May 22, 2024 7 p.m.

at Kilbourn Hall, The Eastman School of Music (26 Gibbs St, Rochester, NY 14604)

Finger Lakes Opera (FLO) commissioned B.E. Boykin and Jarrod Lee to create the company's first opera in 2022. Over the past two years, this one-act opera has had two weeklong workshops; one in Rochester during FLO's 2023 Summer Festival and the second in Cincinnati when the company was invited to participate in The Cincinnati Opera's Opera Fusion: New Works initiative.

This free Behind the Curtain event, sponsored by the George Walker Center for Equity and Inclusion in Music, will give audience members the opportunity to learn how this new work has come to life.

Moderator Dr. Crystal Sellers Battle, Eastman School of Music's Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion, will lead a discussion on the Two Corners creative process and the themes explored therein.

Panelists include Composer B.E. Boykin, Librettist Jarrod Lee, Soprano Kearstin Piper Brown, and FLO Artistic Director, Conductor, and Founder Gerard Floriano.



B.E. (Brittney Elizabeth) Boykin is a native of Alexandria, Virginia and comes from a musical family. At the age of 7, she began piano lessons and continued her studies through high school under the tutelage of Mrs. Alma Sanford. Mrs. Sanford guided her through various competitions, such as the NAACP’s ACT-SO competition where she garnered 1st place for 3 consecutive years in the local competition, as well as being awarded The Washington Post “Music and Dance Award” in the spring of 2007.”

Boykin then pursued her classical piano studies at Spelman College under the leadership of Dr. Rachel Chung. After graduating Spelman College in 2011 with a B.A. in Music, Boykin continued her studies at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. During her time at Westminster, she was awarded the R and R Young Composition Prize just a few months shy of graduating with her M.M. in Sacred Music with a concentration in choral studies in May, 2013.



Jarrod Lee, librettist, hails from Sylacauga, Alabama and presently resides in Baltimore, Maryland. Jarrod’s collaborations include Oshun and Two Corners with composer B.E. Boykin, Voices of Zion and the art song See your Equal, which placed third in the composition category of the George Shirley Vocal Competition, with composer Ronald “Trey” Walton and collaborations with composer Timothy Amukele called Journey to You and a community opera called Spirit Moves. Jarrod has received commissions from the Alliance for New Music Theater, IN Series, Finger Lakes Opera, and the Washington National Opera. In addition to original stories, Jarrod has worked in translating a deconstruction of Die Zauberflӧte (The Magic Flute) called Black Flute with playwright Sybil Roberts. 



Dr. Gerard Floriano is an accomplished conductor whose passions include conducting orchestral, operatic, and choral repertoire. He maintains a busy schedule as artistic director, music director, music educator, and guest conductor, having led performances and productions throughout Europe and the United States. 

Maestro Floriano is the visionary force and Artistic Director of Finger Lakes Opera. Now in its twelfth season, FLO has become the premier summer opera experience for audiences in upstate New York. Floriano has been described by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle as “nothing less than a virtuosic conductor” who leads his orchestra “with color, precision and a welcome degree of sweep.” FLO’s production of L'elisir d'amore garnered this acclaim from Rochester City Newspaper, "...Musical director and Finger Lakes Opera artistic director Gerard Floriano paced the whole show to perfection, and the orchestra had every Donizettian detail in place.” 

This summer will see Maestro Floriano lead the world premiere production of Two Corners – a new opera by composer B.E. Boykin and Jarrod Lee. As part of the 2024 summer season at FLO he will conduct a new production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Recent performing highlights include performances of the Requiem Masses of Mozart and Salieri at the 2023 Ravenna Festival, a stunning production of Verdi’s Aida, awarded “Best Professional Opera” in 2023 by Broadway World, as well as workshop performances of Boykin’s/Lee’s Two Corners in Rochester and with Cincinnati Opera. 

As Chair of the Department of Music & Musical Theatre at The State University of New York at Geneseo Floriano has achieved SUNY’s highest rank of Distinguished Service Professor of Music, where he also serves as the Director of Choral Activities Additionally, he is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity. Past conducting positions have included serving as Music Director of the Rochester Chamber Orchestra, Resident Conductor at the Brevard Music Center, Co-artistic Director of Mercury Opera Rochester, as well  as conducting fellowships at the Aspen Summer Music Festival and the Oregon Bach Festival. Floriano lives in Rochester, NY with his wife, Joan Floriano, who is also an accomplished performer and teacher of voice.



Soprano Kearstin Piper Brown is thrilled to make her return to Finger Lakes Opera. This season, she has delighted audiences at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Parallèle, the National Philharmonic, the Cecilia Chorus of New York at Carnegie Hall, the Rochester Philharmonic, and other appearances. In 2024, she makes her company debuts with Florida Grand Opera as Nedda as well as with the Metropolitan Opera as Evelyn in Fire Shut up in My Bones. She also sings Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress with the Lakes Area Music Festival, and makes her debut as Mimi with Opera San José, a role she will cover at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2025.

For more visit her website.



Dr. Crystal Sellers Battle previously served as the Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA before coming to Eastman in June 2022. In her role, Crystal works to advance programs and policies that promote mindsets and behaviors that value and support equity, diversity, and inclusion. She co-founded DIEMA (Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Musical Arts) Consulting Group LLC, to help schools of music address DEI related challenges and initiatives. She has presented to several groups around the country about DEI in music including the Northeastern Regional Conference of College Music Society. Crystal holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in voice performance with a specialization in Singing Health from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Music from Bowling Green State University, a Master of Music degree from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and a Postgraduate Diploma from Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK. 



Pianist, vocal coach, and conductor Brock Tjosvold is Assistant Professor of Vocal Coaching at the Eastman School of Music. Before coming to Eastman, he was the Music Director of the award-winning Crane Opera Ensemble at SUNY Potsdam. During his time as conductor, the ensemble won first place in their division of the 2022-23 National Opera Association Production Competition and 3rd prize in the opera production category of The American Prize. Brock has also led workshops for the finals of the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize. As a DMA student at Eastman, Brock won the Excellence in Accompanying Award, as well as the Ann C. Fehn Memorial Award (first prize pianist) in the 2021 Jessie Kneisel Lieder Competition, where he performed unpublished songs by Rebecca Clarke, some of which received their world premiere. He has performed with the Grand Teton Music Festival, Albany Symphony, New World Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony, Finger Lakes Opera, The Art Song Preservation Society of New York, and has performed at Carnegie Hall. Brock has appeared as soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra, and has attended the Aspen Music Festival and Music Academy of the West with full fellowships. He previously attended Indiana University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wyoming.