GRAMMY® Award winning conductor Jerry Blackstone is director of Choirs and chair of the Department of Conducting at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance where he conducts the Chamber Choir, teaches conducting at the graduate level, and administers a choral program of eleven choirs. In February 2006, he received two GRAMMY® Awards ("Best Choral Performance" and "Best Classical Album") as chorusmaster for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom's monumental Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The recent Naxos recording of Milhaud's L'Orestie d'Eschyle, on which Blackstone served as chorusmaster, was nominated for a 2015 GRAMMY® Award ("Best Opera Recording"). In 2006, the Chamber Choir performed by special invitation at the inaugural convention in San Antonio of the National Collegiate Choral Organization and, in 2003, the Chamber Choir presented three enthusiastically received performances in New York City at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). For significant contributions to choral music in the state of Michigan, he received the 2006 Maynard Klein Lifetime Achievement Award from the ACDA-Michigan chapter.
From 2003-15, Blackstone served as conductor and music director of the University Musical Society (UMS) Choral Union, a large community/university chorus that frequently appears with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and the Ann Arbor Symphony and presents yearly performances of Handel's Messiah and other major works for chorus and orchestra. In March 2008, he conducted the UMS Choral Union and the DSO in a special performance of the Bach, St. Matthew Passion. Choirs prepared by Blackstone have appeared under the batons of Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Leonard Slatkin, Hans Graf, Michael Tilson Thomas, John Adams, Helmuth Rilling, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Peter Oundjian, and Yitzak Perlman.
Blackstone is considered one of the country's leading conducting teachers, and his students have been first place award winners and finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of ACDA's biennial National Choral Conducting Awards competition.
Blackstone has appeared as festival guest conductor and workshop presenter in forty-two states as well as New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Recent appearances include festivals and conference presentations in Australia, New Zealand, China, New York, Florida, New Hampshire, California, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Michigan.
GIA Publications recently released his 2016 rehearsal techniques video, Did you hear that? which deals with the conductor's decision-making process during rehearsal. Santa Barbara Music Publishing distributes Blackstone's acclaimed educational video, Working with Male Voices and publishes the Jerry Blackstone Choral Series, a set of choral publications that presents works by several composers in a variety of musical styles.
Prior to coming to the U-M in 1988, Professor Blackstone served on the music faculties of Phillips University in Oklahoma, Westmont College in California, and Huntington University in Indiana. He holds degrees from the University of Southern California, Indiana University, and Wheaton College.
In recent years Micaela Carosi has made a name for herself as one of the most exciting and sought after Verdian voices of the international opera scene.
A graduate of the University of Rome with a degree in Modern Literature and Music History, Micaela Carosi also completed a degree in singing, with high distinction. After her debut in Spoleto in 2000 as Leonora in Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio and as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, in 2001, on the occasion of the Verdi centennial, she was chosen by Franco Zeffirelli to interpret Aida at the Verdi Theater in Busseto. During the following years Mrs. Carosi debuted most of the principal roles for lyric-dramatic soprano: Abigaille in Nabucco, the title roles in Manon Lescaut and Tosca, Lucrezia Contarini in I due Foscari at La Scala in Milan with Riccardo Muti, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, Elisabetta di Valois in Don Carlo, Leonora in Il Trovatore, Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, and Amelia in Un ballo in maschera.
In 2006 she won the important Abbiati prize as best soprano for her interpretation of Aida at the Royal Theater in Turin and Madama Butterfly at the Carlo Felice Theater in Genoa.
During the 2007-2008 season she made her debuts at the Zürich Opera House in Andrea Chenier, at the Royal Opera House in London in Tosca conducted by Antonio Pappano, and at the Metropolitan Opera in Aida under Kazushi Ono. In the same season she sang Verdi's Requiem in Valencia under the direction of Lorin Maazel.
The 2008-2009 opened with her debut as Norma in Montreal and in Rome at the National Academy of Saint Cecila, both under the baton of Kent Nagano. After Tosca at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, she sang the role of Elisabetta in Don Carlo at La Scala in Milan, under Daniele Gatti. Her engagements continued with Madama Butterfly in Vienna and in Venice, Andrea Chenier in Monte Carlo, Tosca at the Royal Theater in Parma, Adriana Lecouvreur in Turin, and Don Carlo on tour in Japan with the company of La Scala.
Among her recent and future engagements are Andrea Chenier in Paris, Madama Butterfly and Manon Lescaut in Berlin, Un ballo in maschera in Bilbao and later in Vienna, Aida at Covent Garden and in San Francisco, Monaco and Seoul, La forza del Destino in Vienna, Madama Butterfly in Paris, and La Gioconda in Marseille.
She was the winner of the Voci Verdiane competition in Busseto, the 54th edition of the international competition at the Opera Theater of Spoleto, the Francisco Vinas competition in Barcelona, the J. Aragall competition in Girona, Spain, and the International Singing Competition in Bilbao.
Since 2014, Micaela Carosi has been Professor of Voice at the Academy of High Specialization at the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, and at the Conservatory of Music in Trapani.
Antonio Giovanni Bono
Antonio Giovanni Bono holds degrees and certificates in clarinet, choral music and conducting, music education, composition, and orchestral conducting. Bono is the author of symphonic and chamber works, stage music, vocal compositions and film scores.
He has performed throughout Italy and Europe, and in Asia, including concerts at the Theatre Esperia in Florence, at the University of Bologna, in the RAI Auditorium of Palermo, and in the Minoritenkirche in Vienna, conducting choirs and orchestras such as the Mozart Choir, the Chamber Orchestra I Solisti Sicani, the Cataldo Amodei Orchestra, the Sicilian Wind Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestras of Palermo, Ruggero and Lugansk, and the Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Maria del Giglio.
In 2007, at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, he won first prize in conducting at the international masterclass led by Prof. Mark Stringer, former assistant to Leonard Bernstein and Sir Simon Rattle. Later, as part of a post-graduate course in conducting, he was chosen to conduct Schumann’s Symphony #1 in a masterclass led by Maestro Fabio Luisi, former Principal Conductor of The Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Based on famous texts of Saint Francis of Assisi, he composed Il Cantico di Frate Sole for tenor, choir and orchestra, which was premiered in 2006 in the presence of the Reverend Father Elia Zvikovic, Minister General of the worldwide Franciscan order. He has received two international awards for his music composed for the director Nino Sabella’s short film “Maradona Baby,” including a Spike Lee Award, received in New York.
With the Orchestra of the Toscanini Conservatory, he participated in the final evening of the international opera singing competition in Alcamo in the presence of the great soprano Raina Kabaivanska, president of the competition.
He has collaborated with many well known singers, among them Serbian mezzo soprano Marija Yokovic, Japanese soprano Aoi Yonamine and Sicilian tenor Giuseppe Veneziano, and currently collaborates with renowned international soprano Micaela Carosi.
In 2012 he conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Luigi Pirandello Theatre in Agrigento with the famous soprano Katia Ricciarelli. Also in 2012, he conducted Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in the Kamani Theater in New Delhi, India. On the occasion of the Google Camp world event held in 2014 at the Selinunte Archaeological Park, he conducted the Children’s Choir of the Academy of Santa Maria del Giglio. In 2016 he collaborated with the Smith College Chamber Singers, conducted by Jonathan Hirsh.
He is Chief Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Solidarity (S.O.S.), artistic Director of the cultural Academy Il Cerchio delle Arti, which he founded, and he is Professor of Choral Studies at the Scontrino Conservatory in Trapani.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Conductor Jonathan Hirsh has garnered the respect and praise of audiences, colleagues, and critics throughout the United States and abroad.
As Director of Choral Activities at Smith College, Hirsh has conducted countless choral and choral-orchestral works. Guest engagements have taken him as far as Alaska and have included New England and Northeast Regional choirs, and the Maryland All-State Women’s Choir. The Smith College Choirs have been invited to perform four times at regional and national choral conferences and have performed under Hirsh’s direction in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and in Europe’s greatest churches and cathedrals.
As Music Director of the Smith College Alumnae Chorus, Hirsh has led international tours working with the Bellini Youth Orchestra of Catania in Sicily, the Estonian National Men's Choir and Youth Orchestra, the St. Petersburg State Orchestra and Men's Choir, and the Chamber Orchestra of Havana.
His conducting students have gone on to prestigious graduate programs such as Yale, Michigan, and Peabody. They currently hold professional positions as Music Director in the United States and in Europe and guest conduct around the world.
Hirsh is also Founder and Artistic Director of Sing This Summer, an organization that offers summer camps and workshops for young children, teens and adults at Amherst and Bowdoin Colleges.
Thanks to his dual appointment as Music Director of the Smith College Orchestra since 1997, Hirsh has also conducted much of the standard orchestral repertoire. Celebrating the orchestra’s 100th anniversary, the Smith College Choirs joined and the University of Michigan Glee Club presented a sold out performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Carnegie Hall. He has traveled with the orchestra to Sicily and to Trinidad and Tobago for a collaboration with the National Youth Orchestra.
His conducting has included collaborations with dance and opera companies, including staged performances of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with the Commonwealth Opera. He has led performances of Peter and the Wolf with the Pioneer Valley and Amherst Ballet companies, and Mark Morris’ Vivaldi Gloria. He was engaged by Williams College to coordinate the music for Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes with the principal dancers of the New York City Ballet.
In October, 2017 Hirsh visited Chile where performed with the Orquesta Juveníl de Puente Alto in Santiago. With the Orquesta de Camara de L’Universidad de La Serena, premiered four works by Chilean composers, advancing his commitment and passion for new music. In this realm, he has commissioned, performed and collaborated with composers such as Alice Parker, Joan Tower, John Harbison, Kate Soper, Ronald Perera, and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw.
Jonathan has performed throughout Sicily on numerous occasions since 2007 and looks forward to sharing his love for the region -- its language, food and history -- with SCI participants.