DIRECTOR OF MUSIC, Maria Newman
Maria has been recognized and commended by the United States Congress for her work in the field of classical music composition and performance, and is an award-winning conductor, violinist, violist, pianist, composer, and pedagogue. An Annenberg Foundation Composition Fellow, Mary Pickford Library Composition Fellow, Variety Music Legend, and internationally featured composer and concert soloist, Newman’s music has been heard in such diverse venues as the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C., WR Hearst Castle’s Private Theater, the Washington State Capitol Dome & Rotunda, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Music Scoring Stages of 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, MGM, Paramount, Universal Pictures, and in numerous international settings on radio, television and in live performance from Europe to Asia. Newman is Composer-in-Residence with the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra and Soloists, the Malibu Coast Madrigals, and holds the Louis & Annette Kaufman Composition Chair at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture in Malibu. A visible symbol in modern classical music, Maria Newman’s extensive original library of scintillating, highly discussed works represents a range of genres, from large-scale orchestra and choral, to chamber music, works for ballet, vocal solo works, song cycle/vocal chamber works, to original collaborative musical scores for historic silent films. NPR’s Jim Svejda, the popular on-air icon of musical opinion, (“The Record Shelf Guide to the Classical Repertoire”), has hailed Maria Newman as, “Hugely musical, bewitching, profound and playful, with an instantly recognizable and unusually appealing musical personality, Maria Newman is one of the most charming and distinctive composers of her generation.”
ORGANIST, Dr. Namhee Han
Playing from the heart defines Namhee Han’s approach to music making. She performed the opening solo concert for the prestigious Los Angeles Bach Festival at the First Congregational Church in 2013 and has played at the National and Regional Conventions of the American Guild of Organists (AGO). Constantly expanding the repertoire of her artistic expressions, she has performed with the Pacific Symphony, Los Angeles Master Chorale and the GRAMMY Award-winning Southwest Chamber Music (harpsichord and harmonium).
A native of South Korea, Namhee studied the piano since young. After earning a Bachelor’s in English education from Seoul National University, she came to the US to pursue graduate studies in linguistics. It was then that she encountered the organ and became immediately fascinated with its limitless tonal and expressive possibilities. She began organ study with Thomas Harmon in 1999 and completed Master’s and Doctoral degrees in organ performance at UCLA. In addition, she holds Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in applied linguistics from UCLA.
Dr. Han has coached with such eminent organists as Marie-Claire Alain, Jean Guillou, David Craighead, Hans-Ola Ericsson, Paul Jacobs, Marilyn Keiser, Michael Radulescu, Frederick Swann, Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, and Todd Wilson among others.
As organist at Westwood Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, Dr. Han is keenly interested in contributing to the music community in Southern California and actively collaborates with instrumentalists, choral groups and orchestras. She enjoys teaching piano and organ, and maintaining an intellectually stimulating and physically active life. Her performance projects include playing solo and duo organ music for the DVD “The story of the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ”.
Outstanding and noted professional vocalists make up our septet, which sings within both the 8:50 am and 11:10 am worship services, special services and concerts. The inspiring artistry of these esteemed musicians guides the Chancel Choir, as the septet serves in the crucial role of section leaders for the larger ensemble.
American soprano Christina Borgioli earned a BM and MM in vocal performance from the prestigious vocal music program at UCLA. In 2009, she earned her Professional Studies Diploma from Mannes College of Music at The New School in New York. During her time in New York, Ms. Borgioli had the privilege to participate in a special student-mentor program with acclaimed soprano Deborah Voigt. As an esteemed soloist for the “Music at Westwood” Concert Series at Westwood Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, Ms. Borgioli’s resonant, pure solo lyric soprano voice has been featured in Vivaldi’s Gloria, Schubert’s Mass in G, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, Handel’s Messiah, and many cantatas of J.S. Bach. Her oratorio repertoire also includes the soprano soloist in Poulenc’s Gloria, Rutter Requiem, and Rossini Stabat Mater. A favorite collaborator amongst her colleagues in the world of opera, Ms. Borgioli has performed the lead roles of Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites (Poulenc), Violetta in La Traviata (Verdi), and Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring (Britten), among many others. Ms. Borgioli is a long standing member of the Los Angeles Opera Chorus. She is a principal soloist with the Westwood Master Choir and Orchestra, and the Westwood Madrigals. As an experienced performer of new music, she will collaborate next season with Los Angeles based composer Jeffrey Parola as part of the Music Sacra concert series at St. Thomas the Apostle, featuring sacred repertoire for soprano and organ.
Internationally acclaimed and multiple international award-winning American singer, Nandani Maria Sinha, is a lyric coloratura mezzo-soprano of German and Indian decent, known for her passionate performances, rich velvety tone, communication, and great presence. Born in the United States, Ms. Sinha relocated to Germany where she received her formative training in voice and piano. She later earned a BM cum laude in vocal performance from Cornell University, and a MM from California State University at Los Angeles, where she was honored as a CSULA Friend of Music Scholar and elected as a member of Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honors Society. Here in Los Angeles, Ms. Sinha has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, Long Beach Opera, Malibu Coast Chamber Opera, Viklarbo Chamber Ensemble, Malibu Coast Madrigals, Westwood Master Choir and Orchestra, Malibu Friends of Music, the Kairos Musical Soirees, SPaCE Salon Los Angeles, Malibu Performing Arts Society, Redlands Symphony, Malibu Coast String Quartet, and the Coulston Quartet, among many others. Ms. Sinha has been a frequent soloist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra on concert tour at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., and a recitalist in London, France, Austria and Germany, where she was honored be presented by the Millennium Festival of Music in Bad Arolsen. Additionally, Ms. Sinha has presented recitals throughout South Africa for the No.1 Ladies’ Opera Festival. A great proponent of new music, Ms. Sinha has presented numerous world premiere performances in collaboration with Annenberg Foundation Composition Fellow, Maria Newman, including a world premiere on September 11, 2014 of Newman’s 2014 work entitled, Parting Words, and Newman’s 2015 work, One Prayer From Eden. Ms. Sinha is scheduled to record Newman’s large-scale song cycle, “A Trail of Years,” for the Montgomery Arts House Masterworks Recordings label in the fall of 2015. Ms. Sinha was the first-prize winner in the 2012 Franz Liszt International Competition; and in 2014 earned two additional International Prizes from the same organization, including a special award for “Best Vocal Interpretation of a Work by Franz Liszt.” Ms. Sinha recently premiered a newly discovered vocal work of Franz Liszt for mezzo soprano and orchestra with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
Adam von Almen is a Los Angeles based singer and actor, having performed all across the US and internationally. Mr. von Almen’s performances have ranged from the concert hall to elaborate musical theater productions. Selected past theatrical credits include Show Boat (Opera San Luis Obispo), Candide (Pasadena Opera), Grease (Cabrillo Music Theatre), Roméo et Juliette (UK Opera Theatre), The Heir Apparent (International City Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (Freed Center for the Performing Arts), Kismet and Gypsy (Ohio Light Opera), My Fair Lady (New Harmony Theatre), The Full Monty (LaComedia Theatre). You can also spot him costarring on Netflix’s Arrested Development. . As a featured soloist with many orchestras, Mr. von Almen has performed for significant events, including the opening ceremonies for the World Equestrian Games with Wynonna Judd and Denyce Graves, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra inaugural gala, San Fernando Master Chorale’s international tour, and aboard luxury cruise lines. He has received a Bachelor’s of Music from Ohio Northern University with further graduate studies from the University of Kentucky.
Matthe Lewis, Bass-Baritone
Matthew Lewis is a rising young soloist on the vocal recital and opera scene, and has performed in recitals nationally to wide audience acclaim. Lewis’ rich bass voice is unique, resonant and complex, his musicianship natural and perfectly suited to sonorous storytelling. Mr. Lewis has studied with David Sannerud and the great LA-based bass Reid Bruton at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), and has sung the following operatic roles: Seneca in Monteverdi’s, “L’incoronazione di Poppea,” Zuniga in Bizet’s, “Carmen,”Mr. Gobineau in Menotti’s “The Medium”, and Il Commendatore in Mozart’s, “Don Giovanni,” among others. For several seasons, Mr. Lewis has offered his marvelous voice to the famous bass solos in Handel’s, “Messiah,” and is scheduled to perform these arias this Winter at Westwood Presbyterian Church. In August 2016, Lewis sang American composer Maria Newman’s, “23rd Psalm,” with the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra in two performances at the Malibu Performing Arts Center and at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture under the direction of Scott Hosfeld. Matthew Lewis began his tenure as Bass Section Leader and Soloist with Westwood Presbyterian Church and “Music at Westwood” in August 2016.
At the age of 24, American baritone and composer, Dimitri Smith is no stranger to the concert stage. Born and raised in Wenatchee, Washington, Mr. Smith relocated to Los Angeles in 2009 to study music at Pepperdine University, where he graduated in 2013 with a double major in vocal arts and composition. During his tenure at Pepperdine, Smith studied voice with Henry Price, and composition with Lincoln Hanks, while earning leading roles in the university’s prestigious and popular opera presentations. As a vocalist, Smith is equally experienced as a soloist on the opera and musical theater stages, as he is performing oratorio solos with choir. Most recently, he has appeared in the roles of Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Jud Fry in Oklahoma!, and Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus. He has also performed as soloist in many large choral masterworks, including Haydn’s Missa In Augustiis, Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. Smith is also an experienced composer for film and television. His music has been heard in MTV’s The Real World, Awkward, Finding Carter, and on VH1 promotional programming. He is also a pianist, which is often a defining characteristic in his compositions. Prior to his engagement at Westwood Presbyterian Church, Mr. Smith served as Associate Music Minister at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Malibu, where he was bass soloist and assistant music director.