Special Guests
Saturday, May 13, 2006

Maria Jette

Soprano Maria Jette's career encompasses chamber music, oratorio and operatic repertoire from Baroque rediscoveries to contemporary premieres. She has appeared with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Los Angeles Master Chorale. She is a regular guest at the Oregon Bach,VictoriaBach and San Luis Obispo Mozart Festivals, as well as on A Prairie Home Companion. Her 45+ operatic roles range from Monteverdi's Poppea and Handel's Cleopatra through Mozart's Pamina.

Dan Chouinard

For six years he conducted a talking musical radio show called "The Singer's Voice," on Jazz 88, KBEM-FM; between musical selections he would interview singers from the keyboard of a piano. He hosted over 200 guests on that show. He is a former teacher of French and Italian and has traveled to those countries extensively by bicycle, carrying a tent and an accordion. "A wonderful way to travel," he says, "especially if you keep the accordion to a manageable size." He will be going back again this summer, and he is doing a musical travel story show here in the Fitzgerald Theater on May 21st, to be called Cafe Europa. He is also the co-musical director at the Church of Saint Joan of Arc in Minneapolis.

Howard Levy

HOWARD LEVY is universally acknowledged as the world's most advanced diatonic harmonica player. He has developed a fully chromatic style on the standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica and has revolutionized the way the instrument is viewed and played. Levy is also a talented piano, flute, ocarina, mandolin, saxophone and percussion player and songwriter. He has played a wide variety of music including anything from jazz and pop to folk and classical styles. Levy has appeared on hundreds of albums and has performed with artists like Dolly Parton, Styx, Bobby McFerrin and Astral Project, John Prine, Paquito D'Rivera and many others. Levy has toured all over the world as a solo and supporting artist and he has also taught music workshops, as well as given private lessons. In 1997, he won a Grammy for playing "The Sinister Minister" with the Flecktones, a group he founded with Bela Fleck. Levy also won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Original Music for a Play. Tonight he will be playing with Guy's All-Star Shoe Band.

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers

The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers are a group of 26-voice singers who are chosen for their musicianship, vocal qualities and flexibility in singing many styles of music. Since the group was formed in 1991, the Ensemble Singers have toured Europe three times. In 1994, they were the first professional American chorus to perform at the Internationale Orgelwoche Nürnberg. In 1997, they were the first professional U.S. chorus chosen to sing at the prestigious Prague Spring Festival. The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers have made many recordings, including three volumes of music by African American composers and Dominick Argento: An American Romantic. They are directed by conductor and founder Philip Brunelle. The members of VocalEssence are: Sopranos: Kathleen Hanson, Lori Lewis, Margaret Lanning Sabin, Dara Kirchofner Scholz, Andrea Schussler, Ruth Speigel, and Linda Zelig. Altos: Katie Crawford, Nina Heebink ,Barbara Kastens, Karen Lovgren Kennedy, Marita Link, and Jaime Nelson. Tenors: Kevin Bailey, Robert Griffin, Curt Hopmann, Mark Larsen, Thomas Larson, and Kurtis Parlin. Basses: Christopher Brunelle, Steve Burger, Ryan French, James Ramlet, and Robert C. Smith. Tonight, VocalEssence is joined by the Singers from the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, who will be performing selections from the opera Olav Tryggvason, begun by Edvard Grieg and Bjornstjerne Bjornson in 1873 and completed, 130 years later, by Ragnar Soderling and Knut Jorgen Moe. Several selections from this opera will be performed by the singers, who will be joined by 16 members of VocalEssence. Philip Brunelle will conduct this group, and they will be performing at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The singers are: Knut Moe, Trond Moe, Nini Ritzau, and Ingebjorg Kosmo. They'll be accompanied by pianist Tore Dingstad.

Robin & Linda Williams

ROBIN AND LINDA WILLIAMS met in 1971 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where they were both visiting their parents who lived there. At the time, Linda was a teacher and Robin was a full-time musician performing on the coffeehouse circuit. In 1973, they began performing together and two years later, they released their debut album. In the following decade, Robin and Linda released a series of critically acclaimed albums comprising of mostly original material with some traditional songs. At this time their songwriting abilities drew the attention of fellow performers like Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Kathy Mattea, who have all sung and recorded some of Robin and Linda's songs. In the late '80s and early '90s, they began touring with their Fine Group. The band was part of a cross-country tour with Mary Chapin Carpenter in 1993. Their "Sugar for Sugar" album (1993) spent 13 weeks on the Americana Top Ten Chart and their next two albums did even better. This is Robin and Linda's 30th anniversary year and tonight they will play with their Fine Group, which includes Jim Watson on bass, mandolin and vocals and Jimmy Gaudreau on mandolin.

Jorja Fleezanis

Jorja Fleezanis began studying violin with Ara Zerounian while she was attending public school in Detroit, her hometown. She went on to study at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music before she joined the Chicago Symphony at age 23. Since then, Fleezanis has been a member of several chamber music groups, including the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra where she was concertmaster, and the San Francisco Symphony where she was associate concertmaster. Fleezanis has performed at such prestigious events as the Cabrillo Festival, the Chester Summer Festival, the Minnesota Orchestra's Viennese Sommerfest and she has been featured on MPR's popular chamber music program Saint Paul Sunday. Fleezanis has been the concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra since September 1989 and is also a member of the University of Minnesota faculty, where she teaches violin, conducts courses in orchestral and concertmaster training and leads sectional rehearsals.

Adam Granger

Adam Granger has written about, taught and played fiddle tunes in the flatpick style for over twenty-five years. He is a veteran member of the house band for the Prairie Home Companion and has recorded six albums. He emcees and judges fiddle and guitar contests, teaches at music camps, and performs at folk and bluegrass festivals.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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