JOhn Michael KOch, Baritone
La bohème, conductor
In 2003, John Michael Koch, baritone, was granted tenure in the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University's School of Music in Normal, Illinois, where he has been nominated to Who’s Who in America in 2008 and 2009, and three times to Who's Who Among America's Teachers and has served as Voice Area Coordinator in the School of Music since 2009.
Koch has performed over 35 operatic and 45 oratorio roles throughout the world. He is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Midwest Institute of Opera that had its premiere season in 2011 with Die Zauberflöte. The subsequent seasons included Don Giovanni in 2012, Le nozze di Figaro in 2013 Bizet’s Carmen and Dan Shore’s The Beautiful Bridegroom in 2014, Cenerentola in 2015 and Hansel and Gretel, Falstaff and The dialogues of the Carmelites in 2016. This summer opera program at Illinois State was created to give young emerging singers locally and from all over the world the opportunity to stage and perform a complete operatic role. The program is growing rapidly and has hired opera professionals such as Maestro Joshua Greene from the Metropolitan Opera, Lucy Arner of the Mannes School of Music, Liora Maurer of the Metropolitan Opera and James Marvel, Director of Opera at UT-Knoxville to lead our participants in fully-staged productions. 2014 also brings the premiere of “MIOperatunities,” a matinée version of Carmen that filled our performance hall with young camp students, special needs students, and older community members at no cost to them, offering a “highlights” opera that included interpretive signers, Flamencan dancing by the USA Ballet, information on Spanish culture in the 19th century, French opera and a “Meet and greet the artists” session post-performance. The Midwest Institute of Opera and MIOperatunities has already received several generous grants from the Town of Normal Harmon Arts Grants Fund and the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Mirza Arts and Culture Fund and is proud to offer this unique opportunity under the auspices of the Illinois State University College of Fine Arts and School of Music.
As a soloist, Mr. Koch is noted for his interpretation of Orff's Carmina burana that he debuted at Chicago's Orchestra Hall with the Chicago Sinfonietta. Noted performances of the Orff include the Caracas Contemporary Ballet (Venezuela), Karmi'el Dance Festival in Israel (Tel Aviv Opera and Jerusalem), Chautauqua Institution, Cincinnati Ballet, Princeton University Symphony and Glee Clubs, the Southwest Michigan and Green Bay Symphony Orchestras, the Montreal Philharmonic, and the Canadian Ballet and Illinois State University. Other abroad performances include the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Cairo, Egypt. His world premieres of David Maslanka’s A Carl Sandburg Reader and his Symphony No. 9 were just released on CD by Albany Records. Another world premiere presented a Daron Hagen work based on the famous Civil War letter of Major Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah entitled: The Banner of my Purpose. Performances of the work were given at Illinois State University, Western Illinois University and Pacific Lutheran University with Mr. Koch as featured soloist with military band. Local solo performances have included Verdi’s Requiem, Elgar’s The dream of Gerontius, Britten’s War requiem, Rossini’s Stabat mater, Haydn’s Creation, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and several Carmina buranas at Illinois State University. Mr. Koch maintains a full voice studio in addition to teaching Vocal Pedagogy and conducting the ISU Civic Chorale.
Tracy Marie Koch, soprano
La bohème and Die Fledermaus, stage director
Tracy Marie Koch, spinto soprano, has been hailed as possessing a “beautiful, penetrating dramatic sound with exceptional beauty”. Ms. Koch was recently heard as Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana with the Midwest Institute of Opera in Bloomington, Illinois, where she also performed title roles of Puccini’s Suor Angelica (2014) and Verdi’s Aïda (2013). In 2014, she was invited by the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s opera guild to perform a recital that showcased arias and duets from their 2014-2015 season. Ms. Koch’s other recent engagements include Vì in Gershwin’s Blue Monday with Marble City Opera and as featured soloist at The Music by the Lake Festival where she performed scenes from Aïda and Puccini’s La bohème. Ms. Koch made her international debut as soprano soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Cairo Choral Society in Egypt and her New York City debut as the title role in Madama Butterfly with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance Program after making her Chicago Opera Theater debut in Britten's Death in Venice. She participated in the Opera Santa Barbara Young Artist program performing as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello and Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff. Ms. Koch was a winner of the 2003 Bel Canto Foundation of Chicago. She made her recording debut as soprano soloist on David Maslanka’s world premiere of A Carl Sandburg Reader released by Albany Records in November 2009. She has also performed the roles of Mimì in La bohème (Music by the Lake Festival) and in the title role of Tosca with the New York Summer Opera Scenes. Ms. Koch’s talents extend far beyond the stage. Her directing style has been described as “imaginative, fresh and intriguing”. Ms. Koch uses her extensive background as a singer, actress and dancer to bring new perspectives to the opera genre. She is currently staff director for the Midwest Institute of Opera where she has directed operas for the last 6 seasons. Ms. Koch is the artistic director, and and director of the dynamic all girl a cappella group “Beauties and the Beat”. She is also the owner and teacher of the thriving Koch Private Studio of Voice and Piano in Bloomington, Illinois. Ms. Koch earned her M.M. in Vocal Performance and Literature from Northwestern University and a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Illinois State University.
Timothy Semanik, conductor
Die Fledermaus, conductor
Timothy Semanik, returns for his second summer with the Midwest Institute of Opera. Mr. Semanik’s operatic credits include productions with Winter Opera St. Louis, Festival Opera, Light Opera Works, Great Lakes Lyric Opera, Ann Arbor Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, Comic Opera Guild, Ann Arbor Civic Theater, Opera in the Ozarks, Salt Creek Summer Concert Opera, Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, California State University, Fullerton, and Bradley University. In addition, he recently completed his tenth season as music director for the Savoyaires of Evanston, IL. Mr. Semanik currently serves as the music director for the Bradley Symphony Orchestra and the Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra and was previously music director for the Carleton College Orchestra, the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra and the Northern Illinois University Philharmonic. He recently served as assistant conductor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and has guest conducted the Chicago Youth Symphony, the Windsor Symphony, the Elmhurst Symphony, the Pacific Chorale, the Pacific Symphony Institute and Youth Orchestra, and the orchestras at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan. Mr. Semanik holds a doctoral degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Michigan. He has participated in numerous festivals including Tanglewood and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.