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.
The season begins with Soprano | Mezzo Duo featuring ensemble soprano Sarah van der Ploeg and mezzo-soprano Bridget Skaggs singing Dutch, Irish, and English folksong settings; and art songs that explore the origins of humanity and the planet Earth. Featuring music by Jake Heggie, Stacy Garrop, Lori Laitman, Gilda Lyons, Catharina van Rennes, and Benjamin Britten.
Carolyn & Peter Pereira
Jake Heggie | Facing Forward / Looking Back: Motherwit
DUTCH FOLK SONGS
Catharina van Rennes | De Kleengedichtjes, Op. 52, selections
IRISH FOLK SONGS
Gilda Lyons | Irish Songs
ENGLISH FOLK SONGS
Benjamin Britten | Folksongs from the British Isles
Lori Laitman | One or Two Things
Stacy Garrop | Terra Nostra
STARS & THE MOON
James Kallembach | Weightless Dreams, songs on the words of female astronauts
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.
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.