The Institute staff consists of professional stage directors, music directors, vocal coaches, and movement specialists who studied with Dr. Balk for many years, providing a remarkable sense of continuity. They collaborate often on Nautilus projects, including fully-staged productions, developmental workshops, and other professional training initiatives.
Ben Krywosz, Stage Director
Karen Coe Miller, Stage Director
Jerry Rubino, Music Director
Barbara Brooks, Music Director
Mindy Eschedor, Music Director
Marilyn Habermas-Scher, Movement Instructor
Stage Director BEN KRYWOSZ serves as Artistic Director of Nautilus, founding it as the New Music-Theater Ensemble in 1986, when it was a program of the Minnesota Opera. Serving as producer-director-dramaturg, his work with Nautilus includes directing world-premiere productions of ANSWERED PRAYERS, JOAN OF ARC, TWISTED APPLES, UNTOLD LIES, LOSS OF BREATH, MEDITATIONS ON ARION, HEARTS ON FIRE, DANTE’S VIEW, WITHOUT COLORS, FLY AWAY ALL, FIRE IN THE FUTURE, and the revised version of SNOW LEOPARD, as well as new productions of THE FANTASTICKS, GOBLIN MARKET, INTO THE WOODS, THE LAST FIVE YEARS, MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAROUSEL, THE DIARY OF ADAM AND EVE, A WATER BIRD TALK, ORPHEUS AND EURIDICE, ALICE UNWRAPPED, THE VIEW FROM HERE, JOHN AND JEN, FROM THE DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, and SONGS FROM AN UNMADE BED. He also produces the company’s ROUGH CUTS program, a monthly series of new operas and other forms of music- theater. Krywosz has also staged productions for The Minnesota Opera, San Francisco Opera‘s Merola Program, North Star Opera, Opera Roanoke, California Coast Opera, Midwest Opera Theater, West Bay Opera, Dorian Opera Theater, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and the Lake George Opera‘s Apprentice Program. His academic work includes teaching at the University of Iowa, Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and Augsburg College in Minneapolis, staging productions of INTO THE WOODS, SATURN RETURNS, MY FAIR LADY, WEIRD ROMANCE, COSI FAN TUTTE, CANDIDE and most recently THICK AS A BRICK. He developed and continues to direct Composer-Librettist Opera Studios around the country, having facilitated over 1,250 collaborations between composers and writers since 1984. He has also directed the company’s Wesley Balk Opera/Music-Theater Institute since 1983, teaching classes in integrated singing-acting. From 1984 to 1987, Krywosz was Project Director for Opera America’s OPERA FOR THE 80s AND BEYOND program, where he concentrated on introducing the professional opera field to the work of innovative music-theater artists. Krywosz also serves as a group facilitator, community organizer, and administrative consultant, and teaches classes in collaboration. He has twice participated in the Institute for Renewing Community Leadership (now known as the Shannon Leadership Institute), and was awarded a Leadership Initiative in Neighborhoods Program grant from the Saint Paul Companies to study innovative approaches to non-profit management.
Stage Director KAREN COE MILLER developed a passion for working with the singing actor early in her career while on staff at The Minnesota Opera. In 1992, she co-founded the New Music-Theater Ensemble (now Nautilus Music-Theater). As co-artistic director for the Ensemble, she produced five world premieres, directed seven productions, and served as producer, director, or dramaturg for over 30 sessions of work-in-progress. She has also directed for the Minnesota Opera New Music-Theater Ensemble, The Southern Theater of Minneapolis, Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis, Geva Theatre Center of Rochester NY, Midwest Opera Theater, Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, North Star Opera of Saint Paul, the Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Northern Arizona University, Baylor University, The Ohio State University, Oklahoma City University, and the University of North Texas, among others. Ms. Miller received an M.F.A. in directing from the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music (CCM). She joined the faculty of Oklahoma City University in 2009. She serves as the Assistant Director of the Opera and Musical Theater program at OCU. Ms. Miller has been a staff director for the Wesley Balk Opera/Music-Theater Institute since 1986.
Music Director JERRY RUBINO holds degrees in piano, music education, and conducting from Temple University and the University of Minnesota, and began his teaching career at Northwestern College in St. Paul in 1974. A native of Philadelphia, he was a charter member of the Philadelphia Singers and attended Curtis Institute as a cellist. He currently serves as Minister of Music at Spirit of Hope United Methodist Church in Golden Valley, Minnesota, is the artistic director of VOICE 360 and is the Assistant Conductor of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale. Rubino worked for twenty-three seasons with the Dale Warland Singers, as associate conductor, director of special projects and music education, pianist, singer and arranger. In 1983, at the request of the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Public Radio, Rubino formed what is now known as VOICE 360. Under his direction, they developed their own sound and style and became known for their crossover programming and performance practice based educational outreach. They toured extensively, have released a CD of gospel music and are currently recording a CD for Oxford University Press. Rubino’s conducting and teaching credits include honors choirs in Australia, Taiwan, Hawaii, and Europe, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the California State Summer Arts Workshops, the Wesley Balk Institute for the Singer/Actor process, and the University of Minnesota Jazz Festival. Recent theatrical music direction includes productions of MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAROUSEL, SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM and SWING. He was named Distinguished Visiting Professor of Music at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1999, 2003 and 2004. He was named an editor for the VOICES OF DISTINCTION series with Hal Leonard in 2005 and is editing a new Christmas choral collection for Oxford University Press titled AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS due in Spring, 2010. He serves as repertoire and standards chair for vocal jazz for the North Central Division of the American Choral Directors Association, is a member of ASCAP and is requested nationally as a choral clinician, music director, pianist and adjudicator.
Music Director BARBARA BROOKS is an active coach, pianist, and music director in the Twin Cities area. She has served as coach/pianist for several opera companies including Canadian Opera, Minnesota Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera Banff, Kentucky Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Berkshire Opera and the Wesley Balk Opera/Music Institute, as well as for university opera programs at the University of North Texas and the University of Minnesota. She also worked with Theatre de la Jeune Lune in the role of music director for their imaginative creative productions of the Mozart’s operas, as well as their recent production of Bizet’s CARMEN. She currently teaches at Macalester College, and is the principal pianist for the Minnesota Chorale, the official chorus of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Music Director MINDY ESCHEDOR is a versatile Twin Cities collaborative pianist whose engagements regularly include vocal coaching/accompanying, chamber music and theater work. Mindy has been on the staff as a Music Director for the Wesley Balk Opera/Music-Theater Institute since 1999. She has music directed five full productions for Nautilus (JOHN AND JEN, Ricky Ian Gordon’s ORPHEUS AND EURIDICE, the 2006 IVEY award-winning I AM ANNE FRANK, THE LAST FIVE YEARS and GOBLIN MARKET) and is a regular performer on Nautilus’ Rough Cuts series, which often features commissioned works and special projects by area composers and performers. Mindy has also served as Music Director and pianist for such Twin Cities companies as Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the Guthrie Theater, History Theatre, Interact Theatre and Minneapolis Musical Theater, and is currently a semi-regular member of the pit orchestra at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Donning a different theatrical hat, Mindy has both produced and music directed three shows for the Minnesota Fringe Festival – SOUNDTRACK FOR THE COMMON MAN (2005), a compilation of theater songs by Richard Maltby and David Shire; THE MISTRESS CYCLE (2008), a musical by Jenny Giering and Beth Blatt; and FINDING A FIT (2010), an original show exploring women’s complicated relationship with clothing. In addition to her freelance engagements, Mindy is a vocal coach and Staff Accompanist at Augsburg College, choral accompanist at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, and was Principal Staff Accompanist at MacPhail Center for Music from 1999-2010. Mindy holds a Master of Music degree in Accompanying and Coaching from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Margo Garrett and Karl Paulnack. She earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts from Central Michigan University, in her home state of Michigan.
Movement Instructor MARILYN HABERMAS-SCHER has been researching the relationships between voice, movement and human experience since the 1970’s when she danced in the nationally touring modern dance company, The Nancy Hauser Dance Company. She brings thirty-five years of training in Body-Mind Centering TM , meditation practice, yoga, the Alexander Technique, T’ai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong to her teaching. Her performance work has ranged from opera to contact improvisation and performance art to storytelling, and has been supported by many grants and fellowships. She has taught at the Guthrie Theater, The Loft, The Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota Graduate Theater Dept and Metropolitan State University. She has maintained a private practice in VoiceWork (somatically based voice training) since 1978, and also works as a hospital chaplain in Minneapolis.