The Rally Cat Presents The Music Of Aferdian Stephens

By: Jun. 14, 2018

The Rally Cat Presents The Music Of Aferdian Stephens

The Rally Cat, a new, energized performing arts company based in New York City, launches its inaugural season on July 21st with a concert of new music by award-winning composer Aferdian Stephens at the National Opera Center at 1:30 PM.

The Rally Cat is dedicated to inspiring and empowering artists and communities and generates opera, theatre, and musical theatre to elevate human consciousness, presenting performances across NYC and the country to reach audiences at all income levels and provide high-quality cultural experiences to all.

"I'm interested in breaking down the walls between art forms, and between artists and audiences," says Founder Marella Martin Koch. "So many people believe they dislike 'musicals' or 'opera' - yet the capacity to understand and enjoy stories, particularly through some kind of live theatrical event, is ancient, human, and universal. My hope with The Rally Cat is to create a space, a company, that supports the creation of vital contemporary work that speaks to the present moment, regardless of form, to connect deeply with audiences and artists."

Composer Aferdian Stephens is a 2018 ASCAP Morton Gould Award Winner for his "Trio for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano" as well as the recipient of The Bohuslav Martin? Award for his orchestral composition "The Clock." A multi-disciplinary musician, he is active in many fields of music, and in addition to writing several one-act operas, song cycles, and chamber pieces, he has composed songs for Tony-Award winning actor and singer Chuck Cooper's cabaret show The Blues of Langston Hughes.

The Music of Aferdian Stephens, presented in concert on July 21st and music directed by Robert Frost, will feature Mr. Stephens' setting of Langston Hughes' "Seven Moments of Love," a scene from the forthcoming opera John Dumpty written with Ms. Martin Koch, and two commissions inspired by Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility. These works will be brought to vivid life by the rich voices of Meagan Martin, praised for her "liquid mezzo," and NYC-based baritone Lyle Smith Mitchell.

Mr. Stephens, who is based in New Jersey, received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Composition with a concentration in Piano from Montclair State University, an MFA at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at the Tisch School of the Arts of NYU, and his Masters of Music at the Mannes School of Music where his private composition instructor was Dr. Lowell liebermann.

For further information on The Rally Cat and to purchase tickets please visit

Robert Frost is a NYC-based pianist, music director, arranger, and educator. Select MD credits include Miss Blanche Tells It All (NYMF); We Live In Cairo and Cardboard Piano (O'Neill Theater Center); Minor Character (Sharon Playhouse); Jonah and the Whale (7th House); and My Fair Lady (Arkansas Shakespeare Theater). Robert serves as the music director and conductor of Icons/Idols, a tetralogy of choral plays for over a dozen women+ singers, which received funding from OPERA America's Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. As a pianist, music director, and arranger, Robert has also worked with Arkansas Rep, The Cher Show (Lab: Music Assistant), Berkshire Theater Group, New Georges, NYU, New Dramatists, Lincoln Center, Connecticut College, and Molloy College. Adjunct Faculty: NYU Tisch and Connecticut College. Former Resident MD: O'Neill Theater Center's National Musical Theater Institute.

Praised for her "liquid mezzo," Meagan Martin is rapidly gaining notice as an enthralling young artist in the world of classical singing. Her unique timbre and thrilling agility have captivated audiences in the United States and in Europe. Raised in Southern California, Meagan completed both her M.M. in Vocal Performance and B.A. in German at UCLA, graduating summa cum laude. This year she will complete her D.M.A. at the Herb Alpert School of Music, where she is the Teaching Associate for Opera UCLA. During her music studies she has been mentored by celebrated Russian baritone Vladimir Chernov and American stage director Peter Kazaras. An alumna of Houston Grand Opera's Young Artists Vocal Academy, Meagan has pursued advanced training in Europe and across the U.S. with Silvana Bazzoni Bartoli, Teresa Berganza, W. Stephen Smith, Renee Sousa and Olga Toporkova. She has been a soloist in concerts at Reichenau Castle in Austria as well as with the Astoria Music Festival, Festival Internacional de Panticosa in Spain and the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland. Roles performed include Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Dorabella and Despina (Così fan tutte), Amadora (Bastianello), Cherubino (I due Figaro), and Fanny Price (Mansfield Park), as well as the title roles in Amadigi, Lucrezia, Cendrillon, The Tragedy of Carmen, and Luisa Fernanda. Also an elegant oratorio soloist, Meagan appeared as the Israelitish Man in a landmark presentation of Handel's Judas Maccabaeus at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. An advocate of new music and a Jane Austen enthusiast, she commissioned "Marianne Dashwood, Songs of Love and Misery" and "Elinor Dashwood." She is the first place winner of the 2018 Hershey Felder Award for Classical Musicians.

Lyle Smith Mitchell began his musical journey as a young boy in Los Angeles, singing in church choruses. As he grew in age, so did his love for music. He continued his studies at the collegiate level, studying voice under Dr. Katharin Rundus of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, California State University Long Beach. At CSULB, Mr. Mitchell was a member of their Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. Jonathan Talberg, singing across the nation and abroad. As a vocal performance major, Lyle scored a leading role as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and the title roles in Don Giovanni, and Le Nozze di Figaro. After receiving a Bachelor of Music from CSULB, Lyle continued his studies at UCLA, studying with Vladimir Chernov. There, Mr. Mitchell took part in various recitals focusing in specific repertoire, including Russian Romances, French Melodie, and German Lied. Additionally, he performed as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Plagio in I due figaro, Ignacio in William Bolcom's Lucrezia, and Luciano in John Musto's Bastianello. After graduating from UCLA with his Master's Degree in Vocal Performance, Lyle relocated to NYC and began his work as a soloist and chorister.