Faculty and Staff

Introducing the Summer Vocal Institute faculty and staff

Dr. Jennifer Olson
Artistic Director

Jennifer Olson holds a Master’s degree in voice from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in voice from the University of Minnesota. She is fluent in French and in addition to her education in the United States, has studied in Milan Italy and in Orford Québec.
Some of her most notable performances include appearances as soprano soloist in the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 performance of the Mozart Requiem, soprano soloist in the Oratorio Society of Minnesota’s 2015 production of Honegger’s King David, soprano soloist in Händel’s Messiah with the Oratorio Society of Minnesota and additionally with the Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale (MN). She also appeared as soprano soloist in the Minnesota premiere of Frank Ticheli’s Songs of Love and Life with the University of Minnesota’s Wind Ensemble and Craig Kirchhoff. She played the role of “Barbarina” in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at the Bay View Music Festival and the role of “Tiny” in Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan with VocalEssence and Philip Brunelle. In 2016 she performed with the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Company in the role of “Papagena” in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. In July 2014 Jennifer competed as a National Semi-Finalist representing the North Central Region in the NATS Artist Award Competition in Boston. In September 2014 she represented both Bemidji State University and the University of Minnesota at the NAIP (New Audiences and Innovative Practice) International Conference in Iceland. In 2016, she won a grant from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund for workshops and recitals on African-American Art Songs and Spirituals with the students of Bemidji State University. In 2016, Jennifer also won an Individual Artist grant from the Region 2 Arts Council to record a CD of rarely performed South American Art Song Cycles with Dr. Ana María Otamendi (University of Houston).
Jennifer has been teaching voice for the past 5 years at the collegiate and high-school levels. She most recently held a position as Assistant Professor of Voice at Bemidji State University. 


Peter Schleif

Peter Schleif is currently in his 22nd year of teaching vocal music. He has directed school, church, and community choirs in Colorado, North Dakota and Minnesota. Choirs under his direction have performed all over the United States, as well as in Austria, Germany, Poland, The Czech Republic, Finland, and Sweden. Schleif received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he studied with René Clausen and has done graduate work at the University of Minnesota and St. Mary’s University. He is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association, the International Federation of Choral Musicians, and the Minnesota Music Education Association. He lives in Northfield, Minnesota with his wife Lori, and two sons, Isaac and Ian.




Wendy Zaro-Mullins

A native-born Californian from the San Francisco Bay Area, Wendy Zaro has performed to audiences in Europe, Taiwan, and South and North America where the New York Times critics hailed her performances of Susanna as “gripping”. The Saint Joseph News Press described her performance of the Verdi Requiem as possessing “amazingly powerful vocals” displaying a “simple, almost effortless, approach”. Opera News Magazine said of her role as Mrs. Nolan in The Medium as a “lustrous robust sound”. At home on the opera, music theatre, and concert stages, Dr. Zaro’s credits include San Francisco Opera, Eugene Opera, and various regional companies. She has performed with world-class conductors such as Henrich Hollreiser, Edo De Waart, Lamberto Gardelli, Garcia Navarro, and Brian Priestman. Roles performed by Dr. Zaro include Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Susanna in Susanna, The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Mimi in La Boheme, Mrs. Nolan in The Medium, Pitti-sing in The Mikado, and Olga in The Merry Widow. She performed an operatic version of Iris in The Tempest at the Marc Taper Forum in Los Angeles featuring Anthony Hopkins and Stephanie Zimbalist.

Dr. Zaro’s concert work includes solo appearances with symphonies throughout the United States and abroad. While a guest of the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional del Paraguay and the Mennonite Symphony Chorale in Asuncion, Paraguay where she performed Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 and operatic arias from La Boheme, Carmen and Don Giovanni in addition to singing recitals at the Teatro del las Americas and was a guest teacher and clinician for the Mennonite Music community in Asuncion and the rural jungle community of the Chaco in Paraguay.