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The ASU School of Music has appointed Brian DeMaris to the position of associate professor and artistic director of Lyric Opera Theatre, beginning in August 2015.
According to Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music, DeMaris will be the main conductor of the Lyric Opera Theatre and will be responsible for the five fully-staged and costumed opera and musical theatre productions that are presented by the program each year. DeMaris will serve as a teacher and mentor for aspiring opera and music theatre students and graduate conducting students, recruit students from all over the world, teach opera repertoire, conduct coaching and seminars and use his leadership qualities to further the mission of the School of Music.
“We are thrilled to welcome Brian DeMaris as the artistic director of our Lyric Opera Theatre Program,” says Landes. “He is uniquely skilled in both opera and musical theatre, brings a wealth of knowledge and energy, a rising international reputation and excellent musicianship, and a passion for students and their success.”
“I’m inspired by the School of Music’s mission ‘to inspire and empower students to become creative leaders who transform society through music,’” says DeMaris. “I plan to keep this in mind through this important time of transition and thereafter.”
DeMaris comes to the ASU School of Music from Ithaca College in New York, where he has served as the director of opera and musical theatre since 2008. He also currently serves as the music director of the Mill City Summer Opera in Minneapolis and an artist-faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival.
He has big shoes to fill in this new position with Lyric Opera Theatre: He is taking the helm of this influential and highly visible program that was founded in 1964. “I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of two greats in the realm of opera and musical theatre training, William Reber and Kenneth Seipp,” says DeMaris. “I plan to uphold the ASU School of Music value of ‘building upon the traditional foundations’ of what these master teachers and musicians have done to bring the Lyric Opera Theatre to where it is today.”
DeMaris has worked with the New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis and Syracuse Opera, among others. He has appeared at the United Nations, the Aspen Music Festival, Boston’s Jordan Hall, New York’s Studio 54, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Alice Tully Hall, Skirball Center, La Maison Française, and in recitals, competitions and master classes throughout the United States and abroad.
DeMaris has taught at Lawrence University, New England Conservatory School of Continuing Education, George Mason University’s International Opera Alliance and the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv. His students have performed on Broadway, film and television, and with opera companies and at festivals throughout the world.
Although DeMaris’ resume includes an impressive list of performances in national and international venues, he is honored to be selected for this position with the Lyric Opera Theatre here in Tempe. “The reputation of the Lyric Opera Theatre program and its faculty and students has been known to me for some time. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such remarkable people in such a beautiful facility, in a culturally rich city with beautiful weather!”
DeMaris has been awarded second place in The American Prize in Conducting — Opera Division competition, and he has spoken and presented at conferences and master classes including the New York Music Teachers National Association at Ithaca College and the New York State School Music Association all-state conference in Rochester, among others. He has participated as a panelist at events including the Opera Singers Career Workshop at Tri-Cities Opera/Binghamton University, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing, National Opera Association, Opera America joint conference in New York.
DeMaris was born and raised in Lancaster County, Penn., to a musical family. “Though none were professional musicians, music was always in the house. I owe a great deal to my parents for supporting my musical training from a young age,” says DeMaris. He has a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Ithaca College.
DeMaris feels strongly about the importance of the Lyric Opera Theatre program at ASU. “The essence of theatre is communication, and music enables us to communicate on levels that words cannot. I aim to support communication at all levels — amongst the students and faculty, within the institution and throughout the community — about the things that are most important. Why we’re here, why we do what we do, and why what we do is important.”
Amanda DeMaris also joins the School of Music
Brian DeMaris’ appointment to the ASU School of Music comes at the same time as the hire of his wife, Amanda DeMaris, as clinical assistant professor in voice. Amanda DeMaris will use her skills as a successful vocalist to teach voice lessons as well as sightsinging and sightreading for singers.
Originally from the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania, DeMaris received her Doctor of Education in College Teaching, Music from Columbia University in 2012, her Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory in 2004, and her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Ithaca College in 2002.
“I was initially attracted to ASU because of the great reputation of the school, as well as the esteemed, warm and welcoming faculty and staff,” says DeMaris. In her new position, DeMaris says she is most looking forward to getting to know and working with the students.
DeMaris has taught at Cornell University as a visiting lecturer, Ithaca College as a lecturer and assistant professor, and at Columbia University and the New England Conservatory as a teaching assistant. She has also instructed at various community schools in New York and Massachusetts.
She has presented at conferences including the Voice Foundation in Pennsylvania, MENC Collegiate at Long Island University in New York and the International Society of Music Education World Conference in Italy. Her performances range from soprano solos in Handel’s “Messiah” and Mozart’s “Vesperae,” to “Selected Songs of Samuel Barber” and a selection of cantatas by Bach. Her work has been published in the Journal of Singing, and she is a member of The New York Singing Teachers Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Pi Kappa Lambda.
“We are extremely fortunate to have attracted Amanda DeMaris to the ASU School of Music faculty. Her understanding of vocal pedagogy and the ways in which musicians make sense of the theoretical aspects of music will greatly benefit our students,” says Landes.
The School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University is ranked 19th in the country and eighth among public institutions by U.S. News & World Report. More than 100 music faculty artists and scholars work with approximately 750 music majors each year in research, performance and scholarly activities. It presents approximately 700 concerts and recitals each year. To learn more about the ASU School of Music, visit music.asu.edu.