American Opera Projects Names New Leadership Beginning 2019-2020
American Opera Projects (AOP)'s Board of Directors announced today the appointment of two new inspiring, artistic leaders who will continue the organization's 30-year legacy of creating contemporary opera in the US. Effective July 1, 2019, Matt Gray, who currently serves as AOP's Producing Director, will become General Director, and Mila Henry will join the company as Artistic Director.
Sarah Moulton Faux, of the AOP Board of Directors, said, "It was a unanimous decision on the part of the Board to appoint Matt as the next General Director both for continuity of AOPs mission but also for his innovative vision to keep the organization at the cutting edge as we move into the future. Both he and Mila have been incredible assets to the AOP team under Charles Jarden's skilled leadership, and we look forward to continuing AOP's legacy of groundbreaking new works."
Matt Gray will be the third General Director in the Brooklyn non-profit's 30-year history, following Grethe Barrett Holby, who founded AOP in 1988, and current General Director Charles Jarden who has led the company since 2002. Jarden will help guide the organization's leadership transition in the newly-created role of Director of Strategic Partnerships. Mila Henry will be the company's first Artistic Director since Steven Osgood held the position from 2002-2008.
Matt Gray currently serves as AOP's Producing Director, where he oversees production of the company's workshops, programs, and premieres. He began at AOP as an office manager in 2003 while working on independent films and theatre in New York City. He was later promoted to Projects Manager and then, in 2008, Producing Director. He will continue to serve as Head of Drama for AOP's opera writing training program Composers & the Voice and as the company's resident dramaturg and stage director. Gray was chosen as a participant in OPERA America's Leadership Intensive for 2019, a program designed to identify and bolster the careers of the most promising professionals in the field of opera.
Mila Henry, "a stalwart contributor to the contemporary opera scene" (Opera Ithaca), comes to the Artistic Director position as a sought-after interpreter of new theatrical works spanning opera, musical theater, chamber music, and hybrids of all three. Henry worked at AOP from 2010-2014 where she rose from Artistic Intern to Resident Music Director before leaving to pursue an active freelance career. As a music director, pianist, and vocal coach, she has shaped new operas with the American Lyric Theater, Beth Morrison Projects, HERE, PROTOTYPE, and Opera on Tap, among others, while continuing to work with AOP on various projects and serving as Head of Music for its Composers & the Voice training program.
"Matt Gray and Mila Henry represent a new generation in contemporary opera management," said General Director Charles Jarden. "It has been a privilege for me to have collaborated so closely with Matt over the last fifteen years. He knows our company inside and out, is well-respected by the Board, and understands the Brooklyn community and the Company's unique place in the culture of new opera. Along with Mila Henry, I know the company will be in great hands. I look forward to jumping in immediately and helping to launch a new era."
Matt Gray's appointment follows Charles Jarden's announcement earlier in the year to the AOP Board his intention to step down as General Director. Jarden will remain with the company to complete strategic initiatives. Under Jarden's leadership, American Opera Projects grew into a leading force in contemporary opera, with innovative shows and development, training, and community programs that have received national attention.
Gray has said he is committed to continuing "AOP's legacy of programming that exemplifies the wide range of the music theater form, from small, experimental chamber works to grand classical operas, "while playing around more with cross-genre pieces, new media, and live experiences that defy categorization. We will continue to be a home for artists to learn, experiment, and create, a voice in our neighborhood, and a fearless producer of new works. And we will be building a staff that reflects the diversity of our audience and our Brooklyn community. I'm grateful to Charles and the AOP board for this amazing opportunity to lead the company that I have loved being a part of for so many years and supporting my vision for AOP's next chapter."
Henry says, "As someone who has known AOP both artistically and administratively, I am honored to have the trust of Charles and the AOP board to guide the company into this new stage alongside the leadership of Matt Gray. I look forward to renewing AOP's mission as a producer and promoter of new opera and music theatre works, and to drawing attention to how those two delineations intersect. AOP has a thirty-year history, and I'm excited to redefine our present while bringing our acclaimed past into a prosperous future."