BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University’s Community Music School, part of the Hayes School of Music (HSOM), announces the appointment of Dr. Nicole Sonbert as its new director. A native of Winston-Salem, Sonbert recently returned to North Carolina from Seattle Opera, where she served as the organization’s youth and family programs manager.
“We are fortunate to have been able to find a new director who is such an accomplished musician with significant arts administration experience,” said Dr. James Douthit, dean of the HSOM. “Her passion for arts engagement and her work in both academic and community programs make her a dynamic hire.”
He added, “Dr. Sonbert understands the potential benefits of a vibrant Community Music School and will continue our past growth to enable our program to serve a broader and larger number of students of all ages and abilities who want to make music a part of their daily lives.”
Appalachian’s Community Music School provides noncredit group and individual music instruction for children and adults in the local community as well as surrounding Western North Carolina counties using the talent of Appalachian faculty and area teaching artists.
“It is an exciting time to join this vibrant community, furthering the development and creation of programming that allows every individual, at any age, to find their voice and artistry through musically innovative and collaborative programming,” Sonbert said of her new appointment.
About Dr. Nicole Sonbert
Sonbert graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal performance. Her doctoral dissertation is titled “Evaluating Appropriate Repertoire for Developing Singers: An African-American Art Song Anthology.” She was previously on faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She is recognized for her work as a performer, clinician, guest presenter, adjudicator and guest conductor, and is also known for her orchestral performances as the alto soloist in George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.”
She has performed numerous operatic roles, including the following:
- Aunt Lou in Still’s “Highway One, USA.”
- Madame Flora in Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Medium.”
- Suzuki in Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.”
- The mother in Menotti’s “The Consul.”
- The ghost mother in Jacques Offenbach’s “Les contes d’Hoffmann.”
- Buttercup in W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore.”
- Bloody Mary in Richard Rodger and Oscar Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.”
As the youth and family programs manager for Seattle Opera, Sonbert collaborated with Seattle Public Theater to create the Youth Opera Project, which involved commissioning a chamber orchestra for the opera “Robin Hood” by Ben Moore and Kelly Rourke. This program provided an opportunity for 82 young artists, ages 7–18, to perform their very own opera regardless of ability to pay or skill level.
She also managed several other programs at Seattle Opera, including a bilingual touring opera called “Cinderella en España” by Dr. Mary Carol Warwick and Kate Pogue that traveled to schools and community centers, and an in-school early learning program called Opera Time, which allowed young artists to explore and interact with musical storytelling. Additionally, she managed Teen Vocal Studio, a pre-college training program for singers.
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
About the Hayes School of Music
The Hayes School of Music prepares young musicians for professional lives as performers, composers, music educators, music therapists, conductors and music industry professionals, ensuring the next generation of musical leadership for the state, region and nation. Noted for quality instruction by national and internationally recognized faculty musicians, the school offers four undergraduate degree programs and three graduate-level programs. Learn more at https://music.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.