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Faculty Vocal Concert

Concert on March 7

By Chris Hanian
On February 12, 2016

Kirkwood Community College has four musical concerts performed by faculty members through the year. The next concert will be March 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Ballantyne auditorium and it is free for all Kirkwood students with an EagleCard.

This concert will be focusing on musical theatre and opera, with duets from two of Kirkwood’s vocal instructors, Dr. Allison Holmes-Bendixen and Juan Carlos Mendoza. They will be also be accompanied by pianist Shari Rhodes, who was their former instructor in grad school.

The instructors said they want to highlight their skills as professional musicians and use them to inspire and encourage students to follow suit. The upcoming concert will have selections from composers such as Gershwin, Bernstein, Previn, Donizetti, Offenbach, Lehar and Loewe.

Both Holmes-Bendixen and Mendoza have worked extensively as professional musicians and also closely with students who are looking to further their own singing and vocal skills. Holmes-Bendixen is a soprano who has done solo work in opera and concerts across the U.S and Europe. She has degrees from the University of Illinois and Simpson College in Vocal Performance and Music Education.

In 2013, she earned her Ph.D. in Music Literature/Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. Recently, she has performed with ConcertIA in their production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

She said, “The concert is a great opportunity for students to get a taste for opera and theatre.”

She also touched on her teaching experience. “Being a professional and having performing experience helps teach and teaching students helps me further my own performance,” she said. Holmes-Bendixen added she has nothing but respect and passion for the students she teaches, and that she is constantly learning from them, as well.

Juan Carlos Mendoza is a tenor who has done professional work in the Quad Cities. Currently, he is a tenor evangelist with the Iowa City Chamber Choir and also teaches vocal lessons at Knox College. Some of his recent professional work includes Tannhäuser with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Le Nozze di Figaro, in which he worked alongside Holmes- Bendixen. He has also done stage work, such as playing the role of Freddy in My Fair Lady. Mr. Mendoza stated “that you can be a teacher and also follow a professional career, or do work professionally.”

The upcoming concert will be the first time that these two vocal instructors will perform duets together. However, they have worked very closely together in the past, including attending graduate school together. This, they agree, has helped to establish a good working relationship between them.

Allison Holmes-Bendixen, soprano, has been featured as an opera singer and concert soloist in the United States and Europe and has presented research, recitals, and masterclasses throughout the United States. She received her Ph.D. in Music Literature/Vocal Pedagogy from The University of Iowa in 2013, where she won the Ballard-Seashore Fellowship for her dissertation research: The Influence of Whistle Register Phonation in Conditioning the Second Passaggio of the Female Singing Voice. Allison also holds degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education from The University of Illinois and Simpson College. Her research interests include the application of voice science to the teaching studio and the use of whistle register phonation as a training tool for female vocalists. Allison was recently seen in ConcertIA’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro; upcoming projects include a recital of works by contemporary female composers. Her previous performing credits include leading roles in productions of Don Giovanni, The Pirates of Penzance, Candide, Hansel and Gretel, The Tender Land, La Bohème, The Marriage Contract, The Impresario, and The Magic Flute. She is a member of the voice faculties at Kirkwood Community College and Coe College. Allison is a native of Iowa City, and resides in North Liberty with her husband Conrad and their daughter Minerva Louise.

Juan Carlos Mendoza, Tenor, is a native of Muscatine, IA.  Recent performances included chorus for Tannhäuser at Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as Quickening (MacMillan), Harmoniemesse (Haydn), and The Kingdom (Elgar) with the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus.  Stage roles include Freddy in My Fair Lady, Tigranes in the North American premiere of Cavalli’s La Doriclea, Gloster Hemming in The Mother of Us All, and Bill in A Hand of Bridge.  Additional opera chorus work includes Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, The Ghosts of Versailles, and The Great Gatsby at The Aspen Music Festival and School.  Concert highlights include Tenor Soloist in Messiah (Handel), Requiem (Mozart), Magnificat and Mass in g minor (Bach), Seven Last Words of Christ (DuBois), and Uriel in Creation (Haydn).  Mr. Mendoza received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa, and a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School.  In addition to performing, he is a voice instructor at Knox College and Kirkwood Community College.

Shari RhodesAmerican pianist and conductor Shari Rhoads studied accompanying at the University of Southern California with Gwendolyn Koldofsky. She continued her collaborative studies with Dalton Baldwin. She worked as maestra interna and correpetitor at the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona and Theater de la Zarazuela in Madrid. She was Montserrat Caballé’s exclusive accompanist in the 1980s and also worked with Placido Domingo, José Carreras, Alicia Nafé, Ghena Dimitrova, Agnes Baltsa, Luis Lima, Bo Skovfus and Ramon Vargas. Miss Rhoads began her conducting career in Barcleona as assistant to Romano Gandolfi (La Scala), Luis Garcia Navarro (Stuttgart Rundfunk) and was assistant to Generalmusikdirektor Hans Drewanz at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, Germany. She was the second American woman in history to hold the position of Kapellmeister at the Luzernertheater Luzern, Switzerland. Miss Rhoads taught at the Musikhochschule Luzern and the Conservatoire de Lausanne, Switzerland.
She has appeared at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Beethovenhaus, Bonn, Germany concert series, the Schubertiade, Vevey, Switzerland and the International Lucerne Festival. She has appeared in concert for thirty as a chamber musician throughout Europe and the United States. With stage director Georges Delnon (Intendant Hamburg Opera and Schwetzingen, Germany Baroque Festival), she is co-creator of Mozart: Szenische Gestaltung and has mentored young singers in Italy and Switzerland in the art of Mozart style for twenty two years.
Miss Rhoads has recently added musical theater to her repertoire and directed 12 musicals in the last 18 months including Orphan Train, working with Emmy award winner stage director Pat Birch (Grease). She is also artistic director and conductor of ConcertIA, a new musical venture championing Midwest musicians.

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