California native Kiyoe Matsuura (kee-yo-eh) is a dual-wielding Baroque and modern violin player that likes R&B and rap. She'll be playing up a storm at A Gaelic Summer, and answering the age old question: what do you do with a drunken sailor?
Thomas Aláan (pronounced uh-LAY-uhn) is a displaced West Virginian who sings like a girl - and that's awesome. He'll be leading all the drinking songs at A Gaelic Summer. The question everyone's dying to know, though: can he hold his liquor?
The BBE teams up with Holly Nastenko, the creative crocheting mind behind DaisyJoyStore, to create the BBE's next animal mascot friend, BBEaver. Find out about Holly and her work here!
The opera dates back to 1725. In North America, historical evidence tells us, a Philadelphia audience attended a performance of the piece in 1798. That was it until two months ago, when, on consecutive days, two audiences in Chicago had the privilege. And last Saturday evening, that opportunity was extended to Bloomington: to experience in concert what may be the first opera ever written in Scotland, “The Gentle Shepherd.”
WFMT interviews directors Brandi Berry and Thomas Alaan about the BBE's upcoming production of Scotland's first opera, The Gentle Shepherd.
Who is Tom McElroy?
Christian, husband, father, grandfather, actor. Born and raised in the far north suburbs, Have worked flippin' burgers, fryin' chicken, construction, youth ministry, driving a delivery truck, sales, store manager, sales trainer, substitute teaching, Starbucks and for the past 23 years theatre, film, and television. Avid reader, love a good conversation with anyone, friend, enemy, new or old. Being part of telling a great story whether it's in theatre, film, television, or just sitting around with friends and family is something I am so incredibly grateful to have enjoyed doing, so many times and in so many places."God has made me an actor, when I perform I feel His pleasure." (with apologies to Eric Liddlell)
How did you get into acting?
I've been performing all my life. Skits for the parents and relatives, magic for banquets and parties, a little ventriloquism too. Moved on to plays in highschool and community theatre. Then in 1993 I decided to give it a try professionally and just never looked back.
What is the best play you've ever seen?
Hands down my favorite is the first show I ever saw in Chicago. It was at the Body Politic and starred my good friend Roger Mueller as Chris in All My Sons by Arthur Miller.
Tell us about a funny or embarrassing moment from a production.
Most recently (there have been many) I was in "A Life of Galileo" performing in a lecture hall at Northwestern university. At a very tense moment in the show, just after Galileo has recanted as I (playing Galileo) was crossing to my exit the door (which was to be my exit) suddenly opened and a man (possibly a professor?) burst in to the room looked around (at the theatrical lighting, actors on stage, and a huge audience) and fairly shouted, "Is there something going on in here?!" One of the other actors immediately replied, "Yes! We are doing a Brecht play!" The man paused and said, "oh." turned and walked out. Did I mention there was a sign on the door he came in advising that there was a play in progress? Hmmm....
How's your Scottish accent?
What do you like about The Gentle Shepherd production?
I'm loving the music, my fellow actors, and especially the "seer" scene where I tell Patrick's fortune.
The BBE is overjoyed to announce that it has received a grant from the Julian Grace Foundation, which will support its production of Scotland's first folk opera, The Gentle Shepherd! Thanks in part to JGF's support of this project, Chicago will experience a one of a kind show not seen in North America since 1792. Come enjoy the show, featuring the folk and fiddle music of Scotland and a cast of 15 actors, singers, and instrumentalists!
The BBE is reviewed by M.L. Rantala, Classical Music Critic for the Hyde Park Herald, for its "Corda Vocale" duet program: "deft ensemble playing, working together seamlessly."
The BBE is proud to announce it will produce Scotland's first opera, Allan Ramsay's The Gentle Shepherd (1725), in the fall of 2016 as part of a three-month residency at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
BBE friends and players, Tim Macdonald and Jeremy Ward, recently competed in Scotland at the 2015 Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship. Here you can read Part 2 of the experience from Tim's perspective.
BBE friends and players, Tim Macdonald and Jeremy Ward, recently competed in Scotland at the 2015 Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship. Here you can read Part I of the experience from Tim's perspective.
The BBE is thrilled to present new works by Mark Nowakowski for period instruments as part of the Noonday Concert Series at Fourth Presbyterian Church (December 18, 2015 at 12:00PM).
The BBE is back in Chicago after an exciting tour of the Northeast! Having played New York City, Hartford, and twice in Boston (once for the Boston Early Music Festival), the group is ready to share its story. (Sounds coming soon!)
If you're at one of our Northeast Concerts, you'll be hearing some of these songs. In case you're having problems understanding the old English, you can follow along with the lyrics here!
Calliope, or English Harmony (1739) contains some 200 songs representing the Billboard Top 40 of the 18th century. Find out all about Calliope, her friend Bacchus, and the fascinating sass included in this treasured collection... here!
The Gentle Shepherd, a pastoral drama, is considered by some to be the first Scottish Opera. Written in the early 18th century, this pastoral drama features shepherds, shepherdesses, sheep, love, and plenty of traditional Scottish folk music. Find out more about this Scottish treasure which the BBE will offer as part of its Northeast tour and BEMF Fringe Concert.
Meet 3Arts awardee and violinist, Brandi Berry, whose "four-string acrobatics" and "indispensable skill" (TimeOut Chicago) have been praised as "alert [and] outstanding" (Chicago Classical Review), and noted for her "riffs.. powered by a flashing blur of bow arm, [as they] rolled out with irresistible glee" (Washington Post). She has appeared with numerous groups including Kings Noyse, Apollo's Fire, Newberry Consort, Ars Lyrica, Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Bach Society Houston, Madison Bach Musicians; and numerous series including the Library of Congress, Dame Myra Hess, Early Music Now, the Boston, Berkeley, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Madison Early Music Festivals, and the Academy of Early Music in Ann Arbor. She has also been heard on the air on WFMT, WNUR, and Wisconsin Public Radio. Brandi serves on the faculty of DePaul University as co-director of Baroque Ensembles, and will return this year as faculty for the Madison Early Music Festival.
Meet Thomas Aláan, Countertenor and Executive Director of the Bach and Beethoven Ensemble. A multifaceted artist equally at home on the stage, on the podium, and in the studio, he's been called "stellar" by the Chicago Tribune, possessing an "unearthly round tone and singular power" (Communities Digital News). Thomas has conducted at Holy Name Cathedral since 2009 (six years) and has taught private voice since 2001 (fourteen years). He's performed with several Chicago ensembles, including Schola Antiqua, Bella Voce Camerata, Ars Antigua, the Janus Ensemble, Vox 3 Collection, the Aestas Consort, The Helios Ensemble, The Opera Company, and The Rookery. Find out more about Thomas here!
Meet Matthew Dean, one of Chicago's most respected tenors, an early and world music specialist, noted for his “reverent and beautiful tone” (chicagoclassicalmusic.org). Dean performs with Bella Voce, The Oriana Singers, Baroque Band, Cantate, and King Solomon’s Singers. He draws on his academic background in medieval Spanish art with Schola Antiqua and The Newberry Consort, with whom he was a featured artist at the Boston Early Music Festival in a cantigas program praised by The New York Times. His voice is highlighted on recordings on the Discantus, Sony, and Permelia Records labels, including a 2013 disc of the rediscovered works of William Carey Wright. A nonprofit development leader, Dean heads the Sounds of Faith initiative for Harran Productions Foundation and co-founded The Rookery men’s choir. Find out more about Matt here!