Emery Stephens, baritone, joined the music faculty at St. Olaf College in 2019, where he teaches Voice Performance Studies. Praised by the Boston Phoenix for his singing "with ringing suavity and articulate intelligence," he enjoys performing diverse vocal repertoire, from traditional to contemporary. A versatile and charismatic singer, Dr. Stephens has collaborated with the Abridged Opera of Ontario, Wilmington Symphony, Carolina Ballet and members of the North Carolina Symphony, Arbor Opera Theater, Michigan Philharmonic, Ann Arbor Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera/Opera New England, Michigan Opera Theatre's Community Education Programs, and the Detroit Jazz Festival in a revival of Dave Brubeck's The Gates of Justice (1969) with renowned jazz pianist Jason Moran and his trio, The Bandwagon. As a narrator, he has performed works by contemporary American composers, such as The Passion of John Brown by Jesse Ayers and Paddle to the Sea by Andre Meyers with the Michigan Philharmonic; JFK: The Voice of Peace by Dan Welcher with the Handel and Haydn Society, and jazz-inspired Sweet Music in Harlem by Andy Kirschner, based on a children's book, commissioned by the Ann Arbor Symphony.
The Boston Globe wrote, "As Mel in Michael Tippett's opera, The Knot Garden, Stephens disappeared entirely into his character." As a singing actor, he has worked with innovative stage directors – Simon Target, Elkhanah Pulitzer, Dorothy Danner, Kay Walker Castaldo, Will Graham, as well as with noted choreographer Bill T. Jones. Additionally, he sang supporting roles with period instruments in a historically informed performance of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo with conductor Andrew Parrott, lutenist Paul O'Dette and the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra in Sanders Theatre at Harvard University.
An enthusiastic advocate for music education and inspiring communities through vocal music, Dr. Stephens is a teaching artist for the "Song of America" project through the Hampsong Foundation, which explores classic American songs as an interdisciplinary lens in teaching K-12 students. His past engagements include lecture-performances at Carnegie Hall/Weill Music Institute, Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture sponsored by the Spokane Symphony. Additionally, his workshop presentation, "Mirror on the Wall: Self-Care and Modeling Healthy Vocal Habits in the Classroom," was launched at the 2017 All-State Conference of the Arkansas Music Educators Association.
Dr. Stephens, a 2014 Africana Artist-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has presented at conference sessions for the International Congress of Voice Teachers, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Garth Institute for Music Research, National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music, and the African American Art Song Alliance. He has been collaborating with Dr. Caroline Helton from the University of Michigan on the "Singing Down the Barriers" project since 2004, and they have published articles in the Journal of Multicultural Teaching and Learning and the NATS Journal of Singing. Their next publication, a chapter on African American Art Song, will be included in So You Want to Sing Spirituals by Randye Jones, published for the National Association of Teachers of Singing by Rowman and Littlefield.
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Stephens earned degrees from Gordon College (BA), Boston University (MM), and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan. He performed in masterclasses for Nico Castel, Martina Arroyo, Darryl Taylor, and composer Robert Owens, and has completed summer workshops at the Eastman School of Music, Westminster Choir College, David Jones Teacher Mentoring Seminar (New York), and with Los Angeles vocal coach, Lisa Popeil, on the pedagogy of contemporary commercial technique and vocal styles (Voiceworks Method). Dr. Stephens is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), College Music Society, and is a frequent adjudicator for the George Shirley Vocal Competition and state and regional auditions for NATS.