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THE VOCALISTS

Kristin Lelm

Soprano, Kristin Lelm, has performed as a recitalist and soloist all over the U.S. and has internationally sung in Italy and Denmark, performing with two military brass bands: Slesvisgke Musikkorps and the Danish Queen's Royal Guard Band: Den Kongelige Livgarde.   She is currently a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Acappella, and is a hired session singer for clients such as Hal Leonard Publishing, Paul Langford Music, Inc., Elmhurst Choral Union and she just made her debut singing with Lakeside Singers.  Mrs. Lelm has performed with broadway sensation, Ashley Brown, and has made many charity event appearances, including Ronald McDonald House Charities, RL Gala for TCW Magazine Foundation, Northwestern Hospital, and St. James Lutheran Church and School Auction Gala.  Currently, Kristin is working on her first solo album, which is to be released Spring of 2022.

Garrett Johannsen

Garrett Johannsen is from Schiller Park, Illinois. Garrett graduated from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. His career highlights include debuting a new chamber work, "as the fireflies watched... the chamber music of James Stephenson," published on Klavier Records this past May, multiple summer tours in the UK with Chamber Opera Chicago performing Jane Austen's Persuasion, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at Carnegie Hall with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, a Nederlander Centennial medley performance at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion and soloist performances with the Elgin, Elmhurst, and Waukegan Symphonies. He has performed with Music of the Baroque, Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony and Grant Park Choruses, Bella Voce, Chicago a cappella and The William Ferris Chorale. He has also performed in many operas, recitals, cabarets and city wide events. Garrett is a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists. Please continue to support our arts culture during this trying and difficult time.  

LaRob K. Rafael

A native of Temple Hills, Maryland, LaRob K. Rafael developed a love for singing at an early age. He found a spirit in the Gospel songs he sang and nuance in the Classical music he learned. A graduate of DePaul University where he received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, LaRob has studied with world-renowned teachers, directors, and coaches and has had musical opportunities that include traveling internationally to study language, culture, and music. 


As an Arts Administrator, he has worked with Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Learning and Creative Engagement Department,  sits on the Board of La Caccina, an all-women’s profession choral ensemble,  as Diversity and Community Engagement Advisor, been the Director of Community Engagement with Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival (2021), and is an active consultant with the recently formed Black Opera Alliance and Black Administrators of Opera groups.

LaRob is the Founder and Artistic Director of Hearing in Color, an organization dedicated to supporting those whose contributions and stories have been historically excluded from classical spaces. He is a current member of the William Ferris Chorale and has been featured as a guest artist, soloist, or speaker on several in-person or virtual events. LaRob was a cast member in the recently released film musical, Hal King (Amazon, 2021) produced by Steve Wallace and composed the theme music for the hit horror movie podcast, Nightmare on Fierce Street.

Additionally, LaRob uses his voice to connect people from different communities as recently appointed weekend morning host of Chicago's Classical music radio station, WFMT (98.7 FM) to aid in decentralizing the predominantly white, European, male-centered classical consciousness.

Ruth Heald

Mezzo-soprano Ruth Ginelle Heald is equally at home singing opera, musical theater, pop, and jazz styles. Operatic credits include Mrs. Soames in Rorem’s Our Town (Willamette Dramatic Vocal Arts), Featured Soloist in Purcell’s King Arthur (Chicago College of Performing Arts), and the title role in Carmen (Willamette Dramatic Vocal Arts). Musical theater highlights include Belle inBeauty and the Beast (Centerstage Productions, Oregon), Rose in Secret Garden (Willamette Dramatic Vocal Arts), and the title character in the world premiere of Jason Heald’s Constance (Oregon Musical Theatre Festival). As a soloist, Ruth has appeared with Chicago Choral Artists, Portland Symphonic Choir, Chicago College of Performing Arts Wind Ensemble, Willamette Master Chorus, and Umpqua Chamber Orchestra. She attended the opera studio program at American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria on scholarship.

Ruth’s career as a freelance percussionist with various rock, pop, and folk artists expands from festival rock stages to intimate acoustic music venues. Her endeavors as a singing drummer have taken her around the world, including tours in Spain, Ireland, England, and China. Ruth regularly sings and plays drums for Goldfoot, a high-energy funk-rock band based in Portland. Some of Ruth’s most memorable gigs include playing in the pit for 4x4=Musicals (a showcase of 8-minute musicals created for 4x4 foot stage) and performing on the mainstage at the Oregon-based “What The Festival.” 

Ruth earned a Master of Music in Voice Performance at Chicago College of Performing Arts while serving as the Opera Graduate Assistant. A native Oregonian, Ruth completed her Bachelor of Music in Music Education at Willamette University where she was a Rogers Scholar and Carson Grant recipient.

Damon Cole

Damon Cole has sung in many Chicago-area choruses, performed in small local opera and operetta companies.  Highlights include the Grant Park Music Festival summer seasons and Chicago Folks Operetta.  He also served as a cantor for many years in several traditions.  He studied voice and music composition at Wheaton College.  His hobbies include leatherworking, raising poultry, and learning new instruments.

Beena David

Beena David's performance career has spanned the past 20 years as a professional vocalist, on-camera talent, arranger, and writer. 

 

Her love for oratorio and concert work began in Italy as a Young Artist with La Musica Lirica where she was the soloist for Dvořák’s Mass in D Major with the Coro Filarmonico di Pesaro. Since then, she has performed as a soloist in Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, and Vivaldi's Gloria with local orchestras including Camerata Chicago, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Lakeview Orchestra, and Credo. Beena was also chosen as the mezzo-soprano cover for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 run of Mozart's Requiem.

 

International appearances have included an art song and Indian classical dance recital for the Muzeum w Chrzanów in Poland and performing as the mezzo soloist in Reger's Requiem with the Zuid Nederlands Concertkoor in The Netherlands. Most recently, she toured South Africa and Cuba as a section leader and soloist for the Fourth Presbyterian Touring Choir and is looking forward to the upcoming 2022 concerts in Israel.

 

Her vocal accomplishments also include Grammy Award-winning ensemble work with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, several seasons with the Grant Park Music Festival, cover roles with Chicago Opera Theatre; and the honor of regularly singing the American, Canadian, and French National Anthems for several iconic institutions, including the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bears, Chicago White Sox, and the National Gathering of Native American Veterans.

 

Beena received her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Roosevelt University and is currently exploring Carnatic music and Western contemporary techniques. 

Angela De Venuto

Praised for her versatility and range, soprano Angela De Venuto is becoming known around the United States as a dramatic force in opera. She most recently made her role debut this August as Musetta (La Bohème) with The Savannah Voice Festival under the baton of Andrew Bisantz and direction of Fabrizio Melano. Angela has portrayed a wide range of characters; some highlights include, Emily Webb (Our Town), Mrs Grose (The Turn of the Screw), Drusilla (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), the title role of Angélique, Adele (Die Fledermaus), Amore (The Return of Ulysses) with DePaul Opera Theatre; Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), and premiered the roles of Sarah Davenport and Jane in Michael Ching’s Anna Hunter with The Savannah Voice Festival; Despina (Cosí fan tutte) with DuPage Opera Theatre; Miss Jessel (The Turn of the Screw) with Chicago Fringe Opera; Marzelline (Fidelio) with Intermezzi; Maria (West Side Story) with the Northwest Chicago Symphony. 

In concert and recital settings Angela has performed as a soloist with Ensemble 20+, a Chicago based contemporary music ensemble, the Music Institute of Chicago, the Metropolis Chamber Orchestra St. Paul’s Chamber Orchestra of Evanston, and DePaul University’s Symphony Orchestra, singing pieces from the concert canon such as Mozart’s Requiem and C Minor Mass, Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Schubert’s Mass in G Major, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. In addition to the standard repertory, Angela’s affinity for new music has made her a sought after performer by many of today’s prominent composers of vocal music. Highlights include Comala Suite by Zohn-Muldoon based on the novel Pedro Párama by Mexican author Juan Rulfo, Ode on St. Cecelia’s Day by Parry, Poems of Amy Lowell set by Benjamin Krause, and Estonian folk texts set by Leo Radosavljevic. 

Angela has been awarded first prizes in the Classical Singer competition Emerging Professional Division (2017), Musician’s Club of Women (2017), the Sherrill Milnes Opera Idol competition (2016), and been named a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council competition (2019). 

Angela is also a co-founder and artistic director of Intermezzi, a new digital performing arts platform.

Angela received her Masters and Bachelors of Music degrees in Vocal Performance from DePaul University. 

Leo Radosavljevic

Poised for a breakthrough career on the international operatic stage, bass-baritone Leo Radosavljevic is sought after around the world for his “excellent musicianship” and “expansive delivery”. A native of Chicago, Leo spent his childhood singing in the Lyric Opera Children’s Chorus and studying piano with his father. He then attended The Juilliard School where he received a bachelors degree with scholastic distinction and a masters degree. During his studies he performed many operatic roles such as Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tobia Mill in La Cambiale di Matrimonio, and gave the U.S. premiere performances of Willi Graf in Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Kommilitonen!. Since his studies, he has been heard with Opera Colorado as Bonze in Madama Butterfly, The NewPhilharmonic as Don Alfonso in Così fan Tutte, Opera Theater of Saint Louis as Manders in Regina, Teatro Nuovo as Orbazzano in Tancredi, and covered the role of the King in Aida with Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He is the 3rd Prize winner of the 8th

Klaudia Taev Competition in Estonia, Grand Prize winner of the 2017 Bel Canto Competition,

and was a Regional Finalist in the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. On the

concert stage, he has appeared as soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Metropolis Symphony, The Orchestra Now, New Juilliard Ensemble, and Juilliard415, with whom he performed Telemann’s rarely heard Die Tageszeiten to high acclaim from The New York Times, as well as made a studio recording in Vancouver with the Canadian Broadcasting Company. He has also appeared regularly as an art song recitalist at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago and Carnegie Hall in New York. Leo is a proud recipient of the 2020 Marcella Kochańska Sembrich Award from the American Council for Polish Culture. In the summer of 2021, Leo will return to Lincoln Center with Teatro Nuovo to cover Bartolo in their highly anticipated production of Il barbiere di Siviglia, as well as perform the roles of Colline in Puccini’s La Boheme with the Savannah Voice Festival and Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Opera in Williamsburg.

Leo is also a co-founder and executive director Intermezzi, a new digital performing arts platform.

INSTRUMENTAL

Eleanor Kirk

Eleanor Kirk is an experienced orchestral, chamber, and solo musician from Evanston, Illinois. She currently serves as the Principal Harpist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Harp Quartet and at the Ravinia Festival. Season highlights from the past year include appearances on the Rush Hour, Musicians Club of Women Artists in Recital, and Dame Myra Hess concert series. Eleanor performed as a featured soloist with the Bach Week Festival Orchestra and the Illinois Symphony orchestra in their 2021 seasons. 

Eleanor holds degrees from Columbia University, and Chicago College of Performing Arts, and is a dedicated educator, serving as harp faculty at the Peoples Music School and the Young Artists Harp Seminar. Her students have received top honors at the Greater Chicago Chapter of the American Harp Society Competition, the Illinois American String Teachers Association Concerto Competition, and the Midwest Harp Festival Competition. 

Eleanor is a founding member of 5th Wave Collective, a Chicago based classical music ensemble dedicated to the performance and promotion of music by womxn, where she works as development director.

SPOKEN WORD

Destiny Strothers

Destiny Strothers is a multi-disciplinary artist specializing in theatre, music, and poetry. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has performed in countless readings, festivals, and productions throughout the Chicagoland area. Her songwriting has been described as anatomical, cinematic, and deeply poetic. She’s played at the Chicago Salon Series The Newness, The Martin, The Annoyance, and Schubas Tavern. Music videos for her latest releases "Keepsake" and "Paranoia" are on YouTube and available on all streaming platforms now. Ms. Strothers spent her youth caroling through the Chicagoland area during the holiday season and is excited to share the gift of poetry at tonight's concert!

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