This page is incomplete and uses biographies fromlast year for artists who appeared in the 2015 season.
Handel Week Festival 2016 Performers
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 Yang, Concertmaster
Thomas Yang of Wilmette, has served as concertmaster and featured violinist in the Handel Week Festival since its beginning. He has been concertmaster for the Lake Forest Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, and Illinois Chamber Symphony. He regularly plays in Chicago’s Grant Park Symphony and has performed with the Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Symphony II, Basically Bach, and others. He is one of five founding board members of the Metropolis Symphony Orchestra and first violinist of the Chicago Musical String Quartet.
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.
Michelle Wrighte, mezzo-soprano
Michelle Wrighte has made an indelible impression nationwide in an unusually wide variety of repertoire with important companies. Ms. Wrighte’s past seasons at Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has performed the roles of Emilia in Otello, Mercédès/Carmen, Giovanna/Rigoletto, the Tango Singer/The Great Gatsby, the Herdswoman/Jenůfa, and the Second Apparition/Macbeth. A passionate advocate of Baroque opera, she has been heard as Armindo/Handel's Partenope at Glimmerglass Opera and Ino/Handel's Semele at the renowned Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy; and as both Virtue and the Nurse/Monteverdi's L’incoronazione di Poppea at Utah opera. Operatic Highlights include: Meg Page/Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor at Indianapolis Opera, Miss Dorothy Snite/Susa's Black River at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Prince Ramiro/La Finta Giardiniera for San Francisco Opera Center, The Fox/The Cunning Little Vixen at Tulsa Opera, Dinah/Trouble in Tahiti at Tampa Opera, Isabella/L’italiana in Algeri at Pamiro Opera, Cenerentola/La Cenerentola for Light Opera Chicago in the Neighborhood, and Cherubino/Le Nozze di Figaro at L’opera Piccola.
While at the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, now known as the Ryan Opera Center, Ms. Wrighte was heard in an operatic concert at the Ravinia Festival; as Zerlina/Don Giovanni and Dorabella/Così fan tutte at the Grant Park Music; and in her debut with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, singing Bernstein’s Songfest.
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. Michelle has performed the alto solos of Bach’s B minor Mass and Handel’s Messiah with The Choral Society of Durham and Handel’s Messiah with the Midland Symphony and the University of Chicago Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Ms. Wrighte was a featured recitalist for the San Francisco Opera with performances of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben in San Francisco and Oakland, CA. Michelle made her Handel Week debut in 2004’s Intimate Handel chamber concert and was also featured in the title role of Ezio in 2006 and the role of Micah in Handel's Samson in 2007. The mezzo-soprano was a 1998 national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She also maintains a private voice studio.
See the Handel Week Festival’s past performers here.