Amy Tate Williams & Randy Williams
2018 Recipients

    Amy Tate Williams and Randy Williams joined the Nashville Opera staff in 1998 and have been serving with distinction ever since.
    Amy serves as rehearsal pianist, casts and musically prepares the opera choruses for all mainstage productions, provides individual vocal coaching, plays keyboard in the Nashville Opera Orchestra, and accompanies auditions and special events.  She acted as education director for two touring seasons and led as music director for touring productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors and Hansel and Gretel.  Since 2003, Amy has served as the opera director of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, preparing an original fully staged production each summer.  In 2010, she launched an online publishing company, RANDAMWILL Music, which promotes her print music and CD recordings.  Her two children’s operas, Rumpelstiltskin and The Looking Glass, have been produced by Nashville Opera, OperaIOWA, and The University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Her compositions and arrangements are regularly performed and recorded worldwide.
    In his multi-faceted position, Randy budgets, organizes, and plans the technical logistics for every Nashville Opera production and special event.  He has served as technical director for many productions as well as production stage manager and even set designer, most recently for the world premiere of Three Way which was reprised at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in June 2017 and earned Randy his first New York review.  Randy is a skilled carpenter of custom furniture and has constructed many scenic elements for the stage.  He is equally gifted in assembling topnotch technical and production teams for each show to successfully bring the director’s vision to life.  
    The couple met in 1989 on a production of Faust at Augusta Opera, Randy as stage manager and Amy as accompanist.  Their brief courtship was long-distance as both traveled on educational tours, Randy as stage manager for Florida Shakespeare Company and Amy as music director of OPERAIowa.  Their engagement summer was spent at Des Moines Metro Opera where they worked alongside John Hoomes and Carol Penterman.  They began their marriage at Houston Grand Opera where Amy received on-the-job training in the Houston Opera Studio and Randy assisted in stage management, quickly being promoted to the top position of production stage manager.  In 1994 Randy accepted the post of production manager of Des Moines Metro Opera and Amy, in addition to joining the summer music staff, taught high school music and published music.  The invitation from John and Carol to work for Nashville Opera was an ideal opportunity for both.  
    Randy and Amy have one son, Tate Williams, who made his opera debut at age seven and has performed in over a dozen productions.  He is soon to graduate Lipscomb Academy where he is president of the renowned Concert Chorus and second baseman for Mustang Baseball.

Mr. Metropolitan

Francis Robinson (1910-1980) loved opera from the very day he heard Enrico Caruso on the Victrola at his school.  He began his career in the theatre as an usher at the Ryman Auditorium while he was studying at Vanderbilt.  He later worked as a reporter and Sunday editor of the Nashville Banner; a writer, actor, and producer for WSM Radio; and a theatrical press agent for William Fields, where his clients included Katharine Cornell, Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne, and Cornelia Otis Skinner.  After World War II, Robinson was hired by impresario Sol Hurok to help with the Metropolitan Opera annual tours.  Robinson’s extraordinary gift for public relations led to the expansion of his duties at the Met to include head of the box office and subscriptions, and in 1954 he was made assistant manager of the company under the legendary Rudolf Bing.  He went on to spend more than thirty years at the Metropolitan Opera.  In 1978, Robinson became host for the telecast series Live from the Met, reaching out to opera audiences around the country.

Previous Recipients

Marilyn Shields-Wiltsie and Dr. Theodore E. Wiltsie, 2016
G. Helen Brown, Ph.D., 2015
Shelley Page, 2014
Joseph H. Allen, M.D., 2013
The Judy Liff and Joe Barker Family, 2012
Earl S. Swensson, 2011
June Greer Bogle, 2010
Marion Pickering Couch, 2009
Marguerite Fish, 2008
William O. Whetsell, Jr., M.D., 2007
Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn, posthumous, 2006
Carol Penterman, John Hoomes, Cara Schneider, 2005

"The Metropolitan Opera is not just a living, it’s my life.” 
Francis Robinson, photo courtesy of The Francis Robinson Collection of Theatre, Music, and Dance, Vanderbilt University Special Collections