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The Firebird Concert - 2015


DATE:  Sunday, May 3, 2015


LOCATION:  The Ford Auditorium of the Detroit School of Arts

123 Selden Avenue, Detroit, MI  48201


REPERTOIRE:   Howard Hanson's 2nd Symphony

                             Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "The Impresario" (Der Schauspieldirektor)

                              Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" (1919 Version)


The Detroit Medical Orchestra was thrilled to showcase the Detroit fine arts community by producing the monumental ballet and orchestral concert work The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky. This concert was a collaborative production between the orchestra, local professional and student dancers as well as visual artists to provide a fantastic immersive experience into the magical world of the iconic “Firebird.” The performance of the "Firebird Suite" featured professional ballet soloists, extrodinary student ballet talent, as well as an ensemble of skilled dance students from Wayne State University performing to live orchestration provided by the Detroit Medical Orchestra.  The production of  "The Impresario" featured rising new opera talent from the the University of Michigan's Graduate Opera Workshop.
The Detroit Medical Orchestra was proud of how the Firebird Concert embraced the DMO’s mission of "Bringing Healing through Music" into the community; while fostering close collaborations with various arts/theater/cultural groups in Detroit.  The collaborative partners in this production shared the passion and conviction that the arts and cultural strengths of Detroit are a central part of Detroit's revitalization.  This project was driven by the larger mission to contribute to the healing and recovery of Detroit through building up the arts/theater/cultural talents and strengths that the city has from within.  

"Firebird" - Image courtesy of Ted Lasker, DMO Musician and Artist

The Detroit Medical Orchestra had the great privilege to have collaborated with these extraordinary professionals and creative talents for this production: 


Kay Walker Castaldo joined the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater and Dance, Department of Voice in 2012 as associate professor. A director of opera and theatre, Castaldo has a multitude of new, original productions to her credit in prestigious opera companies worldwide including Teatro Colon in Argentina, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, as well as numerous guest directing engagements at New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Arizona Opera, among many others. Castaldo has taught acting at Yale University for several years and often works in celebrated college and young artist programs including those at Indiana University, Curtis Institute of Music, Academy of Vocal Arts, Spoleto Vocal Arts Festival, and the University of Michigan where she directed the operas Tartuffe and La Boheme. At the University of Arts in Philadelphia she served as director of the opera department and produced and directed more than 30 scene workshops and 20 complete productions. Castaldo has continued her professional development with advanced studies in the areas of voice, acting and teaching, and has a particular interest in contemporary music and theatre, and the development of new works.



James Schmid (Baritone/Director) is honored to be working with the DMO on The Impresario (Director) and The Firebird Project (Assistant Director). James grew up in Lake Bluff, IL when he began his career with the Chicago Children's Choir, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Chicago Opera Theater and Lyric Opera of Chicago. In June, James will be graduating with a BMA in voice performance from the University of Michigan, where he has thoroughly enjoyed participating in the University's main stage productions of Dead Man Walking in the title role of Joseph De Rocher, The Magic Flute as Papageno and MUSKET's production of Hairspray as Corny Collins. Under Kay Castaldo, James has studied the art of Operatic Direction in the Undergraduate and Graduate Opera Workshops and directed Shattering the Mirror (Director, Co-producer, and Creator). This summer, James will be assistant directing Dean Anthony at the Brevard Music Center on the Janiec Opera Company's season. He is incredibly excited to spread the message of the Firebird and DMO's remarkable work!



Ron De Jesús, who is the founder and director of Ron De Jesús Dance, joined the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater and Dance, Department of Musical Theatre as assistant professor in 2012. De Jesús is the artistic ambassador of Northeastern Illinois University and artistic associate for StagePlays Theater Company in New York. He has received many awards including the New York Musical Theater Festival Award for Excellence for Best Choreography and the Chicago Music & Dance Alliance Award for Best Choreographer. A Chicago native, he has danced with Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, Joseph Holmes Dance Theater, Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago where he was a leading dancer for 17 seasons. He was in the original cast of the Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel musical Movin’Out, was part of the creative team of Tharp’s Come Fly Away and is a repetiteur for Twyla Tharp Productions. De Jesús has created works for film, theatre, television commercials, festivals, special events and dance companies including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, HS2, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theatre, Sacramento Ballet, Momenta, and Thodos Dance Chicago, among many more. De Jesús has served as a guest teacher and choreographer at numerous major universities including Harvard, the State University of New York at Purchase, Point Park, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Pepperdine University. 



Meg Gurin-Paul received her early training with Southern Ballet Theatre in
Orlando, Florida. After winning the International Dance Competition of the Americas, Meg was invited to train on full scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet
School in New York City.  At fifteen, Meg began her pre-professional career touring with the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group and the Joffrey Ballet II apprentice company. She was promoted to the Joffrey Ballet at nineteen, rising through the ranks to perform leading roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker-Sugar Plum Fairy, Love Songs, Italian Suite, La Vivandiere Pas De Six, The Clowns, Valentine, Suite Saint-Saens, Light Rain, Billboards, Les Sacre Du Printemps, A Trifling and more.

Meg is a recipient of The Princess Grace Award and has been a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Ron DeJesus Dance. She directed Ballet Builders, a NYC showcase for emerging
choreographers and was the ballet master for the Joffrey Ballet Ensemble. Meg was a faculty member at The Joffrey Ballet School in NYC and has taught master classes around the nation for the past decade.  Along with her husband Vince Paul, Meg co-founded World Arts Inc., a representation agency that represented national and international companies
including Nacho Duato’s Compania Nacional De Danza, Les Ballets De Monte Carlo, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Les Grand Ballets Canadian. 


Meg assisted Twyla Tharp as Dance Captain for the creation and Broadway run of the Tony-award winning show Movin’ Out. Meg understudied and performed both lead roles, served as full swing, and staged the national touring cast of Movin' Out. Meg was the Director of Dance at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts where she conceived and directed a benefit for dance titled National City Stars of Ballet and Broadway. For her work on National City Stars of Ballet and Broadway, Meg was honored by the Detroit Free Press as one of Detroit’s Renaissance Heroes, 2008.     

Currently, Meg is the ballet master for Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Meg is a full time faculty member at the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University, Artistic Director of the WSU Dance Workshop company and is Program Director for the Complexions Detroit Summer Intensive.



Glen Michaels, whose original “Firebird” image adorns this concert’s Detroit Medical Orchestra T­-shirts (see left), was born in Spokane in 1927. His works feature in public buildings nationwide, including hospitals of the DMC, Oakwood, Beaumont, and St. Joseph’s systems. Glen also created Lansing's Great Lakes Pool at the Michigan Library/Historical Center, the world's largest fused glass artwork.


While studying piano at Yale, he published the cartoon book “Oh, You’re a Musician?” praised by Paul Hindemith, Victor Borge and New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno (the original art was displayed at Juilliard). Another musical connection is an original artwork commission from Mrs. Richard Rogers, featured in a Look magazine photo under her quote: “This is one of my favorite things!”


Glen's abstract mosaics have undeniable rhythm and flow, and a fugue­like sense of development. "Mural," a video collaboration with jazz pianist Marian McPartland (available on YouTube) beautifully illustrates this musicality. His friend Elmore Leonard “honored” him by naming a character "Glenn Michaels" in his novel “Out of Sight." In the movie (as played by Steve Zahn) and book, "Glenn" is an unreliable, petty crook. In reality, Glen Michaels is a Michigan treasure, and the Detroit Medical Orchestra is tremendously grateful for his incredible artistic and generous contribution to this concert’s festivities.



Dancers for "The Firebird"

MARY BEER - "Firebird"


Mary Beer is excited and honored to be included in this performance supporting the inspirational mission of the Detroit Medical Orchestra.  She is a high school sophomore and has been home schooled her entire life.  She recently performed in ‘313 to the 312’ as a choreographer/dancer.  Among others, she has danced the parts of Clara and Snow Queen (Nutcracker), Helena (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Dawn (Coppelia) and Lucille Grahn (Pas de Quatre) with the Northville Ballet Theater.  She has also danced in South Korea, Italy and France performing for the US Military and mission organizations.  She has been blessed with multiple scholarships for summer programs at Joffrey, Cecchetti Council of America, Cecchetti USA, Kansas Ballet and Texas Ballet. In addition, Mary has performed on stage locally in Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat and Les Miserables.  Mary resides in Livonia, Mi and dances at Timberlane Dance of Northville under the instruction of Kathy Cooke.  Mary's future plan is to pursue her passions of contemporary dance and choreography knowing that God will direct her path.  Romans 8:28 

MEG PAUL  - "Princess Tsarina"







Brandon Koepsell is a Detroit native and graduate of the Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA. After graduation, Brandon spent time performing with “Companie Coline" in Istre, France, Rapture Dance Project and Ron DeJesus Dance in Chicago. Brandon has been a guest performer and choreographer with several college programs including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Alma College. He has also been seen dancing with Michigan Opera Theater in the productions of Aida and The Merry Widow. He was the choreographic assistant and movement coach on the set of Disney’s “Oz, the Great and Powerful” and a credited dancer in “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas". Brandon is a current faculty member in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University as well the Chicago National Association of Masters. He has dedicated the last 10 years to educating and inspiring his students in the art of dance. He has been able set his ballet and contemporary choreography with various studios, workshops, college programs and professional companies nationwide.

ELLIOT MOORE - "King Kashchei"


Native Alaskan conductor, Elliot Moore, received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan in April 2013, where he was a Graduate Student Instructor and recipient of the Helen Wu Graduate Conducting Fellowship under the mentorship of Kenneth Kiesler.  Elliot began his work with Maestro Kiesler at the Conductors Retreat at Medomak and was subsequently invited to be his assistant at the Manhattan School of Music for two years where he prepared diverse repertoire for the orchestras including Stravinsky’s 'Rite of Spring', Respighi’s ‘Pines of Rome’, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.


Dr. Moore has served as cover/prep conductor to distinguished maestri such as John Nelson, David Hoose, Philippe Entremont and Alondra de la Parra and is on the list of cover conductors used by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  In 2011, Moore made his debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada as part of the Summer Music Institute Conductors Program, led by Kenneth Kiesler and Pinchas Zukerman.  In the summer of 2012, Elliot was a guest conductor with the Orquesta Filarmonica Jalisco (Mexico) conducting repertoire that included Brahms’s First Symphony, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and Mahler’s Second Symphony.  Later that summer, he was a guest artist at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival where he conducted Respighi’s ‘Roman Festivals’.


Elliot’s versatility allows him to feel equally at home conducting the symphonic and operatic repertoire. In 2010, Moore made his operatic debut conducting the world-premier performance of Ursula Kwong-Brown’s A First of Love at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre in New York City.  He has also been seen leading the University of Michigan Opera Theatre in their productions of Verdi’s Falstaff and Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. 

In addition to conducting, Dr. Moore has an interest in languages, is a certified Feldenkrais practitioner and is an award-winning cellist. He has been seen performing as both chamber musician and soloist in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil and the United States.

Elliot served as the Music Director of the Campus Symphony and Campus Philharmonia Orchestras during his time at the University of Michigan and is currently the Associate Conductor of the Canadian Chamber Orchestra of New York City and Music Director of the Detroit Medical Orchestra.

JAMES SCHMID - "Impresario"


(See biography listed above for - ASSISTANT STAGE DIRECTOR)

BEYNJI MARSH - "King’s Henchman"


Chicago native, Beynji Marsh began his formal study of dance at ChiArts. On scholarship at the University of Michigan he is pursuing a BFA in Dance.  He sees dance as a way to learn about the body and will also minor in Kinesiology. He has studied with top professionals such as Homer Bryant, Iega Jeff, Eddy Ocampo, Bill DeYoung, Judy Rice and Lizzie MacKenzie and others. As a result, he has emerged as a premier dancer.

His professional career began at age 15, cast in Lisa Willingham’s ‘A Bronzeville Nutcracker.’ By age 16, he had become an accomplished Choreographer. He won for the 2011 Dance Chicago Outstanding New Voice
Choreography Award. His work has been featured in various showcases from high school to professional engagements. He’s a 2013 YoungArts Choreography winner. He was selected to present his solo “Open Fields” at the 2015 ACDA festival and was subsequently chosen to close their gala concert.

At 15, he founded UDÉ YAH a dance and arts organization focused on intergenerational community outreach. He has partnered with organizations such as Bread and Roses productions and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and will be premiering his 3rd annual arts infused community showcase.

ENSEMBLE OF PRINCESSES - Undergraduate Dance Students at the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University


Audrey Johnson
Britney Birr
Kelsey Chism-Lewinski
Maria LoPiccolo
Cassandra Chronis
Dana Hoerman
Julia Moore
Miranda Smith
Maria DiMarzio
Sydney Robyn

Cast of "The Impresario" - From Kay Castaldo’s University of Michigan's Graduate Opera Workshop



Hailing from the west suburbs of Chicago, IL, Achilles is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. There he has had the privilege of working under the direct vocal instruction of Dr. Scott Piper. He is currently performing with the University of Michigan Chamber Choir. In addition, he is performing and studying a variety of scenes in Opera Workshop, under the direction of Kay Castaldo. His scenes include La Bohème as Rodolfo, La Traviata as Alfredo, and Don Pasquale as Ernesto. He is also helping out the Graduate Level Opera Workshop by covering the roles of Guillot in Le Mariage Aux Lanternes and Der Vogelsang in The Impressario.

Last summer, Achilles participated in “Music in the Marche” in Mondavio, Italy, an opera scenes and Italian language program where he performed in Don Giovanni as Don Ottavio.  Other notable performance opportunities include singing the role of Beppe in I Pagliacci with the Fresno Opera and Orchestra Summer Academy and Slave #1 in The Magic Flute with the University of Michigan.

KATY CLARK - "Cynthia" - Soprano


Canadian soprano Katy Clark will be completing her Masters degree in Voice at the University of Michigan this spring.  Her operatic roles include the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Cunegonde (Candide), Blanche (Les Dialogues des Carmelites) and Despina (Cosí fan Tutte).  Ms. Clark won the Sheila and Marla Zack Competition in 2013, and received an Encouragement Award from the Michigan District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the
same year. She is also known for her work in theatre, having performed such roles as Luisa (The Fantasticks), Chava (Fiddler on the Roof), Casilda (The Gondoliers), Anne Frank (The Diary of Anne Frank)  and Millie (Picnic). Katy is the founder and director of Bonzai Theatre, a children’s theatre company based in London, Ontario.

GLENN HEALY - "Barney" - Bass


Glenn Healy, bass and Master’s Student and at the University of Michigan in Voice Performance, is thrilled to join the Detroit Medical Orchestra in this exciting collaboration between U of M’s Opera Workshop and such an incredibly devoted group of doctors and musicians. Mr. Healy was last seen playing Curio in Händel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, and Warden George Benton in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking at U of M. Also on the Michigan stage, he will appear in a double feature as both Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Don Iñigo Gomez in Ravel’s L’heure

MARINA HOGUE - "Physician"


Biography unavailable.

ANGELA NIEMAN - "Ulva" - Soprano


Angela Nieman, soprano, recently completed her graduate study at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Carmen Pelton. There she had the opportunity to perform the role of “Kitty Hart” in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. During her studies, she also performed as “The Princess” and “The Shepherdess” in L’Enfant et les Sortilège, as well as selected scenes as “Manon” and “Adina” from Manon and L’Elisir d’Amore respectively. Before moving to Ann Arbor, Angela resided in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin singing with the Florentine Opera Chorus for three seasons where she performed works such as Turandot, Carmen, and Rio de Sangre, a Don Davis world premiere.

LONNIE T. REED - "Angel" - Tenor


Lonnie Reed, A Texas native, recently finished his Master's in Vocal Performance at the University of Michigan School of Music.  Lonnie currently serves as tenor section leader at First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor, MI, where he has been one of the featured solo artists in all of the ministry's fundraising events and concerts, which included Camille Saint-Saens' Oratorio de Noel.  Lonnie will conclude his time at FUMC as tenor soloist with Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass.  He has performed for the Arbor Opera Theater's 15th Anniversary Gala where he sang the role of Basilio in a scene from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and as Arturo in a most notable sextet, "Chi mi frena in tal momento," from  Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti.  In a couple of upcoming events, Lonnie will be featured as tenor soloist in a performance of Robert Ray's Gospel Mass in May of 2015; and also, with Arbor Opera Theatre, he will sing the role of Gastone in the company's production of Verdi's La Traviata in June 2015.

JAMES SCHMID - "The Impresario"


(See biography listed above for - ASSISTANT STAGE DIRECTOR)

LANI STAIT - "Penny" - Soprano


Lani Stait, a soprano from the Washington D.C. area, is graduating with her Masters of Music from the University of Michigan where she studies with Martha Sheil. At Michigan Lani has performed the roles of Mrs. Patrick De Rocher (Dead Man Walking by Heggie), La Princesse and Shephardess (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges by Ravel), as well as opera scenes including Rusalka (Rusalka by Dvorak). Lani has recently performed with the Jackson Michigan Symphony Orchestra and won the First United Methodist Church of Birmingham Young Artist Competition as well as the Charlotte Ruppel Memorial Voice Award Scholarship Competition. After graduation Lani plans to move to Chicago.

Picture for Christina Swanson is unavailable.



Christina Swanson is beyond thrilled to be a part of this fabulous production. A native of Grosse Pointe, MI, Christina is currently in her third year at the University of Michigan, pursuing a major Vocal Performance and a minor in French. Previous credits at the University include Dead Man Walking (Nun/Mother), with University Productions, and Iolanthe (Phyllis) with the University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

EDWARD VERDONK - "Private Klaus"


Edward Verdonk is an undergraduate Junior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) at the University of Michigan majoring in Women’s Studies and Psychology. Originally from South Haven, Michigan, Verdonk’s primary experience as a performer comes from local community productions. Although most of his time now is devoted to organizing volunteers for work with a population of elderly people surviving with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as involvement with the University of Michigan Spectrum Center, he maintains a deep love for theater and performance art. This passion led him to get involved with the University of Michigan's Graduate Opera Workshop performance of The Three Sopranos, which he welcomed as a fabulous opportunity to take to the stage once more.

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