Conductor Directing

Kenneth Freed, Music Director

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Guest Artists

steven copes

Guest Artist Steven Copes, Brilliant Beethoven

Violinist Steven Copes leads a diverse and enthusiastic musical life as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. He joined the SPCO as Concertmaster in 1998, and since then has led the orchestra from the chair in several highly acclaimed, eclectic programs. He also appears frequently as soloist with the SPCO, performing concerti by Bach, Berg, Brahms, Hartmann, Hindemith, Kirchner, Korngold, Lutoslawski, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Piazzolla, Prokofiev, Schnittke and Weill. In addition, he has performed as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, the Colorado Symphony, the Sao Paolo State Symphony, the Orlando Philharmonic and The Knights. 

A zealous advocate of the music of today, he gave the world premiere of George Tsontakis' Grammy-nominated Violin Concerto No. 2 (2003), which won the 2005 Grawemeyer award and has been recorded for KOCH Records, and also gave the NY premiere of Lutoslawski's Subito (1992) for Violin and Piano. In June of 2017 he gave the World Premiere of Pierre Jalbert's Violin Concerto with Thomas Zehetmair conducting the SPCO. He performed John Novacek's Four Rags with the composer on NPR's Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Other recent solo engagements include the Korngold Violin Concerto with Rossen Milanov and the SPCO, Scott Yoo and the Festival Mozaic Orchestra, the Berg Chamber Concerto with pianist Kirill Gerstein at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Karl Amadeus Hartmann's Concerto Funebre with the SPCO, the Berg Violin Concerto with the Orlando Philharmonic and music director Eric Jacobsen.

An avid chamber musician, Copes has performed at festivals and concert series such as Aspen, Boston Chamber Music Society, Bridgehampton, Caramoor, Cartagena, Cello Plus, Chamber Music Northwest, Charlottesville, Colorado College, El Paso Pro Musica, Four Seasons, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, La Jolla Summerfest, Mainly Mozart, Marlboro, Moritzburg, Mozaic, Musical Masterworks, Norfolk, Piccolo Spoleto, Salt Bay Chamberfest, Santa Fe, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Skaneateles, Styriarte, Sweetwater Music Weekend, and at other festivals across the globe. He co-founded the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado as well as Accordo, a chamber music group in the Twin Cities, now in its 9th season

aaron humble

Guest Artist Aaron Humble, Holiday Highlights and Tonight

Described as remarkably virtuosic by the Columbus Republic and transcendent by the Daytona Beach News Journal, tenor Aaron Humble originally hails from Northeast Ohio. Believing that a consummate musician can tackle multiple genres, Aaron has performed in opera, recital, concert, and chamber music venues. During his tenure with Cantus, Aaron enjoyed solo appearances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Boston Pops and concert appearances at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Library of Congress, Wolf Trap, and The Chautauqua Institute. Aaron is a member of the faculty at Minnesota State Mankato where he teaches applied voice, diction, and conducts the University Chorale.

A Graduate of Millikin University, Aaron holds the Doctor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. As Aaron directs his focus toward teaching, he continues to perform as a recital and concert singer as well as maintaining his work as a clinician in a variety of vocal and choral settings including his work as a cantor at the Church of the Assumption in downtown St. Paul. An avid gardener and home improvement devotee, Aaron splits his time between Mankato and Dallas where his husband Xu and their two cats, Chopstick and Toothpick, currently live. 

 stephanie thorpe

 Guest Artist Stephanie Thorpe, Tonight

Soprano Stephanie Thorpe is a member of the Minnesota State University, Mankato voice faculty. Prior to her faculty appointment, she performed full-time for seven years in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thorpe is currently a member of Thursday Musical, a performing arts organization in the Twin Cities. She continues to be active in opera, musical theatre, contemporary music, and recital.

As a winner of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Concerto Competition, Thorpe performed John Musto's Pulitzer Prize-nominated Dove Sta Amore... with the UNLV Symphony Orchestra. She was a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a winner of the Nevada District National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards (NATSAA). Thorpe also participated in the prestigious National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program, where she worked directly with master teacher and renowned tenor, George Shirley.

Thorpe is an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the College Music Society. She has served as an adjudicator for the North Central Regional Chapter, the Minnesota Chapter, the Cal-Western Regional Chapter, and the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Student Award competitions. Thorpe has also served as a judge for the Classical Singer Vocal Competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. Most recently, she adjudicated several Solo and Ensemble Festivals for the Minnesota State High School League.

Previously, Thorpe has served as adjunct voice faculty at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the College of Southern Nevada, Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. She was also a member of the voice faculty at The Nevada School of the Arts in Las Vegas and served as the administrative liaison for the Big Bear Lake Song Festival. Thorpe received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she worked with Dr. Tod Fitzpatrick. She also holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Briar Cliff University. Recently, Thorpe received a Vocology Certificate through the National Center for Voice and Speech under the tutelage of Dr. Ingo Titze and Dr. Katherine Verdolini Abbott.

Guest Artist Anna DeGraff, Tonight

Dr. Anna DeGraff is an instructor of applied voice and music appreciation at South Dakota State University. She holds undergraduate degrees in music and psychology from the University of Nebraska where she studies with soprano Donna Harler-Smith, and graduate degrees in vocal performance from the University of Minnesota where she studied with John De Haan. 

A strong proponent of contemporary music, she has paticipated in several workshops and premieres of works by living composers such as Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein. 

Anna has won the NATS Nebraska Artist Award, and was the recipient of the 2014 Stratton Fellowship for a cultural exchange in Switzerland. 

Her professional affliliatons include memberships in Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Alpha Iota, Golden Key Society, and Pi Kappa Lambda. 


Guest Artist Charles Eaton, Tonight

Charles H. Eaton has performed professionally with multiple American companies, including Opera Colorado, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Minnesota Opera. In 2013, he recieved his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Connecticut where he sang Papageno in Die Zauberflote. Thomas Putname in The Crucible and more. In the summer of 2103. he performed the role of John Brooke (Little Women) with the Hartford Opera Theater. He recieved his Master of Music from the University of Minnesota where credits include Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro the Forrester in The Cunning Little Vixen and Masetto in Don Giovanni. In his second year of studies he was a particpant of th ECCO Progam, which facilitated hours of coaching and exchange between promising young artists in the School of Music and the music staff at Minnesota Opera. 

Most recently, he returned to Des Moines Metro Opera for their 45th anniversary season (2017), where he sange Mr. Lindquist and covered Carl Magnus in A Little Night Music, and study covered Billy in Billy Budd. 

Charles was the first place winner of the 2015 Thursday Musical competition in Minneapolis, MN, and district winner of the Metropolitan Opera competition in 2016. 

silver ainomae

Guest Artist Silver Ainomäe, Igniting the Rite of Spring, An Inside Out Concert

 From his 2000 solo debut with the Estonian National Orchestra, Silver Ainomäe has performed in over 30 countries, including concertos with the Finnish Radio Orchestra, Zürich Chamber Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Polish Radio Orchestra, and the Colorado Symphony. He has won prizes in international cello competitions in Warsaw, Helsinki, and Tongyeong (South Korea) and awards in London and Rome.

Born in Estonia, Silver moved with his family to Finland in 1990. He was accepted into the celebrated Sibelius Academy to study with Hannu Kiiski and Arto Noras, ultimately receiving his Masters degree. He went on to London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama and later to the Razumovsky Academy, where he studied with Oleg Kogan.

Currently Associate Principal Cellist of the Minnesota Orchestra, Silver has previously served as Principal Cellist of the Colorado Symphony and guest Principal with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.