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Vocal Music

The vocal music program at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts provides comprehensive preparation in vocal music. Students participate in a variety of performance ensembles,  receive weekly private lessons, and study music theory and literature. Students also have the opportunity to study piano, music technology and conducting. The students participate in numerous Master Classes and have the opportunity to perform both individually and in ensembles.


program of studies

Grade 9

  • Voice Class
  • Musicianship 1
  • Vocal Ensemble

Grade 10

  • Applied Voice 1
  • Musicianship 2
  • Diction for Singers
  • Vocal Ensemble

Grade 11

  • Applied Voice 2
  • Acting for Singers
  • Elective
  • Vocal Ensemble

Grade 12

  • Senior schedules are individualized based on interest and career goals
  • Applied Voice 3
  • Acting for Singers


  • Vocal Ensemble
  • Senior Portfolio
  • Electives:
  • AP Music Theory
  • Class Piano
  • Conducting
  • Creative Technology
  • Introduction to Music Education
  • Advanced Concepts
  • Music History



Melissa Mackley


Melissa J. Mackley is the Director of Choral Activities and Lead Teacher for the Vocal Department at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.  Now in her 30th year of teaching, Mrs. Mackley holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Frostburg State University and a Master of Music, from the School of Music at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY with concentrations in both voice and piano.   A student of Mr. James Pierce, Dr. Ronald Regal, Larry Doebler, and Janet Galvan, she sang as well as accompanied various collegiate and community choirs during her tenure. 
Before coming to BISFA,  Mrs. Mackley held choral directing positions in Frederick County, MD and Bethlehem, PA where her choirs received superior ratings at the county and state levels.  Her choirs have performed for several governors and were selected to perform  at  Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. 
Now in her tenth year at BISFA, Mrs. Mackley coordinates the  Vocal Music Department  of fifty vocal students, two full time teachers and three adjunct professors.  She oversees four choral groups at three curricular  levels with more than 80 students participating.    Currently, Mrs. Mackley  conducts BISFA’s select  choirs, Chamber Singers and Cantala Women’s Choir, leading them to superior ratings at the most recent WCPS Choral Festival.  Her choirs recently collaborated with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in their Home for the Holidays Concert, performing John Rutter’s Gloria with them in December of 2017.   In 2014, Cantala was selected as a performance ensemble for the ACDA Eastern Division Conference and the MENC Eastern Division Convention in Baltimore.
In addition, Mrs. Mackley serves as Chair of the Piano Division at BISFA and is Music Director for the school’s Spring Musicals.  She has a studio of private piano students,   prepares students as collaborative pianists,   and coordinates staff accompanists for all BISFA Vocal and Instrumental recitals. Her piano students regularly receive superior ratings at festivals and are sought after accompanists in the area.     
Active as a choral conductor and collaborative pianist in the area, Mrs. Mackley   has vast experience in solo performance and collaborative works, including classical, opera, musical theater, jazz and pop styles.   She regularly collaborates with  members of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and is held in high regard as an accompanist and collaborative musician by both vocalists and instrumentalists in the community.  

Jessica Reynolds  


A native of Pennsylvania, Jessica Elizabeth Reynolds, soprano, graduated from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where she received a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy with distinction, and holds both a Bachelor of Science in Music Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Arneson, Dr. Kathy Kessler-Price, and Ms. Margaret Cusack, Mrs. Reynolds received world-class instruction during her graduate studies in the verse of Vocal Pedagogy and has been putting it into practice in her own teaching in both the private voice studio and classroom. While at Westminster, she participated in the Symphonic Choir with whom she sang Mahler’s The Resurrection Symphony at Carnegie Hall with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker, Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem at Verizon Hall with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and in Andrea Bocelli’s “Concert Under the Stars” in Central Park with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. As a member of the Westminster Williamson Voices, under the direction of Dr. James Jordan, she sang in the American premiere of Paul Mealor's choral masterwork Crucifixus. A student of internationally acclaimed soprano, Ms. Nova Thomas, Mrs. Reynolds has studied as a young artist at the Le Chiavi di Bel Canto program in Houston, Texas, and she sang and studied as a member of the choral ensemble-in-residence for the inaugural Westminster Choral Institute at Oxford University. Furthermore, Mrs. Reynolds sang the role of Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Crescendo Summer Institute in Sárospatak, Hungary. As a vocal pedagogue, she has presented her Master’s Vocal Pedagogy Research on Separate Register Development in the Female Voice at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Conference in Boston, MA, during the summer of 2014. Most recently, Mrs. Reynolds served as the Middle School and High School Choir Director with the Windber Area School District in Windber, Pennsylvania, and as Adjunct Professor at the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. Prior to the birth of her son, she also taught private piano and voice lessons through the Greater Johnstown School of Music.


Katie Fitzsimmons

Vocal Music Adjunct Teacher

GKatharine Groh Fitzsimmons attended Bucknell University majoring in Music Education with a focus in voice and flute. She later pursued a Masters in Vocal Performance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  While studying at UNC she served as student director of Opera Workshop, performed a lecture recital concentrating on American women composers, performed lead roles in 2 opera performances, and taught voice lessons to UNC students. She moved back to Williamsport with her husband to be closer to family. Ms. Groh has had the opportunity to perform with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra on several occasions and has been heavily involved with that organization’s annual children’s concerts. While in the community Ms. Groh has served on the board of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Girl’s Inc., Hagerstown Day Nursery, and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation. She has taught voice and flute in the area at Mercersburg Academy, St. James School and at BISFA as one of the original adjunct teachers when the school opened. 


Francesca Aguado  

Vocal Music Adjunct Teacher

Francesca Murray

American mezzo-soprano Francesca Aguado has been praised for her solid mezzo sound and excellent support (Opera Britannia) and for her voice’s confident precision and articulation (The Washington Post). DCMetroTheatreArts said “Francesca Aguado truly commanded the center of attention in her scenes…” Miss Aguado joined the Maryland Symphony Orchestra for the 2015/2016 season to bring life to the title role in Bizet’s Carmen (contributing to the Symphony’s most successful production in its history). This season she will make her debut with Miami Lyric Opera in their production of Cavalleria Rustica (Santuzza).

Past credits include: Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia); Third Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Carmen (Carmen); Ariodante (Ariodante); Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors); Ma Joad (suite version of The Grapes of Wrath, accompanied by composer Ricky Ian Gordon); Dorabella (Così fan tutte); Dinah (Trouble in Tahiti); Maurya (Riders to the Sea); Sesto (Giulio Cesare); Marthe (Faust); the Duchess (The Gondoliers); and Captain Frands von Frauenliebe (The Beautiful Bridegroom, presented at the 2009 National Opera Association Conference). Ms. Aguado also originated the role of Veronica in Fallen Angels, which was presented at the 2012 D.C. Fringe Festival. Equally at home on the non-operatic stage, she has also explored the role of Titania in Shakespeare’s A midsummer night’s dream (Maryland Entertainment Group- 2014).

Ms. Aguado holds a Master's degree in vocal performance from Towson University and a Bachelor's degree in music from the University of Maryland. In addition to an active performance schedule, she maintains voice studios with Mount Saint Mary’s University, Hagerstown Community College and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. 



Nicholas Simpson ​  

Vocal Music Adjunct Teacher

NSTenor Nicholas Simpson “possesses a voice that is flexible, but powerful...he literally stunned the public with his technical and expressive capability” (Corriere di Rimini) and has been praised by Opera News, for his “bel canto bona fides” and performances which “immediately seized attention with his full-bodied, brightly projected voice.” Nicholas has just concluded performances as Don Jose in Carmen, and as a soloist in opera and musical theater cabarets while traveling through Italy, France, Spain, Jordan, Egypt, India, Australia, and New Zealand on the Azamara Quest in conjunction with Magic City Opera.
Nicholas has recently been heard as King Charles II in the New York premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s newest opera, The Prince of Players, with the Little Opera Theatre of New York, and as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Performance Santa Fe, under the baton of Joseph Illick. 

During the 2017-2018 season, Mr Simpson has appeared as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos in Berlin, as Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Maryland Symphony, in a series of Christmas Concerts with the Orchestra of Saint Peter by the Sea, in a concert tour of the south with mezzo soprano Cindy Sadler, and as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with The Festival of the Atlantic.
In May of 2017, Mr Simpson sang the role of Giovanni in Daniel Catán’s opera La hija de Rappaccini with Alamo City Opera, which made history as the first professional Spanish language opera performed in San Antonio.
In 2016, Mr.Simpson brought his vocal power to bear in a variety of leading roles, including Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West at Apotheosis Opera, Don José in the Maryland Symphony’s and in Spotlight on Opera’s productions of Carmen; and the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana with the Flint Symphony; as well as appearing in numerous concert series across the United States. 

Recent seasons found Mr. Simpson making role and house debuts as the Kronprinz in Kevin Puts’ Pulitzer Prize winning opera Silent Night with Fort Worth Opera and singing a critically acclaimed performance as Paul in Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt with Cleveland Opera. Cleveland Classical noted that he was “… splendid as Paul, negotiating a punishingly high and demanding vocal line with strength and agility.” In 2015, Mr Simpson became the first tenor to sing the title role in the Dresden version of Wagner’s Tannhäuser in New York City since 1966. The performances of Tannhäuser with Apotheosis Opera were a success, and it was noted that “Tenor Nicholas Simpson was a full-throated hero who carried the role from beginning to end without strain.” (Voce di Meche). Mr Simpson has also appeared as Peter Quint in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Rodolfo in La bohème with Hub Opera. DC Theater Arts praised his “smooth, deeply rich tenor voice and a powerful presence as the poet Rodolfo” and noted his dramatic abilities as “exceptional”.

Nicholas has appeared as Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana with the Altoona Symphony, in the title role of Don Carlo with the Martha Cardona Theater, and in the title role of Il sogno di Scipione with Gotham Chamber Opera. He covered the role of Vaudemont and performed student matinees for Dicapo Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, sang Count Alberto in Opportunity Makes the Thief with Little Opera Theatre of New York; as well as Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with Spotlight on Opera. He has performed with Sarasota Opera, Union Avenue Opera, Utah Festival Opera, and the Mediterranean Opera Studio & Festival in Sicily, and appeared in Austin Opera’s Opera on a Stick outreach concerts. 

Mr. Simpson grew up singing musical theatre, and has appeared professionally as Roger Sherman in 1776, Phil in Gypsy, the tenor of the foursome in Girl Crazy, and Nicely Nicely (understudy) in Guys and Dolls for Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre.
On the concert stage, Mr. Simpson has been noted for his interpretation of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. He has performed the work with Chorus Austin, the Altoona Symphony, the Hershey Symphony, and Performance Santa Fe. Other recent concert appearances include the title role in Joshua with the San Gabriel Chorale and Orchestra, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Brooklyn Symphony, Rachmaninov’s Vespers with Chorus Austin., and highlights of Tannhäuser at the Baldwin-Wallace Wagner intensive program, under the direction of Timothy Mussard and Jane Eaglen. 

In 2011, his “lusty” performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle with Chorus Austin earned him an Austin Critics nomination as best classical vocalist of the year in Austin for a performance that “made you feel the blood’s pulse and heat” (Austin Chronicle) and received the Desert Theatre League Award as Best Performer for his run of eight performances of the program "Nicholas Simpson in Love" at the Arthur Newman Theatre.

Other concert appearances include the Four Tenors Concert with Opera Delaware, and selections from Tannhäuser for Performance Santa Fe and the Wagner Society of Santa Fe; Don José in Carmen for Spotlight Concerts, and guest soloist with the Grace and Spiritus Chorale. 

An accomplished singing teacher, Mr Simpson has taught voice at Southwestern University, the Mediterranean Opera Studio, and he currently serves on the faculty of the Spotlight on Opera summer program. Simpson’s students have been admitted to Boston Conservatory, Mannes, Carnegie Mellon, the Eastman School of Music, the University of North Texas, and Southwestern University for undergraduate study, and the Eastman School of Music, the University of Texas, The Royal College of Music (London, UK,) Boston Conservatory, and the University of Texas at Austin for graduate performance degrees in voice. His students have gained admission to the prestigious Seagle Colony and the Miami Music Festival summer programs.
Mr. Simpson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Missouri, and a Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music.