Samuel Martin | Founding 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.

The beginning of the 2018-2019 season sees Martin's return to México for Cantos para Hermanar al Mundo with mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal and other distinguished artists. Other highlights include appearances with the Cincinnati Song Initiative and special recording projects. In the recent past, Martin has served on the musical coaching staffs of Opera in the Heights (Houston), Cincinnati Chamber Opera, 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.  He currently serves on the music staff of Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, where he can be seen in numerous song recitals with graduate-level singers throughout the academic year.

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Elena Villalón | Associate Artistic Director

Soprano Elena Villalón delivers sparkle and warmth throughout her voice, heard recently as a Colburn Fellow at the SongFest Summer Institute in Los Angeles. Recent appearances include Lucy (Menotti's The Telephone) with Opera d'arte at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She joins the Tanglewood Music Center as a Vocal Arts Fellow during the summer of 2018.

She currently studies at 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