A world-class faculty

“To be able to work in 90-minute sessions with some of New York’s most knowledgeable music insiders is not an experience most YAPs and summer programs can offer.”
— 2015 Respiro Opera Participant

Our 2019 faculty includes:


LeAnn Overton, Artistic Director
Barbara Fusco Spera, Yoga for the Creative Heart
Jan Prokop, Body Mapping
Eleanor Taylor, Alexander Technique
Lori Schiff, Alexander Technique
Roger Malouf, Senior Vocal Coach
David Holkeboer, Vocal Coach, pianist
Anthony Pulgram, Improv instructor
Rich Fryling, Stress Management for Peak Performance
Ken Benson, New York Artist Manager
Soyeon Kim, Pianist

“I really appreciate how much the faculty was on the same page. It was great to hear the same concept in very different ways – the instruction was extremely fluid and complimentary.”
— Gianna Barone, 2017 Participant

“Why participate in Respiro? You will be taken out of your comfort zone, have your performance weaknesses targeted by super knowledgeable, friendly and awesome faculty, receive tools to practice and improve. You will return home with increased confidence as a performer and singer.”
— Edmund, 2018 Participant
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Leann overton, director, vocal coach

Performer and pedagogue LeAnn Overton currently serves on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Ms. Overton has also taught on the faculties of Long Island University Post Campus, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the New York Actor’s Studio and the Mannes School of Music. As music director/coach Ms. Overton has worked for several summer programs and opera companies including Vocal Arts Festival, Colorado Springs, Lingua e Canto, Songe D’été en Musique outside of Quebeque, Oberlin in Italy, Music Festival of Lucca, Italy, Cincinnati Opera and Tulsa Opera. Ms. Overton has been the stage director for several opera workshops. At Montclair State University she designed a semester course for the voice and music education major which introduced the basic skill set needed for today’s singing actor. In her capacity as “Artistic Director” of Oberlin in Italy’s Concert Group, Ms. Overton coached and staged many recital programs exclusively featuring the bel canto repertoire.

Ms. Overton was opera workshop co-director alongside Professor Ruth Golden during her tenure at LIU Post Campus. In addition to performing opera, Ms. Overton has enjoyed listening to the world’s best singers via her position as title caller at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City. Ms. Overton earned her Masters of Music degree in “Vocal Coaching/Accompanying” at the University of Illinois under the tutelage of world renowned accompanist John Wustman.



Mezzo-Soprano, Yoga Instructor, 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training from LI Kula Yoga and Rahini Yoga; currently training in Yoga and Pranayama at Always at Aum Yoga Studio of Long Island. Founder of Yoga for the Creative Heart which combines body movement and breath to release the voice. Co-creator of the Vocal Program of Songe D'été en Musique Festival in Quebec where in addition to teaching voice and performing , she also leads classes in yoga for singers. Ms. Fusco has performed extensively has in the tri-state area as well as throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Africa.  She has sung roles with the Center for Contemporary Opera, Opera on the Sound, and the Wagner Training Center in New York. Her orchestral appearances include the Tilles Center on Long Island, Bach and Beyond Concert Series in East Hampton, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the Adirondack Festival Orchestra at Saranac Lake, Alice Tully Hall under the direction of Robert Craft, and at the L’Èglise de la Madeleine in France. Since 1994, has been a featured soloist with the acclaimed Musica Viva of New York under the baton of Walter Klauss.  Ms. Fusco is Director of Vocal Studies at LIU Post and maintains a thriving vocal studio in Suffolk County, Long Island.


jan prokop, body mapping

Currently an Adjunct Professor of the musical theater voice faculty at Montclair State University, soprano Jan Prokop has presented master classes, seminars and workshops for the Voice Foundation Symposium and NYSTA’s Professional Development Program and throughout the U.S. and Brazil. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Otolaryngology & Surgery at the University of Utah, maintains a voice studio in NYC and has served on the faculties of the CAP21 at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia University’s Teachers College and was a founding faculty member of The Actors Studio MFA Program at the New School. A Van Lawrence Fellow, Dr. Prokop works with leading laryngologists, voice therapists and speech scientists in the rehabilitation of injured voices and voice research. She has appeared throughout the U.S., Europe, South America and the Middle East in opera, oratorio, concert, cabaret and musical theater. Dr. Prokop received her licensing as an Andover Educator in the fall of 2015.


Eleanor Taylor, Alexander Technique

Alexander Technique teacher Eleanor Taylor (Guest artist 2018) , m.AmSAT, is on the Musical Theatre faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, and maintains a private teaching studio at Union Square, Manhattan, where she specializes in working with singers and actors to improve performance, prevent injury and reduce anxiety using the Alexander Technique. She has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and also teaches at the Riverside Initiative for the Alexander Technique, where she trains Alexander Technique instructors for teacher certification. She holds B.M. and M.M. degrees in vocal performance from New England Conservatory and the University of Minnesota.

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lori schiff, Alexander technique

Lori Schiff (Guest instructor 2016, 2017) is a full time professor of The Alexander Technique at The Juilliard School and a guest teaching artist for various schools and organizations nationally and internationally. She has been a faculty member of the Juilliard School since 1991 and was in residence at The Aspen Music Festival and School from 1993 - 2015. Ms. Schiff qualified as a Teacher of the Alexander Technique at ACAT-New York in 1987 and continued with postgraduate training with Walter and Dilys Carrington at the Constructive Teaching Centre in London. She is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Music in Trumpet Performance and has her Masters degree in Music from the Manhattan School of Music.



Roger Malouf is an Assistant Conductor with the Metropolitan Opera, where he has worked on productions led by maestros Levine, Luisi, Gergiev, Rattle, Maazel, Domingo, Nézet-Séguin, Rudel, Armiliato, and Davis, among others. He was an Assistant Professor at Mannes College of Music, and Co-Director of the Opera Workshop in the Extension Division. He has served on the staff of New York City Opera and The Juilliard School. As a vocal coach, he is on the faculty of the Bel Canto Institute in Italy, and has taught at the International Vocal Institute in Croatia, the American Institute for Musical Studies (AIMS) in Austria, and at Portland State University’s Deutsche Sommerschule am Pazifik.

Mr. Malouf has served as an accompanist for the Belvedere Competition at the Wiener Kammeroper and for the Jugendfestspieltreffen at the Bayreuth Festival. He has given master classes in opera for Manhattan Opera Studio, and in art song at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has coached singers in the Young Artist Program at Opera New Jersey. Two innovative summer festivals in the state of New York have invited him to work with their singers: Respiro Opera NYC and RESONANZ in Albany. He is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Altamura/Caruso Vocal Competition.

As a conductor, Mr. Malouf has presented opera in concert performances with the West Side Opera (New York) since 1995. He has conducted for the Natchez Opera Festival, the Little Opera Theatre of New York, Brooklyn Repertory Opera, and for the concert series at Trinity Church on Wall Street. In addition to organizing and performing in recitals of the complete songs of Bellini and Verdi for Trinity Church, he has accompanied recitals at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, and has played for master classes given by Martina Arroyo, Anna Moffo, Sherrill Milnes, and Gérard Souzay. Mr. Malouf studied with the distinguished musicians Aube Tzerko, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, David Garvey, and Brooks Smith in California, and with Dieter Weber and Noel Flores in Vienna.


david holkeboer, vocal coach/accompanist

David Holkeboer maintains a coaching studio in New York City and collaborates with singers in recitals. Mr. Holkeboer has worked with the Chamber Opera Theatre of New York, the First American Music Theatre Festival in Philadelphia, the O’Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut, the Israel Vocal Arts Institute, the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee, the Johanna Meier Opera Theatre Institute, and Opera Lirica in Orvieto, Italy. He has performed in over forty Community Concerts across the country with soprano Alba Quezada and has recorded a recital program with Mark S. Doss at the Sirius Satellite Radio studios for broadcast. He recorded a CD of the songs of Robert Kahn with tenor Martin Dillon. For several years he was the supplied pianist for the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition and the Liederkranz Foundation Art Song Competition. Recently he has ventured into the world of cabaret with Sarah Blaze. He has appeared as collaborative pianist in performances with Ariel Bybee, Phillip Cokorinos, Susan Dunn, Faith Esham, Scott Hendricks, Ruby Hinds, Pamela Kuhn, James McCracken, John Pickle, William Andrew Stuckey, Erika Sunnegardh, Sandra Warfield, Suzanne Woods, Constantinos Yiannoudes and Regina Zona. For the past twenty years he has been the Associate Organist at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church in New York City. He graduated Calvin College in Michigan, and earned a Master of Music from the University of Illinois studying with John Wustman.


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London Opera News calls American tenor Anthony Pulgram “a commanding and charismatic singer, with rich lyric tone.” The Atlanta native has performed in major opera houses throughout the US, Canada and Europe including New York, Paris, Vienna, Victoria BC, and Palermo.

His roles as principle tenor at the New York City Opera include Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, Don Jose in CARMEN, Apollo in DAPHNI, Commissioner in DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES and Alpheus in LYSISTRATA. Other notable portrayals include Apollo in DAPHNE with Pacific Opera Victoria in British Columbia, Bacchus in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS with Des Moines Metro Opera, Narraboth in SALOME with Orlando and Cavaradossi in TOSCA with Opera North.  

In concert, Mr,. Pulgram has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonia Virtuosi, Mid-America Productions at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Steamboat Springs Symphony in Colorado, the Harrisburg Symphony and the Temple Symphony in Texas.

A champion of contemporary music, he has created  the title role of several world premieres in New York City, including Arjuna in ARJUNA’S DILEMNA with American Contemporary Opera, Sir Gawain in GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT with American Opera Projects, and the poet Sean in David Strickland's PHOENIX PARK (A POET'S JOURNEY) for Theatre for the New City. He is a frequent soloist at the annual American Composer Alliance Festival in New York City.

An alumnus of Duke University, Columbia University and the Manhattan School of Music Mr. Pulgram has won awards from the International Belvedere Competition in Vienna, the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation in New York, the Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition in New York, and the Atlanta Pro Mozart Society. From 1999 – 2012 he served on the Voice Faculty at Long Island University: LIU Post.  

A professionally trained actor (Duke University, Chautauqua Institute) and current member of The Studio, Mr. Pulgram appears on stage and in film in both contemporary and classical repertoire. A recent graduate of the Peoples Improv Theater (PIT) training program, he is an improv performer and incorporates improvisation techniques in his teaching - both one-to-one and in group coaching.

Mr Pulgram maintains a private studio in Manhattan where he serves as an  acting/presentation coach to singers, actors, nonprofit and for-profit executives. He uses a variety of theater techniques to help individuals find authenticity and spontaneity, and the accompanying emotional and physical freedom to heighten their artistic expression. Since 2006, he has served as an adjunct faculty associate instructor at Columbia University School of Professional Studies coaching graduate students on the art of presentation.


Rich Fryling, Stress Management for Peak Performance

Rich Fryling marries 25 years of corporate experience with a lifetime of personal development. Rich is founder and CEO of The Walking Brand, a company dedicated to helping corporate leaders change their relationship to stress so they can more effectively lead healthy and thriving teams. Rich is also co-founder of BetterU, a mind training company that helps people achieve their most important personal goals by developing the skills of Focus, Relaxation and Connection. Rich has held senior marketing roles in New York City based advertising firms, helping companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Chase, Glaxo SmithKline, Walmart, Kimberly Clark, Fresh Direct, build world class brands. Rich holds a 5th degree blackbelt in Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and is Head Instructor of New York Ki Aikido. He is a certified associated lecturer and examiner by Ki no Kenkyukai in Japan.

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ken benson, artist manager, guest lecturer

Ken Benson is one of the leading managers for opera singers, including 25 years as Vice-President of Columbia Artists Management, Inc.,where his artists included Thomas Hampson, Aprile Millo,, Jerry Hadley, Florence Quivar, Susanne Mentzer, Marcello Giordani and Jamie Barton. He is Vocal consultant at Juilliard School of Music, and he regularly gives classes and consultations at Yale, UCLA, Mannes, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, DePaul, Roosevelt and Indiana Universities. He also offers private consultations. Mr. Benson is invited to serve as adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council’s auditions, as well as to judge in most of the major vocal competitions throughout the US. Frequently, he lectures on operatic subjects, includes a series of talks on Wagner’s “Ring” at the Metropolitan Opera House. He is also heard as frequent Host and panelist on the Metropolitan Opera broadcast’s Opera quiz. As a writer, he regularly contributes to such publications as Opera News and Classical Singer magazine. He has recently returned to Artists Management, representing a select group of the most talented singers from the emerging generation. www.kenbensonartists.com

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Soyeon Kim has appeared as a solo and collaborative pianist throughout the United States, Europe and Korea. In 2010, she performed at the Water for Haiti Benefit Concert at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, and has performed in many similar venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Sejong Center and ArKo Arts Theater in Seoul, Korea, the Croatian Music Institution in Zagreb, Croatia, Konzerthaus in Berlin and Gasteig in Munich, Germany. She has also performed in many chamber series including those sponsored by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Cathedral Saint John Divine, Trinity at One, and Music at Penn Alps. She has won awards in several competitions including First Prize and Best interpretation in the Liszt in William Garrison Piano Competition, Second Prize in the Artur Balsam Competition for Duos, and the New Triad Foundation Fellowship. She has participated in masterclasses with such artists as Marilyn Horne, Thomas Hampson, Anna Moffo, Dalton Baldwin, Fiorenza Cossotto, and Giacomo Aragall. She has received B.M. and M.M. degrees in piano performance from Seoul National University, and a M.M. degree and D.M.A. degree in Collaborative Piano from Manhattan School of Music. She serves as Head of music of staff at Bel Canto in Tuscany in Italy. 

List of past faculty include


dillon mccartney, artist manager, guest lecturer

Dillon McCartney’s experience encompasses multiple facets of the performing arts including performance, casting and artist management.  Most recently, he managed the careers of classical singing artists as the Senior Artist Manager at Robert Gilder & Co. where he led the New York City office.  While there he utilized the numerous contacts he had developed in opera casting during his fourteen-year tenure with NYIOP Inc., LLC as Director of Business Development and Special Events. Since NYIOP’s inception, he worked directly with David Blackburn, Founder and CEO of the company, facilitating almost every aspect of this innovative company, presenting veteran as well as emerging talent to more than 150 international opera houses including: The Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, Arena di Verona, Bolshoi Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Gran Teatro del Liceu, Chicago Lyric Opera, Salzburg Festival, San Francisco Opera, Théâtre de Paris, Chinese National Opera Bejing, Oper Zurich, Bayreuth Festival and Opera Australia.

Mr. McCartney’s insight and perspective into the casting process and artist management, cultivated over nearly fifteen years of “sitting behind the table” at thousands of auditions, his ongoing relationships with New York’s leading operatic talent managers and industry professionals along with his own thirty years of experience singing opera, musical theater and concert repertoire on many of the world’s greatest stages have made him a successful, effective and sought after audition coach and consultant.  

He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University from which he graduated with University and College Honors.


deborah birnbaum, voice teacher, guest lecturer

Deborah Birnbaum (Guest Lecturer 2015, 2016) is an internationally established teacher. Her expertise in breath technique originates from her own private vocal studies with renowned soprano, Montserrat Caballé. Widely sought after as a teacher/clinician, Ms. Birnbaum has a unique ability to help singers assimilate the mechanics of bel canto breath support while working within the context of their vocal technique. Ms. Birnbaum is regularly scheduled for guest teaching engagements at the Metropolitan Opera (National Council Auditions), San Francisco Opera (Merola and Adler Fellowship Program), Houston Grand Opera Studio, Wolf Trap, Glimmerglass Opera, Rice University, Los Angeles Opera (Domingo-Thornton young Artist Program) and the Washington Opera (Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program). In addition, Ms. Birnbaum has served as a judge for several prestigious vocal competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, (District Level), the Gerda Lissner Foundation and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.



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Bill connington, alexander technique

Bill Connington (Guest instructor 2014, 2015) is considered one of the world’s leading experts in the Alexander Technique and applying it to performance. A lecturer in acting at Yale School of Drama, he is also former Chairman of the Board of the American Center for the Alexander Technique, he is author of “Physical Expression on Stage and Screen: A Performer’s Guide to the Alexander Technique” (Bloomsbury). Bill has taught at The Juilliard School Opera Center, The Actors Studio Drama School, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He specializes in working with classical singers, and has collaborated with some of the most well-known voice teachers and coaches.



maxine davis, feldenkrais, guest lecturer

Maxine Davis (2017 Guest instructor)received her Bachelors in Music Education and a Masters in Performance from SUNY at Fredonia and subsequently received a Fulbright grant to study voice with Herta Topper and Erik Werba at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich Germany. After moving to New York City she pursued a career as a singer and voice teacher and was introduced to The Feldenkrais Method through her studies with Anat Baniel. Those lessons were so transformative that she took the New York Feldenkrais Training with Anat and since her graduation in 1991 she has been working with musicians, performers, people dealing with a wide variety of issues with pain and motor skills as well as people wanting to discover their own authentic voice and path.

Maxine has given presentations for Classical Singers Magazine Conventions, the New School, the viola studio of Heidi Castleman at Juilliard, and NYU, as well as workshops at SUNY at Fredonia, Duke University, UNC at Greensboro North Carolina and Rutgers University. Since 1998 she has been providing Feldenkrais lessons as part of the Voice program of Marlena Malas at Chautauqua Institution. She currently lives in New York City and maintains a private studio as well as teaches weekly class at The 92nd St. Y and on the Upper West Side.



gorden schermer, accompanist, 2014 & 2015

Gordon Schermer (Pianist 2014, 2015) is an extremely versatile musician equally at home in opera, art song, musical theater and chamber music. His performances have taken him across the United States as well as Canada, Italy, Austria and Israel. He has performed in venues such as Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and Steinway Hall in New York and the Salle Bourgie in Montréal. In Montréal, he helped recreate a unique two-piano transcription of Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias originally arranged by Benjamin Britten for the Aldeburgh Festival. He has been a fellowship coach at the Aspen Music Festival and School where he served as the children’s chorus master for Puccini’s La bohème and rehearsal pianist/coach for Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. In addition, he was also chosen to play the Verdi Requiem for renowned conductor Leonard Slatkin. He was selected as the official accompanist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the Central Illinois district in both 2006 and 2007. Mr. Schermer has appeared in master classes given by Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Catherine Malfitano and Nathan Gunn among others. A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Mr. Schermer now resides in Manhattan. He is an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and a staff member at Manhattan School of Music and the Bard College Conservatory of Music. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s Degree in Accompanying from Manhattan School of Music. His teachers have included Ian Hobson, Kenneth Merrill and John Wustman.