A Living Composer
Our Composer - Described by Fanfare Magazine as “one of the most talented and intriguing of living composers,” Lori Laitman has composed multiple operas and choral works, and hundreds of songs setting texts by classical and contemporary poets, including those who perished in the Holocaust. Her music is widely performed throughout the world and has generated substantial critical acclaim. The Journal of Singing wrote “It is difficult to think of anyone before the public today who equals her exceptional gifts for embracing a poetic text and giving it new and deeper life through music." In May 2016, Opera Colorado presented the World Premiere of Laitman’s opera The Scarlet Letter, with a libretto by David Mason. Of the subsequent Naxos release, Gramophone Magazine wrote: “The first thing that leaps into one’s ears is the sheer beauty of the music…and her ability to meld words with lyrical, often soaring lines are on abundant display in her…impressive and fervent opera.” It was named a Critic’s Choice by Opera News and one of the top 5 CDs of 2018 by Fanfare Magazine. Other Laitman and Mason collaborations include Vedem (commissioned and premiered by Music of Remembrance with a Naxos CD release) and Ludlow, their opera-in-progress which explores the U.S. immigrant experience through the lens of the 1914 Colorado mining town disaster. The Three Feathers, Laitman’s children’s opera with librettist Dana Gioia, is based on a Grimm’s fairy tale, and was commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, where it premiered in October 2014. Seattle Opera commissioned an abridged version which toured schools in Washington state in 2018. The international premiere took place in November 2019 with L'arietta Singapore, and a full production will be mounted by Opera Steamboat in August 2020. Laitman is currently finishing a chamber opera, Uncovered, based on Leah Lax's memoir. A finalist for the 2018 Pellicciotti Opera Prize, the work is being commissioned by several universities for a spring 2021 premiere. Laitman continues to receive prestigious commissions, including from the BBC, Opera America, Opera Colorado, Seattle Opera, Grant Park Music Festival, Washington Master Chorale, Music of Remembrance, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Her works have been featured on Thomas Hampson’s Song of America radio series and website and in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. She is a magna cum laude Yale graduate and received her MM from The Yale School of Music. In May 2018, Laitman was the recipient of The Yale School of Music’s Ian Mininberg Alumni Award for Distinguished Service.
Brundibar / Vedem Cast and Crew
Our Brundibar - A native of Evansville, IN and a graduate of LSU, Alexander Henderson has performed with LSU Opera in the roles of il Conte from Le Nozze di Figaro, Nick Shadow from The Rakes Progress, Taddeo from l’italiana in Algeri, Sweeney Todd from Sweeney Todd, and Manfred in Jake Heggie’s Farewell Auschwitz from his triptych Out of Darkness. A mainstay with Opéra Louisiane he has performed the roles of Samuel from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, Bill Bobstay from Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, and Peter from Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel. Most recently he starred as Germont in Mobile Opera’s production of La Traviata.
Our Sparrow - In the 2019 season, soprano Janese Pentico made her role debut as Mimì in La bohème at the Midwest Institute of Opera and in the title role of Madama Butterfly at Operfestival di Roma. Fresh out of her graduate work, Ms. Pentico sang the role of Contessa Almaviva in New York Lyric Opera Theatre’s production of Le nozze di Figaro. As a young artist, Ms. Pentico joined Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre as a cover for Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. Now, she performs as a Resident Artist with Indianapolis Opera and will be featured as Zerlina in Don Giovanni and in Brundibar & Vedem. She will also appear in a variety of educational outreach programs and sing in the popular Sundays at the Basile series. Ms. Pentico hails from the Chicago area. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Southern Utah University, where she studied with Lawrence Johnson and Carol Ann Modesitt. After teaching secondary music education in rural Utah, Janese moved to the Midwest where she now resides with her husband, son, and beagle. More information can be found online at janesepentico.com or on Facebook and Instagram @janesepenticosoprano.
Our Dog and Vedem Soloist - Tenor Felipe Prado is a musician from Chile who has been part of several opera productions in Southern California. He sang the role of El Remendado in Carmen and The Prince of Persia in Turandot with San Diego Opera, Alfredo in La Traviata and Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca with Pacific Lyric Association, , Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutte with Pacific Palisades Symphony, Borsa in G. Verdi’s Rigoletto with AVSOMC, Gastone and Giuseppe in La Traviata with AVSOMC. He was also Rodolfo in La Opera de Tijuana´s production of La Boheme, the cover for the role of Il Duca di Mantova in Rigoletto with Pacific Lyric Association, the role of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte by W.A. Mozart with Ridgecrest Opera Guild, and Spoletta in Tosca by G. Puccini with Guild Opera. Additionally he has been a featured soloist for the concert Opera Highlights with the California Philharmonic Orchestra. As an active member of multiple professional ensembles such as the California Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale he has had the great honor to perform in great venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Warner Grand Theater, The Santa Anita Race Track, and the UCLA’s Royce Hall.
Our Cat and Vedem Soloist - Laura Kendal Zahn, a Philadelphia native, is a mezzo-soprano quickly garnering acclaim for her “warm, voluptuous” voice "clearly destined for Puccini and Verdi." She was most recently seen as Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors)with Shakespeare Opera Theater,Flora Bervoix (La Traviata) with Pacific Opera Project, and Olga (The Merry Widow) at Opera Saratoga. Future engagements include Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte) with Light Opera of New Jersey and Pepa (Goyescas) with Hub City Opera. Ms. Zahn will be making her debut with Bel Cantanti Opera as Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro. Other notable roles include Siebel (Faust), Mrs. Segstrom (A Little Night Music), La Frugola (Il Tabarro), Florence Pike (Albert Herring), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Mother Goose (The Rake’s Progress). She has also covered Mother (The Consul), Mistress Quickly (Falstaff),Moll (The Cradle will Rock), Minskwoman (Flight) and La Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica). In addition to theses roles, Ms. Zahn has been an Apprentice Artist with Opera Saratoga for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, a Festival Artist at The Savannah Voice Festival in 2018 and performed with The Boston Lyric Opera and Los Angeles Opera. Laura holds a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from The Boston Conservatory and obtained her Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from Indiana University while also completing a Bachelors of the Arts in International Studies.
Our Chorus - Each year, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC) serves approximately 5,500 young people in, including more than 2,500 singers between the ages of 18 months and 18 years who are enrolled in the ICC’s weekly, in-depth music education programs. Founded in 1986 by Henry Leck, and under the leadership of Artistic Director Joshua Pedde, the ICC nurtures and inspires student achievement through quality music education and the pursuit of artistic excellence in choral music performance. Housed on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis, and with locations in Carmel, Fishers, Zionsville, Avon, Greenwood, Columbus (Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir), and Anderson (Anderson Area Children’s Choir), participants in the ICC’s programs represent the diversity of central Indiana with children from approximately 20 Indiana counties. The ICC plays a central role in the cultural life of central Indiana and helps set a standard of excellence in the children’s choral music world. The ICC regularly appears with orchestras, professional artists, and ensembles of the highest caliber each year. The choir regularly appears with orchestras, professional artists, and ensembles of the highest caliber each year. The ICC has performed at many major sporting events throughout Indianapolis, including Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. Touring is also consistent part of the ICC’s yearly plans. The ICC has performed on every continent except Antarctica, and in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall in New York and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
Our director - Matt Cooksey is the Resident Assistant Director of the Indianapolis Opera, a position he has held since 2018. Cooksey served as the assistant director for main stage productions, including La bohème (2018), Camelot and L’elisir d’amore (2019), and Don Giovanni (2020). Brundibar/Vedem marks his professional mainstage directorial debut. Cooksey has written a handful of musical revues, pastiches, and operatic adaptations, including two pieces for young audiences performed by the Indianapolis Opera Resident Artists. The Three Sillies and The Tails of Cats and Mice premiered during the 2019-20 season, and will be revived during the 2020-21 season. Cooksey recently worked for Opera NEO in San Diego as one of three Apprentice Stage Directors. His main project was assistant-directing La Calisto with David Toro, but he also worked as a production assistant for their other mainstage productions of La Cenerentola and Eugene Onegin. Cooksey is a graduate of Indiana University (BM in Vocal Performance [‘12]) and Florida State University (MM in Performance [‘16] and Opera Production [‘18]). When not working in Indianapolis, he returns to his base in Tampa with his wife.
Our children's chorusmaster - Joshua Pedde is the artistic director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC) and the Anderson Area Children’s Choir. Mr. Pedde has pioneered ICC’s Innovations program which provides free music education workshops to public and private schools and the Neighborhood Choir Academy a six to eight-week musical experience for students to explore the world of choral music which culminates in a performance with the ICC. Mr. Pedde is a frequent conductor and clinician throughout the United States and has conducting at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center as well as performances at the Vatican and Canterbury Cathedral, in Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, and Spain. He has conducted at numerous sporting events including the FINA World Swimming Championships, the 2012 World Choir Games, and Super Bowl XLVI. Mr. Pedde serves as chair for the Consortium of Indiana Children’s Choirs and at Cornerstone Lutheran Church, Fishers, as director of worship and organist. Mr. Pedde earned his bachelor of music degree in vocal music education and a master’s degree in choral conducting from Butler University, as well as his DPM from Concordia Chicago. Josh delights in time spent with his wife, Laura, and children, Annabelle, Grayson, and Savannah.