Performers

Documentary video produced by Edward Seaton

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 organ teachers include Ronald Arnatt, Kathleen Thomerson, Herbert Gotsch, Richard Enright, and Wolfgang Rübsam. He is parish musician at St. John's Church, Gig Harbor, Washington 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 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.

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.

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 Zauberflote and later covered roles in Mozart's Cozi fan tutte and Rameau's Platee. 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, Micaela 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 Boheme. 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 Renee 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.

Deb Stevenson

Deb Stevenson has been a freelance oboist in the Chicago area for over twenty years. In addition to her work with the Metropolis Quartet & Symphony, she also performs frequently with the Lake Forest Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Ars Viva, and Apollo Chorus.

Deb can be heard on recordings of the Strauss "Alpine Symphony" and Stravinsky's complete "Firebird" with the Chicago Symphony; "I Know Where I'm Going" and "Christmas in St. Charles" with the St. Charles Singers; "Messiah" with Apollo Chorus; numerous recordings for GIA music publishing company; "Music from the Bolivian Rainforest" with the Metropolis Symphony; and the Milwaukee Symphony.

Deb currently serves as contractor for the Broadway Series at the Paramount Arts Center in Aurora. She has also hired performers for St. Charles Singers concerts and recordings, Heartland Voices, and Canterbury Singers. In her work for the Paramount Arts Center and the Chicago Theatre she has provided musicians for artists such as Bernadette Peters, Eddie Vedder, Glen Hansard, Bob Newhart, Marie Osmond, Smokey Robinson, Video Games Live and Idina Menzel.

Deb teaches at Wheaton College and maintains her own private teaching studio at home.

Deb's formal music education began in Louisville, KY and she continued in college at the University of Louisville, Northern Illinois University, Boston University and Northwestern University. She has studied with Marion Gibson, Grover Schiltz, Ray Still and Larry Thorstenburg.

Kimberly McCord, soprano

Soprano Kimberly McCord has been described by Opera magazine as possessing "the ideal mix of drama, power and sensitivity." The Tribune says, regarding a performance of Rodelinda as part of the Handel Week Festival in which she sang the title role, "With her luscious, billowing voice, superb technique and fine expressive command she made a meal of arias that run the gamut from pathos, defiance and yearning to radiant joy."

Kimberly has appeared at the Peninsula Music Festival in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Knoxville, Summer of 1915 by Samuel Barber under direction of Victor Yampolsky. She has also sung both the Verdi Requiem and Mozart Requiem at the festival.

An avid singer of Baroque music, Kimberly made her debut with Haymarket Opera as Dido in their production of Dido and Aeneas by Purcell. She has appeared with Music of the Baroque in Mozart's Solemn Vespers, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, Handel's Dixit Dominus and Vivaldi's Gloria. More Baroque appearances include Bach's St. Matthew and Handel's Messiah with the Alabama Symphony under Gary Thor Wedow.

After receiving a Fulbright grant to study Baroque music in London with Dame Emma Kirkby, Kimberly lived in Europe for eight years. Baroque operas performed there include Medee in Lully's Thesee with William Christie conducting, on tour through Europe, Dido in Dido and Aeneas with the Gabrieli Consort and Crause in Medee (Charpentier) at the Dartington Festival, England.

Kimberly has recorded the Bach Magnificat and Oster Oratorium for Deutsche Grammophon with the Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh conducting. Other oratorio performances include Messiah with the Croydon Bach Society in London, Handel's Israel in Egypt with the Dutch Bach Society and the Faure Requiem also in the Netherlands.

Kimberly also enjoys performing lighter music and sang the title role in Leo Fall's The Rose of Stambul with Chicago Folks Operetta. The Tribune said, "The alluring soprano brought winning temperament... along with a warm, vibrant voice of size and quality." A recording of The Rose of Stambul is available from Naxos.

Gerald Frantzen, tenor

Tenor Gerald Frantzen is thrilled to be returning to Handel Week. He was last heard as the tenor soloist in the Handel Cantata "Look Down Harmonius Saint." Other highlights have been two Messiahsand the 2010 production of Rodelinda, in which he received rave reviews from the Chicago Tribune for his portrayal of Grimoaldo. He founded Chicago Folks Operetta in 2006 withhis wife Alison Kelly. Mr. Frantzen has sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Lyric Opera of Chicago chorus where he made his LOC solo debut as the Peasant in Eugene Onegin in 2008. In 2010 he received rave reviews from the Chicago Tribune for his portrayal of Grimoaldo in Handels rarely heard opera Rodelinda, with Handel Week. He has performed roles in Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, Acis and Galatea, and Salome with Glimmerglass Opera; Don Pasquale with Natchez Opera; La Rondine with Sarasota Opera, Arabella with Santa Fe Opera and Don Giovanni with Ridge Light Opera. In the operetta world, he has performed roles in Madame Pompadour, The Rose of Stambul, Arizona Lady, Clo Clo, The Girl in the Train, Springtime, Mitislav the Modern, Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod, Thespis, Gypsy Love, Babes in Toyland, Yeomen of the Guard, Duchess of Chicago, Pirates of Penzance, Student Prince, The Merry Widow, and The Gondoliers. Most recently his production of Johnny Johnson by Kurt Weill was noted as the "must see musical of the Summer" by the Chicago Tribune. His international musical theater credits include Bishop (Jekyll & Hyde) in Bremen, Germany, Piangi (The Phantom of the Opera - Hal Prince, Director) in Hamburg, Germany and The Russian (Chess) in Bergen, Norway. Regional credits include Dorsey & the Young Confederate Soldier (Parade-which won 8 Jeff Citations), Sir Harry (Once Upon a Mattress), Tony (West Side Story), Baron (Grand Hotel) and Charlie (Brigadoon). He can also be heardwith "The Three Waiters", which won the award for Best Corporate Event of the Year in 2002, 2005 and 2009 and 2015. Special thanks to Alison, Joseph and Clara- the loves of my life. Upcoming: Directing the Chicago premiere of The Csardas Princess, by Emmerich Kalman

Noah Gartner, baritone

Originally from New York, Baritone Noah Gartner has been performing in Chicago regularly over the past few years; most recently as Kapitan Tiago in the US premiere of Noli Me Tangere with DaCorneto Opera, and as Guglielmo in Petite Opera's production of Cosi fan tutte. This will be Noah's third appearance with Handel week, last singing with the Chorus for Israel in Egypt and as Cadmus in Semele.

During the 2013 season of the Thursday Concerts @ 6:26 at Grace Church Noah performed Schumann's Dichterliebe alongside Dennis Northway at the piano.

Noah has also sung multiple roles with Chicago-based DaCorneto Opera including Figaro in Barber of Seville, Valentin in Faust, and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte. Prior to his move to Chicago, Mr. Gartner performed the roles of Shaunard in La Boheme, Masetto in Don Giovanni, and the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos; all sung with dell'Arte Opera Ensemble of New York.

Celia Williams, soprano

Celia Williams currently sings at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago with Stephen Buzard. She also sings with Cantate, led by Benjamin Rivera, and carols with Season's Greetings. In May 2019 she will be singing with The Bach Week Festival Chorus with Richard Webster. She studies with Kimberly Roberts, an instructor with the Des Moines Metro Opera. This summer, Ms. Williams performed as Venere in Cavalli's La Didone for the Haymarket Opera Company's Summer Opera Course in Chicago directed by Craig Trompeter and Drew Minter. Other roles include Poppea in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea in 2015 and Susanna in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro in 2016 with Illinois Wesleyan University Opera. With the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana, under the direction of Dr. Chet Alwes, Ms. Williams performed the roles of Filia in Carissimi's Jephte and Clorinda in Monteverdi's Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda.

In 2016, she was a First Place Winner of the Illinois Wesleyan University Charles Memorial Concerto/Aria Competition, in which she sang "Una voce poco fa" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. She received the David Nott Scholarship and the Presser Foundation Award the same year. Ms. Williams earned a Bachelor's in Vocal Performance from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2017 where she studied with Drs. Linda Farquharson and Jennifer Schuetz.

Nicolina (Nicci) Krebasch

Nicolina Krebasch (Nicci) has been a soloist and chorus member in all but one of 20 seasons of the Handel Week Festival. Through the years she has been heard in performances of the Faure, Mozart, Durufle, Northway (World Premier) and Rutter Requiems, the Pirates of Penzance, solo recitals and benefit concerts besides many, many Handel performances.

Nicci for many years was the Executive Director and Associate Conductor of the Schola and Madrigal Choirs of Grace Episcopal Church, Oak Park. She was also the founder and Director of the Ubuntu Children's choir of St. Andrew Episcopal Church on Chicago's West Side.

An advocate for music education, Nicci is a regular volunteer in local schools, offering musical assistance to both choral and instrumental programs. She is a past member of the Board of the Young Musicians Mentor Band through Fenton High School, Bensenville. Nicci has previously taught early education skills using music, rhythm and movement.

Nicci studied under Robert L. Larsen and with Steven Stolen and received her bachelor of Music Degree from Simpson College. While at Simpson, Nicci gained invaluable experience during her association with the Des Moines Metro Opera.

She resides in Wood Dale with her husband Joe and three children, Katrina, Julianna and Jesse.

Jeff Hunt

We are delighted to welcome conductor Jeff Hunt to our Handel Week family to conduct our performance of Acis and Galatea. Jeff Hunt brings his focus on outstanding repertoire, communicative performances, and sincere singing to his programs, and is known for his lively - yet always sensitive - guidance of his choir. As founder and Music Director of St. Charles Singers, Hunt's emphasis on musicality with understanding, imagination, and transparency has resulted in beautifully polished and endearing performances by an ensemble known for its exquisite singing. Hunt, in addition to directing St. Charles Singers, is Director of Music at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles, serves as adjunct faculty at Elgin (IL) Community College, is active in several choral directors' associations, and maintains a voice studio. He received a B.M. from Taylor University and an M.M. in Choral Conducting from Northwestern University.
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