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About 21V

 

San Francisco Bay Area's 21V is an innovative ensemble of soprano and alto voices, all genders united, singing the stories of the 21st century Americas. Founded by Martín Benvenuto, we weave modern melodies from North, South, and Central America.

 

Mission

A catalyst for change through a new choral sound, 21V is a select ensemble of soprano and alto voices of all gender identities that performs 21st-century music of the Americas.

 

Vision
21V aims to be a 'house of ideas' that opens up unexplored spaces of artistic expression and a 'house of belonging' that expands interconnectedness.

 

Values

  • Vitality: fosters deep engagement with its singers and community through socially engaged programming

  • Vibrancy: brings to the forefront art music from North, Central, and South America written after the year 2000

  • Vanguard: stretches artistic boundaries and ignites innovation

  • Vocal: advances and advocates for gender inclusivity and racial justice in all its endeavors

About the Artists

Martín Benvento

Founder & Artistic Director

Martín Benvenuto (he/him) is one of the leading choir conductors in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Benvenuto is the Founder and Artistic Director of 21V. He has served as Artistic Director of the Peninsula Women's Chorus (PWC), WomenSing (WS), the Contra Costa Children's Chorus, and the Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, and has been on the faculty of the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir. Dr. Benvenuto is active as a clinician, panelist, and guest conductor at home and abroad.

 

Recognized for his exacting technique, and a passion for drawing the finest choral tone, Benvenuto's repertoire is extensive. He holds a D.M.A. in choral conducting from Boston University, master's degrees from Westminster Choir College, and undergraduate degrees from the Universidad Católica Argentina.

Margaret Halbig

Piano

 

Margaret Halbig is in high demand as a collaborative pianist in both the instrumental and vocal fields. She is currently Principal Vocal Coach at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she also frequently collaborates with faculty and student instrumentalists. In 2023, Margaret was appointed Collaborative Piano Coordinator of Interlochen Arts Camp. An advocate of new and contemporary music, Margaret is the pianist for Ninth Planet, Ensemble For These Times, and a member of Frequency 49, a wind and piano sextet.

 

Margaret earned her DMA from the University of California Santa Barbara under the tutelage of Robert Koenig and also holds performance degrees from the University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory and University of Evansville, Indiana.

 

Emil Miland

Cello

 

A member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1988, Emil Miland is an acclaimed soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. He made his solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony at age 16, the same year he was selected to perform in the Rostropovich Master Classes at the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Mr. Miland was honored in 2010 when Frederica von Stade asked him to accompany her in Carnegie Hall for her farewell recital. He has collaborated with some of the world’s finest singers including Jamie Barton, Zheng Cao, Joyce di Donato and Susan Graham. Many composers have written new works for him including Ernst Bacon, David Conte, Lou Harrison, Jake Heggie, and Andrew Imbrie.

 

Ky Frances

Staging Consultant and Choreographer

 

Ky Frances is a white, queer, able-bodied artist who was born and raised in the East Bay. He studied dance at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and at La Universidad de Chile in Santiago de Chile.

 

He was the Co-Artistic Director of Kickbal, a dance company based in San Francisco. He has presented his work at Fresh Festival, ODC Pilot71, LevySalon, Works in the Works, SAFEhouse, SPF12, BAMPFA and YBCA. He has choreographed for the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Ky Frances is a choreographer in residence at RoundAntennae under the mentorship of KT Nelson.

About the singers

 

Christine Abraham (she/her) has appeared as soloist with the orchestras of Philadelphia, Dallas, and St. Louis, as well as Boston Baroque and Chicago’s Music of the Baroque. She has performed roles with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Spoleto USA.  She maintains a private teaching studio and serves on the faculties of California State University East Bay and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

 

Sara Asher (she/her), soprano, is in her third season with 21V. She is a second soprano section leader for the Peninsula Women's Chorus and an accomplished pianist who has accompanied choral concerts and musicals for various local schools.  When not singing, Sara is Head of Product for Faros AI, a data platform startup focusing on engineering operations.

Dylan Benander (they/them/theirs) is an emerging countertenor and music educator in the Bay Area. They teach elementary music with Music for Minors and work as the Alto soloist for St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. They made their recital debut in 2023 with SF Salon Music, and are thrilled to be singing with 21V. Dylan specializes in early music and has a passion for studying gender norms and presentation in Baroque opera.

Jodie Bourdet (she/her), mezzo- soprano, feels fortunate to be working with such a talented group of musicians. A pianist and instrumentalist in her youth, Jodie has sung with WomenSing and Sacred and Profane (under the direction of Rebecca Seeman). When she is not singing, Jodie works as a partner at Cooley, an international law firm, in the areas of corporate and securities law.

Sara Couden (she/her), alto, enjoys performing all kinds of music, from Handel oratorios to Stravinsky opera roles to Elvis impersonation. She trained at the San Francisco Conservatory, Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, and the Metropolitan Opera. Sara will make her San Francisco Opera debut as Rita in The Handmaid’s Tale this fall (for a full list of engagements, please visit www.saracouden.net). When not singing, she enjoys napping, reading, and looking at the sea.

 

Asher Davison (he/him), alto countertenor, is graduate of Santa Monica High School, has performed clarinet concertos and studied under David Shifrin while at Yale. A copyeditor and former education developer and science teacher, Asher is bass section leader for Steve Main at Piedmont Community Church, sings bass with Magen Solomon's San Francisco Choral Artists, has sung alto with Vox Humana SF under Don Scott Carpenter, and teaches voice in the Forte program at Marin Country Day School. 

Tristana Ferreyra-Rantalaiho (she/her) is thrilled to be a part of 21V. She holds a master of music in vocal performance from San Francisco State University and an undergraduate degree in choral conducting from Universidad Católica Argentina. She has worked as a singer, voice teacher and choral conductor in Argentina and Finland and continues now in California. She has her own private studio, and she teaches voice at different non-profit organizations and music schools in the Bay Area.

Julia Grizzell (she/her), soprano, recently performed the title role in Verdi’s Luisa Miller with Verismo Opera, Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with the Handel Opera Academy in Poland, and Second Woman in Dido and Aeneas with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale. She also teaches voice and piano at the New Mozart School of Music in Palo Alto. 

 

Winona Hendrick (she/her) is a contralto, instrumentalist, and educator. A graduate of SF State’s Music Education department, she currently teaches band at Marina Middle School. She has also performed with local opera companies such as Teatro Mistral and Phénix Opera. Winona has also sung chorally with groups like The San Francisco Renaissance Voices, and the newly formed Vox Humana. In her free time, she enjoys performing with her husband in their band, The Letterboxers. 

 

Anne Hepburn Smith (she/her) is a Bay Area-based lyric coloratura soprano with an MM in Voice from San Francisco Conservatory and a BM from Boston Conservatory. She freelances around the Bay Area, performing with various chamber groups and opera companies. Her favorite roles include Susanna (Figaro), Pamina (Magic Flute), and Nella (Gianni Schicchi). Anne also tours with Ensemble Mik Nawooj, a hip-hop orchestra and manages in-school elementary music programs in San Jose and the East Bay.

Amy Hiestand (she/her), soprano, is thrilled to be singing with 21V. A pianist, she has previously sung with WomenSing, and co-managed WomenSing’s Treble Voices Now Festival over three seasons. She loves reuniting and singing with her Yale College senior women’s a cappella group, Whim 'n Rhythm of 1989! Amy consults to Bay Area municipalities on affordable housing policy, housing preservation strategies, and project finance and development. 

 

Yiting Jin (she/her), alto, took her first musical steps at the age of four on the piano, and sang with the Peninsula Women's Chorus, where she was also a Board member. She currently sings with San Francisco Choral Artists and Masterworks Serenade ensemble. Yiting is grateful to be part of 21V’s journey of creating 21st century music and its advocacy for the underrepresented. She has a BA from Princeton and works in product management.

Becky Lau (she/her), soprano from Hong Kong, is thrilled about her first season with 21V. Becky is a section leader and soloist at Christ Church Los Altos. She has sung with the SF Symphony Chorus, Convivium, and Volti. Most recently, Becky has been offering gifts of song to museum visitors as part of Sonic Blossom, a participatory performance at the de Young. Outside of singing, Becky is a published author in psychology research journals.

Jessalynn Levine (she/her) is an alto from Houston. She received her bachelor's of music education from the University of Houston in 2015 and her masters in choral conducting from San José State University in 2022. She now is the director of choirs at Aptos Junior High School and Aptos High School in Santa Cruz County. She also serves as the co-director of New Voices Bay Area Trans, Intersex and Genderqueer (TIGQ) Choir in San Francisco.
 

Nancy Munn (she/her) began her singing career with D'Oyly Carte and Welsh National Opera companies while living in the UK and has sung with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Chorale, Sanford Dole Ensemble, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pocket Opera, Napa Festival Volti and as guest soloist with San Francisco Choral Society and UC Alumni Chorus. Nancy has a private voice studio in San Francisco and lives in the City with her husband and son.

Kate Offer (she/her), soprano, is the Music & Movement Specialist for the Pacific Primary School, a preschool in San Francisco. As her alter ego, Kate Offer, Very Melodramatic Soprano, Kate performs a comic recital titled "Aria Kidding," at venues throughout the Bay Area. She also runs Songs from the Sandbox, a YouTube channel of sing-along songs for children and families. Check it out at www.YouTube.com/songsfromthesandbox

Akane Ota (she/her), is a mezzo-soprano from Japan. Akane holds a BA in Vocal Performance from Oita Prefectural College of Arts and Culture, and an artistic diploma from Shobi Gakuen Tokyo. She is a member of the SF Symphony Chorus, Convivium and Volti, and an alto section leader at the Universalist Unitarian Church in SF. She served as the conductor for the Choir of Saniku School in Santa Clara. Akane has a private piano and voice studio in Burlingame.

Linda Price (she/her), soprano, sings with Marin Baroque, Marin Symphony Chamber Chorus and Marin Symphony Chorus, and she is a soloist at First Presbyterian San Anselmo. She has studied voice with Marla Volovna, Rita Lilly, and Jennifer Paulino. Linda sings Baroque, traditional, folk, gospel, jazz, and world music. She is part of local guitar-and-vocals duo Firefly. Linda plays guitar, piano, and Appalachian dulcimer.

Ben Rudiak-Gould (he/him) has been singing since the age of 3, when he was a soprano. He now sings alto, tenor and bass in several Bay Area groups, including San Francisco Choral Artists, Schola Cetorum, and formerly the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. He has degrees in physics and mathematics.

Judith Ward (she/her), soprano, has had a lifelong passion for choral music and has maintained an active singing life alongside an international career and raising three children. She spent 15 years in Europe where she sang with the Paris Choral Society and The Bach Choir in London.  Since moving to the Bay Area, she has been a member of several choirs and currently sings with Marin Symphony Chorus, St. Stephen’s Choir and Consort Chorale.

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