Composer Juhi Bansal brings together themes celebrating musical and cultural diversity by drawing upon her traditions as an Indian composer raised in Hong Kong. Her work draws from music including Hindustani, progressive metal, and choral traditions that tells stories about women whose stories are rarely told. “Two of the themes I always love to write about are strong women and celebration of different cultures.” Her work has been performed worldwide including commissions from LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Beth Morrison Projects, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, AIDS Quilt Songbook 20th Anniversary project and more.
Celebrating strong women is a common theme in Juhi’s work. “There are so many unknown women from different countries and cultures who have done incredible things, but are hardly spoken about.” Building on that interest, her latest work for Prototype’s 2021 season is inspired by the story of The Bangladesh Surf Girls and Boys. “I found the stories of the young girls themselves incredibly powerful, and have really enjoyed bringing in elements from my Indian childhood and culture along with more traditional operatic elements to tell part of their story.” Drawing inspiration from the young surfers, the work is about making choices, the conflict of cultures, and finding courage within yourself to create change.
Early this year Juhi wrote a new piece for LA Opera’s Eurydice Found Festival. We Look to the Stars, is a reflection on human experiences through the stories of various cultures. The performance of the cantata brought together youth and adult community performers, alongside professionals, in a production that Juhi lists among her proudest accomplishments. Working together with multiple performers and organizations is part of the collaborative process that Juhi truly enjoys. “As long as we’re all excited about the story we’re telling and invested in making it happen as effectively as we can - both in sharing creative ideas and adapting to logistical constraints - I feel like that makes for satisfying collaboration.”
Not only a composer, Juhi is also a conductor having earned fellowships by the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera, the Atlantic Music Center, Seasons Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Symposium, and the Pacific Music Festival. She is currently on the music faculties of the Hartt School at the University of Hartford and Pasadena City College.
Connect with Juhi and learn more about her work on her website, https://juhibansal.com/.
Tennessee native, Camron Gray, began his vocal studies in his undergrad program 10 years ago which led him to participate in opera workshops and young artists programs since then. Last summer he attended the Glimmerglass Festival and is currently completing his Artist’s Diploma at the University of Michigan.
Seeking to move people with honest portrayals of characters, Camron is proud to have performed in Blue at the Glimmerglass Festival. “That work merged my passion for social activism with my love for music and truthful storytelling.” Though his passion for music and the human voice is what has brought Camron to this point in his career, he looks forward to using his platform to help move someone and inspire them through his music-making.
His performance work includes Tom Snout in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2017), Larry Renault in William Bolcom’s latest opera Dinner at Eight, as well as the authoritative, fully-revised version of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, as Robbins and Crab Man in February 2018 in conjunction with the University Musical Society (UMS). He performed as part of the Cincinnati Opera chorus in La Traviata (Verdi), The Flying Dutchman (Wagner), and Another Brick in the Wall (Bilodeau).
Camron looks forward to future performances of Blue and to performing some of his dream roles in La Boheme, Faust, and La Traviata. As well as taking part in many of the new works being created. Keep an eye on Camron’s upcoming performances at https://www.camrongraytenor.com.
“The first opera I saw was Aïda at Hawaii Opera Theatre and the drama and emotions that could be conveyed through music stuck with me.” Robert Ellsworth Feng began his operatic career in the chorus of Turandot which led to a life-long passion. “I knew I had a story to tell and a voice to tell it with.”
As a singer and librettist, Robert sees his role as giving back to the world by offering his truth and story. His performance work has included traditional repertoire including Don Giovanni (Il Commendatore) with Kor Productions, La sonnambula (Count Rodolfo) and Così fan tutte (Don Alfonso) with Opera Alchemy. And he has also premiered new works including Tony Small’s operetta Qadar, Nick Peros’ monodrama Lamentation of Ruin, and with Christman Opera in their Voices Rising Voices series.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Robert has been active through Social Distance Opera's production of Street Scene as Henry Davis and was an Emerging Artist with Seagle Music Colony. He has also been a featured artist for Tony Small's Virtual Masterclass series for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington. A highlight of his professional career, Robert has enjoyed participating in Small’s Project 31, an education series to introduce young kids to opera.
A lover of the Horror genre, his dream opera is a new opera based on a horror story. “The Magnus Archives is a recent favorite of mine for horror.” Until then, his upcoming projects include Don Giovanni (Conmendatore) with Kor Productions, Mikado (Ko-Ko) with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Voice Acting with Circle Round WBUR, and continuing Tony Small’s Project 31.
Stay connected to Robert’s upcoming performances and explore some of his written work at https://www.robertfeng.com.
David Radamés Toro's career as a stage director really began at the age of 10 when he would set epic battles, dramatic scenes, and grand parades with his X-men figures to classical music or movie soundtracks like Star Wars or Citizen Kane. It wasn’t until he was in graduate school studying voice that he formalized his training at Ohio State, where he trained in physical theater and Meisner Technique. Since then his work has been seen at companies like Minnesota Opera, the Wexford Opera Festival, Washington National Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Opera Neo.
David applies his background in physical theater to direct, especially utilizing his skills as a mime. “The idea of mime is to concentrate on an idea to create clarity for the audience, which I believe invites the audience to follow the emotional journey of the characters more honestly without relying on emotional manipulation.” He also draws inspiration from silent film (Charlie Chaplin and German silent film), his theater mentors (Jeanine Thompson at Ohio State, Greg Goldsten - Mime, Peter Kozma at Opera Neo) and the movies of Guillermo DelToro, especially Hellboy 2 and Pan's Labyrinth.
A proud Latin artist, David dreams of developing a new work that explore his Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage. He had the opportunity to feel the impact of Latinx representation in opera as an assistant director, working with Leonard Foglia, on El Pasado Nunca Se Termina at Fort Worth Opera. “I was moved everyday, not only by the story, but Latinx representation on stage and in the music from various generations of Latinx artists. I had never felt more proud to be a Latino in Opera.”
David works with a variety of musical repertoire and has an affinity for baroque and 20th/21st century works, listing Flight at Minnesota Opera among his proudest achievements. “I like to work with collaborators who are not afraid to contribute ideas outside of their field. A conductor who may have a great spin on a character or a lighting designer who feels a particular way about a scene. I truly enjoy collaborating and sharing ideas.”
See David’s work with Opera Neo and connect with him at https://www.dtorodirects.com/.