ORIGIN STORIES is the quartet's inaugural HD live broadcast season. Connect with us from around the world - from your living room to our virtual concert hall. Watch each event in real time as the singers are performing, and enjoy 48-hour replay access following the concerts.
Join us for a reimagined rebroadcast of the duo concerts: featuring highlights from both the women's and men's programs, and enhanced by narration from the ensemble members themselves.
SARAH VAN DER PLOEG is an American lyric soprano who has been singing since before she could speak. Praised as a singing actor for her “thoughtful musicality”, “clarity of tone” and “versatility”, the New Jersey native has performed in London, New York, Chicago, Vienna, and elsewhere around the US and Europe. Equally at home on stage, in concert halls, and in recital, she particularly loves 20th Century & contemporary music and composer collaborations. Performance highlights: world premiere of staged Gary Fry work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; “Une bête” in Ravel’s L’Enfant with Esa Pekka Salonen and CSO; Stella/Muse in Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s Tales of Hoffmann: Retold; solo turns at the Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall; Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with Civic Orchestra of Chicago; Barber’s Knoxville with Lake Forest Civic Orchestra; staged production of David Lang’s the little match girl passion; Mozart’s Requiem with Chicago Chamber Orchestra & Elmhurst Choral Union; Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus) at Northwestern; Encouragement Award, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions; First place, Chicago NATS. Sarah holds degrees from the Royal Academy of Music (Diane Forlano), Northwestern University (Theresa Brancaccio & Alan Darling), and Princeton University (Public Policy & Music Performance). A Marshall Scholar, she believes deeply in the communicative power of the arts for cultural diplomacy and reconciliation, and works through music outreach and education in addition to performance in pursuit of these aims. sarahvanderploeg.weebly.com
Mezzo-soprano BRIDGET SKAGGS has swiftly gained the attention of Chicago audiences for her "warm and plaintive" singing (Chicago Classical Review) across a broad range of genres, including classical, contemporary, avant-garde, jazz, and musical theater. Critics have noted the way she “lights up the scene” (Chicago Reader) in appearances with Chicago Fringe Opera, Chicago Folks Operetta, Haymarket Summer Opera, Lake Forest Civic Orchestra, Baroque on Beaver Festival, Opera Steamboat, and Pittsburgh Festival Opera. A passionate advocate for art song, Skaggs is a founding member and executive director of vocal quartet Fourth Coast Ensemble, and was recently named Vocal Arts Associate for Chicago Fringe Opera. She has twice been awarded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago's vocal chamber fellowship, and performed for master clinicians Martin Katz, Michelle DeYoung, and Craig Terry. Skaggs loves collaborating with composers to promote and perform new repertoire. She co-hosted the Chicago premiere of the Sparks & Wiry Cries songSLAM competition for new art song in 2019, and sang for the 2016 NATS national convention in music of Gwyneth Walker. Skaggs debuted the role of Austin in the world-premiere production of Rossa Crean’s The Great God Pan in 2018, which received The American Prize in Opera Performance. She will record music by composer Lori Laitman this year, and has recorded the American premiere of Paul Abraham's jazz operetta Ball at the Savoy for future release. A native of Southlake, Texas, Bridget received her education at Oklahoma City University's Wanda L. Bass School of Music, and resides in Chicago.
ACE GANGOSO, tenor, enjoys an eclectic musical career in Chicago as a singer, music director, pianist, and teacher. Ace is thrilled to be joining Fourth Coast Ensemble this season, adding to his existing singing engagements with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Grant Park Chorus, and Chicago a cappella. Within Chicago a cappella, Ace also serves as the Program Director for the High School Apprenticeship, an auditioned group of young singers seeking experience in high-level ensemble singing and arts nonprofit operations.
Ace is the Director of Music Ministry at St. Nicholas Parish in Evanston where he conducts several choirs and musical groups, and plays up to four Masses each weekend. Additionally, he is a pianist for the Chicago Black Catholics Choir and a supplementary staff musician at St. Michael in Old Town. Ace is also a private voice instructor at Highland Park High School.
A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Ace became a Chicagoan in 2010 and currently resides in the Lakeview neighborhood. Ace holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Music Education and Voice Performance from the University of Central Arkansas, and a Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from Northwestern University; he continues voice study with NU Professor W. Stephen Smith. He is a proud alumni member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the world’s oldest and largest fraternal society in music.
Chicago native DAVID GOVERTSEN has been active as a professional singer for fifteen years, portraying a wide variety of opera’s low-voiced heroes, villains, and buffoons. An alumnus of the Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, he has performed ten roles with the company, most recently appearing as Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte and King Priam in Les Troyens. This past season he also appeared at Santa Fe Opera as Frank in Die Fledermaus, and he created the role of Stoever in Stewart Copeland’s The Invention of Morel for Chicago Opera Theater.
As a concert soloist Mr. Govertsen has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival among many others. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2011 as the Herald in Otello with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti. He is an alumnus of both the Santa Fe Opera and Central City Opera apprentice programs and holds degrees from Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University and the College of DuPage. Mr. Govertsen is currently on faculty at Valparaiso University, Lewis University, and the College of DuPage.
Commended for his “perceptive pianism” (Audiophile) and “playing that is sensitive and wonderfully warm” (American Record Guide), Chicagoan KUANG-HAO HUANG is a highly sought-after collaborative pianist whose performances have taken him throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He has performed in New York City’s Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Merkin Hall; in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center; and at every major venue in the Chicago area, including the Harris Theatre and Symphony Center. He is often heard live on WFMT and has also performed on WQXR and on Medici.tv. Mr. Huang has recorded for Aucourant, Cedille, Innova and Naxos, including a CD of flute fantasies with flutist Mathieu Dufour and a premiere recording of early songs by Alban Berg with mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley. His most recent recordings include Notorious RBG in Song with soprano Patrice Michaels and Songs from Chicago with baritone Thomas Hampson.
A strong advocate of new music, Mr. Huang is a core member of Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Picosa. He has premiered numerous works, including pieces by Mason Bates, Jacob Bancks, Kyong Mee Choi, Stacy Garrop, John Harbison, Daniel Kellogg and Shulamit Ran. Mr. Huang gave the world premiere performances of works by Louis Andriessen and Chen Yi at Weill Hall as part of Carnegie Hall’s Millennium Piano Book Project. He has appeared on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series.
A dedicated teacher, Mr. Huang serves on the faculties of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and Concordia University-Chicago. He has also taught at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.
Mr. Huang is Associate Artistic Director for the International Music Foundation and is the driving force behind Make Music Chicago (makemusicchicago.org), a citywide celebration of music every June 21st. He also founded IMF’s Pianos in the Parks program, which partners with the Chicago Park District to give all Chicagoans access to outdoor pianos as well as free lessons.
Pianist YASUKO OURA has been praised for her sensibility and passion for collaborating with others. She has maintained a busy schedule of performing concerts and working for various opera companies while keeping an active teaching schedule. She is currently a lecturer of collaborative piano at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music where she enjoys working with talented pianists as well as coaching chamber music. She is also on the faculty at North Park University. In demand as a vocal coach, she has been on the music staff for Des Moines Metro Opera for over ten seasons. She regularly works for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Opera Theater. She has played under many prominent conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis, Gary Wedow, and Jane Glover. Additionally, she was the principal production pianist and coach for Florentine Opera for seven years. Her other past affiliations include companies such as Fort Worth Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera, Toledo Opera, and AIMS in Graz, Austria.
Some recent operatic highlights include An American Dream for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited, Moby Dick at Chicago Opera Theater, and Candide at Des Moines Metro Opera. This summer, she would have returned to Des Moines Metro Opera for Platée. On a recital front, she has performed many recitals with some of the world’s most exciting musicians including Susanna Phillips, David Portillo, Susanne Mentzer, and Kyle Ketelsen. This summer she was slated to return to the Twickenham Festival where she would have collaborated with Susanna Phillips as well as other prominent artists on recitals and chamber music concerts.
An avid chamber musician, Ms. Oura has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Weil Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Merkin Hall. She is also the co-artistic director of Chamber Music at Bethany concert series where members of Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other prominent musicians come together to perform chamber music. She has also served as the official pianist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District and the McCammon Vocal Competition in Fort Worth, TX. She has been seen in performances for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, the Bel Canto Foundation, WFMT, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. She resides near Chicago, where she works with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Orchestra Chorus, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, Light Opera Works, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School, where she was a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow.