Columbus Music and Art Academy

2015 Central Ohio Singing Competition

Meet the Judges


Brian Banion

Bass-Baritone Brian Banion’s combination of physical and vocal acting combined with his versatile, warm, well-projected bass-baritone voice is demonstrated in a wide repertory. This past season included a return to Piedmont Opera as Daland in Der fliegende Holländer, Leporello in Don Giovanni with the University of Louisville, and Zuniga and Morales in Carmen with The Columbus Symphony Orchestra. 2013 included a debut with Sacramento Opera as Simone in Gianni Schicchi, a return to Piedmont Opera as Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Escamillo in Carmen with The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, recitals in Sorel, Quebec and in Montréal. 2012 included a return to Piedmont Opera as Leporello in Don Giovanni, Handel’s Messiah with The Symphony Orchestra of Virginia Beach and The Boise Philharmonic, and a return to The Princeton Festival as Simone in Gianni Schicchi. Brian returns to The Bay View Music Festival this summer, where he has been a Resident Artist for three years.

No stranger to modern music, Mr. Banion created the role of Reverend Arthur Baines in the world premiere of Robert Aldridge’s Grammy Award winning opera Elmer Gantry, making his Nashville Opera debut. He reprised Baines in Montclair, New Jersey. He also created the role of the Unnamed Bass in Edwin Penhorwood’s Too Many Sopranos. 


Élise DesChamps

Ms. DesChamps is originally from Montréal, Canada. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Montréal Conservatory with degrees in Cello and Musicology. She is currently on the voice faculty of The Capital University Conservatory of Music and the Alto Soloist at Linworth United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio. She serves as Artist-In-Residence at The Bay View Music Festival.

Élise DesChamps has distinguished herself throughout the United States and Canada as an impressive singing actress in varied repertoire ranging from charmingly feminine portrayals to convincing trouser roles through a highly versatile and rich Mezzo-Soprano voice. She studied vocal performance at Indiana University, where she received a Master of Music in Voice with legendary Soprano Virginia Zeani, and, went on to complete two apprenticeships with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus. Recent engagements include Handel’s Messiah with The Symphony Orchestra of Virginia Beach and The Boise Philharmonic, Carmen in Princeton, NJ, a debut with The Springfield Symphony Orchestra as the title role in CarmenCarmen with the newly created Operanauts, Verdi’s Requiem, performances of Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy with Grammy Award­winning conductor Arnie Roth in Columbus, as well as a series of recitals in Winston-Salem, Columbus, Saurel, Québec and Montréal. Future engagements include a debut with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra as Mercedes in Carmen, a return to The Springfield Symphony Orchestra as the Alto Soloist in Mahler’s Symphony #2, and a recording of French & American Songs with MDA, Canada.


Cynthia Mahaney

Soprano Cynthia Mahaney has extensive performing and teaching experience. A graduate of Ohio State University, Cynthia received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in vocal performance where she studied with Eileen Davis. While there, she was awarded the Margaret Speaks Award as the top female singer.

Among Dr. Mahaney’s most recent operatic roles were: Madame Butterfly (Flower Duet/Opera Project Columbus), a Valkurie (Act III Opening/ Opera Project Columbus), and The High Priestess in Opera Columbus’ production of Aϊda, which received a favorable review in Opera News magazine. Other roles include Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel, Annina and Violetta in La Traviata, Delphinia in Babes in Toyland, and First Lady in The Magic Flute. Cynthia’s performances also include solos in Carmina Burana, Mozart’s and Durufle’s Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah. Recordings featuring Dr. Mahaney include Calidente and Yet I Will Rejoice.

Cynthia is soprano section leader of Broad Street United Methodist Church and is an instructor of voice at Kenyon College. With Piano Lessons in Your Home, Inc. she is part of the Voice Faculty. She resides in the Clintonville area where she maintains an active private studio of over 25 students.


Jennifer Marcellana

Jennifer Marcellana is a native of Columbus, Ohio.  She studied vocal performance at The Boston Conservatory and Kenyon College.  Ms. Marcellana has performed as a soloist with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and sang in the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics.  She performed in the 50th Anniversary production of Peter Grimes at Tanglewood under the direction of Seiji Ozawa; as well as appearing in the 1996 documentary film, A Tale of Tanglewood.  Ms. Marcellana has performed as an ensemble member with the Boston Pops, including performances with the original Broadway cast of Ragtime, and composer Stephen Flaherty.  She has performed with Opera Columbus, and with the Ocean State Lyric Opera Company in Providence, Rhode Island.  Ms. Marcellana has performed as guest soloist with La Orquesta Juvenil de Musica Nueva in Lima, Peru, and on promotional recordings for Bose Stereo Systems.  Recent performances have included the “Celebration of Sound” and “Cantilena” concert series, as well as a concert with the Hellenic Music Foundation in New York City, and performances with the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra in Columbus.  Ms. Marcellana enjoys teaching as much as she enjoys performing, and formerly served on the voice faculty at Emerson College (Boston.)  She currently teaches voice students at Kenyon College, where she is the Voice Area Coordinator and director of Opera and Music Theater Workshop.


Carolyn Redman

Carolyn Redman, mezzo-soprano, is originally from Bellevue, Ohio and received a MM and DMA in vocal performance from the Ohio State University.  She has performed operatic roles as well as musical theater roles with various professional companies including Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera/Columbus, Columbus Light Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Weathervane Playhouse, and Lyric Opera Cleveland.  She was selected as an apprentice artist with both Des Moines Metro Opera and Cincinnati Opera Young Artists programs and was also chosen to perform in materclasses and performances at the Instituto Superior de Arte of the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She has been a winner or finalist in four competitions, most recently a first place finish in the 2000 Opera/Columbus vocal competition.  Recent roles include Gertrude inRoméo et Juliette,  Martha/Ayah in The Secret Garden, Olga in The Merry Widow, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Jo in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Countess Charlotte Malcolm in A Little Night Music and Mrs. Ott in Susannah. She has also been a featured soloist in oratorios and other concert works with groups such as Cantari Singers, Denison University, Columbus Bach Ensemble, Marion Civic Chorus, Master Singers, Inc. Chorale, Saint Joseph Cathedral, and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.  In addition to performing, she serves on the voice faculty of Kenyon College. 


Susan Millard Schwarz

Susan Millard Schwarz, mezzo soprano from Columbus, has her M.M. from The Ohio State University.  She performs professionally as an operatic, oratorio, and concert soloist, both nationally and internationally, with repertoire that spans 8 languages.  In spring 2015, she will perform the role of Marcellina in MARRIAGE OF FIGARO with Opera Columbus, and the role of Lucia with Opera Project Columbus.  She serves as soloist for Third Church Christian Science in Columbus.  Ms. Millard Schwarz presents annual Holocaust Remembrance concerts with her own company, ANAHATA Music Project.  She studies voice with former Metropolitan Opera staff conductor, Steven Crawford, in New York City.

Ms. Millard Schwarz has worked for many years in the field of arts education, both as a resident artist with Opera Columbus, and as an arts administrator at the Ohio Arts Council in the Arts Learning program.  This spring, she will work with high-school students to develop skills in giving and receiving feedback on artistic work, by teaching Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process (CRP). For a complete biography and more information on CRP, visit





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