David Bender, Founder and Co-Artistic Director
Mr. Bender has sung leading tenor roles with the New York City Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and the Seattle Opera Company, as well as having performed leading operatic roles in Germany for over ten years. He has had a distinguished career in Oratorio singing, with compositions written for him as tenor soloist by Roy Harris, Richard Yardumian, Gian Carlo Menotti and Paul Allen Levi.
Professor Bender is a graduate of Columbia University and has received Teaching fellowships at the University of Colorado, and The University of California. He is former Professor of Voice at New York University and at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna.
Barbara Meister Bender, Co-Artistic Director
Barbara Meister has interpreted countless leading roles in opera as well as musical theater. She has performed for companies in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, St. Paul, and The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
She began her career at the Metropolitan Opera Studio, and also sang leading roles at the New York City Opera. She was brought to Broadway following her discovery by Richard Rodgers, an event which led to her appearance on Broadway as Maria, in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, and a subsequent two year NATIONAL TOUR. She has sung with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, and in Wolf Trap, Chautauqua, Milwaukee, starring in operetta and the musical theater. She has starred on European television with appearances in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Gala concerts with orchestras in Vienna, Munich and Berlin have brought international recognition to this “dynamic performer.
Together, Barbara Meister and David Bender, drawing on their extensive performing experience, have designed, planned, organized and given over forty master classes in singing, diction, presentational skills, and stagecraft throughout Europe, Canada and the United States.
In addition, the Benders have co-produced such productions as The Merry Widow, and The Student Prince. In these productions, they served as stage directors, coaches of singers, and artistic advisors for scenery and costumes.
Jane Bergère is a multi-Tony award-winning producer. Included in her Broadway credits are: Rocky, Twelfth Night/Richard III, Kinky Boots, The 35th Anniversary Production of ANNIE, Clybourne Park, War Horse, Driving Miss Daisy, La Cage Aux Folles, A Little Night Music, All My Sons, 13 The Musical, Is He Dead and many others. Her International productions include Anjou, A Tale of Horror (Mexico, South Korea), A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum (Australia) and Dr.Zhivago, A New Musical (Australia). Jane is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana where she performed Opera and holds degrees in Music and Theater. For a full list of credits visit www.JaneBergereProductions.com
David M. Gerstein
Mr. Gerstein, who has had a lifelong interest in classical music and opera, in particular, has been a practicing lawyer for many years and is a partner in the New York City law firm of Eaton & Van Winkle LLP. He is a graduate of Harvard College (magna cum laude) and Harvard Law School (cum laude) and was a Fulbright scholar at Bombay University in India. In his practice, he has represented many domestic and foreign clients in a wide variety of corporate, commercial and real estate transactions as well as some prominent classical musicians. In addition, he has been a director of the reorganized New York-New Haven Railroad, the Louis and Harold Price Foundation and other organizations.
Marjorie Gilbert graduated from Smith College with a BA in political science and received her Master’s degree in Psychology from Columbia University. As an author she has published articles for the Los Angeles Times, Clavier Magazine, American Museum of Natural History, Westchester Jewish Community Services and feature articles in the New York Times and Gannett Newspapers.
Marjorie has served on the boards of the Harrison Daycare Council, United Way, and the Westchester Philharmonic. In addition she directed a project for the Westchester Daycare Council on Needs Assessment for Daycare in the County
A graduate of the University of Toronto, and the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music, Mrs. Grant is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Purchase College Foundation, member of the board of directors of both the Westchester Jewish Community Services and the Westchester Arts Council. She is a founding member and past president of the Emelin Theater Board of Directors. Together with her husband, Eugene M. Grant, she is actively involved with environmental issues, international archeological projects, and the Westchester Holocaust Commission.
Lester Kushner, Attorney
A graduate of the University of Chicago and Fordham University School of Law, Lester served as an attorney for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union from 1972 until his retirement in 1996. He now practices family law, representing respondents pro bono in child protective proceedings.
Harold Levine, Administrative Consultant
A graduate of Brooklyn College and a veteran of the US Navy, Harold has served as administrator of a psychiatric clinic and a carpet buyer for a large department store chain, and managed several businesses, most recently in the retail field, before his retirement. He is also a freelance gag writer for cartoons and an excellent baker.
Joan has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia and has additional accreditation in psychoanalytic training and supervisory training. She has worked for many years as a psychiatric social worker and has a continuing private practice as a therapist. As a community organizer she was the founder and first President of the Council of Community Services in the Port Chester area. Joan has also been President of The Psychoanalytic Association which provided programs for members and the therapist population in the Westchester area. Joan is lifelong lover of the arts and opera in particular.