Sphinx, Voice, and Harp Faculty Collaborative Recital

Experience an evening of music performed by faculty and students of the Curtis opera department and members of the Sphinx Performance Academy.  


Catalyst Quartet:
Jessie Montgomery, violin
Karla Donahew Perez, violin
Paul Laraia, viola
Karlos Rodriguez, cello


Quartet in G major
Jannina Norpoth, violin
Melissa White ('07), violin
Jennifer Arnold, viola
Mary Ann Ramos, cello


Zwei Gesänge, Op. 91
Kendra Broom, mezzo-soprano
Jennifer Arnold, viola
Mikael Eliasen, piano


Fantaisie in A major, Op. 124
Karla Donahew Perez, violin
Elizabeth Hainen, harp


A founding member of the Catalyst Quartet, Karla Donehew Perez maintains a busy performance schedule throughout the US and other countries. Hailed by the New York Times at their Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthy vigor,” the Catalyst Quartet is comprised of top Laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players.

Born in Puerto Rico, Karla began playing the violin at age three. At age twelve, Karla and her family moved to California where she continued her studies with Anne Crowden, director and founder of The Crowden School. Karla completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying performance with the heralded violin teachers Paul Kantor, David Cerone, and William Preucil. As a chamber musician she has collaborated with artists such as Fredericka Von Stade, Garry Karr, members of the Guaneri, Juilliard and Takacs Quartets, among others. As a soloist she has performed with the Berkeley Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Sphinx Chamber Orchestra and the New World Symphony. Karla also spent two years as a fellow at the New World Symphony, where she was often concertmaster or principal second violin.

Karla performs on a violin made in 2013 by renowned German luthier Stefan Peter Grenier, supported in part by a Sphinx MPower Artist Grant, and a fine violin bow by Victor Fetique on generous loan from the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation.

Jannina Norpoth made her debut as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at age 14. Since then she has built a career as an innovative collaborative artist with a passion for contemporary music, genre bending and improvisation. Her string quartet, PUBLIQuartet, was the 2016-17 quartet in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, recipient of the 2015 Adventurous Programming Award by Chamber Music America and ASCAP and winner of 2013 New Music/ New Places winner of the Concert Artist's Guild Competition.

Deemed "Leader's of the New School" by Symphony Magazine and "Independent Minded" by The New Yorker, PUBLIQuartet has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, National Sawdust,  the Detroit Jazz Festival and The Colbert Report, creating Requiem for Debate a live improvised sound track for the third Presidential Debate. Compositions from their programming concept MIND | THE | GAP: which melds musical genre's through improvisation were dubbed "ingenious hybrids" by Strad Magazine.

A versatile musician, Ms. Norpoth performs and writes alongside her husband bassist/guitarist/songwriter John-Paul Norpoth in the folk/rock group HOLLANDS. Praised for their multi-faceted sound, HOLLANDS has been described as "provocative poetry sung over instrumentals laid out with such compositional intent" by Relix Magazineand  "a is cherry mix of folk punk and free noise ... breezy melodies and whimsical cuteness" by Christopher Weingarten of the Village VoiceHOLLANDS has released two EPs; their recent LP debut was profiled by BBC as "pulsing indie pop that really puts a spring in your step ... mixing fun, folk, rock and elements of classical." In 2016 HOLLANDS, PUBLIQuartet and artist Amy Khoshbin created The Scheherazade Project (TSP), a multimedia song cycle inspired by the stories of One Thousands and One Nights. TSP was awarded a Sphinx MPower grant for it’s creation and received its debut at National Sawdust as part of the NYC Electro-Acoustic Music Festival and The New York Philharmonic’s Biennial Celebration, with support from MAC Cosmetics and DPA Microphones. 

Ms. Norpoth has performed internationally, including appearances at the Women of the World Festival at The Apollo Theater, Detroit Art X Festival, Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Saturday Night Live, VH1’s Save the Music, IFC's Dinner with the Band, and Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall. As a soloist she has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony, Casalmaggiore International Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble 212, and Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra.

She has been a featured performer alongside such acclaimed musicians as James Carter, Nadia Sirota, Regina Carter, Itzhak Perlman, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Helga Davis, Marcus Belgrave, Dave Young, Mike Garson, A. Spencer Barefield, Jay - Z, Beyoncé,  Anita Baker,  Sheila E., Boys II Men, Dionne Warwick, My Brightest Diamond, Alexi Murdoch, and many others. As an arranger she has written and arranged strings for Keyshia Cole, Keri Hilson, Kat DeLuna, Black Dahlia Murder, Akron Family, John Legend, and Never Shout Never. Her recording credits include Keyshia Cole's Woman to Woman, Keri Hilson's No Boys Allowed, Black Dahlia Murder's Everblack and Ritual, Akron Family's Set em' Wild / Set em' Free, Sphinx Virtuosi Live in Concert, Bob Stewart's Connections - Mind the Gap and with her ensembles HOLLANDS and PUBLIQuartet. She may also be heard as a member of the "Hustla' Symphony Orchestra" on the bonus tracks for Jay-Z's live concert release on his 2006 Def Jam release, Kingdom Come. As a studio arranger and performer she has worked under grammy-winning producers Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis and Bryce Goggin.

Ms. Norpoth lives in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, with her husband John-Paul and their puggle Vegas. Upcoming projects included the collaborative orchestration with composer Jessie Montgomery of a new adaptation of Scott Joplin's Opera Treemonisha commissioned by Volcano: an experimental theatre company based in Toronto and  a duo recording of Prokofiev's Sonatas for violin and piano with pianist Maria Meirelles. 

Jennifer Arnold, viola, is a native of North Royalton, Ohio. She earned a Professional Studies Degree in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2005, where she also obtained a bachelor’s of music in 2003. Jennifer has studied with Robert Vernon, Principal Violist of The Cleveland Orchestra, for six years. She has also studied with Cleveland’s Assistant Principal Violist, Stan Konopka, and with Cavani Quartet Second Violinist Mari Sato. During her years in Cleveland, Jennifer was a member of Red (an orchestra), the Akron Symphony and The Cleveland Pops Orchestra. She has participated in various festivals including the Interlochen Arts Camp, ENCORE School for Strings, the Kennedy Center/National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, the Henry Mancini Institute, the National Orchestral Institute, Spoleto Festival USA and the Britt Chamber Festival.

For the past three summers, Jennifer has attended The Youth Orchestra of the Americas Festival, based in Washington D.C., that brings musicians from a majority of countries in North and South America to share the language of music on tour in underprivileged areas. As principal violist of YOA she has toured to at least 20 cities in Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Panama, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Colombia. Jennifer was a semi-finalist in the 1998, 2001, and 2003 Sphinx Competitions for Black and Latino String Players and was the Best Tone winner in 1998. She has performed with several orchestras in Carnegie Hall as a member including: the New York String Seminar with Jaime Laredo; the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra; and the Paquito D’Rivera Celebration Concert as a member of YOA. Jennifer made her solo debut with The Cleveland Orchestra on January 10, 1999, in their annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Concert. She has also performed as a concerto winner with World Youth Symphony Orchestra (Interlochen), The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and the Suburban Symphony. Jennifer shares a love for all different types of music and is an avid performer of jazz and Latin music.

Cellist Karlos Rodriguez made his orchestral debut at the age of thirteen to great audience and critical acclaim. As an advocate for multifaceted musical diversity in the 21st century, he is an avid soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, clinician, recording artist, and administrator. Having appeared at many of our important musical venues including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the New World Center, Philadelphia’s Kimmel center, and Radio City Music Hall, to name a few. Mr. Rodriguez has also had the honor of working with distinguished artists such as the Beaux Arts Trio, American, Cavani, Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, Juilliard, Miami, Orion, Tokyo, and Vermeer String Quartets; Janos Starker, Lynn Harrell, Zuill Bailey, Pieter Wispelway, Rachel Barton-Pine, Awadagin Pratt, Joshua Bell, and Steven Isserlis. His teachers have included Richard Aaron, Peter Wiley, and David Soyer. A love of modern dance paired with live music has led to collaborations with the Thomas/Ortiz Dance Company, Freefall, Mark Morris Dance Group, and Chita Rivera. Karlos has attended and been a guest artist at the ENCORE School for Strings, Sarasota, Aspen, Great Lakes and Kneisel Hall chamber music festivals, Grand Canyon Music Festival, Cleveland Chamber Music Society, strings Music Festival, Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Music Society, and Napa’s Festival del Sole. As an educator he is on the faculty of Summertrios, the Dean of Artistic Affairs at the Sphinx Performance Academy and has given master classes domestically and abroad. Mr. Rodriguez has worked on various films, Pop albums, Broadway musicals, and is a member of the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra. In addition to these musical activities he is former Principal Cellist of the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra in Miami and cellist of the Catalyst Quartet.
Karlos plays on a cello by award winning maker Michael Doran made possible through a Sphinx MPower artist grant.

Hirsig Family Chair of Vocal Studies
Artistic Director, Curtis Opera Theatre
Opera and Voice Coach
Summerfest Program Director 2017

Danish-born coach and accompanist Mikael Eliasen received his early training in Copenhagen, Montreal, and Vienna. He has collaborated with numerous singers in recital worldwide, including Robert Merrill, Tom Krause, John Shirley-Quirk, Elly Ameling, Edith Mathis, Florence Quivar, Mira Zakai, Sarah Walker, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, and Curtis alumni Theodor Uppman, Michael Schade, and Rinat Shaham.

Mr. Eliasen has given master classes at Aix-en-Provence, the Shanghai Conservatory, Tchaikovsky Conservatory (Moscow), Jerusalem Music Center, and National Opera of Prague. He has a long association with the young-artist programs at the Royal Danish Opera and the Opera Studio of Amsterdam. In the United States, he works regularly at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera; and is artistic advisor to Opera Philadelphia. He has recorded for Albany Records, CBC, Hilversum Radio, Polish State Radio, Kol Israel, Irish Radio and Television, London Records, MHS, and Supraphon.

Mr. Eliasen was music director of the San Francisco Opera Center from 1994 to 1996 and artistic director of the European Center for Opera and Vocal Art in Belgium from 1984 to 1994. For twenty summers he has taught at the Chautauqua Institution. In 2013 he was appointed artistic adviser to Opera Philadelphia. Each summer he leads the Mikael Eliasen Voice Program as part of Curtis Summerfest.

Mr. Eliasen joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1986 and became the head of the department in 1988.

Elizabeth Hainen, principal harp of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has earned an international reputation as one of classical music’s great harp ambassadors. She has presented programs showcasing the diversity and virtuosity of her instrument to audiences throughout the world, receiving critical acclaim.

Ms. Hainen has collaborated with such eminent conductors and musicians as Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and the Juilliard String Quartet. In addition to the Philadelphia Orchestra, she has appeared as a featured soloist with the City of London Sinfonia, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Bulgarian National Radio Symphony, Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia, Orchestra Camerata Ducale (Italy), Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. She also appears regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. A champion of new music, Ms. Hainen gave the United States, Chinese, European and Australian Premieres of the Nu Shu: Secret Songs of Women, written for her by Tan Dun.

Ms. Hainen is the founding director of the Lyra Society, an organization to promote new works for the harp and educate young harpists. Through the Lyra Society she has provided educational outreach to hundreds of schoolchildren in urban Philadelphia.

In the 2017–18 Season, she releases Home, her third recording with Avie. She also appears in Lyon and Healy Harps’ inaugural Harptacular concert series.

Ms. Hainen joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2005 and also teaches at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University.