Back to the faculty/staff directory

Kristin Kenning  Assistant Professor, Director of Opera

Contact Information

Email me
Phone: (205) 726-2504
Office: Buchanan Hall 413

Bachelor of Music, Western Michigan University
Master of Music, University of Minnesota
Doctor of Musical Arts, University of Minnesota
Biographical Information


Dr. Kristin Kenning moved to Birmingham from St. Paul, Minnesota, where she worked as a freelance vocalist and stage director. She previously taught voice at Luther College, Iowa, and opera workshop at the University of Minnesota. A soprano, she has a diverse background of experience performing in opera, musical theater, jazz, and concert settings. Recent roles include Valencienne in The Merry Widow, Poppea in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, Rose in Street Scene, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. Kenning has performed throughout the Midwest and in New York, Europe, and South Africa – including a recital of art song and musical theater in Żyrardów, Poland, and a Midwest tour of Paul Schoenfield’s Camp Songs. She performs regularly as a church musician. Her voice teachers include Elizabeth Mannion and Jane Giering De Haan.

As Director of Opera at Samford, Kenning is passionate about teaching acting to young singers through opera workshop and opera productions.  Recent Samford Opera productions include Trouble in Tahiti, The Telephone, Hansel and Gretel, and The Pirates of Penzance.  As a freelance stage director, productions include Mlle. Modiste and The Vagabond King for Skylark Opera, The Match Girl’s Gift on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, and the premiere of Christopher Gable’s opera The Ladysmith Story at the Red Eye Theater in Minneapolis. She has directed shows for many theaters and festivals in Minneapolis, including: Theatre Unbound, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Artsmosis, and the Minneapolis Short Film Festival. She is a champion of new work and is invited to direct often for the Atlanta Opera’s 24-Hour Opera Project – winning in 2013 with composer Evan Mack’s Beach and Moan. Scholarly activities include working as a research associate for ‘The Future of Opera’ study within the international research project ‘Sustainable Futures for Musical Cultures.’  Their search, led by Dr. John Drummond, University of Otago, New Zealand, looks at ways in which Western Opera is able to sustain itself, grow and flourish in the contemporary world.

Special interests include Polish art song, American opera, cabaret, and new music of all kinds.  Upcoming projects include directing Amahl and the Night Visitors for Samford Opera, directing The Desert Song for The Birmingham Music Club, and touring a recital of Bolcom, Weill, Musto, Sondheim, and Gershwin with pianist John Robertson.

International Research Grant, Poland, University of Minnesota 
American Finalist at the International Czech Music Competition
Honorable Mention at Metropolitan Opera Auditions, Minneapolis, MN
First Place in Thursday Musical Advanced Voice Competition, Saint Paul, MN
Presidential Scholar in Music, Western Michigan University
Presser Music Award, Western Michigan University
Downbeat Awards, Gold Company, Western Michigan University
First Place, Robert Schumann Choral Competition, Zwickau, Germany