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Robert Skavronski

Director of Operations

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Robert Skavronski, Director of Operations, has a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School. He also holds degrees in double bass performance from Carnegie Mellon School of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. 

Mr. Skavronski has worked with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as an intern for their personnel department. He also worked as Personnel Manager for the New World Symphony prior to joining the staff of the School of Music in 1995. Mr. Skavronski remains extremely active as a classical double bassist. He has played with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Wheeling (WV) Symphony and is a current member of the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, where he has played since 1987.

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Maria Spacagna

Associate Professor of Voice, soprano

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Providence born soprano, Maria Spacagna has been a regular guest artist at many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the Dallas Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera Festival, Florida Grand Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Arena di Verona, Teatro San Carlo, the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, the Spoleto Festival, the Zurich Opera,  Bavarian State Opera of Munich, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opera Theater of Cologne, Opera Theater of Montreal, Canadian Opera, Shanghai Grand Opera, Capetown Opera of South Africa and many others. She was the first American-born artist to perform the role of MADAMA BUTTERFLY at La Scala.  She has recorded for Vox Classics, the first commercial recording of the 1904 La Scala world premiere version of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY which includes the revisions for Brescia and Paris. This is the first interactive recording of an opera designed for CD.  VARIETY, the American daily of the entertainment industry has written, “Spacagna is the Cio-Cio-San of our generation”.  The Spacagna Butterfly was selected by FANFARE, the recording industry quarterly, as one of the three opera “recordings of the year” for 1997.  Fanfare, places her recording of the role along with those of Tebaldi, Scotto and Toti dal Monte.  Her recordings of the title role of Mascagni’s Lodoletta for Hungaroton and Vivetta in Cilea’sL’Arlesiana for Harmonia Mundi have earned critical acclaim.  In 1993, the LA SCALA ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE OPERA wrote: “The elegance of Spacagna’s phrasing, coupled with a voice that is consistent across the range and great sensitivity of interpretation, led her to being acclaimed as one of the great singers of her generation.”  She has performed more than 40 roles in her career.  Among them are: Violetta, Gilda, Desdemona, Luisa Miller, Amelia Boccanegra, Mimi, Liu, Tosca, Micaela, Marguerite and Rusalka. 
As Liu in Turandot, Ms. Spacagna has been featured at the Metropolitan Opera (including the international radio broadcast), La Scala, Dallas Opera, Canadian Opera and in Korea and Japan with La Scala on tour.  Her Violetta in La Traviata has been heard at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Arena di Verona, Cologne, Toronto, Metropolitan Opera, Torre del Lago, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and New Orleans Opera.  As Gilda in Rigoletto she has been heard at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Dallas, Milwaukee, Rio de Janiero, Toronto, New Orleans, Toledo, Artpark Festival, Winnipeg and Providence.
She returned to La Scala in 1996 to perform Cio-Cio-San, repeated the role at the Metropolitan, returned to Cologne and Berlin for more performances of Madama Butterfly and opened the Santa Fe Festival in their new production of that opera.  In the 1996/97 season she sang her first Tosca for Boston Lyric Opera and returned to the Met as Mimi in La Boheme and Cio-Cio-San inMadama Butterfly.  In 1997 Ms. Spacagna made her first appearances in Australia at Perth as Mimi in La Boheme and sang the Verdi Requiem.  Later that year she debuted in South Africa at Capetown with performances of Violetta in La Traviata.  In 1998 she added Leonora in Il Trovatore at the Met and the Deutsche Oper Berlin and reprised Liu in Turandot for the Met.  Other engagements included Madama Butterfly at L’Opera de Montreal, Pittsburgh Opera, and Deutsche Oper Berlin and La Traviata in New Orleans.
Important performances for Ms. Spacagna in 1998/99 included UnBallo in Maschera with Opera Grand Rapids, Andrea Chenier for Baltimore Opera, La Boheme at the Met, Madama Butterfly for the inaugural performances of the Fresno International Grand Opera,La Boheme for Opera Providence, and La Traviata for the Shanghai Grand Opera in Shanghai, China.
Other notable roles in her repertory (and their venue) include: Lina in Stiffelio and the title role in Luisa Miller (Metropolitan Opera), Maddalena in Andrea Chenier (Cincinnati Opera), Desdemona inOtello (Columbus Symphony and Florentine Opera), Marguerite inFaust (Trieste, Montreal, Winnipeg and Providence), the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (Florentine Opera), Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore(Metropolitan Opera and Opera Theater of St. Louis), Micaela inCarmen (Dallas, Memphis, and Portland), Lord Byron‘s Love Letter(Trieste), and title roles in Rusalka (Spoleto Festival) and Lodoletta(New Jersey State Opera).
At the invitation of Placido Domingo, Ms. Spacagna performed at a State Dinner honoring the Prime Minister of Italy given by President and Mrs. Clinton at the White House.
In concert, Maria Spacagna has appeared with the Pittsburgh Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Lorin Maazel, and the Verdi Requiem with the Stamford Chamber Orchestra, Pioneer Symphony, MA, and the Chorale and Orchestra of Perth, Australia.  She has also appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Civic Chorale, and New York’s Little Orchestra Society, the Queens Symphony and the Toronto Symphony.
Ms. Spacagna is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Voice and a Master of Music in Voice with Distinction.  She was honored with an Alumni of the Year Award in 2004 from NEC.   She was a member of the Juilliard Opera Center at the Julliard School of Music.  In competitions, she was a second prize winner of the Busseto Verdi Competition in Italy, and the Paris International Voice Competition, and a New York regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.  She is the recipient of 2 George London grants, the Metropolitan Opera National Council, Rockefeller Foundation and the Minna Kaufmann Rudd Distinguished Performance Award.  Ms. Spacagna is a recipient of a Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts. In March, 2012, she received an award from the Italian Consulate General in Boston for Outstanding Achievement in Art, Culture and Entertainment.  She is also Honorary President of the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra and has received its first Distinguished Artist Award.  At the invitation of its founder, Sherrill Milnes, Ms. Spacagna is a faculty member of V.O.I.C.Experience, a training program for emerging professional singers.  She was Lecturer in Voice at Boston University, College of Fine Arts from 2005 until 2012.  Presently, she is Associate Professor of Voice at Carnegie Mellon University School of Fine Arts.  

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Dr. Richard Stern

Professor of Electrical Engineering

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Most current speech recognition systems do not yet perform well in difficult acoustical environments, or in different environments from the ones in which they had been trained. This research is concerned with improving the robustness of SPHINX, Carnegie Mellons large-vocabulary continuous-speech recognition system, with respect to acoustical distortion resulting from sources such as background noise, competing talkers, change of microphone, and room reverberation. Several different strategies are being used to address these problems. These include: improved noise cancellation and speech normalization methods, the use of representations of the speech waveform that are based on the processing of sounds by the human auditory system, and the use of array-processing techniques to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the speech that is input to the system.
Signal Processing in the Auditory System

This research includes both psychoacoustical measurements to determine how we hear complex sounds, and the development of mathematical models that use optimal communication theory to relate the results of these experiments to the neural coding of sounds by the auditory system. Much of this work has been concerned with the localization of sound and other aspects of binaural perception.

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Jesse Stiles

Assistant Teaching Professor of Sound Media

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Jesse Stiles (b. 1978, Boston, MA) is an electronic composer, performer, installation artist, and software designer.  Stiles’ work has been featured at internationally recognized institutions including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Park Avenue Armory.  Stiles has appeared multiple times at Carnegie Hall, performing as a soloist with electronic instruments.  

In his music and artwork, Stiles creates immersive sonic and visual environments that encourage new methods of listening and looking.  His musical output ranges from highly experimental, using texture and spatialization to create abstract clouds of sound, to borderline danceable, exploring the sounds of electronic dance and rock music to create avant-garde performances and recordings.  Stiles’ installation artwork makes use of generative algorithms to control sound, video, light, and robotics - combining these mediums to create synaesthetic compositions that transform museums and galleries into evolving audiovisual environments.

Stiles has collaborated with many leading figures in experimental music including Pauline Oliveros, Meredith Monk, David Behrman, and Morton Subotnick.  He has been featured as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony and the New World Symphony, performing with electronic instruments.  Stiles' recordings have been published by Conrex Records, Specific Recordings, Gagarin Records, and Araca Recs.  Stiles has worked as a sound designer and composer on a wide variety of award-winning films, museum exhibitions, and video games. 

Starting in 2010, Stiles served as the Music Supervisor for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.  Working with the company during their precedent-setting "Legacy Tour," he produced and performed in more than 200 concerts featuring compositions by groundbreaking composers including John Cage, David Tudor, Brian Eno, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, and John Paul Jones.  Stiles' compositions were featured in many of the company's site-specific "Event" performances.  

Stiles is currently a Professor in the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University, where he leads courses on emerging music technologies.

Jesse Stiles' CV is available here.

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Stephen Story

Associate Director of Wind Ensemble

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Stephen Story is currently in his fourth year as the Associate Director of the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble.  In the 2014-15 season he will conduct works by Prokofiev, Sallinen, Husa, Rautavaara, Milhaud and others.

Stephen is a very strong believer in the value of music education.  He has taught music in the Pittsburgh Public and Alamance County, North Carolina school districts. Most recently he was the band and orchestra teacher of The Ellis School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Stephen earned a Master of Music in Conducting from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied wind music with Denis Colwell, vocal music with Dr. Robert Page, and composition with Nancy Galbraith. He also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Bassoon Performance from Carnegie Mellon University where he studied with Philip Pandolphi of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

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Peter Sullivan

Artist Lecturer in Trombone

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Sullivan was appointed Principal Trombone of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra by maestro Mariss Jansons. Canadian born, raised and trained, Mr. Sullivan came to Pittsburgh following a long and fruitful tenure as Solo Trombone with the Montreal Symphony under maestro Charles Dutoit.

Mr. Sullivan has performed as a soloist on many occasions with several orchestras including the Pittsburgh and Montreal orchestras. In 2006 he will perform the world premiere performance of Jennifer Higdon’s Trombone Concerto with Sir Andrew Davis and the PSO. In 2007 Peter will be the featured soloist with Canada’s National Arts Center Orchestra.

Apart from his activities in Pittsburgh, Mr. Sullivan performs regularly across North America, Europe and the Far East as soloist and chamber musician alongside the world’s leading brass players. He is a regular visitor to Japan playing and teaching at venues such as the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, the Suntory recital hall in Tokyo, the Hamamatsu Summer Academy as well as solo recitals in Osaka. In China, Peter is involved with the Canton International Summer Music Academy and will be performing and giving master classes at the Tian Jin and Beijing Conservatories in April of 2006.

Aside from countless orchestral performances in the great concert halls of Europe, Peter has performed with the Orchestra Internationale d’Italia and was featured in Christian Lindberg’s Trombone Concerto in Bunol, Spain with the composer on the podium. Peter was also the first prize winner in the 1990 Umea International Solo Competition in Sweden.

Here at home, Mr. Sullivan has given concerts and clinics from coast to coast including master classes at the Juilliard and Manhattan schools in New York City, the Glen Gould Academy in Toronto, coaching at the New World Symphony and the Banff School and tours with the Summit Brass and the Music of the Baroque in Chicago. He has been heard across Canada in recital on CBC radio and on NPR with his colleagues in the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass.

Presently, Mr. Sullivan serves on the faculties of Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon universities in Pittsburgh following 15 years as adjunct professor at McGill University in Montreal. For the past few years, he has been working with the Yamaha Corporation on the development of their new line of orchestral trombones, the prototype of which he plays.

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Dr. Thomas Sullivan

Associate Teaching Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Research Interests

Though there is currently no funded research at CMU in this area, Dr. Sullivan's interests lie in the areas of signal processing for audio and music systems.

Audio Signal Processing

As the professional recording industry has grown, so has the complexity and quality of sound recording equipment. Research in audio signal processing serves the advancement of digital audio recording. From the need for lossless data compression, to higher quality filtering for A/D and D/A conversion, to better error correction coding for digital hard disk and magnetic tape systems (and compact discs), the research areas where electrical engineers can aid the entertainment industry are great.
Music Signal Processing

Signals from musical instruments are very complex waveforms. As the professional recording and performance industries demand higher quality synthesis of existing musical instruments, the study of new methods of instrument synthesis has increasing importance. In addition, the greater quality of films and television have increased the need for more realistic generation of sound effects. The use of digital sampling in the creation of music and sound effects merges the music and professional audio signal processing areas.

In addition, there is increasing desire for the control of music synthesizers by other existing musical instruments and new, non-standard "instruments" or "controllers". Pitch and expressive tracking of these instruments are vital to obtaining information from a performer that is capable of giving the performer high-level control over a music synthesizer.

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Dr. Marilyn Taft Thomas

Professor of Music

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Marilyn Taft Thomas is Professor of Theory and Composition in the Carnegie Mellon School of Music. She is an active composer with works for orchestra, choir, piano, voice, brass band and chamber ensembles. She has won prizes from the National Federation of Music and the National Harvey Gaul Competition, the McKeesport Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Mellon University, the American Music Center,the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the River City Brass Band, and the 2011 Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A two-CD collection of her works, "Seasons Within" is available through Amazon.com. 

Her diverse background includes 25 years as a pianist, church organist and director of music. Dr. Thomas was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pittsburgh, and the only woman to serve as President of the Pittsburgh Alliance of Composers. Her computer music research and development of music theory software is internationally known. As a teacher, her innovative teaching methods have been cited by Associated Press and honored by the university with its prestigious Henry Hornbostel Teaching Award.

Since joining the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1981, Dr. Thomas has served as Head of the School of Music, 1988-1996, Director of Graduate Studies, 1997-2000, Executive Director of the River City Brass Band, 2000-2003, and Interim Head of the School of Music, 2006-2007. In addition to her work as a composer, she has published over 20 articles and papers on composition, technology, computer music, music education and women in music. She has also authored two books, several collections of essays, poetry, and travel journals. Leadership in the Arts: An Inside View was recently published by AuthorHouse in Bloomington, Indiana.

In 2004, Thomas was granted the Stolarevsky Lifetime Achievement Award by the McKeesport Symphony Society for distinguished service in the arts, and for excellence in and contributions to the cultural life of our communities.

Thomas served as President of the Executive Board of the Andrew Carnegie Society at Carnegie Mellon University from 2007-2009. She is the mother of three grown children and has six very active grandchildren.
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Daniel Teadt

Assistant Teaching Professor, baritone

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Internationally acclaimed baritone DANIEL TEADT has performed throughout the United States and Europe in over thirty operatic roles in repertoire spanning more than 400 years.  His range of repertoire includes his recent New York City Opera debut as the title role in Telemann’s Orpheus which followed his critically acclaimed portrayals of Charlie in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers and the title role in Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Recently he performed concerts in The Netherlands, returned to Arizona Opera and debuted with the renowned Music In A Great Space Recital Series and Pittsburgh’s Resonance Works. 

Upcoming he will be premiering three major works with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, Philadelphia’s Lyric Fest and an opera composed by former CMU professor, Efrain Amaya, as well as a return to Resonance Works.  Other notable highlights include Grammy Award winning performances with the London Symphony Orchestra, appearances with Pittsburgh Opera, San Francisco Opera, Aix-en-provence Festival, Arizona Opera, Opera Theatre of St Louis, Anchorage Opera, Ashlawn Opera Festival, Central City Opera among others. 

A lauded concert singer and recitalist Mr Teadt has also appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Concerto Koln, Chatham Baroque, Los Angeles Master Chorale, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, Victoria Bach Festival, the Orchestras of the San Francisco and Metropolitan Opera as well as recitals with the Ravinia Festival, Pittsburgh Song Collaborative, New York Festival of Song and San Francisco Opera Schwabacher Debut Recitals. 

His accolades include the Theodore Uppman prize from the George London Foundation, a Matteus Sullivan Career Grant, top honors from the MacAllister and Palm Beach Opera Awards and the prestigious Ganzalus Prize for Voice. 

As a master teacher and technician Daniel has presented master classes and workshops as well as taught students throughout the world including the Palacio das Artes in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Arizona Opera, Ball State University, Clarion Univeristy, Arizona State University, Lincoln Park Performing Arts School, Trinity Scholars, Carnegie Mellon University Pre-College Program, Opera Theater Summerfest, Point Park University and Washington & Jefferson College.

www.danielteadt.com