Performing Artists, November 2023

Praised for her musical elegance and passion, soprano Clarice Alfonso (Nov 16, 18) 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 16, 18) 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.

Silas Berlin (Nov 12) is a 2021 graduate of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Silas enjoys performing for communities in the Seattle area as well as for private events and parties. He was awarded the silver medal for both the 2020 Seattle Bach festival and Russian Music Competition. He has his own private teaching practice and teaches an adult extension course at Cornish College of the Arts.

Inspired by his grandmother and singing “The Sound of Music” in middle school choir, Michael Housley (Nov 8) began teaching himself piano before studying with Dr. David Brunell at the University of Tennessee. Since moving to Seattle to pursue a career in Architecture, Michael collaborates regularly with Melet Whinston (cellist), accompanies the Seattle University Chapel of St. Ignatius Choir and has participated in several Chamber Music Madness retreats with various chamber ensembles.

Joan Lundquist (Nov 16, 18) has served as a collaborative pianist for Seattle area musicians and organizations for 30 years. Since moving to the area from Humboldt State University in northern California, where she was staff accompanist, Joan has worked with the Northwest Boychoir, Seattle Choral Company, has taught at Seattle University and Northwest University, and has worked with several area private music teachers. Currently, Ms. Lundquist is the Director of Music at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Seattle and rehearsal accompanist for the Seattle Choral Company.

Known for her expressive and passionate performances, Jensina Oliver (Nov 14) has delighted audiences as soloist and chamber musician in the United States, China, Canada, Costa Rica, Israel, and throughout Europe. Her performances with orchestra include appearances with the Hubei Provincial Orchestra of Wuhan, China, and the Utah Philharmonia. She was a national finalist of the MTNA Chamber Music Competition, a resident artist at the Banff Chamber Music Festival, and has won several solo and concerto competitions throughout the United States. Dr. Oliver is in high demand as guest performer, clinician, and adjudicator at events, conferences, and competitions throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has taught at Shoreline Community College since 1998 and has a thriving piano studio with students of all ages. Dr. Oliver currently resides with her family in Shoreline, WA, where she loves to enjoy all of the beautiful outdoor opportunities that the Pacific Northwest provides.

Luke Raffanti (Nov 16, 18) 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 16, 18) diverse experience encompasses opera, oratorio, theatre, and new works. She recently portrayed Missy Hart in 9 to 5: The Musical (Twelfth Night Productions), sang Dolcina in Suor Angelica (Puget Sound Concert Opera), and sang Frasquita in Carmen (Kitsap Opera). In concert, Emily is known for her interpretation of Bach cantatas, including Wedding Cantata, which she has sung 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).

Eric Shankland (Nov 12) 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 12) 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.

Mezzo-soprano Katie Stevenson (Nov 16, 18) has recently performed with Pacific Northwest Opera as Flora in La Traviata. She has also been seen performing art songs and arias in livestream concerts with the Ladies Musical Club and Epiphany Parish of Seattle’s “Music in Our Community” concert series. Since moving to Seattle she has performed roles and concerts with the Seattle Opera Guild, Puget Sound Concert Opera, N.O.I.S.E., and Seattle Modern Opera Company. While living in NYC Katie worked with Dicapo Opera, Amato Opera, and Riverside Opera performing roles such as Romeo in I Capuleti e I Montecchi, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, and Henrichetta in I Puritani. In Philadelphia she performed the title role in Carmen and as Emilia in Otello. While living in Europe, she performed in concerts and festivals in Germany, Ireland, and England. In addition to performing, Katie teaches piano and voice lessons in the Seattle area.

An outstanding member of the Northwest musical community for over 20 years, Regina Thomas (Nov 16, 18) 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.

Colin Ward (Nov 16, 18) has been studying voice for about six years. He is a graduate of Western Washington University with a major in Political Science and a minor in Music. Colin has appeared in many concerts and operas including The Ballad of Baby Doe as Bushy, Le Nozze di Figaro as Count Almaviva, and I Pagliacci as Beppe. Colin sings regularly with Puget Sound Concert Opera and also performs with the Seattle Opera Chorus.

Melet Whinston (Nov 8) studied under Maria DeRungs, and was first chair in the Portland Junior Symphony and Princeton University Orchestra. She has presented school performances as a member of the Leschi Trio and as a duo with Michael Housley, pianist. She has many years of experience as a chamber musician and solo performer, and performs regularly at St Andrew Presbyterian Church and local recitals.

Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya (Nov 16, 18) originally from Sri Lanka, holds a Licentiate Diploma in Singing from Trinity College of Music, London. She began voice lessons in 2004, in Sri Lanka with Menaka Sahabandu and also studied with Asitha Tennekoon. At age 17, she made her debut with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, performing selections from operas and operettas. Dhanushi has performed extensively in Sri Lanka. Some highlights include soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Chamber Music Society of Colombo, scenes from The Marriage of Figaro (Susanna) and The Barber of Seville (Rosina) with the Menaka Singers Opera Ensemble and The Phantom of the Opera (Christine Daae) by the Workshop Players. After moving to the U.S. in 2015 she studied voice with Timothi Williams and Dr. Rachel Copeland at Penn State. Dhanushi has since presented several solo recitals in the U.S. She currently continues her vocal studies with Rachel Anne Moore and Barbara Bonney. In addition to her musical pursuits, she holds a Ph.D. in Statistics from Penn State and works as a Senior Data Scientist at Microsoft.