Daniel Plummer Koehn, DMA – President
Dr. Dan Plummer Koehn is Alumni Relations Director for Student Affairs Advancement at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously, Dan was Director of New Initiatives & Special Projects at Florida Grand Opera (Miami, FL) where he worked on fundraising campaigns and community engagement initiatives. Prior to Florida Grand Opera, Dan was General Director at Opera for the Young (OFtY) – an internationally recognized, professional touring company that introduces 85,000 children to opera annually. Under his leadership, OFtY’s finances stabilized and subsequently grew, audience size increased, and programming expanded. OFtY also commissioned Dan to arrange musical scores based on Massenet’s Cendrillon and Grétry’s Zémire et Azor – both of which earned project awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Dan earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in voice from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from New England Conservatory of Music. Dan was the recipient of numerous scholarships, including the Opera Props Award. As a performer, Dan made his European debut at the age of 21 with the Silesian Opera in the Czech Republic. Dan also sang with the Aspen Music Festival, Four Seasons Theater, Pine Mountain Music Festival, and in the chorus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Dan is Vice President of the Opera Props board. He was president of AFP-Greater Madison and was also a founding member/president of Dane County Humane Society’s Development Board. Noted for his professional contributions and service, Dan was named by InBusiness Magazine to their “40 Under 40” roster.
With his husband Mark, Dan enjoys travel and raising their dogs Lui and Oliver. His newfound pandemic hobby is acrylic painting.
Kathy Harker saw her first opera as a student at the UW-Madison when she was ushering in the Memorial Union for a Metropolitan Opera traveling production of Madama Butterfly. That moving experience started in Kathy a life-long love of opera. She has gone on to see operas in many great opera houses in the United States and Europe. It seemed fitting when Kathy moved to Madison in 2010 and was introduced to the UW-Madison opera program at an Opera Props Showcase Concert that she become involved in supporting the UW program and its voice and opera students. Kathy was subsequently invited to join the UW Opera Props Board in August, 2013, and has worked on fundraising and events and served as Membership Chair and substitute Recording Secretary.
Before coming to Madison, Kathy had a longtime career in corporate banking and management with two major banks in Chicago, New York, and London. Throughout her adult life, Kathy has also volunteered with and served on boards of non-profits in international development, the arts, and health care, as well as in the churches she has attended.
Tom Akagi – Treasurer
Tom Akagi retired as a Principal Planner in January 1996 after 41 1/2 years of employment with the City of Madison Planning Department. His interest in opera began in the early 1950s and followed later by an opera trip to several opera houses in Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin with a Houston tour group, and another opera trip to the Verona Festival in an outdoor Roman amphitheater and to the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Italy with three Houston friends from the tour group. He continues his annual opera trips to Houston Grand Opera and Santa Fe Opera, where he has season tickets, and to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, besides attending opera performances in Madison. He joined the Opera Props Board in July 2004, and has served as Opera Props Treasurer beginning in June 2015.
Barbara Furstenburg – Recording Secretary
Although she has three degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in American Studies and History, Barbara Furstenburg spent her career as an arts administrator. Jobs in history were scarce in Honolulu, where she moved with her husband for his job, so she felt fortunate to work at the University of Hawaii extension division arranging statewide tours by performing artists. Her extra-curricular experience on the Music Committee at the Wisconsin Union, where Fan Taylor had been her mentor, gave her background for the job. Barbara spent many years on the board of the Hawaii Opera Theatre, developing an education program for high school students. Since returning to Madison, she has enjoyed involvement in the local opera community through Opera Props.
Marianne Paker – Membership Chair
Marianne Paker is a retired technical/IT project manager. Marianne and her husband, Ken, are 25-year residents of Madison and have three grown daughters. Their youngest, Gwen, is a graduate student pursuing opera performance. Marianne describes herself as an “opera learner” and joined Opera Props as the Membership Chair in June 2019. Marianne loves to travel, has explored all 50 states, and her next goals include visiting all of the National Parks, visiting all seven continents and digitizing her family’s photos.
Ann Campbell joined the UW Opera Props board at the invitation of her cousin Helen Schmedeman who had also introduced her to UW Opera and Opera Props. She has served on several committees, including the nominating committee and the committee to revise the bylaws. She also organizes the receptions following UW Opera opening night performances, Opera Scenes and the Showcase Concert. In addition to serving on the board, she is a volunteer with PBS Wisconsin and has ushered at several performances at the Madison Early Music Festival.
Opera Props Board since 2019
Hometown: Madison WI
Education: English, UW and Columbia
Best job: cashier, University Book Store
Opera history: hated the Saturday afternoon from the Met as a kid
Learned to love it from Karlos Moser and Opera Workshop.
Photographed rehearsals of David Ronis’ productions of
La bohème, L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Così fan tutte.
Favorite operas: Mozart, Monteverdi
Traveled to see Met in New York, Lyric in Chicago, Florentine in Milwaukee
Music history: cello from 5th grade at Randall School, through West High, Madison Civic Orchestra;
50 year break, back to cello with Madison Bach Musicians Chamber Music workshops, Pheasant Branch Strings
Audience member, occasional photographer for UW Opera, MBM, WI Baroque Ensemble, Handel Aria Competition
Best photo assignment: photographer at Karlos Moser’s 90th birthday celebration
Sarah Marty, Interim Co-Director for the Bolz Center in the Wisconsin School of Business, teaches classes on arts business and Hamilton: An American Musical for UW-Madison. As Producing Artistic Director of Four Seasons Theatre, she helps bring musical theatre performances to stages, libraries, and retirement communities across Madison. Other credits include Co-Director of the Holding History program with UW-Madison Libraries, staff and board service for Madison Early Music Festival, and producing large scale events like the UW Varsity Band Show with Mike Leckrone, WYSO 50th Anniversary Concert, and 2013 and 2016 programs by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Benjamin Schultz-Burkel, DMA
Dr. Benjamin Schultz-Burkel is a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is currently the Leadership Search Manager in the Dean’s Office of the School of Medicine and Public Health at UW-Madison. He previously served as the Assistant Director of the Mead Witter School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree under the guidance of Mimmi Fulmer and William Farlow. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Belmont University. He has performed with the Florentine Opera and Nashville Opera companies. He recently published the first ever Polish lyric diction book, Singing in Polish: A Guide to Polish Lyric Diction and Vocal Repertoire, which was released by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers in December of 2015. He has gained international recognition for his research and expertise in Polish vocal repertoire. He is an honorary member of the American Council for Polish Culture.
As an active singer, Dr. Schultz has performed a wide variety of operatic, oratorio, and musical theatre roles. Schultz has been acclaimed as “a bass of real power,” and his voice has been described as “dark” and “warm and rich.” His Operatic roles include Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Colline (La bohème), Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Simone (Gianni Schicchi), John Proctor (The Crucible), Sid (Albert Herring), and Somarone (Béatrice et Bénédict). He has performed as the baritone soloist in Five Mystical Songs by Vaughan Williams and the Duruflé Requiem, as well as Raphael in Haydn’s Creation. Other notable performances include Out of the Shadows: Rediscovering Jewish Music, Literature, and Theater as part of the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant Performing the Jewish Archive at UW-Madison.
Kristine Bengtson, DMA and former Opera Props Board President
Dr. Kristine Bengtson is a collaborative pianist, vocal coach, conductor and teacher based in Madison, Wisconsin. She has performed as a collaborative artist for the Schumann Liederfest in Zwickau, Germany, coaching and performing for the festival seasons in 2011 and 2012. Additional credits include Fort Worth Opera, Augusta Opera, Madison Opera, Peachtree Modern Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Harrower Opera Worship at Georgia State University and the Vocal Arts Festival at the University of South Dakota. Kristine has served as the Music Director for Primrose Lutheran Church in Belleville since 2009 and maintains a busy private studio teaching piano and coaching voice in Madison.
Kristine holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree in Collaborative Piano from the University Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degrees in vocal coaching and piano performance from Temple University in Philadelphia and the University of South Florida in Tampa. She has been a member of the UW Opera Props Board since 2007.
Daniel Shea – former Opera Props Board President
By the time Dan Shea entered Classical High School in Springfield MA, he was a confirmed opera lover who had acquired a basic musical education through recordings and radio. High school offered engaging courses in math and journalism, and choral singing that included the annual Gilbert & Sullivan musical. By the time that Rock and other amplified pop music were taking over the airwaves, Dan was organizing bus trips to New York for the Met’s student opera program. College and grad school offered a wider variety of activities, and graduation brought him to Madison in August, 1965 to assume a position in UW’s mathematics department.
Karlos Moser’s UW Opera program brought him to campus offerings (Mozart, Britten, Stravinsky . . . ) and then to Opera Props in support of that program. Later volunteer work included Opera for the Young, Madison Opera and, briefly, Capitol City Opera. Retirement from mathematics in 2002 brought more involvement with Props and the Björling Society-USA (now in its 24th year).
Peg Wallace – former Opera Props Membership Chair
Peg Wallace joined the UW Props board in the late 1990s shortly after her daughter Emily graduated from the School of Music as a vocal performance major and Opera Props award recipient. Having experienced the UW Opera Program as a proud and grateful parent, Peg knew first-hand the value of Props’ mission of support and was eager to “give back.” After over ten years of active membership on the board, Peg continues to serve in an advisory position. Peg’s professional career was in education and as Associate Director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. She currently devotes much of her volunteer time to doing restorative justice work in Wisconsin’s prisons.