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These artists serve Landlocked in various capacities through the duration of its season, from singing and covering roles, performing in the chorus, and singing in recitals.


Richard Williams served on the faculty at UMKC for nearly five decades as pianist and vocal coach and was the primary rehearsal pianist for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for many years. Upon moving to Kansas City, Christina and Jonathan were lucky to coach with Richard in his final year at UMKC. Richard believed strongly in Landlocked Opera's mission and was a champion in helping the company from the ground level. He served as a founding board member and participated in the first three productions before his passing in 2021. He is survived by his wonderful wife Barbara, his children Ryan, Tara, and Erin, and many grandchildren. Upon visiting him in hospice care at the end of his life on earth, Richard sent Christina and Jonathan off with a quote from Winston Churchill "Never give up" regarding the importance of Landlocked to the operatic community.


Landlocked Opera would not exist without Richard. We owe so much to him and we will always miss him dearly. We honor his memory with these wonderful young artists carrying on his name and his legacy.

Each season, Landlocked Opera appoints four singers in honor of the late Richard Williams.

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Meet The Young Artists


Vaysia Knust


Vaysia Knust, Soprano, is currently a Junior at the University of Missouri and hails from Kansas
City, MO. Ms. Knust is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance where she studies
under the direction of Christine Seitz, previously studying under Lori Pinnell and Sarah Haskins.
Ms. Knust is a member of the University of Missouri’s University Singers, Show me Opera, and
Hitt Street Harmony. Most recently Ms. Knust performed in Show me Opera’s ‘Opera Scenes’
where she played the role of Blonde in Mozart’s Die Entführung. Previously Ms. Knust
performed the role of Mustard seed in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and sang the role
of Sophie in Massenet’s Werther. Ms. Knust is preparing for her upcoming role as Dalinda in
Handel’s Ariodante as well as her junior recital at the end of the semester. Over the Summer
Ms. Knust is delighted to be working with Landlocked opera for their 2024 production of
Donizetti’s L’eliser d’amore.

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jonathan Crader


Jonathan Crader, bass, is from Columbia, Missouri, and has completed two courses of
undergraduate study at the University of Missouri. During his formal study of vocal
music under Professor Kyle Stegall and Dr. Steven Baker Jepson he performed in
Show-Me Opera’s productions of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Don Bartolo) and
Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bottom), as well as several excerpt roles from
Donizetti’s La fille du regiment, Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito, Nicolai’s Merry Wives of
Windsor, and Britten’s Albert Herring. He has performed frequently in the realm of
musical theatre, appearing as Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde: The Musical and
Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, among other roles. Jonathan has worked regularly in first-
rate choral ensembles such as MU’s University Singers for several years, and sings
often in a choral setting. After covering Antonio in Landlocked Opera Company’s
production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Jonathan is excited to return for more in
Landlocked’s new season.

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haley mesz



Haley Mesz, soprano, is from Lee’s Summit, Missouri and is currently a senior at the University of
Missouri-Columbia pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Finance
Banking. She is studying voice with Christine Seitz and has been singing with the Show-Me Opera,
performing the role of Helena in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, covering the role of Marcellina
in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, singing soprano in the chorus of Verdi’s Falstaff, performing scenes as
the roles of Julietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio, Vitellia in
Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Romilda in Handel’s Serse, and
soprano in the chorus of Iolanthe by Gilbert and Sulivan. In high school, Haley performed in a few shows
including portraying the role of Urleen in Footloose and Miss Phillips in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Along
with that, Haley sang soprano in the Kansas City All-District Choir three years in a row. She also had the
chance to intern and sing soprano in the Collegiate Choral Scholars Choir at the Kantorei Summer Choir
Institute of Kansas City. Haley has competed in the local NATS competition, receiving honorable
mention, and has been involved in ensembles here at Mizzou including University Singers, University
Concert Chorale, undergraduate led Canticum Novum Chamber Ensemble, where she serves as the
ensemble’s secretary, and has been a part of Dr. R. Paul Crabb’s Bach Collegium Choir.


carter thiemann


Carter Thiemann, bass, is from St. Charles, Missouri and is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri. He is pursuing a degree in Music Education, Voice, along with a minor in French. He studies voice with Steven Tharp, is a member of the Show Me Opera under the direction of Christine Seitz, and a member of the University Singers under the direction of Brandon Boyd. He also is a member of ensembles both based in Columbia and in St. Louis. He also enjoys collaborating with his peers by playing the piano for their private lessons. He has performed the roles Corny Collins in Hairspray and Herald in The Boar’s Head. He placed as a finalist in the Classical and Musical Theater Categories in the 2023 NATS competition. 

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