Please fill out the application, pay the $10 dollar application fee (no refunds), and then submit your materials to Nancy Maria Balach at Please have your credit card ready as you register (Visa and Mastercard accepted).

The audition materials are as follows:

•Links to video recordings (mp3 links, YouTube videos, Vimeo, etc.) of two arias in two different languages.

**While opera arias are strongly preferred, one selection may be taken from operetta.

Application deadline – December 1st, 2017

Notification of acceptance – December 8th, 2017

Tuition and confirmation of attendance – Dec 15, 2017

The tuition for the Living Music Institute is only $300 and includes housing and some meals.

Limited participation. Full scholarships available.

Please email student director Melanie Culhane at regarding any questions or concerns about the application, application materials, or tuition.



Living Music Resource™ presents the inaugural Living Music Institute on January 18th through January 21st, 2018. This event will take place at the University of Mississippi’s Music Building and participants will stay at the Inn at Ole Miss free of charge. The Living Music Institute will accept no more than 18 singers for this Aria Intensive Workshop Program. Participants will bring 3 performance ready arias and one to two monologues that they will work during the program.

Each participant will receive personal attention from esteemed UM faculty and acclaimed guest artist Kallen Esperian (La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera). Sessions will include master classes, coaching sessions, yoga for performers, acting classes, diction sessions, instruction in movement, and insight on the business of music. All participants will perform on a matinee Aria Performance on Saturday, January 20th. The program will culminate with each singer auditioning for a Live Panel of professionals to receive valuable feedback and the opportunity to win the Aria Award ($300 monetary prize and to be featured on the February 19th, 2018 LOU Symphony Concert in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts). The Living Music Institute is an excellent chance for budding performers to experiment and grow in their artistry.


 2018 Living Music Institute Faculty 

Guest Artist: Kallen Esperian

Kallen Esperian catapulted onto the international opera stage as a winner of the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition in her early twenties, becoming one of the leading sopranos of our time.  She has paired with such opera greats as Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and José Carreras, appearing in the world arenas of New York, Milan, Paris, London, Munich, and Berlin. Esperian has been featured on film in the documentary, Distant Harmony, which highlights her groundbreaking performances in China with Luciano Pavarotti.  She has been performing in the world’s preeminent opera houses for a dozen years and has evolved into a world-renowned Verdi soprano.  A winner of the 1985 Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, she has since performed on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna, Opera de Paris, Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Deutsche Opera and Staatsoper/Berlin, Teatro Comunale, Bologna, San Carlo, Napoli, and the Arena di Verona.  In addition to opera, Ms. Esperian is a wonderful recitalist and concert performer.  She is one of the “Three Sopranos” who have concertized throughout the world.  She has performed with many of the world’s major orchestras and has sung numerous performances of the Verdi Requiem with many of the world’s great conductors including:  Sir Colin Davis, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Robert Shaw, Daniele Gatti, Daniel Oren and David Zinman. While she continues to perform on the great opera stages of the world, Esperian remains true to her origins by making her home in Memphis, Tennessee, close to her mother’s Mississippi beginnings. It is here that a diva is simply called Kallen.


Guest Artist: Gary Beard

Gary Beard made his professional debut at 14, and since then has performed as organ, piano and tenor soloist, conductor and accompanist at some of the world’s music centers, including New York’s Town and Carnegie Halls, The Spoleto Festival USA, the Brevard Center, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Salzburg, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, with numerous orchestras and festivals and under such esteemed conductors as Robert Shaw, James Conlon, C. William Harwood, Thomas Schippers and Michael Stern.  Until recently, he was Artist-in-Residence at Lindenwood Church in Memphis, TN, where he has developed one of the country’s most acclaimed music programs. He is also Music Consultant at Theatre Memphis where he has conducted such musicals as A Little Night Music, Cats, La Cage Aux Folles, My Fair Lady, Sweeney Todd, Curtains, The King and I and has been the recipient of numerous local theatre awards for Best Musical Direction. He continues to perform throughout the country as a part of the trumpet/keyboard duo Anthony and Beard, and recent seasons have included concerts in New York, Illinois, Georgia, New Mexico, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia and Canada, as well as a highly acclaimed debut at Moscow’s Svetlanov Hall in 2008.  His ‘other musical life’ has included chorus preparation for Barry Manilow, an original biographical cabaret show, Life Is a Bench, the one-man theatrical show in 2015, Liberace, and he was a Regional finalist, and later the longtime District Director of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He has recorded 19 albums, and was awarded the Germantown (TN) Arts Alliance’s Arts and Humanities Award “for his vision, dedication and devotion to the highest standards of excellence through his notable and distinguished career in the performing arts.” He is represented by Phil Truckenbrod Concert Artists of Hartford, Connecticut.


Co-Directors: Nancy Maria Balach and Amanda Johnston

Nancy Balach

Nancy Maria Balach is a versatile soprano who has performed and covered leading roles with Florida Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Tulsa Opera. She has extensive operetta experience, performing in more than 26 productions with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players and the Ohio Light Opera. Balach has done extensive concert work with the symphonies of Acadiana (LA), Canton (Ohio), Mississippi, North Carolina, Tupelo (MS), and Tuscaloosa (AL). She has recorded lead roles for Albany Records, Newport Classic, New World Records, VOX Classics and Operetta Archives. She is an advocate of new music, commissioning and premièring works by American and Canadian composers. Balach has achieved recognition with her many research projects, presenting at the national conferences of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, National Opera Association, and the College Music Society. She is currently serving her second term as President of the Mississippi Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Balach, Associate Professor of Music, has been on the music faculty at the University of Mississippi since 2000 and has taught courses in applied voice, pedagogy, diction, vocal methods; as well as freshman seminar for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She created and maintains the Living Music Resource™ (, housed at the University of Mississippi. LMR™ takes a 21st Century approach to music research through interactive and innovative educational experiences with acclaimed artists. Over the past several years, Balach has been a featured artist on Link Up Concerts sponsored by NYC’s Carnegie Hall for over 13,000 Mississippi students. She was selected by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation to be one of 222 Quarterfinalists for the 2015 Music Educator Award from more than 7,000 nominations. She has been an Audience Choice Award winner at the American Traditions Competition in Savannah, Georgia and a Regional Finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Great Lakes Region). Balach received her BFA in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and her MM in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.


Canadian collaborative pianist Amanda Johnston is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Mississippi where she acts as Music Director/Vocal Coach for the Opera Theatre; teaches courses in advanced diction; and coaches students at the undergraduate and graduate level. She is also on faculty at Musiktheater Bavaria (Oberaudorf, Germany) and the Druid City Opera Workshop (Tuscaloosa, AL). She is author of English and German Diction for Singers: A Comparative Approach, 2nd edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), highly praised in the Journal of Singing for “enlivening the study of diction”. She has recorded two CDs with MSR Classics: Mahler: Rückert-Lieder in collaboration with Julia Morgan (mezzo-soprano) in 2012; and Métissage in collaboration with Adam Estes (saxophone) in 2017.  Her research on comparative diction and lesser-known composers of German lied has been presented at conferences held by the College Music Society (CMS), National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), National Opera Association (NOA), and Song Collaborators Consortia (SCC). She has given master classes at the Royal Conservatory of Music, University of South Dakota, Queen’s University, Harding University, University of South Carolina, Bucknell University, Virginia Tech, Indiana University South Bend, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.  She has held positions at the University of Toronto, Royal Conservatory of Music, York University, Taos Opera Institute, and Lied Austria. She has been broadcast on CBC Radio 2 and NPR and has performed in Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, Germany, France, Austria, and Scotland. She was educated at Queen’s University, the Hochschule für Musik “Franz Liszt” (Weimar, Germany), and the Janáček Academy of Music (Brno, Czech Republic). 


Clinicians: Matthew Wilson & Jennifer Robinson

Matthew R. Wilson is a professional actor, director, and fight choreographer, and an Assistant Professor of Performance in the Department of Theatre Arts. His work has been seen on New York stages, across the US, and around the world, as well as on network television and Netflix. Prof. Wilson is a proud member of the Screen Actors’ Guild-American Federation of TV & Radio Artists, Actors’ Equity Association, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and Association of Theatre Movement Educators, and he is a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors. His publications include the play A Commedia Christmas Carol (Playscripts, Inc., 2013) and scholarly chapters in both The Routledge Companion to Commedia dell’Arte (2015) and Movement for Actors (Allworth, 2017). Prof. Wilson holds an MFA in Classical Acting from The George Washington University and is pursuing a PhD in Theatre & Performance Studies at the University of Maryland.




Jennifer Robinson, soprano, has performed widely throughout the United States in opera, oratorio and recital. Her operatic roles include Despina in Così Fan Tutte, Marenka in The Bartered Bride, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Pamina in The Magic Flute. Active in oratorio, her solo appearances include those with the Hilton Head Oratorio Society, Sun Coast Oratorio Society, and both the North Carolina Bach Festival and the Tallahassee Bach Parley. Concert soloist venues include the Germantown Symphony Orchestra, LOU Symphony and the Hilton Head Festival of Italian Opera. Other performances include singing the lead role of Gertrude in the world première of Nancy Van de Vate’s opera Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, based on the play by Shakespeare. Ms. Robinson is a Yoga Alliance Certified Instructor of Yoga, and currently develops programs that enhance performers’ artistic abilities through natural, holistic means. The University of Mississippi now includes the class Yoga for Performers as part of its diverse curriculum, an offering unique in the Southern United States. Ms. Robinson holds a master of music degree in vocal performance from The Florida State University, and has pursued doctoral studies at the University of Illinois. Ms. Robinson may be heard on Albany Records.



Student Director: Melanie Culhane 

Melanie Culhane is an American soprano currently working as a graduate assistant at the University of Mississippi, where she is pursuing her masters in music degree in Vocal Performance. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Mississippi with her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance in 2017. Most recently, she performed the role of Nancy in Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten with the University of Mississippi Opera Theatre. She has also performed in the University of Mississippi Opera Theatre’s full-scale productions of L’enfant et les sortilèges and Der Schauspieldirektor double-bill production, Hamlet: Prince of Denmark (world premiere), L’elisir d’amore and The Merry Wives of Windsor. She works as a Choral Scholar for First Presbyterian Church of Oxford and is an active member of the Dream Team at Living Music Resource™. She has participated in Druid City Opera Workshop, Miami Music Festival, and Musiktheater Bavaria Opera Workshop.



Hope to see you at the 2018 Living Music Institute!

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