Sasha Cooke & John Churchwell Named Co-Directors of Lehrer Vocal Institute

By David Salazar

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and pianist and vocal coach John Churchwell have been appointed Co-Directors of the Music Academy’s Lehrer Vocal Institute.

The duo will be charged with the long-term planning for the organization’s curriculum, performance, and teaching roster. They have already worked on the 2023 summer festival, which will include an industry day, a new studio artist program, an all-Spanish language performance with such guest artists as soprano Ana María Martínez and zarzuela specialist and coach César Cañón, and a vocal performance with a guest stage director.

“Music Academy made a profound impact on my life. Being surrounded by such incredible talent and discipline instilled those values in me,” Cooke said in an official press statement. “ I look forward to sharing with the fellows all of the knowledge I have continued to gather since my time there as a student. Now more than before, being a musician is about so much more than performing. Music Academy uniquely offers the space and freedom to find those new pathways and personal mission statements. I hope to inspire our fellows and alumni to make their impact far-reaching.”

They will assume their new titles immediately and will adjudicate auditions taking place in New York and Houston in the coming months.

Cooke has performed with such opera companies as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, English National Opera, Seattle Opera, Opéra National de Bordeaux, and Gran Teatre del Liceu, among others.

Churchwell has been an assistant conductor with both the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera and was named Head of Music for the San Francisco Opera back in August 2011.