Eileen Cornett is director of the graduate Vocal Accompanying Program in Collaborative Piano at the Peabody Conservatory and is currently enjoying her twenty-second year as a principal faculty coach with Peabody’s Opera Department. She began her professional career as musical director of the Croswell Opera House (MI) and has subsequently conducted, coached, and arranged musical and operatic productions for numerous regional and international companies. She performs as a collaborative pianist, opera coach, solo and orchestral pianist, music director, and conductor.
Cornett has worked as a guest coach/accompanist for the Baltimore Opera’s Young Artist Program and the Annapolis Opera Company. Summer faculty appointments include the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival in Maiori, Italy, the Opera Theatre program at the Fairbanks (Alaska) Summer Arts Festival, the Seagle Colony Vocal Program in Schroon Lake, NY, the Lake Placid Institute in upstate NY, and the Tanz und Gesang Studio at the Theatre and der Wien in Vienna, Austria.
Most recently, Cornett served as music director and conductor for Peabody Chamber Opera’s U.S. premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park. She was a featured solo pianist with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals. She accompanied mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in a benefit recital for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and joined soprano Sylvia McNair and stage director Tim Nelson of the American Opera Theatre as musical director of Songspiel of Kurt Weill songs at American University and Baltimore’s Theatre Project. Other performances include recitals at the Museo Correale in Sorrento, Italy, the Palazzo Mezzacappo in Maiori, Italy, and recitals at Dartmouth University, Lipscomb University, and the University of Mississippi, where she also gave a master class to collaborative piano majors. Cornett has visited Luther College, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, and St. Olaf College for collaborative piano master classes and recitals with her trio, Northern Accord, and clarinetist Liz Gunlogson.
Cornett spent four weeks as a guest artist in Taiwan, giving Master classes at universities and vocal societies in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung, and performing in recitals at Taipei’s National Concert Hall with soprano Gigi Chan and Golden Melody Award Winner Peter Lee. She also served as a guest coach for Don Giovanni with the Creaton Opera Company in Kaohsiung.
With the National Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, and Kennedy Center Opera Orchestras, Cornett has performed as solo and orchestral pianist for conductors Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Eve Queler, Paul Gemignani, Bill Conte, and Marvin Hamlisch in concerts with Bryn Terfel, Frederica von Stade, Denyce Graves, and the late Rosemary Clooney. She joined James Levine and the Three Tenors with the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra at their performance in the MCI Center, soloing with Luciano Pavarotti. Yearly, she accompanies all finalists for the Annapolis Opera Competitions’ Preliminary and Final Concerts, and has served as an official accompanist for the International Marian Anderson Vocal Arts, Baltimore Opera, and the Rosa Ponselle “All Marylanders” Competitions. Cornett has collaborated in recital at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre, Merkin Hall, the Embassies of France and Russia, Strathmore Hall’s “Music in the Mansion” series, the Peabody Conservatory, and the University of Maryland, and has accompanied master classes for Mignon Dunn, Margo Garrett, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Cristina Deutekom, Luigi Alva, Paul Sperry, Patrice Munsel, Jennifer Lane, Louise McClelland, and Sherill Milnes. She shared the stage with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in a benefit concert for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. In Baltimore, she joined Irish tenor Finbar Wright in a solo recital for Governor Martin O’Malley and the National Board for Irish Tourism.
Formerly music director of the Croswell Opera House in Adrian, Michigan, Cornett’s eclectic conducting credits include productions of Hansel and Gretel, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, Barnum, The Pirates of Penzance, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Die Fledermaus,and Sweeney Todd. She is the originating Musical Director for NOW THIS!, a Washington based comedy group which performs totally improvised music theatre, collaborates with The Capitol Steps, a musical political satire group, and is a member of a chamber music trio, Northern Accord.
Cornett’s recordings include Opus Opera! with the Da Camera Singers, Domenic Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Wedding with conductor Sarah Watkins and the Sinfonia of St. Cecilia, Spirit by Northern Accord, Make Someone Happy with tenor Stanley Cornett, and Four More Years in the Bush Leagues and I’m So Indicted with the Capitol Steps.
Cornett received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and her Master of Music degree in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music from the University of Michigan, where she studied with Martin Katz and Lynne Bartholomew. She pursued additional studies with Gwendolyn Koldofsky and Jean Barr at the Music Academy of the West. She is a former faculty member of Loyola College.
Cornett and her husband, tenor Stanley Cornett, make their home in Baltimore, where they are the extremely proud parents of two daughters, Lydia and Emily.