A native New Yorker, lyric soprano Leigh Folta has recently been making her mark on the Chicago music scene. She was a 2017 semi-finalist in the Classical Singer competition and was named first-place winner at the 2016 Chicago Chapter NATS competition. She has been seen onstage with the Grant Park Chorus at Pritzker Pavilion and with the Chicago Symphony Chorus at Symphony Center.Leigh has been praised for her “gorgeous expressive face and gorgeous voice” by The Oregon Music News, which also wrote that she “glowed as Pamina” in a 2015 performance of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
Leigh’s most recent appearance was as an ensemble member in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta with Chicago Opera Theater. She was a 2018 Young Artist with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, appearing as Maggie Anderson in their June production of Brigadoon and as a handmaiden in their January production of Turandot. She was a 2017 Young Artist with the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake, NY where she sang Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. In 2016, Leigh began performing with Chicago Fringe Opera and appeared in their productions of Missy Mazzoli’s Song From the Uproar in 2016 and William Bolcom’s Lucrezia in 2017. Her roles to date include Poppea/L’incoronazione di Poppea, LPN/Bluebeard’s Waiting Room, Pamina, Papagena, and 2nd Spirit/Die Zauberflöte, Anne of the Cross/Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Suor Osmina/Suor Angelica.
Leigh holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California and a Master of Music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts.
A resident of Chicago, IL, Margaret Izard is an aspiring mezzo-soprano. Ms. Izard’s 2018-2019 season includes a tour with Opera for the Young where she is premiering the role of Mighty Mediator in their commissioned work Super Storm.
Past roles include Ruggiero in Alcina, the title role in Miss Manners on Music, the world premier of Naomi from Joseph’s Gift, and Maman and Un Pâtre from L’enfant et les Sortilèges.. She has also performed Hänsel/Hänsel und Gretel and Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni. During her time as a resident artist at Dicapo Opera Theate, Ms. Izard performed the roles of Tisbe/La Cenerentola, and Zita/Gianni Schicchi. Ms. Izard has also performed the role of Zita alongside director and performer Alfonso Antoniozzi. Other work includes covering the role of Spring Beauty/Snegurochka.
Ms. Izard’s premieres include the role of Magic Mirror/The Magic Mirror by Polina Nazaykinskaya and covering the roll of Roma/The Fiddler and the Old Woman of Rumelia by Ketty Nez, both with Juventas New Music Ensemble. Other interesting premieres include the chamber piece for string quartet, mezzo-soprano and dance company, Dry Bones: Resurrection of the Living, composed by Cheryl Krugel-Lee and commissioned by the Sydney Schiff Dance Project.
Although Ms. Izard loves the world of opera, she is also very interested in symphonic works and song. Ms. Izard has been the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Cantata 79 and Bach’s Cantata 126.
Ms. Izard received her BA Emory University and her MM in Voice from the Chicago College of Performing Arts.
A multifaceted musician, Natalie Sherer thrives as a classical pianist and soprano, and these facets naturally intersect in her work as a vocal coach. As a solo and collaborative artist in Chicago, Ms. Sherer pursues excellence as a performer. She is a frequent recitalist, performs regularly in concerts and masterclasses, and enjoys working with musicians in a variety of capacities including vocal coaching sessions, recordings, lessons, and competitions.
Ms. Sherer also engages with students and choirs in several positions as a Staff Pianist at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and DePaul University’s School of Music, and as a faculty member teaching piano at Merit School of Music. In addition, she performs and coordinates events hosted by Credo Music, an organization combining music, faith, and service.
Ms. Sherer loves delving into art song repertoire as the pianist for “Artful Song,” a trio that brings 19th-century salon-culture inspired performances to contemporary audiences. Along with her Artful Song colleagues, Ms. Sherer is honored to be a Vocal Chamber Music Fellow of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago for a second season.
Ms. Sherer completed undergraduate studies at Manhattan School of Music and Wheaton College, and earned a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and a Collaborative Piano Cognate from Roosevelt University. She finds inspiration for life through faith, beauty, and creativity, and enjoys Chicago with her husband Peter.