Virginia Best Adams Masterclass

2023 VBA Masterclass Participants Matthew Newhouse, tenor; Emily Donato, soprano; Nicolas Burns, countertenor; Christopher Talbot, bass-baritone - with Director, Michael Beattie (center)

"My four weeks attending the 2023 Virginia Best Adams Masterclass were some of the most productive and inspiring I've had in my career. The natural beauty of Carmel, combined with world-class musicians and instructors, made for a time of tremendous personal and professional growth, and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity".

—Christopher Talbot, bass-baritone

The application deadline for the 2024 Virginia Best Adams Masterclass is February 15, 2024.

The 2024 VBA program will take place July 1 - 27, 2024.



In a typical season, the Virginia Best Adams (VBA) quartet comes to Carmel in July to train with Festival artists, and explore ways to communicate Baroque repertoire more vividly. In a light-hearted atmosphere of discovery, the VBA Masterclass participants experience a wealth of vocal music and examine all aspects of style, technique, communication, language, performance skills, and artistry. The Masterclasses are held at the Carmel Presbyterian Church and are free and open to the public.

About the Virginia Best Adams Masterclass

In 1984, family and friends of Virginia Best Adams established an endowment fund to honor her 80th birthday. Since then, the endowment has helped underwrite the training and mentoring of more than 100 young professional singers from around the world.

Each year, the Festival selects four singers from hundreds of international applications. These emerging artists join the Festival and study with Festival principal artists. The busy schedule includes six working sessions which are open free to the general public, frequent private coachings, and a special Showcase Concert. In the informal working sessions, the audience shares in the excitement as the coaches and young artists explore all aspects of performing Baroque vocal music, including vocal technique, musical style, foreign language skills, and artistic communication.

The VBA Masterclass is distinguished by the Festival’s master teachers. Conductor and harpsichordist Michael Beattie is Masterclass Director. Sessions are also led by Festival Artistic Advisor and Director of Choral Activities Andrew Megill (Director of Choral Organizations at Northwestern University) and by Festival vocal soloists.

Andrew Megill chats with Michael Beattie before a Masterclass.

About the Program Director

In 2019, the Carmel Bach Festival announced the promotion of Michael Beattie to the position of Director of the Virginia Best Adams Masterclass.

Beattie succeeds David Gordon, who has led the program since 1990. Beattie previously served as music director for the Masterclass Showcase Concert. He has performed with the Festival for 10 years.

“Michael Beattie was the natural and perfect choice for this role,” said Festival Executive Director Steve Friedlander. “Already a long-term member of the Festival family, Michael is an exemplary musician, conductor and keyboardist with a particular flair for vocal coaching, and programming. He is a great colleague and collaborator, much appreciated and respected by the artistic leadership team, musicians, and administrative staff.”


Guest faculty, Clara Rottsalk, soprano and Daniel Swenberg, theorbo, with the 2023 participants, following a class on early 17th Century repertoire