James Harp is the artistic director of Maryland Opera, where he is building a comprehensive, innovative opera and opera education/outreach program to serve the entire state of Maryland. He is pursuing and nurturing partnerships and collaborations with local and national arts organizations to sustain the operatic art form in perpetuity. He is also a judge for regional and district Metropolitan Opera auditions.
Harp is well known in the Baltimore area as a pianist, organist, stage director, singer, composer, lecturer, writer and conductor. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Harp was the artistic administrator of the Baltimore Opera Company beginning in 1989, and chorus master starting 1993.
Since 1983 he has served as organist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and since 1987 has been the cantor (organist/choirmaster) for Baltimore’s historic St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, where he also serves as artistic director of the St. Cecilia Society Concert Series. Since 2009, he has been the principal accompanist and chorus master for Baltimore Concert Opera. He is a coach/accompanist with the Wagner Society of Washington, D.C., and is on the opera faculty at the Peabody Conservatory.
Knowledgeable in many areas of music, Harp has lectured extensively on opera in many venues, including the Towson Arts Festival, the Maryland Opera Society, the Biblical Archaeology Society, and the Joy of Opera Series.
Sought after as an orchestral musician and accompanist, Harp has been featured soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in works ranging from Saint-Saens Organ Symphony to Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. He has appeared as continuo (harpsichord/organ) soloist with many local orchestral and choral groups, where his informed and overly theatrical realizations of baroque figured bass have won acclaim. Accompanist to many local singers, many of whom feature his own compositions, he has also accompanied such artists as Elizabeth Futral, Stephen Costello, Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Licia Albanese, Anna Moffo, Chris Merritt, Lucine Amara, and Paul Plishka. His appearance with Miss Futral and Mr. Costello was part of the noted Vocal Arts Society of Washington D.C. series at the Kennedy Center.
An aficionado of gardening, theology, genealogy and all things Victorian, Harp lives in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill neighborhood with his three gregarious pugs, Vera, Minnie Lee and Otto.
Judith Waranch is a real estate lawyer and senior business executive with over 40 years of experience as a Maryland assistant attorney general, as partner in a large law firm, and as in-house general counsel in multi-million dollar real estate and business transactions.
Waranch is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland, and holds a J.D. degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. She attended the Institute for American Universities at Université Aix-Marseille in Aix-en-Provence, France, and is a graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Program. She serves as a Trustee of Stevenson University and is a former Trustee of the Modell-Lyric.
Vice - President
A native Baltimorean, Drew Rieger has been active in Maryland’s classical music and opera scene his entire life. He has worked in various roles with the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Opera, Concert Artists of Baltimore, and Symphony Number One, among others. In addition to his work supporting arts organizations and music in Maryland, Rieger is an amateur composer, violinist, pianist and guitarist whose compositions have been performed and recorded at venues in Annapolis, Mount Vernon, and the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.
Rieger earned a living as a network engineer for Lockheed Martin, Constellation Energy, and FDIC. Today, he manages real estate holdings in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, where he has fully restored several 19th-century mansions. He serves on the Architectural Review and Development committees of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association, one of the oldest improvement associations in the city.
Asher is currently director of organization effectiveness for Northrop Grumman’s Corporate and Enterprise Services organization in Falls Church, Virginia. In more than 20 years with Northrop Grumman, he has held positions in organization and leadership development and human resources. Prior to Northrop Grumman, Asher led OE/OD organizations in the retailing, broadcasting and environmental services fields.
Asher currently serves on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington – Fairfax, and is the organization’s immediate past board chairman. He was previously on the on the board of trustees for the Washington National Opera at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in addition to a stint as board president for the Chamber Dance Project, a modern ballet company based in Washington, D.C.
Sandra R. Berman is the president of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Charitable Foundation. She is currently a board member of the Dyslexia Tutoring Program in Maryland, a member of the Healthcare Board for Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and a member of the Woman’s Advisory Council of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital. She was awarded the Theodor Herzl Commemorative Medallion for the State of Israel Bonds of Baltimore in 2011 and was included in the Who’s Who of American Women.
Howard Sobkov’s career spans 25 years in the finance, banking, and commercial real estate fields. He is a 1984 graduate of Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland. He has been president of the Alumni Board, and served a three-year term on the board of trustees of Gilman School. He is past president of the alumni board at Gilman. Sobkov is happily married with two sons. He also teaches wine education to interested parties.
Joanne Vatz is president and CEO of Cirdan Group, a Columbia, Maryland-based information technology management consulting firm specializing in IT program oversight and assessment services for commercial and government clients. She is a former partner with Computer Sciences Corporation’s commercial mid-Atlantic consulting practice, and a former vice president in Corporate Cash and Treasury Management Services at First National Bank of Maryland/Allied Irish Bancshares.
Vatz is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking, with an undergraduate degree in journalism from Towson University. She is a 1999 graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership program, and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization. She is a former board member and treasurer for the Maryland State Boychoir and the Lyric Opera of Baltimore.
Vatz enjoys country living in western Howard County with her husband Richard. She is the mother of an accomplished opera singer and is passionate about restoring the arts into our communities and schools.
Dr. Williams earned his medical degree at Harvard. He practiced hospital psychiatry for 20 years before getting an MBA at Johns Hopkins and transitioning into the world of medical benefits administration. He lives in an old house in northern Baltimore County with his wife and keeps close contact with his two adult children and one grandchild.
“Since my mother played her Benny Goodman recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, for me before I was five years old, I have been charmed by musical adventures in a very passionate way. However, when I first heard and saw opera, Orfeo at the Metropolitan, I was powerfully and permanently captured. Now, I hope to offer the same transformational experience to many others.”