Press Reviews 

Rusalka 

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2019. 

The Cultural Critic 

The Chestnut Local 

"As in the AVA’s earlier Rheingold and Pelléas et Mélisande, music director and coach Luke Housner led a vital performance from the keyboard. In fact, some harmonies and counter-melodies were more noticeable without an orchestral blanket draping over everything. Housner brought out all the fantasy, drama, charm and humor in Dvorak’s score" - Steve Cohen 

"Housner, one of AVA’s master vocal coaches, conducted his strong cast with a gentle yet firm hand and played the daunting piano part with technical assurance and tonal amplitude." - Michel Caruso 

Das Rheingold 

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2018.

The Cultural Critic 

Philadelphia Magazine 

Chestnut Hill Local

Broad Street Review

"Yet this presentation won over the doubters. It was musically and dramatically effective, and even revealed new aspects of Rheingold. For instance, the opening four and a half minutes are instrumental, starting with a low E flat, describing the creation of life growing from a single cell; and, more specifically, the bottom of the river Rhine. When played by orchestra the emphasis is on the repeated low note, given weight by brass instruments. Here, with Luke Housner alone on the piano, we were more cognizant of the ripple of broken chords and the waves of arpeggios that suggest an ascent through the water. Housner coached the cast and supervised all the music, over two and a half hours without intermission, the longest single stretch of unbroken music in the Western world. Other Wagner operas are longer but are broken into several acts. His was a herculean task, achieved superbly.  The cast was near-perfect. Their German enunciation was excellent, their articulation was clear." - Steve Cohen 

"Almost immediately, I saw the wisdom in the project, which allows singers to develop Wagnerian narrative style without having to push. And if the lone pianist(!)—Luke Housner—couldn’t replicate a full orchestra, he was astonishingly effective and unflagging in lending shape and color to the marathon evening (2 hours and 25 minutes in a single act). Housner surely deserves the company’s MVP award." - David Fox

"Longtime vocal master coach Luke Housner conjured up both gritty and sumptuous colors from the Steinway grand piano from which he conducted his singers." - Michel Caruso 

"The conductor-free performance featured musical accompaniment by pianist Luke Housner, who alone managed to capture the myriad chromatic details and leitmotifs embedded throughout Wagner’s score." -Cameron Kelsall

Werther

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2016

The Philadelphia Inquirer 

The Cultural Critic

"Massenet isn't always sturdy enough to survive on piano only. But even when you seemed to be missing something, Luke Housner's playing was a marvel. The final act actually thrived." - David Patrick Stearns 

"But Massenet's music creates a haunting atmosphere, and it sounded colorful as played on the piano by Luke Housner, the Academy of Vocal Arts's vocal coach.  He used the published piano manuscript and added details from the full orchestral score.  Housner has an impressive ability to project the drama of this opera brilliantly at the same time as directing the singers. "  - Steve Cohen 

Pelléas et Mélisande

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2012.

Broad Street Review 

Backtrack.com 

"Luke Housner prepared these performances and accompanied them masterfully on the piano, which seems appropriate. Debussy's best-known composition is Clair de lune, composed as a piano solo. Debussy's orchestral scoring is hard for singers to penetrate, and the almost constant presence of wind instruments, especially of oboe and bassoon, competes with the human voice. Housner had his cast sing the French text cleanly, without the percussive attacks that some opera singers bring." - Steve Cohen 

"This conductor-less fully staged version was an unexpected boon to my enjoyment of the performance, surprisingly allowing more focus to linger on the singers and on Debussy’s lush interludes between acts and scenes." - Gale Martin 

Arabella 

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2011.

Broad Street Review 

"And yet Arabella received a loving and communicative performance at the Academy of Vocal Arts, with Luke Housner alone at a piano conducting a cast of AVA resident artists. This intimate production enabled some of Arabella’s overlooked qualities to emerge, giving the opera a stature that has evaded it during most of its history. Housner’s piano reduction also allows strands of counterpoint to become clear in ensembles that, in conventional performances, tend to get mushy." - Steve Cohen 

Capriccio

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2010.

ConcertoNet.com

"Following up his successful performances of Elektra for the Academy of Vocal Arts several years ago, Luke Housner has prepared a delectable production of Capriccio that drew enthusiastic approval on opening night from a capacity audience in the Helen Corning Warden Theater. Presiding at the keyboard, Housner revealed the lyrical beauty of Strauss final opera, or “conversation piece for music,” as the composer and his librettist, Clemens Krauss, preferred. Yes, one could miss the masterful orchestration as well as the instrumental detail of the full score, but Housner played with such compelling beauty and musical mastery it hardly mattered. He honed his talented cast into a taut ensemble. The big concerted numbers unfolded with rare precision but also with a passionate edge. Housner shaped this long score with a fine feel for the climaxes and also underlined the soaring lyricism in Strauss’ music." - Robert Baxter 

Kát'a Kabano

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2008.

Opera Now 

ConcertoNet.com and The Courier Post 

The Bulletin

City Paper 

"The unsung hero in the production was music director Luke Housner, who once again was cast an orchestra of one, playing a piano reduction of this astringent score with aplomb and sensitivity." - Diana Burgwyn 

"Leading the performance from the piano, Housner hones his singers into a taut musical ensemble. Janácek's orchestration has unique instrumental colors, but Housner's piano recreates the drama in this taut score." - Robert Baxter

"On Friday night, Mr. Housner played Janácek's roiling, dense, narrative structures with sustained dimension and framed some electric performances."  - Lewis Whittington

"Luke Housner also performed heroically and expressively at the keyboard. One can't claim that the full richness and wonder of the mature Moravian composer's orchestration got conveyed -- many of the glories of this 1921 score are orchestral-- but beyond his tour de force Housner provided color, rhythm and a sound basis for the singers' performances." - David Shengold

Vanessa 

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2007.

The Courier Post 

Broad Street Review 

"Presiding over the performance from his piano, music director Luke Housner conveys much of the intense color and deep emotion coursing through the score. The cast responds with strong performances." - Robert Baxter

"Luke Housner played brilliantly and revealed some unusual aspects of the score. Vanessa’s first look at Anatol, for instance, and Erica’s announcement that she’s pregnant, benefit from hearing piano rather than a thundering orchestra. At those moments Samuel Barber relied too much on volume to overwhelm his audience. During most of the evening the piano underscored the singing and put more-than-normal focus on voices." - Steve Cohen 

Das Rheingold 

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2006.

News of Delaware County/Classical 

Chestnut Hill Local 

"Luke Housner is the man most directly responsible for this triumph. As the production's music director and performance pianist, he marshaled his forces with inspired intensity supported by intellectual integrity opening night. His playing at the Steinway didn't quite replicate all the shimmering tones of Wagner's scoring, but his efforts were so supportive that they effectively made the piano a character in Wagner's own libretto, just as the composer intended the full orchestra to be. He also elicited excellent singing of dramatic potency and musical expressivity from his young cast, enabling them to perform like seasoned veterans." - Michel Caruso 

"The first step was eliminating the orchestra altogether and relying on Luke Housner to function as both piano accompanist and overall music director. Before the howls of timbral purists rise to a deafening crescendo at the mere thought of doing without Wagner's broad palette of instrumental colors and the scintillating moods and profound emotions they convey, let me hasten to point out that Wagner's music is more than merely colorful. Beneath and behind the shimmering style is a spiritual substance that forms the core of Wagner's personal, ethical and moral philosophy as delineated in the entire Ring of the Nibelung cycle. Das Rheingold's libretto, fashioned by the composer, launches an epic tale of greed and ambition gone mad and doomed to eventual catastrophe. Of course, had Housner been unable to proffer sufficient support from the keyboard for his singers, the entire effort would have flopped miserably. Fortunately, he provided expert accompaniment so that the piano, instead of the orchestra, acted as a narrative character in the story." - Michel Caruso 

The Courier Post 

"Music director and pianist Luke Housner shapes a masterful musical performance. Playing non-stop for more than two hours, he must have fingers of steel. But those fingers also reveal most of the beauty and nuance in Wagner's score" - Robert Baxter 

Elektra  

Production at The Academy of Vocal Arts, 2004.

The Courier Post 

Chestnut Hill Local 

"Musical director and pianist Luke Housner replaced the huge orchestra demanded by Strauss,...Housner suggested much of the instrumental detail in Strauss' score. Playing with unfailing beauty of tone and astonishing stamina throughout the 95-minute performance, Housner supported the singers and guided them from one magnificent musical climax to another." - Robert Baxter 

"A major reason for the success of AVA's production was the splendid piano playing of Luke Housner... Housner did proffer a plethora of tones and colors to support the singing with just the right mood and feel.." - Michel Caruso 

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