On Sunday, December 17th, 2023 at 3:00 pm, Karen Becker, pianist, Carla Fisk, soprano, and Derek Stannard, tenor, will present a free afternoon program called “Our Favorite Things” featuring music ranging from musical theater to opera, artsong, and oratorio. Selections include excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, Carlisle Floyd’s Suzannah, Dvořák’s Rusalka, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and many others.
“For many musicians, the holidays are a time of stress, numerous rehearsals, hectic schedules,” says pianist Karen Becker, “and we wanted to take the opportunity to enjoy ourselves, and share some great music with the community, family and friends.”
“We love performing together, and we wanted to present a program of the music we love to sing and play,” says tenor Derek Stannard “And we would like to offer it up to the community as a gift for the holiday season. In addition to some of our more traditional repertoire, we will spruce things up with some Christmas favorites.”
This program also features guest sopranos Ashley Manocchi (Manhattan School of Music) and Amanda Robie (Opera Saratoga staff and alumni).
This program is free and open to the public.
Derek W. Stannard, pianist, organist, tenor, and conductor, is a graduate of the Crane School of Music with degrees in Performance and Music Education. From
2014-2019, Mr. Stannard was the Artistic Director and founder of Auriel Camerata, an acclaimed fully professional choral ensemble in the Capital District. He is currently the organist at Bethesda Episcopal Church, Saratoga Springs, and has served as Organist and Director of Music Ministries at Church of the Immaculate Conception, Glenville, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Bennington, Christ Church United Methodist, Glens Falls, and Grace Church, Canton, among others. From 2015 to 2021 he served as Associate Conductor of Burnt Hills Oratorio Society (now called Saratoga Voices), and served on their board until 2022. As a soloist, Mr. Stannard has been featured with many ensembles, including with Aoede Consort (Carnegie Hall premier of works by Vladimir Pleshakov), Albany Pro Musica, Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, Battenkill Chorale, Adirondack Voices, Voices of Cooperstown, and the Berkshire Choral Festival. In 2006, Mr. Stannard had the privilege of premiering the opera The Sailor-Boy and the Falcon at the Crane School of Music with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe.
In addition to his vocal and choral work, he has given organ recitals throughout the capital district including Christ Church Methodist, Glens Falls, St. Peter’s Church, Bennington, Silver Bay Chapel, Silver Bay, and the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany. Mr. Stannard is on the Executive Board of Directors of Opera Saratoga, and is the proprietor of The Pampered Pooch and Pals, a pet supply store in Ballston Spa, New York.
Soprano Carla Fisk, regional finalist of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions has performed in many operas in Europe and the United States. In Rome, Italy, she was chosen to sing on Italian National Television (RAI Uno), performing Hanna from Die Lustige Witwe. She then went on to be a part of the Baltimore Opera’s Young Artist Program singing the role of Beauty in Giannini’s Beauty and the Beast (an Educational Outreach Opera) and performing the role of Despina in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte. They asked her back to sing the role of Second Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte directed by Werner Herzog and conducted by William Crutchfield with the main stage of Baltimore Opera. In her performing career she has sung the role of the Contessa in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, The title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme, Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Laetitia in Menotti’s The Old Maid and The Thief.
After moving to New York City she started a non-profit group called Opera on Tap. Opera on Tap is an educational and cultural outreach organization that seeks to bring opera to unconventional performance spaces like bars. Over time it became something that supports young singers, supports new music – chamber and opera – to be performed, and reaches out to children as well. This group has taken off like wild fire since its inception in 2005. Opera On Tap has been written about in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Time Out Magazine. Opera On Tap has also been on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, WNYC “Soundcheck”, and Current TV. Carla remains an active managing “Diva”, promoting shows, performing in shows, working with the scholarship programs for singers, and is their Educational Outreach Director (writing and directing shows for children).
Since moving to the Albany area, Carla teaches private voice instruction and has performed as soloist in oratorio works such as Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Fauré’s Requiem, Einhorn’s Voices of Light, and Poulenc’s Gloria.
Karen Becker, pianist, serves as professor and department chair at SUNY Plattsburgh. A Wisconsin native, she spent her formative years in New York City and Colorado. Some of her fondest musical memories of New York are working with the Philip Glass Ensemble and Alan Ginsberg on “Hydrogen Jukebox” at BAM, and playing contemporary music at MOMA with John Cage, who told her, during a piece that used traffic sounds and the rustle of papers in the wind, that she was “sitting quietly too loudly.” In Colorado, Becker served as principal keyboard of the Colorado Symphony, and as pianist/conductor with the Colorado Children’s Chorale.
She has appeared as a soloist and collaborative artists in concerts at Essex, Westport, Keene Valley, served as piano faculty at UVM, and as a principal coach for the Green Mountain Opera Festival in Barre and Montpelier, as well as serving as Artistic Director of Champlain Valley Voices, based in Plattsburgh.
Karen holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School, and the University of Wisconsin. Her primary teachers include Christopher Taylor, Samuel Sanders, Marshall Williamson, Margo Garrett