Meet the Team
ARIANA VALDES, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Newly appointed Artistic Director, Ariana Valdes, is an alumna of the very first EDVF class. Ms. Valdes, a performer with more than 15 years of professional experience, returns to The Bushnell after performing both nationally and internationally in touring Broadway and regional productions.
"As we work to shape the program to meet the needs of young artists in an ever-evolving industry, I look forward to continuing to build a creative, collaborative, and inclusive environment for exploration of artistry, storytelling, and music." - Ariana Valdes, Artistic Director, Ensign Darling New Voices
David Katz, BFA, MT - Hartt School, Ensign-Darling New Voices Program Manager
A graduate of the Hartt School of Music, David is a passionate theatermaker with a love for collaboration. Credits include Executive Producer of over 500 episodes of Seth Rudetsky’s Stars in the House streaming series, Producer and Technical Director for the Seth Concert Series and Seth Broadway Cruises, Stage Manager of TheaterWorks USA’s The Magic School Bus national tour, and Stage Manager for the 2022 and 2023 Eugene O’Neill Cabaret and Performance Conference. Onstage, David’s favorite roles include John Randall in Double Helix at the Goodspeed Opera House, Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, and Gangster #1 in The Drowsy Chaperone. Thank you to the incredible team at The Bushnell for this opportunity. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Education and Talent Development
Education and Archives Coordinator
Meet the 2023/2024 ENSIGN-DARLING NEW VOICES ARTISTS
Paris Albrecht is 18 years old and currently a senior at Simsbury High School. She is honored and thrilled to be joining the Ensign Darling Vocal Fellowship for the first time. At school, she is the lead vocalist for SHS’ Jazz Ensemble and also participates in the audition-only choir Simsbury Singers. Additionally, she leads a mixed-voice a cappella group and has performed in numerous SHS musicals and plays. Last year, she sang in CMEA’s Northern Region High School Festival. Paris is excited to grow and develop as a singer in the EDNV program, and is very thankful for the opportunity to work with such talented individuals.
Charlize is a senior at Francis T. Maloney High School in Meriden, CT. She is so excited to had been given the opportunity to be a part of this program! She takes voice lessons with Nancy Andersen at the Hartt Community division and Jermaine Paul in Hamden, CT. Charlize has been heavily involved in her high school’s department as a part of the school marching band, jazz band, chorus, and theatre department. She plays the guitar, piano, ukulele, and clarinet. She has also started a R&B Band with her peers from school called the “Meriden’s Collective that she performs with locally. Recently, she has been in the musical productions of RENT, Godspell, and Les Miserables. She hopes to pursue a career as a music teacher and part time performer in the future.
Cameron is a 15 year-old sophomore at East Lyme High School. He is so honored to be a part of the Bushnell’s Ensign Darling New Voices Fellowship. He has just recently been interested in performing, having started in 2022. Since then, some of his credits include The Baker in Into the Woods, King Triton in The Little Mermaid, and Daddy Warbucks in Annie Jr. He was also nominated for a Halo for ‘Best Featured Actor in a Musical’ for The Little Mermaid in 2023. In his free time, Cameron enjoys singing, songwriting, and acting. He hopes to pursue musical theatre as a career. Music is Cameron’s passion, and he looks forward to learning and growing throughout this program!
Aditi Verma is a junior at South Windsor High School, and she’s excited to join the Ensign Darling Vocal Fellowship this year! She is a member of her school’s show choir group and musical theater department. She has played roles including the Baker’s Wife in Into The Woods and Morticia Addams in The Addams Family. She has also participated in CT’s Eastern Regional Festival. Aditi studies voice with Michael Lamb.
Shriya Dharan is a Sophomore at Avon High School. At the age of four, she started her journey by learning Indian Classical Music. In addition,For the past six years she has received vocal instruction at The Hartt School of Music from her teacher, Daniel Brevik .Under his instruction, Shriya has won many competitions and has earned many accolades, including her performance at Carnegie Hall in New York, after getting first place in her category in the international Grande Music Competition. Shriya wants to continue her singing career and hopes to expand her learning with more theatrical performances.
Tiernan is a junior at South Windsor High School and is honored to be a part of this year's Fellowship. Tiernan is a member of Choral Spectrum and Understaffed at SWHS, and is the founder of the Improv Club there. Tiernan has a passion for musical theater and hopes to not only improve those skills, but to expand his horizons as well. Past credits include The Baker in Into the Woods (SWHS), Gomez Addams in The Addams Family (SWHS), Crutchie in Newsies (CTPAC), and Marius in Les Misérables (CAST).
Mateo Velasquez Maineri
Mateo is a 15 year old Junior in High School. He studies with Daniel Brevik at UHartt and is grateful to be a part of this years Ensign Darling Vocal Fellowship! Since his start with theater in elementary school, he has participated in many musicals, choir ensembles, and showcases. As founder of his schools Indigenous and Latinx education/advocacy club, he resonates with each individual’s story and hopes to be able to be a friend and source of support for each of his peers. Mateo would like to thank his family and the EDNV program for the continuous love and support.
Dakotah is a 17 year old singer and actress with a passion for musical theater. Some of her favorite roles that she has played include Belle in Beauty and The Beast and Madame Giry in Phantom of the Opera. She will soon play Audrey in her high school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors in May 2024. Dakotah plans to pursue a BFA in Musical Theater at college and hopes to soon take the stage professionally. “Thank you to my parents and grandparents who have supported me all throughout my musical journey, and to Dana, Rachel, Fox Hill School of Music, Mrs Dillon, and Mr Jensen, who have helped me so much to get to where I am today!”
Romario Hayden is a 17-year-old singer and songwriter. He was born in Kingston Jamaica and moved to America 6 years ago. While in Jamaica he performed in many talent competitions as a poet and singer. He entered some of these contest, as a solo artist and others on performing arts teams, winning first place multiple times. He discovered his love for music at the tender age of four, and was chosen to perform at his pre-kindergarten graduation. It wasn’t standing ovation he received that won him over it was the inner feeling that over joyed him along with the smiles on faces of the audience, it was at the moment that he and music embraced. It was their first dance of many.
Lillian Peng is a senior from Avon High School and is so excited to spend this year with the Ensign Darling Vocal Fellowship! A member of her school’s theatre department, honors choir, and acapella group, Lillian loves to share music with the world. Additionally, she’s lucky to serve as the vice president of her school's Music Service Society. She studies classical voice with Dr. Susan Mardinly at The Hartt School of Music.
Tatum RocheTatum is 16 years old and lives in Redding, CT. Tatum has studied private voice with Jeanine Pardey Levine from the Hartt School for the past three years. She studies musical theater, cabaret, and opera and aspires to master solo vocal performance. This is her second year as an Ensign-Darling New Voices fellow and is so grateful for the opportunity. Tatum attends high school at the innovative and community-centered micro-school, Education Without Walls in New Milford, CT. Other than singing, she loves studying law and has a particular interest in constitutional law and human rights and is the TA for her school's civics class. She was the recipient of the First in School Award at Education Without Walls–the first freshman to win this award–celebrating her leadership, academics, strength of character, and peer support.
Sebastian Gates-Graceson is a 17 year-old professional actor from East Lyme, CT. In the past, Sebastian has been a part of shows like: The Laramie Project, Urinetown (Off-Broadway), The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Twelfth Night, and Kiss Me Kate. He’s been a member of the Ensign Darling Vocal Fellowship for the past three years where he’s learned to develop as both a person and a performer. He’s performed at venues such as: The Bushnell Center, The Eugene O’Neill Center, Off-Broadway: Theater 555, Off-Broadway: Five Angels Theater, as well as other major venues. Sebastian plans to earn a BFA in Musical Theater.
Grace Elizabeth Percival
Gracie Percival is a junior at Southington High School and is so excited to be a part of the Ensign Darling Vocal Program this year! Gracie has been in over 25 musical theatre productions, favorites include Elsa (Frozen), Mal (Descendants), and Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). She enjoys singing with her school jazz band and other groups at school. Gracie studies voice with Nancy Anderson at the University of Hartford Community Division. She hopes to pursue Music Management and Vocal Performance degree in undergrad. She is eternally grateful for this opportunity, and would like to thank Ariana, the creative team, Nancy, her family, and so many more!
Audition for Ensign-Darling New Voices!
Applications for the 2023-2024 Bushnell Ensign-Darling New Voices Fellowship are now closed.
The Ensign-Darling Vocal Fellowship Program presents Ensign-Darling New Voices! A young artist program for curious, open-minded, highly motivated and talented singers with strong points of view and stories to tell! EDNV meets performers “where they are” in their journey and encourages each individual to connect more deeply to the ways they self-identify in order to access their most expressive and authentic voices. The experiences of each artist will be unique and built to help them get the most out of the program.
In this inclusive and supportive environment built for exploration and growth, EDNV will guide a select group of young artists as they learn about their voices. The program includes complimentary:
private instruction, including vocal coaching and voice lessons
collaborative work with other young artists
mentorship opportunities with industry professionals
concert performances at The Bushnell during the Holiday and Spring 2024
The Ensign-Darling New Voices program will strive to provide a platform for innovative, transformative, and unique storytelling for creative vocalists interested in Musical Theatre, Classical/Opera, Pop/Rock, Hip-Hop/Rap, Jazz/R&B, Country, Gospel, Folk, Latin/International Music, Original Works and more!
Wednesday, October 18, 5PM
| Deadline to submit an audition application
Saturday, October 21
| Auditions held at The Bushnell
WHO SHOULD APPLY?
The Bushnell strongly encourages performers of all ethnicities, gender identities, and physical abilities, to submit for Ensign-Darling New Voices. OPEN TO AGES 15-19.
HOW TO APPLY
Follow the steps below. Applications must be received by 6PM on Wednesday, October 18th.
Auditions will be held on Saturday, October 21st.
Step 1 - Please read and understand the audition requirements. You are welcome and encouraged to email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, should you require any additional explanation(s), or have questions related to these requirements.
► Audition Requirements
Step 2 - Fill out the form below requesting an audition slot.
► Audition Form
Step 3 - You will be contacted by a Bushnell representative and given an audition time for Saturday, October 21st. Auditions will be held at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT. Please arrive 10-15 minutes early. We cannot guarantee there will be time to accommodate those who miss their audition time.
If you have questions or are having issues with your application submission, please contact David Katz (email@example.com
) and Marji Finkel (firstname.lastname@example.org