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📷 Students walking along AJ's Way
Joseph Young continues to dedicate his energy and passion to audiences of all ages as Resident Conductor with The Phoenix Symphony. In his second season as Resident Conductor, after serving as the Assistant Conductor for the 2010-2011 season, Joseph maintains a leading role in the development of the Family and Education Series. He also conducts regularly on every concert series the orchestra presents including special events and community outreach programs throughout the state of Arizona.
Increasingly regarded as one of America’s rising young conductors, Joseph was featured in the 2011 League of American Orchestras' prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, hosted by the Louisiana Philharmonic. In the summer of 2010, Joseph participated as one of eight conductors selected from an international pool of candidates in the Jorma Panula International Master class in Porto, Portugal. He was invited to return to Portugal in March 2011 to conduct a series of concerts with the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música in Portugal. In 2012 Joseph was invited to be a participant at the Tanglewood Music Center’s Conducting Program. Highlights of recent seasons include appearances with the Charleston Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic and Delaware Symphony.
Prior to joining The Phoenix Symphony, Joseph concluded a successful tenure with the Buffalo Philharmonic where his duties included conducting numerous education, pops and special event concerts. In addition to his conducting duties he worked closely with the orchestra’s Education Director to create in-school programs and community outreach events. From 2007-2009, Joseph worked with the Baltimore Symphony where his responsibilities included leading the orchestra in numerous education and outreach concerts and assisting Music Director Marin Alsop and such conductors as John Adams, Leonard Slatkin, Arild Remmereit and Jun Märkl.
Joseph completed graduate studies with Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar at the Peabody Conservatory in 2009, earning an artist's diploma in conducting. Prior to that, he received his Bachelor of Music degree with an emphasis in music education from the University of South Carolina. In 2008, Joseph was the recipient of the Sir Georg Solti Foundation Career Grant for young conductors, and was also a finalist for the Conductors Guild’s Thelma A. Robinson Award in the same year. From 2007-2010, he was also one of five recipients of the League of American Orchestras’ prestigious American Conducting Fellowship.
Janinah Burnett’s timeless vocal quality and poignant portrayals in signature roles such as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte are “heart-rendingly touching,” says The Sunday Times (London). The Montreal Gazette agrees, exclaiming she “brought a storytelling quality as well as soprano pyrotechnics to Violetta [in La traviata].” As Mimì in Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of Puccini’s La bohème, Ms. Burnett received tremendous acclaim winning the “Ovation Award” with a record 82 consecutive sold-out shows.
Ms. Burnett joined the Metropolitan Opera roster in 2008 for their productions of Carmen and La bohème, and has since returned for Parsifal, Le nozze di Figaro, La Rondine, and Iphigénie en Tauride. She next returns to the Met for The Enchanted Island.
This past season, she saw performances of Leila in John Adams’ I was looking at the ceiling and suddenly I saw the sky with Théâtre du Châtelet; Leïla in Les Pêcheurs de Perles with Opera Carolina; a Porgy and Bess concert suite with Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos in Lisbon, Portgual; as well as concerts with the Plainfield Symphony and American Spiritual Ensemble.
Noted previous engagements include Lucy in Treemonisha in her debut at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; Margru in Amistad at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A.; Micaëla in Carmen with the Michigan Opera Theatre and Arizona Opera; Mimì in La bohème with Arizona Opera, Baltimore Opera, Manitoba Opera, and Nashville Opera; Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera Baltimore; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera Cleveland; Violetta in La traviata with Opera Columbus; Claire in William Grant Still’s Troubled Island in concert with New York City Opera; and Bess in Porgy and Bess at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as well as with Cape Town Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Grand Rapids, and in concert with The Israel Symphony Orchestra in Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion with Mo. Asher Fisch.
Earlier in her career, engagements included Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Norina in Don Pasquale with Connecticut Opera, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Stephanie in A Song for Eddie at the Bard Festival, and solo performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Burnett was named Artist of the Year in 2011 at Syracuse Opera for her revered role debut as Leïla in Les Pêcheurs de Perles. She was also a member of the sister group to Three Mo’ Tenors entitled Three Mo’ Divas, and toured to Austria, Sweden, and Japan with the New York Harlem Productions (NYHP) company performing the roles of Clara and Bess in Porgy and Bess. Additionally, Ms. Burnett has performed with Ray Charles, Dr. Billy Taylor, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and at Oprah Winfrey’s personal birthday celebration at the home of Maya Angelou, while attending Spelman College for her graduate degree. She was also the winner of a 2008 Sullivan Foundation Award.
Edward Pleasant, a native of Midland Texas, has been heard here and abroad in opera, music theater as well as in concert. He has appeared with New York City Opera as Jim in Porgy and Bess and was also seen in that production’s Emmy nominated Live from Lincoln Center telecast on PBS. He assumed the same role at the Bregenzer Festspiele in Austria and appeared as voice-over artist in Weill’s The Flight of Lindbergh for National Public Radio.
He has been seen in such roles as Zodzetrick in Scott Joplin's Treemonisha, as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime and has also performed Nardo in La Finta Giardiniera, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro, Alcindoro/Bénoît in La Bohème, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, Giuseppe Palmieri in The Gondoliers, Jacques in New Moon, Martin Luther King in a production of Faith Journey and has also performed the role of Ben Ross, Harriett Tubman's father, in a touring production of Freedom Train.
His concert appearances include a Messiah at Avery Fisher Hall with the National Choral Council, a concert version of Mozart’s Idomeneo with the National Chorale, soloist with the Moses Hogan Chorale at Alice Tully Hall, Narrator in Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, The Thrill of the Orchestra and Tubby the Tuba with the Norwalk and Greenwich Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Pleasant has also performed with the American Gospel Quartet during the Orchestermessen Series in Bregenz as well as on Austrian television and radio. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in the Duruflé Requiem.
Most recently Mr. Pleasant assumed the role of Jake in Porgy and Bess with the Duluth Superior Symphony and the National Philharmonic Orchestra and he took part for the second year in New York City Opera's VOX series Showcasing American Composers.
Mr. Pleasant holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Arts degree from Texas Tech University. His discography includes a recording of Dubois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ on Gothic Records, Kurt Weill’s The Flight of Lindbergh on Voices International, Black Manhattan with the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra on New World Records and Mozart Arias on the 250th Anniversary set by Madacy Entertainment.