KRISTI BROWN-MONTESANO, Chair of Music History at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, received her Ph.D. in musicology from UC Berkeley, with a specialization in 18th-century western European music. A trained vocalist, studying with Stephanie Friedman and Jeffrey Thomas, Brown-Montesano was a long-time member of the American Bach Soloists. She is the author of Understanding The Women of Mozart's Operas (Univ. of Calif. Press, 2007), which offers a detailed study of the female characters in the Da Ponte operas (The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte) and The Magic Flute, re-evaluating common critical tropes and assumptions.
A passionate “public musicologist” who loves to collaborate with musicians, Brown-Montesano has long been an active speaker in the Los Angeles classical-music community, including the Colburn Chamber Music Society, the Los Angeles Opera’s “Opera for Educators” seminars, the Salon de Musiques chamber series, and the Opera League of Los Angeles. In 2010, she acted as research consultant to actor-director John de Lancie for a pre-concert presentation commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra on Mozart’s early years and the “Haffner” Serenade in D Major, K. 250. In 2014, she was honored to participate in the UCLA Musicology Department’s Distinguished Lecture Series. In 2015, she joined a group of Colburn Conservatory students for a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, voicing all the characters in the story with different accents—her favorite speaking engagement to date.
Brown-Montesano has presented and published essays on opera, film music, trends in marketing classical music to children, and musical culture in late 19th-century England. Her current research projects include unraveling the mystery of Arthur Conan Doyle’s choice of the violin for his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, a re-evaluation of pop-culture reception of JS Bach, as influenced particularly by pianists Rosalyn Tureck and Glenn Gould, and a large-scale study on opera and children.