Steven Alvarez: Is active as a performer, producer and educator. An artist with hands in many mediums, he graduated from San Jose State University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music and History and works professionally as a percussionist, vocalist, stage actor, film and stage producer and music educator.
He has produced ten documentary films and music videos which have been screened internationally at film festivals, been broadcast nationally on PBS and won several awards. He regularly performs an innovative theater piece that couples film with live storytelling and song, which debuted at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington D.C.
Steven has performed in, music directed or produced more than 40 theater productions and is one of the founding directors of Theater Artists United (TAU). In 2008 he co-produced the world premier of Echoes, with the Anchorage Symphony, a piece coupling the indigenous song and dance of Hawaii, Alaska and Native America with an orchestra. He has performed the roles of Jinx (Forever Plaid), Judas Iscariot and Jesus (Jesus Christ Superstar), Che (Evita), and recently performed the role of The Celebrant (Bernstein MASS). He regularly performs as a storyteller at venues throughout the country.
Steven worked professionally as a percussionist with the Monterey Symphony, the Santa Cruz Symphony and performed with jazz artist Bobby Hutcherson at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1983. Steven was also a guest artist for the Anchorage Festival of Music (AFM) in 1997 and then served as AFM’s Executive Director for three seasons. He has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, has recorded local and national radio and television commercials jingles including the 15” Hershey’s Kisses Christmas spot that has run annually for 22 years. He currently works as a percussionist with Medicine Dream and the Anchorage Symphony, Opera and Concert Chorus Orchestras. He recently performed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics with Saturday Night Live percussionist, Valerie Naranjo and has performed as a solo artist at the Kennedy Center and at NMAI.
Teaching and administrating private music and dance schools, after school cultural education programs and art organizations for more than 25 years, he currently serves as the Director of Arts and Education for the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
GEORGE YANG: Jesus
Baritone George Yang studied music at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Music Performance with an emphasis in voice. There he sang roles in Viva La Zarzuela-Lorenzo, Kismet-Wazir, L'Enfant et les Sortilèges-Black cat, La Mamelle de Tirèsias-The Stage Director & A Gendarme, and L'elisir D'amore-Belcore, through UAA Opera Ensemble under Mari Hahn's direction.
He is active as a performer and as a Music Director. George has performed many vocal solos recently for both local and national conventions and galas—most recently for The Bridge Builders of Anchorage. Bach’s St. John Passion will be his first professional production. He has served as Music Director, and Choral Director for various local religious institutions. Currently, he is the Music Technical Director for The Great Land Christian Church.
KYLE GANTZ:Pilate Born and raised in Anchorage, bass-baritone Kyle Gantz has appeared in over fifteen productions with Anchorage Opera since 1994. Recent roles include the Sergeant of Police in Pirates of Penzance, the Doctor and Servant in Macbeth, Schaunard in La Boheme, Zaretsky and the Captain in Eugene Onegin, Zuniga in Carmen and the Imperial Commissioner in Madame Butterfly. Kyle will also perform the role of Tobia Mill in La Cambiale di Matrimonio with Anchorage Opera in January. In July of 2010, he made his Opera Fairbanks debut as the Commendatore in Don Giovanni.
Kyle studied voice at the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Oregon, where he sang the roles of Gulglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte, Sam inTrouble in Tahiti, King Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and David in A Hand of Bridge, also winning first place in the local NATS vocal competition. While residing in Oregon, Kyle performed The Imperial Commissioner and Prince Yamadori in Madame Butterfly with Eugene Opera.
A founding member of Anchorage Opera’s Studio Theater Apprentice Program in 2000, Kyle performed as The Butcher in Stone Soup, Uberto in La Serva Padrona and Escamillo in Carmen. He has been a member and featured soloist for the Anchorage Concert Chorus, the Alaska Chamber Singers, Arctic Sirens Cabaret, and the Anchorage Festival of Music. Solo concert works include Handel’s Messiah, Schubert’s Mass in G, Michael Haydn’s Requiem, Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, and Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem.
MARI HAHN: Soprano soloist
Soprano Mari Hahn has been an active performer, director and educator since her arrival to Anchorage in 2002. She has performed as a soloist with the Anchorage Concert Chorus in the War Requiem and Catulli Carmina, and is thrilled to be back performing the St. John Passion under Grant Cochran.
As Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Alaska Anchorage, she teaches private voice, Voice Masterclass, and directs the UAA Opera Ensemble. With Anchorage Opera’s General Director Kevin Patterson, she has formed the UAA Opera Apprenticeship Program, providing advanced training and performing opportunities for voice majors with AO’s visiting guest artists. She is AO’s Chorus Master for the second year this season, and will be the stage director for their production of La Cambiale di Matrimonio in January. As a pedagogue she incorporates multi-disciplinary modalities, and is currently undergoing training in the Alexander Technique Certification program with the Alexander Southwest Alliance.
MARSHA ACKERMAN: Mezzo-Soprano soloist
Mezzo-soprano Marsha Ackerman is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and New England Conservatory. She recently relocated to Alaska from the Gulf Coast where she performed the role of Mercedes with the Gulf Coast Opera. Prior to this, she spent eleven seasons in Boston, Massachusetts, interpreting an expansive array of repertoire in a wide variety of opera and concert settings. She appeared regularly with the Boston Lyric Opera, and collaborated with such notable conductors as Julius Rudel, Keith Lockhart, Stephen Lord, Benjamin Zander, and Michael Cordovana.
Ms. Ackerman appeared with the Boston Lyric Opera in productions of The Abduction from the Seraglio, l’Elisir d’Amore, La Boheme, The Marriage of Figaro, Un Ballo in Maschera, Madama Butterfly, Eugene Onegin, and Thaïs. She toured the Amalfi Coast of Italy as La zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with the Amalfi Coast Music Festival, and appeared as Mrs. Olsen in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene at the Aspen Music Festival. She performed the roles of The Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Mrs. Nolan in Menotti’s The Medium with the Cleveland Institute, and Ma Moss in Copland’s The Tender Land at New England Conservatory.
Her concert performances in Boston included regular appearances at Trinity Church in Copley Square, where she was a featured soloist in Duruflé’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, and the premiere revival performance of Hora Novissima by Horatio Parker. She was also heard in performances of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Manuel de Falla’s Seven Spanish Folk Songs at New England Conservatory. She toured Central Europe as a featured soloist for the choirs of Trinity Church. A steadfast supporter of new music, Ms. Ackerman has premiered several song cycles and appeared with the Callithumpian Consort at Jordan Hall in a performance of George Crumb’s Night of the Four Moons.:
ZACHARY MILLIMAN: Tenor soloist
After receiving his B.M. from Brigham Young University and his M.M. from the University of Utah in vocal performance, tenor Zachary Milliman is happy to be singing again with the Anchorage Concert Chorus, a group he performed with for many years starting at age sixteen.
Zachary has sung leading roles in opera including Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan Tutte, Il Mondo della Luna, Dialogues de Carmelites, The Gondoliers, H.M.S. Pinafore and others. He has also performed as a soloist in oratorios such as Messiah, Carmina Burana, and St. Matthew Passion.
He plans to pursue a PhD in musicology and his research has been featured in conferences and symposia including two conferences of the American Musicological Society, and has been published in the Journal of The International Allegiance of Women in Music.
He currently teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage and can be heard this season in Anchorage Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.
STEVEN DIXON: Bass soloist
An Anchorage resident, Steven has sung across Alaska, having performed roles for Anchorage Opera, Opera Fairbanks, Fairbanks Light Opera, Theatre UAF and Fairbanks Symphony, as well as singing with the Alaska Chamber Chorale and the Alaska Quartet. He has also been a guest performer on several occasions for Alaska Bel Canto.
Mr. Dixon received his education at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, pursuing a degree in both music education and music performance. He also took part in Anchorage Opera's Studio Theatre Young Artist Program. Steven is a two-time Alaska NATS winner and a regional finalist for the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions.
MARGRET HUGI-LEWIS: Set/Costume Design
A painter, sculptor and multi-media artist for over 50 years, Margret Hugi-Lewis’ works are on display in Europe, Israel and Alaska well as in many personal collections.
Trained in Switzerland and Israel, her style has been influenced by Alaska Native art, African, Mexican, and South American art, and her Swiss classical training.
Hugi-Lewis' art also includes theatrical art. She has now created 23 theater sets for various plays and musicals. Public and private commissions are, as well, a big part of Hugi-Lewis’ work, including the whale and water façade on the “Fourth Avenue Marketplace” in Anchorage, which was a private commercial commission, and public commissions including indoor painted sculptures in schools and a sculpture at a public transportation facility.
Hugi-Lewis shows her art in galleries, including her own at the Hugi-Lewis Studio, and in museums. She is collected by museums, businesses and private individuals. She is pleased to be a part of the Anchorage Concert Chorus’ production of “St. John Passion.”