Soprano Roberta A. Laws hails from Brooklyn, New York and earned both her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Vocal Performance from the Boston Conservatory of Music. She has graced audiences worldwide on both the opera and concert stages of San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Portland Opera, Opera Carolina, Opera Grand Rapids, The Kennedy Center and the Den Norske Opera House in Oslo where she portrayed the role of Bess in Porgy &Bess for the King and Queen of Norway as well as George Gershwin’s “Bess” Dame Anne Brown. She has also given command performances of this role for President Nelson Mandela and the Prince of Wales. Her charismatic performances with the Houston Grand Opera earned her a nomination for the N.A.A.C.P. Award for Best Actress and an invitation as Artist in Residence with the Houston Grand Opera Education Program.
Her operatic roles include Puccini’s Angelica in Suor Angelica, Giorgetta in Il Tabarro, Musetta and Mimi in La Boheme, Butterfly in Madame Butterfly, Liu in Turandot; Iris and Suzel in Mascagni’s Iris and L’amico Fritz; Adriana in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur; Margherita in Boito’s Mefistofele; Mme. Lidoine in Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmelites; Fiordiligi and Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and Don Giovanni and her debut role with the Kennedy Center as the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors.
Internationally she has sung in the houses of Mexico, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, South Africa and South America. In 1997, she was one of three Americans to receive an invitation to perform at the gala opening of Moscow’s Novoya Opera House.
Ms. Laws’ concert career includes appearances with the Philadelphia and Cincinnati Pops as well as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Naples and Rochester Philharmonic, and the Detroit, Alabama, Pacific, Savannah, Virginia, Indianapolis, Winnipeg and Charleston Symphonies.
She has sung under the baton of such notable conductors as Maestros Willie Waters, John De Main, David Stahl, Carlos Miquel Prieto, JoAnn Falletta, Peter Nero, Eric Kunzel, Keith Lockhart & Metropolitan Opera icon Placido Domingo conducting Carmen Jones with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Early in her career, Ms. Laws was a 1st place winner in Metropolitan Opera New England Regional Competition and a finalist in both the Metropolitan Opera National Finals and Luciano Pavarotti Competitions.
Discovering her love for choral music, Ms. Laws’ choral conducting career began in 1985 with various church, community and ecumenical choirs in the New York City area. She has been coached and mentored in this discipline by such notable conductors as John Motley (All City Concert Choir, New York), Dr. Nathan Carter (Morgan State University & Dr. Walter Turnbull (Boys Choir of Harlem). She was also a participant in Carnegie’s Hall Robert Shaw Choral Workshop (1990).
In 2014, Ms. Laws joined the voice faculty of North Carolina Central University where she presently serves as Voice Instructor and Director of the University Choir. She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity, NANM (National Association of Negro Musicians, Carol Brice Branch), NOA (National Opera Association) and NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing). In 2016 she was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award by the North Carolina Central University Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Cox is from Detroit, Michigan and is a graduate of Hampton University, where he was a member of the Baritone section (E.U.), and served as graduate assistant to previous Directors Barney E. Smart and Alfred L. Davis, Jr. He received the Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Teaching from Hampton University. Mr. Cox previously taught at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, VA where he arranged music and wrote drills for the Marching Band, directed the Orchestra, and directed the Jazz Ensemble. Mr. Cox is a member of the Pi Beta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha, Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. and serves as one of the faculty advisors.
Dr. Adolph E. Wright is Director of University Bands at Bowie State University. He served as President of the Intercollegiate Music Association from 2013-2015 As an alumnus of BSU, he takes great pleasure in directing the renowned “Symphony Of Soul” Marching/Pep Band, Concert Band, University Jazz Ensemble and “Symphony Of Soul” Orchestra (SOSO), in addition to teaching music and applied performance classes. His students benefit greatly from his expertise in the composition and arrangement of band and orchestral music, he has also contributed greatly to the youth educational programs of the District of Columbia Public School System, where he taught elementary, junior high and high school music students for over fifteen years. Dr. Wright dedicates eight weeks of each summer to introducing young artist to the fundamentals of music (concert, jazz, orchestra and musical theatre) and basic marching band techniques. He also coordinates an annual Brass, Woodwinds and Percussion Clinic held in the spring of each year, which is open to students on the junior high, senior high, collegiate and professional levels. Dr. Wright has served annually as an adjudicator for both concert and jazz band festivals since 1988.
Dr. Wright was a featured artist of the Chesapeake Orchestra’s 2017 River Concert Series. The concert was titled “In the Beginning…Bach! Baroque Masterpieces and a Jazzy-Baroque Fusion Finish” which also featured Jeffery Silberschlag, trumpet; Victor Dvoskin, double bass; and Susannah Margaret, narrator. Dr. Wright was commissioned by the Chesapeake Orchestra to arrange versions of “My Funny Valentine”, “A Night in Tunisia”, and “God Bless the Child” for Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra with vocals, which was featured during the Summer River Concert series. Dr. Wright’s octet fusion group “Multiplicity” was premiered during a 2017 outdoor concert with an attending audience of 2,500 or more, in which the group performed repertoire such as Mr. J.J. by Jeff “Tain” Watts, Hey What You Deal’n With by Wycliffe Gordan as well as Black Codes From the Underground and Oh But On That Third Day by Wynton Marsalis. Additionally, Dr. Wright had the pleasure of performing with Oscar winning, Emmy-winning, and Grammy Nominated Maureen McGovern, best known for “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure and “Can You Read My Mind” from the Superman soundtrack as well as Grammy Award winning jazz vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur along with the Clarence Knight Jazz Orchestra.
An outstanding musician, Dr. Wright has performed on tours in Austria, Barbados, Columbia, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Italy, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, U.S. Virgin Islands and major U.S. cities. His talent as a percussionist is his greatest musical asset as he is well versed in a multitude of percussion instruments and skilled in idioms of music ranging from Orchestral, Contemporary and Ethnic to Cultural, Jazz and Rock. Among his numerous professional engagements and recording projects, Dr. Wright has performed with countless national and international entertainers and organizations including: Kathleen Battle, Chuck Berry, David Benoit, Tom Brown, Cecil Bridgewater, Gene Chandler, ray Charles, The Chesapeake Orchestra, The Coasters, Bo Diddley, Tim Eyerman, Jon Faddis, Shawn Fleming, Aretha Franklin, Guy, Lionel Hampton, Milt Hinton, Freddie Jackson, Jennifer Holiday, Al Jarreau, Maurice Hines, Gladys Knight, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marilyn McCoo, Melissa Manchester, Melba Moore, Sam Moore, The National Symphony Orchestra, Pine Top Perkins, Lou Rawls, Wallace Roney, Ester Satterfield, Diane Schuur, Marlena Shaw, Percy Sledge, Sister Sledge, Kirk Stewart, Angie Stone, Donna Summers, Kevin Toney, Dionne Warwick, Bruce Willis and many others. His performance credits also include the Broadway musicals “The “Wiz”, “God Spell”, “When Hell Freezes I’ll Skate”, “Behive”, “Raisin”, “Harlem Suite” and “Black Nativity”.
The BSU Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Wright has performed on the same stage with India Irie at the Strathmore Theatre and Ray Charles at Pier One in Baltimore, MD. The BSUJE performs annually at Blues Alley and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. respectively as well as are a featured ensemble at the Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival. The BSU Jazz Ensemble has enjoyed exciting workshops with internationally renowned musicians Bob Mintzer, Ernie Watts and Sean Jones during the Annual Big Band Jam in Washington, DC. The ensemble performed during the opening for the Mayor’s proclamation, that April 24th will henceforth be Andrew White Day in the District of Columbia. The event concluded with a performance critique by John Jenson of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and Steve Lipman, one of the country’s leading experts on contemporary music education. The BSU Jazz Ensemble was one of two big bands that performed during the Ella Fitzgerald 100th Anniversary on International Jazz Day in Washington, DC. The group also recorded Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” with two time “Grammy” award winner Raymond Reeder on the University Gospel Choir’s CD entitled “Magnify the Lord”.
Timothy Holley is an alumnus of Baldwin Wallace University and The University of Michigan, where he studied with Regina Mushabac, Jerome Jelinek, Jeffrey Solow and Erling Bløndal Bengtsson. He has collaborated with the Mallarmé Chamber Players and the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra since 1997.
His doctoral dissertation focused on the cello music of African American composers, and his activities have continued in the study and performance of African American concert music. He has given world premiere performances of works by T. J. Anderson (Spirit Songs, commissioned by Yo-Yo Ma), William Banfield (Soul Gone Home for soprano and chamber ensemble with Nneena Freelon), and Trevor Weston (Life Goes for soprano and chamber ensemble with Louise Toppin), and Adolphus Hailstork (Theme and Variations for solo cello, and most recently the Sonata for Cello). He performed Valerie Capers Song of the Seasons for soprano, cello and piano with Louise Toppin in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York (2001). He can also be heard as an assisting artist on commercial recordings with Nneena Freelon (Homefree), Oral Moses (Songs of America), and with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra (American Spectrum).
He has participated in recent Gateways Music Festivals in Rochester, New York (2011, 2013), the VIDEMUS@25 Festival at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2012), and with VIDEMUS co-hosted A Symposium of Celebration, on the 100th birthday of Margaret Bonds at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC Central University in March 2013. He also participated in the inaugural Colour of Music Festival of Black Classical Musicians in October 2013 (Charleston, SC).
Dr. Holley has lectured on the diversity of African-American concert music, including Ludwig van Beethoven, George Bridgetower and the Kreutzer Sonata, the influence of the Negro spiritual on the cello music of African-American composers, and the poetry of Langston Hughes and its influence on the music of Howard Swanson. He has made cello transcriptions of works by William Grant Still, and contributed encyclopedia entries on the Negro String Quartet and the Symphony of the New World. He is an Associate Professor of Music at North Carolina Central University.
The Music of African-American composers; Jazz; The Aesthetics of Music Appreciation; Jazz and String Playing; African-American History; Poetry; Afro-American Music History; the Cello and Chamber Music of African American Composers; Orchestral and Chamber Music Performance, History & Appreciation.
DMA University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1996
MMU University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1984
BMU Baldwin-Wallace College 1982