Dr. Perry Smith
Dr. Perry Smith has a DMA in performance from the University of Kentucky as well as a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy from Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was privileged to study with Ralph Appleman, Jean Dies, and Elizabeth Mannion. He has extensive performance experience in opera, oratorio, and Broadway musicals. In 1983, he accepted a position as the leading tenor at the opera house in Pfortzheim, West Germany. He was also a regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition.
For nine years, Dr. Smith conducted a voice university chorus with more than one hundred members and applied the vocal/choral techniques that he learned in his study with the late Frauke Hassemann of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. For three years, Dr. Smith was the music minister at the First Baptist Church in New Bern, North Carolina. He is presently the music minister of the Hooker Memorial Christian Church choir.
While at Indiana University, he worked with the Bach expert, Dr. Julius Herford, who was also a close colleague of Robert Shaw. Dr. Smith was coached by Dr. Herford and sang the Evangelist role in Bach’s St. John Passion numerous times. At Oberlin Conservatory he was in the much-acclaimed Oberlin College/Conservatory Choir under the direction of Robert Fountain. Also while at Oberlin, he studied with Richard Miller, the renowned vocal pedagogue and author of numerous books and articles on voice teaching.
Dr. Smith’s performance activity in the Broadway musical genre includes an eight-week dinner theater run of Li’l Abner (Abner) and the role of Ravinal in a three-city tour of Showboat.
He has recently published the article “Blend or Balance: Two Approaches to Choral Singing” in the American Choral Directors Association’s Choral Journal. He has taught and coached singers for more than thirty years in both high school and university settings. He is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Dr. Smith is presently in charge of the vocal pedagogy program at East Carolina, teaching applied voice and both undergraduate and the master of music degree courses in vocal performance and pedagogy.
Dr. Karen S. Hall
Dr. Karen Hall was born in Kentucky and was educated in Texas at the University of Houston, where she graduated with a bachelor of music and master of music in vocal performance. Additional study in operetta was completed at the Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria. In 2006, she graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University, with a doctor of education degree.
The Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) Vocal Pedagogy Institute, sponsored by Shenandoah University, has certified her at Levels I, II, and III. The institute trains teachers in vocal pedagogy pertaining to all nonclassical forms of singing. It is led by Jeannette LoVetri, known for her Somatic Voicework™, a body-based system of training for CCM. Ms. LoVetri was an integral part of Dr. Hall’s doctoral dissertation work, which explored music theatre vocal pedagogy. She advised Dr. Hall in the form of an internship.
A versatile performer, Dr. Hall has performed in opera, operetta, concert, oratorio, recital, chamber music, and music theatre throughout the United States, most notably on the PBS special Masterclass, with the Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Civic Light Opera, Hidden Valley Opera, and the Victor Herbert Festival Ensemble in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is a five-time Metropolitan Opera Regional Finalist and has won awards from the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, the Vocal Arts Foundation in San Francisco, and the Eleanor Anderson Lieber Awards, sponsored by Portland Opera. [visit Dr. Hall's web site]
She has four recordings to her credit: The Frogs and Sweeney Todd, both by Stephen Sondheim; American Songs in Recital, a solo CD of American Art songs and musical theatre selections; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning recording On the Transmigration of Souls, by John Adams, recorded with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Dr. Hall has been on the voice faculty the Crane School of Music/SUNY Potsdam, at St. Lawrence University, Ithaca College, the Boston Conservatory, the Berklee College of Music, and New York University. Presently, she is on the faculty at East Carolina University, where she teaches music theatre voice.
Dr. Louise Toppin
Louise Toppin, has received critical acclaim for her operatic, orchestral, and oratorio performances in the United States, Czech Republic, Sweden, Uruguay, Scotland, China, England, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Japan and Spain. She has appeared in recital on many concert series including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center. Represented by Joanne Rile Artist Management, she tours in "Gershwin on Broadway" with pianist Leon Bates, singers Cedric Cannon, LaRose Saxon and Sam McKelton.
She has recorded fifteen compact disks of American Music including: Songs of Illumination, (Centaur Records), Ah love, but a day (Albany), Extensions of the Tradition (Innova) More Still (Cambria), Paul Freeman Introduces... Vol. II and Vol. IV (Albany) with the Czech National Symphony, William Grant Still Opera Highway One (Visionary Records), The Major’s Letter (Albany Records), (Albany), Poetry Prelude: music of composer Richard ThompsonHe’ll Bring it to Pass, spirituals of Hall Johnson (Albany Records), Witness with the Czech National Symphony (Albany), Heart on the Wall with the Prague Radio Symphony (Naxos) and CDs with three publications including A Hall Johnson collection published by Carl Fisher.