Frederick Tillis - Little David (Dorothy Gal, voice; Blair Salter, piano)



Praised for her “piercing, yet crystalline instrument” (Schmopera), Polish-American soprano Dorothy Gal is a recent alumna of the prestigious Houston Grand Opera Studio, where she recently made mainstage role debuts as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, High Priestess in Aida, and Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto. An artist distinguishable by her artistic ingenuity, Ms. Gal participated in Marilyn Horne’s The Song Continues Workshop at Carnegie Hall, was a Vocal Fellow at Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, and has performed with various companies such as Des Moines Metro Opera and the Aspen Opera Center. A recent 2nd Place Prizewinner in HGO’s 2018 Eleanor McCollum Competition, Ms. Gal holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Mannes College in New York City. Notably, Ms. Gal is the recipient of the prestigious 2020 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation.


Canadian collaborative pianist Blair Salter is a versatile performer and music director who has worked at prestigious opera companies and young artist programs throughout the United States and Canada. She has worked on staff at Houston Grand Opera, Opera Colorado, Michigan Opera Theatre, and the CoOPERAtive Program. Blair is an advocate of art song and contemporary music; she has worked on several operatic world premieres, performed with the Khemia Ensemble and AEPEX Contemporary Performance, and together with soprano Dorothy Gal, she commissioned the set of songs Sheltered Garden by Jamie Leidwinger. She completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano at the University of Michigan, where she studied with Martin Katz. A graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Young Artist Program, Wolf Trap Opera, and the Glimmerglass Festival, Blair is currently based in Houston and is a member of the music staff at Santa Fe Opera.


Composer-performer-educator- and poet, Frederick Tillis was born in Galveston, Texas on January 5, 1930. Beginning his professional performing career at the age of 12, as a jazz saxophonist, he traveled across the world with the Tillis-Holmes Jazz Duo and the Tradewinds Jazz Ensemble. He is a graduate of Wiley College, receiving his B.A. at the age of 19, then received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of Iowa. His catalog includes more than 125 compositions and commissions, spanning both jazz and classical European traditions in various media - orchestral, jazz, instrumental, choral, chamber music, and vocal works. Melodic and harmonic textures reflect elements of various musics of the world, including Asian and Western cultures, as well as natural outgrowths of his ethnic and cultural background.

As Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts, he taught music composition and a survey course in the history of Afro-American Music & Musicians. As an educator and cultural ambassador, Tillis visited the University of Fort Hare in South Africa to advise in the establishment of their jazz studies program, served as a Master Artist in residence at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village in Yamaguchi, Japan and conducted a three-week residency on behalf of the United States Information Agency at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand in 1991 to help the school establish a major in jazz. Dr. Tillis was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Music and Dance and served as Director Emeritus of the University Fine Arts Center and Director Emeritus of the Jazz in July Workshops in Improvisation at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He passed away May 3, 2020 in Amherst, MA.



Little David - Frederick Tillis
Recorded at home in Houston, TX, June 2020
Dorothy Gal, voice
Blair Salter, piano
Mastered by Robert Scott Thompson, Aucourant Records.
Property of Shelter Recording Project, American Composers Alliance