Meet the Composers

M. Ryan Taylor, chairman

"Incredible!" "Beautiful music." "I was deeply touched." . . . comments from audience members in reaction to the music of M. Ryan Taylor. Taylor is the author of operas such as The Other Wise Man and Abinadi, both of which have been produced live. Notable song cycles include A Light that Shames the Noonday Sun, All Heaven and it was One Hour Old, Leafs from the Diary of an Old Soul and The Moon Songs (a Vera Hinckley Mayhew Composition Competition winner in 2000). Taylor brings his sensitive vocal writing, born of his own university vocal studies, to his original choral music as well, and, as a former brass and wind player, is equally at home with instrumental chamber and orchestral music. He has written works that have been premiered or performed by the Utah Premiere Brass, The Chicago Brass, organists Neil Thornock and Carson Cooman, the Timpanogos Chorale, the American Fork Symphony, and more. Contact: | 801.492.6284

Rick Mortensen, legal counsel
Contact: | 801.230.3655

Crystal Young-Otterstrom, marketing director
A composiatrix, Crystal is also a coloratura soprano, marketer, amateur pianist, and political and community activist extraordinaire. Crystal is also the Audience Development Manager at the Utah Symphony & Opera. Her mission in life is to convince the universe that a) they should love classical music and opera and b) that social justice is the way to go. Crystal received her BA in Music Theory from BYU in 2002, and her MA in Musicology/Composition from Queens College in 2004. Crystal's music has been performed in New York, Utah, Texas, and California. Crystal is the co-founder of Vivace, a funkified bunch of 20, 30, and 40 somethings - single/partnered/married - who just happen to get their groove on to classical music and opera. It is the largest group of it's kind west of the Mississippi. She serves on the board of the Utah Cultural Alliance, the Studio D Advisory Council, the Executive Committee of Young Benefactors at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the OPERA America Young Friends of Opera steering committee, and the board of the North American Association of Young Professionals. She is active in politics and social justice and environmental activism. She is the Communications Director of Young Democrats of Utah, the vice-chair of the Utah Democratic Progressive Caucus, the national marketing director and SLC chair of Mormons for Equality and Social Justice, and serves on the Communications Committees for the Utah State Democratic Party and the Salt Lake County Democratic Party. She also volunteers with the Coalition of Religious Councils, an organization dedicated to eradicating poverty in Utah. Contact: | 801.652.0737

Gary Gerber
Gary Gerber has been a guitarist and composer for 25 years. He is currently working on his Master of Music degree at the University of Utah. His roots are in Rock and Roll, but has become proficient in virtually every style. His favorite compositional musical setting is the symphony orchestra and electro-acoustic music. Contact:

John Newman, development director
John Newman is a composer, arranger and performer of many musical genres. He has composed and arranged soundtracks for public radio, art songs, choral works, rock and roll, new age, jazz and electronic music. John is equally at home in the studio as he is in the concert hall, having co-produced an indie rock album in addition to creating his own music. Currently, he lives in Utah with his wife and four children. Contact:

REBECA DAWN, treasurer | 801.717.6866

Rebeca graduated with her Masters degree in Music Composition from Brigham Young University in 2003. Since then she has studied and performed in Italy, Canada, New York, Seattle, Wyoming and Utah and has received many awards, commissions and grants. She has written music for film, dance and art installations as well as worked with renowned musicians, directors, artists and choreographers to produce original works.

Joey Calkins is a singer, composer, poet, and playwright. He has performed for various occasions in the Boise, Idaho and Orem, Utah areas, including nine vocal recitals since 2000. Currently, Calkins is preparing for his 10th (and final) Annual Vocal Recital with pianist Sean Rogers. Recently, Calkins played the part of Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka with Draper Historic Theatre and sang the role of David Whitmer in Joseph Smith the Prophet by Rob Gardner with Quest Music Productions (QMP). Last season (2009/2010), Calkins made his directorial debut on the "straight" theatre and the opera stage platforms with A Matter of Husbands by Ferenc Molnar and Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell with the Utah/Idaho Performing Arts Company (UNIPAC). Also with UNIPAC, he directed The Other Wise Man by M. Ryan Taylor, the composer of Abinadi as seen on KBYU, where he also sang the roles of Abgarus and the Rabbi. Calkins also directed a production of The Garden by Bryce Neubert and Michael McLean. Among his compositions are "A Glimmer of Hope," a solo piano piece, premiered at a concert given by the Salty Cricket Composer?s Collective (SC3) during their 2009 season, a setting of Ave Maria for voice and cello, premiered at UNIPAC?s opera concert, "A little bit of this, a little bit of that" during the 2009/2010 season with mezzo-soprano Jacquelyn Mouritsen and Nate Oler on cello. His song set of Three Emily Dickinson Poems will be premiered at UNIPAC's 2010/2011 opera concert, "A Song fo' Momma," by soprano Valaura Arnold. As a playwright, Calkins is known for his introspective and controversial themes. Notably, his play, Confession, which was to be premiered during the 2009/2010 season, was found to be "inappropriate" for the community (a suburb of Salt Lake City) and was therefore not allowed to be performed. At which time he wrote, From Deep Within, the prequel to Confession. Among Calkins' other plays are Help Me!, the tragic story of a small family, and Final Moments. Calkins serves on the board for the Salty Cricket Composers Collective (SC3) and is the Founder/General Director of the Utah/Idaho Performing Arts Company and Quest Music Productions.

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