Conductor Samuel McCoy has been appointed Chelsea Opera’s Music Director/Principal Conductor effective January 1, 2014. This appointment follows Maestro McCoy’s service as assistant conductor for the world premiere of Matthew Harris’s The Mark of Cain and the New York premiere of Richard Wargo’s Ballymore – Part One: Winners as well as guest conductor for Seymour Barab’s La Pizza con Funghi. “We couldn’t be happier to have such a talented and energetic young conductor fill the position. He has already proven himself to be an excellent fit for the company,” explained cofounder and co-producer Leonarda Priore. For his first outing in the position, Maestro McCoy will be conducting Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land in June 2014. “As the production stage director, I am really looking forward to working with Sam again. We had a great time working on the Barab together,” said co-founder and co-producer Lynne Hayden-Findlay.
Even as he takes up his new responsibilities, Maestro McCoy is a conductor in demand, particularly in the contemporary opera world. He is currently serving as assistant conductor for the world premiere of Kamala Sankaram’s opera Thumbprint and last year served as the assistant conductor for the world stage premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s Sumeida’s Song, both with the Prototype Festival in New York City. During the 2012-2013 season, he led the world premiere of The Juniper Tree by Joshua Ollswang, as well as workshop performances of the new opera Something to Live For by Ronnie Reshef. Equally at home with the classics, Maestro McCoy has led productions of Die Zauberflöte and Gianni Schicchi with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble and Le Donne Curiose with Opera Moderne in New York City. Regionally, he has led productions of La Traviata and Le nozze di Figaro with Rogue Opera and served as the assistant conductor for Maestro Timothy Myers on North Carolina Opera’s production of Verdi’s Aida. As Principal Conductor for Puget Sound Concert Opera in Seattle, he led performances of Suor Angelica, Simon Boccanegra, Cosí fan Tutte, Cendrillon, Dido and Aeneas, and scenes from The Fairy Queen.
In addition to his work in opera, Maestro McCoy has worked with several orchestras and choral organizations, including the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra, the UCLA Philharmonia, the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, and the Oklahoma City University Orchestra. In New York City, he served as the co-conductor for C4: Choral Composer/Conductor Collective and the assistant conductor for the New Amsterdam Singers Chamber Chorus. He also served as the assistant conductor for the Seattle Bach Choir in Seattle. Maestro McCoy’s primary teachers have been Matthew Mailman, Mark Belcik, Jan McDaniel and Geoffrey Boers. He has participated in master classes with Larry Rachleff, Donald Schleicher, Johannes Schlaefli, David Effron, David Loebel, Neal Stulberg, Kenneth Kiesler, and Douglas Kinney Frost. He holds a Bachelor of Music (magna cum laude) in vocal performance and a Master of Music (with honors) in Orchestral Conducting, both from Oklahoma City University.
Maestro McCoy explains, “I am honored to be joining Chelsea Opera as Music Director/Principal conductor. Over the past ten years, Chelsea Opera has built a strong reputation for presenting compelling opera works with passion, beauty, and a dedication to the art form. I look forward to working with all the wonderful musicians and dedicated staff of Chelsea Opera in continuing this tradition and to bring great opera to the people of New York."
Chelsea Opera is a professional company presenting fully staged operas with chamber orchestra. The company provides a nationally recognized venue for professional singers to advance their careers while making opera affordable and accessible to a broad spectrum of the community. The fine acoustics of the space provides excellent hearing, and the intimacy allows the audience to feel involved in the opera’s story. Of Chelsea Opera’s sustainability, Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times noted in June 2009: “With American opera companies large and small struggling financially and a few going under, [Chelsea Opera is] a patch of encouraging news…” Formed in 2004 by two singers, Lynne Hayden-Findlay and Leonarda Priore, Chelsea Opera was launched with an all-volunteer production of Suor Angelica. Artist and audience response was so compelling that they agreed to produce more than the initial single performance, incorporating the company and obtaining their IRS nonprofit designation in a record eight days.
Chelsea Opera has since produced an extensive range of operas including Cavalleria Rusticana, Amahl and the Night Visitors (three times), Pagliacci, Don Giovanni, Gianni Schicchi, The Ballad of Baby Doe, The Scarf, The Bear, the company’s Fifth Anniversary production of Suor Angelica, Le Nozze di Figaro, This is the rill speaking/Bermudas, The Medium, Madama Butterfly, of which Opera News said, “it was a committed and ultimately moving performance. Modest in scale, the production gave us Butterfly in full.” Their November 2010 production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied garnered rave reviews from both The New York Times and Opera News. Last fall, they presented their first world premiere, The Mark of Cain by Matthew Harris and Terry Quinn, followed by a Manhattan premiere this past June of A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams by Gary S. Fagin and Terry Quinn. The 10th season opened with the New York premiere of Richard Wargo’s one-act Ballymore – Part One: Winners, paired with Seymour Barab’s parody on Italian opera, La Pizza con Funghi. Of Winners, Opera News wrote: “[the] performance made one eager to hear the entire work” and of Pizza, that it “had great appeal both to old opera hands and to first-time operagoers”.
Chelsea Opera, was a 2011 WQXR Media sponsor recipient and a WNYC-FM *STAR* Incentive recipient. Support has been awarded by The Banfi Vintners Foundation, The Bettina Baruch Foundation, The Barbara Bell Cumming Foundation, The Tow Foundation, The Joyce Dutka Foundation for the Arts, The Amphion Foundation, the NYU Community Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). In-kind support has been provided by JetBlue Airways, the official airline of Chelsea Opera.