Vail Opera Camp
The National Children’s Chorus invites singers to join us for our annual opera camp held each summer in stunning Vail, Colorado!
Our 3rd Vail Opera Camp will be held at the base of the Rocky Mountains from Tuesday, August 1st through Friday, August 11th, 2023. Don’t miss your chance to learn about the art of opera and perform in a final staged production with talented young singers from around the country!
2023 Opera Camp includes:
- Daily musical training with Principal Conductor Dr. Allan Laiño and Artistic Director Luke McEndarfer
- Stage direction led by Opera Program Director & GRAMMY® nominee Johnathan McCullough
- Acting seminars led by Dylan F. Thomas
- Interactive masterclasses & prop building
- Live performance of "The Tinker of Tivoli", a bold and comedic youth opera with music by legendary composer Rossini
- Conducting Fellowship & Directing/Stage Management Fellowship opportunities
- Fun summer outdoor activities in and around the iconic Vail Village
- Special dinners, daily swimming, fireside hangouts, and so much more!
Students ages 10-18 will learn about opera performance and acting from our master clinicians, with over 35 years of experience working in top opera houses around the world, while gaining skills and experience to build their confidence as developing musicians. Culminating in a live staged production at the stunning Avon Performance Pavilion, participants will also enjoy thrilling activities in the beautiful outdoors of Colorado!
Fellowship Program: Conducting and Directing/Stage Management
Students in this program work one-on-one with our experienced staff, gaining professional experience and guidance in particular areas of focus. Fellowships are designed to give students practical skills that can be called upon in collegiate programs and professional companies.
1) Work closely with our experienced conducting faculty throughout the duration of the camp, from the first rehearsal to the performance.
2) Receive instruction in score study, rehearsal technique, and conducting technique.
3) Gain experience on the podium, conducting soloists and choristers in scene rehearsal.
4) Build skills and gain experience in areas typically reserved for graduate level coursework.
5) Take notes for the maestro during rehearsal.
1) Assist with production needs and get first hand experience with putting a production on stage.
2) Learn how to take staging notes.
3) Gain experience in calling a show.
4) Receive instruction on the technical aspects and how to manage a production.
5) Assist with the build of sets and props.
Meet the Team
He has sung leading roles at Opera Philadelphia, Komische Oper Berlin, English National Opera, Opéra de Lausanne, English National Opera, Portland Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and many more. Johnathan was selected by Renée Fleming to take part in the Weill Institute Song Studio at Carnegie Hall where he has also performed in concert.
He holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees and an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music and has been engaged as a guest speaker with institutions including Yale, Curtis, UCLA, Mannes Opera, YoungArts: The National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, Pacific Opera Victoria. . As a director, McCullough’s work has been noted as “A pacesetter for cinematic opera” -The New York Times.
For the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, CA, Thomas has written and directed numerous shows for the Family Musical Mornings series, including A Halloween Spooktacular, Superheroes!, and scripted introductions to Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He also wrote and directed a Casablanca-themed show for the Pacific Symphony’s prestigious annual Gala.
Mr. Thomas directed the semi-staged concert Opera Under the Stars at Orange County’s Opera Pacific which featured superstars Ana Maria Martinez, Quinn Kelsey, and Christian Van Horn performing operatic favorites with the Opera Pacific Orchestra under the baton of Maestro John DeMain. Thomas worked as the resident outreach stage director at Opera Pacific, where he staged the educational outreach show entitled Fun With Opera, and directed The Tinker of Tivoli for their Opera Camp program, for which he also acted as Program Director.
Mr. Thomas directed a new production of Pagliacci at Opera Fairbanks in Alaska, where he collaborated with Music Director, Gregory Buchalter, who also conducts at the Metropolitan Opera and around the world. Mr. Thomas is one of the creators of a brand new American Opera entitled Marie’s Orchard, for which he conceptualized the story, penned the libretto, and directed the world premiere production.
As a singer and actor, Thomas has performed extensively in the operatic, musical theater, jazz, and theater genres. Notable opera roles include Cavaradossi (Tosca), Alfred (Die Fledermaus), Alfredo (La traviata), Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), and Don Jose (Carmen). For ten months during 2006, Thomas was engaged as a performer in three different variety shows at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. There he performed not only opera repertoire, but musical theater and jazz as well. He was the tenor soloist in the holiday spectacular, A White Christmas Carol, seen by upwards of 40,000 people each performance, in addition to an operatic street theater show, and various holiday jazz shows.
In 2004, McEndarfer was appointed director of the acclaimed Paulist Choristers, and in 2008 his dream to create the National Children’s Chorus took flight. Since then, the NCC has grown from only sixteen families in Los Angeles to over one thousand across the country, offering its students cutting-edge training and life-changing musical experiences. Under McEndarfer’s leadership, the NCC has built an unparalleled educational platform, mindfully leading young singers from the age of five, and guiding them through to the college level. McEndarfer’s Senior Division vocalists are GRAMMY® Award-winning, having received music’s highest honor for Best Choral Performance in 2022. Across the nation, they comprise one of the most accomplished youth choruses in the world, with performances at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Royce Hall, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. International debuts have taken place throughout Europe, including Oxford, London, the Vatican City, Rome, Florence, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Lisbon, Seville, Madrid, and Barcelona; and in Asia, Beijing, Xi’an, the Korean DMZ, Seoul, Tokyo and Kyoto. In the summer of 2023, students will perform in Scotland, Wales and England. In 2020, McEndarfer initiated the building of a new annual opera camp in Vail, Colorado, that would grow to engage developing voices in the art of opera, curated with an extraordinary curriculum designed exclusively for youth education. The program aims to achieve global impact, partly by including new works and commissions staged and performed each year, with the goal of significantly expanding operatic repertoire dedicated for young people.
Though the National Children’s Chorus has been his primary focus the last several years, McEndarfer’s background and experience encompass numerous conducting appearances on both coasts featuring adult choral and symphonic masterworks. Upcoming plans include the launch of new programs within this genre of choral music as a natural extension of his expanding scope of work with the NCC, and deep passion for the full choral repertoire. Equally at home in the studio, he has worked on several motion picture soundtracks, such as Escape from Tomorrow, Snowmen, and Paramount Pictures’ feature film Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy. Television credits include conducting performances and studio appearances with CNN, CBS, ABC, and Fox, as well as NBC’s former Tonight Show with Jay Leno. McEndarfer has also conducted in performance with Josh Groban, opened for John Legend, and been featured on Entertainment Tonight for the Oscars in 2014. At charity events hosting fashion shows by Oscar de la Renta, he has arranged musical presentations for Princess Charlene of Monaco, former First Lady Laura Bush, and other distinguished honorees. In 2019, McEndarfer was honored with an invitation to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange after conducting the NCC in “Carol of the Bells” on a day the organization was formally recognized for its excellence in nonprofit growth and arts management.
Since the age of six, McEndarfer has studied piano extensively, winning competitions and musical honors with the Music Teachers’ Association of California. He is a two-time graduate of UCLA, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and a Master of Music degree in conducting, the latter with full scholarship under the tutelage of Donald Neuen. Studying privately, McEndarfer has been the conducting pupil of Kenneth Kiesler and Marianne Ploger at the University of Michigan, Lucinda Carver at USC, Simon Carrington at Yale, and the late Paul Salamunovich. September through June, McEndarfer manages a demanding work and travel schedule that requires his presence in all NCC cities of operation.
As Co-Artistic Director of DC-based professional ensemble, Bridge, Laiño produced, edited, directed, and sang in America, You’re Beautiful, a short film that merged spoken word and choral music to examine racism in America. The film was selected for the Queens Underground International Black and Brown Film Festival. As a Principal Associate Conductor and Artistic Coordinator with the National Children’s Chorus, Dr. Laiño conducts ensembles in the Senior Division, and supervises a nationwide musicianship program. Laiño served on the choral conducting faculty for the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art at The Catholic University of America from 2016–2021. He directed the University Singers, who performed annually with the CU Symphony Orchestra under his baton for The Annual Christmas Concert for Charity at the National Shrine, a televised program broadcast worldwide to over 140 countries on EWTN. He is a former member of the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the resident professional chamber choir for which he has also guest-conducted in Masses. He has sung with groups such as Bridge, the Yale/Norfolk Music Festival Chamber Choir, Chantry, The Trinity Chamber Orchestra, the Sunday Night Singers, the Horizon Chamber Choir, and the Pacific Chorale.
Dr. Laiño was a Diversity Fellowship recipient at the University of California, Irvine, earning his Master of Fine Arts degree in choral conducting in 2009 and Bachelor of Arts degree in voice in 2006. He moved to the DMV in 2012 to pursue his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting (2015) at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Our recent performances
- Brundibár by Hans Krása, Summer 2021
- Odyssey: A Youth Opera by Ben Moore, Summer 2022
- The Tinker of Tivoli by Gioacchino Rossini, Summer 2023