Vocal Competition Judges

Our final round judges …


Ryan Brown

Maestro Ryan Brown is the founder, conductor, and artistic director of Opera Lafayette. Through his work with Opera Lafayette, Mr. Brown has gained an international reputation for his interpretations of French opera and, in particular, for his role in the revival of works from the 18th century. These performances have highlighted the various traditions of tragédie lyrique, opéra-ballet, opéra-comique, pastorale, and dramma-giocoso. His performance repertoire and his discography for Naxos include masterpieces by well-known 18th-century composers (Gluck and Rameau) as well as rediscoveries of their contemporaries (Sacchini and Rebel/Francœur), works that exemplify traditions established in the  17th century (Lully and Charpentier), and those that point the way toward the music of the 19th century (Monsigny and Grétry). His interpretations of Italian works by Mozart, Haydn, Paisiello, and Cimarosa have met with great acclaim as well. Mr. Brown was raised in a musical family in California and performed extensively as a violinist and chamber musician  before turning his attention to conducting. In 2012, he made his debut with the Seattle Symphony and at the Opéra Royal in Versailles, leading Opera Lafayette in its international debut. In May 2012, Mr. Brown received La Médaille d’Or du Rayonnement Culturel from La Renaissance Française.


Joseph Walsh

Joseph Walsh has nearly 20 years’ experience in presenting and conducting opera in Virginia, across the country, and internationally.  As the general and artistic director of Lyric Opera Virginia (LOV), LOV presented its 2011-2012 inaugural season productions at new or newly renovated theaters across Virginia, including The Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach, the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, the Landmark and Cramer Center for the Arts in Richmond, and the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville. Mal Vincent of The Virginian-Pilot praised LOV’s production of The King and I, writing “Billing itself as ‘America’s newest opera company,’ Lyric Opera Virginia comes into its own with a theatrical spectacle that rivals that of any company in the country.” Mr. Walsh is an accomplished conductor known for combining dramatic flair and theatrical excitement with great sensitivity, detail, and balance, all with a keen sense of dramatic pacing. He was praised recently by The Washington Times for his “top notch”  and “letter perfect” Così fan tutte in a run of performances on the stages of Virginia Opera where he worked on more than 70 opera productions.

Urban Arias-logoBob Wood

Conductor Robert Wood has enjoyed great success since his debut with the San Francisco Opera in 2004. Primarily an opera conductor, he has made a considerable impression with his interpretations of bel canto works, garnering praise for his stylish and elegant conducting.

Currently, Mr. Wood is the executive and artistic director of UrbanArias, a new opera company in Washington, DC dedicated to producing short, contemporary operas written in the last 40 years. To date, UrbanArias has presented a cabaret program of songs by contemporary composers and “opera improv.”  Future productions planned are She, After and Paul’s Case.

Mr. Wood was conductor in residence at the Minnesota Opera from 2006-2008, leading productions of L’Italiana in Algeri, Le Nozze di Figaro, La Donna del Lago, Rusalka, and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Recently, he conducted a concert featuring Stephanie Blythe and Lawrence Brownlee for San Francisco Opera, L’Italiana in Algeri at Vancouver Opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Hawaii Opera Theater, The Love for Three Oranges at Indiana University Opera Theater, La Cenerentola at New Jersey Opera Theater, Lakmé at Minnesota Opera, and The Nutcracker for San Francisco Ballet. Mr. Wood’s collaborations with the Wolf Trap Opera Company include Le Comte Ory and Die Zauberflöte. Other recent conducting engagements include H.M.S. Pinafore with the Indiana University Opera and a recording for the ODC Dance Company in San Francisco of Jack Perla’s On a Train Headed South. He returned to San Francisco Opera in the summer of 2011 to conduct the Merola Opera Program’s concert of extended scenes. Mr. Wood conducted Die Fledermaus for Hawaii Opera Theater in October 2012, The Magic Flute for The University of Maryland Opera Studio in November 2012, and Roméo et Juliette at Opera Colorado in February 2013.

Mr. Wood spent many years on the staff of San Francisco Opera where he led performances of La Traviata and L’Italiana in Algeri and assisted productions of La Bohème, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Don Carlos, Hansel and Gretel, The Merry Widow, and Tosca. He also has appeared as conductor for many productions with Opera San José, among them Tosca, Faust, Manon, Carmen, L’Elisir d’Amore, Rigoletto, and La Bohème, and as guest conductor with the San José Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Wood held the position of chorus master at The Santa Fe Opera from 2001 to 2004 and acted as cover conductor for Beatrice and Benedict, La Belle HélèneL’Italiana in Algeri, and Lucia di Lammermoor. At The Santa Fe Opera, he received critical acclaim for the choral contribution to the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s Madame Mao and the American premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin. Mr. Wood also served as chorus master for Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Les Pêcheurs de Perles in 2004 and has appeared at Chicago Opera Theatre and the Florida State Opera, where he conducted Gluck’s Orfeo. A participant in the 1998 Merola Opera Program and Western Opera Theater, Mr. Wood spent several years in Vienna studying voice and singing in the Arnold Schönberg Chor.