Handel Week Festival 2016 Performers

Dr. Dennis E. Northway

Dennis E. Northway, Artistic Director

Handel Week Festival’s artistic director and conductor is Dennis Northway of Chicago. He with Charles Chauncey Wells founded the Handel Week Festival in 2000, and he has been conductor and artistic director since. For the past 14 years, he has developed imaginative repertories of popular Handel music and introduced other just-discovered or rarely-played pieces. He is the featured lecturer preceding most of our concerts. Northway is an accomplished tenor, organist and musician and in 2005 with Stephen Schnurr Jr. authored Pipe Organs of Chicago, Vol. I, detailing the 102 greatest organs in the Chicago area. Volume II, featuring another 117 instruments, was published in 2009.

He conducts three choirs at Grace Episcopal Church and is regional representative for John Paul Buzard Organ Builders of Champaign. He is treasurer of the Chicago Chapter, Organ Historical Society, and head of its 2012 National Convention here. He is past dean of the Chicago Chapter of American Guild of Organists. For 15 years, he was chorus master and conductor at Light Opera Works, Evanston, former panelist for the Illinois Arts Council, and was associate professor of music at VanderCook College of Music, Chicago. He is in demand to present choral workshops throughout America.

Thomas YangThomas Yang, Concertmaster

In much demand as a performer throughout the Chicago area, violinist Thomas Yang has worked with numerous musical organizations gaining him 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 acted as concertmaster for the Lake Forest Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, and many other ensembles. Mr. Yang has played with esteemed groups including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He is also a longtime member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra.

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 Meatloaf!

Mr. Yang currently serves as the executive director of the Chicago Musical Connection, a musical contracting agency, as well as an artist-in-residence at Robert Morris University. He currently resides in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette with his wife and four daughters. In his spare time, Mr. Yang enjoys tutoring first- and second-grade reading classes in Chicago and watching his daughters play ice hockey.

Kimberly McCord, soprano

Soprano Kimberly McCord has been described by Opera magazine as possessing “the ideal mix of drama, power and sensitivity.” The Chicago 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 Medée in Lully’s Thesée with William Christie conducting, on tour through Europe, Dido in Dido and Aeneas with the Gabrieli Consort and Créuse in Medée (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 Fauré 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.

Julia BentleyJulia Bentley, mezzo-soprano

Since completing apprenticeships with the Santa Fe Opera and the Chicago Lyric Opera, mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley has appeared in leading operatic roles (Carmen, Rosina, Dorbella, Despina, and both Rossini and Massenet Cinderellas) from Anchorage to New York, and has been featured as a soloist with orchestras led by George Manahan, Raymond Leppard, Oliver Knussen, Robert Shaw and Pierre Boulez. She performs frequently with Chicago’s many fine ensembles, including Contempo, the New Budapest Orpheum Society, the Rembrandt Chamber Players, Fulcrum Point, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Chicago Opera Theater, the Newberry Consort, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Lyric Opera and the MusicNOW series at Symphony Center with conductor Cliff Colnot. She has appeared to critical acclaim at Weill Hall with Pierre Boulez as the soloist in Le Marteau Sans Maître, and recorded on the Albany, Cedille and Tintagel labels.

Recent engagements have included performances of La Damnation de Faust with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Pierrot Lunaire with eighth blackbird, La Cenerentola with Sacramento Opera, Berg’s Lyric Suite with the Emerson String Quartet, and the Bach B Minor Mass with the Apollo Chorus as well as chamber music series in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. After leading the Composer Focus project at the DePaul University School of Music for six years, she is currently teaching voice at Concordia University, and the graduate Art Song Seminar at North Park University. She coaches privately, specializing in audition preparation and advanced vocal literature. This season includes concerts of music from her new CD As Dreams Fall Apart (just released by Cedille), a return to the WFMT studio for her ninth annual live broadcast, as well as continuing escapades with pianist Kuang-Hao Huang.

Michelle WrighteMichelle Wrighte, mezzo-soprano

Michelle Wrighte has made an indelible impression nationwide in an unusually varied repertoire with important companies. In past seasons at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Ms. Wrighte has performed the roles of Emilia in Otello, Mercédès in Carmen, Giovanna in Rigoletto, the Tango Singer in The Great Gatsby, the Herdswoman in Jenůfa, Second Apparition in Macbeth and Baroness Elberfeld and Nun in “The Sound of Music”. A passionate advocate of Baroque opera, she has been heard as Armindo in Handel’s Partenope at Glimmerglass Opera and Ino in Handel’s Semele at the renowned Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy; and as both Virtue and the Nurse in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea at Utah opera. Operatic highlights include Meg Page in Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor at Indianapolis Opera, Miss Dorothy Snite in Susa’s Black River at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Prince Ramiro in La Finta Giardiniera for San Francisco Opera Center, The Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen at Tulsa Opera, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti at Tampa Opera, Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri at Pamiro Opera, Cenerentola in La Cenerentola for Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Neighborhoods, and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro at L’Opera Piccola.

A highly successful concert artist as well, Ms. Wrighte has sung the alto solos in Bach’s St. John Passion under the baton of Robert Shaw, Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem with the Elgin Symphony, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Decatur Symphony. Ms. Wrighte performs regularly with the Soli Deo Gloria’s Chicago Bach Project. She also was a featured recitalist for the San Francisco Opera with performances of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben in San Francisco and Oakland, California. Recently, Michelle was the alto soloist for several performances of Handel’s Messiah with the University of Chicago at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Michelle made her Handel Week debut in 2004’s Intimate Handel chamber concert and was also featured in 2015 Handel Week’s intimate recital of cantatas and duets with Sarah Gartshore. Michelle has performed the title role of Ezio in 2006, Micah in Handel’s Samson in 2007 and featured mezzo soprano soloist for The Grand Handel. In 2015 Ms. Wrighte recorded the dual roles of Trickster and Narrator in Pat Morehead’s new opera Blackhawk Speaks;. She was a 1998 national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and attended the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, now known as the Ryan Opera Center. Michelle maintains a private voice studio and can be heard at www.michellewrighte.com.

Amy ConnAmy Conn, soprano

Soprano Amy Conn is in demand throughout the Midwest. She is known for her pure tone, communicative warmth and musical intelligence. Amy appears on both the concert and theater stage in music of many periods, with a special love for baroque repertoire. Concert performances include Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Exsultate, jubilate, Gliere’s Coloratura Concerto, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Faure’s Requiem, Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri, Purcell’s King Arthur, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Mass in B Minor and Coffee Cantata, Handel’sTheodora, La Resurrezione and Israel in Egypt, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Haydn’s Creation, “Lord Nelson” Mass and Theresienmesse.

Ms. Conn has been a featured soloist with Musica Angelica in Los Angeles, Music of the Baroque, Baroque Band, The Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, The Alabama Symphony, The Rockford Symphony, Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Elgin Choral Union and Symphony, Chorus Angelorum, North Shore Choral Society, Lutheran Choir of Chicago and Bach Chamber Choir. She is a former long time member of Chicago a cappella. Stage appearances include lead roles in Acis and Galatea, The Turn of the Screw, Yeomen of the Guard and The Pirates of Penzance. With Chicago Opera Theater, she covered the role of Isifile in Cavalli’s Giasone.

Ms. Conn is an active recitalist and chamber musician, often performing in concert with pianist Shannon McGinnis, and with ensembles including Eighth Blackbird, The Orion Ensemble, The Newberry Consort, The Madison Bach Musicians, Trio Settecento, Rembrandt Chamber Players and Ars Antigua.

Ms. Conn is featured on a CD of Celtic Baroque music with Ars Antigua. In 2006 she participated in the Handel Singing Competition in London and was a semi-finalist in the American Bach Soloists Young Artist’s Competition in Berkeley (CA). In 2010 Amy was a finalist in the New York Oratorio Society’s Young Artist Competition, performing in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and was a winner of the Bel Canto Chorus Regional Artist’s Competition.

In 2015, Amy was featured with the Rockford Symphony singing the rarely performed Coloratura Concerto by Rheinhold Gliere and Samuel Barber’s famous Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Also in 2015, she sang on a live radio broadcast of the music of Robert Kritz, and performed solo recitals at Chicago’s Cultural Center and City Winery.

Nicolina KresbachNicolina Kresbach, soprano

Nicolina (Nicci) Kresbach of Wood Dale has been a soloist and chorus member in all but one of 16 seasons of the Handel Week Festival. Through the years she has been heard in performances of the Faure, Mozart, and Durufle Requiems, Pirates of Penzance, solo recitals and benefit concerts, besides many Handel performances.

Nicci is the founder and director of the Ubuntu Children’s choir of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Chicago’s west side. She is executive director and associate conductor of the Schola and Madrigal Choirs of Grace Episcopal Church, Oak Park.

An advocate for music education, Nicci is a regular volunteer in local schools, offering musical assistance to both choral and instrumental programs. She has previously served on 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 Des Moines Metro Opera.

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

Megan OttMegan Ott, mezzo-soprano

Opera Performance program at North Park University in Chicago, under Kurt Link. Megan is from Erie, Pennsylvania and received her degree in voice from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Her previous roles include Rosine from Signor Deluso, the Old Maid from Old Maid and the Thief and Jo from Little Women.

She will be performing as Cherubino from Le Nozze di Figaro, Ruth from Dark Sisters, the Baroness in Barber’s Vanessa and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Britten in North Park’s Fall Opera scenes. Ms. Ott just returned from studying and performing with Orvieto Musica, an intensive chamber music program in Italy. She is currently an opera assistant for North Park and was the alto section leader for the University Choir.

Philip A. KrausPhilip A. Kraus, baritone

Philip Kraus is currently one of the most versatile artists on the American music scene today, having appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras and opera companies throughout the United States in a wide variety of standard and adventurous repertoire.

Mr. Kraus has been on the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago since 1990 performing numerous roles including Dulcamara in L’Elisir d’amore, Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, the Sacristan in Tosca, Elder MacClean in Susannah, Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro, Benoit/Alcindoro in La Boheme, Pish Tush in The Mikado , Baron Duphol in La Traviata, Ratcliffe in Billy Budd, Abe Kaplan in Street Scene, and the Mayor in Jenufa as well as featured roles in The Gambler, Candide, The Bartered Bride, Tristan und Isolde and Andrea Chenier. Additionally he created the role of southern Senator John Calhoun in the world premiere of Anthony Davies’ Amistad at Lyric. Mr. Kraus made his debut with the Minnesota Opera in 1995 in the title role in Verdi’s Rigoletto and made his Cleveland Opera debut in 1994 as the Vicar in Albert Herring. Additionally, he has performed Germont in La Traviata and Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana with the Missouri Symphony, Scarpia in Tosca with Chamber Opera Chicago and the Battle Creek Symphony and Taddeo in L’Italiana in Algeri with Chicago Opera Theater, the Hawaii Opera Theater and the Pamiro Opera. Comfortable in both the serious and comic repertoires, Mr. Kraus has made a specialty of two title roles, Verdi’s Falstaff and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. No stranger to unusual repertoire, Mr. Kraus performed Mangus in the American premiere of Sir Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden and portrayed the tortured Salieri in Rimsky Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri with Concertante di Chicago and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. He has also participated in The Handel Week Festival, singing in every season since the concerts started in 1998.

Mr. Kraus is equally at home in the light opera and Broadway repertoire. Considered a specialist in Gilbert and Sullivan, Mr. Kraus received high accolades from the press on his performance of Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore at the Cleveland Opera. Also adept in the Viennese repertory, Mr. Kraus has portrayed leading roles in The Gypsy Baron, Weiner Blut, The Merry Widow, and One Night in Venice . He scored a critical coup in 1989 with his acclaimed portrayal of Russell Paxton in the first major revival of Kurt Weill’s Lady in the Dark at Light Opera Works. Mr. Kraus has also been featured on numerous pops concerts with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra featuring the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Stephen Sondheim.

Solo engagements with conductor Margaret Hillis led to his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut in Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and Russell Woollen’s In Martyrium Memoriam after which Sir Georg Solti engaged him for Carnegie Hall performances and recording of Fidelio. A frequent concert artist, Mr. Kraus has appeared as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas, Milwaukee, Omaha, Colorado, Santa Barbara, Richmond, Roanoke, Grant Park, South Bend, Owensboro, Jacksonville, and Madison Symphonies, and the Rochester and Fort Wayne Philharmonics under conductors Erich Leinsdorf, Eduardo Mata, Zdenek Macal, Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, Claudio Abbado, James Levine, James Paul, Mark Elder, Anton Coppola, Gisele Ben-Dor, Eduard Tchivzhel and Marin Alsop. His wide concert repertoire includes a quartet of Requiems; the Verdi, Brahms, Faure and Mozart; Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Magnificat, Vaughan Williams’ The Sea Symphony and Shostokovitch’s Fourteenth Symphony. Mr. Kraus has also been a frequent guest of choral ensembles including the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee, Chicago’s Apollo Chorus, the Bach Festival of Winter Park, Music of the Baroque, the Handel Week Festival and the Calvin College Oratorio Society.

Mr. Kraus holds three degrees including a Doctor of Music from Northwestern University. He has been on the faculty at schools of music at Northwestern University, DePaul University, Roosevelt University and North Park University. He also founded Light Opera Works in 1980, a professional company devoted to operetta and served as Artistic Director for 19 seasons. He also served as resident stage director of Pamiro Opera from 1988 through 1996.

Noah GartnerNoah Gartner, baritone

Originally from New York, Lyric Baritone Noah Gartner has found a home performing in the Chicago area over the past 10 years, performing with da Corneto Opera, Petite Opera, Windy City Opera, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, and Handel Week Festival. He is very pleased to be returning as a soloist to Handel Week Festival, after singing most recently during the 2014 season as Baritone soloist for Messiah

Previous roles include Figaro in Barber of Seville, Valentin in Faust, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Schaunard in La Bohème, Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos, Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Ko-Ko in The Mikado. Fall 2015 season includes roles with Petite Opera (Papageno in The Magic Flute) and a 21st Century opera with Third Eye Theatre Ensemble (Alwan in Sumeida’s Song).

One of Noah’s more recent performances as the title role in Brundibar with Petite Opera holds a particular significance to him, as it was the first opera performed alongside his 2 wonderfully talented children - Paul and Anne.

Additional highlights include a performance of Schumann’s Dichterliebe alongside Dennis Northway at the piano during the 2013 season of the Thursday Concerts @ 6:26 at Grace Church.

Kangmin Justin Kim Kangmin Justin Kim, countertenor

Korean-American countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim was born in 1988 in South Korea, and he grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago from the age of 11. He studied voice, opera, and musical theater at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, USA, and the Royal Academy of Music, London, UK. During his studies, he has participated in masterclasses with artists such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dennis O’Neill, Thomas Quasthoff, June Anderson, Malcolm Martineau, Alfred Brendel and Masaaki Suzuki, among others.

In the 2015/2016 season, Justin makes his role debut as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and sings the title role of Kalitzke’s newly written opera, Pym, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s only full length novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, at Theater Heidelberg. In the winter, he sings Enea in Handel/Vinci pasticcio Didone Abbandonata and gives a solo recital titled Gelosia, featuring music by Bononcini, Handel, Hasse, Mancini, and Porpora, at the Schwetzinger Schloss. For the first time since his undergraduate studies, Justin will appear on the American concert stage as Sesto in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Handel Week Festival in Oak Park, IL.

During the 2014/2015 season, Justin made his Parisian debut and role debut as Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’ La Chauve-Souris (Die Fledermaus) at Opéra Comique and Oreste in Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène at Théâtre du Châtelet. He returned to Opéra National de Montpellier to portray Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, as well as concluding his tour of Cavalli’s Elena through Angers, Nantes, and Rennes.

Justin’s 2013/2014 schedule included his role debut as Menelao in Cavalli’s Elena at Opéra National de Montpellier and Opéra de Lille, Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo at Stadttheater Gießen, Handel’s Gloria in excelsis Deo at the Dartington Hall, Devon and his recital debut at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford.

Active in competitions, Justin is a winner of the Les Azuriales Prize (Nice, France), the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Wisconsin District), the 4th International Singing Competition for Baroque Opera Pietro Antonio Cesti (Innsbruck, Austria), the Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform (Oxford, England), the Michael Head Song Prize (RAM, London, England), the Prix Mermod for Voice (Verbier, Switzerland), and the 2012 Stuart Burrows International Voice Award (Carmarthen, Wales). Most recently, he was a finalist of the 34th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition (Amsterdam, Netherlands).

His future engagements include Amore in L’Orfeo by Monteverdi at Opéra de Dijon and Ulisse in Deidamia by Handel at Schwetzinger Festspiele.

Sean StantonSean Stanton, baritone

New to Handel Week singing the part of Curio in Julius Caesar is baritone Sean Stanton, a graduate of North Park University with a Bachelor of Music degree, where he was a Presidential Scholar and won the Undergraduate Performance Awards in 2011.

More honors have come Sean’s way since graduating. In 2012, he took first place at the Illinois and Northern NATS competitions, and the Bel Canto Foundation awarded him a Bella Voce Award. In 2013, he took third place at the Chicago NATS competition, was a semi-finalist and Bravo Award winner with the Bel Canto Foundation, and a finalist for Opera Idol at The North Shore competition in Evanston.

Previous opera and oratorio credits include Prince Yamadori in Dupage Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly and Lockit in North Park University's The Beggar’s Opera, Faure’s Requiem, Liszt’s Via Crucis and Saint-Saens’s Christmas Oratorio. Sean has performed around Chicago with ensembles such as The Grant Park Chorus, The North Shore Choral Society, as a Donald Chen Young Artist, as an associate member of VOX3 Collective, and joins the Chicago Symphony Chorus this fall as a core associate member.

Currently Sean is the President of the Chicago Chapter of Student NATS. This fall, he will begin his Master’s of Music degree at North Park University. Sean studies under the direction of Annie Picard, focusing on a holistic approach to singing and musicianship.

Jason MoyJason Moy, harpsichordist

Jason J. Moy holds degrees in harpsichord and Early Music performance from McGill University in Montreal, where his primary teachers and mentors included Hank Knox, Luc Beauséjour, and the late Bruce Haynes. Jason is a native of Chicago, and currently serves on the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music, where he teaches harpsichord and chamber music, directs the Baroque Ensemble, and heads the Piano and Keyboard department. His concert activities as a soloist and collaborative artist have taken him throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, and include appearances at the 2013 and 2015 Boston Early Music Festivals, and the prestigious York Early Music Festival in the United Kingdom in 2009. Jason regularly performs with his award-winning period instrument ensemble, Trio Speranza, and is a frequent guest artist with such respected ensembles as the Bach Week Festival Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, Newberry Consort, Baroque Band, Chicago Chamber Musicians, and the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured in live peformances on ABC7 and CBS2 television, and BBC Radio 3, and is frequently heard on Chicago’s classical radio station, WFMT98.7. Please visit www.jjmoy.com for more details about upcoming performances.

Richard YeoRichard 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 free-lance cellist in the Chicago area. Some of the orchestras he performs with include the Grant Park Symphony, the Chicago Philharmonic, and the Lake Forest Symphony.

Jeri-Lou ZikeJeri-Lou Zike, violinist

Jeri-Lou Zike is a versatile, energetic musician who enjoys a variety of artistic activities in symphonic, baroque, and chamber music. She is principal and founding member of the Metropolis Symphony Orchestra and principal second violin of the Chicago Opera Theater. She is also a member of the Chicago Philharmonic, the Joffrey ballet orchestra and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra. She is frequent performer on the Handel Week Festival concerts in Oak Park.

As a period instrument performer, Ms. Zike is concertmaster of the Haymarket Opera Company which she manages alongside the General director, Craig Trompeter, cellist. The opera company is taking Chicago by storm in its fifth year and according to all the critics, the praise for its quality is of highest caliber. Other musical credits include concertmaster of the University of Chicago Rockefeller Chapel Concerts, Chicago Bach Ensemble as well as performances with His Majestie’s Clerkes, Kansas City Music Consort, Baroque Band and Music of the Baroque’s first period instrument concert.

Ms. Zike is also a well-regarded contractor of musicians, providing orchestras for the Apollo Chorus, Chicago Chorale, the Cathedral Singers, and Rockefeller Chapel choirs among others. Jeri-Lou Zike has recorded with GIA, Centaur, and Cedille Records. To balance the intensity of music making, Jeri-Lou loves to swim, bike and run and is a five time Ironman.


See the Handel Week Festival’s past performers here.