2017 Winter Opera Gala Personnel

Our Singers and Personnel

Shay Brown, owner – wedding and event designer, started Shay Brown Events 14 years ago because I love meeting new people, learning who they are, and bringing their dreams to creation. Being from the south the old adage is true – I never meet a stranger. I have always had a deep appreciation for others, whether helping someone in need, being present in the moment and listening, or just meeting soon to be friends. People fascinate me. I love hearing old and new family stories and where people want to be in life. It helps me continually grow and gives me new ideas. Most of all, listening to our clients makes what I design a true reflection of each couple and family. I love design and floral! My main passion lies in the beauty of taking a blank canvas and transforming it into something magical. I have designed small intimate affairs, created elaborated events for 800 guest, styled magazine shoots, hotel openings, and everything in between. Each design is very personal to me. I love getting to know the client and what is important to them, and then I base the design from there, creating an experience that is remembered for a lifetime. I have surrounded the SBE brand with amazing team members that have the same life vision and instilled quality of service that I believe in. With that comes the passion that makes us unique and committed to each of our clients. We love planning, designing, gardening, and cooking, and of course all these details go into our weddings. So what a perfect fit! We truly love our jobs!

Musical DirectorDr. Leslie Downs, is active as both a solo and a collaborative pianist. As a soloist, he has played recitals in the New York City area as well as in Connecticut, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina.  As a collaborative artist, he has performed in lieder, chamber, and choral concerts across the United States and in Canada, playing a wide variety of repertoire. He recently served as the director and an instructor of piano for the North Haven Arts Academy in Norman, Oklahoma. He was also a staff accompanist for The Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma. For 16 years he worked as a freelance pianist/teacher/vocal coach in New York City. While there he served as principal accompanist for the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus for six seasons. He has worked with several well-known performers, including Faith Esham, Sondra Radvanovsky, Kristin Chenoweth, and B.D. Wong. He has also taught piano students of all levels and has served as musical director for musical theatre productions.

   American tenor, Grant Knox is enjoying a varied career in opera, musical theater, concert and recital.  He has appeared with the Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Chautauqua Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera Atlanta, Rochester Lyric Opera, GLOW Lyric Theatre, and with Maestro Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Opera Festival. Equally at home in concert repertoire, Knox has been engaged by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, Greenville Symphony Orchestra/Chorale, Cobb Symphony, Peninsula Music Festival, Bach Ensemble of Cincinnati, Rochester Oratorio Society/Philharmonic, Hendersonville Symphony and in recital at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As a proponent of contemporary music, Knox has worked with composers Libby Larsen, John Musto, Jake Heggie, Nico Muhly and William Bolcom. Knox sang the world premiere performances of Nico Muhly’s The Unknown Room, Three Songs for Tenor and Violin, with the Constella Festival of Music in Cincinnati. Recent engagements include the tenor solos in Handel’s Messiah with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with the Peninsula Music Festival, the tenor solos in Carmina Burana with the Greenville Symphony and Chorale and Elijah with the Rochester Oratorio Society and Rochester Philharmonic. Last spring, Knox collaborated with celebrated pianist Martin Katz for multiple performances of Janáček’s rarely heard song cycle The Diary of One Who Vanished.  Dr. Knox serves as Artist/Teacher of Voice and Director of Opera at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

  Danielle Knox, soprano, has a varied career in opera, oratorio, and musical theater. She has sung leading roles with the Tri-Cities Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Atlanta Lyric Theater, Chamber Opera of Chicago, Light Opera Works, Rochester Lyric Opera, The Carnegie Center, The Know Theater, and The Castleton Festival under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel.  As a singing actress, she has been hailed as “emotionally vulnerable with a sumptuous voice,” (Chicago Tribune).  Some of her favorite opera roles have been Musetta (La Boheme), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), and the First Lady and Papapena (Die Zauberflöte).  Her regional musical theater credits include Guenevere (Camelot), Maria (West Side Story), Marian Paroo (The Music Man), Amalia (She Loves Me), Laurie (Oklahoma!), and Sarah (Guys and Dolls).  In 2010, Danielle performed the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the Chicago premiere of Pride and Prejudice, A Musical. Her performance was described as “bright and sparkling of both voice and personality, but with great depth of character,” (Chicago Magazine).   This summer, Danielle will return to the Ohio Light Opera to perform the roles of Marian Paroo in The Music Man and Hope in Anything Goes.  She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music and Master’s Degree in Opera from Binghamton University. Currently, Danielle is the director of voice at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, South Carolina.  


Bass Geoffrey Cox has a deep, rich and hall-filling sonority, combined with a welltuned musical instinct. His natural simpatico, athletic physique and comfortable stage presence make him the perfect choice for a wide range of repertoire. In the 2015/16 season, Mr. Cox is slated to appear at Union Avenue Opera as Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni. In the 2014/15 season, he performed Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte at Rollins College and Il Commendatore in Asheville Lyric Opera’s production of Don Giovanni. In 2013 he sang The Duke in Romèo et Juliette with Opera Colorado. In recent seasons he has been seen as Count Ceprano (while covering Sparafucille) in Rigoletto with Florida Opera Theater, and Zuniga in Carmen with the Orlando Philharmonic at Mad Cow Theatre. On the concert stage, Geoffrey Cox has shone as a soloist in works such as Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Händel’s Messiah, and Fauré’s Requiem. His repertoire also includes many of the 19th century’s major works – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem, and Rossini’s Stabat Mater. In addition to his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rollins College of Winter Park, Mr. Cox has received training from some of the best music programs including V.O.I.C.Experience with Sherrill Milnes and Maria Zouves, Elora Festival Academy of Music in Canada, and Music Theatre Bavaria. He has twice won awards from the Florida Suncoast Opera Guild Competition (2nd Prize in 2006 and 3rd Prize in 2009), and was a nominee for the 2012 Sarah Tucker Award.

Tania Maria Rodríguez recalls her humble beginnings in music while sitting at her grandmother’s apartment on Sunday mornings listening to old opera records of Carmen and Barber of Seville. Mentored by her percussionist father in her youth, she dabbled in violin and piano working on latin, folk and classical styles. It was not until she met her choral director Dr. Jeffery Redding in high school that she was inspired to sing, use music to touch peoples lives and make the world a better place. She continued her musical education at Florida Southern College and had the privilege, as a graduate fellow, to study under the aesthetic of renowned vocal artist Dawn Upshaw at the Bard College Conservatory of Music. After completing her studies, Ms. Rodriguez went on to gain valuable experiences with the Sarasota Opera as both an apprentice and studio artist.  At Sarasota Opera she performed in productions of Carmen, Otello, Vanessa, La Boheme and Lucia di Lammermoor and was the understudy for Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. An avid performer of contemporary music and fervent enthusiast of art song and chamber music, Miss Rodriguez continually performs in recitals and concerts. She premiered Francis Scwhartz’s piece Tenebrae a monologue to God from an embittered soul who suffered in the Holocaust. In 2014 with the collaboration of Maestro Jessé Martins she performed in American Soundscapes: A Cabaret and Jazz recital for the Burns Court Café in Sarasota. While living in Orlando, Florida she developed, directed and performed in A Little Winter Nightmusic: A benefit concert for the Garden Community Choir’s get to Carnegie Hall fund. She is an advocate for the standardization of Spanish Song and Zarzuela into the mainstream classical repertory and enjoys collaborating with contemporary composers that seek to discover and expand the developments of modern vocal works.

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Asheville Lyric Opera - P.O. Box 3316 Asheville, NC 28802
Phone: 828-236-0670 Email: info@ashevillelyric.org
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