MICHAEL CONLEY - Music Director
Michael Conley has earned a notable reputation in the United States and abroad for his multifaceted career as conductor, pianist, organist, singer, and composer. The New York Times has said of his work, “first-rate conducting;” of his choirs, “proficient” and “well-blended sound;” and of his compositions, “tuneful,” “handsome,” “ambitious,” “piquant,” and “surprising.” In addition to serving as Music Director of the Hudson Chorale, he was the Music Director of the Choral Arts Society (2006-2010), and is currently in his 13th season as the Artistic Director of the West Village Chorale, conducting its annual series of concerts at the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
Since 2006 Mr. Conley has been the Music Director for Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square, one of the country’s most historically progressive and unique congregations. He is the worship pianist, conductor of the Judson Choir, and founder of Judson Arts, a concert series which celebrates an eclectic mix of musical styles and ensembles. From 2004 to 2012 he was the Director of the High School Chorus at the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan, conducting performances not only in New York, but to standing-room-only audiences in churches and concert halls throughout Europe, including St. Peters in Rome, the Duomo in Florence, and venues in Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Salzburg, Germany and Spain.
Mr. Conley also held the position of Assistant Director of Music to Kent Tritle at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola (1996-1999), and Assistant Conductor of the Collegiate Chorale (2000-2005), working with the late Music Director Robert Bass in rehearsal and in preparation of the Chorale for over fifteen Carnegie Hall performances. He also helped prepare the Chorale for performances with the EOS Orchestra and the Ulster Philharmonic, and for performances at the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, New York, and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland for James Levine. Additionally, he served as Chorus master for the Connecticut Grand Opera’s 2003-04 season, preparing productions of Gounod’s Faust and Verdi’s Macbeth.
As a singer, he was a founding member of the professional 14-voice choir, Manhattan Voices. He sings with the caroling ensemble, The Yuletide Singers, and in the spring of 2005 he was the baritone soloist with the Gregg Smith Singers in the premier performance and recording of Princeton composer Dmitri Tzmoczko’s The Agony of Modern Music. He most recently appeared as a soloist with the Dessoff Choirs in their highly regarded performance of Arvo Pärt’s Passio at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square.
Mr. Conley holds a Bachelor’s degree in composition from James Madison University in Virginia. He earned a Master’s degree in conducting from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where his principal teacher was Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt, and where he was awarded the Mueller Prize in choral composition. As a member of the famed Westminster Choir he performed and recorded with many of the great orchestras and conductors of our time in concerts all over the world.
DAVID BARANOWSKI - Accompanist and Assistant Director
David Baranowski is a highly versatile and gifted accompanist, performing with equal virtuosity on piano, keyboard, organ, and harpsichord, with repertoire ranging from Bach to Deep Purple. He has played numerous chamber and choral concerts in the Westchester area, and is currently the accompanist for the Westchester Choral Society as well as the Hudson Chorale. As an organist, Mr. Baranowski has performed such works as the Brahms, Fauré, and Duruflé Requiems, the Dvořák Mass in D, Handel’s Messiah, and the Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio. As a conductor, he has directed the Poulenc Gloria, the Schubert Mass in G, and the Rutter Magnificat; and most recently, he conducted Mozart's Cosi fan tutte from the harpsichord for the Delaware Valley Opera.
For the past ten years Mr. Baranowski has been touring internationally with rock icon Ritchie Blackmore as both keyboardist and singer. He has played over 100 concerts and visited nearly 25 countries as a member of Blackmore’s Night, which has been on the charts in Germany, Czech Republic, Russia, England, and the US. He has also appeared on German television multiple times, and was featured on the primetime program Hit Giganten as well as on Fernsehgarten, reaching millions of viewers. One English newspaper said of his performance in Blackmore's Night, "... it was the keyboard player who was obviously the jester in this band of players....Along with his sense of comedy, the pianist…was obviously classically trained. He would have easily fit into a King Crimson rock band, or a full orchestra playing Rachmaninoff."
Mr. Baranowski has also collaborated with Irish pop singer and composer, Julie Feeney; and in the Spring of 2012 he played keyboard for Ms. Feeney’s ten performances at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan. He is currently the Director of Music at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Danbury, Connecticut.
Mr. Baranowski studied piano with Paul Ostrovsky and Steven Lubin, organ with Robert Fertitta, and voice with Stefano Algieri. He received both his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Purchase College Conservatory of Music.
JUSTIN BECK - Bass-Baritone
Bass-baritone Justin Beck has had a varied career as both an opera and concert soloist and as a choral singer. He has performed at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Maestro Robert Spano with the Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus, and he has also appeared with the New York Pops.
Other concert engagements include performances with Bard Music Festival, the Collegiate Chorale, and as a soloist with the Gregg Smith Singers. He spent three seasons with Opera Company of Middlebury in Vermont singing Massenet’s Thaïs, Puccini’s La Rondine and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. Other career highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Dr. Falke and Frank in Die Fledermaus, both with Opera Manhattan. As a young artist he performed with both the Austin Lyric Opera and the Aspen Music Festival. Currently, Justin sings with the choir at St. Mark’s Church in Mt. Kisco and with the West Village Chorale in Manhattan as well as with the Hudson Chorale here in Westchester.
JOHN BELLEMER - Tenor
The American tenor John Bellemer has gained a reputation for his strong portrayals in a very wide repertoire. Possessed of a voice the New York Times calls "clarion-toned," he continues to appear in leading roles at opera houses across North America and Europe. He is featured in the Academy Award-nominated film Lincoln as Gounod’s Faust.
In season 2013-14 Mr. Bellemer returns to Wexford Festival Opera as Gabriele in Foroni’s Cristina, Regina di Svezia, sings Toni in Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers at Venice’s Teatro la Fenice, and to the Berkshire Choral Festival as soloist in Elgar’s The Dream of Geronthius.
Recent engagements included Sali in Delius’ A Village Romeo and Juliet with the Wexford Festival; his concert debut with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in works by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms; his debut at Florence’s Maggio Musicale as Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia; Nebuchadnezzar in Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace and as Herold in Grassl’s Tassilo with Festival Mattseer Diabelli Sommer (Austria); a return to the Buxton Festival as Riccardo in Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan; and to Boston Lyric Opera as Sandy/Officer One in Davies’ The Lighthouse; and the title role in Faust with Hawaii Opera Theater.
Past highlights include Ira Hayes in the World Premier of Johanna Doderer’s Der leuchtende Fluss at Theater Erfurt; Rodolfo in Luisa Miller and Gennaro in Lucrezi Borgia with Buxton Festival; the role of Boconnion in The Mines of Sulphur at the Wexford Festival; and Lindoro in L’italiana in Algeri in Paris, France and New York City sponsored by UNESCO.
Mr. Bellemer's extensive North American credits include performances of Alfredo with New York City Opera, San Diego Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Florida Grand Opera, Cleveland Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Arizona Opera, Calgary Opera, Madison Opera, Berkshire Opera, Shreveport Opera, Minnesota Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Omaha, Dayton Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Vancouver Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Opera Birmingham, Opera Ontario, Tacoma Opera, Ohio Light Opera, and Opera San Jose.
Other international appearances include Teatro di San Carol in Naples, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Opéra de Rouen, Teatro delle Muse, Opéra de Rennes, Spoleto Festival, Stadttheater Giessen, Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Estonian National Opera, Opéra National de Lorraine, and Teatro Arriaga Spain.
A gifted concert artist, Mr. Bellemer has appeared with the Baltimore Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Oakland Symphony, the New York Choral Society, Ontario Society New York, Calgary Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, Choral Arts Society of DC, Alabama Symphony, Sinfonia de Camera, New Choral Society, and Hudson Chorale.
Committed to the art of the vocal recital, John Bellemer toured with pianist John Wustman from 1992 to 1998 in a program titled The Songs of Franz Schubert. He made his European recital debut at the Estonian National Opera and has appeared in recital to benefit the Napa Valley Symphony, as well with both Stanford and James Madison Universities.
Mr. Bellemer holds a Bachelor of Music degree from James Madison University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois. He lives in New York with his wife, Sarah Blaze.
SARAH NELSON CRAFT - Mezzo-Soprano
Mezzo-soprano Sarah Nelson Craft is a versatile performer, equally at home with opera, oratorio, and art song from the Baroque to Contemporary. Most recently she sang the role of Giunone in Handel’s Agrippina with New York City's operamission in which she "knocked [her] exciting aria out of the park" (parterre.com). Other recent performances include the role of Ninetta in Verdi's Les vêpres siciliennes at the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, NY and Mozart’s Requiem with Amor Artis.
In 2012 Ms. Craft made her Lincoln Center debut at Avery Fisher Hall as the alto soloist in Bach's Mass in B Minor with the National Chorale, and she returned the following season for Handel's Messiah. In 2011 she debuted with Fargo-Moorhead Opera in the title role of La Cenerentola, and in 2010 she made her international debut in China at the Macau International Music Festival as Second Woman in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.
Favorite opera roles have included Hansel, Cherubino, Dorabella, Dido, Hermia, and Cendrillon. A devotee of new music, she frequently works with composers to premiere new works and has sung in many readings of new operas with American Opera Projects. A Brooklyn native with degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of North Texas, Ms. Craft has also trained with Marilyn Horne at the Music Academy of the West and has been a Young Artist with Bel Canto at Caramoor, Opera North, and Opera New Jersey. In June she will be performing a recital at Judson Church in Greenwich Village with Michael Conley on piano. Please visit www.sarahnelsoncraft.com!
LAURA GREEN - Soprano
Laura Green is an active soloist, choral artist and conductor in the greater New York area. Westchester solo performances include the Hudson Chorale (Brahms’s Requiem and Rutter’s Requiem), the Bronxville Reformed Church (La Fiesta de la Posada with Dave Brubeck and Messiah Sing-Alongs with Matthew Phelps, Bach Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf with Sándor Szabó) and collaborative recitals as part of the Hoff-Barthelson Faculty Series at the Greenville Community Church in Scarsdale. She regularly performs in the Hudson Valley at the Bard Music Festival and Summerscape Operas (Les Huguenots ensemble soloist) and has appeared at the Woodstock Fringe Festival.
Ms. Green has performed under the batons of Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Alan Gilbert, Xian Zhang, Leon Botstein, Kent Tritle, Judy Clurman, Michael Conley, James Bagwell, Harold Rosenbaum, and Matthew Phelps at Avery Fisher and Carnegie Halls. As a choral artist she has sung with the New York Virtuoso Singers, Manhattan Voices, Musica Sacra, Central Synagogue, St. Bartholomew’s Church and the New York Choral Artists, among many others. With the Trinity Wall Street Choir she performed for President George W. Bush and recorded a part of the collection Haydn: The Complete Masses. Other notable recording projects include John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls (Grammy Winner with NY Philharmonic), Michael Conley’s Appalachian Requiem (soloist), and as part of the studio chorus for the recently-released movie, Noah.
She is the conductor of the Hoff-Barthelson Chamber Choir. This growing choir of young women (grades 8-12) has performed with the New York Lyric Opera (Hansel and Gretel) and in the school’s major festivals. She also directs the Children’s Choirs at the Reformed Church of Bronxville. She co-founded Manhattan Voices and also leads the Yuletide Singers, a caroling ensemble that won the first Rachael Ray “Battle of the Carolers” as judged by Nick Cannon. Upcoming engagements include the Bard Summerscape Opera, Euryanthe, and a repeat performance of Opera Under the Stars with tenor, Juan Franco.
JACQUELINE HORNER-KWIATEK - Mezzo-Soprano
Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek is a member of the world-famous vocal quartet Anonymous 4, performing all over the world and recording many award winning CDs, including the Billboard Chart-topping American Angels. She was also a featured soloist on the Grammy awarding-winning album Calling All Dawns.
In addition to her work with Anonymous 4, she enjoys a reputation as a versatile and accomplished soloist, performing music from Bach to Babbitt. Solo work has included Bach cantatas with The Washington Bach Consort and the Bach Sinfonia, both in DC, Bach and Handel arias at Carmel Bach Festival with Bruno Weill, and When Musick and Sweet Poetry Agree, a program of Elizabethan song and poetry with the viol consort Parthenia. She was a soloist in the world premieres of Richard Einhorn’s new oratorio about Charles Darwin, The Origin, at SUNY Oswego, The Loathly Lady, a comic opera by Paul Richards and Wendy Steiner at the University of Pennsylvania, and was the mezzo soloist in a Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, a performance broadcast live throughout Ireland. She is currently singing the role of Katherine in an opera in development by composer Phil Kline and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch called Tesla in New York. She has appeared as a soloist in many of the world’s most prestigious venues including The Royal Albert hall London, Theatre du Chatelet in Paris and here in the US Disney Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall, to name a few. She is in demand as a recitalist, and her program Leading Ladies has been performed in New York, DC, and Philadelphia with more performances to come in California next season.
Ms. Horner-Kwiatek is also a voice teacher. She has a thriving studio in New York City and teaches voice at Columbia and Fordham Universities. She gives master classes and ensemble technique workshops in New York City, DC, and throughout the US. She is also a visiting artist at Duke, Catholic and Binghamton universities working with singers and composers on creating new work for the voice. Starting in the Fall of 2014 she will be a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at The Juilliard School. Her website is www.jacquelinehorner.com.
SCOTT TOPERZER - Bass
Scott Toperzer has performed with many outstanding choruses, orchestras, opera companies, and other vocal ensembles and is pleased to be invited to sing with the Hudson Chorale tonight. Mr. Toperzer has soloed under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, Philip Brunelle, and David Zinman. He has also performed as soloist with such notable organizations as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Caramoor, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Arizona Opera. Scott holds degrees from Boston University, The University of Oklahoma, and Bethel College. He currently serves at the Minister of Music at St. Stephen's Church in Ridgefield, CT.