Michael Heaston to lead Rice’s opera program

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations

David Ruth

Michael Heaston to lead Rice’s opera program

HOUSTON – (June 8, 2018) – Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music will welcome Michael Heaston as its new director of opera studies this fall.

Michael Heaston. Submitted photo.

Michael Heaston. Photo credit: Arielle Doneson

“I am thrilled to join the distinguished faculty of the Shepherd School of Music and lead one of the finest opera programs in the country,” Heaston said. “The operatic landscape is rapidly evolving, and Rice is uniquely poised to fuse the highest levels of artistic integrity and innovation in developing the next generation of arts visionaries. I am excited to collaborate with my colleagues and students at the Shepherd School in thought-provoking, imaginative and socially conscious productions that will undoubtedly shape the future of this great art form. My husband, Rush Williams, and I look forward to joining the Rice family and actively engaging with the community as new Houstonians.”

A well-respected artistic administrator, collaborative pianist and vocal coach, Heaston became the executive director of the prestigious Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera in August 2016 and subsequently assumed the additional role of acting artistic director. From January 2013 to August 2016 he was the director of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and the American Opera Initiative and served as advisor to the artistic director of the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Engaging Michael Heaston as our new director of opera studies adds special luster to the renowned faculty of the Shepherd School,” said Robert Yekovich, dean of the Shepherd School. “Highly respected and admired across the world of opera, Michael brings an unparalleled level of expertise to the Shepherd School’s program. The school is extraordinarily fortunate to have attracted Michael as we enter a new stage in the opera program’s evolution, particularly with the projected summer 2020 opening of the new music and opera building.”

In addition to his full-time role at Rice, Heaston will be music director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

Prior to his position at the Metropolitan Opera, Heaston assumed numerous roles of increasing responsibility at The Glimmerglass Festival over 11 seasons (May 2006-August 2016), completing his tenure in the position of associate artistic director, in which he was integrally involved with all matters of season planning and casting. He also oversaw the direction of the Young Artists Program and matters of musical administration.  He spent six seasons at the Dallas Opera (November 2007-November 2012), where he was head of music staff and assistant conductor for more than 25 productions. He also served as score consultant for the Metropolitan Opera’s Emmy and Peabody award-winning “Live in HD” movie theater transmission series for seven seasons (September 2006-December 2012).

Heaston earned Bachelor of Music degrees in piano pedagogy and arts administration from Drake University in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, where he won the Outstanding Senior Award in the Department of Music. He received a Master of Music degree in accompanying and coaching in 2004 from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. His principal teachers have included Margo Garrett, Brian Zeger, Timothy Lovelace and Chiu-Ling Lin. He was named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year for 2015, and he won the Young Alumni Achievement Award from Drake in April 2017.

On the concert stage, Heaston is in high demand as a collaborator and has partnered with many of today’s most important artists, including Christine Goerke, Dolora Zajick and Eric Owens.  He has also collaborated with Ailyn Pérez, Stephen Costello, Noah Stewart, Rod Gilfry and Laura Claycomb. He was a founding member of The Prairie Song Project along with mezzo soprano Katharine Goeldner and flutist Amy Morris. The trio performed to great acclaim in Scotland, England, Austria and the United States.

A sought-after adjudicator, he has been a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and also served on the juries of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Jensen Vocal Competition, Young Patronesses of the Opera Competition, Giargiari Bel Canto Competition at the Academy of Vocal Arts, NATSAA Competition Finals, McCammon Vocal Competition, DC Vocal Arts Art Song Competition and many others. He is also in demand as a clinician and has served as an artist-in-residence and/or presented master classes at the Juilliard School, University of Michigan, Florida Grand Opera, Southern Methodist University, University of North Texas, Drake University, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Abilene Christian University and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, to name a few. An active member of OPERA America, he serves on the steering committee of the Singer Training Forum and is a regular participant in the New Works Forum.

For more information on the Shepherd School Opera Department, visit https://music.rice.edu/opera.


This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/.

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Related Materials:

Shepherd School of Music website: https://music.rice.edu/

Shepherd School Opera Studies website: https://music.rice.edu/opera

Photo link: http://news.rice.edu/files/2018/06/Heaston-headshot-1pkzu0o.jpg

Photo credit: Arielle Doneson

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,970 undergraduates and 2,934 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.