Ravinia Engages Pianist Kevin Murphy as Director of the Vocal Program at its Summer Conservatory, the Steans Music Institute
HIGHLAND PARK, IL—North America’s oldest and most programmatically diverse music festival, Ravinia, has named renowned pianist, music administrator and educator Kevin Murphy director of the festival’s summer music conservatory, the Steans Music Institute. He replaces Brian Zeger, who steps down in August after six years in the position. Murphy’s duties will include selecting 15 singers and five pianists from a worldwide pool of applicants to participate in the program each summer as well as securing faculty who will work with these artists over an intensive three-week residency. In consultation with the faculty, he will program four concerts of art song and three master classes each summer.
Kevin Murphy remains director of music administration at the New York City Opera, a position he has held since September of 2008. Before that time, he was director of musical studies at the National Opera of Paris. In 1992 he was the first pianist invited by Maestro James Levine (former Ravinia music director) to participate in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and continued as an assistant conductor from 1993 through June of 2006. In addition to his on- and off-stage partnership with his wife, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, he has collaborated in concert and recital with many of today’s leading artists including Steans Music Institute alumna Michelle DeYoung; Nathan Gunn; Bryn Terfel; Placido Domingo; Renee Fleming; and others, including performances of Mozart operas with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia.
“I can think of no better fit for Ravinia and the Steans Music Institute than Kevin, a truly respected and talented pedagogue who will spark and inspire the young professional musicians who will study with him,” said Ravinia Festival Music Director James Conlon. “Kevin is a friend, and I look forward to having him as a festival colleague.”
“I would like to thank Welz Kauffman for asking me to become the next director of the vocal program at the Steans Music Institute, and Maestro Conlon for his musical leadership and confidence in me,” Murphy said. “Having performed at Ravinia several times, I’ve always admired the high level of work and performance in the vocal program under the leadership of Brian Zeger. The collaboration between singer and pianist is uniquely intimate and expressive, and I’m honored to have the opportunity, along with distinguished colleagues, to guide the very best young vocal talent as they study, rehearse and perform the art song literature.”
“When Brian Zeger told me that his increasingly busy schedule would leave me faced with the daunting task of filling his shoes, I turned to an international array of advisors as well as local leaders who are invested in our music institute, and they all came up with one name: Kevin Murphy,” Welz Kauffman said. “Ravinia’s staff director of the Steans Music Institute, Anthony Roberts, and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves with Kevin. As rewarding as it is to make music, it’s even more fascinating to make musicians.”
Murphy joins Steans Music Institute faculty leaders Miriam Fried, who is director of the piano and strings program; and David Baker, who is director of the Jazz program. Ravinia Festival Trustee leaders of the Steans Music Institute are Robert Krebs, Lois and Harrison Steans, Betsey Pinkert and Harry Bernbaum, who consulted with Kauffman during the hiring process.
The summer conservatory of Ravinia Festival, the Steans Music Institute offers fully paid fellowships to about 70 world-class young artists from around the world who audition for these coveted slots in the vocal program, a jazz program and a piano and strings program. The Steans Music Institute, similar to programs at the Aspen, Marlboro and Tanglewood festivals, focuses on turning skilled and trained musicians into stage-commanding performers. In addition to working with the esteemed Steans Music Institute faculty, they also work with artists who frequent the festival and participate in master classes which are open to the public. Steans participants also perform concerts at Ravinia throughout the annual summer season, which regularly programs more than 100 separate events to audiences exceeding 600,000 people.
“Kevin Murphy is in the vanguard for Americans who have turned song
accompaniment into an art. The pianism was so absorbing, the singer’s entry
seemed like an intrusion. There can be no finer compliment.”
—The San Francisco Examiner
KEVIN MURPHY BIOGRAPHY
Pianist Kevin Murphy has been director of music administration at the New York City Opera since September 2008. Prior to joining the New York City Opera staff, he was appointed by Gerard Mortier as the directeur des etudes musicales at the Opéra National de Paris. In 1992 he was the first pianist invited by Maestro James Levine to participate in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and he continued as an assistant conductor from 1993 through June 2006. He has played continuo harpsichord with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in productions of Così fan tutte, La Cenerentola, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Clemenza di Tito and Idomene, and traveled with the company on tour in Japan.
In addition to his on- and off-stage partnership with his wife, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, he has collaborated in concert and recital with many of today’s leading artists. He is also respected for his work in master classes and as a private coach, and has performed in chamber music collaborations with the Zukerman ChamberPlayers as well as members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and New York Philharmonic.
He has appeared on The Today Show with soprano Renée Fleming, Good Morning America with soprano Cecilia Bartoli, and The Tonight Show with tenor Gary Lakes. He has been musical assistant and played continuo harpsichord for the Seiji Ozawa Opera Project in Japan, at the Tanglewood Music Festival and Verbier for James Levine and worked with Esa-Pekka Salonnen at La Jolla’s SummerFest. Additional festival appearances have included Music@Menlo, Bellingham Festival of Music and Vin et Musique in Burgundy. Murphy has been in residence with the Canadian Opera Company and the Vocal Arts Program at The Juilliard School. He is a regular adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and will collaborate with members of the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera in May.
A native of Syracuse, New York, Murphy received his bachelor of music in piano performance from Indiana University and master of music in piano accompaniment from The Curtis Institute. Kevin Murphy makes his home in New York, NY with his wife and their four children.