“Songs of Love”–an evening of musical favorites from opera and musical theatre, will be performed by UW Oshkosh faculty and special guests Valentine’s Day evening at The Grand, Oshkosh’s historic opera house.
The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at the theater at 100 High Ave., Oshkosh. There is free admission with first-come, first-served seating.
“It’s very exciting to present a program of opera and musical theatre songs at the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh,” said Nathan Krueger, voice area head and assistant professor of music at UW Oshkosh. “The singers, which include UW Oshkosh faculty, guests and alumni have performed this music all around the world and with some of the best opera companies in the U.S. This is a unique opportunity to hear this style of singing in the community.”
The concert will showcase music by Verdi, Mozart, Offenbach, Bizet and other favorites.
UW Oshkosh faculty participants will be Jessica Timman Schwefel, mezzo soprano; Christian Bester, baritone; Nathan Krueger, baritone; and Kirstin Ihde, piano.
Guest artists will be Saira Frank, soprano; and John Stumpff, tenor.
UW Oshkosh Alumni performers will be Leah Rockweit ’08, music education major, soprano; Sean Lynch ’11, vocal performance music major, baritone; and Joel Rathmann ’14, vocal performance music major, baritone.
Krueger said the program will include selections that even opera beginners will be familiar with. The concert, he added, will have a cabaret feel to it, with stories and background information coming from the performers on stage.
“We’re providing this program without an admission charge as a way to reach out to the community and to provide a fun evening of beautiful singing for Valentine’s Day,” Krueger said. “There will be a lot of different takes on the main theme, with a focus on the heartwarming and comedic aspects of opera. We hope it will be a memorable Valentine’s Day evening for everyone in the community.”
UW Oshkosh faculty
Jessica Timman Schwefel, mezzo soprano
Jessica Timman Schwefel has performed recently with the Madison Choral Project, the Florentine Opera, Fresco Opera Theatre, Madison Opera, amongst other professional companies. She has performed notable operatic roles including Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Rosina (The Barber of Seville), Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), Erika (Vanessa), Meg Page (Falstaff) in more than 30 productions. Timman Schwefel holds a master of music and doctor of musical arts degree in voice performance from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She is an adjunct professor of voice at UW Oshkosh and owner of the Timman Music Studio.
Christian Bester, baritone
Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “impressive,” native South African, Christian Bester made his professional debut as Schaunard in La Bohème for Pro Musica Theater in South Africa. Recent orchestra engagements include: Fort Worth Symphony, Kwazulu Natal Philharmonic, Lone Star Wind Orchestra, Allen Philharmonic, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra League. Recent festival appearances include concerts for California’s Songfest, Italy’s Amalfi Coast and recitals for the Grahamstown and FynArts Festival in South Africa.
Nathan Krueger, baritone
Nathan Krueger is head of the voice area at UW Oshkosh and also is an alumnus. He performed most recently with the Madison Choral Project, the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, and the Milwaukee Florentine Opera’s World Premiere performance and recording of Sister Carrie. Other recent engagements include performances at the Green Lake Music Festival, Peninsula Music Festival, and the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. He has also performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus, Santa Fe Opera, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Arizona Opera and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale.
Kirstin Ihde, piano
Kirstin Ihde is currently assistant professor of piano at UW Oshkosh, where she teaches class piano and collaborates frequently with both faculty and students. She holds a doctor of musical arts in collaborative piano from UW-Madison, where she studied with Martha Fischer. A native of Elkader, Iowa, she also received piano performance degrees from the University of Northern Iowa and St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
Saira Frank, soprano
Saira Frank’s performance credits include roles and featured solos with Madison Opera, Pacific Opera Project, Elgin Opera, Grant Park Symphony Chorus, the Florentine Opera, and Opera San Luis Obisbo. Operatic roles include the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, the Duchess Christina/Sagredo in Galileo Galilei, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus and the title roles in Tosca, The Merry Widow and Alcina. Frank holds degrees in voice and French from Northwestern University and a master of music in opera from UW-Madison. She serves as managing director for Opera for the Young and is a member of the voice faculty at Carroll University.
John Stumpff, tenor
John Stumpff is an active soloist and teacher in Milwaukee and Chicago. He was most recently seen as stage director in the world premiere of Sister Carrie, Yakuside in Madama Butterfly and Parignol in La Boheme. Past credits include Don Jose in Carmen, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, King Kasper in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and male chorus in Rape of Lucretia. He has been a part of two Grammy-winning recordings, Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry and Davis’ Rio de Sangre. Stumpff is the tenor section leader and soloist at Queen of All Saints Basilica in Chicago and he is beginning his 5th year teaching voice at Loyola Academy.
UW Oshkosh alumni performers
Leah Rockweit ’08, music education major, soprano
Leah Rockweit graduated from UW Oshkosh with a bachelor of music degree in choral and general music education, then completed a master of music degree in vocal performance in 2012 from UW-Madison. Rockweit is on the artistic team with New Moon Opera, an Indie opera company based in Chicago, and will be playing the role of Laetitia in their upcoming production of The Old Maid and the Thief. Recent roles include the Sandman and the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel, Beauty in Opera for the Young’s production of Beauty and the Beast, roles in H.M.S. Pinafore, Suor Angelica, Trial by Jury and Le Nozze di Figaro. Rockweit teaches piano and voice lessons with Piano Power and Musical Chairs Studio.
Sean Lynch ’11, vocal performance music major, baritone
Sean Lynch, who hails from Oshkosh, earned a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance from UW Oshkosh. He then attended the University of Iowa, earning a master of arts degree in voice. Lynch has appeared with Fresco Opera Theatre, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and The Genesius Guild. His performance credits include Johannes Brahms in Clara, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, The Vicar in Albert Herring, Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Grégorio in Roméo et Juliette, and Amelia’s Husband in Amelia Goes to the Ball.
Joel Rathmann ’14, vocal performance music major, baritone
Joel Rathmann, of Milwaukee, received a master of music degree in vocal performance from UW-Madison and a bachelor of music degree from UW Oshkosh. Rathmann’s past credits include: Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), and Vicar (Albert Herring). He currently is a section leader for the Basilica of St. Josaphat Choir.