NJ Vocal Arts Collaborative is a summer intensive founded in 2019, dedicated to teaching emerging vocal artists how to learn an operatic role and providing the opportunity to perform it. This June, we are thrilled to return to in-person performances with NJ Vocal Arts Collaborative’s 2022 program, including our production of Die Zauberflöte with orchestra. Die Zauberflöte will be semi-staged, performed twice (one performance per cast), and sung in German with dialogue in English.
Julia Rolwing: Artistic Director/Producer
Ohio native, Julia Rolwing, has enjoyed performing in concert, opera, and recital both across the United States and also in Austria. She has been hailed in reviews as a soprano with “a very dramatic presence” (Scarsdale Gazette), a singer with “a splendid voice”, and “a soaring soprano” (The Italian Voice, NJ), “a thrilling performer” (Dan’s Papers), and as “absolutely transfiguring” with a voice “rounded and rich” (Washington Post), with singing that is “impeccable... sympathetic and erotic” (America Oggi), and “unforgettable” with “no fear of the high notes” (Voce di Meche). Rolwing has sung the title roles of Verdi’s Aida, Puccini’s Tosca, Massenet’s Cendrillon, and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, in addition to Mozart’s leading ladies, Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) and Countess Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Senta (The Flying Dutchman), Sieglinde (Die Walküre), and Freia (Das Rheingold). Additional roles have included Ann Page in Merry Wives of Windsor, Lady Billows in Albert Herring, and the Mother in both Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel and Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Elisabetta in Verdi’s Don Carlos, and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, and Leonora in Beethoven’s Fidelio. Transitioning into the most dramatic roles of the repertory has brought exciting opportunities such as her debut of Isolde, which she recently performed in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, under conductor David Gilbert, of the Greenwich Symphony, the NY Philharmonic and Wagner’s Bayreuth.
Julia’s concertizing has included Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the Verdi Requiem, Strauss’ Four Last Songs, and the Duruflè Requiem, among others. Miss Rolwing is a recipient of 1st Place Awards from The Liederkranz Foundation and the Wagner Society of New York, along with top awards from the Wagner Societies of Washington, D.C., Northern California, Boston, Ohio and Chicago, the Yrjö Kilpinen Society of North America, the Jüssi Björling Society, the Anna Sosenko Artist Trust, the Joyce Dutka Foundation, and the Altamura/Caruso Foundation. Her mentors have included famed singers such as Evelyn Lear, Carol Vaness, and Helen Donath.
Dr. Rolwing holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, a Master’s degree in Voice Pedagogy, and a Doctorate in Voice Performance. She has also held teaching positions at the University of Miami, Florida International University, and New World School of the Arts in Miami, and is currently on the faculty of Montclair State University and Kean University in New Jersey.
Brent Chancellor: Conductor
Brent Chancellor is the founding Music Director of LUX and acting Music Director of the Montclair State University Opera Orchestra. Recent engagements include serving as Cover Conductor for Nicholas McGegan and Otto Tausk with New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor to Stéphane Denève, Martin West and Joel Revzen at Festival Napa Valley, Conducting Assistant with Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Cover Conductor for concerts featuring André Watts, Leon Fleisher, Robert Levin, Seong-Jin Cho, Angel Blue and Lester Lynch. Since 2017, Brent has served on faculty of the International Vocal Arts Institute directed by renowned Metropolitan Opera Assistant Conductor and vocal coach, Joan Dornemann and as Assistant Conductor with New Jersey Festival Orchestra.
As an emerging opera conductor, Brent has collaborated with some of the opera worlds most accomplished musicians and young artists from The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and La Scala including Nadine Sierra, Jessica Cambio, Maya Lahyani and Natalie Aroyan. Hailed by mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn as “a real singers’ conductor”, he served as Assistant Conductor to Paul Nadler from 2008-2012 on productions of Ariadne auf Naxos, La Traviata, The Rake’s Progress, Don Pasquale and Lucia di Lammermoor, as well as concerts with the Israel Chamber Orchestra at the New Opera House in Tel Aviv and l'Orchestre de la Francophonie in Montreal. He has also worked with revered stage directors Joshua Major, Dietlinde Turban Maazel, Ira Siff, Jeffrey Gall, Lawrence Edelson and Joachim Schamberger. Other opera credits include musical preparation for Madame Butterfly, Don Giovanni, La Bohème, Die Zauberflöte, Suor Angelica, Le Nozze di Figaro, L’enfant et les sortilèges, Cendrillon and The Rape of Lucretia, for which he stepped in last minute to take over as Music Director.
Brent studied conducting with Paul Nadler (Metropolitan Opera) and Ken Lam (Charleston Symphony Orchestra) and holds degrees in composition, piano and conducting. He attended the Hochschule für Musik Trossingen, California State University Sacramento and the John J. Cali School of Music, and in 2007 was an alternate for the Doctoral Program in Composition at Princeton University. He has worked with many celebrated musicians in workshops, festivals and coachings, including conductors Riccardo Muti, Cristian Măcelaru, Markand Thakar, Johannes Schlaefli and Ken Kiesler, composers George Crumb, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros and Aaron J. Kernis, and opera coaches Benton Hess and Sherrill Milnes. Most recently, he attended the prestigious Cabrillo Festival’s Composer/Conductor Workshop for new music. A native of California, Brent spent 12 years immersed in intensive drum studies with Matt Marrucci, Mike Lawson and Johnny Rabb before studying composition, piano and percussion.
James Conrad Smith: Director
Director James Conrad Smith is a New Jersey based actor working across opera and musical theatre. In 2013, he founded The Young Artists’ Initiative during his undergraduate at Montclair State University and directed the company’s inaugural production of The Pirates of Penzance as well as Don Giovanni in 2014. After graduating with his masters in voice performance from Indiana University, he has spent a considerable amount of time directing children’s theatre in New Jersey and Utah (Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre). As an actor, James has sung throughout the tristate area and beyond with the Utah Festival Opera, Light Opera of NJ, Feinstein’s 54/Below, and the White Plains Performing Arts Center among others. Select credits include Prince Charles (My Princess Diana), Warner Huntington III (Legally Blonde), and Shakespeare (What Do Critics Know?). For more information, please visit: jamesconradsmith.com