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

Jane Bergère is a multi- Tony Award winning Producer.  Currently on Broadway,  Cyndi Lauper/ Harvey Fierstein, KINKY BOOTS;  The 35th Anniversay  Production of ANNIE ; Previous Broadway Productions include; Clybourne Park (Tony Award); War Horse (Tony Award); Driving Miss Daisy; La Cage Aux Folles (Tony Award); A Little Night Music (Tony Nomination); All My Sons; 13 The Musical; Is He Dead; Curtains (Tony Nomination); Glengarry Glen Ross (Tony Award); Caroline, or Change (Tony Nomination);  and Metamorphoses (Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk and Drama League Awards, Best Play and Tony Nomination, Best Play)   Off Broadway:  The Exonerated (Drama Desk Award, Best Play and Lucille Lortel Award, Most Unique Theatrical Experience); Capture Now.  International productions include Anjou, A Tale of Horror (Mexico, South Korea) and Dr.Zhivago, A New Musical (Australia) coming to Broadway in 2014. Jane is graduate of the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana where she performed Opera and holds degrees in Music and Theater.  www.JaneBergereProductions.com

David Day

A third generation music publisher, director of the London Office of New York Music Publishers, Bourne Inc. David Day serves on the Development Board of the Soho Theatre & Writers’ Centre, London, with a mission to promote new dramatists. Trained as an actor FIB Studio New York and LAMDA London, Mr. Day has backed theatrical productions in both cities. He is a patron of the Metropolitan Opera and a sponsor of the new “Ring” cycle at ENO London, and divides  London and New York

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

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

Emily Grant

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.

T. Richard Kennedy

T. Richard Kennedy arbitrates and mediates disputes, both domestic and international, relating to corporate and business transactions. He has been active for the past 40 years in the field of corporate and business law, both as a practicing attorney and an officer and director of a major financial services company.

Mr. Kennedy recently retired as counsel to the New York City law firm of Coudert Brothers. Prior to that, he was Managing Partner of the nationally prominent law firm, Werner & Kennedy of New York City, which he founded in the early 1970′s. In his law practice, he served as General Counsel of the American Skandia Group from the time the Group was founded in 1988 through July 2000. Among other organizations for which he served as a principal attorney were the SMH Watch Company of Switzerland, and the Nuclear Energy Liability Insurance Association.

While serving as an officer, director and General Counsel of the American Skandia Group, Mr. Kennedy oversaw all legal aspects of the Group’s operation, including governmental compliance, transactional agreements and resolution of major disputes.

Mr. Kennedy has served as an umpire or party-appointed arbitrator, as well as counsel to parties, in numerous arbitrations involving complex business disputes arising from national and international transactions. He has acted as arbitrator in major international arbitrations in London. As a practicing attorney, he handled business and corporate litigation in federal and state courts, and argued on behalf of petitioners in a landmark insurance case before the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Kennedy has served as a faculty member at the Conference of Chief Justices of the United States. From 1994 through 2000, he was the New York State Delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates, chairing the 36-lawyer delegation from the New York City, State, and County Bar Associations. From 1997 to 2000, he also chaired the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline. He is a former chair of both the ABA and New York State Bar Association sections of insurance law.

Mr. Kennedy is certified as an arbitrator by ARIAS-U.S. He also is certified as a mediator by the Center for Effective Dispute Resolution of London. He is a Director of the Fishers Island Conservancy and a member of the Island’s Concerts Committee.

Mr. Kennedy received his LL.B. from Syracuse University College of Law, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and a member of the National Moot Court team. He received his A.B. with honors from Villanova University. He and his wife, Catherine, reside in Fishers Island, New York, and Naples, Florida.

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.

Michael Malina

Michael Malina is a retired antitrust attorney and life-long fan of opera and opera singers. He is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School] a former Chair of the New York State Bar Association Section on Antitrust Law; and formerly Adjunct Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School.

Albert I. Osman

Albert I. Osman is a graduate of the City College of New York, where he majored in Sales and Marketing. He worked for United Merchants and Manufacturers in the home furnishing field, becoming Executive Vice President of all the home furnishing divisions. After leaving the company, he became President of Museum Industries, licensing products for museum stores in the U.S. and abroad. Since his retirement, he volunteers his time, serving as a member of several Boards of Directors, assisting local organizations as well as the New York City Schools.

Al has a passion for furthering the careers of young opera singers, outreach programs in the schools, and the work of Career Bridges. He and his wife, Betty, are patrons of the Metropolitan Opera.

Dr. Barbara Meister

Barbara Meister is a pianist living in New York City. Since her 1964 Town Hall debut for which she was praised by critics in the New York Tines and the Herald Tribune for her “intelligent approach” and “ready technique”. She has had an active career as soloist, chamber musician and accompanist throughout the greater New York Area. She has also appeared in such far-flung locales as France, Turkey, Greece and southern California.

After the publication of her Introduction to the Art Song and Nineteenth Century French Song, both of which first appeared in 1980, Dr. Meister has also been widely recognized as a fine musicologist whose concentration on art song was a natural development from her love of literature (she holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.)

In addition to her books, Dr. Meister has recorded four CDs for Centaur Records: one of Haydn Sonatas, a double disc of the Mendelssohn Songs Without Words, a sampling of the piano music of Carl Neilsen, and a soon lo be released disc of piano music by Twentieth Century American composers.


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