Programs led by professionals

Here at the Morningside Institute for Performing Artists we strive to bring the best opportunities, training, and mentoring, to both amateurs and professionals alike.

Executive DirectorKate Saulsbury

Kate Saulsbury, mezzo-soprano, voice teacher and collaborative pianist, is the Director of Lyric Theatre at Morningside College, a program that she founded and developed.  Saulsbury joined the voice faculty in 2004 where she currently serves as music director and vocal coach for opera and musical theatre productions, is the director of opera workshop classes, and instructor of applied voice and vocal pedagogy.   She has an extensive performance background as a collaborative artist, and has been teaching and coaching singers and pianists for over twenty-five years.  Her students have consistently won or received honors in numerous competitions and she currently serves as the president of the Iowa chapter of the National Association of Teachers in Singing (NATS).  Previously, Saulsbury was a coach-accompanist with Indianapolis Opera, a free-lance collaborative pianist at Indiana University, served as the director of the Leo Kucinski Academy of Music, and taught applied voice at the University of Northern Iowa, Wartburg College, Briar Cliff University and Western Iowa Tech Community College. She received a BA and MA in music from the University of Northern Iowa.  

Associate DirectorMelissa Brown

Melissa Brown, soprano, is an established performer and voice teacher.  She has faculty appointments at Morningside College and brings a wealth of arts education and outreach experience to MIPA.  Having recently moved to the area, she has become a frequent soloist and collaborator with area ensembles, including the Siouxland Choral Artists.  Performances include appearances as a vocal soloist for Briar Cliff University’s Christmas at the Orpheum, and Peep-bo in The Mikado at Morningside College.  Melissa has previously taught voice at the University of Northern Iowa and performed throughout the region. She holds baccalaureate and masters degrees in vocal performance from the University of Northern Iowa.

Master Teacher: Suzanne Hendrix-Case

Dr. Suzanne Hendrix-Case is assistant professor of voice at Morningside College. In addition to her teaching duties, Dr. Hendrix-Case has worked at many of the world's most prestigious opera houses including the Wiener Staatsoper, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Oper Frankfurt, and the Grand Theatre du Geneve. Regional credits include Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Memphis, and Wichita Grand Opera. She is a dramatic mezzo-soprano, and includes roles such as Azucena, Fricka, Erda, Baba (Menotti), Marcellina, Zita, and La zia principessa in her repertoire. 
She attended the University of Northern Iowa, followed by the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory, where she studied with Dr. Jean McDonald and Dr. Anne DeLauney, respectively.  She also participated in the Merola Young Artist Program at San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera Young Artist Program, and Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Program. She was a 2012 George London Foundation Kirstin Flagstad Award winner. She also received prizes in the Gerda Lissner Foundation and Sullivan Foundation competitions.  Dr. Hendrix-Case was a finalist in the Seattle Opera 2014 International Wagner Competition. 

Master Teacher: Michelle Grossman

Michele Grossman has wide experience as a teacher, recitalist, collaborative pianist and chamber musician. Michele began early piano and violin studies with her parents.  Later she studied the piano with Arne Sorensen and George Katz and violin with Dorothy Walker. She holds a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance from Indiana University and a Masters of Music degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.  While there, she worked as a pianist in the studios of Kurt Sassmanshaus and Dorothy Delay for the Starling String Program and had the privilege of working with emerging young artists while at CCM. Michele has served as a staff pianist at Ohio University as well as the Aspen Music Festival. Michele has enjoyed an active performing schedule as a collaborative pianist throughout the United States with her brother Eric, a violinist, and has performed on numerous series and concerts at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. In the Sioux City area, Michele has been a frequent performer for the Sioux City Chamber Music Association and Sioux City Concert Course. She has served on the staff of several area colleges and is now conducting the Symphonette Orchestra in the Siouxland Youth SymphonyPrograms. 

Director of the Youth Orchestra ProgramDr. Sean Burton

Dr. Sean Burton has established himself as a formidable musical presence in the Siouxland musical community over the last decade.  He serves as Associate Professor, Director of Choral Activities, and Chair of the Department of Music at Briar Cliff University; Director of Music Ministries at Grace United Methodist Church; Founding Artistic Director and Conductor of the Siouxland Choral Artists; Music Director and Conductor of the Siouxland Youth Symphony; and Coordinator of the Siouxland Youth Orchestras.  He is in increasing demand as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator throughout the United States, having led ensembles ranging from professional regional orchestras and All-State choirs to non-auditioned festival choirs and youth orchestras.  He is formerly Director of the Abu Bekr Shrine Chanters; Conductor of the Nebraska Children's Chorus Bel Canto; Artistic Director of the Boston Orpheus Ensemble; Music Director and Conductor of the Boston University Choral Society; and spent the earliest years of his career as the Choral and Orchestra Director at the prestigious Weston High School in southern Connecticut.  Dr. Burton is an active scholar with one book and more than fifty publications to his credit and has presented on scholarly topics or conducted groups under his direction at national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, College Music Society, and National Association for Music Education, as well as at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities.  As Chief Editor of Publications for the National Collegiate Choral Organization, he edits a scholarly peer-reviewed journal and manages a selective choral music publication series which is distributed through the highly respected ECS Publishing Group.  A proud alumnus of The Hartt School -- University of Hartford, Boston University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, his most important role remains that of husband to his wife, soprano Shannon Salyards, and father to their two children, Samuel and Lily.​

Master TeacherHeath Weber

Heath Weber is the Associate Dean for Performing Arts at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. Prior to his appointment at Morningside, Mr. Weber was the Director of Choral Activities at East High School, in Sioux City, where he conducted the Chamber Choir, Magnum Chorum and the Headliners; a nationally recognized and award winning show choir. As clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor, Mr. Weber is in high demand.  His work with show choirs, choral ensembles and team building events keeps him busy! Mr. Weber holds baccalaureate and masters degrees from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, in Music Education and Choral Conducting. Mr. Weber has appeared professionally in conducting engagements with the Augustana Chamber Choir, The East High School Choirs and the South Dakota Ambassadors of Excellence in over 23 countries in the South Pacific, Africa, Asia, Europe and Scandinavia and from coast to coast in the United States. He has appeared in performance with The South Dakota Symphony, The Sioux City Symphony, Sounds of South Dakota and in Musical Theatre, Opera and oratorio roles in the upper Midwest.

Master Teacher: Shannon Salyards


Shannon Salyards enjoys a reputation of distinction as a voice teacher and singer in Siouxland. She holds artist faculty appointments in voice at Morningside College and Briar Cliff University in addition to an extensive private voice studio. Previous teaching experiences include faculty appointments at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Doane College, and Hastings College. Active as a professional soprano soloist, recent performance credits include Opera Omaha, Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Sioux County Oratorio Chorus, and the Sioux City Chamber Music Association. While living in Boston, she appeared with Opera Boston, the Handel and Haydn Society, Back Bay Chorale, and many other organizations. A graduate of St. Olaf College (B.M. Voice Performance) and Boston University (M.M. Voice Performance), she also studied at the University of Miami Summer Vocal Program in Salzburg, Austria.  

Master Teacher/MIPA School Liaison: Lisa Wipperling

Actor’s Equity Member Candidate and Soprano, Lisa Wipperling is a graduate of Morningside College in Music Education and AMDA NYC in Musical Theatre Performance. She is formerly a music teacher and currently a professional performing artist who enjoys performing, substitute teaching, directing and choreographing while she's in town. With collectively nine years of high school directing experience, she’s enjoyed working with many Iowa All-State Choir and Opus recipients, collaborating with many small groups and soloists for Iowa Solo and Ensemble contest and directing and choreographing many shows including such favorites as Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, and Oklahoma! She has performed many places Nationally including A Christmas Carol Nat. Tour '14 - '15 (NTC), Carnegie Hall, The Fringe Festival and the Flea Theater in NYC, The Old Creamery Theatre in Amana, Iowa, two summers at the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park, and most recently the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore, Texas. You may have seen her locally in the All American Band on flute or voice,  Into The Woods as the Witch (Betty Ling Tsang Performing Arts Series), and Motherhood Out Loud and33 Variations (LAMB Regional Arts Theatre). Lisa is a local IHSSA and IHSMA Judge who supports all facets of the arts and education. 

Master Teacher: Jennifer Toney

Jennifer Toney is a full-time freelance choreographer, clinician, and adjudicator. Each season she travels across the country singing and dancing with hundreds of show choir performers. Jennifer is the founder & director of Front & Center Productions which proudly hosts SHOWSTOPPERS Show Choir Camps around the nation each summer. These week long camps offer performance opportunities for students in elementary-high school. Jennifer has choreographed productions of Beauty and the Beast, How to Succeed, BARK!, Anything Goes, and Seussical the Musical as well as judged show choir competitions around the nation.  Jennifer was a Presidential Scholar Graduate of Millikin University and received her masters degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago. 

In 2015 Jennifer created the Siouxland All City Show Choir program for young artists grades 3-9 to rehearse and perform in a challenging and driven atmosphere. The All City program is open to all students in the Siouxland area. Information on both programs can be found at