Athlone Artists is pleased to welcome to its roster Conductor Allan R. Scott, hailed for his “well thought-out phrasing and articulation, precise rhythm, and musical understanding (The Coloradoan); and the “sonorous and commanding” (Calgary Herald) Bass Valerian Ruminski.
Allan R. Scott is currently in his sixteenth season as Music Director of the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale in Montana. “Under Scott’s leadership,” Symphony Magazine has written, “the quality of the orchestra’s playing has skyrocketed.” Dividing his time between Helena and his native Philadelphia, Scott is also in his seventeenth season as Music Director of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony and has served as the Principal Conductor of the Wilmington Ballet Company in Delaware for the past decade.
Elsewhere, Scott recently made his debut with Knoxville’s Marble City Opera conducting Puccini’s Suor Angelica“with marvelous attention to Puccini romanticism and dramatic balance” (Arts Knoxville). Scott has also appeared with The Tanglewood Music Center, Royal Opera of Netherlands, Portland Opera, Fairfax Opera Company, Kent Opera, The Bucharest National Opera, The National Radio Orchestra of Romania in Bucharest, New Zealand’s Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Firelands Symphony in Cleveland, Pottstown Symphony (PA), Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, New Artists Philharmonic (CO), and Fairfax Symphony.
In the symphonic repertoire, Scott has become closely associated with the works of Gustav Mahler, performing all of Mahler’s symphonies nationally and internationally with companies such as The National Orchestra of Romania and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra of New Zealand. New Zealand National Radio noted “A concert with Maestro Scott is as intoxicating as you could wish… and has an all-too-rare feeling of risk-taking spontaneity.”
Scott is proud of his contributions to the operatic and symphonic programming at the Helena Symphony, noted by Symphony Magazine as among “the most noteworthy and exciting in the United States.” His vision and forward thinking have led to a vastly increased audience in both size and demographic.
“What keeps you fresh is constantly moving forward,” says Scott, in whom his Vietnam Veteran and politician father and amateur-pianist mother instilled an ardent work ethic.
Scott hasn’t stopped moving during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Helena Symphony has managed to maintain their full concert schedule, livestreaming a concert every three weeks throughout the season. “We had no idea what our year was going to look like,” admits Scott. But as someone who has advised two governors on the vital importance of the arts, he knew they had to keep the music going. “We decided not to charge anything for the performances – to use a pay-what-you-can model. And we’ve not only reached our fundraising goals, but each concert is reaching 5,000-8,000 people globally. We are helping people realize that music can save your life. Music is getting us through this, and music is what is going to bring communities back together when this is over.”
Another part of “staying fresh” for Scott is sustaining his busy schedule as a guest conductor. “Conducting somewhere for the first time is like going on a date,” he says. “Some experiences are fine, pleasant, fun…but then there are those times when – from the first measure – there’s something magical. Everybody in the room knows it.” In his new partnership with Athlone Artists, Scott is looking to expand his opportunities to find that magical, mutual trust between orchestra and conductor. “Miguel Rodriguez and the whole mission of Athlone Artists is completely different from any other agency,” says Scott. “He’s invested in helping me figure out short and long-term goals and cultivating my career. I’ve been conducting since I was 15 – I’ve been doing this a long time – and I’ve learned to surround myself with people who think differently. I don’t want a partnership with someone who just tells me what I want to hear. If I had only listened to myself, I would never be where I am today.”
Having studied piano since the age of five and his conducting since the age of fifteen, Maestro Scott developed his artistry under the guidance of conductors Seiji Ozawa and Charles Dutoit. He further refined his craft with Luis Biava, Zdenék Macal, Sir David Willcocks, and Jorge Mester at institutions including The Tanglewood Music Center, California Conducting Institute, The Keene Music Festival, Ogontz Music Festival, and the Conducting Institute of South Carolina.
Bass Valerian Ruminski has been lauded by Opera Today for his “solidly projected arias and theatrical conviction,” and by the Mercury News for “powerful lyricism.” A graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and of SUNY-Buffalo, the basso cantante has performed with opera companies in the US and abroad including The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Miami Opera, Minnesota Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Ireland, Opera de Montreal, Opera de Monte Carlo, Birmingham Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Opera de Quebec, Vancouver Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, the Green Mountain Festival (VT) and the Lyrique en Mer Festival de Belle Île in France. He can be heard on the Naxos label release of Night at the Opera as well as on the Collected Songs of Victor Herbert, available on New World Records.
Ruminski will perform the role of Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola with Geneva Light Opera in July 2021. Past roles have included Figaro & Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro), Ferrando (Il Trovatore), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Colline (La Bohème), Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Feniscio (Ermione), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Sam (Un Ballo in Maschera), Ramphis & King (Aïda), Zuniga (Carmen), Dr.Grenvil (La Traviata), Prince Gremin (Eugene Onegin), Inspector Budd (Albert Herring), Lt. Ratcliffe (Billy Budd), Frank (Die Fledermaus), First Soldier (Salome), Daland (The Flying Dutchman), Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola), Dulcamara (L’elisir d’amore), Garibaldo (Rodelinda), Il Re (Ariodante), Ligniere (Cyrano), Basilio and Bartolo (Il Barbiere Di Siviglia).
With roots in the Episcopalian Boy Choir and with the shape and discipline from teachers Louis Quilico and Bill Schumann, Ruminski has been awarded numerous accolades including the Lincoln Center Martin Segal Award, a Richard Tucker Grant, a William Mattheus Sullivan Foundation Grant, a Gerda Lissner Foundation Grant, and the 2000 MacAllister Award. He was a prizewinner of the NJ Verismo Competition, the NYSTA Coloratura Competition and the Marcella Sembrich Vocal Competition sponsored by the Koscziuszko Foundation.
When Ruminski portrayed the title role of Don Pasquale at the company he founded, Nickel City Opera, The Buffalo News raved, “It is a rare treat to see Ruminski, the head of NCO, heading the cast. He can always be counted on to be a ham, when the occasion demands it, and this one does. Even at the dress rehearsal, his energy jumped off the stage. His bass voice boomed…He was always 150 percent engaged, up to something.”
Always “up to something” seems an accurate descriptor of Ruminski, who among myriad operatic roles on his résumé also counts work as a professional voiceover actor, author, and podcast host. He was recently seen on an episode of the FOX series 9-1-1 and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Voice at Westchester Community College. During the pandemic Ruminski carried out another lifelong dream, releasing two pop albums under the pseudonym “Impresario” on Twinfish Records. His album Songs from Inside even made the pick of the week list and was nominated for album of the year by Indie Shark Magazine. “I’ve wanted to do this since my 20s,” Ruminski chuckles. “When you listen to it, you might therefore think, ‘did you find this in a vault from 1987?’”
Among his other biggest pandemic surprises was finding a new family. “It was the first time in 22 or 23 years that I didn’t have any opera contracts,” says Ruminski. “So I made time to research my family tree.” Always curious about his birth parents – his adoptive father died when he was ten and his mother passed eight years ago – Ruminski discovered his birth father had been searching for him for over twenty years. The two first spoke on the phone in May, and he went to meet his newly found father and siblings over the summer. “From the day I met the family, there were strong resemblances. My father was an actor. It’s been great having someone to talk about plays and staging with. And then I met my birth mother. She’s great. Quite the talker, so I guess I get that from her!”
Always one to look on the bright side, Ruminski reminisces about the past year. “This has been a difficult one for many,” he says, “but I’ve found time to write two pop albums, find a whole new family, and got a wonderful new agent in Athlone Artists!”