William Sauerland is an Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies for the School of Music at Purdue University – Fort Wayne. He conducts the university choral ensembles, teaches classes in conducting and music education, and supervises student teachers. He was previously a Lecturer in Voice at San Francisco State University, and the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Chabot College in Hayward, California. Dr. Sauerland taught choral music at Lick-Wilmerding High School for six years, and served as Associate Music Director for the Grammy Award-winning Pacific Boychoir Academy.
Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “limpid tone and astonishing eloquence,” Dr. Sauerland remains active as a professional countertenor. His recent solo appearances include the American Bach Soloists, Echoing Air, Festival Opera Company, Folger Consort, Handel Opera Project, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Oakland Symphony Orchestra, and Pacific Chorale. A former member of the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer, Dr. Sauerland has sung throughout the world, and recorded multiple albums for Warner Classics.
Dr. Sauerland received the Doctorate of Education in Music and Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. His research interests include social justice pedagogy in vocal music education, trans and gender expansive vocality, and student-centered teaching. His publications appear in the Journal of Singing, Journal of Music Teacher Education, VOICEPrints (Journal of the New York Singing Teachers’ Association), and in the forthcoming book, The Art of the Choral Music Educator. As a Marshall Scholarship recipient, he earned a Master of Music and Post-Graduate Diploma in Advanced Vocal Performance from the Royal College of Music in London. Raised on a small dairy farm in Ohio, he received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Alexandra Plattos Sulack (she/her) is a performer, singer, teacher, and coach. She is the co-founder of The Voice Lab Inc., a studio that provides private music lessons around the world as well as voice services for transgender and non-binary folx. Recent publications include editing One Weird Trick: A User’s Guide to Transgender Voice. As a coach, Ms. Plattos Sulack supports trans/non-binary performers, including the cast of Stu for Silverton, a new musical about America’s first openly transgender mayor. Ms. Plattos Sulack frequently performs on the concert, operatic, and improv stages. She is a core member of Forte Chicago, performing operatic improv and sketch comedy; a troupe member of the American Immersion Theater; and Artist-in-Residence with the Cliff Dwellers Club of Chicago. Known for her comedic timing, she is the 2018 champion of Opera on Tap Chicago’s Annual Diva Off competition, where she wowed the judges by hula hooping her way through Mozart’s “Der Hölle Rache.” She is a member of the National Association for Teachers for Singing (NATS), The Voice Foundation, Illinois Education Association-National Education Association, and the PanHellenic Honors Society. Alexandra lives in Chicago with her husband Nathan and their pet turtle, Boris.
Liz Jackson Hearns
Liz Jackson Hearns (she/her/they/them) is a voice teacher and co-founder of The Voice Lab, Inc. in Chicago. She works with with transgender and gender nonconforming singers, helping them develop healthy singing habits during medical transition and beyond. Liz is a passionate vocologist working to advance voice science education and advocacy. In addition to singing voice training, Liz works with trans and non-binary clients to develop a speaking voice that aligns with their gender identity and gives workshops and training for fellow voice practitioners. Liz holds a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance from North Park University and a Bachelor of Arts from The College of Idaho and also attended the Summer Vocology Institute at the University of Utah. Liz is the co-author of The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices and author of One Weird Trick: A User’s Guide to Transgender Voice.
Ash (Amir Shirazi, they/them/theirs) is an active composer, choral arranger, theatre sound designer, music director for choir and theatre, and songwriter. Ash currently serves as Artistic Director to Transpose PDX, which is a non-profit choral organization serving the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community of Portland and is comprised of the Transpose Community Choir and a cappella group Acchord. They are also the Committee Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, of which they are also a singing member. Amirbshirazi.com
Ruchi Kapila (she/her, they/them), M.S., CCC-SLP is a Bay Area-based speech-language pathologist, National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) trained vocologist, presenter and soprano with experience in acute care and acute rehabilitation hospital-based speech therapy. Ms. Kapila currently provides singing- and speech-based gender affirmative voice services in private practice. She is co-founder of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultation and resource firm, interVESTED: Raise Your Voice and co-creator/co-host of the podcast The Hyndsyte Project, an interview series focusing on the experiences of Black and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming activists and artists. Ms. Kapila also serves as member of Board of Directors, social media coordinator and EDI Committee member for Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, CA.
Chuck Dillard is a musician at his best while working with others. Hired as a church pianist at age seven, he fashioned his musical beginnings, education, and career around the art of collaboration. As a concert pianist, Chuck enjoys collaborating with international performers in every voice type and instrument. An enthusiastic supporter of recital evolution, his concerts often include elements of photography, dance, spoken word, and other integrated art forms. In opera, Chuck works as a conductor, coach, and pianist for companies including Portland Opera, Austin Opera, Opera Carolina, Central City Opera, and Piedmont Opera. His collaboration with Marin Alsop and Opera Colorado on a new production of Nixon in China is available on the Naxos label. As an educator, Dr. Dillard crafts his instruction around the belief that today’s musician should be able to make a living in their art form while creating beautiful music in the process. Passionate about queer visibility in music, he strives to give a stage to anyone who wants to tell their story. Dr. Dillard received degrees in collaborative piano from the University of Colorado – Boulder (DMA) and the University of Maryland – College Park (MM). He has developed courses in vocal and instrumental accompanying, lyric diction, music theory, collaborative literature, and art song history. Chuck is the Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano and Music Director of the Portland State Opera at Portland State University in Portland, OR.
Rebecca Herman is Co-founder & Artistic Producer of Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA) in Austin, TX. In FEb 2020, she directed Dido and Aeneas for LOLA in collaboration with Panoramic voices. LOLA was in the process of producing a weeklong workshop of a new opera Good Country, which features a role written specifically for trans voices, in March of 2020 that was cancelled due to the pandemic. In 2019, she worked with Portland Opera as Assistant Director on Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, collaborated with Queen City Opera on The Magic Bullets (Der Freischütz) and Die Walküre, Act I, and directed the workshop of Lardo Weeping, a new opera by Peter Stopschinski and libretto by Terry Galloway with LOLA. Recently, she directed The Breasts of Tiresias at Portland State University. For the past 2 seasons she has directed Queer Opera’s weeklong workshops at Portland State University. Other directing credits include Otello, Don Giovanni & The Daughter of the Regiment at Austin Opera and Assistant Director for Turandot, The Magic Flute, & Rigoletto at Michigan Opera Theatre and several opera scenes with students and young artists at various universities and summer programs. Rebecca received an M.M. in Opera Direction from The University of Texas at Austin and both a B.A. in English Literature and a B.M. in Opera/Vocal Studies from Lawrence University.
Jena Viemeister is a classically trained singer, actor, and award winning filmmaker for her most recent project entitled “Sven”, where she placed third and was voted audience choice in the film festival Labfest 2021. Her ability to transcend genre has led to working with Broadway’s puppet designer, Michael Curry where she wielded a 14ft horse puppet under his direction, as well as roles such as Charity in the TV Pilot “Fairy Godmother’s Apprentice” with FGA Movie, LLC, Little Red Riding Hood in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”, Lapak the Dog in Janacek’s “The Cunning Little VIxen” (performed in its native Czech language.), the title character in Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia”, Angelo in Shakespear’s “Comedy of Errors”, and her most recent live performance as Mrs. Crachit in Stumptown’s production of “A Christmas Carol” to name a few.
Jena is a graduate of The Boston Conservatory with her Masters of Music in Opera Performance and Portland State University where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Voice. Since returning from Boston, Jena’s performed with companies including Portland Opera, Opera Theater Oregon, Lakewood Theatre, Opera On Tap, Experience Theatre Project, Queer Opera, as well as her own creation, Divergent Opera. Through Divergent Opera, Jena collaborated with the Disability Arts and Culture Project to produce several accessible semi-staged recitals and a music video entitled, “Eve Song Project”, funded by a grant from the Chicago Academy of the Arts.
Wyatt Jackson is a bass-baritone, currently in his second year of study for his Master’s degree in Vocal Performance at Portland State University. Wyatt has been teaching voice for a few years and has studied multiple operatic roles.