The Saint Xavier University Chorale is a mixed vocal ensemble that performs a wide variety of choral literature, encompassing the chants of Hildegard von Bingen, choral masterworks, and the music of contemporary composers. In addition to concert performances, the Chorale collaborates regularly with the Saint Xavier Opera Workshop course, sings on the annual Saint Xavier Music Department Christmas Concert, and performs at significant university events. Recent performances include Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell), Requiem (Gabriel Fauré), Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten), and Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest (arr. Conrad Susa). The University Chorale membership includes Saint Xavier students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the community.
Laura Kempa Bogan, M.M., maintains an active career as a teacher, singer and conductor in the Chicago area. She serves as the Director of Choral Activities at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, where she conducts the University Chorale, Chamber Singers, and teaches voice, conducting and choral methods. Also a dedicated church musician, Ms. Bogan is the choir director and organist at Immaculate Conception Parish in Highland Park, Ill., where she leads the choir in repertoire spanning chant and polyphony to the music of today’s composers of sacred music. Ms. Bogan remains an active choral singer as well, currently a member of the William Ferris Chorale and La Caccina, a professional women’s vocal ensemble. She has also appeared with the Chicago Choral Artists, Chicago Chorale and Lincoln Chamber Productions Ecclesia Choir in recent years. Her teachers include Drs. Ann Jones, Scott Jarrett, Paul Rardin, and Jerry Blackstone (conducting), Dr. Caroline Helton (voice) and Dr. James Kibbie and James R. Brown (organ). Ms. Bogan is a proud alumna of the University of Michigan (B.M. Choral Music Education) and Boston University (M.M. Choral Conducting).
SKOKIE CONCERT CHOIR
The Skokie Community Chorus was founded in October 1986. Over the years, the Chorus has grown substantially and now has well over 40 members, including men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Several years ago, the name was changed to the Skokie Concert Choir.
The Choir is a non-audition Community Choir ranging in age from 18-80! Repertoire ranges from classical to pop, folk to jazz and show tunes. All voices – soprano, alto, tenor, bass are represented.
CROSS KEYS SCHOOL OF IRISH DANCE
Cross Keys School of Irish Dance, for more than 30 years, has been providing students with top quality instruction in competitive Irish dance. Throughout the 30 years, students have competed, placed, and won at Regional, National, and International competitions. While the dancers focus on competitions, the teachers provide a family-oriented learning environment that will facilitate lifelong friendships between dancers who will create memories they will always treasure.
Helen Welch is a critically-acclaimed vocalist whose live stage performances explore a diverse range of musical compositions, starting with the 1930s up through present-day. Whether she’s singing Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan, or Elton John, Sting and Randy Newman, Helen’s sophisticated vocals and humor leave audiences breezily enchanted. The “Helen Welch experience” is perhaps best described by a fan who wrote on her Amazon page, “If you have a chance to see Helen perform, do it! You are in for a special treat.”
A native of England, Helen is well-known throughout the United Kingdom for her musical theatre roles and 1-woman shows. Helen is a consummate musician as well as vocalist. Upon moving to the U.S. in 2003, she began appearing in venues throughout the North East. Her unique talents for choosing songs that stand the test of time and making them her own, and her ability to intimately engage her audience, quickly earned her a large and devoted following.
Helen is equally at home performing in intimate spaces for small groups as in outdoor amphitheaters in front of thousands. She appears in the region’s most celebrated entertainment establishments including Severance Hall, Cleveland’s Playhouse Square Center, the Akron Civic Theatre, Blossom Music Center, the Chautauqua Institute and many more. She frequently guest-stars or headlines with world-class musical organizations such as The Cleveland Orchestra, The Columbus Jazz Orchestra, The Cleveland Pops Orchestra and The Akron Symphony to name just a few.
Helen Welch was born and raised in Norwich, England. She made her television debut at age 3 on the popular children’s program Romper Room (“I see Helen!”). Helen began studying the flute at age 11 and soon displayed abundant musical aptitude. While still in high school, she earned a teaching diploma at the London College of Music and began teaching flute at the same school she attended.
Feeling that a more traditional career was expected of her, Helen left teaching to pursue a business career. After several years in the trenches, she realized that singing was her true passion. She has pursued it professionally ever since.
Helen’s stage career got off to fast-start. She landed starring roles in a string of popular musicals including Hello Dolly!, Barnum, 42nd Street, Oliver Twist, Calamity Jane, Show Boat, and Carousel. She also made her pantomime debut as ‘Maid Marion’ in Robin Hood, a traditional English Christmas show. (Renowned English actor and a former “Dr. Who”, Colin Baker, played Helen’s wicked uncle.)
During this time, Helen met her late song-writing partner Tim Freebairn, and there began a magical, musical partnership. The pair enjoyed immediate success when they represented Britain in the Irish International Song contest and won Best Song and Best Female Vocalist. Afterwards, Helen and Tim developed a 1-woman cabaret show entitled First Ladies of Song– a celebration of the world’s legendary vocal divas. First Ladies ignited a connection among audiences and went on to be performed throughout England.
A short time later, Helen decided on a whim to enter a singing competition— the grand prize of which was a role in the smash-hit Lieber and Stoller musical Smokey Joe’s Café on Broadway. Eight-hundred girls vied for the opportunity, but it was Helen who most impressed the judges and won. She rehearsed briefly with the London cast before jetting to New York to join the Broadway production. A BBC camera crew accompanied Helen and captured the entire experience on film, which was made into a television documentary for the BBC.
After Helen’s Broadway contract ended, she was presented with a number of opportunities, one of which was to work with some of the UK’s finest big bands including Opus One, Glen Miller Europe and the BBC Big Band. Unable to bypass this invaluable experience, she moved to London, and soon performed regularly in some of the West End’s most popular performance spaces, including The Savoy, The Ritz and The Grosvenor House Great Room.
Helen also became a regular in London’s major recording studios. Her voice can be heard in many commercial jingles, films and television productions, and also the background on recordings of well-known international artists. She was tapped to record a ‘house’ track for the German pop market. When the producers of the James Bond movie franchise were exploring a new theme song, they asked Helen to record the demo.
Helen was thrilled and honored when the directors of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) asked her work with its student members, who are considered to be the cream of Britain’s upcoming musical crop. At one point, the NYJO was scheduled to perform with Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. During rehearsal, Dankworth, doubling as concert director, asked Helen to stand in for Cleo!
Helen Welch, Producer
In addition to being a consummate stage performer, Helen Welch is also president of Big Wow Productions. The company has developed a diverse selection of shows from the hugely popular ‘Bring in the Divas!’ celebrating the music of the First Ladies of Song to ‘All You Need is Love’ in which Helen has taken many great Beatles songs and made them her own. She performs with her quartet through to a 16 piece big band and full symphony orchestra.
Helen released her first compact disc collection One Dream in 2006. One Dream, which also features The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and her quartet, is an eclectic compilation of Broadway hits; classic pop tunes; and compositions co-written by Helen. It also features Helen’s version of Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart, arranged by Nelson Riddle. Helen received personal permission from Riddle’s daughter to use the original arrangement of Zing! on her recording. Besides Judy Garland, Helen is the only other person to have recorded this arrangement.
In 2010 Helen’s much awaited follow up CD ‘Forever for Now’ was released to
rave reviews. This CD is much more contemporary in style and song choice
and it may surprise fans to hear songs by Lennon/McCartney, Sting and Cyndi
Lauper alongside Harry Connick Jr, Paul Williams and Henry Mancini. Helen calls it ‘an eclectic fusion of jazz and popular song’ and says that ‘the CD is an illustration of the diverse range of music that I have fallen in love with over the years – it’s a chocolate box of songs!’
Embracing the philosophy, “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy” (or in this case, “Jill a dull girl”), Helen tries to combine work and play whenever possible. On one such occasion, she took a job in the French Alps, where she could satisfy her passions for both singing and skiing. On her way to the slopes, she encountered 2 Americans in the hotel. They exchanged greetings, but nothing more.
The following year, Helen returned to the same hotel, and happened upon the same pair of Americans in the exact location where they first met! Startled at the coincidence, the gentlemen invited her to join them for dinner. Sparks immediately flew between Helen and Douglas, a native of Cleveland, Ohio. When the vacation concluded, Helen flew home to London thinking she would never see Doug again. Ten weeks and many phone calls later, Doug arrived in London. After a whirlwind courtship involving several more international round-trip flights, Helen accepted Doug’s marriage proposal. In April of 2003, Helen moved to the U.S. The couple currently resides in Northeast Ohio.
Although he prefers to avoid the spotlight, Doug is often the subject of Helen’s humorous anecdotes both onstage and in her fan newsletter. Doug, being the consummate gentleman, genially takes it all in stride.
As a gesture of gratitude for the overwhelming reception she has received in her new home, Helen became a United States citizen in June of 2009 and followed this by singing the National Anthem at the Cleveland Indians baseball field; ‘a moment I shall never forget’ she smiles.
Nicholas Thomas is continuing in his 18th year at Moraine Valley Community College. In addition to directing the Moraine Chorale and Chamber Singers, Mr. Thomas teaches Class Piano 1 and 2, private piano lessons, and keyboard skills I and IV as part of the music theory sequence. He has taught private voice lessons and Basic Musicianship-Music 103 in the past. He is chairman of the Fine Arts and Humanities Department, which includes music, art, digital art, humanities, philosophy, and theater, and has more than 85 faculty members
In 2010, he was selected Professor of the Year by the faculty and administrators. In 2004, he was chosen Master Teacher by the Faculty Development Committee. In 2007, he was selected as the St. Genesius Award recipient by Lewis University. This award is given annually by the university to someone who has played an important role in promoting the Arts in the community and school. Currently, he is chair of the Academic Senate, serves on numerous faculty and administrative search committees, and was a member of the Vanguard Team. He has taken his choruses to Carnegie Hall in New York and the Vatican in Rome singing before Pope John Paul II. He is the director of music and organist at St. Isaac Joques Church in Hinsdale.
Lyric Tenor John Concepcion, past recipient of The American Prize in Vocal Performance in Opera and a finalist in the Bel Canto Regional Voice Competition, is in constant demand as a performer, teacher and musical artist. He maintains a busy performance schedule on both the concert and operatic stages. Most notably, John has appeared with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Hawaii Symphony, Tulsa Opera, Cleveland Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Portland Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and the Pine Mountain Music Festival.
Notable recent appearances include Grant Park Symphony Orchestra (Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins), Skokie Valley Symphony (An Afternoon of Opera and Musical Theatre), the world premier of Gustavo Leone’s opera, The Leader, with Latino Music Festival in Chicago, and solo appearances with West Suburban Symphony (Verdi’s Requiem, A Night of Lerner & Loewe and A Night of Rodgers & Hammerstein). As a recitalist, John recently performed for the Musicians Club of Women, Midwest Arts League and the German Language Society of Chicago. A frequent performer at the Acorn Theatre in Three Oaks, MI, John regularly performs on the popular Christmas at the Acorn concert every holiday season.
Currently a full-time chorus member at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Grant Park Festival Chorus, John is also a member of the Advisory Board for The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University in University Park, IL, where he produces a popular series of operatic programs called “Opera UpClose”.
For almost three decades, Samuel Ramey has reigned as one of the music world’s foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire. With astounding versatility he commands an impressive breadth of repertoire encompassing virtually every musical style from the fioratura of Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo, which was the vehicle of his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 1984, to the dramatic proclamations of the title role in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, which he sang in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera televised by PBS. Mr. Ramey’s interpretations embrace the bel canto of Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti; the lyric and dramatic roles of Mozart and Verdi; and the heroic roles of the Russian and French repertoire.
In addition to being heralded as one of the most extraordinary singers of the past three decades, Mr. Ramey continues to perform at the world’s most important opera houses and concert stages. The 2012-2013 season sees Mr. Ramey’s return to the Metropolitan Opera as Timur in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Turandot. Other performances include a revival of his famous role as Duke Bluebeard in Bluebeard’s Castle and his debut as Sarastro in The Magic Flute. Mr. Ramey’s recent engagements include Don Basilio (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Rambaldo (La Rondine), and Pope Leo at the Met; Claudius (Hamlet) with Washington National Opera; Scarpia (Tosca) at Deutsche Oper Berlin; Méphistophélès in Nice; and the Grand Inquisitore (Don Carlos) with Houston Grand Opera.
The combination of Samuel Ramey’s commanding vocalism, exceptional musicianship, elegant stage presence, and uncommon theatrical abilities enables him to portray a wide variety of characters from the sharp-witted protagonist of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro to the somber, tortured King Philip II of Verdi’s Don Carlos; from the terrorizing Hun of Verdi’s Attila to the terrorized Tsar of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov; from the capricious libertine of Mozart’s Don Giovanni to the troubled preacher Olin Blitch in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah; from the sober and profound Field Marshal Kutuzov in Prokofiev’s War and Peace to the comedic title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi; from the benevolent Giorgio in I Puritani and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor to the sinister incarnations of the devil in Gounod’s Faust, Boito’s Mefistofele, and Berlioz’ La damnation de Faust.
The unique expressiveness of the bass voice has inspired many composers to assign the portrayal of devils and villains to basses, and it is in this repertoire that Mr. Ramey has established a reputation unequaled in the musical world. Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust has become his most-performed role with over 200 performances in more than twenty productions. He is equally well-known in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world for his performances of Boito’s Mefistofele, including over 70 performances in the Robert Carsen production of this work specifically created for Mr. Ramey; Berlioz’ devil in La damnation de Faust; the sinister Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; and the tour de force of all four villains in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann. In 1992 Mr. Ramey sang all of Offenbach’s villains for the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night, prompting one critic to write, “[It was] the best interpretation of the four villains I can remember in the last 25 years. This is the stuff of which operatic legends are made.” In 1996 Mr. Ramey presented a sold-out concert at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall titled A Date with the Devil in which he sang fourteen arias representing the core of this repertoire, and he continues to tour this program throughout the world. In 2000 Mr. Ramey presented this concert at Munich’s Gasteig Concert Hall. This performance was recorded live by Naxos Records and was released on compact disc in summer 2002.
Mr. Ramey’s unique talents have afforded the world’s leading theaters an opportunity to expand their repertoire and present works written specifically for the bass voice, such as Verdi’s Attila, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre re, Rossini’s Maometto II, and Massenet’s Don Quichotte. His repertoire of more than fifty roles also encompasses the more standard repertoire, including Mozart’s suave rake, Don Giovanni, for which Newsweek hailed him as “today’s perfect, swashbuckling Don;” the title role in the same composer’s Le nozze di Figaro, for which one Italian critic described him as “the perfect Mozart singer;” Zaccaria in Nabucco; and Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra. It is from much of this repertoire that Samuel Ramey developed a concert of Great bass arias and scenes with chorus which he has performed throughout the United States. Together with local orchestras and choruses, he presents a program of arias and scenes from Tosca, Mefistofele, Nabucco, Carmen, Susannah, Boris Godunov, and Faust.
Samuel Ramey has appeared on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, Opéra de Paris, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Teatro la Fenice, Teatro Colon, and the operas of Munich, Hamburg, Geneva, Florence, Zürich and Amsterdam, among others. In concert, he has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, La Scala Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and the symphonies of Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and San Francisco.
Throughout his career, Mr. Ramey has worked with every major conductor including Claudio Abbado, the late Leonard Bernstein, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Julius Rudel, the late Sir Georg Solti, and the late Herbert von Karajan.
Samuel Ramey holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. His more than eighty recordings include complete operas, recordings of arias, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums on every major label. His recordings have garnered nearly every major award including three Grammy Awards, Gran Prix du Disc Awards, and “Best of the Year” citations from journals including Stereo Review and Opera News. His exposure on television and video is no less impressive, with video recordings of the Metropolitan Opera’s Don Giovanni, Carmen, Bluebeard’s Castle, Semiramide, Nabucco, I Lombardi, and the compilation “The Met Celebrates Verdi;” San Francisco Opera’s Mefistofele; The Rake’s Progress from the Glyndebourne Festival; Attila and Don Carlo from La Scala; and the Salzburg Festival’s Don Giovanni. Mr. Ramey is seen frequently on television in appearances with “Live from the Met” and “Live from Lincoln Center” as well as other productions taped for PBS.
Following his phenomenal success in opera, concert, and recordings, Samuel Ramey’s sold-out Carnegie Hall recital in 1987 added a fourth dimension to his spectacular career. His returns to New York’s Carnegie Hall for solo recitals in February 1995 and November 1998 were the culmination of extensive, critically-acclaimed North American tours which had taken Mr. Ramey from Alaska to Alabama, with appearances on America’s finest vocal series. His European recital career is equally notable, with sold-out appearances in all the music capitals.
A native of Colby, Kansas, Samuel Ramey was active in music throughout high school and college. In 1995 he was named “Kansan of the Year,” and in 1998 the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.
Praised with an exciting sound, Mezzo Soprano Samantha Attaguile is quickly establishing herself as a spirited young talent in the modern artistic world, and is delighted to debut with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra next season. Most recently, Samantha appeared as the Mezzo Soprano soloist in Duruflé’s Requiem with the DuPage Chorale. This summer, Samantha will participate as a Young Artist with Emerald City Opera Artist Institute where she will perform Dido in Dido and Aeneas and cover Rita the Rat in Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. This autumn, Samantha will debut with Petite Opera Productions, performing Bystander and covering Sara Jane Moore in Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins.
Other highlights include Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Phoebe Meryll (The Yeomen of the Guard), Maddalena (Il viaggio a Reims), Vèronique (Doctor Miracle), Nurse (Strawberry Fields), and The Abbess (Sister Angelica).
For more information, visit www.samanthaattaguile.com.
Brad Jungwirth has been described by critics as “a muscular baritone with an evocatively dark instrument” and has been praised for his “dulcet and lyrical” voice and “no-holds- barred intensity.” He recently made his subscription concert debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Louis Langrée, performing Schönberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw. These concerts were broadcast throughout the Ohio area, and recorded for digital release. He returned to the Cincinnati Symphony as soloist for concerts of music from Hollywood musicals for their summer Pops series.
Recent operatic performances include his role debut as Don Pizarro in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the 2014 Shippensburg Music Festival conducted by Robert Trevino, Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen with Michigan’s Soo Opera Theater and in the Peter Brooks’ adaptation, La tragédie de Carmen, for Chicago’s CUBE Ensemble. He returned to the Shippensburg Festival in 2016 to sing the Marquis in Verdi’s La Traviata. Other roles include Wilfred Shadbolt in The Yeomen of the Guard, Dr. Engel in The Student Prince, the title role in Walton’s The Bear, Marcello in La Bohéme, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, and Morales/Dancaire in Carmen.
Concert performances include the baritone soloist in Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem with the DuPage Chorale, Beethoven’s 9 th Symphony (as a guest artist with the University of Wisconsin, Parkside Symphony and Chorus), Dvorak’s Te Deum, Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, and numerous works of J.S. Bach, including cantata 82, “Ich habe genug.” He was the baritone soloist for the 2009 premiere of Jacob Bancks’ Missa Omnium Sanctorum, presented by the Soli Deo Gloria foundation.
Mr. Jungwirth is an avid performer of contemporary music, and has been highly praised for his performances of Peter Maxwell Davies’ monodrama 8 Songs for a Mad King; his performance of this demanding work at the 2008 Jusqu’aux Oreilles contemporary music festival in Montréal was hailed by the Montréal Gazette as “prodigiously convincing.” He received much acclaim for his portrayal of multiple roles in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s GREEK with Chicago Opera Vanguard, and performed a fully-staged production of Schubert’s Winterreise with the company in 2010.
He has premiered a number of new works, including Kyong Mee Choi’s multimedia opera The Eternal Tao, which was released on DVD through Ravello Recordings in 2013. Of his performance in The Eternal Tao, Voix des Arts stated, “The standout performance among the vocalists comes from baritone Brad Jungwirth, whose strong, handsome voice rings out dashingly even in the most complicated passages. Voices are employed as instruments in the ensemble, and Mr. Jungwirth unflinchingly manages lines with great rhythmic complexity.” In March, 2011 he made his debut at Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance with the Fulcrum Point Music Project as the baritone soloist for the premiere of Vivian Fung’s Yunnan Folk Songs.
In addition to singing in the full-time chorus at Lyric Opera of Chicago, soprano Desirée Hassler has sung and covered roles at Lyric in Tannhäuser, Oklahoma!, Manon, Macbeth, Boris Godunov, Show Boat and Elektra. Recent performances include Bach’s B Minor mass with Chicago Bach Project (John Nelson, conductor), Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata with the Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra, Ellen in Oklahoma! at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Kondja in The Rose of Stambul with Chicago Folks Operetta, soprano soloist in the Brahms Requiem (Los Angeles, CA), Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915 with the Prairie Ensemble, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, as well as Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Wichita Symphony.
A California native, Desirée has successfully competed from the regional to International levels at the Bel Canto Competition, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, International Franz Liszt Competition and is the recipient of many distinguished awards.
The soprano enjoys performing music from the Renaissance to the 21st century, in recital, concert and opera mediums. Hassler graduated in 2011 with a doctorate in Vocal Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she completed a master’s degree in 2003. Dr. Hassler serves on the voice faculty of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. When she’s not doing lip trills or drinking coffee, Desirée is likely gardening or riding bikes with her super-husband Dan and four fabulous children.