Artistic Directors


Suzanne DuPlantis

Mezzo soprano Suzanne DuPlantis is a widely appreciated artist who is featured regularly as soloist throughout the region. With a passionate commitment to song and a belief in its power to reach all listeners, Suzanne co-founded Lyric Fest. This novel and dynamic song festival in Philadelphia presents theme-oriented programs with various artists and spoken commentary. Noted for artistic excellence, scholarship and fun, Lyric Fest has received critical acclaim and enjoys broad audience appeal.

Noted for her moving renditions of songs and for her intimate way with an audience, Ms. DuPlantis “deeply imprints the music with her personality with great emotional underpinning” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). She made her New York debut in the St. John Passion of Bach of Bach at Alice Tully Hall with Musica Sacra and her Kimmel Center debut in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Orchestra 2001. Her career in opera has spanned debuts with Arizona Opera, Austin Lyric, New Orleans Opera, Mobile Opera, Eugene Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Knoxville Opera, Chautauqua Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia in roles from Rossini’s heroines Rosina and Isabella, Carmen to Waltraute.

In oratorio, chamber music and song, Suzanne has appeared on numerous occasions with many of Philadelphia’s premiere arts organizations including The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Bucks County Choral Society, Choral Arts Society, Singing City, The Wister Quartet, Mendelssohn Club, Music at Gretna and The Philadelphia Chamber Ensemble.

Recent and upcoming performances include Lyric Fest concerts in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, DC and Concord, NH, a premiere of a new song cycle of Kile Smith for Lyric Fest in March, the Philadelphia premiere of Paulus’s with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Elijah with The Choristers of Upper Dublin, additional recital performances at Casa Menotti in Spoleto, Italy in the Summer, Trinity Series in New Orleans in the fall of 2015 and in Cabaret at the Michener Art Museum with her trio on July 8 for their summer Jazz Series.

>Ms. DuPlantis has premiered many new works including Andrea Clearfield’s Les Fen’tres and the Women of Valor Suite, Kile Smith’s Two Laudate Psalms, Robert Maggio’s Rachel and her Children, Small Hands Relinquish All, Roxanna Panufnik’s Love Abide, Logan Skelton’s Dickinson Songs, Allen Krantz’s From On the Road, Tom Lloyd’s Ben Unleashed, and will premiere Jeffrey Brillhart’s Images.She has recorded Ancestral Waters of Brian Gaber for mezzo, orchestra and jazz trio. Ms. DuPlantis holds degrees from Loyola University, the Eastman School of Music and The Academy of Vocal Arts, and is an active and committed teacher in Philadelphia.


Since branching out into popular song, Suzanne has been performing Cabaret with her trio to sold out audiences since 2010. Bringing the same gift of story and song she is known for in the Classical world, Suzanne weaves together reminiscences and local history with the unforgettable songs of The Great American Songbook.


Laura Ward

Pianist and Co-founding Artistic Director of Lyric Fest, LAURA WARD has been gracing Philadelphia audiences with her powerful, sensitive accompanying since arriving here in 1998.  As a distinguished collaborative pianist she is known for both her technical ability and vast knowledge of repertoire and styles.  Recent and upcoming engagements include performing in recital with Denyce Graves, and premiering new works for piano, guitar and trombone by Allen Krantz with the New York Philharmonic’s Joseph Alessi.  Concert engagements have taken her to Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Spoleto Festival (Italy) and the Colmar International Music Festival and Saint Denis Festival in France.  She has served as a vocal coach at The Academy of Vocal Arts, Westminster Choir College, Temple University, Ravinia Festival Stean’s Institute, Washington Opera, University of Maryland, Music Academy of the West and at Cleveland’s Blossom Festival, and as the official pianist for the Washington International Competition, the Astral Artists Auditions and for the Marian Anderson Award.  Laura is a recording artist and editor of song accompaniments for publisher Hal Leonard having also co-edited: , and and has recorded over 2000 song accompaniments for Hal Leonard Publishing. These volumes help countless singers and pianists experience, learn and enjoy the art song repertory and also help introduce a world of art song to many who have had little exposure to it.  A native of Texas, Laura received her Bachelor’s from Baylor University, holds a Masters in Piano Accompanying at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a Doctorate in Accompanying from the University of Michigan as a student of Martin Katz.  While at the University of Michigan, Laura was pianist for the Contemporary Directions ensemble and performed with the Ann Arbor Symphony.