2017 Wagner Institute Fellows

Dominic Armstrong- Tenor

Dominic Armstrong has quickly established himself internationally as an artist of superb and distinguished musicality and characterization. He is a winner of the 2013 George London Foundation Vocal Competition.

This season, Dominic Armstrong returns to Dayton Opera as Don José in Carmen and to the Lansing Symphony for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In January he joins Beth Morrison Projects for the New York City performances of Breaking the Waves. Last season, Dominic traveled to Russia to perform Britten’s War Requeim with the Russian National Orchestra and subsequently performed in a series of concerts, collaborating with Craig Rutenberg. He also made his company debut with Opera Colorado as Arthur Dimmesdale in the anticipated world premiere of The Scarlet Letter sang the Second Jew in Salome with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and performed in recital with the Brooklyn Art Song Society. During the summer of 2016, Mr. Armstrong performed the role of Alfredo in La traviata with Chautauqua Opera.

Mr. Armstrong began the 2014-2015 season debuting the roles of Haydn and the Bartender in the world premiere performances of The Classical Style at the Ojai Festival, Cal Performances, and Carnegie Hall, and debuted with both On Site Opera and The Phoenecia International Festival of the Voice in a co-production of Frédéric Chaslin’s new opera Clarimonde. He also made his debut with Dayton Opera as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, returned to Opera Memphis as The Husband in Les mamelles de Tirésias, and joined Ash Lawn Opera as Freddy in its summer production of My Fair Lady. On the concert stage, he appeared with the Brooklyn Art Song Society in recital, sang Lawrence Siegel’s Kaddish with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and sang the Verdi Requiem with the Waterbury Symphony.

During the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Armstrong debuted with the New York Philharmonic, in acclaimed performances of Britten’s Spring Symphony, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert. The tenor essayed his first performance of Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and sang the First Jew in Salome with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, as well as the Third Jew in performances of the same opera with the Boston Symphony. Additionally, Mr. Amstrong appeared in holiday concerts with the Oregon Symphony; in recital with the Brooklyn Art Song Society; in Mozart’s Requiem with the Lansing Symphony; with both the Symphony in C and Princeton Symphony for Britten’s Serenade; and in recital with Christine Brewer and Craig Rutenberg, under the auspices of the George London Foundation.

In the 2012-13 season, Dominic Armstrong returned to New York City Opera to sing Peter Quint in their production of The Turn of the Screw, followed by his debuts with Carnegie Hall and Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Steve in Andre Prévin's A Streetcar Named Desire. He closed the season premiering two new operas: La Reina with American Lyric Theater and The Blind with American Opera Projects.

Having been seen in Chicago Opera Theatre's Moscow, Cheryomushki (Opera News called his performance of Sergei a "honeyed account"), Mr. Armstrong's 2011-2012 season also included his Memphis Opera debut as Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and a return to Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival to cover Don José and perform the role of Le Remendado in Carmen. These assignments marked the artist's fourth season with the festival, where he has also been seen as Macheath in Britten's The Beggar's Opera, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Le Petit Vieillard in L'enfant et les sortilèges, and Luigi in Il Tabarro.

Previous seasons have found Mr. Armstrong performing with companies such as: Opera Company of Philadelphia as Flavio in Norma and Borsa in Rigoletto; NYCO as François/Jazz Trio in A Quiet Place; Chicago Opera Theatre in the title role in La Clemenza di Tito; Deutsche Oper Berlin as Parpignol in La Bohème; Opera Regio Torino as the Gran Sacerdote in Idomeneo; Reverend Adams in Peter Grimes; and Heinrich der Schreiber in Tannhaüser Wexford Festival Opera for Count Almaviva in Ghosts of Versailles; Wolf Trap Opera as Candide alongside Jason Alexander in Candide and as Ulisse in Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria; and Musica Viva Hong Kong for Nemorino in L'Elisir d'amore.

An avid recitalist, Mr. Armstrong has maintained frequent performances of recital repertoire as well. Recent recitals have included the collected songs of Duparc with soprano Susanna Phillips, as well as performances of Brahms' Die Schöne Magelone, and the Twickenham Festival, in a program featuring On Wenlock Edge, and To Julia. He has also been a participant of the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago.

Mr. Armstrong's numerous prizes and awards include being one of the Grand Finalists in the 2008 National Council Auditions with the Metropolitan Opera, a 2013 George London Foundation Winner, the SAI Vocal Competition, Gold Medal Aria Competition (Truman State University), The Sullivan Awards, Lucrezia Bori Grant, Opera Index, Gerda Lissner Award, The William Boldyga and and Betty Myers Incentive Award from Annapolis Opera, NATS State and Regional winner, and he was the 2009 winner of the Liederkranz Art Song Competition. He holds degrees from Truman State University, The Juilliard School, and The Curtis Institute. 

Matthew Arnold- Tenor

A Semi-Finalist in the 2016 HGO Eleanor McCollum Competition, Tenor Matthew Arnold spent this past summer at the Princeton Festival covering the title role in Britten's Peter Grimes. Recent awards include Third Place in the Charlotte Opera Guild Competition, the Encouragement Award at the 2015 and 2016 Heafner-Williams Competition, The Encouragement Award in 2015 from Chautauqua Opera and in April 2014, he won the Verdi Award from the Orpheus National Vocal Competition. Mr. Arnold has sung with many opera companies including the Castleton Festival as Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly under the baton of the late Maestro Lorin Maazel, AJ Fletcher Opera Institute, Piedmont Opera, Opera Roanoke, North Carolina Opera, and Chautauqua Opera. Recent role performances include Don José in Carmen and Siegmund and Florestan in scenes from  Die Walküre and Fidelio, respectively. Mr. Arnold holds a BM in Voice from the University of Delaware and the Master of Music degree in Voice from the UNC Greensboro . Mr. Arnold is currently a Fellow at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at UNCSA where he studies with Dr. Marilyn Taylor.

Elizabeth Baldwin- Soprano

Soprano Elizabeth Baldwin has been praised as being "ferociously talented" by the San Francisco Examiner and "mesmerizingly vulnerable" by the New York Times. Upcoming engagements include Verdi Concerts with the Dallas Opera, Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth with LoftOpera, Verdi’s Requiem with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, among others. 

Recent engagements include Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth with the Opera Company of Middlebury; Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with the Chautauqua Opera; the title roles of Puccini’s Tosca with Opera San Jose, Kentucky Opera, and the Boston Youth Symphony and Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh; Amelia in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera with the Boston Youth Symphony; and joined the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra to cover the role of Ellen Orford in Britten’s Peter Grimes, a role which she had sung previously at the Chautauqua Opera. Other notable performances include Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Opera San Jose, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen at Arbor Opera, Clotilde in Bellini’s Norma with Portland SummerFest’s Opera in the Park series, and Viclinda in Verdi’s I Lombardi with The Opera Orchestra of New York at Avery Fisher Hall.

As a member of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, she covered the role of Arminda in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, performed excerpts from Boito’s Mefistofele and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Schwabacher Summer Concert and performed excerps from Verdi’s Il Corsaro and Puccini’s La Rondine on the Merola Grand Finale Concert.

On the concert stage, Ms. Baldwin has performed Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, John Williams’ Seven For Luck at the Tanglewood Music Center Shed in front of 15,000, Mendelssohn’s Elijah as soprano soloist with The Boston University Symphony at Boston’s Symphony Hall, Fauré’s Requiem with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra and a gala concert with the Toledo Opera. Additional credits include Vivaldi’s Gloria, Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, Aaron Copland’s As It Fell Upon A Day, William Schuman’s In Sweet Music, and Ivan Fedele’s Maja. As an active recitalist, Ms. Baldwin has been presented in recitals both at the Ravinia Music Institute Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center Festival.
Ms. Baldwin was a National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions; Grand Prize winner in the Sullivan Foundation Competition and the Nicholas Loren Vocal Competition; First Prize winner in the National Orpheus Vocal Competition, The National Opera Association Competition, The Heida Hermanns International Voice Competition and the Mildred Miller International Vocal Competition. She has also been awarded numerous grants from operatic organizations including the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, the Giulio Gari Foundation, the Schulyer Foundation for Career Bridges, and the Tanglewood Music Festival.
Ms. Baldwin received her Master of Music degree in Opera Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Bowling Green State University, as well as further instruction from the Boston Opera Institute on the campus of The Boston University

Julia Benzinger- Contralto

Hailed by the International Herald Tribune for her “luscious mezzo” and Der Tagesspiel for “her impressive, metallic dramatic soprano”, American mezzo-soprano Julia Benzinger is enjoying a career in both opera and concert throughout Europe and the United States.

The 2016-2017 sees Ms. Benzinger making a role debut as Mére Marie in Dialogues des carmélites with Vashon Opera. She makes her Orchestra Seattle and Seattle Chamber Singers debut performing Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky in October, and in November, she returns to Seattle for an evening in celebration of John Cage, performing his radical compositions Aria, 5 Songs for Contralto, and Sonnekus. Later in the season she will take the stage with Pacific MusicWorks, under the musical direction of GRAMMY award winner Stephen Stubbs, as The Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas. She ends her season as Erste Norn in Wagner's Die Götterämmerung with the Miami Music Festival.

In the 2015-2016, Ms. Benzinger made her role debut as the title character in Fauré's Pénelopé with Vespertine Opera Theater. On the concert platform, she performed Maddelena (Rigoletto), Alisa (Lucia di Lammermoor), the alto soloist in Pergolesi's Stabat mater, and returned to Music of Remembrance for a concert featuring the Vilna Ghetto Songs.

The 2014-2015 season saw Ms. Benzinger make her Pacific MusicWorks debut (Dritte Dame / Die Zauberflöte). She toured with the Deutsche Oper Berlin to the Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman as Il Musico in Puccini's Manon Lescaut and was praised for her performance with Music of Remembrance in Songs and Satire from Terezin. Recent engagements have seen her return to the USA for performances of Lucretia (The Rape of Lucretia), La Frugola (Il Tabarro) and Zita (Gianni Schicchi).

Ms. Benzinger was a member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 2007-13, during which she performed a large and varied repertoire, highlights of which include Der Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos), Flosshilde (Das Rheingold) and the title role in Gnecchi's Cassandra under the baton of Donald Runnicles, Meg Page (Falstaff) conducted by Enrique Mazzola, and Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel) under Evan Rogister, Olga (Eugene Onegin), Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Tisbe (La cenerentola), Der Page (Salome), Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Bersi (Andrea Chenier), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), Flora (La Traviata), Rosalia (Tiefland), Saint Margarete in Walther Braunfels’ Szenen aus dem Leben der Heiligen Johanna, and Alkmene in Strauss’ Die Liebe der Danae.

Subsequent engagements have seen her perform Meg Page (Falstaff) for Theater Aachen, Olga (Eugene Onegin) for the Concert Opera of Seattle, Flora (La Traviata) for Opera na Zamku, Poland, and the title role in Carmen for the Oldenburg Promenade, which prompted the Märkische Oderzeitung to write “Julia Benzinger was charged with bringing the incredible fire and passion of the Gypsy Carmen to life. And that’s just what she did.” Among Benzinger’s concert repertoire are the works of Bach (Magnificat, Mattäus-Passion, Weinachts-Oratorium), Beethoven (9th Symphony), Brahms (Alto Rhapsody), Elgar (Sea Pictures), Handel (Messiah), Mendelssohn (Elijah), and Rossini (Stabat Matter). An alumna of the Seattle Early Music Guild and Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, she has appeared with the Seattle Symphony Chorale, Rainier Symphony Orchestra, the Manchester Camerata, and at the Rome Festival, Italy.

A former Seattle Opera and Sarasota Opera Young Artist, Ms. Benzinger has been the recipient of many awards including the Deutsche Oper Curt Engelhorn Award, the Anne O’Donnell Outstanding Apprentice Award, and scholarships from the Wagner Society of Northern California, and Seattle Opera Guild. Julia holds a Bachelor of Music from the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.

Julia makes her home on Bainbridge Island, WA with her partner and two young sons.

Kristine Dandavino- Mezzo Soprano

Mezzo-soprano Kristine Dandavino is a powerful force in the Verdi and Wagner repertoire. Highlights of Kristine's 2016/17 season includes appearances as Ortrud in Lohengrin with Opera by Request, soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the Cambridge Symphony and  Wesendonck Lieder, as well as Beethoven's C Major Mass with Choeur Poliphonique de Montréal.

2015-2016 saw Kristine as Zita in Gianni Schicchi with the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony, soloist with Oshawa Opera in Viva Verdi, soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria with Ewashko Singers and soloist with Toronto Opera Concert Orchestra in An Afternoon of Italian Music.

2014-2015 saw Kristine as Frugola in Il Tabarro with the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony, Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust with OperaTunities Ottawa, a solo recital with the Off-Concert Series Jeunesses Musicales Canada, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Etobicoke Philharmonic, and Das Lied von der Erde  with Opera by Request.  

In 2013 -2014 Kristine thrilled audiences as Azucena in Il trovatore with Opera York, and Chimène in Le Cid with Toronto Opera Collaborative. Other career highlights include Ortrud in Lohengrin and Santuzza in Cavelleria Rusticana with Opera by Request, Leonore in Fidelio with Toronto Opera Collaborative, Madame Flora in The Medium with Festival Orford, Magda Sorel in The Consul and Aunt Marsh in Little Women with Tryptych Opera.

Wanting to make opera more accessible in Ontario, Ms. Dandavino founded Oshawa Opera in April 2013 with the goal of presenting well-known operas to the Durham Region.  Also a pedagogue, Kristine’s mandate is to educate future audiences and support young Canadian artists.  In February 2014, she was appointed to be a member of the leadership group in the City of Oshawa for its first Cultural Plan: Culture Counts – Oshawa’s Arts, Culture, and Heritage Plan.

Ms. Dandavino has also appeared as a soloist in works such as the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Elijah and the Bach Magnificat with a variety of organizations such as the Ontario Philharmonic Orchestra and the Durham Philharmonic Choir. Her voice was featured in Lois Alba’s book/CD Vocal Rescue: Rediscover the Beauty, Power and Freedom in Your Singing.

Soloman Howard- Bass

A recent graduate of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Soloman Howard garners high praise from the press for his vivid performances on the great opera and concert stages of the world.  The bass’ voice is described as “sonorous” by The New York Times, “superhuman” by The Denver Post, and “a triumph” by The Guardian.

Soloman Howard’s 2016-17 season includes his return to the Metropolitan Opera in performances of Aida conducted by Marco Armiliato and Daniele Rustioni.  Highlights also feature performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra and with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in debut appearances on many of Europe’s most famous stages including El Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and the Musikverein in Vienna.

Last year Soloman Howard joined Gustavo Dudamel, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic on tour celebrating the commercial CD release of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that the bass recorded with Mr. Dudamel in Caracas.  Mr. Howard made a role debut as Fafner in Das Rheingold and Siegfried in Washington National Opera’s epic presentation of Der Ring des Nibelungen directed by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by Music Director Philippe Auguin.  Other performances of the season included a debut at Santa Fe Opera as Commendatore in Don Giovanni conducted by John Nelson, a company debut with l’Opéra national de Bordeaux as Jacopo Fiesco in a new production of Simon Boccanegra conducted by Paul Daniel, and Banco in Macbeth with Kentucky Opera.

Highlights of the recent past include performances of Aida at the Metropolitan Opera, La traviata at the Los Angeles Opera under the baton of Music Director James Conlon, The Magic Flute and Macbeth at the Glimmerglass Festival, and the title role of Approaching Ali at North Carolina Opera and the Washington National Opera.  For the Washington National Opera, the bass also bowed in productions of The Magic Flute, Show Boat, Don Giovanni, and Nabucco and created the roles of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the world premiere of the revised edition of Appomattox composed by Philip Glass in a production by Tazwell Thompson.  The Anti-Defamation League presented Soloman Howard with their “Making a Difference Award” for raising awareness of voting rights though his performances of Appomattox at the Kennedy Center and for bringing opera into the larger community.

Notable concert performances include Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht at Carnegie Hall with Kent Tritle and the Oratorio Society of New York, Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier – opposite Renée Fleming – with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, Händel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and the Fauré Requiem with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the title role of Porgy and Bess with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time at New York’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

Soloman Howard is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and Morgan State University.

Megan Nielson- Soprano

American Soprano, Megan Nielson, has triumphed in roles including: title role in Tosca (Regina Opera & Chelsea Opera), Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Festival Opera de San Luis – Mexico & Opera Ithaca), Judith in Bluebeard's Castle (Opera Ithaca), Mimì in La Bohème (CoOperative), Chrysothemis in Elektra (Manhattan Opera Studio), title role in Suor Angelica (Chelsea Opera & Manhattan Opera Studio), Nedda in Pagliacci (Amore Opera), Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Fiordigligi in Così fan tutte, Meg March in Little Women (Knoxville Opera) as well as being in demand as a concert soloist.

Most recently she sang Tosca with Regina Opera and Donna Anna with the Opera de Festival San Luis Potosi, in Mexico and Opera Ithaca and was named a winner of the international Linus Lerner Conocurso de Canto. Declared “Superb” by Voce di Meche and praised by Opera News for her "engaging" presence and full "bloom", Ms. Nielson is a versatile singer who thrives in traditional repertoire as well as new work. She created the role of Ermia in the World Premiere of Kristin Hevner Wyat'ss Il Sogno with Metropolis Opera Project in NYC and also sang the role of Melisande in Sheldon Harnick's rarely performed opera, Frustration.

A district finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Austria's Meistersinger Competition, The Orpheus Competition, winner of the University of Tennessee Concerto Competition and a Career Bridges Grantee, she was selected the winner of the Lorena Bessey Mangin Memorial Award at Shreveport Opera’s Mary Jacobs Smith Singer of the Year Competition. Ms. Nielson has received praise by the industry's top judges, conductors and coaches for her exciting lyric spinto voice. She received her Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Kansas CityMissouri and her Masters in Voice and Pedagogy from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She has enjoyed residencies with young artist programs including Sarasota Opera, Knoxville Opera, Bay View Music Festival, American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz and Princeton’s CoOPERAtive. After performing the role of Judith in Opera Ithaca’s inaugural production of Bluebeard’s Castle, Ms. Nielson returned to Opera Ithaca performing Donna Anna in their new production of Don Giovanni directed by R.B. Schlather. In 2016 Ms. Nielson performed in various orchestra concerts with The Riverside Opera Company of New York and sang the role of Suor Angelica with Chelsea Opera, as well as Opera Ithaca's Gala.

This summer Ms. Nielson will be joining the Miami Wagner Institute, working with Kathleen Kelly, Alan Held, and Christine Brewer and will be performing the 3rd Norn at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Upcoming engagements include Tatiana with Utopia Opera, Santuzza in Panama City and Nedda with Opera Ithaca.

Ms. Nielson is a student of Ms. Laura Brooks Rice and coaches with Mr. Thomas Bagwell.

Blair Salter- Coach Collaborative pianist Blair Salter is a versatile performer and music director who has worked at prestigious opera companies and young artist programs throughout the United States and Canada. A graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Young Artist Program and the Glimmerglass Festival, Blair currently serves as a guest coach for Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit and will be joining the Houston Grand Opera Studio as a pianist and vocal coach for the 2017/2018 season. Her 2016/17 performance season features her return to the University of Michigan Opera performing in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream under the baton of Kathleen Kelly. On the recital stage, she appears in residency with the Khemia Ensemble at Michigan State University, Tufts University and the Avaloch Farms Music Institute, and with soprano Amy Petrongelli at the African American Song Alliance Conference in Irvine, California. She makes her debut with the West Michigan Symphony as orchestra pianist in December.

Recent operatic engagements include as pianist for the workshop of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber, commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, as well as vocal coach for the University of Michigan Opera productions of Gianni Schicchi and L’heure espagnole. An advocate of contemporary music, she collaborated with Philip Glass in a workshop on the second act of his opera Appomattox at the Glimmerglass Festival, where she served as assistant pianist for the 2015 festival. She has previously worked as a fellow at the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar and as vocal coach at the CoOPERAtive Program.

Her recital credits feature programs of music by female composers and music by Benjamin Britten presented at the Kerrytown Concert House, as well as her debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. accompanying students from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. She appeared in recital as part of the Song of America Conference in partnership with the Hampsong Foundation’s Song in Dialogue, which was broadcast in New York City at the Manhattan School of Music.

Blair was a freelance collaborative pianist in Toronto from 2012 – 2014, where she acted as music director for Metro Youth Opera, music director with the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, and as pianist with Toronto Opera Repertoire. She attended the University of Western Ontario for her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and Master of Music degree in collaborative piano, studying with John Hess and Stéphan Sylvestre. She recently completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Michigan where she studied with Martin Katz.


Rehanna Thelwell- mezzo/contralto

Rehanna Thelwell, mezzo/contralto, is overjoyed to be a returning participant in this year’s Wagner Institute. After last year’s success in the program and sharing the stage with Christine Goerke, Alan Held and her fellow Valkyries, Ms. Thelwell is eager to get started with the 2017 season. With previous roles such as Cornelia from Giulio Cesare and Lady Wang from Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber in her repertoire, she is eager to add more works by Richard Wagner to better herself as a musician. Ms. Thelwell is currently in the process of finishing her Specialist Degree at the University of Michigan under the instruction of Nadine Washington.