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May 1, 2019

Composer John Musto Celebrated During Recitals and Masterclasses at Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, Hosted at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music

SUNY Potsdam alumna Stephanie Blythe ’92 will return to The Crane School of Music from May 23 to 28 for the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, now in its eighth season.

The Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar was founded by Blythe and former Crane Opera Professor Dr. Carleen Graham, as a venue for emerging singers and pianists to cultivate their artistry through contemporary American art song.

Nine emerging artists, including six singers and three pianists between the ages of 23 and 35, were selected from a competitive international audition for a fellowship to work with Blythe and Music Director Alan Smith. Smith is a noted pianist, vocal coach and composer, who is a member of the faculty at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and the Tanglewood Music Center. Rounding out the team is Executive Director David R. Williams ’87, who is on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music at The New School in New York City.

Alumni of the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar’s Emerging Artist Fellowship Program have gone on to win distinguished competitions and participate in some of the top-tier young artist programs in the country.

Photo of John MustoThis year’s seminar includes a special guest, the highly sought-after contemporary composer John Musto, who will be in residence for part of the week. Musto’s residency will begin with a special interview-recital, titled “An Evening with John Musto,” and will be held on Friday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m., in the Sara M. Snell Music Theater. This benefit concert will be led by Blythe and Smith, and will feature performances by the 2019 fellows.

Tickets for “An Evening with John Musto” are $18 for the general public and $15 for SUNY Potsdam faculty, staff and students. All proceeds will benefit the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar. Contact the Community Performance Series Box Office at (315) 267-2277 or visit to purchase tickets.

Four open masterclasses with Blythe and Smith working with the Fall Island fellows will take place daily beginning on Saturday, May 25, and continuing through Tuesday, May 28. These public masterclasses will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day in Snell Theater, with the exception of Sunday, May 26, when the masterclass will be offered in the Helen H. Hosmer Concert Hall.

Returning this season is a popular lecture-recital led by Crane Professor Dr. Gary Busch. The title of this year’s lecture-recital is “1919: The Great Divide,” which is a centennial tribute to an extraordinary year in American song. This free event will be held on Sunday, May 26 at 3 p.m. in Snell Theater.

A culminating recital featuring the seminar participants will be held on Tuesday, May 28 at 7:30 p.m., also in Snell Theater. These events are free, educational and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

All three recitals and the open masterclasses will stream live on the Crane School of Music YouTube channel at the performance times. To view the livestreams, visit

The 2019 Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar Fellows are:

  • Dominik Belavy, baritone
  • Mary Bonhag, soprano
  • Richard Fu, piano
  • Helen Hassinger, soprano
  • Nathaniel LaNasa, piano
  • Samuel Martin, piano
  • Daniel McGrew, tenor
  • Rachel Schutz, soprano
  • Paulina Swierczek, soprano

For full bios of each of the 2019 fellows, please visit

North Country Public Radio is the media sponsor for the 2019 Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar.

For more information about the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, visit

About The Crane School of Music:

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution. For more information, please visit

For Media Inquiries

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke 315-267-2918

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