Piedmont Opera’s Board Chairman, Robin Miller, and UNCSA’s Dean of Music, Wade Weast, announced today that James Allbritten, the current Artistic Director for Piedmont Opera and 20-year Music faculty member of UNCSA, will be leaving the school to become the General Director for Piedmont Opera.
He will replace Frank Dickerson, who, after leading the opera as its Executive Director for the past five years, will retire effective June 30th, 2014.
When Dickerson announced his retirement, Piedmont Opera looked to other opera companies of similar size around the country and considered the leadership structure that was most common and successful. Allbritten’s extensive artistic leadership experience at both Piedmont Opera and UNCSA coupled with his strong desire and ability to lead the company made him a perfect candidate.
“Jamie’s talent, vision, and experience enable Piedmont Opera to continue its mission and recognition as a highly regarded regional opera company,” stated Miller. “We have been very fortunate to have a long and valued relationship with UNCSA, that has and will continue to benefit both the arts community and supporters in Winston-Salem and throughout the Triad.”
Allbritten will be responsible for the overall leadership of business operations, including fundraising, budgeting and financial control. He will continue his artistic duties.
Allbritten joined the faculty of the School of the Arts in 1993, where his duties included Artistic Director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, as well as music director of the Cantata Singers and interim music director of the Symphony Orchestra. He concurrently served as Piedmont Opera’s Artistic Director since 2004.
Weast said, “I am happy for Jamie to have this professional opportunity, but of course we hate to lose him as a full-time faculty member. His contributions to the School of Music over the past 20 years, and to Fletcher Opera Institute since it was founded in 2001, have been enormous. The good news is that he will remain here in our community, applying his talent and expertise to enhance local opera.”
“UNCSA has long enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with Piedmont Opera, and the school expects that relationship will continue,” Weast added.
Allbritten came to UNCSA as a part-time faculty member to conduct the Cantata Singers, but after his first concert, Dean Robert Yekovich immediately took steps to expand his contract. He was the first Artistic Director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute and is largely responsible for its success and the success of its many graduates. When UNCSA was in need of an interim orchestra conductor, Mr. Allbritten stepped up and served in that capacity for almost four years.
He has been recognized numerous times by his peers as an outstanding teacher, and his students rave about his musicianship, expert teaching and enthusiasm. In 2013, he was named the recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award, an honor he had received twice before. In August, he was honored by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNCSA as being a “class act: one who employs best practices in arts education.” In December, the School announced the establishment of a $500,000 James Allbritten Distinguished Visiting Artist Professorship for Fletcher Opera Institute.
Allbritten will conduct Piedmont Opera’s upcoming performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific on March 14, 16 and 18, 2014 at the Stevens Center of the UNCSA. Tickets are available at 336.725.7101 or at piedmontopera.org
James Allbritten Bio
Originally from Louisville, Ky., James Allbritten began his conducting studies at Indiana University under Jan Harrington, Robert Porco and Thomas Dunn. While there, he also worked with Glyndborne Festival Opera conductor Bryan Balkwill and MET stage directors Hans Busch and James Lucas.
As artistic director and principal conductor for Piedmont Opera, he has led performances ranging from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro to Puccini’s Turandot to the opera house premiere of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza. Of Piedmont Opera’s Un ballo in maschera, Opera News said, “The musical excellence for the entire evening was the work of the conductor, James Allbritten … His tempos were well chosen, attacks were precise, and the coordination and balance with the singers was exemplary.”
Last summer, Allbritten led the premiere of Kenneth Frazelle’s Triple Concerto for the Meadowmount School of Music in New York. He was also the music director for the Vocal Arts Festival for the Colorado College. Last December, he returned for a third year to conduct Handel’s Messiah for the Mozart Club. In addition, he has led performances for Opera Theater of the Rockies, Opera Carolina, the Carolina Chamber Symphony and the Winston Salem Symphony. Also an accomplished singer, he studied with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Giorgio Tozzi and Margaret Harshaw.