About the Artists

Anna Combs-Johnson has been singing professionally for most of her life. She grew up in Hollywood, California, where she started singing at age nine and performed on stage, television, and radio. At just 14, Newsweek Television produced a nationally televised cameo movie about Anna’s singing abilities. At 17, she accepted a full scholarship to USC’s School of Music, and she went on to finish her master’s degree at Cal State Northridge. She then went on to sing leading roles in both opera and musical theater, as well as being featured soloist with many symphonies in the U.S. and Europe, including a performance in Carnegie Hall, New York. Musical theater credits include Guenevere in Camelot, Anna in The King and I, Maria in The Sound of Music, Maria in The Music Man, and Maria in West Side Story. European credits include Zelmira in the opera Armida by Haydn and the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors. She has performed for and with such renowned celebrities as Bob Hope, Lawrence Welk, Mitzi Gaynor, Andy Williams, and Frankie Laine, to name a few.

Michele Rivard, mezzo-soprano, was the vocal coach and a performer in 20 productions for the professional musical theatre company Cabrillo Stage. She has appeared with the Santa Cruz Symphony, Cabrillo Music Festival, New Music Works, Ensemble Monterey, Trinity Chamber Orchestra, Novato Lyric Opera, Woodminster Summer Theater, San Francisco Simphonietta, Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series, Cabaret Santa Cruz, Picasso Ensemble, and the University of California Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College Orchestras. Favorite roles include Lady Tiang (King & I), Nellie (South Pacific), Mother Abbess (Sound of Music), and Widow Corney (Oliver!) Polly (Beggar’s Opera) and Rosina (Barber of Seville.) Michele retired as Music Program Chair from Cabrillo College in Aptos after twenty-five years. She currently teaches Classical and Musical Theater students at Santa Clara  University and at Solano College in Fairfield.


Joel Cohen cello has spent his life pursuing many forms of musical expression through the cello. While steeped in the classical traditions of Western music, he loves exploring other avenues of performance with his instrument.  He was the co-principal cello of the Oakland Symphony. While living in Vienna from 1985-97, Joel toured Europe, Asia, and the Americas as principal cellist of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and played with the Austrian Radio Symphony, Wiener Kammeroper, Johann Strauss Festival Orchestra, and many other groups. Ten years in Boston had him playing with the Boston Symphony, Portland Symphony, and PORT Summer Opera. As the founding cellist with Quartet San Francisco, Joel toured extensively in the US, during which the quartet was nominated twice for Grammy™ awards. Now, back in California, Joel plays chamber music with orchestras and as a soloist in recitals and concertos. He has taught cello extensively, including at the College of the Holy Cross and Humboldt State University. 

Elena Casanova, piano. From her first explorations as a toddler on a toy piano to her current passion for performing on grand pianos in concert halls, Elena has dedicated her life to music.  Known equally for her spirited performance of both Latin American composers and European masters, Elena also continues to expand her musical reach with forays into jazz and the captivating rhythms of her native Cuba. She attended the Alejandro Garcia Caturla Music Conservatory in Havana, Cuba, the San Francisco Conservatory, and Pacific Union College and graduated from the University of Redlands with a Bachelor of Music.

She truly enjoys collaborating with artists and vocal repertoire is one of her favorites. From her years as a staff accompanist at University of Redlands she has developed the sensitivity to be able to adjust to the artists and the stage. She has been the rehearsal pianist for numerous productions of both opera and musical theater. Her favorite is small ensembles like Cantabile that allow her to showcase her versatility.  

Elena Casanova Pianist


Flower Duet
From Lakme
Leo Delibes
1836 - 1891
Sandman Song/Lullabye
From Hansel & Gretel
Engelbert Humperdinck
1854 - 1921
Musetta’s Waltz
From La Boheme
Giacomo Puccini
From Les Érinnyes
Jules Massenet
1842 - 1912
From 7 Canciones Populares Españolas Manuel del Falla
1876 – 1946
A Guarda Sorella
From Cosi fan tutte
Wolfgang Mozart
1756 - 1791
Siboney Ernesto Lecuona
1896 – 1963
A Boy Like That/I Have a Love
From West Side Story
Leonard Bernstein
1918 - 1990
Bosom Buddies
From Mame
Jerry Herman
1931 - 2019