Beethoven’s Ninth

Chelsea Hart Melcher, soprano*
Julie Miller, alto**
Lawrence Wiliford, tenor
Aaron Wardell, baritone
David Danzmayr, conductor


Chelsea Hart Melcher, a native of Coldwater, Michigan, has been described as “cooly captivating”  and “a woman to be reckoned with” onstage. The 2016 Opera Idol National Finalist graduated with a Performance Diploma from the world-renowned Jacobs School of Music under the study of Heidi Grant Murphy, Kevin Murphy, and Timothy Noble. At The Jacobs School of Music Chelsea performed Musetta (La Bohème) under the baton of Paul Nadler and direction of Jeffrey Buchman.

Chelsea’s recent roles include Valencienne (The Merry Widow), Maria (The Sound of Music), Suor Genovieffa (Suor Angelica), Violetta (La Traviata), Annina, (La Traviata) Nedda (I Pagliacci), Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Mariuccia (I Due Timidi), Female Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia), Micaëla (Carmen), Frasquita (Carmen)Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Mimi (La Bohème), and Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Musetta, (La Bohème), and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni).  Hart Melcher has performed Verdi’s Requiem and Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder with Ohio State University Symphony Orchestra and Amherst Symphony Orchestra.

Chelsea has sung with Opera Columbus, Opera Seabrook, Opera Project Columbus, Bay View Music Festival, New Albany Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, Ohio Light Opera, Midland Symphony, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Amherst Symphony, Central Michigan Orchestra, and The Ohio State University Orchestra.

Chelsea has been featured performing many works of modern composers and has performed the world premiere for composers such as Philip Rice, Paul Melcher and Jacob Reed. Chelsea and her husband have co-founded RED School of Music (in loving memory of their music-supporting grandparents) and are actively teaching voice and piano lessons to students in the greater Columbus area.

Hailed for her the “arresting color” (Cincinnati Enquirer) of her voice, Julie Miller has appeared as featured soloist with orchestras and opera companies throughout the U.S.A. As a member of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago she appeared on the stage of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Emilia in Otello, Annina (La Traviata), Ida (Die Fledermaus) and Krystina (The Passenger). Other notable assignments with the company include Baroness Nica in Yardbird plus understudies of Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and Waltraute in Die Walküre. She recently performed the title role in Handel’s Ariodante which Chicago Classical Review described as an “admirable and professional performance” and the Chicago Tribune called “deeply musical.”

Elsewhere, she has appeared with appeared with Madison Opera and in London with Hackney Empire as Baroness Nica, Vero Beach Opera as Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Sugar Creek Opera as Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, Charlotte in Werther for Opera Idaho and Maddalena in Rigoletto for Sacramento Opera. Other notable roles she has performed include Jo (Little Women), Annio (La clemenza di Tito), St hano (Rom eo et Juliette), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Ottavia (L’incoronazione di Poppea), and the Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors).

She has appeared on the concert stage as soloist Bach’s Magnificat and Cantata No. 6, Handel Messiah, Durufle’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Requiem.

Orchestras with whom she has appeared include the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and was a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall in the world premiere of Ryan Carter’s Doot, the Ravinia Festival in Bernstein’s Songfest, and with the Oregon Mozart Players, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra as Mezzo-Soprano Soloist in Verdi’s Requiem, and Apollo Symphony for Handel’s Messiah. A regular guest of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, she has appeared with them as Mezzo-Soprano Soloist in Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, and will return next season for Dvorak’s Requiem.

Ms. Miller is the recipient of the the Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Foundation Scholarship and the Rose McGilvray Grundman Award (American Opera Society of Chicago), the Richard F. Gold Career Grant (Shoshana Foundation) the Edith Newfield Scholarship Award (Musicians Club of Women). She earned her Master’s Degree as a member of the inaugural class of Dawn Upshaw Graduate Program in Vocal Arts at the Bard College Conservatory of Music. She also participated in the Georg Solti Accademia Bel Canto in Castiglione della Pescaia, Tuscany.

Lauded for his luminous projection, lyrical sensitivity, and brilliant coloratura, American-Canadian tenor Lawrence Wiliford is in high demand in concert, opera, and recital repertoire. He has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Orchestre Metropolitain, Tafelmusik Baroque Orhestra, National Arts Centre Orchestre, and the Houston Symphony. Operatic highlights from recent seasons include performing with the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Atelier, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Toronto Masque Theatre, Vancouver Opera, and Boston Baroque. 2018-19 season highlights include performances with Les Violins Du Roy, Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, the Phoenix Symphony, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, and Luminous Voices.

His performances during the 2017-18 season included performances with Hamilton Philharmonic, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, and Grand Philharmonic Choir. Other recent engagements include Lawrence’s debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and appearances with the Milwaukee Symphony under Matthew Halls, the Tucson Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, the Pax Christi Chorale, and a return to the Aldeburgh Festival. Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with conductors Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundjian, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has recorded St. John Passion with Les Voix Baroques and the Arion Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Alex Weimann, and his debut solo recording Divine Musick: The Late Works for Tenor and Harp by Benjamin Britten, on the ATMA Classique and NAXOS labels.

Baritone Aaron Wardell has been praised for his rich, attractive voice and ease in versatile repertoire. He is in demand as a performer of opera, oratorio and concert in the Midwest and beyond. He regularly appears with Chicago-based groups including Chamber Opera Chicago, Chicago Fringe Opera and Haymarket Opera. He was most recently seen as Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus with The New Philharmonic Orchestra and as Spanish Sailor in Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick with Chicago Opera Theater. Previously he sang the role of Dr. Raymond in the world premiere of Ross Creanʼs The Great God Pan with Chicago Fringe Opera, appeared as Le Roy in the modern-day premiere of Maraisʼ Ariane et Bachus with Haymarket Opera and as Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors with Chamber Opera Chicago. Last season he sang Angelotti in Tosca with the Fort Wayne Symphony and Emile de Becque in South Pacific with the La Porte Symphony.

He has sung operatic roles with the Castleton Festival, Dayton Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Tampa, Central City Opera and internationally at Teatro National de Sucre in Ecuador including Marcello (La Bohème), Junius (Rape of Lucretia), Sam (Trouble in Tahiti) Don Pizarro (Fidelio), John Sorel (The Consul) and the title role in Don Giovanni. Equally at home on the concert stage, last season he sang with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra in Brahmsʼ Ein Deutches Requiem and in Mozartʼs Requiem with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus.

Aaron completed his formal musical training at Western Michigan University, then attended the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he earned a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and an Artist Diploma certificate in Opera.