Samuel Martin | Founder & Artistic Director
Pianist Samuel Martin is a dynamic artist in demand as a partner for recital, chamber, choral, orchestral, opera, and musical theater performances. A Presser Scholar, and the recipient of numerous other musical honors, his stylistic versatility has resulted in concert appearances both nationally and internationally. As an entrepreneur and administrator, he is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Song Initiative, a nonprofit concert series dedicated to the promotion and innovation of art song.
Martin kicks off the 2017-2018 season in his Mexican debut recital with mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal and baritone Sola Fadiran. Other highlights include appearances with the Cincinnati Song Initiative, as well as in numerous song recitals at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, where he joins the music staff in August. In the recent past, Martin has served as coach and répétiteur for Cincinnati Chamber Opera, as well as the coaching staffs of the International Performing Arts Institute (Bavaria, Germany), the Opera Company of Middlebury (VT), and the CCM Summer Opera Studio (Cincinnati).
A strong proponent of new music, Martin has been directly involved in the premieres of works by numerous composers, including Sally Lamb McCune, Matthew Recio, R. Aaron Walters, Josh Oxford, and Christopher A. Sforza. In the realm of theater, he has served as music director for the premieres of two new musicals: Beautiful Dreamer: The Stephen Foster Musical by David Newman, and The Teddy Bear Awards by Peter Schmidt. Additionally, he had the distinct pleasure of serving as rehearsal and performance pianist for the world premiere of Dana Wilson's opera The Wolf By the Ears.
A native of New York, Martin holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music and Ithaca College. His past appearances in master classes are extensive, having performed for such artists as Nedda Casei, Barbara Daniels, Margo Garrett, Jake Heggie, Christopher O’Riley, Emmanuel Plasson, Andreas Scholl, Sharon Sweet, Dawn Upshaw, and numerous others.
Elena Villalón | Associate Artistic Director
Soprano Elena Villalón delivers sparkle and warmth throughout her voice, heard recently in Albert Herring where a local review praised her as “a charming Miss Wordsworth, with a high soprano voice that rode the top line in the ensembles with great ease.”
Ms. Villalón finishes the current season as a Colburn Fellow at the SongFest Summer Institute in Los Angeles. She currently studies at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) with baritone William McGraw. There, she was named winner of the 2017 CCM Undergraduate Voice Competition, and is also the winner of the 2016 SMART Opera Competition. Prior to beginning her studies at CCM, Ms. Villalón was a participant of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Butler Opera Center Young Artist Program, and Spotlight on Opera.
Ms. Villalón is a passionate arts education advocate, writing articles featured in the Huffington Post and Carnegie Hall Music Exchange. A supporter of community service through art, she regularly organizes and performs in benefit concerts throughout the country.
Board of Directors
DONNA HALLEN LOEWY