JoAnn Kulesza is presently musical director of the Opera Theatre Program at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. The Peabody Opera Theatre Program produces between six and 10 performances a year, serving between 85 and 100 singers. With her years of experience in the professional world, she provides an important aspect of the aspiring professionals’ training. Well versed in opera’s vast repertoire, she teaches classes in recitative repertoire and works with collaborative pianists and conductors at the school.
A life-long lover of choral music, Kulesza worked with the renowned Margaret Hillis at the Chicago Symphony Chorus and as assistant to Chorus Master Philip Morehead at the Chicago Lyric Opera. She was chorus master for the Wolf Trap Opera Company for many years and prepared the chorus for Washington National Opera’s Romeo & Juliet in 2004, under Maestro Bertrand de Billy. She presently conducts the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, a chorus of 35-45 members, in two concerts annually, of a wide variety of repertoire; she is in her eighth year as music director of this ensemble. Kulesza’s vast experience also includes work with the Western Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera Center, New York Chamber Ensemble, Washington Opera, Baltimore Opera, and Utah Festival Opera.
Since entering the conducting realm, Kulesza has conducted three world premieres and led as well as played continuo for productions of Mozart, Rossini, and Britten. She has worked with some of the most notable conductors in the field – Loren Maazel, George Manahan, Heinz Fricke, Stephen Lord, Margaret Hillis – and is in demand as a clinician and educator around the country. She made her Opera Omaha debut in February 2011, conducting and playing continuo for Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Kulesza earned a Bachelor of Music at Western Michigan University and a Master of Music at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.