Staff and Boards
Nancy J. Preis joined the staff of Opera in the Ozarks in 2015 as General Director. She has had a varied career in both academia and business, having served as chief financial officer and marketing head for St. Petersburg Opera in Florida.
She was an associate professor at the Graduate School of Business of Columbia University in New York City. She was subsequently a vice president of Kleinwort Benson N.A., a British merchant banking company where she was part of a leveraged buyout team and specialized in middle market investment analysis. She moved to Florida to take over the management of a small electric motor company.
Through acquisitions, she put together a group of specialty manufacturing companies in the transportation, industrial, medical and military industries.
She has served on multiple boards of not for profit organizations, including The Florida Orchestra, St. Petersburg Opera, Sunken Gardens Forever Foundation, the Elsie and Harry Baumker Charitable Foundation, and Bayfront Hospital Foundation.
She holds a PhD in Business from the University of Michigan.
Thomas Cockrell was appointed artistic director of Opera in the Ozarks in October 2010 after having previously served as the company’s music director for the 2003 – 2005 seasons. Under his leadership the company has mounted bold productions, incorporating projections and novel productions of standard works. In recent seasons, several operas have been performed for the first time on the Inspiration Point stage.
Cockrell’s professional opera credits include venues such as Opera Theatre of the Rockies, Dayton Opera, Opera Colorado Artist Center, and Washington, D.C.’s Summer Opera Theatre. For the Spoleto festivals in Italy and South Carolina he has conducted symphonic, chamber and contemporary music concerts while serving as assistant to the music director.
He has served as associate conductor for Cincinnati Opera, Opera Colorado, and the Colorado Symphony. Equally committed to the symphonic repertoire, he has conducted the professional symphony orchestras of Dallas, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Tucson, Louisville and Boulder, as well as several in Italy, Romania, Mexico and South Korea.
A dedicated educator and mentor, Cockrell is in demand as a teacher of emerging conductors, and has served as conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony and Denver Young Artists Orchestra and on the conducting faculty of the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He has conducted Mexico City’s Orquesta Juvenil Carlos Chávez and recently was a guest professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he coached opera students, conductors and led the Orquesta Stanislau Mejía in concert.
Since 2000, Cockrell has served as director of orchestral activities at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music in Tucson, where he is professor of music and holds the Nelson Riddle Endowed Chair in Music. He is music director of the University of Arizona Opera Theater. Cockrell is a graduate of Yale University and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts.
He is one of the last students of the legendary Franco Ferrara with whom he studied in Rome while serving as a founding director of La Camerata Operistica Romana. He holds conducting diplomas from L’Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and the Conservatoire Américain in Fontainebleau, France. He subsequently pursued further studies at Aspen and Tanglewood.
Chris Cathcart was born in Los Angeles California and grew up in an entertainment family. He started as a performer at the age of 3 and spent most of his childhood as an actor and singer. In 1984 he began his career in stage and production management and was asked to provide management for various student films, theatrical productions, commercial projects and live concerts.
In 1994 Chris was asked to come to Branson Missouri to help open the 2200 seat Welk Resort Theatre. For over 25 years as Production/Stage Manager at the Welk Resort Theatre, he worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment: The Beach Boys, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Huey Lewis and The News, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Three Dog Night, Tony Orlando, Andy Williams,
The Lawrence Welk Show, The Moody Blues, Pat Benatar, Mel Tillis, Glen Campbell, Lee Greenwood, Tanya Tucker, Pam Tillis, The Gatlin Bros., Louise Mandrell, Ray Stevens. He also worked on 5 nationally televised shows at the Welk Theatre, and hosted hundreds of conferences, concerts, competitions and events.
Chris wrote, produced and directed several productions in Branson: The Philip Welford Show, BransonFest, The Branson ABA Show and The Rankin Brothers Classic Music Revue, as well as producing the Broadway musicals Shrek and The Million Dollar Quartet.
Chris is married to his wife of 25 years Lori and they have one son, Jack.
Governing Board 2023 Officers
Opera in the Ozarks has been affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) almost since its beginning. The governing board was created to include two members from each of the sponsoring states: Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma, with additional members-at-large.
Officers President: Don Dagenais
Vice-President: Catherine Coke
Treasurer: Ed Henson
Recording Secretary: Brenda Ford
Corresponding Secretary: Lynn McNew
Parliamentarian: Alice Conway
Newsletter Editor: Don Dagenais
General Director: Dr. Nancy J. Preis
Artistic Director: Dr. Tom Cockrell
General Director emeritus: James H. Swiggart
Chairman Of The Board: Carol Langley
Governing Board 2023-24 Members
Dr. Maggie Garrett
Board of Trustees
Dr. Gene Vollen
Alice E. Conway