Faculty - Hero - Pajer


  • Opera Workshop I
  • Opera Workshop II
  • Preparing a Role
  • Conservatory Opera Theatre


  • DMA, Johns Hopkins University
  • MM, Johns Hopkins University
  • BM, Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music


  • San Francisco Opera
  • New York City Opera
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
  • Wexford Festival Opera

What is your hometown?

Cleveland, OH

What is your favorite recording?

Tosca: Callas, Di Stefano, Gobbi, De Sabata

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Cleveland sports teams.

Who were your major teachers?

Thomas Grubb, Marian Hahn, and Julian Martin.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“It's not about whether you make a mistake—we all make mistakes. It's about how you recover.”

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“How hard am I willing to work in order to succeed in an extremely competitive field?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

When I came home from school on the day my mother bought our piano, I remember thinking, "I'll never be bored again." That's pretty much been the case ever since.

What was a turning point in your career?

When my wife suggested we move from New York City to California!

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I honestly can't imagine it, which is the reason I became a musician in the first place.

What is your daily practice routine?

When I'm learning a new opera, I spend a lot of time memorizing text and music during my cardio routine at the gym. The time that I can actually spend at the piano doesn't feel like work at all.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Guilty pleasures: Puccini, Verdi, and Tchaikovsky.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Vienna, 1786. Le nozze di Figaro. Enough said.

What are your most important collaborations?

Being married to my wonderful wife! A distant but important second was working with legendary voice teacher Richard Miller. I was also very proud to serve as the head of music staff at both Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland.

Who have you had the privilege of teaching?

Julie Adams and Efrain Solis.

What is your unrealized project?

Clearing my email inbox!