Mila Henry is a music director, pianist and conductor, as well as Artistic Director of Brooklyn-based producing company The American Opera Project (AOP). Hailed “a stalwart contributor to the contemporary opera scene” (Opera Ithaca), she provides musical dramaturgy to AOP works in development and serves as Head of Music for their renowned Composers & the Voice training program for composers and librettists.
Outside of AOP, Mila maintains an active and versatile career, leading works spanning rock musicals (These Girls Have Demons, Pittsburgh CLO; Something Blue, Page 73) to folk operas (The World is Round, Ripe Time, Obie-winner), multi-composer collaborations (Magdalene, PROTOTYPE; Words on the Street, Baruch Performing Arts Center; SWELL, HERE) to multi-persona monodramas (Love & Trouble, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra), classical traditions (La liberazione di Ruggiero/The Infinite Energy of Ada Lovelace, Opera Ithaca; Hansel and Gretel, Opera on Tap) to crossover rebellions (Barnum’s Bird, Circle in the Square’s Circle Series; The Moon’s Silent Modulation, Lincoln Center’s Atrium 360°). She prefers not to separate styles, but to blur boundaries, with the outlook that “music-theatre” is one overarching art form that welcomes all musical traditions.
A “terrific” pianist (Opera News), Mila traveled to Dutch National Opera and The Apollo for We Shall Not Be Moved (Opera Philadelphia; synthesizer double), LA Opera for Thumbprint (Beth Morrison Projects, PROTOTYPE; harmonium double), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for Persona (BMP) and the Library of Congress for Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin (OPERA America), in addition to playing for the premieres of Looking at You (HERE) and Mata Hari (PROTOTYPE) in her home base of New York. She has worked extensively with BMP and HERE, participating in eight PROTOTYPE festivals and serving as répétiteur for Anatomy Theater, Angel’s Bone, difficulty of crossing a field, Ouroboros Trilogy, p r i s m and The Scarlet Ibis. She has also collaborated with American Lyric Theater, Experiments in Opera, Opera on Tap and OPERA America (including their Creators in Concert series with Anthony Davis, Laura Kaminsky, Missy Mazzoli and Kamala Sankaram), and previously served as Assistant Conductor for the AOP premieres of As One (BAM), The Blind (Lincoln Center) and Harriet Tubman (Irondale Center).
She has performed at Brooklyn Museum, Café Sabarsky, Feinstein’s/54 Below, The Greene Space, Merkin Concert Hall, National Sawdust, The Schomburg Center, The Stone and Symphony Space; on the FERUS, FringeNYC, New York Musical and Queens New Music festivals, the New York Festival of Song, and the NOVA and Phoenix Concerts series; and alongside Either/Or, Hotel Elefant and Refugee Orchestra Project.
She can be heard on the albums Later the Same Evening (Albany Records), Love & Trouble (Roven Records, with Adrienne Danrich), Thumbprint (National Sawdust Tracks) and Voices of Women (Affetto Records, with Heather Fetrow). She is also a core member of the alt-country band Opera Cowgirls, showcasing her eight years as a percussionist and her growing folk instrument collection, including the accordion, autoharp, melodica and ukulele.
A native of the Philadelphia area, Mila holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music (Master of Music, Collaborative Piano) and Elizabethtown College (Bachelor of Arts in Music, Piano).
In her Weekly Coaching Tip, Elena Armijo encourages us to consider what your fear of change is keeping you from. In her interview, Elena talks with the incomparable Mila Henry. She is a music director, a pianist, a conductor, the artistic director of the American Opera Project, and a fabulous trailblazer. Through her artistic endeavors, she has been able to combine her love for music with her passion for innovation to maximize others’ impact and create a new future for opera. In this conversation, she and Elena discuss her musical journey and how music can be used to expose people to new ideas and experiences.