A Chamber Oratorio

Adelina the Jester

A new production inspired by the Domesday Book

The Team

Executive Producer

Lissa was in London in 1986 and happened upon an exhibit at the Public Records Office that marked the 900th anniversary of the Domesday Book’s completion. Having graduated from UT Austin with a degree in world history, and with fond memories of her medieval English history class, she was fascinated especially by a display that listed many of the occupations that appear in the work; at the bottom of the list was “female jester 1”. Ever since then, Lissa has wondered who this person was, how she got the job, what her jokes were like, and what happened to her. She finally decided to do something about these questions and, thanks to some happy accidents, was able to recruit the super-talented Andrew and Katie to develop some answers in musical and theatrical form.

Writer

Katie Bender (she/her/hers) is a playwright, performer, and theater maker. Her plays include Judith, SHE WOLF, The Survivors/Los Sobrevivientes and Instructions for a Séance, to name a few. Her work has been developed and produced all over the country, including at Hyde Park Theater, ZACH, The Alley, Shrewds, EST, Kitchen Dog, The Playwrights’ Center, LAUNCH PAD, and Fusebox Festival. She is the co-creator of Underbelly, with whom she made ecstatic site-specific performances such as Slip River, for which she received the Austin Chronicle’s Critics Table Award for Best New Comedy. Her play Judith received the B. Iden Payne Award for Best New Script. Katie was a Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and received her MFA from The University of Texas at Austin. She is thrilled to be working with Andy and Lissa. Find more information here: Katie Bender

Composer

Andrew Grainger is an English composer, pianist, organist and teacher now living in Austin, Texas. He holds degrees in Piano Performance from Surrey University, UK and a Masters degree in Composition from Kingston University, UK. Andrew has been involved in many genres of music over his career, ranging from classical to jazz and pop and includes writing, producing and engineering. As a multimedia composer he has written music for television and film, but now focuses on purely classical composition including orchestral, chamber and solo works, many of which have been performed in the central texas region. He also performs with his wife, cellist Annette Eicker. Andrew is excited to be working with Katie and Lissa to make this brand new chamber oratorio into a wonderful and compelling production. Find more information here: Andrew Grainger

Adelina

Bethany obtained her Bachelor of Arts in music and French at the University of Southern Mississippi and her Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. She has performed around the country and in Italy both as a soloist and in various ensembles. A multi-genre vocalist, Bethany’s career runs from opera and musical theater to folk. She has sung with several local ensembles including the Austin Opera Chorus, Local Opera Local Artists, Inversion Ensemble, and The Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Bethany's performance as the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe earned her a nomination for a B. Iden Payne award. Other notable opera and musical theater credits include La Femme Boheme (Schaunard), Suor Angelica (La Zia Principessa), Carmen (diction coach, ensemble), Ragtime (Emma Goldman), Company (Sarah), and West Side Story (Graziella). While maintaining an active performance schedule, Bethany teaches both at the Armstrong Community Music School and privately.

Bethany enjoys collaborating in recitals and curating performances for herself and others and is excited about singing the role of Adelina.

Earl Roger de Montgomery

Willie Casper is a native Austin-based tenor. Willie obtained his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at Mannes College of Music and his master’s degree in Opera Performance at the Boston Conservatory. He made his Austin debut in the role of Malcolm in Opera for Earth's production of Verdi’s Macbeth, and he has performed the tenor role in Glass’s, Book of Longing, with the Austin Chamber Music Festival. Among Willie’s other credits are the roles of Le Chevalier in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, Tenor in Philip Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox, Younger Thompson in Cipullo’s Glory Denied, and Prologue Tenor in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. Willie is currently a Resident Star for Austin Opera and has been a Teaching Artist since 2022. 

Photo: Dave Hawkes

King William II

Gregory A. Hilliard, Jr. was recently awarded the Choir Master (ChM) Certificate from the American Guild of Organists. He serves as bass section leader with Panoramic Voices and the Conspirare Symphonic Choir. Gregory is on the performance roster of Inversion Ensemble, San Antonio Chamber Choir, Purgatory Creek Chorale, Tinsel Singers, Conspirare Artist Citizen Choral Collective, and Sound by Southwest. As a soloist, he has premiered works by new composers, including Arkansas-based Marshall D. Jones and Los Angeles-based Joseph Sabatino, and is frequently called to appear in new projects curated by San Antonio-based composer Nathan Felix. Gregory is in his second decade of teaching K-12 music, currently employed as a Choral Director for Manor ISD. He also serves as Minister of Music at First Methodist Church in Lockhart, and as Artistic Director of Austin Harmony Chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines International.

Photo: Margaret Brown

Fitzhugh

Though a native Texan, Steven Young found his way to the University of Idaho for his undergraduate music degree. After a few years teaching in the public schools, he made it back to the Lone Star State for graduate studies in vocal performance at UT Austin. He has continued performing, conducting, and arranging in many genres including musical theater, opera, community, and church music. Steven was the founder and principal arranger for “Bethany ̓Bones,” a trombone choir at Bethany UMC, where he also directed the youth handbells for many years. He is a 20-year member of A Capella Texas, Austin’s barbershop harmony chorus, and served several stints as director of that ensemble. As vocal soloist (bass/baritone) he has performed works from Schütz to Shostakovich and beyond, most recently with Concordia University, Inversion Ensemble, and Hope Presbyterian, among others.

Harp

It started with Walt Disney’s Fantasia — that scene where a glamorous lady plays Waltz of the Flowers on a gold harp; young Shana was smitten. Grownup Shana went on to study harp with Julia Herrmann Edwards (Dallas Symphony Orchestra) and with Eileen Malone at the Eastman School of Music.

Shana is the harp-playing half of the Chaski flute & harp duo. What began by playing together on an all-Fauré concert in 1985 grew into a career-long collaboration. Now Chaski draws on a genre-fluid repertoire of Latin American, Sephardic, and Celtic music; of classical music, both old and new; and of projects with a wide array of colleagues.

Texas is blessed with many symphony orchestras. Shana has worked as a traveling orchestral harpist, seeing miles and miles of Texas while playing in its far-flung symphonies: Abilene, College Station, Corpus Christi, Kerrville, Lubbock, Midland, New Braunfels, Odessa, Roundtop, San Antonio, San Angelo, Seguin, Victoria, Waco.

Shana works with Oliver Rajamani’s Flamenco India project, the Western Swing band Diminished 7, and is a frequent guest with the contemporary choral group, Inversion Ensemble. She also performs a solo house concert program: There’s a Dance in the Old Dame Yet.

Lute & Baroque Guitar

Noted as “the compelling” guitarist and “the fine” lutenist by the New York Times, Arash Noori performs throughout North America and Europe on lutes and guitars as both recitalist and accompanist. Arash has appeared in performances with Les Arts Florissants, Philharmonia Baroque, Early Music New York, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Piffaro: The Renaissance Band, Ars Lyrica, Opera Lafayette, the Folger Consort, Repast Baroque, the Sebastians, Academy of Sacred Drama, ARTEK, and NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street amongst others. Hailed for his “flair and sensitivity” in accompaniment (Opera News), Arash has accompanied operas at the Wiener Staatsoper, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Kennedy Center in Washington and Brooklyn Academy of Music and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York, Philharmonie de Paris, Teatro Real in Madrid, and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Arash has been a prize winner at several international competitions including Guitare Montréal, and the Great Lakes Guitar Competition.

A graduate of Yale and the Juilliard School, Arash currently serves as Adjunct Faculty for the Early Music program at University of North Texas, College of Music.

Recorder

Victor Eijkhout is a long-time multi-instrumentalist with a history of playing in, and writing for, wind ensembles, jazz and pop bands, choir, and other instrument combinations. Currently he plays recorder in the early music ensemble The Austin Troubadours, and bass guitar in the 1001 Nights Orchestra. In addition to performing, he composes music for the recorder, writing both faux-Renaissance pieces and more intuitive pantonal pieces. His “Quo Vadis?” was the official 2023 “Play the Recorder Month” composition of the American Recorder Society.

Percussion

Jordan Walsh is a percussionist, audio engineer, and educator based in Austin, Texas. A proponent of electronics and theater in music, he strives to perform the most absurd music with the most genuine fervor. Jordan frequently commissions and performs new works in both chamber and solo settings. He is principal percussionist/personnel manager for the Density512 new music collective, a member of minimalist improvisation group Goliath Was Bigfoot, and is one half of the live-only-nonbroadcast-pirate-radio phenomenon Peach Blossom Highway. Jordan formed the Electronic Integration Project, a dual commissioning and pedagogical effort intended to teach electroacoustic performance practice. When he is not engaged with contemporary classical music, Jordan can be found playing drums with singer-songwriter James Tabata and prepared guitar with Austin’s experimental folk band Middle Sattre. Jordan holds both doctorate and master’s degrees from UT Austin.

Chamber Organ

Benjamin Dia graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, major in piano, at the University of the Philippines College of Music. He performed at the Philippine premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. He also performed at the 1997 Asian Composers’ League Festival in Manila, performing with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players world premieres of new chamber music by Asian composers and was a regular guest musician of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra for more than ten years.

As soloist and collaborative artist, he has performed in the United States and Europe, performing in concert halls and festivals such as the Oslo Concert Hall, the United Nation’s Day concerts at the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, the 2000 Autumn Music Festival in Marostica, Italy, and the Aberdeen Youth Festival in Scotland. He was a faculty member of the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music, Asia’s foremost training center for church music and liturgy.

Benjamin made his conducting debut in 2005, leading Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice at the University of the Philippines College of Music. He had been involved in the musical preparation of numerous opera productions in the Philippines as coach and chorus master. He finished his master’s degree at the Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. He made his US conducting debut at the NY premiere of De Leon’s Noli Me Tangere in 2013, performing it the following year at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Currently based in Austin, TX, Benjamin finds himself a frequent collaborator of groups such as Inversion Ensemble, the ZACH Theater Pre-Professional Company, and Panoramic Voices.

Production Manager

Katrina Saporsantos (she/her/hers/siya) enjoys a career as a multifaceted creative that intertwines music, leadership, and innovation. She is an operatic soprano who performs regularly as a soloist, and as part of various ensembles: the local all-female vocal quintet VAMP, the new music choral ensemble Inversion, the voice-trumpet-piano trio Tatsulok, and the piano-voice duo Kapwa with her husband Benjamin Dia. Katrina is the Administrative Director of Inversion and the conductor of its professional soprano-alto ensemble Da Capo, and the Assistant Director of Music at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin. She has directed choruses that run the gamut of experiences and levels in both the US and the Philippines, and is a vocal clinician who frequently gives workshops and masterclasses for both choirs and classical/opera singers alike. In addition to her busy performance and arts management schedule, Katrina maintains her own private studio where she teaches piano, voice, and sight-reading. Off stage, she has worked as a music director, vocal and diction coach, pianist, assistant stage director, assistant production manager, and audio book editor.

Katrina holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of the Philippines College of Music, and a Master of Music degree and Professional Studies certificate from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. She continuously tries to find ways to use her art in innovative and meaningful ways by programming music that uplifts others and shines the light on various issues she feels strongly about. katrinasaporsantos.com

Lighting Designer

Desmond K. Wiley (Lighting Designer) holds an M.F.A. in lighting design from the University of Texas at Austin. Desmond is a non-binary theatre designer, dancer, and choreographer who explores the intersection of dance and design in their creative work. During the academic year, Desmond teaches theatre technology and design at Concordia University Texas. Their notable lighting design credits include the world premier of the new opera Lardo Weeping (LOLA 2022), The Addams Family (Brentwood Christian School 2022), In the Ether (ARCOS Dance 2021), 12 Ophelias (UT Austin 2019), and Good Country (UT Austin New Works Festival 2019). In 2020, Desmond also designed their own M.F.A. thesis performance, in which they performed a twenty-minute solo dance while controlling the lights from the stage.

Sound Engineer

Andy came to Austin to attend UT and just never left. A college internship at a downtown recording studio turned into a full time engineering/producing job for 20 years until he bought the business and relocated it to a house in north Austin. He has been working on commercial records, jingles, audio books, video games, movies, tv shows and live productions for over 25 years.

Stage Manager

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Carlee Abschneider holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Houston Baptist University and an MM in Vocal Performance from Texas A&M University- Commerce. She enjoys working both on and off the stage. As a singer, Carlee was named the 2019 Vocal Division Winner of the New Texas Symphony Orchestra's Community Concerto & Aria competition. Most recently she has performed with Queer Opera and Gilbert & Sullivan Austin. Carlee has also previously performed with Opera San Antonio, ATX Musical Theatre Collective, Music On Site, Inc., Texas State Opera, Spotlight on Opera, Varna International Music Academy, Resonance Opera, TAMUC Opera Ensemble, and HBU Opera Workshop. She especially enjoys comedic roles and some of her favorite shows to perform in were Gianni Schicci and Gallantry. Off stage, Carlee has worked as a stage director, music director, and stage manager. She previously served as an AM for LOLA's world premiere of Lardo Weeping. She is excited to stage manage Adelina the Jester

Made in Austin, Texas