By Shelby Clark Petkus
Ann Arbor’s illustrious art fair is this weekend, but Kerrytown Concert House keeps the summer spirit singing with the “Week After Art Fair Song Fest.” The four-day long concert event celebrates its 20th anniversary this year on July 22-25.
General director Jane Schoonmaker Rodgers and artistic director and pianist, Kevin Bylsma, take the reigns for this year’s festival. Schoonmaker Rodgers is a soprano with a long list of concert, recital, choral and stage performances from around the world, including shows in New York, London, Vienna, Prague, Toronto and many Great Lakes cities. Currently an associate professor of voice at Bowling Green State University, the singer/director has recently performed or recorded with the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Toledo and National Polish Radio Symphonies, Moravian Philharmonic, American Composers’ Alliance, Mid-American Center for Contemporary Music and the Society for New Music.
Bylsma, an accomplished vocal coach in addition to his skills with the piano, is known in the Midwest for his work in oratorio, opera and art song. His work in Michigan has included directing the Lyric Chamber Ensemble of Detroit and the Papagena Opera Company of Ann Arbor. Bylsma has also served as principal keyboardist with the Adrian and Greater Lansing Symphony Orchestras, and currently he serves as the assistant organist at the historic Mariner’s Church in Detroit.
The Week After Art Fair Song Fest will begin with a series of classical concerts. The July 22 performance features soprano Martha Guth and baritone Jesse Blumberg, as well as Bylsma and Schoonmaker Rodgers. Tickets for the special evening of song are $5-30.
On July 23, a free classical concert will again feature the talents of Rodgers and Bylsma. The directors will be joined by Emily Benner, soprano; Monica Swartout-Bebow, mezzo soprano; Allen Schrott, bass baritone; Christopher Scholl, tenor; and Ellen Scholl, mezzo soprano. The evening bills itself as an evening of “Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf and many other well-loved Saxons, Teutons and Hebrews.”
Wednesdays group of performers returns to the stage on July 24 for “Che Bella Luna: Songs of the Night.” Considered a favorite theme of the concert house, the program is devoted to the beautiful things all around people, or “gorgeous songs about gorgeous things like the moon.” The Thursday night event is also free.
Friday rounds out the concert festival with a cabaret: “Rock ’em Sock ’em Cabaret: Songs to Knock Your Block Off.” The cabaret, Kerrytown Concert House’s annual act featuring a wide-ranging repertoire, will showcase everything from baroque to pop, Weill to Sondheim, standards to jazz and more. In addition to these talents, the July 25 cabaret will also host Bryan Pfaltzgraff, tenor; Robert Peavler, baritone; Patrick Scholl, tenor; Daniel Schuetz, counter-tenor; Laura Reaper, mezzo-soprano; Jennifer Hilbish-Schuetz, mezzo-soprano; Renee Claire, mezzo-soprano; and many more. Tickets are $5-25.
Showtimes for each performance are at 8 p.m., July 22-25. The concert house is located in the heart of the historic Kerrytown District of Ann Arbor at 415 N. Fourth Ave. For more information, call 734-769-2999 or visit http://www.kerrytownconcerthouse.com.