Ras Dia is a Brooklyn-born, Harlem-bred creative working at the intersection of inspiration and empowerment in the arts. His work has been described as “stirring” (Washington Post), “bracing, compelling, and heartbreaking” (Musical America), and “grippingly produced” (The Boston Globe). Recent projects include Heartbeat Opera’s BREATHING FREE: a visual album, the Frederick R. Koch Foundation’s Townhouse Series, San Francisco Symphony’s MTT25: An American Icon, San Francisco Opera’s In Song, and the inaugural season of Little Island, a public park and arts organization developed by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation.
Ras previously served as the Assistant Producer of the Metropolitan Opera’s Peabody- and Emmy award-winning Live in HD series, and as the Managing Director of the New York City Master Chorale, in addition to marketing, development, production, and administrative roles with the National Children’s Chorus, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Carnegie Hall, The New School, where he supported programs for immigrant, refugee, and survivor communities across New York City, and National Sawdust, where he produced the Artists-in-Residence program, and co-created SAUCE, a series of artist sessions.
He is a 2021-22 Artist Scholar at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM), and a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Purchase College (SUNY), as well as the Boy’s Choir of Harlem, and has appeared as a guest speaker for the National YoungArts Foundation, Amherst College, the Black Artists Fund, and MSM, in addition to serving as a grant panelist for OPERA America.
Paige Lester is a creative producer and program manager driven by collaboration and impact. Currently working as a freelance producer, she spent over four years at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC in multiple roles, including being a founding member of the Social Impact Department where she worked closely with VP and Artistic Director of Social Impact, Marc Bamuthi Joseph. After many years of producing concerts, festivals, and community driven activities, she joined Silkroad - a music-centric social impact organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma - as the Development Manager. During her time at Silkroad she served as the liaison to the Board of Directors and worked across the organization with artists and board members alike to lead the ideation and execution of fundraising events. With an educational background in sociology and dance, Paige is drawn to projects that are rooted in social impact, center human stories, and ultimately contribute to a more open and understanding society. When not working in this capacity, she can be found working as an instructor at Barre3 West Village, whose mission is to help clients feel balanced in body and empowered from within.
Jill Steinberg is a photographer who photographs the many incarnations of live performance from opera to theater to dance to jazz to orchestral and chamber music as well as taking stills during film and video shoots. Jill has captured performances at large venues: The Kennedy Center, The Krannert Center, Park Avenue Armory, the Barbican Centre, BEMUS in Serbia, Teatro Manzoni in Milan, and Etnafest in Sicily, The Monte Carlo Opera House, the Banff Theatre in Canada, The New Vic in NYC, Da Camera in Houston and Disney Hall in LA as well as smaller spaces like National Sawdust, Pioneer Works, Bay Chamber Music Festival, Juilliard’s Innovative Arts Dept, The Greene Space, St John's the Divine church. Jill has photographed indoors and outside, during daylight, at dusk and at midnight. She has worked with Beth Morrison Projects, Family Opera Initiative/ARDEA Arts, Heartbeat Opera, Sister Sylvester, and the terraNOVA Collective and has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, Time Out Amsterdam, BOMB, Drome Magazine, Music Listening Today, and University of California at Irvine's INTERFACE magazine among others. Jill Steinberg is the Board President of National Sawdust, a nonprofit venue whose mission is rooted in music discovery that is open, inclusive, and based in active mentorship of emerging artists, while building new audiences and communities of music devotees, Jill is a member and official photographer of the Up Until Now Collective that develops and produces new interdisciplinary work that explores empathy, intimacy, and community. She is also a Board member of Heartbeat Opera whose mission is to create incisive adaptations and revelatory arrangements of classics, reimagining them for the here and now. Jill is a Professional Company Member of OPERA America, and a former member of OPERA America’s Board of Directors. She and her husband, William Steinberg, are founding donors to the National Opera Center. In these various capacities, Jill is a champion of both artists and their art.
Daniella is a proud Brooklynite from Bed Stuy. She graduated from Dartmouth College, where she studied African and African-American studies, Government and Digital Arts. As a digital artist, she gains inspiration from Black Arts Movement and has been featured in the MyGalleryNYC exhibition, “ECLECTICA”, and Carnegie Hall’s “Journey into AfroCosmicMelatopia” for their Afrofuturism festival. In her previous roles as a product marketing manager and Google web development fellow, Daniella built her portfolio in web development, effective marketing and project management by designing interactive applications, executing impactful projects, effectively marketing products and facilitating positive relationships with customers. She is passionate about using effective digital marketing and user experience design to propel the mission and objectives of businesses, projects and initiatives dedicated to positive social impact.
Composer Paola Prestini has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, and scientists in large-scale multimedia works that chart her interest in extra-musical themes ranging from the cosmos to the environment. She has created, written and produced large scale projects such as the largest communal VR opera, The Hubble Cantata, and the eco-documentary currently on PBS, The Colorado. As an immigrant, many identities, cultures, and values have collided and interlocked within her helping create a synthesis of both unique and universal ideas that naturally manifest into music. On a more granular level, folk melody is infused into the creation of original melodic lines that are deconstructed then supported with complex harmonies, rhythms, counterpoint and electronic worlds. Her work incorporates improvisation, live electronics, foley, and spatial elements. It is of the moment, political, ambitious, and always curious.
Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most innovative and versatile cellists of our time. He has been described as “fiery”, and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone” by the New York Times. Acclaimed for his independent streak, Zeigler has commissioned dozens of works, and is admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser. As a member of the Kronos Quartet, he is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts (Grammy’s), the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award.
This Fall, Zeigler will release his next album, Houses of Zodiac: Poems for Cello with music by Paola Prestini. It will be a multimedia experience that combines spoken word, movement, music, and imagery into a unified exploration of love, loss, trauma and healing. The project takes its title from the twelve houses of the zodiac as facets of the self, and draws inspiration from explorations of the subconscious including Anaïs Nin’s House of Incest and the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Natasha Trethewey. Filmed by Murat Eyüboglu at MASS MoCA and Studio Polygons in Tokyo, Japan, the digital experience will feature the performances and original choreography of New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin and Butoh dancer Dai Matsuoka, a member of the acclaimed Butoh troupe Sankai Juku.