Members | Vox Nova

Members
Current roster of Vox Nova

Biographies

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Lacey Gladden, soprano, just completed her second year of teaching K-12 Music in the Glasgow and New Franklin school districts. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Central Methodist University as well as a Master’s degree in Voice from the University of Kansas. She enjoys teaching private voice, flute, and piano to students in Central Missouri. Lacey has been a featured soloist on several concerts and recitals throughout her career, and has performed many roles with the Opera Theatre at Central Methodist University and the University of Kansas, including Pamina in The Magic Flute, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Patience in Patience, Lucy in The Telephone, Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, Mariane in Tartuffe, Rapunzel in Into the Woods, April in Company, Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro,and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte. She directed Fayette Area Community Theatre’s production of Annie last summer.

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Jared Smith, tenor, is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Music Education. A former elementary music teacher for Columbia Public Schools, he received his Bachelor's in Music Education from the University of Missouri. Outside of Vox Nova, Jared also performs on bass trombone in the Columbia Jazz Orchestra, as well as a sub for the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. He has a private studio, teaching lessons in trombone, guitar, and beginning piano. Jared also performs around Columbia and St. Louis in local bands Saint Gnome and Bocomo Ramble, the last of which performed on a main stage at the Roots n' Blues music festival in 2013.

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Darrell J. Jordan, baritone, has been praised for his “resplendent” stage presence (Chicago Classical Review), his “shining, beautiful voice” (Broadway World), and has been called “the star of the show” (Columbia Heart Beat). He holds a B.A. in both Psychology and Music and a M.M. in Voice Performance from the University of Missouri. He is currently pursuing his D.M.A. in Voice Performance at the University of Washington under the tutelage of Dr. Kari Ragan. Previous instruction has been from Steven Tharp and Ann Harrell. In demand as a recitalist and concert soloist, his recent solo concert engagements have been with Amherst Early Music Festival, the Odyssey Chamber Music Series, Rolla Choral Arts Society, Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri, the Missouri Symphony, the Southside Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Toledo Symphony. Opera credits include Winter Opera Saint Louis, St. Louis Opera Collective, Haymarket Opera Company, Gateway Opera, the Institute for 17th Century Music, the Show-Me Opera, Lawrence Opera Theatre, and the Puget Sound Concert Opera. Additionally, Mr. Jordan is on the Teaching Artist roster for the Seattle Opera. He can be heard as the baritone soloist on the album St. Lawrence Psalter. He is a member and co-founder of the nationally recognized professional vocal chamber ensemble, Vox Nova. His website is: www.darrelljjordan.com

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Hugh Naughtin, baritone, has a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he studied with Patrice Michaels. Since graduating in 2007, Hugh has sung in the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the Grant Park Chorus, and the Chicago-based a cappella ensemble Bella Voce, and currently sings with the Grammy Award winning group, the Kansas City Chorale. Hugh lives in Lawrence, Kansas, where he is involved in several local rock groups and teaches private lessons.

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Jacob Clifford, bass, graduated from the University of Missouri with a Classics degree. During his time at MU, Mr. Clifford was highly involved in several of the choral ensembles, performing with University Singers, Chamber Singers, and was an original member of Mizzou’s male a cappella ensemble, Add 9. He made his opera debut with Show-Me Opera’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, singing the role of Sarastro, and has been a soloist for the Columbia Chorale. Mr. Clifford works in Columbia as a police officer and says it is the coolest thing he has ever done!

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Christine Jarquio Nichols, mezzo-soprano, is an active music educator, singer, conductor, and pianist in Columbia. In addition to her full-time career teaching middle school vocal music, Christine directs and accompanies various ensembles with the Columbia Youth Choirs, as well as maintains a private voice studio. She is a frequent vocal soloist in the mid-Missouri area, having soloed in Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Handel’s Messiah, J. Michael Haydn’s Missa Sancti Hieronymi, Bach’s Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, and Vivaldi’s Magnificat. Among several operatic performances, her most memorable role was singing the sassy Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Christine also enjoys singing in professional choral ensembles Prometheus and Pro-Arte of Saint Louis, as well as being the Artistic Director of Vox Nova. She holds a dual Master of Music in Voice Performance and Choral Conducting, and a Bachelor of Science in Vocal Music Education. Christine and her husband, Jay, have two dogs (Elly and Oliver) and they love the outdoors and going on adventures!

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Christina Casey Ray, mezzo soprano, is "home" in Kansas City, MO where she is currently pursing an Artist Diploma at University of Missouri-Kansas City with Dr. Aidan Soder. She will make her debut with UMKC Opera as Hänsel the fall production of Humperdink's Hänsel und Gretel. Ms. Ray returns to the midwest after living Baton Rouge, LA where she completed a Master of Music with Dr. Lori Bade at Louisiana State University. During her time with LSU Opera, she portrayed several leading roles including Zosha in Part One of Jake Heggie's Out of Darkness, Isabella in l'Italiana in Alegri, The Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd, Katisha in The Mikado, and Béatrice in Béatrice et Bénédict. Ms. Ray has also participated in past summer with programs such as Opera in the Ozarks and Opera Academy of California, where she portrayed title roles in La cenerentola and Il Giasone. She was a recipient of the 2016 Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, in the Little Rock, AR district. Ms. Ray also holds a Bachelor of Music from University of Missouri, where she studied under Ann Harrell. Her website is: www.christinaraymezzo.com

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Jonathan Ray, tenor, is currently a Graduate Assistant at Louisiana State University, where he is pursuing his doctoral degree in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting and studying with Robert Grayson. He holds the MM in Vocal Performance from the UNC-Greensboro and the Bachelors in Vocal/Instrumental Music Education from Arkansas Tech University. Mr. Ray has made appearances with such companies as St. Petersburg Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and Greensboro Opera. His numerous operatic highlights include the principal tenor roles in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, La Traviata, L’italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola, Béatrice et Bénédict, Don Giovanni, Albert Herring, L’elisir d’amore, Die Zauberflöte, Candide, Gianni Schicchi, The Gondoliers, Pirates of Penzance, and Trial by Jury. Additionally, Mr. Ray maintains a private voice studio and teaches undergraduate courses in diction and applied voice at LSU. He also actively appears as a soloist in numerous concerts, recitals, and cabarets.

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McKenzie Miller, soprano/alto, recently began her Masters at LSU where she studies with Dennis Jesse. Her Louisiana performances include Johanna in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Edith in Pirates of Penzance, and the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel. Miller received her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri - Columbia, where she was consistently recognized in state and regional NATS, MMTA, SAI, and NAFTZGER competitions. At MU she performed the title role of Suor Angelica, Geraldine in A Hand of Bridge, and Abigail Williams in The Crucible. Miller has enjoyed appearances as a featured soloist with Louisiana Sinfonietta, Odyssey Chamber Series, C.O.M.P. Festival, the University of Missouri Singers, Missouri Symphony Society, and Exit 28 Chamber orchestra. She can be seen this fall as Anne Truelove in LSU's The Rake's Progress.

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Jeremy Wagner, bass, is a junior in Vocal Performance and Vocal Music Education at the University of Missouri, under the tutelage of Steven Tharp. Last year he performed in his first vocal competition at NATS and took second place. He debuted with the Show-Me Opera Company in 2014 in the scenes program in the role of Don Magnifico from Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Other roles include Amantio di Nicolao in Gianni Schicchi and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro. He also staged and performed “Si tra i Ceppi” from Handel’s Berenice in the spring of 2015. Jeremy is the Musical Director at First Christian Church in Centralia, Missouri. He also holds leadership roles as the President of the Student Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association at the University of Missouri, the President of the Music Student Advisory Council, and the Vice President of University Singers.

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Catherine Sandstedt, soprano, is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal and viola performance. Catherine currently studies voice with Ann Harrell and viola with Leslie Perna. Catherine has performed the roles of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Mary Warren in The Crucible, and Nella in Gianni Schicchi with the Show-Me Opera. Catherine has also debuted the role of Gunloed in the world premiere of The Outlaw. She recently placed 2nd in the Senior Women division at the 2015 National level of NATS. She has also received 1st place in the Junior Women division at the Regional NATS in 2013, as well as 1st place in the Sophomore Women vocal division at the 2012 Missouri State NATS. This past summer, Catherine had the opportunity to perform with the OperaNEO program in San Diego, California, where she performed as Almirena in Handel’s opera, Rinaldo.

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Betsy Jane Bledsoe, Kansas City soprano/alto, graduated from the University of Missouri (BM) and Michigan State University (MM). Studying vocal performance, she performed several operatic roles, including Serpetta in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and was a winner of the 2012 Missouri NATS competition. Veering away from operatic repertoire, Betsy pursues her passion of music through musical theater. Her favorite roles include Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Luisa in The Fantasticks. A very active member of the Kansas City theater scene, she was recently seen in Shawnee Mission’s Theater in the Park as a featured soloist in West Side Story and Rose in The Secret Garden. Her favorite adventure since settling back in KC was to perform the role of Kate Monster in Avenue Q. (Puppeteering is not easy!) When not on stage Betsy works at Children’s Mercy and directs the bell choir at Asbury United Methodist Church.

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Rachel Naughtin, soprano, believes that teaching and performing go hand in hand. Since moving to Lawrence, Kansas, in 2013, Rachel has become an active performer and educator in the area. She currently teaches general music in Topeka while continuing to pursue a performance career and maintain a private voice studio. Rachel is a member of the Te Deum Chamber Choir in Kansas City, and has also performed with the Kansas City Opera Institute and the Kansas City Chorale. In 2013, Rachel completed a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Missouri. There she performed the role of Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. She also appeared in the scenes program as Adele (Die Fledermaus), Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier), and Zerlina (Don Giovanni). She was an active concert soloist in the Columbia area. An active recitalist, Ms. Marschke has performed repertoire spanning five-centuries and welcomes the opportunity to explore new music.

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Robert Battle, alto/baritone, attended Central Visual & Performing Arts High School and graduated from Kirkwood Senior High. Robert received his undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music & Dance, where he sang in a number of choral ensembles, including the Heritage Chorale. Robert is the Artistic Director of the Columbia Public Schools 5th Grade Honors Choir and co-directs the Boonslick Chordbusters Barbershop Chorus. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the Barbershop Harmony Society. Robert has been with the Missouri Fine Arts Academy for 9 years as the artist-in-residence for choral music. He is also certified to teach in New York State and is a fitness trainer for Les Mills BodyJam dance classes. An active voice teacher and advocate for equal arts opportunities in urban areas, Battle spends most of his downtime dancing, gardening, running, cooking, or catching up on short stories mostly written by David Sedaris.​

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Ian Meyer, tenor, comes from Columbia, Missouri. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science at the University of Missouri in Vocal Music Education, where he has studied voice with Mark McCrory, and continues his study under Steven Tharp. He also has studied piano with Dr. Janice Wenger and continues under Dr. Natalia Bolshakova. He is a member of the University Singers and the Show-Me Opera. He has performed the role of Dr. Blind in the Missouri Symphony Orchestra’s production of Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Rinuccio in Show-Me Opera’s production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and the role of Basilio in Show-Me Opera's production of Le Nozze di Figaro. He was also a chorus member in Show-Me Opera’s production of Ward’s The Crucible, and has performed scenes from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Strauss’ Adriadne auf Naxos, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Bastien und Bastienne, Verdi’s Falstaff, and Copland’s The Tender Land. Mr. Meyer has worked as a Worship Leader on staff at Woodcrest Chapel, and as a band clinician at First Assembly Church. He has also taught Piano and Voice at the Columbia Academy of Music and the Community music program. Mr. Meyer enjoys membership of the professional ensemble Vox Nova and has worked with the St. Louis based Early Music Specialists, Pro-Arte. Mr. Meyer also participated in the Idaho International Choral Festival in Pocatello, Idaho and the Small Ensemble Intensive Summer Program as part of the Amherst Early Music Festival in New London, Connecticut.

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Emily Bennett, soprano, has performed a number of leading and supporting roles, including: Morgana (Alcina), Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Miss Pinkerton (The Old Maid and the Thief), Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Adele in (Die Fledermaus), both Dido and Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), and Miss Silverpeal in The Impresario. Ms. Bennett has also had the fortune to sing in the chorus with Michigan Opera Theatre and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Equally interested in concert performances, Ms. Bennett made her professional debut singing the role of Gabriel in Haydn’s The Creation with the Tallahassee Community Chorus under the direction of André Thomas. She has performed as a soloist with other ensembles, including the Missouri Civic Orchestra and Choral Union, the Kalamazoo Bach Festival, the Rackham Symphony Choir of Detroit, and others. Solo roles include the soprano soloist for Bach’s B Minor Mass, St. John’s Passion, and Magnificat, Beethoven’s Mass in C and Choral Fantasia, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, Mozart’s Requiem and Missa brevis in F, and Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light, where she sang one of the “Voices of Joan.” Ms. Bennett holds a Bachelor of Music in performance from the University of Missouri where she studied with Ann Harrell and a Masters of Music in performance at Florida State University where she studied with Stanford Olsen. In the spring of 2016, Ms. Bennett completed her Doctor of Musical Arts while studying with Joyce Castle at the University of Kansas. She currently resides with her husband in Kansas City, where she continues to sing and teach privately.

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Brian Parrish, tenor, serves as director of choirs at Parkway West High School alongside Eric Anthony and also conducts the Chamber Singers at the St. Louis Children’s Choirs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in 2010 from Millikin University and received a master’s degree in choral conducting in 2012 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Brian is an active performer of jazz piano and voice. He holds membership in St. Louis' premier men's vocal band, Vocal Edge, and the early music group, Pro-Arte. In addition to singing, he also beat boxes and arranges for Vocal Edge.

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Jordan Blane Walker, tenor, attended both Evangel University for his degree in music education (BM) and the University of Missouri where he worked on a master’s in choral conducting (MM) with Dr. R. Paul Crabb. An active chorister and director, Mr. Walker has performed with and directed/assistant directed numerous choral ensembles including Vox Nova, Springfield Mid-America Singers, Husky Harmony (3rd-5th grade after-school choir), Columbia Chorale (CAAM), Primo Choir (CAAM), Women’s Chorale (University of Missouri), the church choirs of First Presbyterian Church of Columbia and First Presbyterian Church in Fulton, Battle High School Vocal Arts ensembles Siren Sound and Apollo, and University Singers (UM). Jordan has also performed the title role in The Mikado, Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte, Barnaby Tucker in Hello, Dolly!, and Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, as well as working as stage manager for the spring 2016 Show-Me Opera production of Le Nozze di Figaro under the direction of Christine Seitz. Mr. Walker is currently an elementary music teacher in the Columbia Public School District and looks forward to fostering a culture of choral singing among younger singers as well as nurturing a mindset of critical thinking, self-dependency, competence, and self-efficacy with students living in poverty.