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Spotlight Feature - Ellen Gilson Voth

It's our final Spotlight Sunday before Folxtales! We can't believe our family-friendly spring production is less than one week away. We invite you to join us on Saturday, June 4 at 3pm at the Charter Oak Cultural Center and on Sunday, June 5 at 3pm at the Hill-Stead Museum. If you haven't already, you can purchase your tickets through our website. We hope you're planning to join us for this memorable weekend of new operas for families. Today we're thrilled to welcome back HOTOpera alumni composer, Ellen Gilson Voth. We were honored to present Owl Moon as a part of our 6th annual New in November festival in 2015. We loved this opera so much that we knew we had to present it again. We hope you enjoy learning about Ellen, Owl Moon, and what Opera for the 22nd Century means to her.


A resident of West Hartford, Dr. Ellen Gilson Voth is widely recognized for her work as both conductor and composer. Her leadership of the Farmington Valley Chorale, since 2007, has led to performances ranging from Handel's Esther to Mendelssohn's Elijah to Corigliano's Fern Hill, and fostered collaborations with a wide range of arts organizations in the region. For seven years she also served as Artistic Director of Novi Cantori, a professional chamber choir of greater Springfield, MA. In past years she has served on the faculty at Western Connecticut State University (Danbury, CT); Westfield State University (Westfield, MA); Western New England University (Springfield, MA); Gordon College (Wenham, MA); and Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY). Active as a guest conductor and adjudicator, she sings regularly with CONCORA, and performs frequently as a pianist and organist.

As a composer, Voth’s compositions and arrangements are published by ECS Publishing, Oxford University Press, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Colla Voce, and Graphite Publishing, and have been premiered or commissioned by many professional and amateur choirs. Voth was the winner of the 2022 ACDA Pearl Prize, for "Standing Tall"; the 2022 co-winner of the Robert Campbell Endowed Composition Prize at Ithaca College, for "I had no time to hate"; the 2020 Cincinnati Camerata Composition Prize, for "Above gravity"; a finalist in the 2020 ACDA Brock competition for professional composers for her nationally recognized work, "Across the empty square"; and the 2020 winner of the Michigan Choral Commission Consortium, for "Seeing the same stars". Her opera Owl Moon, based on Jane Yolen’s award-winning book, was premiered by Hartford Opera Theater in 2015 and later featured at the national Music by Women festival (Columbus, MS) in 2018. Her wide-ranging interest in poetry is reflected in her art song settings - including "As night and morning meet", on the album Every Tiny Thing, released by Albany Records in 2020.

Voth received her doctoral degree (DMA) from The Hartt School, University of Hartford, her MM degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and her BME from the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music.

To learn more about Ellen and her music, visit her website:

Here is what Ellen wants HOTOpera fans to know about Owl Moon :

It is based on a terrific story by author Jane Yolen, which I discovered years ago. At first I scored it for soprano, baritone and piano, so it was a new experience to arrange it for flute, clarinet and harp for the Folxtales performances, and create new colors through those instruments.

Here is what Ellen had to say about Opera for the 22nd Century:

Opera is a powerful vehicle for telling stories that haven't been told previously, and for telling familiar stories in new ways. Those stories are impacted by time and place, yet speak beyond any one time and place. It is exciting how Hartford Opera Theater is constantly creating and imagining new ways opera can be presented and maximize its impact.

Here are five fun-facts about Ellen that are not in her bio:

1. She loves water sports! Especially water skiing and sailing.

2. Her daughter is also a composer so they are constantly hearing each others' ideas (and sharing FINALE software).

3. She enjoys picking blueberries with her family every summer and freezing some to enjoy through the year.

4. Her favorite choral work is whatever fabulous choral work I am currently immersed in for an upcoming concert.

5. A cup of Tazo Passion herbal tea is never far from her desk in the wintertime!


Thank you for tuning in to our Spotlight series featuring Ellen. Follow our social media pages this week to learn more about Folxtales, our all-star cast and creative team, and the Folxtales operas. We can't wait to dive head first into tech week on Monday. Make sure to purchase your TICKETS for Folxtales so you don't miss out on this heartwarming event.


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