- Jonathan Miller
- Matt Greenberg
- John William Trotter
- Anne Heider
- Paul Langford
- Patrick Sinozich
- Benjamin Rivera
- Ryan Cox
- Carl Frank
- Ace Gangoso
- Garrett Johannsen
- Kathryn Kamp
- Alexia Kruger
- Joe Labozetta
- Woo Chan (Chaz) Lee
- Trevor Mitchell
- Cari Plachy
- Sarah Ponder
- Emily Price
- Angela Young Smucker
Founder and Artistic Director
Jonathan Miller created Chicago a cappella in 1993 to give accomplished ensemble singers an experience of performing eclectic and exciting repertoire and to share the resulting beauty with the world. A champion of innovative programming, Jonathan has been the group’s driving artistic force through more than 300 performances and nine commercial CD releases, work which was recognized with the 2008 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal from Chorus America. When Jonathan was a teenage bass in the Chicago Children’s Choir, he was bitten hard by the choral bug. He was fortunate to be exposed to a wide range of repertoire by a remarkable group of mentors, including Christopher Moore, Lena McLin, Max Janowski, Howard Mayer Brown, Richard Proulx, John Nygro, and Anne Heider. Eager to learn research tools for choral music, Jonathan earned his doctorate in historical musicology at UNC-Chapel Hill. After returning to the Chicago area, Jonathan led the choir at Unity Temple in Oak Park for nine years and began composing new choral music while serving there. He has written more than 75 choral works in a variety of genres and languages, on the poetry of such writers as Mark Jarman, Peter Watson Jenkins, and Leonard Cohen; his music has been sung at venues including St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Pentagon. His mashup "Jingle Bells Hallelujah (Chorus)" is a minor hit, and his series of Wacky Christmas Carols continues to mix words and tunes in new combinations. He also is a leading figure in Jewish choral music, active as composer, cantor, conductor, and producer. He serves as high-holiday cantor at Congregation Rodfei Zedek in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He conducted the Janowski Centenary Concert at KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation, also in Hyde Park, in 2012; he received the Perelmuter Award at KAMII in 2013; and he was Scholar-in-Residence at Lakeside Congregation (Highland Park, IL) in 2014. He is the host for the new broadcast, “A Chanukah Celebration with Chicago a cappella,” on the WFMT Fine Arts Network. An enthusiastic auctioneer for charity events, Jonathan serves as Director of Choral Catalog (and in-house choral arranger) at Musicnotes.com and is a former board member of Chorus America.
A founding ensemble member of Chicago a cappella, Matt has led the organization's administration as Executive Director since 1995. Combining a career in arts management with that of a professional singer, he has been an active member of the Chicago arts community for over 25 years. He has led workshops for Chorus America's national conference and for the Arts and Business Council of Chicago. As a baritone, he has appeared frequently on Chicago’s concert and theater stages, singing everything from Bach to Broadway. His solo appearances include Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Requiem, and an evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Matt is a longtime member of the Grant Park Chorus and sang for over 20 years with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, where he made over a dozen solo or small ensemble appearances. He has also performed with Music of the Baroque, William Ferris Chorale, and the Harwood Early Music Ensemble. Matt’s work in musical theater includes the Jeff-award winning Sylvia’s Real Good Advice, Hot Mikado, and appearances at Light Opera Works and Pegasus Players.
John William Trotter
Principal Music Director
John William Trotter has conducted more than a dozen professional orchestras and choirs in seven countries, and his work from the podium has been recognized internationally through numerous prizes, grants, and invitations. He first directed Chicago a cappella in 2013, and was named Principal Music Director in 2015. He has led the ensemble in eight programs, totaling over thirty performances throughout Chicagoland and across state lines.
In 2012, Trotter joined the faculty of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, where he now serves as Associate Professor, directing the select Wheaton College Concert Choir and training young conductors. Under his direction, the Concert Choir has performed with professional ensembles, sung on professional concert series, been featured at music conferences, recognized as finalists for the American Prize, and toured widely. They are particularly recognized for their innovative approach to masterworks, such as their new semi-staged production of Handel’s Messiah in 2016, exploring interdisciplinary collaborations with dancers and painters, and engaging in improvisation with audiences in concert halls, homeless shelters, and with hundreds of inmates at a state prison.
Dr. Trotter’s conducting students have distinguished themselves by taking up significant positions, gaining entrance to the top graduate schools in the country, and through earning national recognition at the ACDA Student Conducting Competition.
Prior to moving to Chicagoland, Trotter served as Associate Conductor of Canada's outstanding professional ensemble, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, which he conducted in over twenty-five performances throughout Canada, Taiwan, and Japan. His performance of the Vivaldi Magnificat was hailed by the Vancouver Sun as "a radiant performance of this work that overstated nothing and brought out all of its freshness and charm”, and his season opening concert was broadcast nationally by CBC radio. As part of his work with the ensemble, Dr. Trotter established and enhanced engagement programs for composers, conductors, singers, and audience members, and was the founding conductor of Vancouver-based Pacifica Singers, an ensemble with a mandate to provide experienced and motivated choral singers with direct exposure to the world of professional music making.
Trotter’s undergraduate training was at the University of British Columbia School of Music. He earned both the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in Conducting at the University of Michigan, the #1 ranked conducting training program in the United States, where he studied with professors Dr. Jerry Blackstone and Kenneth Kiesler. He pursued further advanced conducting studies with Helmuth Rilling, Andrew Parrott, and Eric Ericson.
Trotter is well known for his ability to connect with audiences and for his interest in building bridges between the professional music world, music training institutions, and the wider community. His activities now range from choral/orchestral masterworks, jazz, new music and film score recording to work as a consultant, clinician, adjudicator, conducting teacher, composer/arranger, writer, speaker, and leader of improvisation workshops. Visit www.johnwilliamtrotter.com.
Guest Music Director, Holidays a cappella
Anne Heider is an award-winning conductor, composer, arranger, and teacher. She is Artistic Director Emerita of the Chicago-based professional chamber choir Bella Voce, of which she was a founding singer and which she led for over sixteen years to consistent critical acclaim. Under her leadership the ensemble made several significant commissions, including the Stabat Mater by Frank Ferko. She served on the board of Chorus America from 1999 to 2008; she is active as a guest conductor and choral consultant. Choral octavos of editions and arrangements by Dr. Heider are published by GIA. Her research in early vocal music has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and Roosevelt University. She has recorded with Bella Voce (founded as His Majestie’s Clerkes) for Harmonia Mundi, Cedille Records, Centaur Records, and Narada. She is Associate Professor Emerita of Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. Anne Heider was the recipient of Chicago a cappella's first Tribute Award in 2006.
Guest Music Director
Chicago singer, composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, and keyboard player Paul Langford has been creating a more musical world for over 25 years. His published works (Hal Leonard, Shawnee Press, Oxford University Press, Alfred Music) have been performed by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicagoland Pops, West Michigan Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Voices of Liberty, GLAD, Willow Creek, multiple Disney parks, and many orchestras around the nation including the San Antonio, Charleston (SC), West Michigan, Ashland (OH), Pensacola, Grand Rapids, La Crosse (WI), Anderson (IN), Dubuque, Las Cruces (NM), Mobile, and Southwest Michigan Symphonies. Paul has been a vocal and piano guest artist in studio and live performance with headline and Grammy Award-winning artists David Foster, Yolanda Adams, Kenny Rogers, Heather Headley, Abraham Laboriel, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, and Celine Dion, and he’s been honored to perform for Presidents Bush and Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama. As owner and creative director of Paul Langford Studios, a state-of the-art Chicagoland recording facility, Paul produces, engineers, composes, and plays for a variety of leading artists, corporate clients, and television/film projects. On the road, Paul is an in-demand music educator, guest conductor, respected band and vocal ensemble leader, and invited singer with orchestras and a cappella groups across America and around the globe. For more information, visit www.paullangfordmusic.com and www.penningandlangford.com.
Music Director Emeritus
An acclaimed choral conductor, pianist, vocal coach, and chamber musician, Patrick Sinozich joined Chicago a cappella's musical staff in 2007 as Music Director and served in that position through the 2011-12 season. He recently retired as Artistic Director of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, after a successful 18 years in that role. Patrick serves as Assistant Director of Music at St. Clement Catholic Church in Lincoln Park and he is on the musical staff of the Chicago Symphony and the Grant Park Chorus. He has performed chamber music with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony, and he has also produced four CDs for Chicago a cappella and three for the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus (which feature many of his own arrangements). Patrick’s association with Chicago a cappella goes back to the ensemble’s very first auditions, which he accompanied, and he provided musical support as rehearsal coach from 2005-07 before being named the ensemble's first Music Director.
Guest Music Director
Benjamin Rivera is chorus director of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and artistic director of Cantate, a Chicago-based chamber choir performing music from all genres and periods. He is also Cantor (Music Director) at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston. He has prepared and conducted choruses at all levels in repertoire from gospel, pop, and folk to sacred polyphony, choral/orchestral masterworks, and contemporary pieces. In his seventeenth season as a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, including ten seasons as bass section leader, Benjamin also sings professionally with the Grant Park Chorus and many other ensembles. He is a frequent soloist, most often in sacred and concert works. He has sung across the U.S., and can be heard on numerous recordings. He has been on the faculty of several universities, directing choirs and teaching voice, diction, music theory, and history. In addition, he has adjudicated many competitions (solo and ensemble), and he recently presented at the Iowa Choral Directors Association summer conference. Especially adept with languages, Benjamin frequently coaches German and Spanish, among several others. He holds degrees in voice and music theory from North Park University and Roosevelt University, respectively, and a DMA in choral conducting from Northwestern University.
Ryan Cox has been a professional member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Grant Park Choruses since 2003. He was the baritone soloist in William Schuman’s A Free Song for Grant Park Music Festival’s “Pulitzer Project,” recorded by the Cedille label. In addition to serving as bass soloist cover for several works with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he sang Schubert lieder on the CSO Chamber Music Series, and has been featured on the Music Now series, singing the Chicago premiere of Mason Bates’ Sirens. He made his debut with the Chicago Ensemble singing Fauré’s La bonne chanson. Additional solo appearances include Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Messiah, the Fauré, Brahms and Mozart Requiems, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and several Bach cantatas. Operatic roles include Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, the Count in La Nozze di Figaro and the title role in Gianni Schicchi. As a boy soprano, Ryan was the soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson-Thomas. A graduate of Millikin University, Ryan is the music director at First Congregational Church in LaGrange, Illinois.
Carl Frank, baritone, has received praise for his “compelling”, “spirited” and “charming” performances of a wide range of repertoire spanning opera and oratorio. Mr. Frank has appeared with the Florentine Opera Company and Arbor Opera Theater, and been a featured soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony, the Community Chorus of Detroit, and the Lakeview Symphony. Favorite operatic roles include: Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Doncairo (Carmen), Sid (Albert Herring), Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte), John Brooke (Little Women), and Gianni Schicchi (Gianni Schicchi). Also an active ensemble singer, Mr. Frank performs with Chicago a cappella, Music of the Baroque, Bach Collegium-Ft. Wayne, The William Ferris Chorale, Bella Voce, Schola Antiqua of Chicago, and Musik Ekklesia. Mr. Frank received his Master’s degree from the University of Michigan and his Bachelor’s degree from DePauw University. He currently resides in Chicago with his wife, mezzo-soprano, Lindsey Adams and their dog Fiona.
Now in his fourth season singing with the ensemble, Ace Gangoso is also active in Chicago a cappella’s outreach programs. He has led workshops at the Youth Choral Festival, In-School Residencies, and is currently leading the High School Intern Ensemble as they prepare for !Cantare! Chicago and the annual Gala Concert. Ace also sings with the Chicago Symphony and Grant Park Choruses. He works as a musician for the Archdiocese of Chicago, serving as the Director of Music at St. Cornelius Parish and choral accompanist for St. Patrick High School. Additionally, he is a private voice instructor at Highland Park High School. Ace holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Central Arkansas, and a Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from Northwestern University. He is a proud alumni member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the world’s oldest and largest fraternal society in music.
Garrett Johannsen is proud to be singing in his sixth season with Chicago a cappella! Originally from Schiller Park, Illinois, he graduated from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. His career highlights include Carmina Burana at Carnegie Hall with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Jane Austen's Persuasion at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland with Chamber Opera Chicago, former apprentice artist at Sarasota Opera and soloist performances with the Elgin, Elmhurst, and Waukegan Symphonies. He has performed with the Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony and Grant Park Choruses, Bella Voce and The William Ferris Chorale. He has also performed in many operas including Carmen, Les contes d’Hoffmann, The Crucible, I Lombardi, Don Giovanni, La bohème, Faust and La Damnation de Faust. In his free time, Garrett loves to go out to live theatre, live concerts and play pool. Garrett is a member of AEA and AGMA. You can follow Garrett at www.garrettjohannsen.com.
From the stages of Chicago’s Pritzker Pavillion and Chicago Shakespeare Theater to Frank Lloyd Wright’s concert hall at Taliesen and Muddy River Opera Company in Southern Illinois, Kathryn Kamp has created a career spanning oratorio, opera, operetta and music theater. Her performance of John Corigliano’s Fern Hill with the Grant Park Music Festival was described both “meltingly sung” and “beautifully sung.” Her Despina (Cosi fan Tutte) was “… a display of immense charm and humor…she bounced about the stage with a lightness and relish that seemed the incarnation of mischievous delight…a fine soprano voice.”
Other credits include: Kathie (The Student Prince), many Gilbert and Sullivan ingenues, and Sondheim’s Anne Egerman (Muddy River Opera) and Mrs. Segstrom (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Concert performances include a staged version of Bach’s Coffee Cantata, Mabel and Yum-Yum (Pirates of Penzance and Mikado) at the Grant Park Music Festival, and more Messiahs than she can count. However, no experience tops that of being a member of Chicago a cappella.
Alexia Kruger recently moved to the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago and is enjoying exploring the historic neighborhood with her husband, toddler, and dog. A member of the Grant Park Chorus and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Alexia has also been a soloist with such groups as the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta at the Shedd and at Joffrey, and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project. As a recitalist, Alexia has appeared on the PianoForte Salon Series Live on WFMT radio, on the Musicians' Club of Women Award Winners in Concert series at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Fourth Presbyterian Church Friday noonday concert series, and several locations with VOX 3 Collective. Apart from her professional solo and choral work, Alexia spends most of her time identifying objects, attempting animal sounds, and memorizing children’s books by frequently reading them aloud, sometimes many times in a row. You may also find her digging in the dirt, listening to birds, watching the clouds, reading a book, or organizing her house (a compulsive, though satisfying, habit).
Since joining Chicago a cappella’s roster in 2011, baritone Joe Labozetta has taken great pleasure in singing with such esteemed colleagues. A career ensemble musician, he also has an instrumental background. Although perfectly content at a keyboard or holding a guitar or bass, small-ensemble choral music is what Joe most enjoys. Beginning as a boy soprano with the Grammy-recognized Ragazzi Boys' Chorus in northern California, he has continued to pursue every choral niche, no matter how obscure or exotic. Some of his stylistic interests are: vocal jazz, Renaissance polyphony, overtone-singing, vocal percussion, and traditional Georgian folksong. A graduate of DePaul University's School of Music, Joe currently holds the position of Director of Music at St. Josaphat Church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. When not directing church choirs or ensembles, composing hymnody, or flailing away on the pipe organ, he regularly sings with Chicago-based performing ensembles. He has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Grant Park Chorus, Bella Voce, William Ferris Chorale, Ensemble Alioni, The Rookery, and Schola Antiqua.
Woo Chan (Chaz) Lee
Woo Chan (Chaz) Lee is honored and excited to be singing with Chicago a cappella. Born in Korea and raised part-time in the United States, Chaz currently resides in Hyde Park where he studies musicology at the University of Chicago. His research explores the interplay between Romantic aesthetics and neoliberal political economy in contemporary instrumental soundtracks and easy listening. Parallel to his life as an instructor and student at the University, he has performed with a variety of ensembles as a conductor, pianist, percussionist, and vocalist. As a choral musician, Chaz can be heard singing with other Chicago-area groups such as the Grant Park Chorus, the Rockefeller Chapel Choir and Decani, Bella Voce, Schola Antiqua, and the Rookery Men’s Choir. In between dissertation-writing and rehearsals, Chaz can be heard singing along to Disney movies, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and the Backstreet Boys, which form the solid bedrock of his musical education.
Trevor Mitchell’s career has taken him across the U.S. as well as to Austria, Italy, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and other destinations in Europe. Recently audiences heard him in Bach's B-Minor Mass, Weihnachts-Oratorium, St. Matthew Passion, and St. John Passion, Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Vivaldi’s Beatus Vir, Handel's Judas Maccabaeus and Messiah, and in recital. Already engaged for future seasons, Trevor is to give a recital in Los Angeles and a return to the Peoria Bach Festival to perform Bach’s Cantatas 79 and 80. Additionally, Trevor will sing a concert version of Handel operas, Semele and Ariodante in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Trevor’s voice as a "large and remarkably sweet sound." And, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote about his “...warm sound and technical ease.” Chicago Classical Review wrote, “the young tenor tackled the wide range and stratospheric notes of this dramatic prayer with ease, his flexible voice putting across the cantorial style and febrile emotion with panache.” Trevor is a regular soloist at St. John Cantius in Chicago, and divides his time between Chicago a cappella, recording and solo engagements.
Soprano Cari Plachy, is a highly respected singer in Chicago. She was recently featured as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Beyond the Score Concert, Things Our Fathers Loved. She has been seen throughout the Midwest with Opera for the Young, DuPage Opera Theater, Light Opera Works, and Bowen Park Opera. Favorite roles include Mabel (Pirates of Penzance), Yum-Yum (The Mikado), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), and Rosina (The Barber of Seville.) She currently sings with Chicago a cappella and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. In 2008, the Chicago Sun Times said she had a ”sparkling, and aggressively sung solo” as soloist in Bruckner’s Psalm 150 with the CSO. Cari received her Bachelor's degree in music education from DePaul University. Since then, she has been working with the Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, bringing music to children all over Chicago. In addition to her work in Chicago, Cari runs a home studio teaching Musikgarten classes to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Sarah Ponder, mezzo-soprano enjoys a busy career as a soloist and ensemble singer in Chicago, performing in genres from opera and oratorio to contemporary and a cappella. Hailed as “Deeply expressive” (Chicago Sun Times) and a “first-class soloist” (Chicago Classical Review), some of Sarah’s recent favorite performances include a special concert of love songs with Bella Voce Camerata, starring as Julia Child in Lee Hoiby’s one-woman opera, Bon Appétit! and a rousing trio rendition of “Row, Row Your Boat” with Yo-Yo Ma at Children’s Memorial Hospital as part of her ongoing work with the Citizen Musician Initiative. Through her outreach at Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sarah has also “beguilingly” (Chicago Tribune) performed several solo concerts with famed Maestro Riccardo Muti at the piano. A passionate educator, Sarah holds a teaching position at Loyola University and maintains a large private studio in addition to supporting young composers in workshops throughout the city. She also recently finished recording a 4th season of works from Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project partnered with the CSO, assisting young mothers to create original lullabies.
Mezzo-soprano Emily Price is a graduate of Northwestern University and enjoys performing in opera, choral and musical theater productions. In Chicago she sings with the Grant Park Chorus, Music of the Baroque and Lyric Opera. Internationally, she has performed in over 35 countries as a soloist with the Voices of Baha International Choir in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the National Theaters of Spain, Catalonia, and India. She has also performed with the Czech National Symphony, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, and the Warsaw Philharmonic. Favorite theater productions include the premiere of RESPECT! A Musical Journey of Women (Cuillo Center/CCPA) and Rona in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Drury Lane Watertower). She can be heard on a number of recordings, including The Voices of Baha at Carnegie Hall, RESPECT! The Original Cast Album, and a solo album to be released entitled Songs of the Nightingale with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Angela Young Smucker
Angela Young Smucker has earned praise for her “rich, secure mezzo-soprano” voice (Chicago Tribune) and her "powerful stage presence" (The Plain Dealer). Her performances in concert, stage, and chamber works have made her a highly versatile and sought-after artist. Highlights of the 2016-17 season include performances with Chicago’s Haymarket Opera Company, Chicago a cappella, Seraphic Fire, Chicago Symphony Chorus, and Bach Collegium San Diego. This season marks the start of two exciting new ventures for Ms. Smucker: she begins her doctoral studies at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music and is serving as executive director of the newly-founded ensemble Third Coast Baroque. Ms. Smucker holds degrees from Valparaiso University – where she also served as instructor of voice for seven years – and the University of Minnesota. She is also a 2015 NATS Intern Program alumna and a 2012 Carmel Bach Festival Adams Fellow. For more information, including audio and video recordings, visit www.mezzoangela.com.