Carols on the Green

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07:00 PM

Celebrating the Season in Song

Members of the HGO Chorus return to Discovery Green® for the second annual holiday song-fest led by Ben Manis and featuring HGO Studio Artists Leia Lensing and Kyle Naig. They are joined by over 70 voices from the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir and AFA Houston Girls Chorus for a concert of holiday music from various traditions. Sing-alongs included!

Saturday, December 14, 7 pm
Anheuser-Busch Stage
Discovery Green® 1500 McKinney Street Houston TX 77010

Event is free and open to the public

For more information email Emily Wells at hmawlawi@houstongrandopera.org

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir

AFA Houston Girls Chorus


Headshots + bios

Benjamin Manis

Conductor Benjamin Manis joined the Houston Grand Opera as Resident Conductor for the 2019-20 season. In May of 2019 he completed his Master of Music degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Larry Rachleff. Mr. Manis has served as cover conductor for the St. Louis and Dallas Symphonies and was winner of the 2019 Solti Foundation US Career Assistance Award. Mr. Manis returned to the Aspen Music Festival for the third consecutive summer in 2019 and will appear in Aspen again next summer as the winner of the Aspen Conducting Prize. Mr. Manis hales from Chicago and has attended the Pierre Monteux School and the International Conducting Workshop and Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria.


Leia Lensing


Drs. Liz Grimm and Jack Roth/Carolyn J. Levy Fellow

Leia Lensing joined the HGO Studio after winning first prize and the Online Viewers’ Choice Award in the 2018 Eleanor McCollum Competition Concert of Arias. She made her HGO mainstage debut as Mary in The Flying Dutchman to open the 2018–19 season. She earned her master’s degree at the University of Northern Iowa. In summer 2017, she was an apprentice artist with the Des Moines Metro Opera, where she covered the role of Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music. In the summer of 2018, she was a member of the Santa Fe Opera apprentice singer program, covering the roles of Pasqualita in Doctor Atomic and the Baroness in Candide. This past summer she returned to Santa Fe Opera where she performed the role of Grandmother Buryjovka in Jenůfa. Her 2019–20 roles at HGO are Page of Herodias in Salome and Third Lady in The Magic Flute.


Kyle Naig


Ms. Kathleer R. Cross/Stephanie Larsen/Dr. and Mrs. Miguel Miro-Quesada/Richard M. Stout Fellow

Second-year HGO Studio artist Kyle Naig coached HGO productions of La bohème, Florencia en el Amazonas, and Don Giovanni last season. He previously played productions of Manon and The Barber of Seville at Opera Santa Barbara, As One at Des Moines Metro Opera, Scalia/Ginsburg and Porgy and Bess at the Glimmerglass Festival, Turandot at Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and Tosca at Intermountain Opera Bozeman. During summer 2018, he returned to the Glimmerglass Festival (Trouble in Tahiti, The Cunning Little Vixen, The Barber of Seville). He is an alumnus of training programs at Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City and is a graduate of the University of Kansas. This past summer he worked on Wozzeck at Des Moines Metro Opera. During the 2019–20 season at HGO, he will be coaching Saul, Aida, and The Magic Flute and will appear with HGO Studio singers in recital and other performances.


Kiana Day Williams

Kiana Day Williams is in her second year of serving as Director of Choirs at Texas Southern University, which includes TSU University Choir and TSU Concert Chorale. She served as Lecturer of Music in the Moores School of Music at University of Houston from 2008-2017. She was also Choral Director at G.W. Carver High School for Technology, Engineering, and Performing Arts in Aldine ISD for the 2013-14 school year and served as Music Director and Band Leader for the school’s 2014 production of In the Heights, which received the 2014 Tommy Tune Award for Best Orchestra. Along with music teaching, Dr. Williams has served as a Program Manager in Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco department, Community Music Director at Theater Under the Stars (TUTS), and most recently, Director of Fine Arts at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.