Cierra Byrd, mezzo soprano, is a native of Akron, Ohio. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, where she studied with Dr. Karen Peeler and Dr. Scott McCoy. Ms. Byrd has performed as a featured soloist nationally and abroad with recognized ensembles and organizations including The Capriccio Jubilee Singers, Opera Columbus, and The Stacey V. Gibbs Chorale. She is the first winner of the Wilson Vocal Award, a recurrent NATS finalist, a recent recipient of Peabody’s “Artist Excellence Award”, and has also had the honor of singing in masterclasses with renowned tenor, George Shirley and Austrian soprano, Gabriele Lechner. Ms. Byrd is currently pursuing a graduate degree at The Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of Margaret Baroody. She is honored to be portraying the role of La Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica (Il Trittico) with Peabody Opera Theatre this spring.
Emma Dickinson is an operatic Soprano who possesses a rich, vibrant tone that is only matched by her crisp technique and her polished artistry. Emma prides herself on being a multifaceted, hard-working, detail-oriented, and learned musician who is always ready for a challenge. She has already dazzled audiences in her portrayals of The Mother in Hansel and Gretel, The Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, The White Cat in The Child and the Magic Spells, La Nature in La Calisto, and Emma Jones in Street Scene with Simpson College Opera. She made her first professional opera debut as Dater #6 in Speed Dating Tonight! by Michael Ching with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. She is currently studying at Peabody Conservatory for her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance under the tutelage of Denyce Graves and Peggy Baroody. At Peabody, she has performed in the chorus of L’Elisir d’Amore, and Zosha in Out of Darkness: Two Remain. This past summer, she performed the role of Larina in Eugene Onegin in Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia. This fall, she’ll be performing as a Street Singer in Peabody Opera’s production of Bernstein’s MASS. In March of 2019, Ms. Dickinson will be performing the role of Giorgetta in Il Tabarro by Puccini with Peabody Opera.
Lacey Hindman is a first year, Masters student in Vocal Performance at Peabody Institute. She recently performed Serpetta in La finta giardiniera and Emma in Albert Herring for the University of Mississippi’s Opera Theatre. Lacey sang the role of Ninetta in La finta semplice and Adele in Die Fledermaus in the UM Opera Theatre scenes program in 2017. As a member of UM Opera Theatre, Lacey performed in the world premiere of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark at the Ford Center of Oxford, MS and the Vinohrady Opera House of Prague, Czech Republic. In the summer of 2017, she joined the Chicago Summer Opera performing the role of Second Woman and covering Belinda in Dido & Aeneas. She also performed the roles of Frasquita in Carmen and Despina in Così fan tutte in the Chicago Summer Opera scenes program.
Baajah Mohammed, Soprano, recently graduated with a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from East Carolina University, where she studied under Dr. Rachel E. Copeland and Mr. John Kramar. In her previous instruction, Ms. Mohammed was a member and soloist of the award winning East Carolina University Chamber Singers. Her most recent roles include Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Celia in Iolanthe, and Constance in Dialogues of the Carmelites. Baajah has been an active participant in the North Carolina New Music Initiative, premiering various choral, chamber, and solo works and collaborating extensively with new composers. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy from the Peabody Conservatory, studying under Denyce Graves and Margaret Baroody.
Melanie Piercy, a soprano studying in the studio of Margaret Baroody, is a first year Master’s student in Voice Performance at the Peabody Conservatory. Melanie is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, and received her Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance with a minor in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. In the summer of 2018, Melanie attended the Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville, Maine. Directed and mentored by Nicholas Muni and Arlene Shrut she performed the role of Belinda from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. At South Carolina she served in the Concert Choir and was an active member of the Opera at USC department. As a member of the Concert Choir, Melanie performed in Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers. As well as performing in MASS, she toured with the choir throughout Ireland in the summer of 2017. Opera performance roles included the role of Arminda in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, Elaine O’Neill in John Musto’s Later the Same Evening, and Speed Dater #1 and #6 in Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight! Melanie also performed as an ensemble member in Offenbach’s La Perichole and performed scenes from Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte, and Giannini’s Beauty and the Beast. She has also performed in several masterclasses with notable composers, Libby Larsen and William Bolcom. Melanie was nominated and inducted as a member of the music honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda.
Kayla Raschke is an undergraduate freshman soprano from Grand Haven, Michigan. She is studying at The Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute in the studio of Denyce Graves/Margaret Baroody. Kayla has been involved with community theater since the age of seven. Some favorite roles include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Diana Barry in Anne of Green Gables, Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, Jan in Grease and Jack’s Mother in Into the Woods. Her favorite musical role in high school was Morticia in The Addams Family Musical. Kayla sang with the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus as a child. She won Muskegon Has Talent Critics Choice award for her solo performance of “The Music of the Night” (The Phantom of the Opera) at age 15. She was the solo performer from her high school chosen to represent her school in the West Michigan Student Showcase with her performance of “Art is Calling for Me” (The Enchantress). On top of her theater and voice experience, Kayla also has 14 years of dance experience. While in high school, some activities included NHS Treasurer, Choir President, Cast Captain, and both JV and Varsity Golf. She looks forward to the growth and education that The Peabody Institute will offer her as she prepares for a performing career in opera.
Brianna Grace Samuels is a budding lyric soprano who has already amassed a rich and diverse performance resumé. Brianna was born and raised in Miami, Florida and graduated with a Bachelor of Music with an Outside Field in Marketing from Stetson University. In the summer of 2013, Brianna was selected as a participant in the VOICExperience Summer Workshop where she performed scenes as Papagena from The Magic Flute and as Rapunzel from Tangled. Brianna has also performed in scenes from The Magic Flute, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Calisto and was cast as the Second Lay Sister in a workshop production of Suor Angelica. At Stetson, Brianna performed the role of Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo and understudied the role of Franzi in Ein Walzertraum. She recently performed as L’Ensoleillad in a Peabody Opera production of Massenet’s Chérubin and took part in the University of Miami in Salzburg summer voice program. This school year she will be performing as a Street Singer in the Bernstein MASS and as Gretel in the Peabody Outreach production of Hansel and Gretel. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of Denyce Graves and Margaret Baroody.