MIRA J. SPEKTOR composer

Composer Mira J. Spektor was born in Europe, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, and then studied at Mannes and Juilliard.  In 1975, she founded the acclaimed Aviva Players, dedicated to presenting the rich repertoire of chamber music and songs by women composers from the 12th to 21st Centuries. The New York Times called her “An interesting composer” and “attractive and tonal,” with music described as “A passionate duet” and “A sprightly songfest.”


Spektor’s compositions include chamber opera Villa Diodati (about Mary Shelley, with lyrics by Colette Inez, Byron, Spektor, and Shelley); folk-opera Giovanni The Fearless (with a libretto by Carolyn Balducci); chamber opera Lady of the Castle based on Lea Goldberg’s Israeli play about the hidden children of the Holocaust; chamber opera The Passion of Lizzie Borden (on poems by Ruth Whitman); and the feminist off-broadway musical The Housewives’ Cantata (with lyrics by June Siegel). Film scores include DOUBLE EDGE with Faye Dunaway and music for the PBS-TV documentaries ART IN ITS SOUL and SERIOUS COMICS, as well as the new opera-film VILLA DIODATI from Bank Street Films, released by Albany Records and available on PBS ALLARTS. She released an album of her music, Summer & Winter Songs, on Navona Records in 2019.


Spektor has written many English, French, and German songs heard in the United States, Europe, and Israel, and she has recorded on Westminster, Concert Hall Records, Guilde Internationale du Disque, Original Cast Records, Capstone, and AirPlay. Her memberships include BMI, Dramatists Guild, Opera America, League of Professional Theater Women, and NYWC, and she is on the Board of the Musicians’ Club of New York. Her poetry has been published in numerous small presses as well as two collections of her work, From Seaside Houses and The Road to November. Spektor resides in New York City.




photo: Chris Taggart



Sarah Mesko

Praised by The Washington Post for her “consistently beautiful sound,” American mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko is rapidly gaining attention for her “rich mezzo soprano”t voice and musicality. Mesko has performed at opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and the Théâtre de Gennevilliers. On the concert stage, she has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Columbus Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Mercury Baroque.


A passionately personal recital artist, Mesko has created recitals for the Dallas Opera at the Dallas Museum of Art; with tenor Paul Appleby for the George London Foundation at the Morgan Library in New York City; and for Vocal Arts DC, among many others. In 2009, Mesko was a national finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, performing with the Met Orchestra under Patrick Summers. She has won First Prizes in various competitions, including the George London Foundation, the National Society of Arts and Letters, Annapolis Opera, Virginia Opera, Young Texas Artists, Sun Valley Opera, and the Franco-American Vocal Academy. In 2019, Mesko was inducted as a Distinguished Member of Sigma Alpha Iota.


A native of Hot Springs AR, Mesko holds a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Rice University and a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal and flute performance from the University of Arkansas. She lives in Houston TX with her husband and their dog, Samwise.





photo: Dario Acosta




is known across the country as a respected recitalist, coach, and music director and is praised for his sensitive and nuanced accompanying. A passionate champion of art song, Funderburk has served on the faculty of the CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College for the past three years. In addition to his work with the young artists as a Master Coach, he inaugurated the program’s Alumni Recital Series. In performance, Funderburk has made appearances at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and the Kaufman Center’s Merkin Hall, and recently concluded an eight-month tour of the Metropolitan Opera’s Rising Stars Concert Series as pianist and music director. A South Carolina native, Funderburk holds bachelor’s degrees from Lawrence University in music and biology and a master’s degree from The Juilliard School. www.brentfunderburkpiano.com


Michael Laderman is a classical and jazz musician who often plays contemporary music. He recorded the title track for the “Saturday Destroyer” album of indie rock group Tigers & Monkeys, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, and Zinc Bar, and has won numerous competitions. www.fluteperformer.com

Brian Sanders is a versatile performer, participating in concerts and recordings of many diverse styles of music including classical, rock, and jazz. He has recorded on over 200 albums, and performed classical recitals at the Kennedy Center and the White House. Sanders is a founding member of the Solar String Quartet, and the principal cellist and lecturer for the Musica De Camara orchestra.



Stephen Benson is very active on the New York freelance scene. He is comfortable in a variety of musical settings from jazz and classical music to rock, blues, rhythm & blues, and Broadway. His performance and recording experience include working with Natalie Cole, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Phoebe Snow, John Sebastian, Take 6, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, The New York Philharmonic, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He is on the jazz faculty at Montclair State University.



Gabriel Nussbaum is a producer, writer, and director in New York City and cofounder of Bank Street Films. Nussbaum is proud to have executive-produced the live film version of Spektor’s chamber opera VILLA DIODATI, now available on WNET/AllArts.


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