin Radio Sym. Orch.; “Caprichos No.4-Quasi Jazz” by the Pittsburgh Symphony Cham. Orch.; the chamber operas “Hangman, Hangman!’ & “The Town of Greed” at Teatro de la Zarzuela-Madrid- and Teatre del Liceu-Barcelona; the grand opera “Faust-bal” at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

His principal publisher is G. Schirmer.
Click here, to visit his personal website.

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Jeanne Baxtresser

Vira I. Heinz University Professor of Flute

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Jeanne Baxtresser has held principal positions with three major orchestras, culminating in her 15-year tenure as Solo Flutist of the New York Philharmonic. Making her heralded debut with the Minnesota Orchestra at age 14, Ms. Baxtresser began her professional career as Principal Flutist of the Montreal Symphony immediately following her graduation from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Julius Baker. She was subsequently appointed Principal Flute of the Toronto Symphony before being invited by Music Director Zubin Mehta to join the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Baxtresser appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic on more than fifty occasions, and has been featured as a soloist across North America and Europe. 

Ms. Baxtresser was named a recipient of the National Flute Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for significant, lasting contributions to the flute world, and she was also awarded the National Medal of Arts from the Interlochen Center for the Arts. She is recognized internationally as a leading recording artist, author and lecturer. 

In great demand as a teacher, many of Ms. Baxtresser's students occupy principal and section positions in major orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. While in New York, Ms. Baxtresser served on the faculties of The Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. In 1998, she was appointed the Vira I. Heinz Professor of Flute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she has attracted many outstanding flute students from around the world. Ms. Baxtresser was also named University Professor, Carnegie Mellon University's most distinguished professorial position awarded to those individuals who have achieved exceptional international recognition.

Ms. Baxtresser's exceptional career as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician has produced numerous recordings, including New York Legends—Jeanne Baxtresser (Cala), Jeanne Baxtresser—A Collection of My Favorites (MSR Classics), and Chamber Music for Flute (Cala), featuring her performances with principal players of the New York Philharmonic. She has recorded many of the major symphonic works with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta and Kurt Masur. 

Ms. Baxtresser's acclaimed first book, Orchestral Excerpts for Flute with Piano Accompaniment (Theodore Presser), has been re-released in a new revised edition. This book and a companion CD, Orchestral Excerpts for Flute with Spoken Commentary (Summit), have become a vital part of flute pedagogy. Her subsequent book, Great Flute Duos from the Orchestral Repertoire, was named the 2004 winner of the National Flute Association's Newly Published Music Competition.

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Scott Bell

Artist Lecturer in Oboe

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While a student, Mr. Bell served as Acting Principal Oboe with the Akron Symphony and played with the Cleveland Orchestra both in the Cleveland area and on tour. Now a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony, he has also been a member of the Hartford Symphony, the New Orleans Symphony, and La Orquesta Sinfonica de Veracruz (Mexico). Mr. Bell has also appeared with the Atlanta Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, and the Savannah Symphony. In summers, he has participated in the Santa Fe Opera, the Glimmerglass Opera, and the Waterloo Festival. 

Mr. Bell has been on the faculties of Tulane University, Northern Illinois University, Wesleyan University (CT), and Central Connecticut University. He joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in the fall of 1994. In 1982, Mr. Bell became the first oboist to win first prize in the Fernand Gillet Reed Soloist Competition sponsored by the International Double Reed Society. He has also won concerto competitions at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA.

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Neal Berntsen

Artist Lecturer in Trumpet

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Neal Berntsen joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in March 1997, having been appointed at the invitation of Music Director Lorin Maazel in 1996. He is a native of Tacoma, Washington. He began his musical studies at age five playing the violin under the tutelage of his mother. By age eight he advanced to the trumpet and ultimately received a B.M. from the University of Puget Sound and a M.M. from Northwestern University. A former member of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Neal has also performed as principal trumpet for the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and the Bamberg Sinfoniker in Germany. Other orchestral performances have included the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Active as a chamber musician, Neal is a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass whose recordings: “BACH: THE ART OF FUGUE” (1998),“A CHRISTMAS CONCERT” (2000), “THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS” (2003) and “A SONG OF CHRISTMAS” (2008) were described as “...Awhirl with color and rhythmic vitality - quite irresistible on every count.” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Berntsen is also a founding member of the award-winning Asbury Brass Quintet of Chicago, about which Fanfare magazine stated, “Not only expert but musical...undeniable virtuosity.” The Asbury Brass Quintet recording with Adolph Herseth, “INTRODUCING THE ASBURY BRASS QUINTET” has become legendary. In June 2005 Mr. Berntsen toured Japan with members of the Chicago Symphony brass section with the Chicago Brass Soloists. As a soloist he recently performed the Arutunian Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra and the Proto, Carmen Fantasy with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Other solo engagements have included the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 at the Sedona Chamber Music Festival in Arizona. Mr. Berntsen’s performance of Copeland’s “Quiet City” was called a highlight of the 2005 season by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Mr. Berntsen’s solo recording TRUMPET VOICES was released in Nov. 2005. Andrew Druckenbrod, music critic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called the recording, “Electric”. While Mark Kanny of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review stated, “Trumpet Voices is an indispensable recording for anyone who appreciates great trumpet playing.”

Neal Berntsen was a finalist and prizewinner in multiple International Trumpet Competitions. His wide ranging dicography includes: The Orchestras of Pittsburgh and Chicago, Manheim Steamroller, The American Girl Doll Christmas album and Michael Jackson. 

As an educator, Mr. Berntsen is Chair of the Brass Division and Artist Lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. He has previously served on the faculty of Duquesne University and Valparaiso University in Indiana. He has been published in The Instrumentalist magazine, and the International Trumpet Guild Journal. Mr. Berntsen has presented master classes and recitals around the world - most recently in China.

Mr. Berntsen is an active studio musician and was featured on a national series of commercials during the broadcast of the Olympic games in Atlanta. His performance on “America” sung by Diana Ross opened the women’s final tennis match of the 2001 US OPEN in Flushing Meadows New York. 

Neal Berntsen has studied with Adolph Herseth, Vincent Cichowicz and Manuel Laureano. He resides in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsyvlania with his wife Karen and three children Molly, Jacob, and Charlie.