Tenor Mel Foster is an Associate Professor of Voice at Morehouse College where he has taught for the last 16 years. Dr. Foster has a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music where he was a student of John Maloy and his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara under the tutelage of Elizabeth Mannion. Most recently, he has greatly benefited from the mentoring of Victor Roman.
A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Mel believes his experience at the Brevard Music Festival as a teenager heavily influenced his decision to commit his life to singing. Since then, he has had many performance opportunities. Most recently, he has performed as tenor soloist in Mozart’s Requiem and in recital with his wife, Ellen Heinicke Foster at Salt Lake’s Madeleine Cathedral. His operatic performances have been in the role of Nelson in the Atlanta Opera’s 2010 new production and 2008 European tour of Gerswhin’s Porgy and Bess; with the Americolor Opera in the roles of Ellington Dupont in The Bridge(premiere),Johnnie Washington in Carmen J(premiere), Freeman Ransom in Madame CJ(premiere), Alonzo Herndon in The Herndons, as Aleph in The Candlers (premiere) and Azaël in Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue with the Wenatchee Valley Symphony. Other highlights have been in Salt Lake City in The Life of Roland Hayes and The Moor Tenors’ Project; tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Fairbanks Symphony and Macon Symphony; the Rome Festival as Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte in Rome, Italy; twice performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a nationally broadcasted event entitled A King Celebration in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.; as a featured soloist with the Atlanta Chamber Players; Mozart’s Requiem with the Augusta Choral Society; and tenor soloist in Bach’s St. John’s Passion with the St. Paul’s Bach Society.
Ellen Heinicke Foster, a native of Wenatchee, Washington has performed with numerous symphonies,
chamber orchestras, ballet and opera companies throughout the United States and Canada. She currently plays with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as Second Harp as well as Acting Principal when needed. Ellen has also performed with the Atlanta Ballet in performances of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at the Fox Theatre and is a featured performer with the Georgia Boy Choir. She accompanied the Atlanta Boy Choir on their tour of Austria and Germany and also recorded Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and Rutter’s Dancing Day with the group.
Ellen is a dedicated teacher of the harp. She was on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Camp for several summers, taught harp for the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble for many years and was instructor of the Harp Program at Carver High School. As past president of the Georgia chapter of the American Harp Society, she organized the Auditions and Evaluations program. In addition, Ellen maintains a private harp studio, teaching children as well as adults.
She directs two harp ensembles. The North Atlanta Harp Ensemble is a group made up entirely of adult students from the Atlanta Metropolitan area. They perform regularly at Assisted Living facilities as well as other venues in the Atlanta area. The Student Harp Ensemble (SHE) is comprised of middle and high school students who currently study with Mrs. Foster.
Ellen is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where she earned degrees in Harp Performance and Music Education. She was lucky enough to study with Eileen Malone in her final years at Eastman. After teaching music in the Lawrence, Kansas public school system for two years, she went to graduate school at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Here, she had the great privilege of earning her Master of Music degree under the artistic teaching of Rita Costanzi. While attending the Aspen Music Festival, Ellen met and studied with Nancy Allen. This led her to Yale University where she earned her Artist Diploma under the guidance of Ms. Allen. Ellen is grateful for all she learned under these great teachers.
Feiner Musicke is committed to the performance and publication of music for solo voice and harp.
Giulio Caccini (ca. 1545-1618) composed the madrigal, Amarilli, mia bella, for the enjoyment of the Medici family, perhaps the most ardent patrons of art during the 14th and 15th centuries. Caccini, a tenor, would accompany himself on the archlute as he expressed the sentiments of faithfulness and longsuffering.
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) is known to have composed over 600 cantatas, most of which are untitled. Sento nel core is the second aria from a cantata which focuses on the effects of falling in love.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is well known for his musical genius and the dramatic prowess exhibited in his piano concerti and his operas. An Chloe (K.524), a wonderful example of the German lied in the classical period, features the unrequited love a young lad.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828), composer of over 600 songs (lieder), quite possibly created one of the most famous melodies in all of Christendom when he wrote Ellens dritter Gesang, D.839. Today, the melody is most commonly referred to as Ave Maria and closely associated with the catholic liturgy. In the original poem by Sir Walter Scott, the song reflects a young girl's prayer to the Holy Virgin for protection as she flees warring clans with the hope of being reunited with her father.
Vincenzo Bellini (1801- 1835) Composer of La sonnambula, I puritani and Norma, Bellini is best known for his ability to create flowing melodic lines. Portraying a young man's desire to trade places with the rose nestled against the breast of his beloved, Vanne, o rosa fortunata, is a fine representation of Bellini's skill.
Stephen Foster (1824-1864) American song composer of the 19th century, Stephen Foster is remembered most for his minstrel songs and American folk music. One of the gems from his output is Beautiful Dreamer. This beautiful serenade features a lover beckoning the other to awaken from a magical sleep.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Though he did not like the label, Debussy was known as a musical "Impressionist". Similar to painters of the same moniker, Debussy was able to use tonal colors to create melodies and harmonies in order to give impressions of the poetry which he set to music. In Fleur des Blés, colors abound as one lover creates a bouquet of different flowers, each reflecting a physical characteristic of the one for whom they were chosen.
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) One of the greatest french composers, Gabriel Fauré is known for his sensitive settings of the French language. Chanson d'amour is a song of infatuation which fixates on " lips where my kisses are exhausted".
Roger Quilter (1877-1953) was a gifted composer of elegant songs. Among his many excellent songs, Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal is a shimmering example of his ability to capture the true essence of a poem.
Ernest Charles (1895-1984) Having had a career singing vaudeville and on Broadway, there is no question that Charles knew what a winning song looked like and how to sing it. Though most of his songs are unheard of today, When I Have Sung My Songs has become a popular encore which always leaves the audience wanting more.