J. Bradley Baker (Executive Director), pianist and coach, has served as Head Coach for Wichita Grand Opera and on the faculty of WGO’s Opera Academy of the Midwest, a young artist program that assists in the development of budding opera stars. Other professional opera companies Baker has served on the staff of include Natchez Opera (MS) and Opera Birmingham (AL), and for three years, was the Pianist and Assistant Musical Director for the nationally-recognized University of Alabama Opera Theatre.
Baker has also served as the Director of Chamber Music at the Hot Springs Music Festival and is currently orchestral keyboardist of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra (KS) and Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra (AL). His solo performances have been heard on the Navona Records label, as well as public radio stations throughout North America and Great Britain. Baker has also presented chamber performances at the North American Viola Institute, 2013 International Double Reed Society Conference, and numerous universities throughout the United States.
In addition to performing, Dr. Baker is a passionate arts educator. As the Director of the Tabor College Music Preparatory School, Dr. Baker leads a group of expert faculty in the education of pre-college youth in Central Kansas. Additionally, he serves as Instructor of Piano at Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas.
Previously, he has held teaching appointments at The University of Alabama, The University of Texas at Tyler, and Stillman College, teaching courses including music theory, class piano, and accompanying, as well as serving as departmental collaborative pianist and vocal coach. Baker regularly presents master classes and is in demand as an adjudicator of state and regional competitions. He is on the Executive Board of the Kansas Music Teachers Association (KMTA), an active member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), and a full member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Baker has earned degrees from North Dakota State University, Cleveland Institute of Music, and The University of Alabama.
More info, including full biography and audio/video samples, can be found at www.JBradleyBaker.com.
Jen Stephenson (Artistic Director), soprano, has performed nationally and internationally in a wide range of opera roles, as a vocal soloist, and as a member of several professional choral ensembles. As a featured soloist, she has performed with L’Orchestre et les Chanteurs de Saint Eustache of Paris, France; Nei Stëmmen of Luxembourg, Luxembourg; The Classical Music Festival of Eisenstadt, Austria; the Prentice Chorale of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Lawrence Opera Theatre of Lawrence, Kansas; and the Westfield Festival Chorus of Westfield, Massachusetts. Additionally, she has sung professionally with Alabama’s Highland Consort, the Richard Zielinski Singers, and New England’s Novi Cantori. Stephenson has sung leading roles with Opera du Perigord, Utah Lyric Opera, and New Century Opera. Her operatic performances include the roles of Elvira (Don Giovanni), Magda (The Consul), Gertrune (The Twilight of the Gods), Mother (Hansel and Gretel), Frasquita (Carmen), and Manuelita (La Périchole), among others.
In addition to her work on stage, Dr. Stephenson has worked behind the scenes as an operatic stage director with the Lawrence Opera Theatre, Harrower Summer Opera, Druid City Opera Workshop, the University of Alabama Opera Theatre, and Tabor College Opera, which she founded in 2015. In the summer of 2015, she was the recipient of the prestigious National Opera Association Stage Director Internship. Equally comfortable as a conductor, Stephenson has served as chorus-master for the Wichita Grand Opera, the University of Alabama Opera Theatre, and the University of South Florida Opera Workshop, and has conducted operas and musicals for The Actors Charitable Theatre, Arts in Motion, and the University of Alabama Opera Theatre.
Dr. Stephenson holds degrees from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Westfield State University, The University of South Florida, and The University of Alabama. Currently, she serves as Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Vocal Studies, and Director of Opera at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, where she teaches Studio Voice, Music Theory I and II, directs the college’s women’s choir, Concerto Bella Voce, and directs the Opera program.
Shawn M. Knopp (Director of Development and Community Outreach) is the Director of Bands, Instrumental Music, and is an Assistant Professor of Music at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. At Tabor he oversees all aspects of the instrumental music program and directs the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Faculty Jazz Combo, Football Band, Basketball Band, Brass Ensemble, and Chamber Orchestra. In addition, he teaches courses in music education, conducting, instrumental methods, and serves on the teaching faculty of the Tabor Music Preparatory School. Additionally, Shawn has taught clarinet, saxophone, and woodwind methods courses at McPherson College, Central Christian College and Bethany College and was Director of Bands for Lindsborg-Smoky Valley Public Schools and Solomon Public Schools.
In the broader community, Shawn is in high-demand as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator for honor bands and music festivals throughout the Midwest and is a frequent presenter at music education conferences and symposiums. Ensembles under Knopp’s baton have performed in Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee. Most notably, bands under his direction have been selected by audition, four times, to perform at the Kansas Music Educators Association Convention.
Knopp earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting degrees from Kansas State University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a cognate in music, at Kansas State.
Shawn currently serves as High School Honor Band Chairman for the Kansas Music Educators Association-South Central District and previously served as Middle School Honor Band Chairman, as well as President and Vice-President. His professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Education, Kansas Music Educators Association, College Band Directors National Association, Kansas Bandmasters Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.