Dr. Kevin Class
Kevin Class is a musician who exemplifies versatility. Having excelled in performance on various instruments at an early age (most notably the violin and piano) he was raised around orchestras, and demonstrated early success as a composer and conductor. Moving effortlessly amongst between podium and piano, Kevin has become an accomplished thinker, teacher and performer as a pianist, collaborator and conductor of both orchestral and operatic literature. Kevin presently serves as the Director of Collaborative Piano at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, where he also hold the position of Music Director of the university's acclaimed Opera Theatre. Prior to this appointment, he served on the Opera Studies faculty of Indiana University where he was Music Director and Conductor of the Martina Arroyo Opera Courses.
Born in Belgium, Kevin acquired a diverse musical education in Europe, the United States and Canada, including studies with Murray Perahia, Gyorgy Sebok, Daniel Blumenthal and Ralph Votapek. As a pianist, since his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 19, Kevin has been a frequent soloist in such venues as Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Geneva's Victoria Hall and Vienna's Musikverein. Following several seasons of annual performances in The Netherlands and Belgium, including the complete piano sonatas of Schubert in Amsterdam, Kevin was named a Fellow of the Flemish Community by the Belgian government in 1998. Following his return to the United States in 1999, Kevin took up teaching positions at both Indiana University and State University of New York-Potsdam. After considerable legal challenges with record companies and management agencies, Kevin decided to halt his activities as a piano soloist at the end of 2000, in order to focus more attention on teaching, recording, chamber music, vocal collaboration and especially conducting.
In 2001, Kevin became resident conductor and a Guest Music Director for the University of Illinois Opera Theatre. Under the tutelage of John Wustman, Kevin began cultivating his skills in the vocal arts to enhance his work in the opera pit as well as in recital work with singers. Conducting productions ranging from the operas of Mozart, French Grand Opera and works of Puccini (a.o.), he also conducted a series of American operas including Kurt Weill's Street Scene, Hugo Weisgall's Six Characters in Search of an Author and Russell Smith's Unicorn in the Garden. After four seasons with the Illinois Opera Theatre, Class returned to Indiana University to lead more than 15 operas in two seasons at the musical healm of Martina Arroyo's Advanced Role Preparation course.With more than 40 operas in his active repertoire, conducting activities have found him on the podium at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden as well the National Opera Theatre La Monnaie in Brussels, and as a regular guest conductor for Opera Illinois (Peoria). In orchestral repertoire he has appeared in front of the Chicago Youth Symphony, Northern Illinois Philharmonic, the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, and as Resident Conductor of the Illinois New Music Ensemble.
As a collaborative pianist, Kevin has long been active in both instrumental and vocal repertoire. During the 2008-2009 season, Class participated in a series of concerts featuring solo and chamber works by Elliott Carter (celebrating the centennial of the composer's birth). A continuing project includes a partnership with mezzo-soprano Emily Langford Johnson in performances of Frederic Rzewski's monumental monodrama
Antigone-Legende. While also involved in traditional Lieder/art song recitals and chamber music, the aforementioned projects illustrate Kevin's commitment to contemporary music. This devotion to music of our time has resulted in a number of world premiers of works by composers such as Gunther Schuller, William Albright and William Bolcom, and continues to manifest itself through masterclasses and collaborations with young composers, performers and new music ensembles around the world.
Kevin combines his multiple disciplines into annual residencies throughout Asia where he leads masterclasses and workshops for pianists, accompanists, singers and conductors.
During the 2008-2009 season he will teach and perform in Taiwan, China and South Korea. A major new venture is the foundation of an innovative new training program for singers, conductors and pianists in the form of the Seoul International Opera Program which will take place during the summer 2009.