Francine Trester

Elizabeth Anker*                  Helen Ringwald
Donald Wilkinson               Sergeant Michael O’Hare

Francine Trester, Violin
Scott Woolweaver,* Viola
John McDonald,* Piano

Brenda Huggins, Stage Direction
Lisa French, Illustrator, Set Designer & Production Artist
Jo-Ann McIntyre, Production & Lighting Design

* a member of the Mockingbird Trio


Francine Trester, Composer/Librettist & Violin
Francine Trester wrote the music and libretto to 334 Bunnies in 2010, and she was also the violinist in the opera’s premiere and subsequent performances. She is very grateful to the Mockingbird Trio and Donald Wilkinson for their realization of this project.  She also thanks director Brenda L. Huggins, artist Lisa French and producer Jo-Ann McIntyre.

Trester is currently Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music. She received her B.A., M.A., and D.M.A. from Yale University and later was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study composition in Cambridge, England. She has been the recipient of an ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award as well as awards from the Fromm Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Her works have been premiered at several venues worldwide, including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and recorded on Albany and Crystal Records and published by Clear Note Publications. Recently commissioned by the Scottish Clarinet Quartet, her composition premiered at the ICA ClarinetFest in Assisi, Italy, and her works have been performed in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland (Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012, 2013). Commissions also include works written for the Providence Mandolin Orchestra, guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan, guitar duo Mark and Beverly Davis, trumpeter John Holt and mezzo-soprano Sophie Creech, the Wheeler School Handbell Choir, and the Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. Her compositions have been featured as part of an installation at the Arnot Art Museum and performed by the Shasta Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir, and the Zodiac Trio at the Edinburgh Festival.

Elizabeth Anker, Contralto
Elizabeth Anker’s dream come true is having beautiful music written for her. The contralto has sung first performances of many composers’ works, including those of John Adams (with the San Francisco Symphony), Scott Wheeler (The Construction of Boston), and even the modern premiere of a Baroque opera by Cesti. She has played a snake-handling Believer (Larry Bell’s Holy Ghosts) and Galatea (Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo), as well as the Voice of God, and many religious characters in the sacred oratorios of Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, and others. Recordings include art song cycles by Douglas Bruce Johnson and Julian Wachner; Shaker hymns and early American music with The Boston Camerata (the Shaker recording was a hit on the Billboard charts, competing with the Three Tenors); Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Boston Bach Ensemble; and the virtuosic works of Cozzolani with Magnificat Baroque. Liz also writes her own songs and accompanies herself on piano.

Liz has been on the faculty of the Longy School of Music since 1987 and New England Conservatory of Music School of Continuing Education since 1991. She enjoys teaching singing technique, Bach, improvisation, and art song to students of all ages. Liz is grateful to have such colleagues as the Mockingbird Trio and Francine Trester.

John McDonald, Piano
John McDonald is Professor of Music at Tufts University, where he served as Director of Graduate Music Studies from 2000 to 2010 and Department Chair from 2000 to 2003. He is a composer who tries to play the piano and a pianist who tries to compose. McDonald was named the 2007 MTNA-Shepherd Distinguished Composer of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association, and received the 2009 Lillian and Joseph Leibner Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising from Tufts University. In 2010, he received the Waring Prize from Western Reserve Academy, the highest award given to alumni of that school. His recordings appear on the Albany, Archetype, Boston, Bridge, Capstone, Neuma, New Ariel, and New World labels, and he has concertized widely as composer, pianist, and collaborative performer. New releases include pianist Andrew Rangell’s performance of McDonald’s “Meditation Before A Sonata: Dew Cloth, Dream Drapery,” on Bridge Records.

Scott Woolweaver, Viola
Scott Woolweaver graduated with distinction from the University of Michigan School of Music where he won the Joseph Knitzer and Earl V. Moore awards for outstanding participation in chamber music. After moving to Boston for graduate studies with Walter Trampler, he founded two award-winning string ensembles. He has been a member of many other chamber music ensembles, including the Mockingbird Trio, Chameleon Arts Ensemble, Ives Quartet, and New England Piano Quartette, the latter for 25 years. Scott has also played period instruments with Baroque orchestras.

A champion of the music of our time, Scott has premiered many new works, including pieces written especially for him. Since 1980 he has been a member of Alea III, a contemporary music ensemble in residence at Boston University. Scott is an Artist Associate at the prestigious Williams College in Williamstown, MA and is a Lecturer in Viola and Chamber Music at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Scott plays a Johan Georg Thir viola made in Vienna in 1737.

The Mockingbird Trio, Orchestra
The Mockingbird Trio features Elizabeth Anker, contralto; Scott Woolweaver, viola; and John McDonald, pianist/composer. The trio formed in 2004 and is devoted to performing new works by living composers. The concert that began the musicians’ collaboration, a perfomance of a dozen premieres, spawned several full programs of song cycles and, now, an opera. The trio is delighted to announce that it has included the wonderful songs of Francine Trester in every concert it has given. The Mockingbird Trio has appeared on both coasts in recitals and music festivals. The trio performs an improvisation at the conclusion of most concerts and includes music of the 19th century on occasion, just to keep the audiences guessing.

Donald Wilkinson, Baritone
Donald Wilkinson has performed throughout the United States and Canada. He made his European debut in the role of Dionysos in the world premiere of Theodore Antoniou’s opera The Bacchae at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Since then, he has sung in Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, England, and Holland. Mr. Wilkinson has performed as a soloist with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Christopher Hogwood and the Handel and Haydn Society. Since 1984, he has been a soloist in Emmanuel Music’s famed Bach Cantata Series under the direction of the late Craig Smith, John Harbison, and currently Ryan Turner. He celebrated his 25th Anniversary with Emmanuel Music in 2009. He is featured on Emmanuel Music’s recordings on Koch International Classics of Bach Christmas Cantatas, St. John Passion (1725 Version) and Cantatas for the 1st and 2nd Sundays after Trinity. His discography also includes the role of President Abraham Lincoln in the world premiere recording of Eric Sawyer’s Our American Cousin on BMOP Sound; the title role on the internationally acclaimed Johnny Johnson by Kurt Weill on Erato Disques; John Harbison’s Recordare on Koch International Classics; and David Patterson’s song cycle Last Words on Albany Records. Mr. Wilkinson teaches voice at Harvard University and Phillips Academy, Andover, MA.

Lisa French, Illustrator, Set Designer & Production Artist
Lisa French is an award-winning professional illustrator, studio artist, and educator with an enthusiasm for toy theater, object performance, puppetry, scenography, and installation. She has worked for many years as a freelance illustrator and was, apparently, one of the few women to have produced Super Bowl theme art (Super Bowl XXII, in 1990). She has produced art for ads, posters, brochures, packaging, and publishing.

334 Bunnies has provided Lisa with one of her first opportunities to design and build for the theatre. She designed the bunnies and sewed many of them, as well as the pieces of the set. Lisa also created the artwork used in the marketing materials and the program. In addition, she directed the website developer, who has a Graphic Design degree from the university where Lisa currently teaches. She taught in several of the most prestigious Illustration programs across the country before becoming the director of the new Illustration program at New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University. She has great admiration and appreciation for everyone involved with this opera (performers, staff, and volunteers), particularly Patrice Oliver, Heather Roe, and Kelsey Jenkins, who helped sew bunnies and build props.

Brenda Huggins, Director
Brenda Huggins is a theatre and opera director, puppeteer, costume designer, actor, singer, and teaching artist. With a deep interest in new works, Brenda has directed world premieres including a mask play in iambic, Cupid and Psyche, at Emerson College (2009), Three Women And a Bear at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (2010), and The Misery Play with This & That Theatre Group at Puppet Showplace Theatre (2011). Other new work includes The Rough Faced Girl, a touring one-act opera for children (2012). Many of Brenda’s productions feature physical theatre techniques and puppetry arts. Her innovative approach to making theatre focuses on collaboration and storytelling within a wide range of mediums from opera to shadow puppetry. Since completing an M.A. in Theatre Education from Emerson College (2009), Brenda has worked with Opera Boston, Commonwealth Opera, Connecticut Early Music Festival, Boston Fever Fest, Boston Opera Collaborative, Opera del West, Diva Day Foundation, M.I.T. Shakespeare Ensemble, Harvard University, Boston University, and Boston Conservatory. Current ongoing projects: live actor for Public V.R.’s touring interactive virtual reality production of Egyptian Oracle and the development of A Voice In the Dark, an original shadow puppetry play presented at Puppet Showplace Theatre in 2011 and 2012.

Jo-Ann McIntyre, Producer, Lighting Designer & Stage Manager
Jo-Ann McIntyre is thrilled to be a part of this production of 334 Bunnies. Her management credits include working with Opera Delaware, the Albany Berkshire Ballet, Theater of the Seventh Sister (TSS), the Vincent Dowling Theatre Company, and the New England Shakespeare Festival, among others. Her most recent lighting design work has been for TSS’s A Christmas Carol and the Sisterspace Women’s Music Festival. She has worked in various other roles with the Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival (Provincetown), Tennessee Williams Festival, Berkshire Women’s Muse Festival, and several other touring and in-house theatre companies.

The performers and staff give huge thanks to some fabulous helpers: Polly Laurelchild-Hertig, Chris Carr, Patrice Oliver, Kymberly Henry, Isabel Coloma-Sanz, Heather Roe, Peg Preble, Kelsey Jenkins, and Holly Haase. They also thank Pro Print, Sewfisticated Fabrics, and Roe U/SFS Design Inc. for their services, as well as videographers Louis Carreras (Shirley Meeting House performance) and Bill Wolk (St. John’s Church performance).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>