Presenters and Abstracts

2020 CWR Regional Conference and Auditions

We are honored to include 

the following presenters 

at this year's regional conference.  



Guest Artist

Cal-West Region NATS 2020 Guest Artist: Dr. Julia Nielsen


Dr. Julia Nielsen, a San Francisco native, has been one of the Bay Area’s most sought-after vocal pedagogues since founding her private voice studio in 1999. Her students are currently performing leading roles with opera companies, soloing with symphonies, starring in Broadway musicals, and raising their voices in elite professional choruses across the United States. In the Bay Area, Dr. Nielsen’s students can be heard with the San Francisco Opera, the Grammy-winning San Francisco Symphony, and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale. From 1999 to 2014, Nielsen was also on the voice faculty of the award-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus, teaching young women at the chorus’s professional level.

As a performer. Ms. Nielsen made her stage debut at age five with the San Francisco Opera in a production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, starring Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and continues to perform opera, concert, contemporary music, Baroque, and classical cabaret to this day.

As the winner of the Center for Contemporary Opera’s international competition, Ms. Nielsen gave her New York debut recital in 2001 at Carnegie Hall in Weill Recital Hall. She debuted the leading role of Rose in the West Coast premiere of Elliott Carter’s opera What’s Next? with the Berkeley Symphony under the baton of Kent Nagano. Throughout California and Oregon, she has appeared in roles such as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte, Mimì and Musetta in La Bohème, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Romilda in Handel’s Xerxes, Maria in West Side Story, and Yum-Yum in The Mikado with companies such as Festival Opera, Opera San Luis Obispo, Eugene Opera, Oakland Lyric Opera, Pocket Opera, Stockton Opera, Sonoma City Opera, Open Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Guild. Internationally, she has performed with the Rome Festival Opera and the AIMS/Graz Orchestra in Austria. Most recently, she was heard as Musetta in Island City Opera’s production of La Bohème, and she created the title role in the world premiere of the chamber opera The Voyage of Mary Magdalene by Bay Area composer Nancy Bachmann.

A dedicated concert artist, Ms. Nielsen has also concertized extensively throughout the Bay Area, including a 2019 recital for the Sausalito Song Society. She has also appeared in concert and recital with Bay Area organizations such as the Oakland/East Bay Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival, Stockton Symphony, Auburn Symphony, and West Marin Summer Music Festival. Her concert work extends to classical cabaret repertoire. She has appeared in one-woman shows at Don’t Tell Mama, Judy’s Chelsea, and Danny’s Skylight Room in New York City; at the Shaker Mill Cabaret in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; and at the inauguration of a new cabaret room in the Hotel La Jolla in California. She was also enthusiastically received as a featured performer at the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Third Annual West Coast Cabaret Convention in San Francisco.

Dr. Nielsen has had the privilege of studying voice with several world-famous operatic performers, including Metropolitan Opera legends Martina Arroyo, Margaret Harshaw, Blanche Thebom, and Giorgio Tozzi. However, she attributes her expertise in teaching voice to her own current teacher and mentor, David Jones. Through her intensive apprenticeship with this extraordinary technician since 2006, her teaching continues the traditions of the Swedish-Italian School of Singing. 

Dr. Nielsen graduated from Indiana University with a Doctor of Music degree in Voice under Martina Arroyo and a Masters Degree under Margaret Harshaw. She earned her B.A. in Music from Stanford University, with distinction and with honors. She has also received training from, and works closely with, the Voice and Swallowing Center at the nationally ranked University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center.

Her non-singing passions include studying ballroom dancing, especially West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango. She resides in San Francisco with her husband Omar, a Learning & Performance Technology Consultant, and their teenage son, James.


Presenter Information


 Martina Bingham is a lecturer in voice at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and operates a home studio in Honolulu, HI. In 2018, she completed a DMA in voice pedagogy from Shenandoah University where she conducted dissertation research on the therapeutic singing voice in music therapy, and is continuing this work to better understand the unique demands and clinical applications of singing in music therapy. Her paper, “Defining the Therapeutic Singing Voice: An Analysis of Four Music Therapists’ Clinical Work” was just published in the journal Music Therapy Perspectives. Also an active performer, Martina has recent and upcoming engagements with Hawai’i Opera Theatre, the Maui Chamber Orchestra, and recital and featured solo work at the University of Hawai’i. She holds an MM in voice pedagogy and performance from Westminster Choir College and a BA in voice with a musical theatre emphasis from the University Hawai’i at Mānoa. 


Judith Cloud is well known for her vocal writing that originates from her own experiences as a performer/teacher. Built on romantic principals, her songs are lyrical and harmonically intriguing. Most notable of her compositions is "Feet of Jesus" (Langston Hughes), recorded by BIS-Northern Lights label. Her songs are “eminently singable, displaying a rich harmonic palate with an audience-entrancing sense of vocal line that is both dramatic and beautiful.” Articles have appeared in the NATS Journal of Singing and her compositions, both vocal and instrumental, have been featured on several recordings, including Letting Escape a Song, with Cloud singing some of her own songs. One of her latest works, "Botany for the Gods" was recently featured at Stephanie Blythe’s Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar and with Aural Compass Project, “Songs of the Rainbow” held at the National Opera Center in New York. Her monodrama "Beethoven’s Slippers" has received over 15 performances.


Christa Durand is a performer and educator based out of Sonoma County, CA. She owns Music to My Ears Inc, in Cotati, a music education center; offering private lessons, group programs, musical theater productions & band instrument rentals.​ With her students and in her performances, Christa encourages creating music from a place of authenticity, using music as a medium to share our collective and individual stories and cultivate compassion for one another.


No stranger to the motley requirements of today’s singer, Michelle Markwart Deveaux’s career has afforded her the joy of performing the gamut of vocal music. Early on, she discovered her penchant for teaching, which compelled her to create FaithCultureKiss Studios. In addition to working one-on-one with private clients, Michelle travels the nation giving workshops and master classes. She is a business strategist for independent studio owners, the founder of The SpeakEasy Cooperative, and the president of the California Capital Chapter of NATS. A vocal technician specializing in music theater and CCM, Michelle actively incorporates aesthetics and the science of voice. Forthright and no-nonsense, empowering and supportive, Michelle’s passion is to see every teacher know their value. She began study at the University of Northern Colorado, holds a BA in Music from Patten University and an MA from Fuller Theological Seminary in Worship, Theology, and the Arts.


Ruth has enjoyed singing numerous operatic and music theater roles and from Queens to Wardrobes and concertizes regularly having sung 57 sung concerts in venues across the nation. Of one performance the New York Daily News reported she sang with "soaring dramatic authority." In addition to founding the Ruth Ellis Vocal Academy in 2000, she teaches at Snow College and has been guest teacher at many other schools and universities. Ruth is currently serving as governor of the NATS Cal Western Region. Dr. Ellis earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at the Manhattan School of Music and studied and performed in New York for fourteen years. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Utah in April of 2016 and completed the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute training at Shenandoah Conservatory in 2017. Ruth and her husband of 31years are the proud parents of six children.


Stephanie Fox is founder and teacher at the Magic Voice Studio in Oro Valley, Arizona. For over 20 years, Stephanie has trained singers young and old; many of whom have gone on to win scholarships, awards and most notably roles on Broadway, regional theater, television, commercials and movies. With a solid background in theater, degrees in Voice Performance from California State Fullerton and University of Arizona, she has performed and recorded extensively and has won many accolades including a Grammy award and an award for best supporting actress in a play at the New England Theater conference. Her love for performance was quickly overtaken by her love for teaching when she focused all her efforts on her studio in 2000. Since that time, she has brought little people as young as six into adulthood as professional and avocational singers and actors.


Mezzo-Soprano Shauna Fallihee is the creator of Embodied Singer, a multi-disciplinary program that integrates movement, myofascial release, and meditation with fact-based vocal pedagogy. A singer since childhood, her robust performing career focuses on oratorio and concert repertoire with a specialty in new music. Shauna discovered a deep love of voice teaching early in her singing career. Known for her humorous and authentic teaching style, Shauna is committed to nurturing the complete singing artist. In addition to her private studio and Embodied Singer workshops, Ms. Fallihee is presently on the voice faculties of Holy Names University and City College San Francisco. Shauna’s own personal mind/body transformation led her to teach movement, ultimately becoming a Master Teacher Trainer for The Dailey Method, an alignment focused Barre and Indoor Cycling program. She holds a 250-hour yoga teacher certification and has pursued deep studies of anatomy, myofascial release, and meditation.


Dr. Errik M. Hood, baritone, is Assistant Professor of Voice and Voice and Opera Program Coordinator at Utah State University. As a singer, Dr. Hood has appeared professionally with orchestras and opera companies around the country, having recently made his solo Carnegie Hall debut and his international debut at Ely Cathedral in the UK. Dr. Hood has presented at conferences for NATS, the College Music Society, and the North American British Music Studies Association at the local, regional, and national levels. Dr. Hood serves as the Northern Utah NATS Chapter President, the USU SNATS Advisor, and has served as host for the online SNATS Chats since 2017.


Constance Jensen holds master's degrees from the University of Utah and California State San Bernardino in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting.   She teaches Voice and Group Voice at Utah Valley University and has also conducted the UVU Concert Choir.   As co-founder of VoiceLine, a nine-man a cappella group at UVU, Constance was both Musical Director and Faculty Advisor.  Performing and teaching in the Utah County/Salt Lake City area, she regularly sings jazz at The Shops at Riverwoods and has also sung for the City of Orem Arts in the Park Series.  Recent classical performances include solo recitals on the Tabernacle Series in Logan, Utah, the role of Magda Sorel in The Consul with UNIPAC, and an Alumni Solo Artist Recital at Cal State.   Honors include Vocalist of the Year at Cal State and a nomination for Faculty in Excellence teaching award for UVU’s School of the Arts.  


Korianne Orton Johnson has been seen all over the United States in theaters such as: National Theatre in Washington, D.C., Hale Center Theatre Sandy, Provo Theater Company, San Diego Convention Center, and has been a featured performer with Starkey Productions in Denver, Colorado. Some of her favorite roles include: "Audrey" in Little Shop of Horrors; "Amneris" in Aida; "Mother" in Ragtime; "Lily" in The Secret Garden; "Frankie" in 110 in the Shade (starring Audra McDonald); "Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls; "Adele" in Die Fledermaus; Yum Yum" in the Mikado; "Millie" in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; and "Babette" in Beauty and the Beast. Korianne is vocal faculty over contemporary voice at BYU where she teaches group lessons, private lessons and music directs mainstage productions. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Brigham Young University.


As a soloist or collaborator, Daniel Lockert is equally versatile on the piano, organ and harpsichord. In his role as pianist-collaborator, his wide- ranging career has taken him around the globe, playing throughout the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. In his role as coach and teacher, Daniel has been on the staffs and faculties of the Juilliard School, the San Francisco Opera, Opera San Jose, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Chapman University, Cal State East Bay, and the Aspen Music Festival. This summer he was accompanist for the chorus at the Mendocino Music Festival, conducted by his wife, Jenny Matteucci. He currently is professor of Collaborative Piano at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA as well as Staff Accompanist at Mills College, Oakland, CA. He also is organist-choirmaster at Christ Episcopal Church In Sausalito.


William is an emerging artist with an expressive, clarion sound. Frequently sought after as a soloist and collaborator, he has performed leading roles ranging from Bacchus in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos to Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème. He has collaborated as the tenor soloist in several orchestral performances, including Bruckner’s Te Deum, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and DuBois’ Seven Last Words of Christ. Recently, William performed the roles of Erik in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Höllander and Canio in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci with Vegas City Opera. He is nearing completion of specialist training with Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. William completed his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Master of Music at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He has taught vocal pedagogy, lyric diction, and voice at UNLV. Recent scholarship includes a joint research presentation entitled “Performance Practice and Vocal Registration in Gustav Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen” at the Pan American Vocology Association.


Kimberly Moller earned her M.M. in Vocal Performance/Pedagogy from Boston University, and her MFA at San Diego State University in Musical Theater. Recent music directing credits include Mamma Mia and Zombie Prom with Center Stage Productions, Bring it On with San Diego Musical Theater, and San Diego’s Off-Broadway Theater Company’s Heathers, and she co-directed a production of Edges at San Diego State University. She served as an associate director on Massenet's Cendrillon and Donizetti's Elixir of Love at SDSU while teaching the Voice Lab component of Musical Theater Performance Class. Career highlights include performing with various northeast regional theater and opera companies and touring as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Keith Lockhart, and performing with Kristin Chenoweth last year at The Music Box in San Diego. She has been teaching voice professionally for over 10 years. See for more information. 


Dr. Maria Okunev-Briggs, is a Russian – born, Australian soprano. Dr. Briggs holds Bachelor degree in piano performance, Masters in vocal performance and DMA in opera performance (Sydney University and Royal Northern College of Music, UK). Dr. Briggs has sung with Opera Australia, Pacific Opera, Lyric Opera Weimar and Glyndebourne Opera Festival, UK. Dr. Briggs joined Fresno State music department in 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Voice and now lives in Fresno with her husband Matthew and two sons. Since coming on board Dr. Briggs performed major works with Fresno State Symphony orchestra, including Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs”, Tchaikowsky’s Tatiana in “Eugene Onegin” and Puccini’s Butterfly in “Madama Butterfly”. Dr. Briggs made her American opera debut in 2017 performing the role of Tsarevna in Rimsky Korsakov’s “Kashchey the Immortal,” Island City Opera.


Jared Pierce is known as one of Utah’s rising generation of engaging, versatile, and entertaining pianists, composers, and teachers. Recent professional collaborations include internationally renowned artists Øystein Baadsvik, Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot, Jason Hardink, and Stephen Beus. Dr. Pierce is currently the accompanist for the Utah Chamber Artists and the Utah Symphony Chorus. He has been the joint recipient of numerous prizes including the “Grand Prix de la Ville de Tours” of the Florilège Vocal de Tours 2014 & 2015 International Choir Competitions. Dr. Jared A. Pierce is coordinator of group piano studies and a member of the piano performance faculty at Brigham Young University. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Utah, a Master of Music in piano performance from BYU, and a Bachelor of Music from California State University, Stanislaus. His teachers include Susan Duehlmeier, Irene Peery-Fox, and Stephen Thomas.


Diane Thueson Reich, soprano, is a Professor of Voice at Brigham Young University where she serves as Division Coordinator for Classical Voice. She has earned doctoral and master’s degrees from Indiana University. Operatic roles include Marguerite in Faust, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, the title role in Strauss’ Arabella, Nanetta in Falstaff, Mimì in La Bohème, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Diane has appeared with professional symphonies throughout the country; as a featured soloist with Vietnam National Opera, and the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in Russia; and has sung several concerts throughout Vietnam and China. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Conservatorio Statale di Musica in Pescara, Italy; and the National University of Arts Education in Hanoi, Vietnam. Diane has been a multiple Metropolitan Opera Audition winner in both the Utah and Indiana Districts. 


Christopher Rodriguez studied voice and received a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. In the last 5 years, he created the role of “Everybody” in Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena by Evan Mack, sang the role of Ufficiale in Verdi’s Rigoletto with Modesto Opera and studied in Sant’angelo in Vado, Italy under Eugene Villanueva in the Young Artist’s Program, Lingua e Canto. He has performed opera roles such as The Bonze, Don Alhambra, Dr. Falke, amongst many under the baton of Dr. Thomas Loewenheim and Dr. Anthony Radford. He sang the baritone solo in Duruflé’s Requiem with the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra and Grand Chorus under Dr. Cari Earnhart in May 2019. He will be creating the role of Stanton Delaplane from Dr. Kenneth Froelich’s “State of Jefferson” in January 2020. He is currently pursuing his MA in Vocal Performance and studying with Dr. Maria Briggs. 


Soprano Emily Sinclair has performed in opera and concert across the United States, including Central City Opera, Opera Colorado, and at Weill Recital Hall in New York . At the Caramoor International Festival, she sang Roggiero in Rossini’s Tancredi opposite Ewa Podles, and covered Sumi Jo as Elvira in I Puritani. In the Bay Area, Emily has performed with the San Francisco Choral Society, West Bay Opera, and most recently as the soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with Cantare Chorale. Emily received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy, and holds additional degrees from Northwestern University, Manhattan School of Music and Yale University. Emily is currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches individual lessons and vocal repertoire. She was a 2014 NATS Intern, and is currently the VP-Recitals for the SFBAC NATS chapter.


Sheila Townsend earned her Bachelor's of Music in Musical Theatre (MCL) at the esteemed Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. After a few years of classroom teaching and music direction, she founded Upper Floor Studio and is grateful every day to teach incredible singers who are also amazing people. From Madison Square Garden to middle school choir, her beloved “Upper Floorians” are taking the world by storm. Ms Townsend was awarded the Joan Frey Boytim and the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Awards. In addition to teaching, she performs all over California as a member of Actor’s Equity Association. One critic said that she has “fabulous pipes” (John Orr) and another said the she is “the best singer in the whole wide world.” (Sheila’s Mom) This Spring, Ms. Townsend is excited to be touring with the cast of “Llama Llama Live” as Mama Llama. Her favorite roles are “Wife" to Neil Townsend and “Dog-Mom" to Stella the Westie puppy.  


Melissa Treinkman, mezzo, is an active performer and teacher in the Los Angeles area. In 2013, she made her solo mainstage debut with LA Opera as the Vendor in Carmen, a role she reprised in the 2017/2018 season. In 2015, she was seen on the LA Opera mainstage as a Featured Ensemble singer in The Ghosts of Versailles, which won two Grammy awards for Best Opera Recording and Best Engineered Album, Classical. Melissa recently premiered the role of Dulcinea in Juan Colomer’s new opera Dulcinea XL. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University, a Master of Music from DePaul University and she is currently pursuing her DMA at the University of Southern California. Melissa was honored to be a 2019 NATS Intern. Two of her papers have been published in the Journal of Singing and she will be a presenter at the 2020 NATS National Conference. 


Dr. Juanita Ulloa is an Operachi singer and Professor of Voice raised in Mexico, Panama and Spain with unparalleled knowledge in Mexican, Spanish, and many Vocal Hispanic traditions (folkloric & classical). She was reviewed alongside Santana as artists in a niche of their own (Hispanic Magazine). She sings to inspire others with the beauty of Hispanic vocal music. Ms. Ulloa solos at international Olympic & major events, festivals & Latin Pops symphonies. She has recorded six Mexican CDs, & won Festival de la canción latinoamericana, NATS, Disney and Parent’s Choice awards. In 2018 she published 3 volumes of Mexican Art Song ( Dr. Ulloa publishes on Mariachi in SYWTS World Music Series and with Oxford (2020). She holds music degrees from Yale University, UC Berkeley, & D.A. in vocal performance from University of No. Colorado (2015).


 Abbigayle is a senior in the vocal performance program at Utah State University. She is currently serving as the USU SNATS president, a member of the Caine College of the arts Student Advisory Committee and as the president of the USU Arts Council. Throughout her time at USU she has performed in the ensemble of three Operas with USU Opera Theater, as well as many of their cabaret and scenes programs, and is about to take the stage as Violet in their production of Violet/ The Spitfire Grill. Although she loves the thrill of performing on stage Abbigayle also enjoys the behind the scenes work of directing and stage managing. Her true passion however, is teaching voice lessons. Abbigayle opened her private studio in 2017 and has been loving every moment since. In addition to running her own studio, she also works at Davis Academy for Musical Theater in Logan Utah.  


Marina Malcolm is a graduating undergraduate student, finishing her bachelor’s degree in Music as a Liberal Art at California State University, Fresno. She has been playing string bass for over 13 years, and has experience in orchestras, wind ensembles, and choirs. Her main interests are in prenatal and neonatal care using music therapy, and hopes to work specifically in the NICU. Marina is currently applying to post-baccalaureate music therapy programs and looks forward to the new opportunity. She also plans to start training as a certified doula, in the next year, to further her knowledge in prenatal and neonatal care.