Meet our Esteemed Colleagues
Bat Abbit’s professional career began with the Nashville Ballet, continued with the North Carolina Dance Theatre where he was a soloist, and finished with the American Repertory Ballet. He has performed roles such as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and created the roles of Fritz and The Nutcracker in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker. Since becoming a Ballet Master he has staged Mr. Lustig’s Evening and Cinderella for Singapore Dance Theatre, as well as countless other ballets for American Repertory Ballet. Mr. Abbit has created works of his own, including Jump, Frog, Jump! for young audiences and a full length Coppelia for Carolina Ballet. He has served on faculty at the School of the Nashville Ballet, Dance Place the official school of the North Carolina Dance Theatre, the Princeton Ballet School, and Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.
Zack Brown is one of the most versatile theatrical designers in the United States, with a career that has spanned Broadway, opera, ballet and television. Since obtaining his degree from the Yale School of Drama, he has designed sets and costumes for over a hundred and fifty productions. From the Metropolitan Opera to the Spoleto Festivals, from the Hamburg Ballet to Maly Theatre in Moscow, Mr. Brown’s talents have been employed throughout the world.
Washington, D.C., however, has seen the greatest body of his work with over forty productions for the Washington Opera at Kennedy Center and numerous plays and musicals at Arena Stage and the Shakespeare Theatre. He designed the scenery and costumes for the Tony Award winning revival of On Your Toes, and he is the recipient of two Emmy Awards for the telecast of La Gioconda from San Francisco Opera.
Alberta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet all have productions of The Nutcracker designed by Mr. Brown. For American Ballet Theatre he has created productions of Swan Lake, Raymonda, Jardin Aux Lilas and Dim Lustre. He is a frequent collaborator with Robert Hill, most notably on Lowell Liebermann’s Piano Concerto #1 and Dorian based on “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” both for ABT. He recently designed the settings for Suzanne Farrell’s staging of Balanchine’s Don Quixote.
Michael Morgan is the Music Director and Conductor of the Oakland East Bay Symphony. He was born in Washington, DC, where he attended public schools and began conducting at the age of 12. While a student at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Michael spent a summer at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, studying with Gunther Schuller and Seiji Ozawa. He first worked with Leonard Bernstein during that same summer.
His operatic debut was in 1982 at the Vienna State Opera conducting Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. In 1986, Sir Georg Solti chose him to become the Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for five years under both Solti and Daniel Barenboim. In 1986 he was invited by Leonard Bernstein to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic. As a guest conductor he has appeared with most of America’s major orchestras, as well as the New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera Theater and Washington National Opera.
In addition to his duties with Oakland East Bay Symphony, Maestro Morgan serves as Artistic Director of Oakland Youth Orchestra, Music Director of Sacramento Philharmonic, Artistic Director of Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, and teaches the graduate conducting course at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As Stage Director he has led productions of the Bernstein Mass at the Oakland East Bay Symphony and stagings of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Gounod’s Faust at Festival Opera.
Maestro Morgan was honored by the San Francisco Chapter of The Recording Academy with the 2005 Governor’s Award for Community Service. On the opposite coast, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) chose Morgan as one of its five 2005 Concert Music Award recipients. ASCAP further honored Oakland East Bay Symphony in 2006 with its Award for Adventurous Programming. The San Francisco Foundation has honored him with one of its Community Leadership Awards and he received an Honorary Doctorate from Holy Names University.
He makes many appearances in the nation’s schools each year, particularly in the East Bay, and is highly regarded as a champion of arts education and minority access to the arts. He serves on the Board of the Purple Silk Music Education Foundation, as well as the International House at the University of California at Berkeley. He makes his home in Oakland with his mother and sister.