Past Handel Week Festival Performers
In Memoriam: Veronica McHale (1975-2009)
Veronica M McHale, 33, new to Handel Week, died suddenly August 26, 2009 of complications from sinus surgery. She sang as alto soloist in The Messiah in Handel Week 2009.She had a promising career and had sung with Union Avenue Opera, received the cover role of Dame Quickly in Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Falstaff, and was featured in the Classical Singer January 2008 issue.
Just before appearing with Handel Week, she had returned from performing Dame Quickly in a New York Opera Society production of Falstaff at the Municipal Theatre of Castres, in France. Other recent appearances were with the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, The Bel Canto Chorus, the Chamber singers of Algoma in Sault St. Marie, Ontario, and premiered the song cycle (Songs of Love and Transience) at the Chicago Cultural Center. All who performed with her, had her as a teacher, or knew her musically deeply mourn her passing.
Handel Week Festival 2017 Performers
Dennis E. Northway, artistic director
The founding artistic director of the Handel Week Festival, Dennis Northway is an active musician, organ builder, teacher, composer, and author. He received a doctorate in choral conducting from Northwestern University, where he also attained candidacy for a doctorate in musicology. His teachers include Ronald Arnatt, Kathleen Thomerson, Herbert Gotsch, Richard Enright, and Wolfgang Rübsam. He is parish musician at Grace Episcopal Church, Oak Park, and is employed by John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders.
As a recitalist, Dr. Northway was heard at the 2009 and 2012 national conventions of the Organ Historical Society and in Scotland for the 50th anniversary conference of the Scottish Federation of Organists.
As a conductor, he has wide-ranging experience working with a vast array of forces—from a choir of four year-olds to a senior chorus, from intimate chamber ensembles to mass choirs of hundreds. He has worked with the Chicago Children's Choir for a decade in a variety of capacities and has conducted the Concert Choir and the Chicago Children's Choir in Rogers Park. Past positions include chorus master of the Owensboro (Kentucky) Symphony Orchestra Chorus, director of choral activities at Kentucky Wesleyan College, chorus master and conductor at Light Opera Works, music director at St. Patrick’s High School (Chicago), artistic director of the Park Forest Singers, and conductor of the Lutheran Choir of Chicago. He also founded Fleur de Lys, a professional chamber choir originally dedicated to the music of the Romantic period.
In demand as a choral clinician and guest artist, he has led many seminars and performances and is an active lecturer in the Chicago area. He has appeared as a singer in lead roles with Light Opera Works, Chamber Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Chamber Choir, the College of DuPage, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and Pamiro Opera. He also has more than two hundred compositions to his credit.
He is coauthor, with Stephen Schnurr, Jr., of the two-volume Pipe Organs of Chicago, and he recently wrote, with Shawn Schreiner, The Rite Place: Kids Do Church! published by Morehouse. He is editor of To Touch the Garment’s Hem, an anthology of inspirational thoughts for choral groups, and the ChicAGO Centenary Anthology celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Chicago chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Thomas Yang, concertmaster
In much demand as a performer throughout the Chicago area, violinist Thomas Yang has worked with numerous musical organizations and gained widespread recognition from many audiences. He currently serves as concertmaster of the Northbrook Symphony, Metropolis Symphony Orchestra, St. Charles Singers, and the Handel Week Festival. In the past, he has served as concertmaster for the Lake Forest Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, and a number of other ensembles. He is a longtime member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and has also played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
A versatile performer and contractor, Mr. Yang has performed with and provided orchestras for many popular artists: Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Josh Groban, Faith Hill, Lyle Lovett, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Smokey Robinson, Natalie Cole, John Denver, Bernadette Peters, and a host of others. He and a quartet even opened for rock legend Meat Loaf!
Mr. Yang currently serves as executive director of the Chicago Musical Connection, a musical contracting agency, and as an artist-in-residence at Robert Morris University. He lives in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette with his wife and four daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys tutoring first- and second-grade reading classes in Chicago and watching his daughters play ice hockey.
Concert I performers
Rosalind Lee, soprano
Rosalind Lee has been described as “a beautiful soprano with a glowing voice.” She sang the Echo in “Flößt, mein Heiland” from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Kathleen Battle and was the soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria, both with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She sang Beethoven’s Ah! Perfido with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and has appeared as a soloist in Bach’s Magnificat, Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass, Haydn’s Paukenmesse, Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Schubert’s Mass in G, and the Chicago premiere of Mollicone’s Beatitude Mass. She has been featured with the Bach Week Festival, the Elgin Choral Union, the Handel Week Festival, the North Shore Choral Society, the Saint James Cathedral Concert Series, and the Windy City String Ensemble. She has sung in Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Bach’s cantata Ich hatte viel Bekummernis with the Bach Week Festival, and Stradella’s oratorio San Giovanni Battista with the Haymarket Opera Company, which she will repeat with the company on the island of Malta in 2017.
On the opera stage, Ms. Lee has appeared in La Purpura de la Rosa (Venus) with the Bloomington Early Music Festival, in the title role in Floyd’s Susannah, in Argento’s The Boor (Widow), and in Verdi’s La Traviata (Annina) at Music by the Lake. She has also sung in the ensemble of many productions with Lyric Opera of Chicago, including Berlioz’s Les Troyens in 2016 and past productions of Carousel, The Sound of Music, and Porgy and Bess. She has sung with the Glimmerglass Festival, Light Opera Works, Main Street Opera, Indiana Opera Theater, Illinois Opera Theatre, and the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company.
Ms. Lee appears regularly with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the Grant Park Festival Chorus, and the choruses of the Chicago Bach Project and Music of the Baroque. She was part of the Chicago Symphony Chorus on Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2011 Grammy-winning recording of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, under the baton of Riccardo Muti, and also with them on the soundtrack of Dreamwork’s film Lincoln.
Stuart Leitch, organist
Stuart Leitch is a pianist, organist, and teacher active in Michigan and Chicago. He studied with Arthur Dann at Oberlin College and privately with John Richardson, Gui Mombaerts, Dmitry Paperno, and Donald Walker.
From 1962 to 1965 he was a member of the ONCE group in Ann Arbor, whose concerts featured prominent avant-garde composers and performers from all over the world. Later in New York City he transcribed books of country blues and worked with The Children of Paradise, recording and creating film music. During his long career in Chicago he coached singers and worked with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Opera Theater. He founded and directed Chamber Opera Chicago and served as staff accompanist at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
This is his third organ concerto performance in Handel Week. He is also active as a pianist, with performances in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts and solo broadcasts by WFMT-FM. He played and recorded several new works by George Flynn and has performed twice as a featured pianist with Grand Rapids Ballet. He performs in the annual Schubertiade Chicago and is artistic advisor of Schubertiade Oak Park at Unity Temple. He also works as a music engraver, editor, and arranger for several composers, refining their music and publishing their scores.Mr. Leitch is also the inventor and publisher of Deep Solitaire, a game application for Android phone and tablets. He lives in semiretirement near his family in Grand Rapids and plans to spend the rest of his life deepening his understanding of the musical art, for the glory of God and the refreshment of the human spirit.
Concert II performers
Jake Barlow, countertenor
Countertenor Jake Barlow read for a degree as a choral scholar at Worcester College, University of Oxford. An alumnus of the Schola Cantorum of Oxford and Truro Cathedral, Cornwall, he is currently a choral scholar at Norwich Cathedral.
A two-time winner of the Douglas Steele Foundation award for musical development, he has soloed with the BBC Philharmonic, the Brook Street Band, the Amadeus Orchestra, Hieronymus, and the Ensemble OrQuestra. He has sung in Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, Johannes-Passion, and Mass in B minor, Mozart’s Requiem, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri, and Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater at the Golowan Festival, Purcell’s Come,Ye Sons of Art with Norwich Baroque, and Handel’s Dixit Dominus with the Hastings Philharmonic Choir.
Mr. Barlow has appeared on the dramatic stage in Purcell’s Fairy Queen, Handel’s Theodora, and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as part of the Woodhouse Opera Festival. More recently he had roles in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Handel’s Giulio Cesare with the Hoxton Opera Studio and the New London Opera Players. He has performed recitals in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Hungary, and in 2015 he released a solo album of English, French, and American art songs, Under the Greenwood Tree.
He currently studies voice with Colin Baldy. He holds (with distinction) the Licentiate Diploma of Trinity College, London, in music performance. He also holds a fellowship of the London College of Music. He has a teaching studio in Norwich and works as a specialist tutor in voice for the Wharf Academy and Norfolk County Music Hub.
Marcia Hustad, flutist
Marcia Hustad began flute studies at the age of eleven; her primary teachers have been Francis Fuge in Louisville, Kentucky, Russell Platz in Wheaton, Illinois, Fernand Caratgé in Paris, France, and Greg Blackburn in Chicago. She received a bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in flute from Wheaton College. After she earned a master’s degree in management from Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University, she worked in banking and money market trading. Following several years of limited musical activity, she began performing again with her father, Don Hustad, in a number of flute and piano recitals in the United States and Norway.
Ms. Hustad has performed in many church, theater, and orchestral events. She has played in the Elmhurst College Philharmonic, the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, and the Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra. She is a member of the Odyssey Woodwind Quintet and the West Suburban Flute Orchestra and has been a featured player with the Singing Men of Oak Brook.
Richard Yeo, cellist
Richard Yeo was born into a musical family; he began playing the piano at the age of six and took up the cello at age nine. He attended Indiana University, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree while studying with Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi and Fritz Magg. He later received his Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, studying with Hans Jorgen Jensen.
Mr. Yeo was assistant principal cellist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra for ten seasons, and during that time he made his solo orchestral debut playing the Second Cello Concerto of Victor Herbert.
Since 1993 he has been a member of the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin, and he currently maintains an active schedule as a freelance cellist in the Chicago area, where he has performed with the Grant Park Symphony, the Chicago Philharmonic, and the Lake Forest Symphony, among others.
Erik Liefrinck, harpsichordist
Erik Liefrinck, a native of the Netherlands, studied piano with Professor Alexander Warenberg. After completing his bachelor’s degree in music education and his master’s degree in music performance, he moved to Austria to study concert stage performance with Wolfgang Glemser.
Feeling the need to expand his horizon, repertoire, and skills, he later moved to London, where he worked with singers and instrumentalists. In addition to his vocal coaching, he focused on chamber music and won first prizes in the Elizabeth Potter Competition and the Musica Britannica Competition. As a soloist he concentrated on interpreting compositions by Debussy and Ravel under the guidance of Professor Paul Roberts. He has performed widely in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Mr. Liefrinck has worked with the International Opera Studio Netherlands as a vocal coach helping singers who are launching their careers. He has held teaching positions at a number of schools and music institutes.
Mr. Liefrinck has been a guest performer in several Handel Week Festivals and is glad to be returning for the Eighteenth Festival Season.
Concert III performers
Sarah Gartshore, soprano
Canadian soprano Sarah Gartshore was recently described by the Chicago Tribune as “particularly impressive” and possessing a “rich, shining soprano” after performances with Music of the Baroque and Chicago’s Apollo Chorus.
As a Santa Fe Opera apprentice artist, Ms. Gartshore made her debut as the First Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and later covered roles in Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Rameau’s Platée. In the summer of 2016, she sang the title role in Handel’s Agrippina with the San Francisco Bay Area’s West Edge Opera, and she portrayed Magda in Chamber Opera Chicago’s recent production of Menotti’s The Consul.
Career highlights include a Ravinia Festival debut with Music of the Baroque performing Handel’s Israel in Egypt, her Symphony Center debut with the Apollo Chorus performing Brahms’s Requiem, and performances of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with American Opera Group, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen with Chamber Opera Chicago, Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana with the Skokie Valley Symphony, the title role in Barber’s Vanessa with Chamber Opera Chicago, and Brahms’ Requiem with the Kingston Symphony (Ontario). She was a featured soloist in a concert tour of China with the Valparaiso University Orchestra.
Much in demand on the concert stage, Ms. Gartshore has sung in Dvorak’s Mass with the International Choral Arts Festival of Jihlava in the Czech Republic; Messiah with the Richmond and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras; Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Haydn’s Heiligmesse, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and Charpentier’s Te Deum with Music of the Baroque; Brahms’s Requiem and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Richmond Symphony, and Mahler’s Second Symphony and Verdi’s Requiem with the Muncie Symphony (Indiana). As a nine-year veteran of The Handel Week Festival, she has performed several solo cantatas and sung roles in Judas Maccabaeus, Esther, Ezio, and Acis and Galatea.
Ms. Gartshore is also heard performing with guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad on Merry: A Holiday Journey, a CD of selections for Christmas by violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and friends.
William Bouvel, tenor
Tenor William Bouvel has performed across the United States and Europe with Opera Lafayette (Washington, DC), Haymarket Opera (Chicago), Park Opera, Brighton Early Music Festival, Madison Early Music Festival, and Baroque Band. His most recent roles were Lysander in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Barber of Seville, and Damon in Handel’s Acis and Galatea. He is also a frequent performer of Bach’s cantatas and oratorio works.
A current student of Philip Doghan, Mr. Bouvel completed his master’s degree in music at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he received a commendation in the Major van Someren-Godfrey Prize for English Song competition.
Mr. Bouvel has established himself as a producer through his project Song recycle, a concept developed in his dissertation on concert programming at the Royal Academy of Music and hailed as “an intriguing reimagining of the song recital idea” (Planet Hugill). He continues to invent new programs that cast older repertoire in a modern context. On Palm Sunday 2015 he premiered a pastiche of Handel oratorio music, St. Mark Passion, at Southwark Cathedral. In other projects he has explored the English song, German lieder, Italian madrigal, and Baroque song repertoires.
Mr. Bouvel is fortunate to have sung in some of the world’s greatest choirs, including the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, London’s Philharmonia Chorus, and Apollo’s Fire. With these groups he has been a part of several well-received recordings, including the 2011 Grammy winner for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, conducted by Riccardo Muti.
Philip A. Kraus, bass baritone
Bass baritone Philip Kraus divides his time between singing with Lyric Opera of Chicago and teaching at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
In 2011 and 2012 he was a featured artist in Lyric Opera’s annual Fantasy of the Opera. In 2012 he sang five of Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs with the Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra. In 2012 he sang the role of the bailiff in Massenet’s Werther and covered the title role in Don Pasquale and two supporting roles in La Bohème. In 2010, he was Push Tish in Mikado and Sid in La Fanciulla del West. In the 2007–2008 Lyric season he played the part of Baron Douphol with Renée Fleming in La Traviata and the role of Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, and in 2006 he sang in Der Rosenkavalier.
Since Handel Week’s founding in 2000, besides serving as an officer and board member, Mr. Kraus has been a major contributor to Handel Week’s success, singing every year of the festival. He has been a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago since 1990. In recent years, he has performed in operas in Cleveland and Los Angeles and with major orchestras of Cleveland, Dallas, Milwaukee, and Denver. He has spent several summers teaching in Italy and has appeared at colleges and universities across America.