The Octagon Ensemble Presents "Celebrate Baroque"
October 22, 2023, 2:00pm - St Paul's Cathedral, Ōtepoti Dunedin
with Vesa Matti-Leppänen (violin), Yuka Eguchi (violin), Kemp English (piano), & Sharon McLennan (piano)
A native of Syracuse, New York, mezzo-soprano Tessa Romano is currently tenured Senior Lecturer in Western Classical Voice at the University of Otago in Ōtepoti Dunedin, New Zealand. Tessa holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado Boulder, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor of Arts in Italian and Music from Princeton University. Tessa has studied with Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson, Nikki Li Hartliep, Freda Herseth, Christopher Arneson, Richard Lalli, and Helen Boatwright.
Tessa Romano began their singing career under the auspices of renowned soprano Helen Boatwright in 2002. Having learned and performed many of the late Howard Boatwright’s works early in their career (a student of Paul Hindemith), Romano became an enthusiastic performer of new and contemporary music. In 2012, Romano took on the role of Jenna in Anthony Davis’ premier of Lear on the Second Floor at Princeton University. Romano later premiered the “Song for Judy Feder” by Alan Fletcher, CEO of the Aspen Music Festival, in 2013. In the summer of 2017, Tessa was one of four fellows at the University of Colorado New Opera Workshop program singing new operatic works by four student composers at CU Boulder. Tessa has since premiered over 30 new works, including the first nonbinary cabaret song cycle - Place Them on the Altar by Silen Wellington (with poetry by Tessa Romano).
Past opera credits include Jenna (Lear on the Second Floor, a premier) at Princeton University, Amahl (Amahl and the Night Visitors) with Syracuse Open Hand Theater, Fru Fru (The Merry Widow) with Oswego Opera Theater, Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Drei Knaben (Die Zauberflöte), Jade Boucher (Dead Man Walking) and Tolomeo (Giulio Cesare) with the University of Michigan, Mother Marie (Dialogues des Carmélites) with Eklund Opera CU Boulder, covering Nettie/Aunt Bea (A Wedding) with the Aspen Opera Center, and Dame (Dame, Not Lady) with CU NOW. Tessa also recently attended the New Zealand Opera Voices of Aotearoa 6:24 program, in which they co-composed the new opera Silence Is (premiere TBD).
As a concert performer, Tessa has been a soloist for the Syracuse and Hartford symphonies, the American Handel Society Festival, the Boulder Bach Festival, the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Chorale, and the Dunedin City Choir. Tessa was a finalist in the Classical Singer Summer Competition, and the winner of The Art of Art Song Competition, the Florida Grieg Competition, the Franco-American Vocal Academy’s Grand Concours Prize and the Isidore & Helen Sacks Memorial Prize.
As an avid proponent of music across cultures and communities, Tessa has presented recitals of Norwegian song, songs by Jewish Italian composers of World War II, songs by transgender composers, as well as recitals in which they perform in the Hindustani and Carnatic classical styles in order to challenge the notion of what is labelled "classical". Their research interests include interrogations of colonialism through Western art music (as seen in the Art Song Magazine article "Decolonizing the Art Song Recital" with Dr. Te Oti Rakena), and the effects of testosterone therapy on the transgender singing voice (as seen in the Journal of Singing and their Doctoral Dissertation).
Tessa Romano has worked as a professional choral singer with renowned British ensemble VOCES8 (www.voces8.com) in their USA Choral Scholars program with which Tessa toured the country performing in concert with VOCES8 and VOCES8 co-founder Paul Smith, presenting workshops on the VOCES8 Method, and recording with Minnesota Public Radio. Additionally, Tessa has worked with numerous professional choirs in New York City, including the Trinity Wall Street Choir.
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