Praised for her musical elegance and passion, soprano Clarice Alfonso (Nov 13) recently made her Chicago Orchestra Hall debut as the soloist in the North American premiere of Jacob TV’s Mountaintop. Recent engagements include Pamina with Northwest Opera in Schools, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Engage Opera, and Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 at the Seattle Art Museum. Past feats include Rosina in The Barber of Seville with Northwest Opera in Schools, Sister Genovieffa in Suor Angelica with Puget Sound Concert Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Seattle Operamuse, First Lady in Die Zauberflöte with Chicago Chamber Opera, Julia Jellicoe in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Grand Duke, and Silvia in the world premiere of Philip Seward’s Sincerely Yours. An avid singer of not just classical music, Clarice is one of the founders of Forte! Chicago, an all-women’s opera improv ensemble, and frequently performs concerts consisting of art song, jazz, and cabaret.
Dora Barnes (Nov 19) was born and raised in Yakima Washington and now resides in Seattle. She is a classically trained vocalist, pianist, and saxophonist, and is currently studying with Davida Kagen. Dora attended Yakima Valley Community College and Central Washington University with a focus on vocal performance. Dora has performed with the Seattle Art Song Society, Ladies Musical Club, and the Puget Sound Concert Opera, among others. Notably, she has performed as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, placed 1st in the PAFE Opera division, placed 3rd in the Seattle Opera Guild’s Singer Development Awards, and was an honorable mention in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards. When not singing opera, Dora is the lead singer and plays saxophone in two Motown/Oldies bands, and also composes her own music.
Diana Gao (Nov 15) began studying piano at age 4. She moved to the U.S. from China in 2013 to pursue her MBA at the University of Washington (UW), and she’s currently a Senior Marketing Manager at Microsoft. Although she has pursued a career outside of music, the piano has remained a significant mainstay in her life. She has consistently cultivated her passion through regular lessons and performances. She’s been studying with Dr. Robin McCabe from UW and is a prizewinner in many competitions, including Gold Medalist of the Seattle International Competition and First Prize of the “Golden Classical Music Awards” International Competition. She also performed at the prestigious Piano Texas International Festival. Since 2020, she has presented annual fundraising recitals through the Microsoft Give campaign, raising thousands of dollars in support of local organizations. Those events reinforced her belief that music has the power to inspire change and make the world a better place.
Katie Hochman (Nov 19), soprano, can be heard regularly giving recitals with Ladies Musical Club of Seattle. She has also enjoyed singing opera and oratorio with Puget Sound Concert Opera (PSCO), Opera Theater Oregon, Portland Opera, Utah Opera, Columbia Chorale and Southwest Washington Symphony (SWS). Highlights include the title role of Massenet’s Cendrillon and Héro in Berlioz’s Beatrice et Bénédict performed with PSCO and Exultate, jubilate performed with SWS.
Pianist Dr. Minju Kim (Nov 19), a native of South Korea, has established herself as a versatile soloist, chamber musician and collaborative pianist. Minju has won numerous awards, including the Sidney Wright Accompanying Competition, Korean Music Association Competition, and Korea-Germany Brahms Association Competition. With her avid interest in chamber music, Minju joined Bowdoin International Music Festival and Music Academy of the West as a fellow in collaborative piano. Currently, Minju serves as collaborative pianist at Shoreline Community College, Seattle University, and Northwest Girlchoir, and works with several private studios for instruments and voice. Minju holds degrees in Piano Performance from Seoul National University (B.M.), Indiana University (M.M./P.D.), and University of Texas in Austin (D.M.A), and in Collaborative Piano from New England Conservatory (M.M.).
Praised for her mellow voice and gorgeously sung performances, mezzo-soprano Jan Nelson (Nov 19) is an affecting interpreter of opera, oratorio, and art song. Ms. Nelson’s notable opera roles include Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Nicklaus in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte, Beggar Woman in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and both Rosalinde and Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. Her concert work includes performances with the Oregon Mozart Players, the Oregon Bach Collegium, and Northwest Baroque. Ms. Nelson holds a doctorate in vocal performance from the University of Oregon, and currently serves as Head of Vocal Studies at Seattle Pacific University.
Gail Perstein (Nov 15) has a Bachelor of Science from Springfield College, a Bachelor of Music from P.L.U., a Master of Music from U.W. (both in oboe performance) and a Master of Arts in Historical Musicology, also from U.W. She splits her time between teaching oboe privately, performing on oboe/English horn, and performing early music. She played in both early and classical music groups at P.L.U. and U.W., and continues performing in various settings, ranging from Tacoma Opera to local church services. Ms. Perstein performed for many years with her own medieval group, Chansonnier, using period instruments. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle for 22 years and chair of the Frances Walton Competition Committee for 23 years.
Erika Pierson (Nov 9) earned her bachelor’s in Cello Performance from Indiana University and her master’s in Performance from the University of Michigan. Between her degrees, Erika studied in Berlin, at the Hochschule der Kunste, and in London under Eileen Croxford, FRCM. Her other teachers included Richard Aaron, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Markus Nyikos, and Erling Blondal Bengtsson. Erika has given solo recitals in England, Germany, Spain, and in the United States, and has soloed with orchestras in Berlin, Ann Arbor, and Everett, WA. On the less classical side of things, she has also performed with Mannheim Steamroller, Rod Stewart, The Walkmen, and Deltron 3030. Currently Erika performs regularly as the cellist in NOCCO Chamber Orchestra, and freelances and teaches in the Seattle area.
Luke Raffanti (Nov 9) has been a frequent piano performer around Seattle since moving here in 2017. Before the pandemic, he performed frequently at house concerts, retirement homes, and for benefit concerts. In 2018, he earned the top prize in the Chopin Northwest solo piano competition and in 2019 he was featured as vocal accompanist and solo pianist on Classical KING FM. He has enjoyed collaborating with several professional opera companies: Seattle Opera, Seattle Modern Opera Company, and Northwest Opera in Schools, as well as numerous individual professional vocalists. Luke teaches roughly 40 students of all ages at Cascade Piano Studio in Ravenna, and is the collaborative pianist and organist at Richmond Beach Congregational United Church of Christ in Shoreline. Lately Luke has been taking voice lessons with Davida Kagen and singing with Seattle Pro Musica. He earned a BM in classical piano performance and a BA in environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.
Emily Riesser’s (Nov 19) diverse experience encompasses opera, oratorio, theatre, and new works. She recently portrayed Elle in a staging of Poulenc’s one-voice opera, The Human Voice (Ladies Musical Club), sang Frasquita in Carmen (Kitsap Opera), and played a nun in Sister Act (Tacoma Musical Playhouse). In concert, Emily is known for her interpretation of Bach cantatas, including Wedding Cantata, which she sang recently in several venues. Favorite experiences include singing Iphigenie in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride (Seattle Opera Guild), Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata (Kitsap Opera), Tamiri in Mozart’s Il re pastore (Off-Center Opera), and soprano chorus at Seattle Opera. Emily is a graduate of Goshen College (Goshen, IN) and past participant in Bel Canto Northwest (Portland State University).
Valentina Rodov (Nov 13) was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, and received her music education as a concert pianist from the famous Moscow Conservatory. She performed solo and in chamber groups prior to emigrating to the United States. Once in the USA, Valentina decided to become a lawyer, which she successfully accomplished upon graduating from law school in Los Angeles and passing the California Bar. Valentina practiced law as business litigator in Southern California for over twenty years until she and her husband moved to Seattle. With great support and encouragement from the Seattle music community, Valentina came back to piano playing, and soon became a frequent and critically acclaimed recitalist and chamber music performer at various venues in the Seattle area.
Eric Shankland (Nov 13) has been playing bassoon since age 15. He played in the NCR band and the Youth Philharmonic in Dayton, Ohio. He studied with Arthur Grossman and played in the University Symphony at the University of Washington, and currently studies with Paul Rafanelli of the Seattle Symphony. He was principal bassoon in the Eastside Symphony (Redmond) for fifteen years. Eric is a research scientist at the University of Washington.
Julie Shankland (Nov 13) has played clarinet since marching band in the Ohio snow. Since moving to Washington, Julie has played in the UW Concert Band, Eastside Symphony, West Seattle Community Orchestras, Rain City Symphony, and various chamber music camps. Julie is an adult student of Jennifer Nelson and recently learned to play bass clarinet. Julie works in the Office of General Counsel at the Washington State Bar Association.
Bernard Shapiro (Nov 15) was principal oboe of the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera from 1961-2004, participating in over 80 Seattle Symphony recordings. He appeared as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, Philadelphia Quartet, Balamian Quartet, Seoul Symphony, Korean Broadcast Symphony, and Bellevue Symphony. He was co-founder of the New York Baroque Quintet, English horn with the Royal Ballet Touring Orchestra (London), and received the Fromm foundation Fellowship for Contemporary Music Performance at Princeton University and Tanglewood (1960). Mr. Shapiro has been a member of the faculty at University of Washington, Cornish School, Pacific Lutheran University, Western Washington University, and Seattle Pacific University. At PLU, he participated in many programs as a member of the faculty wind quintet, the Camas Quintet. He graduated from the Music and Art High School of New York City, and holds both a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Education from Manhattan School of Music. In addition to oboe, he also enjoys playing cello.
Eliza Siracusan (Nov 13) holds a BM in clarinet performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Originally from Edmonds, WA, she played with the SYSO and CYSO organizations and completed her final year of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Her college years were stuffed completely full of wonderful chamber music with friends. After graduating from CIM in 2005, Eliza returned to the Seattle area and took a complete break from playing to pursue other interests and activities. After 12 years away, Eliza picked up her horn and joined a community orchestra in the fall of 2017. She now plays with the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, directed by Dr. Anna Edwards, and is excited to be a new member of the Ladies Musical Club.
An outstanding member of the Northwest musical community for over 20 years, Regina Thomas (Nov 19) has performed with a variety of companies including Kitsap Opera, Willamette Concert Opera, Bellevue Opera, Puget Sound Concert Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Seattle Opera Guild. Currently Artistic Director of Puget Sound Concert Opera, Regina has served as Seattle Opera Guild’s VP of Education and is a past President and trustee of concerts for LMC. Favorite operatic roles include Adriana Lecouvreur, Suor Angelica, Tosca, and Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle). Concert work includes Schumann’s Frauenleibe und-leben, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, and Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder; soprano solos in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Fauré Requiem, and Berio’s Folk Songs for voice and chamber ensemble.