Caroline Robinson, a concert organist, makes her Peoria debut as we open the Peoria Bach Festival for the fourth year at Westminster. A native of Greenville, SC, Ms. Robinson earned the B.Mus. degree from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and went on to study with Michel Bouvard in France under a Fulbright grant, earn a master of music degree at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York and currently is finishing her work as a candidate for the doctor of musical arts degree at Eastman. Her playing is dramatically more mature than her youth would indicate. She is a masterful interpreter of the music of J.S. Bach as well as other important composers for the organ. In addition to her studies, she is the minister of music at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pittsfield, New York. Last year she was chosen as one of the most important young organists under thirty years of age by the Diapason Magazine. We welcome her to Peoria, Westminster and to the Peoria Bach Festival.
Courtney Huffman, Soprano
Courtney Huffman, soprano, made her New York solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall after placing first in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. She performed in Long Beach Opera's U.S. premiere of Vivaldi’s Motezuma to critical acclaim. Her stage credits include Yadwiga in Ben Moore’s Enemies, A Love Story, Violetta in La Traviata, Betty in Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts, Frasquita in Carmen, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. An equally accomplished concert artist, she has been a featured soloist with Boston Baroque, performing the role of Amor in a semi-staged version of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and appearing as the soprano soloist in Bach’s Wedding Cantata and Coffee Cantata. Her love for recital work has taken her overseas, including a ten-day concert tour throughout Southern China, and her passion for contemporary music has given her the opportunity to work with and premiere pieces by Alan Chan, Lori Laitman, Ben Moore, Timothy Takach, and Marc-André Dalbavie. She taught voice at Gordon College in Boston for several years and currently serves on the voice faculty of Bradley University.
Nathan Medley, Countertenor
Nathan Medley,countertenor, has emerged in recent years as one of the leading younger-generation countertenors, with notable success internationally in concert and opera. He has sung at some of the major stages of the world including the English National Opera, Barbican Centre, Carnegie Hall, Philharmonie di Paris, Kölner Philharmonie, La Salle Pleyel, Palais de Musique Strasbourg, the Concertgebouw, the Lucerne Festival, Avery Fisher Hall, and Walt Disney Hall. Recent performances have brought him to the Boston Early Music Festival, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, Opera Omaha, Pacific MusicWorks, Mercury Baroque, Seraphic Fire, Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Cincinnati Collegium, Miami Bach Society, and Dayton Bach Society. He made his professional debut in 2012 in John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, which was recorded for Duetsche Grammophon. He has performed this same work with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle and with the English National Opera in a version staged by Peter Sellars. He is a founding member of Echoing Air, an ensemble focused on music of the baroque and modern eras composed for countertenor.
Eric Ashcraft, Tenor
Eric Ashcraft, tenor, is a graduate of Bradley University. He has sung with New York City Opera, the Arizona Opera Company, Opera International in Washington D.C., Dublin Grand Opera, Opera Northern Ireland, the Wexford Festival Opera, and numerous other opera companies and symphony orchestras. He has performed the tenor solos in over 100 productions of Handel’s Messiah in the past several years. He was a New York District winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He received his master of music and an artist's diploma in opera from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has taught voice at Augustana College in Rock Island and at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
Gerard Sundberg, Baritone
Gerard Sundberg, baritone, is a graduate of Bethel College (St. Paul, MN), and holds both master of fine arts and doctor of musical arts degrees from the University of Minnesota.He is presently professor emeritus of voice at Wheaton Conservatory of Music (Wheaton, IL), where he taught studio voice and vocal pedagogy. He recently relocated to the Twin City area, and is an adjunct voice professor at Bethel University.Performances for the 2018-19 season include Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs with Deo Cantamus, Minneapolis; Mendelssohn Elijah with Chicago Master Singers; Handel Messiah with the Atlanta Symphony and Chamber Chorus; Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem with Wayzata Symphony (Minneapolis); Dvorak Requiem with Chicago Master Singers; and Handel Samson and Bach cantatas BWV 172 and 187 with the Peoria Bach Festival.
Saul Nache, Baritone
Saul Nache, baritone, received a master of music degree from University of Illinois and a bachelor of arts degree from Western Illinois University. He has performed roles in The Marriage of Figaro, Giulio Cesare, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Carmen, and La Boheme with Opera Illinois, Opera Quad Cities, Red River Lyric Opera Festival, and Teatro Lirico d'Europa. He has also performed in concert with many regional orchestras including the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Peoria Bach Festival, Sinfonia da Camera, Handel Oratorio Society, and McDonough Choral Society. He was a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, was a district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and won the Bravo Award at the Bel Canto Foundation Competition. He has also performed roles in music theatre productions and has been music director for shows at Illinois Wesleyan University, St. Ambrose University, Mississippi Bend Players, and Nebraska Repertory Theater. He currently teaches voice at Bradley University and Illinois Wesleyan University.
Jennet Ingle, Oboe d'Amoure
Jennet Ingle, oboe d’amore, loves the oboe. She has built an active career around performing, teaching, making reeds for and writing about it, and believes deeply that everyone else loves it, too – perhaps they just don't know it yet. Jennet performs as principal oboist of the South Bend Symphony and the Northwest Indiana Symphony and teaches oboe at Valparaiso University. She has also performed with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque and other area ensembles. Since 1998 she has owned and operated Jennet Ingle Reeds, and can be found on the web at www,jennetingle.com. Jennet is an active performer and has released a CD, Music That SHOULD Have Been Written for the Oboe. She is the founder of a South Bend chamber music series, Musicians for Michiana.
Janet Anthony, Cello
Janet Anthony, cello, an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician who has performed and taught in the Caribbean, the Far East, Europe, Argentina, and throughout the United States. As a student at the Vienna Hochschüle für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, she toured with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Austrian Radio Orchestra (ORF, Vienna) and the Chamber Orchestra of the Vienna Symphony. She also recorded with the Vienna Volksopern Orchestra and was solo cellist for the Bach Geminde Orchester. Since 1996 she has regularly taught, performed and conducted in Haiti and has been actively involved in helping music camps and programs throughout the country. She founded a non-profit organization, BLUME (Building Leaders Using Music Education) that provides instruments, financial aid, and other resources to Haitian music programs. Professor emeritus of music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, she has served as visiting professor of cello and orchestral studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson and was formerly the principal cellist of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. Since her retirement from Lawrence she has been dividing her time between living in Haiti, teaching and consulting with the various Haitian music programs, and living in a home she built with her sister in New Mexico.
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, Violin
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, violin, received her doctoral degree from SUNY Stony Brook, studying violin with Phil Setzer, Soovin Kim and Philippe Graffin. She completed her undergraduate work with honors at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Stephen Rose and Annie Fullard. As a chamber player, she has enjoyed the fine coaching of both the Emerson and Cavani String Quartets. She is on faculty at the University of Massachussetts, Dartmouth and the Birch Creek Summer Performance Center and she serves as co-director, resident musician and teacher at the Newport String Project in Newport, Rhode Island. When not playing classical violin, Emmy is well-versed in old-time fiddle music. She has played lead fiddle with the Rusty Pickup String Band since she was ten years old, and she won the Illinois State Fair fiddle championship as a teenager.
John Orfe, Piano
John Orfe, piano, has earned critical acclaim for his interpretations of five centuries of keyboard repertoire ranging from the canonic to the arcane. As the core pianist and a founding member of critically-acclaimed new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, he has performed in Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, Roulette, the World Financial Center, and Symphony Space in New York; Disney Hall, Mondavi Hall, and Hertz Hall in California; and music series and festivals across the United States and Europe. The New York Times praised his “virtuosic ardor” in performances of György Ligeti’s Piano Etudes and Concerto. His solo piano transcription of John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine was hailed as “a knockout” by the Boston Globe and “breathtaking” by the San Francisco Chronicle, which also praised his “hypervirtuosic” performances of Nancarrow. Dr. Orfe gave the US premiere of Steve Reich’s “Piano Counterpoint” at Stanford University’s Bing Hall as well as the work’s East Coast premiere at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has recorded on Canteloupe, Nonesuch, and Parma labels. His compositions have earned praise from The New York Times, LA Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Die Welt, and Hamburger Abendblatt. He is a winner of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, a Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship, and numerous other awards and prizes. He holds degrees from Eastman, the University of Rochester, and the Yale School of Music.
Tim Fredstrom, conductor, is professor of choral music and music education at Illinois State University where he conducts the Men’s Glee and Chamber Singers and teaches courses in choral pedagogy and conducting. He is the conductor of Cantus Novus, a community chamber choir in Bloomington-Normal, and former conductor of the Peoria Area Civic Chorale. Before joining the faculty at Illinois State University in 2003, he taught choral music in the Nebraska public schools for ten years. He is a frequent choral clinician and adjudicator and has presented numerous workshops on choral music education, gifted education, and technology. He has served as guest conductor for numerous choral festivals throughout the country, including Illinois Music Educators District festivals and the Illinois Music Educators All-State Chorus. He holds degrees in vocal performance from Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Nebraska.
John Jost, conductor, is professor emeritus of music at Bradley University where he directed the Bradley Chorale, Community Chorus, and Chamber Singers, and taught conducting from 1989 until his retirement in 2018. He received his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees from Stanford University. Before joining the Bradley faculty he directed ensembles and taught in California, New York, and Haiti where for several decades he directed a summer music camp for Haitian youth. He has held both principal viola and principal second violin positions in the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, has served as president of the Illinois Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, is co-founder and artistic director of the Peoria Bach Festival, and currently directs the new Peoria-area chamber choir Lumière. He has won awards for teaching and service from Bradley University, the American Choral Directors Association, the Haitian Ministry of Culture, and the Haitian Episcopal Church.
Peter Wykert, organist and conductor, is completing his second year as Cantor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Peoria. He has served as music director at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Elmhurst, IL and as a music intern at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, IL. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Concordia University Chicago. As Cantor he plans worship services, directs ensembles, serves as primary organist, oversees the Trinity Concert Series, and serves as the managing director of the Peoria Bach Festival.