Boston Conservatory at Berklee Adds Six New Faculty to Teach Voice, Opera

New hires include Metropolitan Opera soloist Sandra Piques Eddy, As One composer Laura Kaminsky, and UIA Talent Agency Vice President Shawn Marie Jeffery.

May 15, 2024

Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s Vocal Arts Department will welcome an influx of new teaching talent in September 2024, with five new members joining the voice faculty—including industry-leading artist manager Shawn Marie Jeffery and Metropolitan opera soloist Sandra Piques Eddy (B.M. '94, music education), along with accomplished vocal educators Laurann Gilley, Nicolas Giusti, and Gregory Zavracky. The Conservatory’s Music Division also is welcoming Laura Kaminsky—composer of the popular contemporary opera As One—as a professor of composition who will work closely with students studying voice and opera.

These new hires show the depth of Boston Conservatory’s investment in vocal arts education, “championing excellence, creativity, and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead,” says Interim Dean of Music Isaí Jess Muñoz (who is also president of the National Opera Association). Expanding on the department’s commitment to top-tier vocal instruction, the new faculty will offer students fresh career insights and the opportunity to learn from performers and composers at the forefront of the artform as it exists today.

“We welcome these experts who will help nurture and amplify musical expressions that honor tradition while boldly challenging norms,” says Muñoz. “Their arrival signifies our community’s optimism and resilience, and postures Boston Conservatory as a leader driving revolutionary change in vocal education and performance.” 

Sandra Piques Eddy (B.M. '94, music education) will join the faculty as an associate professor of music, teaching applied lessons in voice and opera. Eddy has been a professional mezzo-soprano for 20 seasons. Her most recent career successes include a reprise of her acclaimed Carmen with Maestro Seiji Ozawa on tour in Japan and a company debut with Opera New Zealand as Rosina in their Il barbiere di Siviglia tour. Eddy is a former New England Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a national semifinalist who made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2001. Her Met roles include Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana), Rosette (Manon), Mercedes (Carmen), Countess Ceprano (Rigoletto), and Olga (The Merry Widow), among others. Continuing her association with the Met, she more recently appeared as Fiona in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys and sang the Novice and Abbess in Suor Angelica.

Laurann Gilley will join the faculty as an associate professor of music, coaching vocalists and teaching coursework in art song and opera repertoire. Gilley is a conductor, pianist, and vocal coach who has worked with every major opera company in the United States. Most recently, she served as head of music for the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee and spent 16 years as a pianist and vocal coach with the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Prior to her work with Lyric, Gilley was a pianist and vocal coach with Glimmerglass Opera for 15 seasons. She also has worked with the San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Vancouver, Tulsa, Kentucky, Sacramento, and Mississippi operas, and the American Symphony Orchestra, with whom she also recorded.

Nicolas Giusti joins the faculty as a professor of music. He will serve as a vocal coach and teach electives in opera. Giusti was a full-time professor (piano and vocal coach) for 23 years in the Opera Department at Italian Ministero dell’Università in Matera, Fermo/Pesaro, and Pescara, Italy. He also has taught master classes in Italian opera at universities throughout the U.S. and Europe. As a pianist and conductor, he has worked in major venues and festivals around the world, including Monte Carlo Opera House, La Scala, Spoleto Festival Opera House, Rossini Opera Festival, Paris Opera House, Aspendos Festival, and Avenches Festival. Giusti has collaborated with international vocal artists such as June Anderson, Rockwell Blake, Cecilia Bartoli, Placido Domingo, Leo Nucci, Luciano Pavarotti, Luciana Serra, Giuseppe Taddei, and many others. 

Shawn Marie Jeffery will join the faculty as an associate professor of music, bringing extensive experience as an artist manager, producer, and performer. Jeffery helped build the ADA Artist Management firm, which she joined in 2005. When ADA merged with UIA Talent Agency in 2023, she assumed the role of vice president for classical and creatives. Additionally, Jeffery has taught emerging artists in master class settings, sharing her insight on business and artistic trends with young artists at the Atlanta Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Hartt School of Music, Seagle Music Colony, and others. Jeffery recently executive produced the world premieres of The Trial of Susan B. Anthony and Unknown. She made her directorial debut staging Christopher Theofanidis's Virtue for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

Laura Kaminsky joins the faculty as a professor of composition. Her opera As One (with librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed) is among the most performed contemporary operas of the 21st century, with productions across the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America, and Australia. Kaminsky’s other operas include Some Light Emerges, Today It RainsHometown to the WorldFinding Wright, and February. This past spring, Boston Conservatory at Berklee (in consortium with Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, and Intermountain Opera Bozeman) commissioned her to write a new opera, which will debut in March 2026 in Pittsburgh and in April 2026 at Boston Conservatory. Kaminsky also is currently composing her seventh and eight string quartets for the Carpe Diem and Fry Street Quartets. She is head of composition at Purchase College/SUNY’s Conservatory of Music.

Gregory Zavracky joins the faculty as an assistant professor of music teaching applied voice lessons. He is an accomplished educator, composer, and tenor who has performed with Odyssey Opera, Rhode Island Philharmonic, American Repertory Theater, Boston Lyric Opera, Back Bay Chorale, the Handel and Haydn Society, Opera Saratoga, Cape Cod Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Utah Symphony. Zavracky previously served as a voice instructor at the University of Connecticut and a teaching associate at Brown University, and has spent 12 summers on the faculty at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. As a composer, he has received commissions and awards for his music, and has twice been a finalist for the NATS Art Song Award for his song cycles Sea Garden and Slabs of the Sunburnt West.

Learn more about Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s leading programs in voice and opera and composition.