The University of Illinois Wind Symphony and Chamber Singers, led by Director of Bands Dr. Stephen Peterson and Director of Choral Activities Dr. Andrew Megill, will be joined by soloists Nathan Gunn, Todd Payne, and Yvonne Redman for the debut of Gathering. All three soloists share a deep connection to the University of Illinois as professors and alumni of the School of Music and join together as long-time friends and colleagues in the premiere of this work. Their collaboration celebrates the spirit of community through music expemplified by this sesquicentennial Gathering.
Nathan Gunn, Baritone (Chicago)
Nathan Gunn has made a reputation as one of the most exciting and in-demand baritones of the day.
He has appeared in internationally renowned opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Theater an der Wien, Teatro Real in Madrid, and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. His many roles include the title roles in Billy Budd, Eugene Onegin, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Hamlet; Guglielmo in Cosí fan tutte, the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucetia, Danilo in The Merry Widow, and The Lodger in The Aspern Papers.
A noted supporter of new works, Mr. Gunn most recently created the role of Inman in Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain at the Santa Fe Opera. He also created the roles of Sid Taylor in Jake Heggie’s Great Scott, James Dalton in Iain Bell’s The Harlot’s Progress at the Theater an der Wien, Yeshua in Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at the San Francisco Opera Paul in Daron Hagen’s Amelia at the Seattle Opera, Alec Harvey in André Previn’s Brief Encounter at the Houston Grand Opera, Father Delura in Peter Eötvös’ Love and Other Demons at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and Clyde Griffiths in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera. Because of this dedication to new works, Mr. Gunn held the title of Director of the American Repertoire Council at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, a steering council that focused on advancing the company’s American Repertoire Program which was committed to produce a new American work in 10 consecutive seasons. Mr. Gunn is working on a number of creative projects that will premier over the next three seasons, in which he is a collaborating artist with the creative teams. These include projects with producing companies such as the English National Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Beth Morrison Projects, and are created with some of today’s leading and cutting edge composers.
Also a distinguished concert performer, Mr. Gunn has appeared the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Rundfunkorchster, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The many conductors with whom he has worked with include, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert, Daniel Harding, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Kent Nagano, Antonio Pappano, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Mark Wigglesworth.
Mr. Gunn's solo album, Just Before Sunrise, was released on the Sony/BMG Masterworks label. Other recordings include the title role in Billy Budd with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra (Virgin Classics), the first complete recording of Rogers & Hammerstein'sAllegro (Sony's Masterworks Broadway), Peter Grimes with Sir Colin Davis and London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live!), which was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award; Il Barbiere di Siviglia (SONY Classics), Kullervo with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Telarc), and his debut album, a collection of American songs entitled American Anthem (EMI). He also starred as Buzz Aldrin in Man on the Moon, an opera written specifically for television and broadcast on the BBC in the UK. The program was awarded the Golden Rose Award for Opera at the Montreux Festival in Lucerne.
Mr. Gunn was the recipient of the first annual Beverly Sills Artist Award, and was recently awarded the Pittsburgh Opera Renaissance Award. He is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Program and was the winner of the 1994 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition.
Yvonne Redman, Soprano
Yvonne Gonzales Redman has enjoyed a 18-year career as a main stage soprano at the Metropolitan Opera including 199 onstage performances as a principal soloist, including 26 live radio and television broadcasts that are still regularly broadcast over Sirius radio. Highlights include Zerlina in Don Giovanni (James Levine, conductor); Giannetta in L'Elisir d'Amore (with Luciano Pavarotti for his 30th anniversary gala); Jouvenot in Adrianna Lecouvreur (in Mirella Freni's final performances of this work); and in Parsifal with Placido Domingo, to name only a few highlights of her career. She is a grand prize winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council competition and the Eleanor McCullum Houston Grand Opera competition.
Ms. Redman has performed at the Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Wolf Trap, Opera Illinois, and the Houston Grand Opera, where she sang the world premiere of Daniel Catan's Florencia en el Amazones. She was featured in the role of Mimi in La Boheme in the Bregenz Festival in Austria.
She has shared the stage with some of the greatest operatic artists, including Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Samuel Ramey, Nathan Gunn, Bryn Terfel, Teresa Stratas, Renee Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Susan Graham, Carol Vaness, Dawn Upshaw, Denise Graves, Paul Groves, Ben Heppner, Jerry Hadley, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Rene Pape, and Thomas Hampson. Conductors with whom she has collaborated include James Levine, James Conlon (Music Director of Ravinia, among other titles), Sir Charles Mackerras, Leonard Slatkin, Richard Bonynge, and Murry Sidlin.
R. Todd Payne, Baritone (New York City and Urbana)
A native of Munford, Tennessee, Metropolitan Opera District Winner & Regional Finalist, Graduate of University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana School of Music (MM & DMA), and Tenured-Full Professor of Music (Voice) at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, Dr. Todd Payne’s voice has been described as "Magnificent", "Impassioned", and “Stentorian." He is sought after for his commanding presence, ringing tones and intense work ethic in opera, recital & oratorio.
Recently Todd sang his first Iago in Springfield Regional Opera’s concert performance of Otello. Prior to this performance, he sang the role of Malatesta in Springfield Regional Opera’s production of Don Pasquale. February 2017 he was the bass soloist in Beethoven 9th with Springfield Symphony Orchestra. In January he reprised the role of Hero/Louis Armstrong in Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Opera The Real Ambassadors in Memphis, Tennessee; a role he first sang in a collaboration with Opera Memphis/Rhodes College in April 2016. Also in April, Todd made his Topeka Symphony Orchestra debut as the bass soloist in The Verdi Requiem. Summer 2016, Todd appeared in concert as guest soloist with the Memphis Wind Ensemble.
Summer 2014 Todd was heard in the title role in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with the Princeton Opera Festival in Princeton New Jersey and received review following review:
Richard Todd Payne conveys the spirit of his character, and the opera, before he even opens his mouth. You like this Porgy the minute he makes his entrance. Payne’s physical stature is of a piece with his spiritual resolve. There’s a solidity in his manner, and you just know there is nothing that will keep him down, totally at variance with his status as Catfish Row’s crippled beggar. When he sings “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’,” you believe icebergs would glance off the prow of this man, and you suspect the menacing Crown is in for a world of hurt.
Upcoming performances include guest soloist in composer Russell Robinson’s arrangement of Old Man River with the Missouri State University Men’s Chorus at the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference, narration from an excerpt of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous I Have A Dream speech, with an underlying orchestral arrangement of “Precious Lord Take My Hand” & “We Shall Overcome,” with Springfield Symphony and Topeka Symphony.
Todd has performed the title roles in Tartuffe, Gianni Schicchi, Rigoletto Porgy & Bess and The Marriage of Figaro. Other roles include Ned in Treemonisha, Dr. Bartolo & Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, Don Pippo in L'Oca del Cairo, Escamillo in Carmen, Marcello in La Boheme and many others.
Professional credits include performances with Princeton Opera, Opera Memphis, Indianapolis Opera, Illinois Opera Theater, Houston Grand Opera, Union Avenue Opera Theatre, Springfield Regional Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Chicago Opera Theatre, Princeton Opera, Memphis Symphony, Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Danville Symphony, Eastern Illinois Symphony, Rockford Symphony, and the Memphis Youth Symphony.
Todd is represented by Dietsch Artists International in Orange County, New Jersey. The key to his success is first and foremost, his Strong Faith in God and the profound belief: IF YOUR MIND CONCEIVES IT, YOUR HEART BELIEVES IT, YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT!
Dr. Andrew Megill
Andrew Megill is Professor of Conducting and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and the conductor of three of North America’s finest professional vocal ensembles: the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Chorus, the Carmel Bach Festival Chorale, and Fuma Sacra. His performances have been praised for their “power, subtlety, and nuance” and “profound spirituality” [Le Devoir, Montreal] and have been described as “piercing the heart like a frozen knife” [Monterey Herald] and “leaving the audience gasping in amazement” [Classical NJ]. At the University of Illinois, he leads the oldest doctoral program in choral conducting in the United States.
Dr. Megill frequently collaborates with the world’s leading orchestras. He made his debut conducting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in December of 2014, and has prepared choirs for performances with the American Composers’ Orchestra, American Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonie, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and New York Philharmonic and conductors Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, Joseph Flummerfelt, Rafael Frühbeck du Burgos, Alan Gilbert, Jane Glover, Neeme Järvi, Zdenek Macal, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano, John Nelson, and Julius Rudel. An accomplished orchestral conductor, he has led the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra, Masterwork Orchestra, and Sinfonia da Camera (Urbana, IL).
Dr. Megill is particularly admired for his performances of Baroque choral works. He regularly collaborates with leaders in the field of historically-informed performance, including Masaaki Suzuki, Ton Koopman, Bruno Weil, Paul Goodwin, Julianne Baird, Elizabeth Wallfisch, Nancy Wilson, Peter Hanson, and John Holloway. He has conducted many period-instrument orchestras, including Piffaro, Rebel, Sinfonia NYC, Brandywine Baroque, the Sebastians, Tempesta di Mare, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. He has conducted and taught at Bach festivals at the University of Illinois, Westminster Choir College, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as in Dublin, Ireland.
Dr. Megill has previously served as Music Director of the Masterwork Chorus and Orchestra (with whom he frequently performed in Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls) and Chorusmaster for the Spoleto Festival USA (where he led “the finest opera chorus in the world” [Charleston Post and Courier]). He has been a guest conductor for the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, TENET vocal ensemble, the Juilliard Opera Center, and Emmanuel Music (Boston), and served as interim choirmaster for Trinity Church (Wall Street) in Manhattan. Prior to his appointment at the University of Illinois, he taught at Westminster Choir College for over twenty years.
Andrew Megill is recognized as one the leading choral conductors of his generation, known for his passionate artistry and unusually wide-ranging repertoire, extending from early music to newly composed works. He has conducted regional or world premieres of works by Caleb Burhans, Paul Chihara, Sven-David Sandstrom, Caroline Shaw, Lewis Spratlan, Steven Stucky, Jon Magnussen, Arvo Pärt, and Krzysztof Penderecki, and has collaborated with the Mark Morris Dance Company, folk singer Judy Collins, puppeteer Basil Twist, and filmmaker Ridley Scott. Recordings of choirs conducted or prepared by him may be heard on the EMI, Canteloupe, Naxos, Albany, and CBC labels.
Dr. Stephen Peterson
Dr. Stephen G. Peterson was appointed Director of Bands at the University of Illinois in the fall of 2015. As Director of Bands, he conducts the Wind Symphony, leads the graduate wind conducting program, teaches courses in wind literature, and guides all aspects of one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most storied band programs. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Illinois he served as Director of Bands at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, for seventeen years. From 1988-1998 he served as Associate Director of Bands at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Dr. Peterson was also conductor of the renowned Northshore Concert Band. He held positions as Associate and Interim Director of Bands at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas and has several years of successful teaching experience in the public schools in Arizona.
Peterson maintains a busy schedule as a conductor and clinician, and as such, has appeared on four continents and in forty-two states. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the College Band Directors National Association, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and has been honored with membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. He is also member of Phi Mu Alpha, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Lambda, and an honorary member of Sigma Alpha Iota, and Kappa Kappa Psi. He is immediate past president of the College Band Directors National Association.
Dr. Peterson was the first to receive the Doctor of Music degree in wind conducting from Northwestern University and earned Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Arizona State University. In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious Ithaca College Faculty Excellence Award, recognizing his contributions to Ithaca College. His ensembles have appeared before national conventions of the American Bandmasters Association, the College Band Directors National Association, the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, the American School Band Directors Association, at Orchestra Hall with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and at Lincoln Center.