Members

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Jessie Downs, Soprano and Artistic Director (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

Jessie Downs is a vocalist, composer, and teaching artist for whom music is a medium for sharing personal experiences and entering into community with others. As a vocalist, she specializes in both Romantic repertoire and music of the present day. She is always looking for ways to unite the wisdom of tradition with innovative experimentation, an aesthetic that greatly informs her work as Sotto Voce’s Artistic Director. Jessie has premiered numerous works by living composers both as a soloist and with SVVC, worked with such champions of contemporary vocal music as Jeff Gavett and Juliet Fraser, and coached other up-and-coming vocalists in the performances of her own works. She holds a BMus in Composition from Oberlin Conservatory and is currently a PhD candidate in Composition at the University at Buffalo, as well as a devoted student of bel canto under the guidance of the Maestro Franco Bertacci.

 

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Julia Anne Cordani, Soprano (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

Julia Anne Cordani is a Buffalo-based performer and educator, passionate about music accessibility and advocacy. A life-long student of voice, she currently studies under respected interpreter of both classical and modern music Tiffany Du Mouchelle. Julia’s primary musical interest is in early music, but she strives to combine her love of the ancient with her equal love of the modern by studying contemporary vocal techniques and working with contemporary composers.

Julia’s recent accolades include participation in a choral music intensive in Southern France with the University of Delaware, performing the role of Belinda in the University at Buffalo’s production of Dido and Aeneas, and serving as soprano soloist in University of Delaware Chorale’s performance of Vesperae solennes de confessore. In addition to singing with and serving as Managing Director for Sotto Voce, she performs regularly with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and serves as soprano section leader for the University at Buffalo Choir and University at Buffalo Chamber Ensemble.

 

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Gabrielle Carr, alto and Managing Director (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

Gabrielle Carr is a vocalist and performer from Buffalo, New York who sings alto with Sotto Voce. She is a recent graduate of SUNY Fredonia’s Music Industry program with double minors in Communication and Jazz Studies. She is also a founding member of the Fredonia Voices Vocal Jazz Ensemble, who have been featured with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra for their “Evening with Ella” concert and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, performing original works and arrangements by composer Matt Cattingub on their “Swingin’ Stars and Stripes” and “Gershwin Pops” concerts. She has also been featured in concert with the grammy award winning vocal jazz group the New York Voices and currently studies voice with Kim Nazarian.

Gabrielle is also a founding member of the Free Fred Brown Project with Ujima Theatre Company, under the direction of Lorna C. Hill. She is passionate about the importance of using the arts to educate and inspire change, and is always looking for new ways to intertwine her passion for activism with her passion for creating and performing.

 

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Helen Lowry, alto (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

Helen Lowry is a mezzo-soprano from Buffalo, NY. In addition to singing alto with Sotto Voce, she works for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and serves as the alto soloist and section leader of the choir at the Unitarian Universalist Church of a Buffalo. Helen holds a degree in vocal performance from SUNY Fredonia where she studied under Dr. Patricia J. Coron. While at Fredonia, she was also a member of the college, masterworks, and chamber choirs directed by Dr. Gerald Gray and started an alternative-rock bad, for which she was the lead singer.

After graduating with a BA in voice and a minor in Italian studies, she studied abroad twice in Italy – once to explore renaissance art in Florence and Rome, then again to study chamber music and opera at the Brancaleoni International Music Festival in the small mountain town of Piobbico.

 

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Suzanne Fatta, tenor (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

Contralto Profondo and early music specialist Suzanne Fatta sings Tenor with Sotto Voce, Bass with Vivaldi’s Women in the UK, and pioneers the use of low female voices in opera around the world. She has also sung with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, serving as both the Alto & Tenor Section Leader at various times. In addition to Directing their Copland And the Cold War Celebration in 2015, she appeared in their magnificent production of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Suzanne also performs with Nickel City Opera, the Buffalo Chamber Players, Music Niagara, Vocális Chamber Choir, Camerata di Sant’Antonio, the Bach & Beyond Festival, Opera Sacra, OperaBuffs of WNY, DIVA by DIVA, and several early music groups in Europe. Her jazz/ pop demo CD Brucia La Terra came out recently, and she was twice nominated Best Jazz Female Vocalist in JazzBuffalo.

Suzanne holds a dual Bachelors with Honors in Religion and Musicology (Vocal Performance) from Oberlin, a Masters in Medieval Studies from Harvard, and has undertaken doctoral studies in Historical Performance Practice at Eastman and the University of York (UK). While at Harvard, she won a Teaching Award of Distinction for her teaching of a course on jazz. She has also taught in the Music Department at Canisius College.

 

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Blake Hurlburt, tenor/ baritone (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

Blake Hurlburt – tenor/ baritone in Sotto Voce – is a long-time student of voice and the musical arts. Currently pursuing a Bachelors in Computer Science at the University at Buffalo, he is continuing his musical learning by studying vocal performance and choral conducting under the direction of Claudia Brown.

In addition to Sotto Voce, Blake performs with the UB Choir and Chamber Ensemble. Other recent performances include the role of Aeneas in the University at Buffalo’s production of Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell, Portraits of English Music: A Voice Recital with Julia Anne Cordani, the role of Wallace Hartley in Playing with Fire’s production of Titanic, and pianist in an adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie.

 

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William Zino, baritone  (photo credit Saffi Rigberg)

William Zino is a second-year PhD student in musicology and teaching assistant at the University at Buffalo. He received his Bachelor’s degree in musical studies at SUNY Potsdam, and a certificate of performance while a student in Dr. Deborah Massell’s voice studio. Previous performance experience includes UB Choir and Chamber Ensemble under Professor Claudia Brown, The Crane School of Music Chorus, working with Maestro Duane Wolf at Carnegie Hall, and numerous musical theatre roles and castings (Javert – Les Misérables, Harry – Company, Action – West Side Story, and others). William also took part in the Frost School of Music’s Summer in Salzburg program, in which he attended vocal coaching and master classes. His research interests currently include the musicals of Stephen Sondheim, and the sociological concepts of agency and power struggle in those works.

 

Alex Huddleston, Operations Director, is a composer currently based out of Buffalo, New York. His music seeks to occupy a liminal space in which serendipitous relationships emerge and collapse in a play of familiarity and otherness. Centered on themes of alienation, sorrow, anxiety, schizophrenia, and fear, while functioning through polyvocal durations, his work embodies a singular affect – there is too much and too little, it is too fast and too slow, it is elegant and awkward, it makes too much sense and makes no sense. He is pursuing his doctorate in Composition at SUNY Buffalo where he Studies with David Felder. Additional instructors include Martin Iddon, Steven Takasugi, Pierluigi Billone, and Joshua Fineberg. His music has been performed in the United States and Europe and he has participated in many contemporary music festivals, including Composit, SICPP, and Darmstadt. He has collaborated with the Arditti Quartet, the JACK Quartet, the Mivos Quartet, Ensemble Mise-En, percussionist Christian Smith, vocalist Jessie Downs, and the Sotto Voce Vocal Collective.