Reviews and articles that appear on this website are contributed by a fine group of freelance writers from a variety of backgrounds, including current and past performers, educators, and journalists and critics who specialize in the arts. We will also reprint reviews of special interest found in regional publications by permission.
Since Performing Arts of New England covers such a large geographic area, we welcome freelance submissions from knowledgeable writers. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information about submitting a review.
Current and Past Contributors
Ellen Nordstrom Baer
Ellen Nordstrom Baer graduated from the University of North Carolina and thereafter continued her studies in voice with Louis Burkot and Sandra Sliker at Dartmouth College. She later served as an intern for two years with the Lake George Opera and received a Lila Wallace Grant awarded to Music School Faculty to pursue studies in speech pathology under mentor Mary McDonald Klimek at the Harvard Medical School. Her other coaches and teachers include John Balme, Steve Steiner, John Wustman, Richard Hughes, Kathleen Arecchi, Stafford Wing, Marajean Marvin, and Peggy Russell. She debuted in Europe in 1995 with the Rome Opera Festival as Orlofsky in "Die Fledermaus." Ms. Baer has also performed lead and comprimaria roles with the Brandenburg Opera, Dartmouth Repertory Players, Echo Valley Arts Opera Series, Granite State Opera, Handel Society, Liederkranz Society of Manhattan, Northern Stage, Opera Burlington, Opera North, Operafest of New Hampshire, Vermont Opera Theater and Woodstock Madrigals. She is a frequent lecturer in northern New England on Vocal Health and on Italian Diction and has been featured as a vocal coach on MTV's "Made" as well as on NECN's "Sports World." Ms. Baer has taught at Classicopia, Colby-Sawyer College, Dartmouth College, Interplay Jazz, Kimball Union Academy, Operafestival di Roma's Opera Academy in collaboration with UVA, Phillips Exeter, Plymouth State, St. Paul's, UNH, and at UVMC. Some of her students have gone on to perform on American Idol, MTV, as well as on Star Search. She currently teaches and chairs the Voice Department at CCMS, works in conjunction with local speech therapy recovery programs, and has most recently begun teaching New England College students through CCMS' new collaboration with NEC in Henniker, NH.
Thomas Healy is a composer whose music has been read and recorded by musical groups such as the Cassatt String Quartet, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Open-End. His primary teachers include Daniel S. Godfrey, Andrew Waggoner, and Malcolm Peyton. In addition, he has studied with Ivan Fedele at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg in France. He graduated cum laude with a BA in Music Composition from Syracuse University in NY, and was the recipient there of the Brian Israel Award in 2008 for outstanding composer. In 2008, he was the winner of the Buffalo (NY) Philharmonic Orchestra Composer’s Forum and his work was read and recorded by that orchestra.
In addition to being a composer, he is an accomplished pianist who studied under Steven Heyman at Syracuse University and has performed and conducted his own and other’s music for recitals and private concerts. He has written extensively on musical topics, including a thesis paper on Elliott Carter’s String Quartet No.4, and specializes in modern and contemporary music. He is currently pursuing his MM in Music Composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston.
Robert Myers recently completed his Master’s degree in flute performance at the New England Conservatory of Music. He is an active freelancer in the Boston area where he maintains a private studio, performing with such ensembles as BMOP, the Massachusetts Philharmonic, and the Dorchester Symphony, among others. He has won awards at the prestigious National Flute Association Young Artist Competition as well as the James Pappoutsakis Memorial Flute Competition.
He formerly studied at Baylor University in Waco, TX, graduating summa cum laude with a BM in Flute Performance in 2006. While at Baylor he won the School of Music’s Concerto Competition and performed Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra with the Baylor Symphony. He also performed with the Waco Symphony and other chamber groups in the Central Texas area. As a participant in the Honors Program at Baylor, Robert wrote a thesis entitled, "The Flute’s Voice: An Evolution of Flute Composition on Three National Fronts," which was excerpted in the Waco Tribune-Herald’s Arts column.
Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom
Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom was the recent past interim editor of Classical Voice of New England, Inc. Bringing the Classical Voice idea back to her native New England from North Carolina where she lived for 34 years and wrote for CVNC, she was one of the founders of CVNewEng.org in 2006, and continues her association as a freelance music critic.
Ms. Nordstrom is the founder of North-South Arts, which represented performing artists throughout the country and abroad. Additional experience in the world of classical music includes Arts columnist for newspapers in both NH & NC; summer organist at St. Martin’s in the Field, Biddeford Pool, ME; part-time or substitute church music director, organist, and accompanist in numerous church choirs in NH, MA, NJ and NC; event organizer of Handel’s Messiah sing-alongs in the Sandhills of NC 1999-2004, that became known as “Handel On Hunger”; Holderness School glee club director, 1966-70; and a member of the Portland Chapter, American Guild of Organists, of which she has been a professional member since 1966. A summer theater critic in NH and ME, she authored "Outdoor Drama", North South Artscope Publications, 1985.
Phyllis Nordstrom is a writer and editor with interests in philosophy, business and the Arts. As Executive Editor of Performing Arts of New England she combines a background in classical piano, flute, and chorus with an interest in music criticism and promotion of artists and the Arts. Ballet is a passion, and Ms. Nordstrom has been involved in the production of numerous ballet performances both on the West Coast and in Paris. Ms. Nordstrom now divides her time between residences in Massachusetts and Maine, and along with editing duties contributes an occasional review to PANE. Ms. Nordstrom is a graduate of Columbia University and MIT.
Emily Parkhurst is a reporter for The Forecaster, a weekly newspaper in Falmouth, Maine. She was the classical music columnist for the Portland alt-weekly, The Phoenix, for three years, and teaches English and journalism at Central Maine Community College. Parkhurst attended the University Of Southern Maine School Of Music where she graduated cum laude with a BM in Clarinet Performance in 2003. She earned a MFA in Writing from Vermont College in 2007. She has covered music and arts beats for several newspapers throughout the state of Maine, and particularly enjoys drawing attention to new compositions and genre-bending works by living artists. Parkhurst has performed with symphonies, pit orchestras and small ensembles from California to Maine, including an appointment with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. However, she currently prefers playing her clarinet with friends for fun, when time allows.
David Perkins (contributor by permission)
David Perkins is a regular classical music and dance critic for The Boston Globe. He teaches journalism at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He began his journalism career as a magazine editor and then became a prizewinning reporter for newspapers in Alabama and North Carolina. He was the book review editor of The News and Observer of Raleigh, NC, for four years, and its classical music critic for a decade. In 1997, he founded Brightleaf: New Writing of the South, a quarterly book review journal of which he was editor and publisher until 2001.
He has written or edited several books, including Raleigh: A Living History of North Carolina's Capital, and Books of Passage: 30 Books That Changed Writers Lives. He has a BA from Yale University and an MA from Cambridge University. He has also taught writing and journalism at Duke and NC State Universities.
As a trained bass-baritone, he performs often as a recitalist, soloist and choral singer; for four years he sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood Festival Chorus. He is artistic director of Chamber Music at Wistariahurst in Holyoke, MA., a series of historically presented salon-style concerts held in the historic mansion's Music Room, that he launched in 2006, including a yearly Schubertiad. He also writes a weekly CD column for The News and Observer.
Eve Rifkah was founding editor of the literary journal Diner and co-founder of Poetry Oasis, Inc., a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets. Two books of poetry are forthcoming in 2010; Dear Suzanne on the life of French artist Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) (Word Tech Communications) and Outcasts, a docu-drama in verse on the Penikese Island Leper Hospital 1905-1921 off the coast of Cape Cod, MA (Little Pear Press). Her creative writings have appeared in numerous periodicals in print and online.
She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College and is an adjunct professor of English at Fitchburg State College where she teaches American Literature and a workshop for experienced poets. She has also taught at Worcester State and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and created a writing course for The Women's Center at Abby's House. She resides in Worcester, MA, with her husband, musician Michael Milligan.
Phillip Silver (past contributor)
Phillip Silver is an internationally acclaimed solo and collaborative pianist. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA, where he earned the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Music cum laude. He earned the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Washington for his research into the music of Ignaz Moscheles.
Over the past decade Silver has carried out research on music and musicians caught up in the Holocaust. He has presented his research in the form of lectures and recitals on national and international stages including venues in the UK, Germany and Israel. Phillip also works closely with many Israeli composers and is active in bringing their music to a wider international public. He has written liner notes for CDs, and articles and reviews for journals.
Phillip has recorded several CDs including a recital of German Romantic Lieder with the Israeli soprano Cilla Grossmeyer, and a recording of 20th century Russian piano trios as a member of the UK based Rachmaninov Trio. A world premiere CD of music by an Italian-Jewish victim of the Nazis, Leone Sinigaglia will be released on the Toccata label in early 2009.
Dr. Silver has been on the faculties of Glasgow University, Strathclyde University, and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Scotland. He is currently an Associate Professor of Music at the School of Performing Arts at the University of Maine in Orono.
Patrick Valentino (past contributor)
Composer, conductor, and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Valentino received his MM in composition from New England Conservatory in 2007 and his BM, summa cum laude, from Montclair University in 2005. He has also studied at Moscow Conservatory and was twice a fellow at the Brevard Music Center (NC). Currently working as principal organist and director of music at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Westwood, MA, Patrick also plays trumpet, piano, horn, a number of woodwind instruments, and sings. His compositions have been heard on 3 continents, and he is establishing himself as a guest conductor and coach in America and abroad.
An avid writer on many topics, Patrick has numerous articles and research papers to his credit, on such wide-ranging subjects as the manipulation of ancient Greek poetic forms in Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux and the development of the trumpet during the Romantic Era. After having studied and performed the work of Harry Partch while in college, he was invited in 2005 to address the Moscow Music Festival on American microtonal music.
Patrick is currently writing a great deal of vocal and choral music, seeking publication of some of his prose writings, and compiling a reference book for traveling musicians. His other interests include language, travel, cooking, photography, art, poetry, bicycling, and tea.
Marvin J. Ward (past contributor)
Marvin J. Ward holds a Ph.D. French/English in Medieval Studies (UNC-CH), A former editor of professional newsletters and former officer/board member in various professional and cultural organizations, he is also a singer in choruses, former
announcer for a classical music radio station, former board member of presenter and performer organizations, former classical CD store buyer and salesperson. He co- founded Classical Voice of New England, serving as its President and Founding
Executive editor. Readers, researchers and colleagues will continue to be grateful for the structural and archival material that Marvin J. Ward, Ph. D. has provided upon which future management of the website can build.
Dan Wolfe (past contributor)
Dan Wolfe is a fifth-generation native Californian who came East in 1982 and basically never went back to the Golden State. One reason that he had no wish to return to California was his weekly column of reviews (The Aisle Seat; The Tenth Muse) that he wrote weekly, first in the Shelburne News, where he worked for some 14 years, and in recent years for a chain of small newspapers whose headquarters are in Plattsburgh New York. He also did some reviewing for the Burlington Free Press. Although he has dabbled with instrumental music, he has basically been a singer all his life. Professionally, excluding the Gregg Smith Singers, he has sung with a number of professional and semiprofessional choruses of various sizes both in Southern California and in New England, and he has performed all of the major choral works of the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, including world premiere performance of Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles, his last composition, with the composer present in the audience. With Gregg Smith he toured both Europe and the Eastern half of the United States, giving concerts in Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, several in the Hollywood Bowl, and he joined the singers to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Gregg Smith Singers in Los Angeles. As a consequence of his work with Smith, he co-authored editions of the music of Giovanni Gabrieli for G. Schirmer, several of which have never been out of stock since 1967. Due to a physical impairment, Wolfe considers himself to be an emeritus member of the Oriana Singers and the Vermont Mozart Festival Singers/Gilbert and Sullivan Singers. During the last 15 years in Vermont, he has also worked full time helping learning-disabled students to develop their communications skills, both written and oral.