Casey Robards

Music Director

Pianist and conductor, Casey Robards has given recitals with singers and instrumentalists in recital throughout the United States, Europe, Central and South America and Asia. Her repertoire includes art song, opera, musical theatre, spirituals and gospel, string, brass, wind and chamber music. Her Carnegie Hall debut recital was with baritone Christiaan Smith performing an original program of Top 40 pop songs sung in the style of art song.

Summer 2021 performances include serving as pianist for Carmina Burana with the National Chorale and for This Little Light of Mine - a new opera based on the life of Fannie Lou Hamer with Santa Fe/Kentucky Opera, and conductor for Verdi’s La Traviata at Bay View Music Festival. In 2019, she was featured on two new CD releases: “Botanica: music for oboe and English horn” with Sara Fraker featuring music by Pavel Haas, Glen Roven, Asha Srinivasan and others; and “Chinese Fantasies” with violinist, Fangye Sun featuring music by Bright Sheng, Daniel Tressel and others. Robards has also recorded CDs featuring Negro Spirituals and music by female and African-American female composers with singers, Ollie Watts Davis, Angelique Clay, and Henry Pleas. She and her husband, Anthony Patterson form the Patterson Piano Duo.

Dr. Robards is currently on the faculty of the University of Illinois where she teaches collaborative piano and coaches singers. She is entering her 15th season as a faculty artist at the Bay View Music Festival where she is the MainStage Opera Conductor, Head of the Collaborative Piano program, co-creator of a two-week vocal and collaborative piano intensive (SOARS) and coach/pianist for the American Spiritual Intensive program. Previous appointments include positions with Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory and Central Michigan University. In 2017, she served as associate music director of the University of Kentucky world premiere of “BOUNCE: The Basketball opera” co-produced with Ardea Arts.

Robards received the Henri Kohn Memorial Award for outstanding achievement at Tanglewood Music Festival. She has degrees in Piano Performance, Piano Pedagogy and Vocal Coaching and Accompanying from the University of Illinois where she served as principal musician/asst. conductor of the University of Illinois Black Chorus under Dr. Ollie Watts Davis. Her doctoral dissertation was on the life and music of John Daniels Carter (1932-1981), famous for his Cantata, a setting of five Negro spirituals. Her professional memberships include IKCAS (International Keyboard Collaborative Arts Society), NATS, Maestra, MUSE, and National Opera Association (Sacred in Opera Initiative). She authored a chapter for the book “So You Want to Sing Spirituals,” published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2019. Casey is interested in the intersection of music and social justice and has led benefit recitals for Musicambia, a non-profit organization that creates music conservatories in prisons.

Casey Robards