In founding Lyric Fest, mezzo-soprano SUZANNE DUPLANTIS realized a long-time goal of making song a central focus for her career. With a passionate commitment to song, and a belief in its power to reach all listeners, Suzanne enjoys sharing this vision with Lyric Fest audiences in novel and dynamic ways: as singer; in creative program building as Artistic Director; in writing scripts and program notes; through graphic design; and since the onset of the pandemic, through the creation of song videos. Noted for her moving renditions of songs and for her intimate way with an audience, “DuPlantis deeply imprints the music with her personality with great emotional underpinning” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). She made her New York debut in the St. John Passion of Bach at Alice Tully Hall with Musica Sacra and her Kimmel Center debut in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Orchestra 2001. Her career in opera has spanned debuts with Arizona Opera, Austin Lyric, New Orleans Opera, Mobile Opera, Eugene Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Knoxville Opera, Chautauqua Opera and Opera Philadelphia in roles from Rossini’s heroines Rosina and Isabella, Carmen to Waltraute. In oratorio, chamber music and song, Suzanne has appeared on numerous occasions with many of Philadelphia’s premiere arts organizations including The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Bucks County Choral Society, Singing City, The Wister Quartet, Mendelssohn Club, and The Philadelphia Chamber Ensemble and Orchestra 2001. She has premiered new works written for her, including Kile Smith’s song cycle for Mezzo and Baritone, In This Blue Room, Andrea Clearfield’s Les Fenêtres and the Women of Valor Suite, Robert Maggio’s Rachel and her Children; Small Hands Relinquish All, Roxanna Panufnik’s Love Abide, Logan Skelton’s Dickinson Songs, Allen Krantz’s From On the Road. She has recorded Brian Gaber’s Ancestral Waters for mezzo, orchestra and jazz trio, and has recently released her new CD of American Songbook Standards, Lazy Afternoon – Songs of Love and the South.
Since branching out into popular song, Suzanne has been performing Cabaret since 2010. Bringing the same gift of story and song she is known for in the Classical world, Suzanne weaves together reminiscences and local history with the unforgettable songs of The Great American Songbook.
LAURA WARD is pianist and Artistic Director of Lyric Fest. As a distinguished collaborative pianist she is known for both her technical ability and vast knowledge of repertoire and styles. Concert engagements have taken her to Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Teatro Colon, the Spoleto Festival (Italy), the Colmar International Music Festival and Saint Denis Festival in France. She has served on the faculty of AlpenKammermusik, The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College, The Academy of Vocal Arts, Temple University, Ravinia Festival Stean’s Institute, Washington Opera, University of Maryland, Music Academy of the West and as the official pianist for the Washington International Competition, the Astral Artists Auditions and for the Marian Anderson Award. Laura is pianist on the recently released Daron Hagen 21st Century Song Cycles on the Naxos label and Lineage with her frequent collaborative partner, Randall Scarlata on the Albany label. Laura is also recording artist and editor of song accompaniments for publisher Hal Leonard having co-edited: Richard Strauss: 40 Songs, Gabriel Fauré: 50 Songs, and Johannes Brahms: 75 Songs and recorded over 2000 song accompaniments for Hal Leonard Publishing. These volumes help countless singers and pianists experience, learn and enjoy the art song repertoire and also help introduce a world of art song to many who have had little exposure to classical song. A native of Texas, Laura received her Bachelor in Music degree from Baylor University, holds a Masters in Piano Accompanying at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a Doctorate in Accompanying from the University of Michigan where she was a student of Martin Katz.