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February 7, 2019

Dean Southern Takes on New Role as Director of Opera Theater at Cleveland Institute of Music


Dean Southern

Dean Southern, Head of the Voice and Opera Division at the Cleveland Institute of Music, has been appointed as Dorothy P. Schmitt Chair in Opera, serving as Director of Opera and Artistic Director of CIM Opera Theater.

With these new duties, Southern will lead the department’s organizational and artistic direction and be responsible for conceiving, developing and implementing its artistic vision and focus. He will continue to teach voice and vocal pedagogy as a member of the faculty.

A baritone, the CIM alumnus has performed in opera, oratorio and recital throughout the United States and Europe, including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, and he was a member of the apprentice artist program at Santa Fe Opera.

“I have always felt deep gratitude to be an alumnus of CIM and to have returned as a member of the voice faculty,” said Southern, who earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from CIM as a student of Mary Schiller. “I am thrilled to now add this highly creative and rewarding component to my work at CIM.”

Southern taught voice and staged operas for five years at the University of Miami Frost School of Music in Coral Gables, Fla., prior to his appointment at CIM in 2012. He directed CIM Opera Theater’s recent double-bill production of Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol and Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, placing the orchestra on stage, moving the action to platforms in the house, and making use of projections and lighting effects throughout CIM’s Kulas Hall.

He regularly teaches at summer festivals in Europe and Asia and gives master classes at universities and conservatories in the U.S. and abroad, including the Central Conservatory of Music, China Conservatory of Music and People’s University of China in Beijing; Kungliga Musikhögskolan (Royal College of Music) in Stockholm, Sweden; Conservatorio Profesional de Música in Valencia, Spain; and the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. His students have been accepted to prestigious young artist programs and graduate schools and awarded the Fulbright grant. Many have continued on to successful careers as performers and voice teachers.

Southern is Executive Director of Cleveland’s Art Song Festival, which he was instrumental in returning to CIM in 2017, and he currently serves as governor of the Ohio District of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

“Dean’s deep performance experience, artistic vision, commitment to our students, community engagement and his love for the Opera Theater make him a perfect fit to carry out our mission,” said Judy Bundra, Chief Academic Officer and Dean of the Conservatory at CIM. “He is an exceptional and creative teacher, vocal artist and visionary who will continue to inspire our students and shape our opera theater for a changing future.”