Saturday, November 9, 2019

CONGRATULATIONS to our MESSIAH SOLOISTS, winners of The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award, 2019

The four individuals below have been selected to perform the solo roles in Handel's MESSIAH with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and CBA Chorus in St James Episcopal Cathedral, Chicago, as winners of The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award, 2019. Congratulations! The performance, Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 7:30 pm, will be under the direction of Maestro Stephen Blackwelder, director of the CBA Chorus.

The winners are:
Laura STRICKLING, soprano
St Thomas VI

Kara MORGAN, mezzo-soprano
Andover MN

Daniel O'HEARN, tenor
Tinley Park IL

Will HUGHES, baritone
Richardson TX

Purchase tickets here. (Substantial savings for advance purchase.)


St Thomas VI

First place winner of the inaugural American Prize in Vocal Performance (Opera, Professional Division, 2011) Laura Strickling was praised by The New York Times for her, "flexible voice, crystalline diction, and warm presence." She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Kennedy Center, National Sawdust, Trinity Church on Wall Street, Washington National Cathedral, Tanglewood Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Songfest at the Colburn School, Mexicoliederfest, Liederfest in Suzhou (China), and the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. An acclaimed oratorio soloist, she has appeared with the Indianapolis Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Asheville Symphony, Berkshire Choral International, and the Cathedral Choral Society. Ms. Strickling created the role of Fanni Radnòti in the World Premiere of Tom Cipullo's opera The Parting with Music of Remembrance. A devoted recitalist, she curated The NewMusicShelf Anthology for Soprano, and has appeared with the Brooklyn Art Song Society, Yellow Barn Music Festival, New Music Gathering, Lyric Fest of Philadelphia, and Trinity Concerts at One. Her discography includes her recording of James Matheson's Times Alone , Glen Roven's The Vineyard Songs, Jake Heggie's Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Tom Cipullo's Of a Certain Age. A Chicago native, Ms. Strickling is an avid traveler, having lived in Morocco, where she studied classical Arabic at the Arabic Language Institute of Fez, and Afghanistan, where her husband was the founding chair of the Department of Law at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. She currently makes her home in St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands. For further information, visit

Andover MN

Kara Morgan is a mezzo soprano pursuing her passion to make a name for herself in the opera house and on the concert stage. This fall, Kara returned to Fargo-Moorhead Opera as Hansel in their production of Hansel and Gretel after making her company and role debuts earlier this year singing Dorabella (Così fan tutte) and Mercédès (Carmen) as a Gate City Bank Young Artist. Kara spent her summer with the Lakes Area Music Festival covering the title role in their production of Offenbach's La belle Hélène and with Mill City Summer Opera covering Dorabella in Così fan tutte. Kara has sung lead roles with The Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company (Melissa, Princess Ida) and the College Light Opera Company (Mad Margaret, Ruddigore) and was heard as an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera in 2017. As a student, Kara realized the roles of Ottone (Agrippina), Angelina (La Cenerentola), the Old Prioress (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Mrs. Soames (Our Town), Katisha (The Mikado) and Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte) among others. A longtime lover of concert and choral repertoire, Kara made her debut with the Oratorio Society of Minnesota this November as a soloist in their performance of Duruflé's Requiem and Roger-Ducasse's Crux Fidelis. Kara is an alumna of Drake University (BM '14) and the New England Conservatory (MM '16). More information about Kara and her upcoming events can be found on her website at

Daniel O'HEARN
Tinley Park IL

Daniel O'Hearn is a tenor from Tinley Park, Illinois. He has most recently performed as Egisto in Francesco Cavalli's "L'Egisto," Captain Macheath in John Gay/Benjamin Britten's "The Beggar's Opera," and as Endymion in J.S. Bach's "Hunting Cantata." Within the last year, Daniel was the Casa Italia Vocal Scholarship Raimondi Scholar 2018, first place winner of the graduate division of the  Kleinman Vocal Competition 2019, and the first place winner of the Joseph P. Glimco Vocal Competition 2019. Daniel was the 2018 Musica nella Marche Angeli Scholar, and received a scholarship to sing, study opera, and learn the Italian language in Urbino, Florence, Verona, and Venice last summer. He is currently working on his master's degree in operatic vocal performance at the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, Illinois, where he studies with the tenor on the school's faculty, Scott Ramsay. Daniel also performs the national anthem for the DePaul Blue Demons at sporting events throughout the school year. Outside of the world of public performance and academia, Daniel has been on the faculty at The House of Music in Orland Park, IL as a private voice instructor for over four years, where he teaches people of all ages from all over Chicagoland how to sing.

Richardson TX

Will Hughes, a Dallas, TX native, has recently performed and covered roles in La bohème (Schaunard), Doctor Atomic (Jack Hubbard), Ariadne auf Naxos (Harlequin), Madama Butterfly (Yamadori, Yakusidé), Les pêcheurs de perles (Zurga), The Consul (John Sorel), Così fan tutte (Guglielmo), and the title role in Billy Budd for The Santa Fe Opera, The Dallas Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. He has also performed scenes from Wuthering Heights (Heathcliff), A Street Scene (Henry), and the title role in Gianni Schicchi with The Santa Fe Opera and Iphigénie en Tauride (Oreste) and Sweeney Todd (Anthony) with Des Moines Metro Opera.

Will has recently sung the title role in a fully staged version of Elijah. His other concert work includes the baritone solos in the requiems of Brahms, Duruflé, and Fauré: the latter of which he sang under the baton of Maestro Rutter along with the baritone solo in the maestro's Mass of the Children. Will has also sung the role of Petrus in a partially staged version of Bach's Matthäus-Passion with the Philadelphia Symphony under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Will earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Wheaton College and Westminster Choir College respectively.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Sunday, September 1, 2019

CHAMBER CONCERT tickets on sale now!

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Monday, July 29, 2019


CHECK BACK SOON for online ticket links and more information!
Curtain call—more than 300 lawyer-musicians and friends acknowledging the applause—after "ODE to JOY," Symphony Center, June 22, 2019
2019-20 CONCERTS (our 34th season!)
The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra
David (Volosin) Katz, founding music director
Marek Rachelski, resident conductor
Michael Poulos, assistant conductor
The CBA Chorus
Stephen Blackwelder, director
Janet Eckhardt, accompanist
All dress rehearsals and concerts at St James Cathedral (Wabash @ Huron)—except chamber concert

CHAMBER CONCERT: Members of the CBA Chorus and Orchestra in Concert
Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 3pm at Piano Forte

OCTOBER 2019—Chorus & Orchestra Concert
Concert: Wed, Oct 23, 7:30 pm
“AMERICAN PRIZES”—Marek Rachelski, Michael Poulos & David Katz, conductors
Performed in Memory of Justice John Paul Stevens
Michael Poulos—Fanfare for the Common Law
Howard Hanson—Symphony No. 2 (“Romantic”)
solo vocal selections—TBA
Gwyneth Walker—”White Horses” (CBA Chorus and Piano)
Kyle Pederson—”Exsultate, Jubliate” (CBA Chorus and Piano—Chicago premiere)
Jesse Ayers/Charles Myricks—”There’s a Stirrin’ in the Water”—(CBASO & CBA Chorus—Chicago premiere)

DECEMBER 2019 (regular season concert), Chorus and Orchestra
Dress rehearsal: Tues, Dec 10, 6pm
Concert: Wed, Dec 11, 7:30 pm
“DO IT YOURSELF MESSIAH”—Stephen Blackwelder, conductor
Handel—Messiah (Christmas portion)
vocal soloists: winners of The American Prize Chicago Collegiate Oratorio Prize

MARCH 2020—Chorus and Orchestra Concert
Dress rehearsal: Tues, Mar 10, 6pm
Concert: Wed, Mar 11, 7:30 pm
“BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY”—Marek Rachelski & Stephen Blackwelder, conductors
Smetana—Overture to “The Bartered Bride”
Chopin—Piano Concerto in E minor (movement I)—Susan Macaulay, piano soloist
Dvorak—Czech Suite
Choral selections with piano:
Zelenka—Nisi Dominus                                     
Brahms—Wie Melodien                              
Schubert—An die sonne                       
Gjeilo—Ubi Caritas         

MAY 2020—Chorus and Orchestra Concert
Dress rehearsal: Tues, May 12, 6pm
Concert: Wed, May 13, 7:30 pm
“SUBLIME & SUBLIMELY RIDICULOUS”—David Katz & Stephen Blackwelder, conductors
Shostakovich—Symphony No. 9
Beethoven—Mass in C Major
CHECK BACK SOON for online ticket links and more information! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

SOLOISTS for the Beethoven Ninth Symphony Annnounced—winners of The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award

The CBASO, CBA Chorus and Guest Choirs at Symphony Center, Chicago
The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, David (Volosin) Katz, chief judge, is honored to announce the 2019 winners of The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Awards.

For the eighth consecutive year, in addition to the national voice competitions outlined on The American Prize website, contestants for The American Prize in Vocal Performance, 2019-20, were invited to also apply for The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award, the opportunity to be selected as soloists to appear under Maestro David Katz's baton in concert with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, the CBA Chorus and guest choirs—more than three hundred lawyer-musicians and friends in all—this season performing the choral finale (4th movement) of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, in concerts entitled "ODE to JOY!"

Performances will be Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 3pm at St. John Brebeuf Church, Niles, IL, and Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 8pm at Symphony Center / Orchestra Hall, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the Beethoven, the concerts will feature three orchestra-member soloists in concerto movements, the Chicago premiere of "Celebration Overture" by The American Prize laureate composer, Christoper Lowry, and selections by the massed choirs, those under the baton of CBA Chorus Director, Stephen Blackwelder.

The Symphony Center performance marks the third time that the CBASO and CBA Chorus have presented major concerts in that hallowed hall, having performed "Carmina Burana" there in 2011 and "Something Wonderful" a concert of the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, in 2015.

Here are ticket links:
June 2nd—
June 22nd— Hall 

REMINDER: The postmark deadline to apply for The American Prize, 2019-20, is June 3, 2019, with extensions available to Monday, July 1, 2019 for those who need more time. Please note that although the deadline date on application forms may not be changed, be assured your application will be accepted through the final deadline.


2019 Winners of 
The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award

Soprano AMY PFRIMMER has sung across the US, Europe, and Canada including appearances with the London Symphony, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Baltimore Choral Arts, Montréal Opera, New Orleans Opera, Bulgarian State Opera Stara Zagora, Illinois Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Florida Grand Opera, Mississippi Opera, Atlanta Symphony, Memphis Symphony, and Virginia Symphony. She collaborated frequently with the late pianist/composer Dave Brubeck in his Mass, To Hope! A Celebration, and La Fiesta de la Posada and soloed regularly with Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band.

Pfrimmer is Tulane University’s Lillian Gerson Watsky Professor in voice. She serves as Tulane’s voice area coordinator/concert vocal series director. She is sought after for high energy, interactive master classes, and is a respected contest adjudicator. Awards for the soprano include Tulane University's USG Crest Award for Outstanding Faculty Member, Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship, Metropolitan Opera Education Fund and Florida Grand Opera’s Gilbert Artist of the Year.

With MSR Classics label, Pfrimmer has released two recordings: Souvenance: Mélodies and Organ Works of César Franck and Eternal Life: Sacred Songs and Spirituals.

Specific projects in 2014-2018 have included Schönberg’s expressionist mono-drama Pierrot Lunaire (Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra), the tragic title characters in Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly (State Opera Stara Zagora Bulgaria), and Mozart’s heroine Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Lawrence Opera Theatre Kansas). With New Orleans Opera she appeared as Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen, Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld as Juno, Kitty Hart in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and the title character in Friedl.

She also gave concerts featuring the music of César Franck, St. Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, Händel’s Messiah, and sang Menotti’s opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. National/international recitals include Absolutely American!, American Summer Dream, and From New Orleans to Bulgaria featuring the works of American composers Amy Beach, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Carlisle Floyd, Moses Hogan, Rudolf Friml, Cole Porter, and Richard Hundley and Bulgarian composer Parashkev Hadjiev. With pianist Dreux Montegut, Pfrimmer created and performed a solo program Cabaret Soirée! featuring the American songbook composers Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Kurt Weill. She has been a regular soloist with the Marine Corps Band-New Orleans, and New Orleans Chamber Orchestra. Additionally, Pfrimmer has appeared in several French concert series: Vendredi Soirées at St. Pierre le Jeune and Les Estivales de St. Guillaume in Strasbourg, L’Abbaye de Royaumont, as well as The American Cathedral and St. Eustache in Paris.

ANN CRAVERO, mezzo-soprano
ANN CRAVERO, mezzo-soprano
Ann Belluso Cravero, acclaimed mezzo-soprano recitalist and soloist, has been heard on stages in Italy, China, and throughout the United States including repeat performances at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall.  Cravero's vocal engagements include The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, The Heartland Festival Orchestra, The International Lyric Academy Orchestra Italy, The Rome Festival Orchestra, The Alexander and Buono Festival Italy, Festivale Cantus Angeli Italy, The Lyric Symphony Orchestra CA, The Bach Festival IL, The Hancher Center for the Performing Arts, The Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, the Des Moines Civic Center, IA, and The Overture Center.

Ann Cravero has performed lead opera roles including the staged adaption of The Diary of Virginia Woolf under the direction of Håkan Hagegård honoring Dominick Argento who was in attendance (Source Song Festival), The Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theatre at the University of Iowa, the Northland Opera Theatre, and the Rome Festival Opera in Rome, Italy. Ann also participated as an apprentice artist for the Des Moines Metro Opera.  Cravero has served on the faculty of Milnes' Savannah Voice Festival, and the International Lyric Academy Italy with Stefano Vignati and Claudio Ferri.

Highly sought after for her interpretation of New Music, Dr. Cravero has performed with the Center for New Music in Iowa City, IA, including performances of works by Scott Dunn, Geoffrey Gordon, Bernard Rands, and Raffaele Grimaldi. Cravero also coached with Stephen Paulus and soloed two performances of his work, To Be Certain of the Dawn. In the fall of 2009 she was commissioned by the Iowa Composers’ Forum to tour IA with pianist Miko Kominami, and also premiered works for ICF in 2015. Ann has been featured on RAI TV in Italy and frequently broadcast on Iowa Public Radio.

Ann is the district winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award competition, and the recipient of honorable mention for the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Audition. She is the recipient of the Donald Walker Vocal Scholarship for outstanding vocal achievement at the University of Iowa, and receiver of outstanding academic achievement in the field of Music Education from Bradley University, and winner of the Bradley University Piano Concerto Competition. She has performed in master classes with Frederica von Stade and Michèle Crider, and coached with Cheryl Studer and Richard Boldrey. Cravero recently presented Mahler's 2nd Symphony with soprano, Michèle Crider for the re-dedication of Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City at the University of Iowa under the direction of William L. Jones.

Dr. Cravero is Associate Professor of Voice at Drake University, and an active participant of The National Association of Teachers of Singing. Ann released an album of duets with soprano Camelia Voin and pianist Nicholas Roth (‘Endless Noise’ Studio) in Santa Monica, CA Dr. Cravero holds the Doctor of Musical Arts and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Iowa where she studied with Stephen Swanson and Katherine Eberle, and a Bachelor of Music Education with emphasis on Piano and Voice from Bradley University. For further information on the artist please visit or at

Praised for his “real musicality and finely executed coloratura,” Patrick Muehleise is an acclaimed American tenor specializing in a wide variety of concert soloist repertoire and known for his “beautiful, evenly produced lyric tenor” and “pure tone.” Recent engagements include Mozart’s Requiem with Xian Zhang at the Aspen Music Festival, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 under the baton of Jane Glover, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with both Elmhurst Symphony and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Bach’s B Minor Mass with Bach Akademie Charlotte, Reich’s The Desert Music with New World Symphony, the role of Pan in the fully-staged period performance of Cavalli’s La Calisto with Haymarket Opera Company of Chicago; and continues this season performing Handel’s Messiah with Winston-Salem Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem with True Concord of Tucson, Bach’s B Minor Mass with Back Bay Chorale of Boston and Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. In addition to his work as a concert soloist, Patrick is a regular member of Grammy-nominated and award winning ensembles such as Seraphic Fire, True Concord, Chicago Symphony Chorus, as well as Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Grant Park Symphony Chorus, and has taken the stage with Aspen Chamber Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, and The Cleveland Orchestra.

This season Patrick continues his residency at the University of California-Los Angeles for the second academic year and will return to the world-renowned Aspen Music Festival for his second year as Artist-Faculty in partnership with the Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire Professional Choral Institute.

In 2016, Mr. Muehleise was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Choral Performance category for his collaboration on True Concord’s album “Far In The Heavens: Choral Music of Stephen Paulus” which won the award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. An active member of the American Guild of Musical Artists and National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Patrick can be heard on six nationally released recordings with Grammy-nominated ensembles.

LEO RADOSAVLJEVIC, bass-baritone
LEO RADOSAVLJEVIC, bass-baritone
Recent Third-Prize Winner of the International Klaudia Taev Competition in Estonia and winner of The American Prize Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award in Voice in 2014, Bass-Baritone Leo Radosavljevic is making a name for himself as a unique performer in the world of opera. Born in Chicago Illinois, Leo spent his childhood playing piano and singing in the children's chorus at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where his love for opera first began. He attended Juilliard from 2007-2013, receiving both BM and MM degrees in voice under Dr. Robert C. White. While at Juilliard, he sang several operatic roles including Bottom in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Simone in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, and Tobia Mill in Rossini's La Cambiale di Matrimonio. In addition to his operatic roles, Leo received composition lessons from Dr. Phillip Lasser for much of his time at Juilliard, and received Scholastic Distinction in 2010 for his thesis, The Lieder of Ludwig van Beethoven: Introductory Studies in an Infrequently Performed Opus. In 2011, he gave the U.S. premiere of the role of Willi Graf in Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' Kommilitonen!, where he played piano and sang simultaneously from the stage, winning him critical acclaim from The New York Times. Since his time at Juilliard, Leo has performed around Europe and the United States, most recently as Don Alfonso in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte with DuPage Opera, as Bonze in Madama Butterfly with Opera Colorado, in recital at the Ravinia Festival, as soloist with Juilliard 415, in their west coast tour and Canadian Broadcasting Company recording of Telemann's rarely heard Die Tageszeiten. This summer he will join the roster of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, performing in Regina and La Traviata. He will then participate in the inaugural season of Teatro Nuovo, formally Bel Canto at Caramoor, as Orbazzano in Rossini’s Tancredi, conducted by Will Crutchfield. Leo currently resides in Chicago, Illinois, and is continuing his vocal studies with Julia Faulkner.

Graphic by Carl Klein