“Music, Art + Literature: Responding to Oppression” Team
Gail Prensky — Creator, Executive Producer, and Project Director
As creator and director of The Jüdische Kulturbund Project, Gail brings to this project a deep and first-hand understanding of the Kulturbund’s spirit and recognizes that their issues of living under oppression continue with artists around the world today. Her interviews with the Kulturbund survivors and current-day artists form the basis of her passion and vision for this project, which is rooted in the Kulturbund’s strong regard for music and the performing arts. In 2001 Gail started researching and gathering material about the Kulturbund. Several years later she has brought together select talent, partners, and like-minded supporters to make this project possible and then interviewed artists living under oppression in various countries. Her hope and dream is that the project will serve as a beacon of inspiration to all people.
For the last 25 years, Gail has written, produced, and directed a broad range of media projects in film, multimedia, books, and exhibitions for clients such as the Banner Health’s Alzheimer’s Registry, the New America Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, Time-Life Books, and Glaxo-Wellcome. Through her Meteopa Productions, Gail produces independent projects focusing on advocacy, art, human rights, international, and music themes. She is on the advisory board of the Breaking Barriers Institute to develop films about those who made an impact on civil rights in the United States. Between 2013 and 2016, Gail served on the board of The Welders, the DC-based playwrights’ collective and winner of the Helen Hayes-John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company (2016).
Gail is a recipient of the Mandela Washington Fellowship American Impact Award; an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2019); and U.S. State Department Arts Envoy Program Awardee (2019). She is also honored to be an ongoing participant in the Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Alumni Ambassadors Initiative.
Mark Haney — Producer and Associate Project Director
Mark brings organizational, financial, and administrative expertise to our project’s team. He is an international trade economist with over 25 years of experience advising companies, foreign governments, and trade associations on issues relating to international trade and economic and business trends. Among other things, Mark served as senior executive for a number of companies, including as President and CEO of the International Business and Economic Research Corporation (IBERC).
In the course of his work and life, Mark developed a strong interest in global issues focused on human economic rights, art, and music. Among other endeavors, he created a vision for, and served as the executive director of the Cheick Hamala Foundation, which is dedicated to building an institute for performing arts in Mali and strengthening cultural ties between Mali and the Western world through education, interaction, and art. Mark is also an avid craftsman and sailor and amateur musician and filmmaker.
Cindy Oxberry — Music Education Coordinator
Cindy went to Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and began her post as a resident assistant director for Marta Domingo and her production of LA RONDINE and for David Edwards’ production of FEDORA starring Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo. For 20 years she has returned to work on such productions as DON CARLO, MAGIC FLUTE, RIGOLETTO, IL TROVATORE, IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, TURANDOT, THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, HANSEL & GRETEL, PIQUE DAME (starring Placido Domingo), LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, VANESSA, MANON LESCAUT, AIDA, NORMA, SAMSON & DELILAH, L’ITALIANA D’ALGERI, LA CENERENTOLA, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, JENUFA, LA BOHEME, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, PEARL FISHERS, PETER GRIMES, DON PASQUALE and LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. She has also worked for Los Angeles Opera as an assistant director on LA RONDINE, LA TRAVIATA, THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR and LUISA FERNANDA, starring Placido Domingo.
In the summer of 2000, Cindy was invited to serve as the stage director for OPERA INSTITUTE where she still is only now as the Program Director in addition to her classroom teaching. She has also served as the stage director for CAMP FOR KIDS – both programs offered by the Education Department of Washington National Opera.
Cindy’s directorial career has also flourished. She has directed several productions of THE MERRY WIDOW, around the country. Her MIKADO has been remounted in several American cities as well as several wonderful musicals, THE MUSIC MAN, CAROUSEL, CAMELOT and CANDIDE. She is honored to also be a director as major universities and colleges in the US as well. She has recently begun working in the genre of cabaret and loves it!
She was most proud to be invited by Mr. Domingo to Mexico City to celebrate his 40th anniversary as an international artist. She had the honor of working with Mr. Domingo on the production of FEDORA for the International Opera Company of Mexico at the Palacio de Bellas Artes.
Cindy is an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2019) and U.S. State Department Arts Envoy Program Awardee (2019).
Patrick O’Donnell — Education and Music Collaborator
Patrick earned his BA from Yale University, his MM in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland, and his DMA in Chamber Music and Vocal Accompaniment with Martin Katz and Eckart Sellheim at the University of Michigan. Concert appearances in the Washington, DC area include the White House, the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater and Millennium Stage, the Library of Congress, and the Embassies of France, Italy, Monaco, Columbia, and Brazil. As a lecturer on art song, he helped design and teach a course entitled, Arts Songs, a Guided Tour — Lecture and Live Performances sponsored by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. For opera, he has presented pre-concert lectures for the Washington Concert Opera, and has given presentations on opera, music theater, and cabaret for the Smithsonian’s Resident Artist Program. He enjoys collaborating on fund-raising concerts for the Washington Concert opera, a highlight of which was a performance in March 2011 with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. Patrick has appeared as a master coach and featured guest artist at the Fairbanks (Alaska) Summer Arts Festival, and serves as head vocal coach of the Washington National Opera’s Institute for Young Singers, where he also teaches opera history. He is currently on the faculties of both Levine Music and the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, and also teaches at George Washington University, where he has served as music director for the university’s productions of ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, HAIR, SWEEENEY TODD, URINETOWN, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, and THE CRADLE WILL ROCK where he appeared on-stage in the role of the composer, Marc Blitzstein.