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FREE Courtroom Concert featuring Mark Billy, baritone & Nathan Cicero, piano

Thursday, April 21, 12:00PM

Landmark Center, Cortile

Please Note: This concert will be held in the Landmark Center Cortile (1st floor).


About the Artist:

Native (Choctaw) baritone Mark Billy is a Verdi baritone with a multi-faceted career in opera, recital, and concert work. In 2020 Mark was awarded a prestigious grant from the Richard Wagner Society of the Upper Midwest. This grant allowed Mark to curate a virtual recital that featured works by Verdi and Verismo composers juxtaposed with narratives of violence against Native Women to bring these largely untold stories to light.  During the 2019-2020 season Mark was to sing the role of King’s Man in Minnesota Opera’s world premiere production of Edward Tulane, by Paola Prestini, due national pandemic cancellations this production was postponed. Last summer Mr. Billy was to make his role and house debut at Mill City Summer Opera, singing Marullo in Katherine Carter’s production of Rigoletto as well as to cover the title role. Last summer Mark sang the role of Angelotti in Chia Patino’s production of Tosca at the Northern Lights music festival. In the fall of 2019 Mark joined the St. John’s Boys Choir to sing the role of Mega the Baker in Stephen Paulus’ opera The Star Gatherer. Mr. Billy was also the featured soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the St. Catherine Choral Society and was a featured soloist at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax.

In 2019 Mr. Billy was a Young Artist with Hawaii Opera Theatre where he sang the role of Figaro in their touring production of The Barber of Seville on Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. Following the tour, the baritone made his debut in the role of Marchese in La Traviata on HOT’s main stage, where he also covered Quinn Kelsey in the role of Germont. Upon returning to the mainland the baritone made is role debut as Der Vater in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel led by AVA vocal coach Luke Housner. Also that summer featured as Marchese in La Traviata on the mainstage at the Northern Lights Music Festival in the Iron Range of Minnesota.

In 2018 Mark was a Young Artist with Fargo Moorhead Opera singing Melisso in Handel’s Alcina, and appeared as a featured soloist with Minnesota Chorale (Messiah), the East Metro Symphony (Beethoven 9), and Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church (Duruflé Requiem). Mark was also First Place Winner in the 2018 Schubert Club Competition.

Hailing from Finley, Oklahoma, Mark’s undergraduate studies in voice at the University of Oklahoma were under the mentorship of baritone Richard Anderson.  The baritone also studied with the legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. Mark’s graduate studies at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music and were with soprano Carol Vaness. Mark is also an accomplished clarinetist, having studied with David Etheridge at the University of Oklahoma. Currently Mark serves as a baritone/bass soloist at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, as Cantor at St. Albert the Great Church and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church and is the bass/baritone of the Bethel Quartet in Hudson, WI under the direction of Skip James. Mark is a soloist/chorister at Minnesota Chorale, and is a member of Minnesota Opera Chorus.

Nathan Cicero is a Twin Cities-based pianist specializing in art song, opera, and musical theatre. He has served as music director or pianist with many local arts organizations, including Skylark Opera Theatre, Operatunity Theatre, Morris Park Players and The Lied Society. Additionally, he holds ongoing appointments as Pianist and Assistant Conductor for the South Metro Chorale and Director of Music and Organist at the Church of St. Mark in St. Paul. In 2018, Nathan earned his Master of Music in Vocal Accompanying from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Eileen Cornett. While at Peabody, he held a graduate assistantship in Opera Accompanying, accompanied regularly in the vocal studios of Denyce Graves, William Sharp, and Stanley Cornett, and was a guest vocal coach and masterclass presenter at Morgan State University and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. A native of Wisconsin, he earned a BM in Piano-Collaborative Emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he was heavily involved in the voice and choral division and was the winner of the student orchestral conducting competition in 2016.

About the Host:

Composer Abbie Betinis writes music called “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times), “superb, whirling, soaring” (Tacoma News Tribune), and “the highlight” of the program (Boston Globe).  With over 50 commissioned works for ensembles such as Cantus, the New England Philharmonic, and The Rose Ensemble, Abbie is also a two-time McKnight Artist Fellow, and has won grants from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and Jerome Foundation, and at age 31, was listed in NPR Music’s Top 100 Composers Under 40.  Abbie has been a Composer-in-Residence with New York State School Music Association, The Rose Ensemble, The Singers-Minnesota Choral Artists, and Schubert Club. In 2019, she will be the American Composers Forum’s ChoralQuest composer, visiting schools around the U.S. to write new choral music with middle school singers.

Originally from Wisconsin, Abbie is a graduate of St. Olaf College (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), and holds a diplôme from the European American Musical Alliance Institute in Paris, France. She lives in Minnesota, where she is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Concordia University-St Paul and executive director of Justice Choir.


View the Frequently Asked Questions about the Courtroom Concerts.

Seating is limited and first come first served. Please plan on arriving early. 

Schedule & Programs Subject to Change