Dr. Amity Bryson
Music Department Chair
Professor of Music
Dr. Amity Bryson, Music Department Chair, teaches various music courses including applied voice, and directs Avila Singers, Cyrene, and University Singers. Dr. Bryson completed her doctoral work at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Conservatory of Music and holds both a BS Ed in music education and a MM in voice performance from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is also an alumnae of Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri. In addition to previous faculty appointments at William Woods University and Westminster College, Dr. Bryson has taught in the public school systems at both the elementary and secondary levels.
Dr. Bryson is active in local, state, and national professional music organizations. She has served as Secretary, Vice President and President of the Kansas City Metro chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing as well as on the state board of Missouri Choral Directors Association as Repertoire and Standards Chair for Women’s Choirs.
As a lyric soprano, Dr. Bryson continues to perform on both the recital and opera stage. She has a recurring role in the Gaslight Cabaret as both singer and music director. Recent recitals include a program of art songs by women composers, featuring In a Persian Garden by Liza Lehmann. Opera roles have included Zerlina, Juliette, and Ännchen, but most memorable was her portrayal of Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel. Musical Theatre roles include Mama Morton in Chicago and the Witch in Into the Woods among others.
Dr. Michalis Koutsoupides
Artist in Residence
Dr. Michalis Koutsoupides is currently Artist in Residence at Avila University, where he teaches violin, viola, piano, music theory courses and ensembles. Dr. Koutsoupides has taught in the public system and privately since 2007. He holds a Doctoral degree in Viola Performance from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master’s degree in Violin Performance, as well as a Bachelor’s in Violin and Composition from the University of Kansas, and piano Diplomas from the National Conservatory of Cyprus and the Royal Schools of Music.
Dr. Koutsoupides appeared in music festivals across the United States, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. Dr. Koutsoupides was featured as a soloist with the Cyprus Chamber Orchestra, the St. Joseph Symphony, the University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Chamber Players. He recorded with groups in Texas, Kansas, Missouri and New York, and regularly performs with the St. Joseph Symphony, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony.
He enjoys playing in the orchestra pit and conducting for shows at the New Theater, KC Repertory theater, The Barn, Jewish Community Center, Johnson County Community College, Unicorn, American Heartland Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage and other venues around town. Michalis has orchestrated for new productions, such as Have You Met Miss Jones?, Rhythm City and arranged for several other productions. He has had the honor of sharing the stage with names such as Sir. Peter Gabriel, Idina Menzel, Shirley Jones, Ron Bohmer, Stevie Wonder and many others. Originally a native of Cyprus, Dr. Koutsoupides has become a citizen of the United States as of 2017, and is proud to be calling Kansas City home.
Adjunct Voice Faculty
Kristy Ruf, Adjunct Voice Instructor at Avila University, is originally from the Kansas City area. Ms. Ruf received both her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Vocal Performance from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She traveled to Boston, MA for graduate study and opera performance at the New England Conservatory of Music. Her doctoral study was through the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory. She has taught at the university level at Avila University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and the Conservatory at UMKC.
As a performer, Kristy’s most memorable roles include Susannah in Floyd’s Susannah, Lady Billows in Albert Herring, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Suor Angelica in Puccini’s Suor Angelica. She has performed solo vocal recitals including works by Korngold, Wagner, Wolf, and Beach. Kristy participated in the University of Missouri Concert Series as a soprano soloist, performing Stravinkys’ Les Noces, Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, and Bruckner’s Te Deum. She is also proud to have performed alongside Avila’s own students and faculty in their performance of Carmina Burana in Goppert Theater.
Kristy’s heart lies in teaching, both at the university level and in her home studio. She has been a vocal instructor/coach and piano teacher for over twenty years in Kansas City, Columbia, and Boston. The students who have graced her doorsteps hold her greatest accomplishments. Her youngest piano student was four years old and her youngest-at-heart vocal student was 87. Kristy is also a collaborative pianist and she enjoys sharing the stage with students in performances and auditions.
Dr. Kelly Birch
Adjunct Voice Faculty
Originally from Los Angeles, mezzo soprano Kelly Birch now resides in Kansas City, having recently completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She also holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of California, Irvine and a Master of a Music in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory. Dr. Birch currently teaches Collaborative Piano and is Staff Accompanist at Avila University.
Dr. Birch is a versatile performer and educator in both voice and collaborative piano. She has been teaching private voice, piano, and music theory lessons for over 16 years; first with OrchePia School of Music based in Orange County, California, then with the Kansas City School of Music in Lenexa and Overland Park, followed by graduate teaching at UMKC, and now at Avila University. She is a member of good standing with the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She regularly accompanies singers, instrumentalists, and churches across the Kansas City Metro Area in lessons, recitals, competitions, auditions, and religious/holiday services.
An active operatic and concert performer, Dr. Birch has sung regularly with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City since 2015 and with Musica Sacra since 2016. She performed Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony under the baton of Kyle Pickett and the Topeka Symphony Orchestra in April of 2016 and made her European debut in the role of Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with the Varna International Opera Academy, based in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. She will be going back to Bulgaria this summer to perform the title role in Maurice Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. Last year she traveled to San Diego to perform the role of Delfa in Cavalli's Giasone with Opera NEO and will be returning in July to perform the role of Rosmira in Handel's Partenope. During her time at UMKC, she performed the lead roles of Bertarido in Handel's Rodelinda, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, and as a soloist with the UMKC Wind Ensemble, UMKC Choirs, and as a winner of the 2017 Concert & Aria Competition.
Adjunct Cello Faculty
Eman Chalshotori leads a dynamic career as a performing artist. He enjoys a merited reputation as a musician of exceptional versatility and integrity. His musical horizons are seemingly boundless and he is in great demand both as a chamber musician and as a solo performer. Eman received his Bachelors of Music from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Masters of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. His teachers include Dr. Tess Remy-Schumacher, Dr. Evgeni Raychev, Carter Enyeart, Mark Gibbs, and Michael Mermagen.
Eman has performed internationally in Asia and Europe as a soloist and chamber musician. He made his solo debut in 2002 with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic performing the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto. Eman was most recently featured with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Orchestra performing Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote. Currently, he is the Principal Cellist of the Topeka Symphony and Assistant Principal Cellist for the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas.
Outside of the classical music realm, Eman has collaborated with artists such as Imogen Heap, Elspeth Summers, Simple Tree, Quixotic, and Calvin Arsenia.
Adjunct Piano Faculty, Staff Accompanist
John Livingston has worked extensively as a collaborative pianist, getting his start at the age of 13. Since then he has had a continuous stream of collaborative experiences ranging from choirs, to musical theatre, to college instrumental lessons and recitals, and more.
In 2009, Mr. Livingston partnered with a local community theatre company, Pentacle Theater, in their production of “My Fair Lady”. Hooked by this initial foray into musical theater, Mr. Livingston continued to work with Pentacle Theater on 6 of their following musical productions. During this partnership, his talents were developed as both a rehearsal and performance pianist for musical theater. Beyond this work, John continued to strengthen his reputation as an accompanist, working with local middle and high school choirs. Notably, he accompanied West Salem High School’s choir in their 1st place performance in Oregon State High School Choir competition in the year 2013.
Being accepted to the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2013, John studied Piano Performance under the highly-sought after tutelage of Dr. Robert Weirich, earning his Bachelor’s of Music degree (cum laude) in 2017. During his undergrad John worked closely with singers from all the voice studios which culminated in being asked to play Stravinsky’s famously difficult aria “No Word from Tom” from The Rake’s Progress at commencement ceremony in the Kauffman Center. John was subsequently accepted into the Master’s program at UMKC and was awarded one of the Opera Accompanying graduate assistantships. John has served as rehearsal pianist for Hänsel und Gretel, Poulenc’s La voix humaine, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, and Johan Strauss Jr.’s Die Fledermaus. During his time at UMKC, along with all the work with singers, John also incorporated extensive instrumental accompanying, playing for lessons and recitals for cellists, violinists, oboists, trombonists, and more.
During his Master’s, John also began a relationship with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, playing for their Opera to Go program and subbing as a vocal coach for their Resident Artists. In the same vein, John performed with new opera company in Kansas City, Opera 180 for their premier production “Bon Operatit!” in April of 2018. John is also a founding member and principal accompanist of Choral Spectrum, a LGBTQ and supporting choir which is the first of its kind in Kansas City.
Besides his undergrad work with Dr. Robert Weirich, John has had masterclasses with esteemed teachers including Gilbert Kalish, Alon Goldstein, and Margot Garret. John recently completed his Master’s degree at UMKC having studied with the 2013 Van Cliburn third prize winner, Sean Chen.
John’s relationship with the Lyric Opera led to him being chosen to be the Resident Artist Coach/Accompanist for the KC Lyric Opera’s 2019-2020 season. John serves as Adjunct Faculty at Avila University where he teaches piano and serves a staff accompanist.
Dr. Stephanie Meyer
Adjunct Voice Faculty
Dr. Stephanie Meyer (soprano) teaches voice at Avila University and UMKC Conservatory’s Community Music and Dance Academy. She holds her Bachelor of Music Education degree from South Dakota State University, Master of Music from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her dissertation entitled, Moving Songs, celebrates diversity in the arts with seven songs by André Previn and Toni Morrison, presented in collaboration with two dancers, piano, cello, narrator, and photography from the Nelson-Atkins’ exhibit, Through The Lens: Visions of African American Experience, 1950-1970.
Meyer’s previous roles include Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Le feu and Le rossignol (L’enfant et les Sortilèges), Mrs. Fiorentino (Street Scene), La Fée (Cendrillon), Bastienne (Bastien unt Bastienne), Madam Herz (Der Schauspieldirektor), Barbarina (Le Nozze Di Figaro), Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), the title role of Donizetti’s Rita, and Maria (West Side Story).
Dr. Daniel Morel
Daniel Morel is a Kansas City-based composer who energizes his music with spectral lyricism. Garnering commissions and performances across the United States, his music reflects myriad literary and natural interests. His works are permeated with the Western sensibilities of his Colorado upbringing, drawing on influences ranging from prairie thunderstorms to classic American poetry.
Mr. Morel has received awards and honors from the Mizzou New Music Initiative, Byrdcliffe Guild, the City of Hartford, the Hartt School, the Longfellow Chorus, and the Colorado State Music Teachers Association, among others. Recent premieres include the UMKC Conservatory Orchestra, Columbia Civic Orchestra, and Seasons Festival Orchestra.
Mr. Morel holds degrees from Bucknell University (BA) and The Hartt School, University of Hartford (MM, AD). He recently completed a doctorate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Performance details and further information are available at www.danmorel.com.Daniel