Emily Dickinson struggling with despair in the form of The Master.


Alva Henderson (Musical Director)

Alva Henderson - photo

Alva entered San Francisco State College as a Drama major but after several years changed to a major in Composition with voice as his principal instrument. He studied composition with Wayne Peterson (SF State) and Robert Sheldon (SF Conservatory).

During the years following his formal education, Mr. Henderson completed his first opera, Medea, while supporting himself by singing in the San Francisco Opera Chorus. The 1972 production of Medea by the San Diego Opera with Metropolitan Opera star Irene Dalis in the title role brought him to national attention.

A commission from Opera Delaware to create an opera for the American Bicentennial and for the gala reopening of the restored Grand Opera House in Wilmington followed. The Last of the Mohicans was premiered there in 1976. The following year the work was produced by the Lake George Opera Festival and broadcast throughout the country on National Public Radio.

Among his other compositions are the opera West of Washington Square, premiered by Opera San Jose in 1988, and the cantata The Ancient Ones, premiered by Schola Cantorum in 1983. In June of 2004 his Winter Requiem, with libretto by Dana Gioia, was premiered by Schola Cantorum in San Francisco and San Jose, California. The world premiere performances of his opera Nosferatu, also with libretto by Dana Gioia, were produced in October of 2004, at the Rimrock Opera in Billings, Montana, and at Opera Idaho, in Boise. In September of 2008 the Pacific Symphony and the Pacific Choral under the direction of Carl St. Clair at the Renée & Henry Segestrom Concert Hall, in Irvine, California, premiered the cantata From Greater Light, libretto by Richard Freis.

Mr. Henderson has conducted performances of his operas The Last of the Mohicans and The Last Leaf. He was Choir Director at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Palo Alto for ten years. He is also an expert vocal coach and teacher of voice.

He makes his home in Mountain View, California with his spouse, Bear Capron.