Our 2016 Judges

Richard Bado made his professional conducting debut in 1989 with Houston Grand Opera. Since then he has conducted for numerous major opera companies, symphonies and music festivals. An accomplished pianist, Mr. Bado appears regularly with Renée Fleming in recital and has also played for such noted opera stars as Frederica von Stade, Susan Graham, Marcello Giordani and Nathan Gunn, among others. Mr. Bado is the Director of the Opera Studies Program at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He also is the Chorus Master for the Houston Grand Opera, where he received the Silver Rose Award in 2013, and where he served as Head of Music Staff for 14 seasons. He has served on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival, the Dolora Zajick Institute for Young Dramatic Voices and the International Vocal School in Moscow and has also served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera and other prestigious opera com.

Gayletha Nichols joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2000 as Executive Director of the National Council Auditions. She brought to the Met two decades of experience as a singer, teacher and career advisor. From 1992-2000 she was Director of Houston Opera Studio, the young artist development program at Houston Grand Opera, where she created and individualized the training both for singers and pianists. Ms. Nichols auditions hundreds of singers across North America every year and in her travels addresses many universities, conservatories and festivals on developing the next generation of opera singers. She is a frequent adjudicator in national and international competitions and consults for other young artist programs across the country.

Roger Pines is dramaturg and broadcast commentator at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he joined the staff in 1995. Pines previously held positions at San Diego Opera, The Dallas Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. He has judged for the MONC Auditions since 1991 and for numerous other prestigious competitions nationwide. He also frequently undertakes repertoire research projects for internationally celebrated artists. Roger’s writing has appeared in The Times (London), Opera News, Opera, International Record Review, The Opera Quarterly, and programs of leading opera companies. He has written program notes for seven major recording labels, most recently for discs by Renée Fleming, Anna Netrebko and Joyce DiDonato. Mr. Pines has lectured for major arts organizations in Chicago, Cleveland and San Diego as well as for the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. 2015-16 was the tenth consecutive season in which Roger was heard as a panelist on the Met broadcasts’ “Opera Quiz".

San Diego District MONC Auditions Official Accompanist


Suzanne Shick has a passion and expertise in Opera and Musical Theatre that have made her a highly sought-after accompanist and vocal coach by both professional and student singers. At SDSU, she accompanies numerous voice majors and is Music Director for Lyric Opera Theatre. Ms. Shick received her BM and MM degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Redlands with further studies at Mannes College of Music in New York City. She studied the art of accompanying with legendary coaches Ilana Mysior, John Dare and George Trovillo. The winner of numerous competitions, Suzanne has been a featured piano soloist with the La Jolla and SDSU Symphonies, among others. Since 1998 she has served as Organist at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, touring Europe twice with their choir. Ms. Shick has been the MONC San Diego District Official Accompanist since 2010.

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