Education Staff

Matthew Vala

Matthew Vala holds his Doctor of Music in voice performance and vocal pedagogy from the University of North Texas, Master of Music in voice performance from Illinois State University, Master of Public Administration with certification in non-profit management from the University of Illinois, and a Bachelor of Music in voice performance from the University of North Texas. Dr. Vala is the Founder and Education Director of the Hoogland Center for the Arts Performing Arts Education.

Matthew's versatility as a performer and his creative leadership can be seen nationally in the United States. His work in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex includes Lyric Stage's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Flaherty and Ahren's Ragtime; Watertower Theatre's Urinetown, Man of La Mancha, and Jason Robert Brown's Parade; Casa Mañana's South Pacific; and Joseph in the Repertory Company Theatre's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Central Illinois stage credits include Aeneas in Henry Purcell's Dido & Aeneas, Martin the Aaron Copland's The Tender Land, John Adams in 1776, Shrek in Shrek the Musical, Bob Wallace in Irving Berlin's White Christmas, the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and the villainous Agatha Trunchbull in Tim Minchin's Matilda. During his tenure at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, his infusion of crossover training can be seen in his onstage work as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Jamie in The Last Five Years, Mary Sunshine in Chicago, and Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Matthew is the Education Director at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois. Since its creation in 2012, his vision for fine arts education has provided Central Illinois with the premier youth and adult performing arts education program, fostering a safe environment, nurturing creative talent, supporting positive self-image, and infusing artistic leaders into the community. Highlights of his residence at the Hoogland Center for the Arts include direction and design of Seussical, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, James and the Giant Peach, Tarzan, the 2014 Hoogland Gala - La Cage Aux Folles, Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr., Grease, and the 2011 Hoogland Gala production of Ragtime. As a sought-after vocal director and conductor, Matthew has musically led Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Fantasticks, Nunsense, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy, Ain't Misbehavin', Stephen Sondheim's Company, and the Central Illinois premieres of both Disney's High School Musical and High School Musical 2.

Autum Meyer

Autumn is a graduate of Millikin University with a degree in Nursing and a Minor in Dance. Autumn is an alumnus and choreographer for Hoogland Performing Arts Education. At Millikin, she performed with the Alabama Ballet Company in Sleeping Beauty, Moscow Ballet Company in the Great Russian Nutcracker, as well as in Millikin's Solstice Dance Concert. Locally she has performed with Springfield Muni Opera in Legally Blonde the Musical, Once on this Island, and Nice Work if You Can Get It. Her Hoogland Center for the Arts credits, as a performer and choreographer, include The Addams Family, Tarzan, Peter Pan, Shrek the Musical, La Cage aux Folles, Matilda the Musical, and Seussical. She has also performed with the Springfield Theatre Centre, Springfield Ballet Company, and other organizations. She is currently a registered nurse with Springfield Clinic and teaches dance at Dance Arts Studio.

Katherine Cosenza

Katherine Cosenza is a mezzo soprano living in central Illinois. Katherine completed her Masters in Vocal Performance at DePaul University in 2020, and received her Bachelors at Illinois State University in 2018. Recently she was seen as Amastre in Opera Neo’s production of Serse, in which she was praised for her “burnished timbre,” (San Diego Story). She also sang Ruggiero in Chicago Summer Opera’s virtual production of Handel’s Alcina. At DePaul University, she sang Dema from Cavalli’s L’Egisto, as well as Mrs. Peachum from Britten’s Beggar’s Opera. During her time at Illinois State University she played Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi` fan tutte, Isaac in Britten’s Canticle II, and Ma from Copland’s The Tender Land. Additionally, Katherine was a finalist in the 2018 Illinois State Concerto Aria Competition. Katherine has been a voice and choral instructor with DePaul University’s Community Music Division since 2018. She has also taught at the Bloomington, IL YMCA, coached students at George Westinghouse Prep in Chicago, and currently maintains her own private voice studio. Now that she is back in the Springfield area, she is excited to be teaching at Hoogland.

Education Committee

Ashley Coker

Katie Fry

Tiffany Garland-Sutter

Julie Herter

Jennifer Killian

Krista Rock

Cheryl Sakris

Duane Williams