Marie Severing – Soprano Soloist
Marie Severing is an oratorio soprano and vocal music director at Cargill United Methodist Church, Janesville, WI. She has been a frequent soloist with Choral Union, Ltd, having sung in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Brahms German Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, as well as, many others. Mrs. Severing is currently Associate Conductor of Choral Union Ltd. and Artistic Director of Southern Lakes Masterpiece Chorale. Musical experiences include study at L’Ecole Hindemith, Vevey, Switzerland (Syracuse University), Northwestern University and St. Mary’s University. She has studied with Susan Blumer, Helen Boatwright, Hugues Cuenod, Yolanda Marculescu and Elizabeth Fischer-Monestero.
For 29 years, Mrs. Severing was vocal music teacher at Big Foot Union High School, Walworth, WI. During that time, she served at a soprano section leader, adjudicator and clinician with the Wisconsin School Music Association. Under her tutelage, Big Foot vocal music students performed with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and in festivals in London (England), Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando and New Orleans. Her students have been privileged to work with such distinguished choral conductors as Weston Noble, Rick Bjella, Anton Armstrong, Michael Ross, Margaret Hawkins and Richard Severing.
As a soprano soloist, Mrs. Severing has performed locally with The Southern Lakes Masterpiece Chorale (Walworth County), The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, The Beloit-Janesville Symphony Orchestra, The Northern Wisconsin Summer Music Festival, Oakway Symphony Orchestra (Detroit), and many others. For over 20 years she has had the honor of working with many talented students as a private voice teacher, and has been an enthusiastic promoter of “singing as a lifetime sport.”
Rachael Wood – Alto Soloist
Mezzo-soprano Rachel Wood has appeared in opera, concert, and recital performances across Canada, the United States, Italy and the Netherlands. Rachel is a graduate of the Opera Studio Nederland in Amsterdam, where she performed the title role in The Rape of Lucretia, La Natura and Endimione (La Calisto), and Penelope (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria). At Indiana University, Rachel performed the roles of Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Zita (Gianni Schicchi), La Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica), and Alma March (Little Women). Other opera credits include Madame de Croissy (Dialogues des Carmélites), Cornelia (Giulio Cesare), and Dame Doleful in the Canadian premiere of Too Many Sopranos.
Rachel has given art song and chamber music recitals throughout North America and has appeared as a soloist in concert performances with instrumental and choral ensembles. She studied art song at the Mountain View International Festival of Song and Chamber Music in Calgary, Alberta, and at Songfest in Malibu, California, where she was a Marc and Eva Stern Fellow. Rachel has returned to Calgary as a recitalist with the Mountain View Connection concert series.
Rachel completed her Doctor of Music degree at Indiana University, and holds Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees from the University of Western Ontario. She furthered her studies at the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy, Accademia Europea dell’Opera, and the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy. Rachel has served as a Lecturer of Voice at the University of Western Ontario, and an Associate Instructor at Indiana University. In 2015, Rachel joined the voice faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she teaches studio voice, lyric diction, song literature, and voice pedagogy.
Justin Berkowitz – Tenor Soloist
Justin Berkowitz, tenor, from Edina, Minnesota is a young tenor who has been praised for his “exacting and animated” performances. He is quickly gaining national attention for both his character work, as well as his “bright future in Bel Canto.” Justin’s 2016 season began with his debut with Central City Opera as a Bonfils-Stanton Apprentice Artist, where he performed several roles in The Ballad of Baby Doe.
In addition to his performances with the Janesville Choral Union, Justin’s 2016 season includes appearances with DuPage Opera and St. Petersburg Opera. The 2015-16 season brought Justin to the stages of the Harris Theater with Chicago Opera Theater, and in concert with the Northwest Indiana Symphony and Windy City Choruses of Chicago. Justin has been seen on the operatic stage in residencies with Chicago Opera Theater, St. Petersburg Opera, Opera Naples, and Ohio Light Opera, among other companies. Previous concert performances have brought Justin as a soloist to join the Naples Philharmonic, Annapolis Choral Society, the choirs at Northwestern University, Detroit Medical Symphony, University of Michigan choirs and glee clubs, among others.
Justin received his bachelors from Lawrence University in Voice and English, and his Masters degree at the University of Michigan.
Brian Leeper – Baritone
Baritone Brian Leeper is on the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he teaches Studio Voice, Vocal Pedagogy and directs the Opera Workshop. An active soloist and clinician, he also presents masterclasses and recitals at Universities across the US and abroad. He is also the Artistic Director for La Musica Lirica, a five week international opera program in Novafeltria, Italy where he has also taught voice for the past nine years.
Equally at home with Oratorio and Opera, Mr. Leeper has performed over twenty major operatic roles, including a national radio broadcast concert performance of Candide with the Cleveland Orchestra. He has appeared as soloist in oratorio with conductors Robert Shaw, Leon Botstein, Robert Page, Weston Noble and Vance George. Recent solo appearances include Brahms German Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation, the St. John Passion, Messiah, Don Pasquale, L’Elisir d’Amore and Die Fledermaus.
Mr. Leeper formerly served on the voice faculties of Butler University, Operafestival di Roma and Lutheran Summer Music. His voice students have gone on to win numerous awards and competitions, and are currently singing in houses in the United States and Europe. Brian holds degrees from Luther College and The University of Nebraska, and has done further graduate study at Florida State University. Brian is currently Past-President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and in 2011, he was the recipient of the Instructional Excellence Award for Academic Staff at UW-Whitewater.