Leadership

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About the Founder and Artistic Director

Conductor Robert Wood founded UrbanArias in 2009. Under his guidance, the company has achieved national recognition as an innovator in the field of opera, and has produced over 25 contemporary works in Virginia, DC, and New York City, eleven of which were world premieres, and seven of which were UrbanArias commissions. He conducts all of UrbanArias’ productions. Highlights inlcude Glory Denied (Cipullo), The Roost (Migó/de los Santos – world premiere, UrbanArias commission), The Last American Hammer (Hilliard/Boresi – world premiere, UrbanArias commission), Paul’s Case (Spears/Walat – world premiere), Three Decembers (Heggie/Scheer), Blue Viola (Hilliard/Boresi – world premiere, UrbanArias commission), As One (Kaminsky/Campbell/Reed), After Life and Josephine (Cipullo – world premiere/UrbanArias commission), and Independence Eve (Boquiren/Neer – world premiere).

Maestro Wood made his debut with the San Francisco Opera in 2004 with Verdi’s La traviata; he also conducted L’italiana in Algeri there, as well as several concerts. He recently conducted Rigoletto at Austin Opera, Silent Night at the University of British Columbia with the Vancouver Opera orchestra, Roméo et Juliette and Carmen at Opera Colorado, Die Fledermaus and As One at Hawaii Opera Theater, and Three Decembers at Kentucky Opera.
Mo. Wood has also conducted L’italiana in Algeri at Vancouver Opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Hawaii Opera Theater, The Love for Three Oranges at Indiana University Opera Theater, La cenerentola at New Jersey Opera Theater, and The Nutcracker for San Francisco Ballet. Mo. Wood’s collaborations with the Wolf Trap Opera Company include Le Comte Ory and Die Zauberflöte. Additionally, Maestro Wood was appointed Conductor in Residence at the Minnesota Opera from 2006-2008, leading productions of L’italiana in Algeri, Le nozze di Figaro, La donna del lago, Rusalka, and Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Mo. Wood held the position of Chorus Master at The Santa Fe opera from 2001 to 2004, where he received critical acclaim for the choral contribution to the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s Madame Mao, and the American premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin. Mo. Wood was a Merola Opera Program and Western Opera Theater participant, and spent several years in Vienna studying voice and singing in the Arnold Schönberg Chor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, and completed his Master’s at Florida State University.

About the Executive Director

With almost two decades’ experience in the international opera field as a performer and administrator, Anne-Carolyn Bird brings a wide range of knowledge and expertise to her position at UrbanArias.

Ms. Bird comes to UrbanArias most recently from Washington National Opera (WNO) at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where she was responsible for stewarding the WNO Board of Trustees. In this role, she worked with General Director Timothy O’Leary and the WNO Development staff to grow Board membership by 20% and increase contributed revenue by almost 30%. A strong proponent of fostering positive workplace culture, Ms. Bird founded initiatives at WNO to build staff connection and morale and to codify and implement policies on safety and anti-harassment. She has been a member of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and fostered the formation of a new DEI Committee on the Board of Trustees.

Before joining WNO in 2017, Ms. Bird was a highly-respected interpreter of the music of living composers, including Philip Glass (Kepler, Spoleto Festival US; Appomattox, Washington National Opera), David Lang (Little Match Girl Passion, IlluminArts), Osvaldo Golijov (La pasion segun San Marcos, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Ainadamar, Santa Fe Opera), and John Musto (Inspector, Volpone, both with Wolf Trap Opera). Ms. Bird is featured on the Grammy-winning recording of Golijov’s Ainadamar, as well as the recordings of Musto’s Volpone (nominated for a Grammy Award in 2010) and Inspector.

Ms. Bird also enjoyed a successful international opera and concert career. A regular performer at the Metropolitan Opera, she can be seen in Live in HD productions of Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, Manon, and L’elisir d’amore. Her most frequently performed role was Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, which she created in eight different productions at companies across the United States. Other role highlights include Zerlina (Don Giovanni, Nashville Opera), Morgana (Alcina, directed by R.B. Schlather), and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera Hong Kong).

A graduate of the training programs at Tanglewood Music Center, Santa Fe Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera Company, Ms. Bird holds degrees from the University of Georgia and New England Conservatory. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, bass-baritone Matthew Burns, and their two children.

About the President

A champion of new works and a devotee of the stage, Susan Derry co-founded UrbanArias with Artistic Director Robert Wood in 2009 and continues to amplify the UrbanArias message of excellence and accessibility in DC and beyond. 

Susan made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of Wonderful Town and performed the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera in Hamburg, Germany. She garnered critical acclaim for her portrayal of Francesca Johnson in The Bridges of Madison County at Keegan Theatre in Washington DC; the Washington Post proclaimed ”the ace in this staging is Susan Derry“ and Broadway World called it the role of her career. This past season, Susan sang Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady with the Utah Symphony Orchestra opposite Peter Scolari as Higgins and made her Off-Broadway debut in The Shrill Collective’s world premiere of Megan Bussiere’s A Period Piece.

Susan is the centerpiece of the Bold New Works series in Virginia, an initiative that created world-premiere musicals for smaller companies; her work was hailed as “brillant.” Theatrical career highlights include Marian in The Music Man; Kate/Lilli in Kiss Me Kate; Desdemona in Othello; Fiona in Brigadoon; and Meg in Crimes of the Heart. In DC she has appeared at the Shakespeare Theatre, the Signature Theatre and the Kennedy Center.

In concert, Susan headlined as guest soloist at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops under the direction of Rob Fisher and the late, great Skitch Henderson. She has the esteemed honor of appearing in the Encores! Series at New York City Center eleven times. Additionally, she has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass conducted by Marin Alsop. Solo work includes two one-woman evenings: It’s Got To Be Love, about finding happiness among the high notes, and Days and Dazed, a look at how anything can happen in the busy middle of your life.

Susan earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, both in Vocal Performance. She serves as an adjunct professor of voice at American University in DC and has a thriving private studio.