Dr. Eric Stark
In a dynamic career that combines performance, scholarship and collaborative leadership, conductor Eric Stark has established himself as a choral-orchestral specialist.
In May 2012, Stark led over 300 musicians in an acclaimed performance of the massive Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem) by Hector Berlioz with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Butler University Chorale (“The discipline of the choir’s preparation was evident from the start….the ‘Dies irae’…is one of the most thrilling episodes in the chorus-orchestra literature, and Stark managed it with aplomb.” Indianapolis Star). He made his podium debut as guest conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in a 2008 presentation of Handel’s Messiah(“galvanic performance….the Choir sang excellently throughout.” Nuvo Newsweekly). His December 2007 Washington, DC debut with the Washington Chorus was also met with critical and popular acclaim (“Eric Stark had the chorus singing crisply and brightly….its rich, close harmonies shimmering.” Washington Post).
Stark has led performances of the Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts, Britten’s War Requiem and Saint Nicolas, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bach’s Mass in B minor, the Weihnachts-Oratorium and numerous cantatas, Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt, Zipoli’s Te Deum, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass and Requiem, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, the Poulenc Gloria, Fauré’s Requiem, and Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. He has prepared choruses for such notable conductors as Nicholas McGegan, Raymond Leppard, Jahja Ling, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Mario Venzago, Carl St. Clair, Erich Kunzel, Krzysztof Urbanski and Jack Everly. His choruses are heard on multiple compact discs, including Mendelssohn’s Elijah (2011); From East to West (2005) a holiday compilation with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir; The Harmonies of Hoosier History, (2001) featuring works by Indiana composers performed by the Indianapolis Arts Chorale; and A Festival of Carols (1997) with the Muncie, IN Masterworks Chorale.
Stark’s work as artistic collaborator and community leader has been both broad and unique. Under his leadership, his choirs have performed with such groups as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana Repertory Theater, Indianapolis Children’s Choir, American Pianists Association, Jordan College Academy of Dance, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Clowes Memorial Hall, Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) and Butler University.
He has conducted in the Oriental Art Center Concert Hall in Shanghai, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, MD, and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. He has made conducting appearances in Greece, Italy, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay, and has led choirs on domestic tours in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa. In 2012, Stark served as chorus master for the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, featuring Madonna, Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj and LMFAO. He was honored with a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis in 2005.
A firm believer in the power of music to connect diverse audiences and enrich lives, Stark has led a revitalized program of innovative educational outreach programs since joining the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in 2002. In-Choir-ing Minds is an interactive discussion/performance featuring engaging dialog interspersed with live musical examples. Hallelujah—What’s It to Ya?! is a light-hearted musical inspection of the greatest musical work of all time, Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus. The in-depth Choral Colloquium focuses on the contextual issues surrounding the great works for chorus and orchestra, and has featured such notable participants as composers Morten Lauridsen and Kyle Gann, scholar/performers Vance George, John Shirley-Quirk, Nick Strimple, Byron Adams and R. Larry Todd, and theologians Richard Hamilton and Frank Burch Brown.
In addition to his duties as Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Stark is also Professor of Music, Director of Graduate Studies and Assistant Chair of the School of Music at Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts. There he conducts the Butler Chorale, teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting and choral literature, and serves as coordinator of the vocal and choral areas. His former conducting students have received appointments at leading choral positions around the United States, including Stetson University, Princeton University, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Los Angeles Opera, Fort Wayne Children’s Chorus and the University of Wisconsin. In 2003 and 2009 he taught a Butler University honors course he designed, Putting Wings on Dreams—the First 100 Years of Powered Flight, using the dramatic stories of aviation pioneers as case studies in human determination and innovation. He has served on the faculties of Christian Theological Seminary, Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne and Earlham College. He received the doctoral degree in choral conducting from Indiana University, where he was a student of Jan Harrington, Robert Porco and Thomas Dunn. A 1988 graduate of Wabash College, he is also a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, a non-profit network of pilots providing free air transportation for those with medical needs.
Liam Bonner joined the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir as Executive Director in January of 2019. He was previously Manager, Annual Giving Groups with the Houston Symphony where he merged the mission and vision of the organization with the philanthropic goals of patrons and donors. In his current position, Liam draws on three years of fundraising experience with a major US symphony and a successful ten-year career in performance, having earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and his Master of Music in Voice from the Manhattan School of Music.
In his former career as an artist, Bonner was praised by Opera News for his “rich, versatile voice” and “beautiful instrument”. Highlights of his performing career included his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2010 as Morales in Carmen and the role of Horatio in Hamlet – which was one of the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcasts that same season. He created the role of Lieutenant Audebert in the Pulitzer Prize winning opera, Silent Night, with Minnesota Opera and reprised the role with Opera Philadelphia and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Bonner’s repertoire included a majority of Britten baritone roles including the title role in Billy Budd with LA Opera, directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by James Conlon, and Ned Keene in a concert version of Peter Grimes with the St. Louis Symphony and performed at Carnegie Hall. He was very much at home in the French repertoire, performing such roles as Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with New Orleans Opera, and the title role of Hamlet with Washington National Opera and conducted by Plácido Domingo.
Liam enjoyed mostly a stateside career, though notable international engagements included Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with English National Opera in London, Henri de Valois in Chabrier’s Le roi malgré lui with the Wexford Festival Opera in Wexford, Ireland, and The Elder Son in Britten’s The Prodigal Son with Teatro dell’Opera Roma in Rome, Italy.
Bonner is a former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, and a Studio and Apprentice Artist at Central City Opera. He is the recipient of a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshanna Foundation, a first-prize winner of the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition, a national semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and an award winner from the George London Foundation, the Lotte Lenya Competition, the First International Pavel Lisitsian Baritone Competition in Moscow, Russia, and the Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition.
Dr. Michael Davis
General Manager & Assistant Artistic Director
Michael Davis, Assistant Artistic Director (2002), is originally from northeast Arkansas. His work as a conductor and musician includes an eclectic background of nearly 40 years of professional performing experience in genres from bluegrass, jazz, popular, and western-swing to the standard repertoire of opera, choral, orchestral, and choral-orchestral masterworks. Most recently Davis served as chorus master for Krzysztof Urbanski ‘s staged productions of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (2018) and Bizet’s Carmen (2016), Patrick Quigley and Michael Christie’s performance of Handel’s Messiah (2015 and 2017, respectively), and Eric Stark’s world premiere (2015) and Carnegie Hall performance of Mohammed Fairouz’s commissioned oratorio Zabur released by Naxos Records (both 2016). Other current musical endeavors include guitarist/pianist in The Pithy Oddfellows (a jazz quintet focused on the repertoire of the Great American Songbook), dobro/mandolin in The Bluegrass Roundabouts, and Minister of Music at First Presbyterian Church in Noblesville, Indiana.
Davis’s former conducting positions include director/producer of the critically acclaimed Ball State University Singers, “Indiana’s Official Goodwill Ambassadors,” as well as founder/conductor of Das Neue Kapellorchester and Cantabile!, artistic director of Westminster Orchestra, associate conductor of the Ball State Chamber Choir, and assistant conductor for Indianapolis Arts Chorale. Davis has held teaching positions at Manchester College and Ball State University. Having first performed at Carnegie Hall with Robert Shaw in the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in 1997, he has regularly performed in the chorus as a part of Carnegie Hall’s ongoing professional training workshops where he has sung with conductors including Charles Dutoit, Neville Marriner, Andre Previn, Robert Spano, Norman Mackenzie, John Rutter, Vance George, Donald Neuen, James Conlon, and Peter Shreier. He made his New York City conducting debut at Carnegie Hall with Manchester College’s A Cappella Choir in 2001.
Accepting the position of General Manager in 2018, Davis brings a lifetime of business and financial services experience to his expanded responsibilities within the organization. In addition to growing up in the family’s 50-year accounting business, he held corporate leadership positions managing people, projects, and lines-of-business for multi-regional financial institutions and community banks for 15 years. A certified DiSC™ Trainer, corporate facilitator, and sales coach, Davis supported the development of executive leaders, managers, and individual producers specializing in customer/employee experience, career pathing, and business strategy. He has served and consulted leaders from large global corporations, small businesses, non-profit boards, and churches. In addition to degrees in conducting and vocal performance, Davis holds the Doctor of Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Higher Education Administration and Leadership from Ball State University. He is currently pursuing the Master of Social Work degree from Indiana University (anticipated completion 2021).
David Duncan began playing the piano at age six and the organ at age eight. These early beginnings prepared him for the diverse and busy musical life that he enjoys today as pianist, organist, conductor and choral arranger. His experience and extensive musical background has made him one of the most sought after musicians in the Indianapolis area.
He received both his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Piano Performance from the Indiana University School of Music. He was fortunate to study under gifted teachers who nurtured and supported his love and interest in a wide range of musical styles and genres. He has served on the faculties of both Taylor and Anderson University where he has conducted and arranged for both men’s and women’s choral ensembles and taught classes in classical and jazz piano, improvisation and choral arranging.
As a pianist David has worked with many of the finest musical organizations in the area including The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, The Great American Songbook High School Vocal Competition with Michael Feinstein, Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Encore Vocal Arts Ensemble. He has also done extensive work as a pianist/conductor for many local theatre companies including the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Indiana, Civic Theatre, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre and the Bose Lyric Theatre at Anderson University where he was music director/conductor for twelve productions including Into the Woods, Music Man, Children of Eden and Seussical.
Until recently David was Director of Music/Organist at Geist Christian Church in Indianapolis where he served for 23 years. His work for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was recognized on an international level in 2013 when he served as Music Director for the denomination’s General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. He will serve in this capacity once again in Columbus, Ohio in 2015.
David is passionate about working with high school students to further their love and appreciation of music and the arts. He has worked closely with the Indianapolis Cabaret Theatre at the Columbia Club, accompanying the Cabaret Conservatory Master Classes given by current Broadway artists. In addition, David is the staff accompanist and choral arranger at Franklin Central High School where he works with nine different choral ensembles including the Franklin Central Singers, winners of the Indiana State School Music Association Concert Choir Championship for the past 3 years.
Conductor, singer, and educator, Patrick Pauloski, is a master of music student at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, pursuing a degree in choral conducting. He is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana and holds a B.A. in music, voice performance, from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Patrick’s chorister experience includes singing under the direction of Henry Leck and Joshua Pedde as a child singer in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, singing as a member of the esteemed Luther College Nordic Choir at which time was under the direction of Dr. Allen Hightower III, singing as a member of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Choir in Indianapolis, Indiana, and singing as a member of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir under the leadership of Dr. Eric Stark. In addition to these choral experiences, Patrick has had the opportunity to teach pre-K through eighth grade general music in the Catholic diocese of Indianapolis as well as teach preparatory and early childhood level classes and choirs for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. Patrick actively sings throughout the Indianapolis area and is a member of the Circle City Chamber Choir––C4. Most recently, Patrick was a young artist for the Indianapolis Opera Company during the summer of 2018, where he performed opera repertoire to young students around central Indiana. When Patrick is not conducting, singing, or teaching, he enjoys composing music for all sorts of ensembles, spending time in nature, and living an active lifestyle.
Dr. James Plenty
James Anthony Plenty is a conductor, clinician, and scholar from Central Alabama. He is a musician who is equally at home in sacred, popular, and classical music. Distinguished for his musical mind and spirited performances, Dr. Plenty is frequently invited to serve as a guest clinician, accompanist, and competition adjudicator. Plenty’s professional achievements include serving as a contributing composer in the newly published Total Praise Hymnal. Dr. Plenty is Co-Executive Producer of a CD project titled Plenty Good News Presents…When Pastors Meet. Additionally, Dr. Plenty holds an appointment as the Music and Worship Arts Education Director of the Music Auxiliary in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and served as a guest lectionary liturgist for the African American Lectionary, a collaborative project of The African American Pulpit and American Baptist College of Nashville.
As a scholar and practitioner in sacred music and the arts, Dr. Plenty has served in church administration as a director of music and youth programs, consultant, and teacher. In 2007, Plenty began serving at Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama as the youngest Music and Arts Director in the history of the megachurch. An established academician, Plenty has also served as a member of the faculties of J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Alabama A&M University, H. Councill Trenholm State Community College, and Alabama State University.
James is a 2006 cum laude graduate of The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Technology. In addition to completing his studies in Birmingham, he also holds the Master of Church Music degree from Lee University and the Doctor of Education degree in Leadership, Policy, and Law from Alabama State University where he was a doctoral fellow of Abernathy College of Education. Plenty is also a graduate of the University of Alabama Community College Leadership Academy. He is currently a candidate for the Master of Music in Choral Conducting degree Butler University.