Guest Artists

SOPHIE WILLIAMS

Sophie Williams, a California native, began training at Ballet Arte in San Diego, before joining Miami City Ballet’s Pre-Pro Division. Highlights of her professional career include performing as the 2nd Violin in Concerto Barocco, Dark Angel in Serenade, and in Theme and Variations with Richmond Ballet. She has previously performed with Ballet San Jose, BalletMet, and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. In 2020, Sophie joined the Corps de Ballet of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, where she had the opportunity to dance, tour the country, and connect with her New Zealand roots. She joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2022. This is her first season with CDP.

JOHN MURTON, Guest Conductor

Conductor and singer John Murton studied at the University of Oxford, where he held a choral scholarship in the Choir of Magdalen College. He subsequently went on to sing with numerous choirs and consorts across the United Kingdom and on tour throughout Europe. His experience as a singer led naturally to an interest in opera, and as a conductor he has appeared at London’s Grimeborn and Tête à Tête festivals. John relocated to the United States to study conducting at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, and has subsequently held conducting fellowships with the Allentown Symphony, Eastern Music Festival and Cincinnati Symphony. John is currently Assistant Conductor of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra where he leads the ensemble’s flagship educational concerts as well as appearing in subscription concerts through the season.  

Photo by Rick Peckham

BIRAJ BARKAKATY

Biraj Barkakaty was an Alto Lay Clerk with the full time professional choir at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle for 4 years where he performed in many tours, recordings and royal events, including the wedding of HM Majesty King Charles III and The Queen Consort, and was a staff Alto with the full time professional choir Washington National Cathedral from 2016-21. He also performed with the London based Siglo de Oro Vocal Ensemble at the Tager Alte Musik in Regensburg in 2021.Other recent projects include Adnan in the world premiere of A Silver Spoon at the Beaumaris Festival in Wales in July with Keynote Opera, Ottone in The Coronation of Poppea with Capitol Opera Richmond in July, The Messiah with the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys in NYC, and Christmas Concerts with The Breath Collective Ensemble in Cincinnati. He was a featured artist with Faces of Early Music America in February and is currently a Young Artist on the joint opera mentorship/ observership program with Glyndebourne and Pegasus Opera. Upcoming engagements include his musical theatre debut as Fakir in The Secret Garden with Theatre Lab Dayton next May.

DON JOHNS

Don Johns is an in-demand percussion performer and educator in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan area. He is a regular substitute musician with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Johns is also principal timpanist of the Apollo Orchestra in Washington, DC. In addition, he is the lead percussionist for Soulful Symphony. Moreover, Dr. Johns is a proud member of both the Gateways Festival Orchestra and the Colour of Music Festival Orchestra-two groundbreaking groups that spotlight professional black classical musicians. Along with orchestral work, Dr. Johns has played drum set and percussion for music productions in the DC area and in Los Angeles. He also plays drum set and timpani for several churches in the Washington, DC area. Dr. Johns is the Adjunct Professor of Percussion at Bowie State University in Bowie, MD and the Percussion Director at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD. His percussion ensemble was the featured high school percussion ensemble for the Percussive Arts Society’s 2017 Maryland/Delaware Day of Percussion. In addition, Dr. Johns was the percussion coach for the DC Youth Orchestra Program from 2006-2019. In May 2022, Dr. Johns completed a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Percussion Performance at Shenandoah Conservatory. He also received a Master of Music Degree and Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Maryland. In 2017, Dr. Johns created a non-profit organization called the DMV Music Academy. Its mission is to expose, engage, and enrich young people through all forms of instrumental music education.

LUKE FRELS

Luke Frels is active in the Washington DC area as an educator, conductor, composer, choral singer, and soloist. He currently serves as the Choral Music Resource Teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools and has worked as a staff singer in the all-professional choir at Christ Church, Georgetown since 2005. Luke has performed and recorded with many DC area ensembles including the Washington Bach Consort, the Bach Sinfonia, the Cathedral Choral Society, Brethren, the New Dominion Chorale, Opera Lafayette and most recently with the Washington Master Chorale. Nationally, Luke has sung and recorded with the Orpheus Chamber Singers, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Via Veritate, and Conspirare.

As an educator, Luke has taught choral music, music theory, composition, piano, and voice in Northern Virginia since 2003. He is committed to supporting music education in the public schools and fostering future choral musicians. In addition to his work supporting choral programs in FCPS, Luke maintains an active voice studio and has served as a guest clinician, faculty member, adjudicator, and conductor for local, area, and national choral music workshops and ensembles.

MATTHEW SCOLLIN

Matthew Scollin has established himself on operatic and concert stages alike.  In the 2017-18 season, Mr. Scollin returned to the Opéra National de Bordeaux as Goffredo in Il pirata.  Stateside, he made debuts with both Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera as Martin and James in Candide; returned to Pittsburgh Opera as the Sacristan in Tosca; and sang Montolino in Bellini’s La straniera with Washington Concert Opera. He is the winner of a Career Development Award from the The William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation. Matthew earned his Master of Music from the University of Illinois, at which he received the Jerry Hadley Memorial Scholarship and sang the Duruflé Requiem, Monterone in Rigoletto, and Don Quixote in The Man of La Mancha. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Michigan State University, where he sang his first performances of Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Alidoro in La cenerentola, Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette, El capitán in Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, Elder McLean in Floyd’s Susannah, and Simone in Gianni Schicchi. 

Matthew is currently a member of the United States Air Force Band Singing Sergeants.  Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, DC, the Singing Sergeants present more than 200 performances annually around the country to honor those who have served, inspire American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively impact the global community.

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Header Photo: Jiamond Watson and guest artist Joe Gonzalez in Gravity to Grace
Photo by Eduardo Patino.NYC