Maria Jette, soprano; Sonja Thompson, piano; Stephanie Arado, violin
Hosted by composer Abbie Betinis, our popular Courtroom Concerts take place at noon most Thursdays in the Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul. This series features accomplished musicians and composers from the Twin Cities and surrounding area, as well as occasional musical newcomers to the area. These one-hour concerts are free and open to the public.
About the Artists:
Maria Jette, soprano, has appeared with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra: the Symphonies of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Charlotte, Santa Rosa and Buffalo; Vocalessence (formerly The Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota), the Handel Choir of Baltimore, Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, and Los Angeles Master Chorale; and with original instrument ensembles Angelica Cantanti, Portland Baroque Orchestra and The Lyra Baroque Orchestra. She has been a regular guest at the Oregon Bach, Victoria Bach and San Luis Obispo Mozart Festivals, the Oregon Festival of American Music, and on Public Radio International’s A Prairie Home Companion. With conductor Helmuth Rilling, she has sung Bach, Mozart and Monteverdi in Germany, Spain, Japan, and Canada, as well as in Minneapolis, New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. In a 20+ year association with conductor Philip Brunelle, she first appeared as the coloratura dog, Fido, in Britten’s Paul Bunyan; and has gone on to sing everything from fully-staged operas by Mozart opera and Virgil Thomson through oratorios by Handel, William Bolcom and Francis Grier, and most recently, Dominick Argento’s glorious Evensong (2009).
Her 45+ operatic roles range from Monteverdi’s Poppea and Handel’s Cleopatra through Mozart’s Pamina, Countess and Fiordiligi, many of them with the late, lamented Ex Machina Antique Music Theatre in the Twin Cities. With The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, she starred as the Mrs. in the May 2002 premiere of Garrison Keillor’s operatic excursion, Mr. and Mrs. Olson. She has performed her own production of Seuss/Kapilow’s Green Eggs & Ham for more than 50,000 kids, with symphonies and music festivals around the USA.
Sonja Thompson, piano, enjoys a varied professional life as educator, church musician, theater musician, conductor, coach and performer. In addition to maintaining an active performance schedule, she is Assistant Professor of Music and College Organist at Augsburg University, and Music Associate at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. Of particular interest for Ms. Thompson is the development of new works, and in this vein notable colleagues and collaborations have included New Dramatists in New York City, stage director and pedagogue Wesley Balk, director Ben Krywosz of Nautilus Music Theater, stage director Cynthia Stokes (San Diego CITY Opera), choreographer Rosanna Gamson (Los Angeles) and composers David Evan Thomas, Edie Hill and Jocelyn Hagen. Sonja is a graduate of The Juilliard School and the University of Minnesota.
Violinist Stephanie Arado’s career encompasses a wide range of performance and teaching experience. She most recently completed a year of teaching at the Interlochen Arts Academy, an institution she graduated from in 1982. She occupied the Loring M. Staples Chair as Assistant Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1991 to 2013. During the 1995/96 season, Ms. Arado served as Concertmaster of The Colorado Symphony under the baton of Marin Alsop. While in Minneapolis, she maintained a private teaching studio and was a founding member of the Bakken Trio, a premier chamber music organization in the Twin Cities. Through her work with the Bakken Trio she has collaborated with many living composers and commissioned numerous chamber compositions. Ms. Arado continues to serve as a Co-Artistic Director of the Bakken.
Ms. Arado played her first solo recital at the age of eight. She went on to debut with the Chicago Symphony as a 12 year old; following that she has performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras throughout the US, including the Detroit, St. Louis, and Minnesota Orchestras. As a 21-year-old Ms. Arado was the first American ever invited to play with the European Union Youth Orchestra led by Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein. She was also invited to perform as a part of the prestigious chamber music festival Musiktreffen in St. Moritz, Switzerland with Paul Tortelier and Yuri Bashmet, two of the most renowned chamber musicians of the century.
She was born and raised in Chicago. She began playing the violin at the age of five using the Suzuki method with Sister Mary Ricardo of La Grange. She was fortunate to have worked with many fine violin pedagogues in her youth including Paul Rolland, Eugene Gratovich and David Cerrone at the famous Meadowmount School. She spent five summers as a Fellowship student at the Aspen Music School. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music at Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL) studying with Almita and Roland Vamos, and completed her Masters Degree at Juilliard in New York City under the tutelage of Dorothy Delay and Paul Kantor.