Debbie Berry, soprano, is a native of Wichita Falls. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in voice performance from SFA. After a teaching stint at Wayland Baptist University, she moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she did post-graduate work at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. While in Kansas City, Berry worked with notable artist-teachers James King and Boris Goldovsky.
She spent five years in Denver performing and teaching before working at John Marshall High School in San Antonio as a private voice instructor.
Berry's performance credits include solo performances with the Kansas City Philharmonic, the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, the Longview Opera Repertory Company, the Central City Singers of the Central City Opera House Association and regular appearances as a recitalist in Denver, Kansas City and the East Texas region.
She has performed many operatic roles, including:
- Violetta in "La Traviata" (Verdi)
- Donna Anna in "Don Giovanni" (Mozart)
- Miss Wordsworth in "Albert Herring" (Britten)
- Musetta in "La Boheme" (Puccini)
- Baby Doe in "The Ballad of Baby Doe"
- Norina in "Don Pasquale" (Donizetti)
- Rosina in "The Barber of Seville" (Rossini)
- the Witch in "Hansel and Gretel" (Humperdinck)
- and Gilda in "Rigoletto" (Verdi).
Her oratorio repertoire includes the soprano solos in:
- "Requiem" (Mozart)
- "Ein deutches" Requiem (Brahms)
- "Carmina Burana" (Orff)
- "The Creation" (Haydn)
- and "Gloria" (Poulenc).
She has performed extensively in musical comedy, including:
- Widow Corney in "Oliver" (Bart)
- Maria in "The Sound of Music" (Rodgers)
- Sarah Brown in "Guys and Dolls" (Loesser)
- Julie Jordan in "Carousel" (Rodgers)
- Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady" (Lerner)
- Hodel in "Fiddler on the Roof" (Bock)
- Fiona McLaren in "Brigadoon" (Lerner)
- Magnolia in "Show Boat"
- and Lilly in "Kiss Me Kate."
Dr. Richard Berry
Dr. Richard Berry, tenor, is a professor of music at Stephen F. Austin State University. He holds degrees from Kilgore College, SFA and the University of Missouri Kansas City. Along with SFA, he has also taught at the University of Kansas, University of Denver and University of Texas at San Antonio.
Berry teaches voice, voice pedagogy and directs SFA's opera theatre. He has directed shows such as "A Little Night Music," "Albert Herring," "The Consul," "Carmen," "Signor Deluso," "The Bartered Bride," "Sister Angelica," "Calvary," "Rita," "Cavalleria Rusticana," "Susannah," "The Tales of Hoffman," "Pagliacci," "Hansel and Gretel," "Falstaff," "Die Fledermaus," "The Barber of Seville," "Don Pasquale," "Rigoletto" and "Romeo and Juliet."
As a performer, he has served as a soloist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Chamber Orchestra, Denver Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of Santa Fe, Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Central City Singers, Great Falls Symphony Orchestra, Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society, Valley Symphony Orchestra, Longview Opera Company and San Antonio Choral Society. He also has performed with many noted conductors, including Roger Cantrell, Jurgen de Lemos, Margaret Hillis and Robert Shaw. Performances include the tenor solos in Giuseppe Verdi's "Requiem," Ludwig van Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," George Frideric Handel's "Messiah," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Requiem" and Joseph Haydn's "Lord Nelson Mass."
Berry formerly served as dean of the College of Fine Arts, dean of the graduate school, associate provost and provost and vice-president for the Division of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Deborah Dalton
Dr. Deborah Dalton is a mezzo-soprano and native of San Antonio. She holds degrees in vocal performance from Trinity University in San Antonio, the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Texas at Austin. She had additional training at Seagle Music Colony in New York, the Wesley Balk Institute in Minneapolis and the American Institute of European Studies in Vienna, Austria.
Directing credits include "La Traviata", "Susannah", "The Bartered Bride", "Cavalleria rusticana", "Die Fledermaus", "The Merry Wives of Windsor", "The Marriage of Figaro", "Gianni Schicchi" and "The Magic Flute."
Dalton's performance credits include solo performances with the San Antonio Symphony, Victoria Bach Festival, Laredo Philharmonic, Texas All-State Choir and Texas Bach Choir.
She has performed many operatic roles, including:
- Madame Flora in "The Medium" (Menotti)
- Jezibaba in "Rusalka" (Dvorak)
- Dorabella in "Così fan tutte" (Dorabella)
- Miss Todd in "The Old Maid and the Thief" (Menotti)
- and Zita in "Gianni Schicchi" (Puccini).
Her oratorio repertoire includes the alto solos in:
- Brahms "Alto Rhapsodie"
- Bach B "Minor Mass" and "St. Matthew Passion"
- Mendelssohn "Elijah"
- Verdi "Requiem"
- Mozart "Mass in C"
- and Rossini "Petite messe solennelle."
She also enjoys performing in musical comedy. Favorite roles include:
- Madame Armfeldt in "A Little Night Music"
- Eulalie Shinn in "The Music Man"
- Mother Abbess in "The Sound of Music"
- Bloody Mary in "South Pacific"
- Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes"
- Sister Hubert in "Nunsense" and "Nunsense II"
- and Nettie Fowler in "Carousel."
Dr. Tod Fish
Dr. Tod Fish received his bachelor's and master's degrees in music from SFA. He studied conducting with Dr. Terry Eder and Dr. Tim King while studying voice with Dr. David Jones. In 2009, Dr. Fish completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas under the tutelage of Dr. Paul Tucker and Dr. John Paul Johnson. Under the direction of Fish, the University of Kansas Men's Glee Club was the only collegiate choir selected for the 2008 Kansas Music Educators Association conference.
Prior to joining SFA's School of Music faculty, he enjoyed a successful 13-year career as a high school and middle school choral director. While teaching in Seguin, Round Rock and Lubbock, his choirs earned numerous sweepstakes awards, significantly increased enrollment and saw several former students pursue careers in the music field.
Fish has conducted several Texas Music Educators Association All-Region Choirs and guest conducted in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio. He served as a Texas All-State Mixed Choir section leader in 2005 and 2012. Fish made his international clinician debut through a series of lectures at the VocalTerra International Choral Festival in 2020. This festival served choral directors from upwards of twenty nations on four different continents.
Fish leads the Kantorei (treble choir) and the Singin' Axes (tenor-bass choir) at SFA. In 2020, Kantorei was the only collegiate treble choir to sing at the Southwestern American Choral Directors Association conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was the first time for a non-auditioned choir from SFA to perform at a peer-reviewed conference.
Fish is the founder of the Stone Fort Chorale, a community chorus for the greater East Texas area.
Nita Hudson teaches private voice and works extensively with the opera workshop program as assistant director and stage manager at SFA.
Hudson has assisted in over 35 operas at SFA, including:
- "Susannah" (Floyd)
- "The Tales of Hoffmann" (Offenbach)
- "Die Fledermaus" (J. Strauss)
- "Carmen" (Bizet)
- and "Romeo and Juliet" (Gounod).
Hudson also has assisted with the Longview Opera Company on the works "The Merry Widow" (Lehar), "Suor Angelica" (Puccini), and "Gianni Schicchi" (Puccini).
She is very active in musical theatre performing and some of her favorite roles include:
- Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls"
- Lady Thiang in "King and I"
- Sister Amnesia in "Nunsense"
- and Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun."
Dr. Scott LaGraff
Dr. Scott LaGraff, professor of voice, is a graduate of the Tri-Cities Opera Resident Artist Training Program in Binghamton, New York, where he sang the title roles in “Don Giovanni" and "Le Nozze di Figaro," the villains in "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" and Capulet in "Roméo et Juliette," among others, and was a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant. He has appeared multiple times with Opera East Texas in such roles as Schaunard in "La Bohème" and Dick Deadeye in "H.M.S. Pinafore," and also has sung roles with the Syracuse, Tulsa, Pensacola and Westchester Hudson opera companies.
A selected list of his concert engagements includes appearances as the baritone soloist in Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9" and Brahms “Requiem" with the East Texas Symphony Orchestra, as well as performances of:
- Fauré "Requiem" and Handel’s "Messiah" with the Syracuse Symphony
- "Dvořak Te Deum" with the Baton Rouge Symphony
- Mozart "Mass in C Minor" with the Canterbury Choral Society in Oklahoma City
- "Bruckner Te Deum at Carnegie Hall
- and solo appearances with the Longview Symphony, the Ocean City Pops, the Binghamton Pops, the Orchestra of the Pines and the Syracuse Oratorio Society.
LaGraff is an advocate of contemporary American song, and his first CD, "Songs by Stephen Lias, Michael Patterson and Lee Hoiby," was released by Centaur Records in 2009. A second CD, entitled "Incline Thine Ear and Other Sacred Songs," was released in 2017, also with Centaur. In addition to being the first to record several of Lee Hoiby's pieces, he also gave the first performances of Hoiby's "Chants d’Exil" and the solo arrangement of "Last Letter Home," and commissioned and premiered Stephen Lias’s "Songs of a Sourdough."
He created a video series on YouTube, entitled All-State Diction Tips, which have proven to be extremely popular with high school choir directors and students as they prepare for All-State Choir auditions.
LaGraff's students have sung with professional opera companies and young artist programs, in international and domestic summer programs, gained admission to prestigious graduate schools and are successful music teachers in Texas schools.
The Athens, Ohio, native received his Bachelor of Music from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, a Master of Music from the State University of New York at Binghamton and his Doctor of Musical Arts from Louisiana State University.
Prior to joining the SFA faculty in 2004, he held teaching positions at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Michael Murphy
Dr. Michael Murphy is the director of choral activities and a professor in SFA's School of Music where he teaches choral conducting, ensembles, repertoire and methods courses, and oversees the graduate conducting program.
Before joining the School of Music faculty in 2017, Murphy was the director of choral activities and associate professor at the University of Idaho for nine years. During this time, he was founder and artistic director of the Idaho Bach Festival and was recognized with the UI Faculty Award for outstanding scholarship, teaching and engagement.
He is an active clinician, adjudicator and author, and research interests include training and developing the holistic conductor, rehearsal techniques, new choral compositions and investing and creating impactful connections in our global community through music.
Murphy's international conducting and teaching experiences include Austria, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Germany, Norway, Panama and Sweden. The Confucius Institute awarded Murphy with the "Understanding China Fellowship" and asked him to serve as visiting scholar at Sun Yat-sen University, South China University of Technology and Guangzhou University of Foreign Studies.
Murphy is the coauthor and editor of "Conducting Primer in Practice,"" has been published several times in "Choral Journal" and contributed to volume four of "Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir."
As a passionate champion of music for all, Murphy has experience teaching all ages and levels and several auditioned and nonauditioned collegiate, community, school and church choirs. His choirs have been invited to perform for several state and regional American Choral Directors Association and The National Association for Music Education conferences. He also has held several international, national and state leadership positions in International Choral Conductors Federation, ACDA, NAfME, and National Collegiate Choral Organization.
Murphy received his degrees in conducting and choral music education from Florida State University and East Carolina University.
Dr. Chris Turner
Chris Turner, baritone, is a native of Pascagoula, Mississippi. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in church music and vocal performance, double majoring at the undergraduate level, from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. His Doctor of Musical Arts in voice performance with a minor in vocal pedagogy was earned at Louisiana State University under the guidance of Robert Grayson, formerly a tenor at the New York City opera. His post-doctoral study was in vocal pedagogy at the Eastman School of Music under the experienced tutelage of Dr. Robert McIver.
Turner also gained experience through years of coaching with Virginia Botkin and Harold Heiburg of the University of North Texas and the internationally renowned pedagogue Richard Miller of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Turner served as minister of music at several prominent churches for more than 20 years, including First Baptist Natchez, Mississippi and First Baptist, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
After graduation from LSU, he accepted at position at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he served as voice area coordinator and also taught and mentored students on the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels for five years. Turner also served on the voice faculty of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.
Turner's performance experience in opera and musical theater includes roles such as:
- Count Almaviva in "Le Nozze di Figaro" (Mozart)
- Don Alfonso in "Cosi Fan Tutte" (Mozart)
- Silvio in "I Pagliacci" (Leoncavallo)
- Maletesta in "Don Pasquale" (Donizetti)
- Figaro in "Barber of Seville" (Rossini)
- Neville Craven in "The Secret Garden" (Burnett)
- and Farmer in "The Music Man" (Wilson).
His oratorio credits include baritone solos in:
- "Ein Deutches Requiem" (Brahms)
- "The Creation" (Haydn)
- "Messiah" (Handel)
- "Elijah" (Mendelssohn)
- "Mass in G" (Schubert)
- "In Terra Pax" (Finzi)
- "The Crucifixion" (Stainer)
- "St. Matthew Passion" (Bach)
- "Requiem" (Duruflé)
- and "Christmas Oratorio" (Saint-Saëns).
His professional affiliations include membership in the Houston Chapter, Texas-Oklahoma Chapter, and National Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Texas Music Educator's Association and the National Voice Foundation.