Susan Dennis is a member of the Elmhurst College faculty, and past music/artistic director of Elgin Opera, having performed in Love and Fairy Tales, A Taste of Italy, and L’Elisir d’Amore. She has been a soprano soloist with New Millennium Orchestra, Symphonic Pops Orchestra of Chicago, Navy Pier Pops Orchestra, among others. Lawrence Johnson wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “Dennis was delightful from the get go, her high-soprano singing and charming stage presence is hard to resist.”
David Christiansen is College Organist and adjunct professor at Elmhurst, where he has taught organ and church music since 2000. He holds a doctor of musical arts degree from Yale, and has done further studies in theology through Concordia University, Chicago. As an organ recitalist, he has performed on tours in Germany five times, and throughout the U.S. on multiple occasions. He is married and is the father of two children.
Edgar Gabriel is adjunct professor at Elmhurst College, where he teaches violin and string improvisation. He has performed with Cirque du Soleil, Mannheim Steamroller, Chicago Opera Theater and The Big Apple Circus, among others. Gabriel performs with the Rachel Barton string trio, and is a founding member of the 3rd Coast String Quartet. He arranges and composes original works, most recently publishing a series of materials on string improvisation, called "String Groove."
Steve Suvada teaches guitar, electronic music, world music and music business at Elmhurst College. He recently performed the world premiere of Michael Abels’ composition, Aquadia, with the Chicago Sinfonietta. Suvada has also appeared with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Miami Beach Symphony, DePaul University Symphony, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and has appeared with such artists as Vic Damone, Rosemary Clooney, Bo Didley, Lou Rawls, Donna Summer, and Oprah Winfrey.
The Elmhurst College Jazz Band
The Elmhurst College Jazz Band has gained international acclaim as a truly outstanding collegiate jazz ensemble. Under the direction of Doug Beach, the band has received outstanding ratings from jazz greats including Clark Terry, Lee Konitz, Conte Candoli, Pete Christlieb, Greg Hopkins, and many others. The band has received numerous awards from DownBeat magazine.
Kontras String Quartet
Lauded as a “tightly crafted and beautiful instrument”, the Kontras String Quartet is rapidly becoming one of the most vibrant young string quartets on the scene. Kontras began its professional touring career in 2009 and has been garnering acclaim ever since. The quartet is all the more unique in that its members—violinists Dmitri Pogorelov and Francois Henkins, violist Ai Ishida and cellist Jean Hatmaker—hail from four different parts of the world.
The quartet is currently in the third year of its tenure as the Hickory Metro Resident Quartet with the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory, NC. Kontras competed with other seasoned string quartets from across the country to win the residency, which was established in conjunction with Chamber Music America in 1999. As the focal point of their residency, Kontras presents a series of chamber music concerts, sponsored by the Friends of the Quartet, throughout the season. The members also serve as principals of the orchestra while in residence.
Kontras, which means “contrasts” in violinist Francois Henkins’ native Afrikaans language, debuted in Chicago after the four musicians met while performing in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. The quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance from DePaul University, Indiana University, the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Their mentors include the Vermeer Quartet; Dr. Cliff Colnot, the principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary MusicNOW series; renowned violinist Ilya Kaler; and members of the Emerson String Quartet.