Amy Owens, soprano
Coloratura soprano Amy Owens is establishing herself as a versatile performer with comedic flair, a strong aptitude for new music, and a soaring high range. During her two-year residency with Utah Opera (2012–2014), Ms. Owens was praised in Opera News for her “vivacious enthusiasm”, “engaging, bell-like soprano”, and “high-flying vocals”, gaining particular notice for her performances as Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Papagena in Die Zauberflöte.
The 2016–2017 season sees Ms. Owens appear in concert and recital with several prestigious organizations, starting with a Liederabend at Washington University of St. Louis and her New Mexico Philharmonic debut in Carmina Burana. She joined New York Festival of Song to open their 2016–2017 NYFOS Next series at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, collaborating with the Momenta Quartet in the New York premiere performance of Gabriela Lena Frank’s Iberian Songs for soprano and string quartet. Ms. Owens made her Dallas Opera debut in December 2016 performing in the Second Annual Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors concert.
In 2017, Ms. Owens rejoins New York Festival of Song as part of their Mainstage series to perform Paul Bowles’ Picnic Cantata. She makes her Asian debut under the auspices of Hong Kong’s The Intimacy of Creativity festival, performing the music of Bright Sheng, and her Reno Philharmonic debut performing Christopher Theofanidis’ Grammy-nominated choral and orchestral work The Here and Now. Ms. Owens rejoins Wolf Trap Opera to fulfill an artist residency during which she will create the role of Blunderbunch in the premiere of The School for Trolls. In May 2017, Ms. Owens makes her Carnegie Hall debut in Carmina Burana with Mid-America Productions.
Ms. Owens is the recipient of a Sullivan Award, an encouragement award from the George London Foundation, and two consecutive wins from the Metropolitan Opera National Council district auditions in New York City. She has fulfilled young artist residencies with Santa Fe Opera, Utah Opera, Central City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and Utah Festival Opera.
Howard “Merlin” Wulkan, Composer/Owner, Cinder Cone Records & The LAB Recording Studio
Howard’s focus for the past three decades lies within the world of media and entertainment. His career started in recording studios during the mid-80s, working with such luminaries as producer Gary Katz, sound engineer Elliot Scheiner (Steely Dan), Chris Jasper (The Isley Brothers) and several others. While keeping a foot firmly planted in the creative process, he simultaneously amassed an extensive career as a Head of Sales & Marketing in the Music Business, working with Cordless Recordings/Warner Brothers and ILS/PolyGram Group Distribution President and TJ Martell Award-recipient Jim Caparro among others. He directed sales and distribution efforts for hip hop label Rawkus Entertainment alongside Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son James (Mos Def, Black Star), Dan The Automator’s 75 Ark (founder of multiplatinum group Gorillaz and Deltron 3030) and his own labels, Coup d’Etat and The Council.
As the music business of the mid-00’s came to a screeching halt amidst consolidation and piracy, Howard was offered and accepted the position of VP of Music Licensing for a music house working in the Advertising arena. This set the next 10 years in motion, whereby he became extremely well-versed in music for media (TV, film, web, experiential). After working alongside another set of wonderful mentors, he started his own boutique music house and amassed a client roster that featured Ralph Lauren, Jaguar, SAP, Toyota, Walgreens, Target and many more.
After leaving NYC in late 2010 and moving to the deserts of New Mexico, he launched Cinder Cone Worldwide, the Company he now owns with his wife, media executive Lainie Sevante. He gathered up all of his experiences working with such artists as Nirvana, Hole, Weezer, Portishead, UNKLE, poets Jim Carroll and William Burroughs (through the John Giorno Foundation), DJ Shadow, U2 (there are many more), combined it with his 3 decades working in studios (and also as a signed artist) and opened his studio (The LAB), a record label (Cinder Cone Records) and Cinder Cone Media, a marketing and branding and events entity. From worldwide media marketing strategies for film and other events to conscious podcast Zeta Global Radio, the Company is celebrating its 5th year of existence in 2017.
At The LAB, during 2015 and into 2016, Howard produced dozens of artist albums and of particular note, scored the film “Cornerstone,” the story of CNN Hero of the Year Jackson Kaguri’s efforts to rebuild his village in Uganda; one that was decimated by the AIDS virus. The film will have its North American premier in New York City, December 2016. After a cancelled trip to Uganda due to the rainy season (he was to record the Anti-AIDS Children’s Choir), Howard determined that a choir could be easily recorded in his home state of New Mexico; the innocence of a child’s voice is Universal. A statewide initiative, conceived of and launched by his wife Lainie resulted in a new partnership and friendship with the Young Musician Initiative, who graced the theme song with 20+ children’s voices. Program Director Alexis Corbin and her incredible organization will be participating in several projects with Howard during 2017.
Mr. Wulkan is working with the Executive Director of the Albuquerque Youth SymphonyProgram Michael Sleeter in his new capacity as a member of the Board of Directors. He’s scheduled to launch a brand-new recording facility on the AYSP campus; not only to assist the increasing needs of the students as they prepare recitals and audition pieces for college entrance exams, but as a new stream of revenue for the Program itself.