DEC 15 @ 4P
with Voices in Harmony
A holiday tradition returns to Raue Center!
The Community and Voices in Harmony join their voices with Handel’s great masterwork. It is presented with a 25-piece orchestra, excellent soloists and projections of beautiful calligraphy by Timothy Botts. The McHenry County College Chorus will supplement the on-stage choir. This is one of our area’s most meaningful holiday traditions. Let the Raue resound with the glory of Handel’s music telling the story that reflects the greatest desires of mankind throughout history.
Clarissa Reis, Soprano
Soprano Clarissa Reis is delighted to be a part of this wonderful performance of Handel’s Messiah. As a native of Crystal Lake, she is grateful for the opportunity to once again join Voices in Harmony in the town she still considers home.
Ms. Reis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a double major in both Music: Vocal Performance and Pedagogy, as well as, Psychology. She has been privileged to work with various directors such as Andy Sill, Dr. Robert A. Harris, Kevin McMahon, and Andrew Constantine. Classically trained, she has studied voice with Dr. Marie Ann Vos and Janet L. Herrick.
In addition to her love of performing onstage, Ms. Reis serves as Director of Leadership Gifts for Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, Indiana where she and her family currently reside.
A.J. Wester, Mezzo-soprano
This performance marks the sixteenth appearance with Voices in Harmony by mezzo-soprano, A.J. Wester
As a classical singer, Ms. Wester was a Studio Artist with Utah Opera. She has also appeared as a featured soloist in the Welcome Yule Christmas concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dabeeb in the North American Premiere of Marriages between Zones 3, 4 and 5 by Phillip Glass as well as productions with Chicago Opera Theater, Court Theater, Porchlight Theater, DePaul Opera Theater, Intermezzo Opera in Hartford, CT, American Opera Group, Elgin Opera and multiple productions with Light Opera Works in Evanston, IL.
Currently, she serves on the voice faculty of the new ChiArts High School in the musical theater program as well as a voice teacher with Music of the Baroque’s Strong Voices program and Lyric Opera’s High School residency program. She served as the Stage Director for the Opera Music Theatre Ensemble which was part of the Reneé Fleming Solo Voice Initiative program between the Merit School of Music and Lyric Opera of Chicago for ten years.
Ms. Wester was the Stage Director/Vocal Coach for Chicago Opera Theater’s ‘Chicago Opera Theater for Teens’ – a paid apprenticeship program sponsored by the City of Chicago with Chicago Opera Theater. She recently won a ‘Make a Wave’ award in 2017 from 3Arts for her work as a teaching artist.
Ms. Wester is also an active stage director. She directed Once Upon a Mattress for Merit School of Music, Ragtime, Oklahoma, and Urinetown for After School Matters. She has led many productions for the St. Petersburg Opera including their 2013 production of Tosca, their 2010 season opener of A Little Night Music, La Traviata and the Fall 2009 production of Into the Woods to rave reviews from both audiences and critics alike.
Ms. Wester also has led productions at the Bay View Music Festival (The Magic Flute), Intimate Opera (La Traviata and Cosí fan Tutte) and Opera Company Brooklyn (Roméo et Juliette), The Savoyaires (Evanston, IL) (The Zoo, Eyes and No Eyes and Trial by Jury and Patience). Ms. Wester has been an Assistant Director for Chicago Opera Theater, Utah Opera, Indianapolis Opera and San Diego Opera.
Ms. Wester holds a B.M. from Roosevelt University and an M.M from DePaul University.
For more information about A.J. Wester, go to: www.ajwester.com
Wolf Hillbo, Lyric Tenor
A Swedish native, Magnus “Wolf” Hillbo is beyond excited to collaborate with Voices in Harmony for this festive Messiah and share it with our audience. He has performed with several fine opera and operetta companies across the United States and in Europe. Among them are Chicago Opera Theater, Light Opera Works, Jönköpings Stadsteater, and Opera for the Young. In his spare time, he collects academic degrees, most of them in music or theology. He serves as Director of Worship Music at Reba Place Church in Evanston and is a Hosptial Chaplain at the Community First Medical Center in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Richard Ziebarth, Bass-Baritone
At home in almost every music performance venue, bass-baritone Richard Ziebarth is known for the warm, expressive timbre of his large voice. Whether it be demanding opera roles such as Don Giovanni, Figaro, and Escamillo, concert, oratorio or musical theatre, he imbues every performance with lyricism and an informed musicianship.
Mr. Ziebarth has been heard as special guest soloist in Princeton Pro Musica’s season-opening gala The Grandeur of Opera. He has débuted with Philadelphia’s Center City Opera Theatre as Basil Hallward in Lowell Liebermann’s much-acclaimed opera The Picture of Dorian Gray based on the Oscar Wilde masterpiece.
A graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University (honored with a full scholarship), Mr. Ziebarth
began his professional career while still in school. For three years he sang with the Opera Theatre of Lucca in Italy. With CCPA’s Opera Theatre he performed a variety of concert repertoire and stage roles.
Recent performance highlights include appearances with Palm Beach Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Sarasota Opera, and Light Opera Works. Mr. Ziebarth participated in both the Sarasota and Chautauqua apprentice programs and was a member of the Alan Stone Début Artists at Chicago Opera Theatre, and as such was featured on WFMT radio’s Live from Studio One.
Mr. Ziebarth has appeared with the Denver and Elgin Symphony Orchestras and was a soloist in the Millennium Gala concert series in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He has a wide variety of oratorio experience including Haydn’s Creation and Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Requiem, Händel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Paulus, and Bach’s Mass in b minor. He is always in demand as a soloist for the Beethoven Ninth Symphony.
Professionally trained as a competitive figure skater, Richard Ziebarth was a double gold medalist for the United States Figure Skating Association. His discipline and athleticism are manifest in a commanding stage presence and elegant demeanor. Every performance crackles with charisma and sparkles with personality.