Ben Makino has joined Opera Memphis as the company’s music director. The conductor and pianist, who most recently worked with the Long Beach Opera in Long Beach, Calif., previously served as the music director of Opera Memphis’ inaugural 30 Days of Opera in 2012.
Hometown: Fullerton, Calif.
Experience: Conductor in Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program (selected by Plácido Domingo). Assistant conductor at Long Beach Opera; conducted two U.S. premieres last season (“The Paper Nautilus” by Gavin Bryars and “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Stewart Copeland), as well as professional U.S. premiere of Bloch’s “Macbeth.” Assisted on U.S. premiere of “Only the Truth, Unicamente la Verdad” by Gabriela Ortiz.
Family: Most of my family lives in California. My brother lives in Japan, and my sister lives in New York. In Memphis, it’s just me, my girlfriend, Sarah, and our pet ladybugs or spiders, depending on the season.
What’s playing on your stereo right now? Cornelius “Sensuous” or Capsule “CAPSLOCK”
Activities you enjoy outside of work: I participate in XTERRA races from time to time. I’ve been collecting and reading the comic “Usagi Yojimbo” since elementary school. (It’s about a rabbit ronin, a masterless samurai.) Studying languages is a bit of a work-related hobby, I suppose, but I’ve moved from the directly practical languages to some tangentially related ones. Right now, I’m studying Spanish and Old Occitan. And I read as much as possible.
What talent do you wish you had? I wish I could draw.
Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? There are too many people and artists to begin to mention. On my personality and general approach to life, my parents, friends and mentors have been great influencers. I see in them who I would aspire to be. As a musician, everyone I have ever worked with has influenced me somehow, whether it be Placido Domingo, Stewart Copeland or our resident artists here.
What attracted you to Opera Memphis? Memphis is a rare company in its progressive message about opera and music, its supportive atmosphere and its receptivity to creative ideas and projects. For example, as part of the fantastic “Mikado” production we have coming up, Opera Memphis is also presenting, in partnership with the Japanese American Society of Tennessee, a Japan cultural festival, which will feature scenes from operas by Japanese composers. There aren’t many places in the U.S. where you can have such a varied musical and theatrical experience in one day.
What do you most enjoy about your work? I spend every day reflecting on the works of geniuses and trying to allow their thinking to shape my own. It leaves me feeling like a more complete person every time I can really take the time to do it, which is less and less often.
If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Be truthful with yourselves, and be patient.
Tierney Bamrick has joined Opera Memphis as marketing coordinator. Bamrick is a Memphis native who most recently spent eight years in Chicago, serving as a marketing director for a national real estate firm and as a vocal musician.
Dr. Edward Chaum, Plough Foundation Professor of Retinal Diseases at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has been awarded the University of Tennessee Research Foundation’s B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. The award recognizes a UT faculty member who has had a major impact on the tech transfer success of the university.
John G. May has joined First Alliance Bank as senior vice president and commercial loan officer. May, a specialist in business development and business banking, will be responsible for expanding First Alliance’s commercial loan capabilities.
The Memphis Bar Association has named its 2014 officers: Kirk Caraway of Allen, Summers, Simpson, Lillie & Gresham PLLC, president; Tommy Parker of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, vice president; and Shea Wellford of Martin Tate Morrow & Marston PC, secretary/treasurer. Newly elected directors are Betsy Chance, Dean DeCandia, Asia Diggs, Maureen Holland, Carrie Kerley and Andre Mathis.
Jeff Taylor has joined Business Systems and Consultants Inc.’s materials storage sales team to provide storage solutions in Memphis and the Mid-South. Taylor has more than 30 years of sales experience of designing/furnishing source document and material storage systems.
The Estate Planning Council of Memphis has elected its 2013-2014 executive committee: J. Randolph Flatt, vice president and acting president; Amy O’Bannon, treasurer; and Price Morrison, secretary. Doug Sweet, Frank Horrell, John S. Seabold and Mark E. Grochau have been elected as at-large committee members.
Baptist Trinity Home Care & Hospice has been named to the 2013 HomeCare Elite, a compilation of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. It is Baptist Trinity’s eighth consecutive year to make the list.