2023 Houston Conference: January 4-7
“Our Future Together”
NOA's 68th Annual National Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria, January 4-7, 2023.
All are invited to Houston for NOA’s gathering of singing, scenes, and sessions. Enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded educators and performers who are shaping the future of opera together. Students are welcome and encouraged to attend!
See the full conference program book to see all that was offered at the conference!
Wednesday Pre-Conference Mixer (Add-On) - SOLD OUT!
Plan your travel to arrive in time to mingle with friends, old and new, on Wednesday, January 4, from 6-9pm at Houston's famous Ninfa’s Uptown.
Enjoy Texas-sized appetizers with a Tex-Mex flair and the famous house “Ninfarita” on the patio of this Houston restaurant institution.
Touted as the pioneers of Tex-Mex cuisine, Ninfa’s was created by “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo in 1973 after the death of her husband, John, when she started grilling skirt steak and serving it in tortillas from her family’s struggling tortilla factory. Today Ninfa’s reigns as a stalwart of the Houston Tex-Mex scene.
Ninfa’s Uptown is one mile away from the conference hotel, at 1700 Post Oak Boulevard #1-190, and can be accessed by local bus, Houston Metrorail, or car (free garage parking available). Walking distance is approximately 20 minutes.
This event add-on is $35 per person, including two drink tickets, and can be purchased as part of your conference registration. Plan ahead, as space is limited!
2023 Houston Conference Highlights
The conference Keynote Address was given by Khori Dastoor, General Director and CEO of Houston Grand Opera, at the opening luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 5.
Khori Dastoor, General Director and CEO of Houston Grand Opera, is a passionate believer in great art and its power to transform society. She has dedicated her life to supporting artistic excellence through initiatives surrounding innovation, accessibility, diversity, talent incubation, and fundraising. She joined HGO in 2021 from Opera San José, where she served as General Director during a tenure marked by rapid growth of the company’s audience and patron base, unprecedented financial stability, and innovations including a new digital media studio. Dastoor’s belief that every member of Houston’s diverse international community deserves access to great art and culture has defined her core priorities for HGO. These include presenting world-class productions and original new works grounded in Houston; cultivating the talents of promising emerging artists from across the globe; and increasing diversity on the stage, in the audience, and within the organization. Dastoor brings to her vision for HGO a multifaceted perspective that draws on her expertise in arts administration as well as her experience on the artist side as a lyric soprano who performed internationally, and on the funding side as a former member of foundation leadership for the Packard Humanities Institute. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Opera America, where she is the Co-Chair of the Learning and Leadership Council and a founding member and mentor for the?Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color. She assists with industry efforts to identify young talent as a judge for the Richard Tucker Awards and the Metropolitan Opera’s Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition. Dastoor holds a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree from UCLA. She and her husband are the proud parents of two young daughters.
NOA Lifetime Achievement Award
John DeMain received NOA's highest award, a Lifetime Achievement Award, at the closing banquet on Saturday, Jan. 7.
In his 29th season as music director of the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO), Grammy and Tony Award-winning conductor John DeMain is noted for his dynamic performances on concert and opera stages throughout the world. American composer Jake Heggie assessed the conductor’s broad appeal, saying, “There’s no one like John DeMain. In my opinion, he’s one of the top conductors in the world.”
During his nearly three decades in Madison as the MSO music director, DeMain has consistently raised the quality of the orchestra by introducing blind auditions and continuously expanding the repertoire to encompass ever more challenging and virtuosic works, including the highly-acclaimed performances of the complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler. DeMain also oversaw the move into the world-class Overture Hall and expanded the subscription season to triple performances.
His active conducting schedule has taken him to the stages of the National Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the symphonies of Seattle, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Columbus, Houston, San Antonio, Long Beach, and Jacksonville, along with the Pacific Symphony, Boston Pops, Aspen Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of Seville, the Leipzig MDR Sinfonieorchester, and Mexico’s Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.
Prior engagements include visiting San Francisco Opera as guest conductor for General Director David Gockley’s farewell gala, Northwestern University to conduct Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, and the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center in D.C. to conduct Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars. In 2019, he conducted the world premiere of Tazewell Thompson’s Blue at the Glimmerglass Festival to critical acclaim — he “drew a vibrant performance from an orchestra of nearly 50 players; the cast was superb.” (The New York Times) He was also planning to conduct the premiere of Blue at the Washington National Opera in March 2020.
DeMain also serves as artistic director for Madison Opera and in their 2022–2023 season conducts Salome, Trouble in Tahiti, and The Marriage of Figaro. He has been a regular guest conductor with Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center and has made appearances at the Teatre Liceu in Barcelona, New York City Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Virginia Opera, among others.
During his distinguished 17-year tenure with Houston Grand Opera, DeMain led a history-making production of Porgy and Bess, winning a Grammy Award, Tony Award, and France’s Grand Prix du Disque for the RCA recording. In spring 2014, the San Francisco Opera released an HD DVD of their most recent production of Porgy and Bess, conducted by John DeMain.
DeMain began his career as a pianist and conductor in his native Youngstown, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The Juilliard School and made a highly-acclaimed debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. DeMain was the second recipient of the Julius Rudel Award at New York City Opera and one of the first six conductors to receive the Exxon/National Endowment for the Arts Conductor Fellowship for his work with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. DeMain holds honorary degrees from the University of Nebraska and Edgewood College and he is a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. He resides in Madison and his daughter, Jennifer, is a UW–Madison graduate.
"Lift Every Voice" Legacy Award
Osceola Davis was this year's recipient of the "Lift Every Voice" Legacy Award, given at the closing banquet on Saturday, Jan. 7.
Osceola Davis received two Bachelors from “The University of the Arts.” Her studies continued at “Curtis Institute of Music’s, opera department,” both in Philadelphia, PA., and secured her Master of Arts in Teaching Music Degree at “Lehman College,” CUNY.
Encouraged by her mentor, Sylvia Olden Lee, Ms. Davis traveled to Europe for auditions only to be immediately offered the lead role of Rosina in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich, Germany. In her debut performance, she received a five minute ovation after her second aria. Osceola’s successful European career merited her New York Metropolitan Opera debut as “Queen of the Night” in Marc Chagall’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, thus breaking a racial barrier in that role, with that company, in that house.
Osceola Davis’ performances include “Olympia” in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann; “Gilda” in Verdi’s Rigoletto; and “Zerbinetta” in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, to name a few. She has performed for national presidents and ambassadors, made sacred recordings, had television appearances, and was soloist for The First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts.
Reviews: …vibrant up to the high ‘F’ region, NY Times; …appearance graceful strength, nightingale-like voice, Helsinken Sanomat, Finland, “… voice of unlimited capability,” Suddeutche Zeitung, Germany.
Osceola Davis continues to sing, is a member of NATS, (National Association of Teachers of Singing) is an active member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. (NANM), is president of her local NANM chapter in New York City, The Thomas Music Study Club, (TMSC), and is Adjunct Associate Professor at Lehman College.
Raves from Past Conferences
I found this year's NOA conference the most inspiring of any I have attended. Here I was amongst colleagues who are curious, open to new ideas, and genuinely committed to educating performers. I left feeling excited, motivated, and thrilled to explore new possibilities.
Ann Baltz, educator, director, and pianist
My only regret about attending this amazing conference was the fact I spent much of my time kicking myself in the head for not joining NOA 30 years ago. I missed so much, but; I’m so happy to be part of this wonderful group now. Never too late!!
Bob Breault, University of Utah
Past NOA Conferences