Guest Artists & Creative TeaM
Benjamin Smolder, Director/ Conductor; is the Director and Conductor of Miami University Opera Theater and Director of the National Schmidt Vocal Competition. As a performer he has appeared in productions and concerts all over the world. Internationally he has appeared at the Santander Festival, Spoleto Festival, Festival Internacional de Música Pau Casals, Festival de Mao, Teatro Municipal of San Feliú de Guixols, Almudena Cathedral, Teatre Principal de Mao, Festival de Moiá de Valles, Voces Para la Liturgia, Castell de Belver, and El Escorial. He has appeared in principal operatic roles in Prague, Vienna, Cairo and Italy. In this country he has performed as a soloist in concerts at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, for the National Association of Choral Conductors, the Detroit Institute of Arts, with the Cincinnati Symphony and May Festival, Detroit Symphony and Spoleto Festival. He has appeared on numerous recordings including The Tender Land in the role of Grandpa with Albany Records and American Tapestry with the Vocal Arts Ensemble. In his career he has appeared as a soloist for two United States Presidents, the King of Spain and the Sheik of Abu Dhabi. In the summers, he conducts for the Festival of International Opera of the Americas in Brazil. Recently, his conducting of Paul Bunyan by Benjamin Britten received an award from the National Opera Association for Best Collegiate Production.
Steve Schmidt (Guest Pianist) was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and took two years of basic piano lessons in grade school. It was an attraction to guitar, to blues and blues-oriented rock bands that really drew Steve into the pursuit of music. Throughout high school he spent much of his free time playing guitar along with records and jamming with others around the city. Blues led to jazz and he switched to piano the summer after high school to teach himself the elements of jazz. Soon after, Steve began playing in various pop, fusion and jazz bands. In 1979 he toured with Columbia recording artist and guitarist Wilbert Longmire. Later that year he became the house pianist at The Blue Wisp Jazz Club, the city’s leading jazz venue, where he booked soloists who played with The Steve Schmidt Trio each weekend for 13 years. Some of the artists Steve has played with include Eddie Harris, Charlie Rouse, Joe Henderson, Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow, Joe Lovano, Mark Murphy, Johnny Coles and Scott Hamilton. Also in that year Steve became a founding member of the 16-piece Blue Wisp Big Band led by drummer John Von Ohlen. In 1984 Steve was called upon to fill in for an ailing Count Basie for three nights as the Count Basie Orchestra came through town. Since Basie’s death he has been asked to play with the band on numerous occasions. In recent years Steve has received numerous Cammy Awards (sponsored by The Cincinnati Enquirer recognizing outstanding local talent) for The Steve Schmidt Trio and Steve Schmidt Organ Trio (in which he plays the Hammond B-3 organ.) He also has done several tours with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. In 2000 his trio was invited to perform for a week in Kharkiv, Ukraine as part of the Sister Cities Project. Steve has appeared on all of The Blue Wisp Big Band’s recordings ( now on the Seabreeze label), on albums with Bobby Shew, Tim Hagans and Cal Collins, on four Telarc CD’s with The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and on many other Cincinnati artists’ CD’s. He recently released his own trio CD “ Red And Orange”, recorded in New York City with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jeff Ballard. Steve continues to play regularly in the Tri-State area including every Wednesday with the Blue Wisp Big Band at Urban Artifact in Northside and weekends with his trio and guests at the Harth Lounge in downtown Cincinnati. Diversity has always been a key element in Steve’s musical life.
Steven Milloy (Arranger) is an award-winning author who coaches and directs singers in schools, churches, theaters and on concert stages across the Midwestern United States. His musicianship was shaped earlier at fine arts schools in St. Louis and Kansas City with mentors such as Kirby Shaw. He has performed in popular styles in many venues: theme parks, entertaining troops overseas, TV and radio, and singing with the acclaimed a cappella octet, Pieces of 8. Steve received his BA in music from Miami University in 2014 and is currently a graduate assistant at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in choral conducting. Steve has been commissioned to composer or arrange pieces for over a dozen GALA choruses in the US and UK. He has worked at the keyboard and/or podium with choruses and theater troupes in St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. With Dr. Charles Beale he has co-authored the Oxford University Press book Popular Voiceworks, awarded “Best Popular Publication” by the Music Industries Association of the UK in 2008, and is currently working on Popular Voiceworks 2 to be released soon. Steve was recently appointed as the conductor of the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus.
Jay Goodlett (Choreographer) Born at Dayton’s Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Jay Goodlett attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Cincinnati for nine years majoring in dance, drama, and musical theatre. By the age of 18, Jay joined the Cincinnati Ballet and rose quickly to the rank of Senior Soloist by 2002. Jay enjoyed 17 seasons with Cincinnati Ballet retiring in 2008. In 1991, Jay began his choreographic career. Since then he has choreographed for the Cincinnati Ballet, The Saint Louis Opera and the Cincinnati Opera. He has choreographed and directed for numerous high schools and community theater groups as well as Purdue University, William Peace University and Miami (Ohio) University. He is currently adjunct faculty at Northern Kentucky University and teaches at the International Cecchetti Council of America. Jay is currently the Director of Education and Outreach for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. He has directed TCT’s Mainstage productions of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Snow Queen. Jay and his wife Jenny (former CBC dancer) are blessed to have three wonderful children Megan, Nathan and Amelia.
Rob Holland (Lighting Design) is a Lighting Designer and Rigging Systems Designer who is passionate about live events. He began his career in 1996 after four years of theatre training at Otterbein University. Rob spent his early years in theatre and dance, then found his way into lighting concerts and corporate events. Holding all three certifications offered by the Entertainment Technician Certification Program, he is one of a very small contingent of industry professionals currently holding the Entertainment Electrician, Arena Rigger and Theater Rigger certifications. As Lighting Designer, Rob’s creative approach is influenced by his experience in theater, dance, opera and live music.
Tiffany Lusht (Assistant Staging Director) is a production professional who has worked in almost every area of theatre production. She has performed in front of, on and behind the stage as a producer, director, choreographer, actor and dancer, and has designed sets, lighting and costumes. She started a small non-profit theatre company in NYC before relocating to Cincinnati. Tiffany is a founding partner of the Cincinnati-based audio, video and event production company, Mind Ignition, and works as a freelance designer on the side. This production is Tiffany’s sixth collaboration with Miami Opera. Most recently, she co-directed Street Scene by Kurt Weill with Benjamin Smolder and directed last season’s production of A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim.
Amanda Horne (Stage & Production Manager) has a BA in Sociology and Criminology Amanda is currently finishing her masters in Gerontological Studies, focusing on trauma and aging. She studies and works with veterans and non-traditional art therapy such as life-story theatre and narrative as a means of expression and social support to reintegrate them into civilian life; she has worked with Armed Services Arts Partnership in Washington D.C. She has also worked with at-risk youth using theatre as a means of expression and social support. Amanda has won multiple awards for community outreach as well as stage management including the Miami Opera Award and 2014 Woman of Excellence. Also doing professional freelance work in Cincinnati, this is Amanda’s sixth season with Miami Opera and twenty-second professional show.
Brooke Losey (Assistant Stage Manager) Brooke graduated from Miami in 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in French. She has a book review for Rocket Girls published in the literary magazine Rain Taxi and an album review for CHANGE by Adam Bendy. She has assistant stage managed with the MU Opera Program for A Swingin' Holiday, Cosi Fan Tutte, The Martian Chronicles, Street Scene, and A Little Night Music. Love Letters to Ella is her sixth production with Miami Opera Program.
CREATIVE TEAM CONTINUED
Alex Lusht, Technical Director and Sound Design by MindIgnition
Jennifer Barton, Marketing
Jessica Dussing, Poster Graphic Design
*Additional Musical Arrangements by Steven Milloy, Danny Manning and Benjamin Smolder
The Big Band
Steve Schmidt, piano
Julia Higgins, bass
Matthew Mac Manus