DARKO BUTORAC, Music Director
Recently praised by the Westdeutsche Zeitung for his "elegance and well-timed pacing", Maestro Darko Butorac is establishing himself as one of the world's most sought-after young conductors. Following his debut with the Belgrade Philharmonic in January of 2011 he was invited to both close the 2011 and open the 2012 concert seasons. In addition to his activities in Belgrade, notable concerts include collaborations with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Neuss and the Georgische Kammerorchester Ingolstadt (Germany), the Rubinstein Philharmonic of Lodz (Poland), the Tallin Sinfonietta (Estonia), and a debut at the celebrated Vienna Konzerthaus with the Slovenian Radio Orchestra in the spring of 2014.
Since taking the baton in 2007, Butorac has propelled the Missoula Symphony Orchestra to a new level of musical achievement, with an expanded repertoire and local premieres of works by established and emerging composers. Butorac and the orchestra have shared the stage with renowned guest artists including Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie, pianists Stewart Goodyear and Antonio Pompa-Baldi, and celebrated actor J.K. Simmons. The Symphony’s growing popularity has ignited ticket sales and established Butorac as a cultural leader in the community.
Within North America, Butorac has been featured as a guest conductor with the Charleston Symphony, the Canton Symphony, the Springfield Symphony, Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers, the Montana Lyric Opera and as the Principal Conductor of the Northwest Mahler Festival in Seattle. In May of 2013 Butorac was hired as the new Music Director of the Tallahassee Symphony in Florida, following a two-year long international search. Highlights of his guest conducting engagements abroad include the Mendoza and Neuquen Symphonies in Argentina, the Xiamen Philharmonic in China, the Slobozhansky Orchestra and the Kharkov Philharmonic in the Ukraine, and annual visits with Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra of Parma as the principal conductor of the Fidenza Opera Festival in Italy.
In 2003, Butorac was awarded a fellowship by David Zinman to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival. Upon his return to the festival in 2004, Butorac was named Assistant Conductor of the Aspen Opera Theater Center and worked with Julius Rudel and Arnold Oestman. He has also worked extensively at the Brevard Music Center, Aspen Music Festival and Indiana University. His principal mentors are David Effron, Jorma Panula, Imre Pallo and David Zinman. For more information on Butorac, please visit www.darkobutorac.com.
DEAN PETERSON, Chorale Director
Dean Peterson has served as Director of the Missoula Symphony Chorale since 2006. In 2011, he retired from his position as Director of Choirs at Hellgate High School, where he taught for 25 years. He served as interim Director of Choirs at the University of Montana for the 2011–2012 academic year, and has served three years as conductor of the Missoula Mendelssohn Club. He currently works with the College Music Society as Coordinator of Community Outreach and Careers.
Dean received his Bachelor degrees in Music Education and Piano Performance from the University of Montana, and his Masters degree in Music Education with Kodaly emphasis from Holy Names College in Oakland, CA. In 1987 he co-founded the Missoula Youth Choir and co-directed the group in all eight of their performances in the Missoula International Choral Festival.
In 1992 he was selected to sing in the Robert Shaw Choral Workshop and Performance of the Beethoven Missa Solemnis in Carnegie Hall. In 1997 he received a $25,000 National Milken Educator of the Year Award, and in 2004 his Hellgate Chevaliers were selected to perform at the Northwest Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Boise, Idaho.
Dean was recognized by the National Federation of High Schools as the 2010-2011 Outstanding Music Educator for Montana and the Northwest region. In March 2011, he was named Missoula Arts Educator of the Year by the Missoula Cultural Council and he received the 2011 Distinguished Service Award for the Montana Music Educators Association. In March 2014, Dean was honored by the University of Montana in the annual Odyssey of the Stars. He is a member and past president of the Montana Choral Directors Association, a member of the Montana Music Educators Association, a member of the Board of Directors for the Missoula International Choral Festival. He and his wife, Dorothy have been very active musically in Missoula for over 30 years and are the proud parents of two children: Ross and Elin.
CHRISTINA PIER, soprano
American soprano Christina Pier has been hailed by Opera News for her “big, gleaming soprano and impressive coloratura,” and has received great critical and audience acclaim for her work on opera and concert stages. Engagements in the 2015-16 season included Senta in Der fliegende Holländer with Virginia Opera, Poulenc’s Gloria and Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard with the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra, Brahms' Ein Deutches Requiem with the Missoula Symphony Orchestra, and Fauré’s Requiem with the Charlotte Symphony.
A 2003 Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Pier's opera engagements include the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos with Virginia Opera; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Opera, Nashville Opera, and Eugene Opera; Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Florida Grand Opera; the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with Minnesota Opera; Marguerite in Faust with Eugene Opera and Florida Grand Opera; and Micaëla with the Princeton Festival and Florida Grand Opera.
On the concert platform, her recent appearances include Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the North Carolina Symphony and Rochester Symphony; Handel’s Messiah with the Indianapolis and Winston-Salem Symphonies; Verdi’s Requiem with the Charlottesville Symphony; Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Colorado Symphony; Mozart’s Requiem with the Charlotte Symphony and Eugene Symphony; Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang and selections from Beethoven’s Leonore with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Mozart’s Great Mass in C-minor with the Alabama Symphony; and Ravel’s Shéhérazade with the Hartford Symphony. She has also performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Roberto Abbado, recitals under the auspices of the George London Foundation, and concerts with the World Youth Orchestra in Italy and at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York. She appears as a soloist on a recording of Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, with David Hill and the BBC Singers on the Naxos label.
Ms. Pier is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the George London Foundation Award, Sullivan Musical Foundation Award, two Charles A. Lynam Awards, and two Palm Beach Opera Competition Awards. Originally from Flagstaff, AZ, Ms. Pier received a BM and MM in voice at Indiana University where she studied with Virginia Zeani. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Catawba College, and a Guest Lecturer at University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
KIMBERLY GRATLAND JAMES, mezzo soprano
Kimberly Gratland James, Mezzo-Soprano, enjoys an active performance career in opera, concert, and recital venues. Ms. James’ tone has been described as “well-rounded,” “deep, rich,” and “resonant.” Her performances have been noted for vocal strength, nuance, musicality, and convincing dramatic portrayals. She made her Lincoln Center debut in 2003 in John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with John Adams conducting the London Sinfonietta and previously performed the piece with the New World Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Recent concert performances include: Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Helena Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem with the Missoula Symphony Orchestra, Texas University Chorale and Orchestra at Ft. Worth’s Bass Hall, and with the Corpus Christi Symphony, and both the Mozart & Duruflé Requiems with the Glacier Symphony.
Ms. James is equally at home on the operatic stage. She has performed with Chautauqua Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, New Orleans Opera, Montana Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland, and other companies across North America. Additionally, she covered the role of Varvara in Kátya Kabanová at Santa Fe Opera which featured Patricia Racette in the title role and the leading mezzo roles of Carmen and Gertrude (Hamlet) for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Her performance roles have included the title role of Carmen, Jo from Little Women (both the international premiere and university premiere), Erika from Vanessa, Ein Page from Salome, Hansel, and Elizabeth Proctor from The Crucible among others.
Ms. James holds advanced music degrees from Rice University and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. She resides in gorgeous Missoula, Montana with her family.
DAVID CODY, tenor
American tenor and music pedagogue, David Cody, holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Truman State University and masters and doctorate degrees in Vocal Performance from the Indiana University School of Music, where he performed extensively with its noted opera theater. He was also a member of the Indiana University Pro Arte Singers with the Early Music Institute, directed by Thomas Binkley, and was a soloist for their recording of Dufay’s Missa se la face ay pale (Focus label).
David Cody is active in the opera and concert scene of the intermountain west as a tenor soloist, musical director, stage director, and clinician. He has sung leading and supporting operatic roles with such companies as The Opera Theater of St. Louis, The Ohio Light Opera, Intermountain Opera, Rimrock Opera, Nevada Opera Theater and Montana Lyric Opera. He is a frequent soloist in the region performing with the Helena Symphony, Billings Symphony, Bozeman Symphony, Glacier Orchestra, Great Falls Symphony, and the String Orchestra of the Rockies, as well as the Idaho Baroque Festival. He is also an accomplished recitalist, specializing in German Lieder. In 2010, he completed a three year project performing all of Franz Schubert’s great song cycles, Die schöne Müllerin, Die Winterreise, and Schwanengesang.
At The University of Montana, David Cody teaches voice and lectures in Opera History and Musical Theatre History. He also co-directs the UM Opera Theater, which won the Collegiate Opera Production competition of the National Opera Association in 2006 for its production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. His voice students have gone on to professional careers in opera, musical theatre, and music education. A fervent advocate of young singers, Dr. Cody served as the director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Montana/Idaho/Eastern Washington District. This prestigious annual event awards promising young opera singers with prize money and a chance to sing for the Metropolitan Opera.
SETH KEETON, bass
Bass-baritone Seth Keeton’s performances have been described by The New York Times as “driven” and “emotionally pointed.” He has performed roles on the stages of The Minnesota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Central City Opera, Arizona Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Austin Lyric Opera and Opera Omaha, Chautauqua Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, and Theater Bremen in Bremen, Germany.
A passionate recitalist and oratorio performer, Mr. Keeton has been seen in concert as the bass soloist in Mozart's Requiem, Verdi's Requiem, Bach’s Magnificat and St. Matthew and St. John Passions, Haydn’s Creation, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. In 2006, he was a national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has received awards from the Sullivan Foundation and the Eleanor McCollum Competition. Mr. Keeton received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance from the University of Minnesota and is an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Utah School of Music.