Meet Our Soloists

Giovanni Formisano is a native of Torre del Greco (Naples) Italy. Mr. Formisano began his vocal training in the USA and was quickly recognized for his sense of legato and for specializing in the Classical Neapolitan repertoire. Winner of the “Talents of the World” voice competition in Boston, Mr. Formisano was featured in a tribute concert in honor of world renowned baritone Dimitri Hvorostovsky at Carnegie Hall, alongside the world recognized mezzo soprano Nino Surguladze, and many others. In addition to his appearance last season with the Salem Philharmonic, Mr. Formisano’s most recent roles and concerts include the Solo Tenor in Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem with the Paul Madore Chorale; the role of Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata with Opera Providence; the Young Gypsy in Rachmaninoff’s Aleko with the Commonwealth Lyric Theater; Camille in Lehar's The Merry Widow with Opera Providence, and Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme with Boston Opera Collaborative. Mr. Formisano has also been the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at Amherst College, and sung major roles with Center City Opera in Philadelphia, Opera del West, Commonwealth Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, Cape Cod Opera, Lowell House Opera, and the Longy School of Music. In addition Mr. Formisano has participated in major musical programs such as the Key West Symphony program directed by Donna Roll and the well known New York Summer Opera Scenes directed by Joshua Greene (assistant director of the Metropolitan Opera).

Tenor Fred C. VanNess Jr., noted for having a “domineering, fine voice” is a native of Kinder, Louisiana. Mr. VanNess has sung with numerous opera companies throughout New England including Don Jose in Carmen with the North End Music Performing Arts Center, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Longwood Opera, and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Opera del West.  His other credits include Rodolfo in La Boheme, Dr. Cajus in Falstaff, Charlie in Das Kliene Magahonny and Fenton in Falstaff as part of the Montefeltro Music Festival in Novafeltria, Italy. Most recently Mr. VanNess performed a workshop premier of Dan Shore's Freedom Ride with MassOpera. Mr. VanNess also has an active career as a concert soloist. His concert credits include Handel’s Juddas Maccabeus and Messiah, Bach’s Cantata 131 and Scott Joplin's 100th Anniversary of his opera Treemonisha, an Aria Concert and Christmas concert with the Lake Charles Symphony and featured guest soloist with the Reagle Theatre for their Christmas Time show. In 2012 and 2013 Mr. VanNess was invited to be the guest soloist for the Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps' Embracing the Legacy Awards at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. VanNess has also been involved in numerous fundraising events with the Children Action Corps.

Mr. VanNess is thrilled to be back with Salem Philharmonic this season.

Cellist Kett Chuan Lee graduated from the Boston Conservatory and Longy School of Music, where he was awarded full scholarships and studied with Rhonda Rider, Mihail Jojatu and late Bernard Greenhouse. Before coming to the United States in 2003, Kett was the youngest member of National Symphony Orchestra and Radio Television Orchestra in Malaysia. During his study in Boston, he was accepted to highly competitive musical festivals such as Castleton Festival, Festival Del Sole, National Orchestral Institute, Garth Newel Music Center, Canton International Summer Music Academy, Asia Orchestra Week and Asian Youth Orchestra.  As a soloist, he was also invited to perform in both Asia and the U.S. Kett plays in nationally acclaimed Boston String quartet (BSQ) and performs chamber music in many prominent venues in the U.S. He, along with BSQ, also engages in education outreach programs and string workshops to inspire younger musicians across the country. He is also the cellist in Voyage Piano Trio, which has been one of the Ensembles-in-Residence of the Newbridge on the Charles concert series since 2015. In addition to his commitment to chamber music, recognition of his talents has landed him active roles in many orchestras and music productions in New England. He is former principal cellist of Symphony Nova and Waltham Philharmonic, and performs as principal cellist with Orchestra on the Hill, Cape Ann Symphony, Lyric Stage and Trinity Repertory Theatre. He also works regularly as session player at WGBH Fraser Studio and Futura Productions. Throughout his career in performance, he has collaborated with elite artists such as Sergiu Comissiona, Okko Kamu, Edwin Outwater, Bruce Hangen, Yoichi Udagawa, Martin West, Bright Sheng, Richard Jenkins, Curt Columbus, John Corigliano and many others.

Alexandra Dietrich, a Puerto Rican American originally from Freeport, Maine, is a mezzo-soprano who is being praised for singing with "passion and understanding" and with "creamy, consoling pipes". Ms. Dietrich joined the University of Southern Maine in the Fall of 2019 as Artist Faculty in Voice, and is the Artistic Director of the NEMPAC Opera Project in Boston's North End. Her 2019-2020 season openened with Odyssey Opera's concert performance of "Henry VIII" where she sang as a Page and Maid of Honor, and as the Alto Soloist in the Metropolitan Chorale and Chorus pro Musica's collaborative performance of Mendelssohn's "Die erste Walpurgisnacht" and Kodály’s "Budavári Te Deum". Ms. Dietrich has performed with many New England area opera companies and orchestras including Juventas New Music Ensemble, Portland Symphony Pops, and MetroWest Opera where her performance as Jo March in Adamo's "Little Women" was hailed as "large of personality with an instrument to match", possessed "polish and star power", and was awarded the ArtsImpulse Award for Best Female Performer in an Opera for her portrayal. This past season found Ms. Dietrich returning to perform as the Alto Artist in Residence with the Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline. She has performed in Boston Modern Orchestra Project's "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" as Bird 5 and in "The Trial at Rouen" in the Heavenly Voice Trio, both of which were recorded on the BMOP record label. Her 2018-2019 season closed with Ms. Dietrich performing featured back-up vocals for Josh Groban at Tanglewood. Favorite roles to date include Anita in "West Side Story" with Asheville Lyric Opera, Jade Boucher in the New England premiere of "Dead Man Walking" under the baton of Michael Sakir, Carmen in NEMPAC Opera's "Carmen", and as Zita in "Gianni Schicchi" with the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra. As a director, she has most recently staged "The Little Prince" with NEMPAC Opera Project and "Jesus Christ Superstar" at Marblehead Little Theatre. She is the proud mother of her 3 year old son, Javier Tadeo. For more information, please visit

After playing together for several years throughout coastal Massachusetts, the musical friends known as the Essex Piano Trio (EPT) formalized their working relationship in 2017 and adopted the signature “Conversation among Friends” concert format, a descriptive title borrowed from American biographer Catherine Bowen. The trio’s primary goal has been to grow as musicians while making the best music possible to share with its audiences. Exploring familiar cornerstones of the repertoire as well as less well-known works, EPT fosters the performance of living composers and of composers from the past who resonate with the history of New England. All from Essex County communities along the North Shore, violinist Ashley Offret of Salem, cellist David Cabral of Lynn, and pianist Beverly Soll of Rockport believe that their “Conversation among Friends” approach reflects their relationship to the music and to each other. As David has observed, “Making serious chamber music can be very difficult, and it is a challenge to find partners who mesh well personally and artistically. When people see us perform, they see not only our ability but also our passion for music and our great affection for each other, all of which enhance our performances.” EPT members bring many perspectives from their academic backgrounds and professional lives as educators and performers to their collective as a trio. Pianist Beverly Soll (University of Illinois and University of Maryland) holds a DMA in chamber music/piano. Ashley Offret is a violinist (University of Maine) and music historian (MM, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music). Cellist David Cabral studied at the Boston Conservatory but works as chief echocardiographer at Boston Medical Center’s Department of Pediatric Cardiology. See for performance clips and more information about the trio.