The Rockefeller Chapel Choir, directed by James Kallembach, is anchored by three artists in residence, who serve as section leaders and as soloists at concerts, convocations, and spiritual events.
James Kallembach, director of choral activities and senior lecturer in the Department of Music, conducts the canonic literature of all periods and is a passionate advocate of new choral works. He has conducted the premières of works by William Bolcom, Marta Ptaszynska, Sven-David Sandström, Robert Moran, Shulamit Ran, Robert Kyr, and James MacMillan, among others. He is also a noted composer, and has written extensively for voice, including a catalogue of dozens of individual choral works, several song cycles, and his St. John Passion (2014) for strings, soloists, and choir. His Anne Bradstreet Songs for soprano and cello have been widely performed since their première in 2011, and his Songs on Letters of John and Abigail Adams received their première in October 2014. Kallembach has received honors from ASCAP, ACDA, American Composers’ Forum, Pacific Chorale, ALEA III in Boston, and VocalEssence, whose Welcome Christmas concert featured his carol That Yönge Child in a nationally syndicated radio broadcast. While permeated by a deeper layer of symbolic meaning and musical structure; his music is immediately accessible to audiences and performers alike, often being described as lyrical, beautiful, and moving; challenging, yet well suited to the voice or instrument.
Highlights in addition to his conducting activities include serving as artistic director for the Sounds of Faith documentary concert aired on Chicago PBS, lecturing at the Oregon Bach Festival and conducting new works at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium, and writing articles for Opera News and Choral Journal.
Matthew Dean, tenor, is an early and world music specialist, “setting the tone” (Pittsburgh Music Alliance) as a medieval narrator, and earning notice as “an ideal Evangelist, with a light high effortless voice” (Herbert Burtis). As artist in residence at Rockefeller Chapel since 2005, he has been an advocate and soloist for new works by Sandstrom, Kyr, Kallembach, and MacMillan, while vocally leading performances of Ramirez’ Misa Criolla and Rachmaninov’s Vespers, where his soli “rang through with clarity and soul” (Chicago Classical Music). A founding member of Golosá Russian Choir, he has traveled folkways from Siberia to the Ravinia Festival.
Dean draws on his academic background in medieval Spanish art in singing with Schola Antiqua of Chicago and The Newberry Consort, whose 2013 Boston program of cantigas was praised by the New York Times, and emerged as a two-year national tour. He sings regularly with Bella Voce, the Oriana Singers, and King Solomon’s Singers. Recent recordings include music for Advent with the Schola Antiqua on Naxos, and the rediscovered songs of William Carey Wright on Permelia. A nonprofit development leader, Matt heads the Sounds of Faith initiative for Harran Productions Foundation, and directs The Rookery men’s choir.
Kaitlin Foley, soprano, has been praised for her “crystalline vocals” and “beautiful singing.” A supremely versatile performer with a passionate ear for early and new music, she has performed works ranging from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio to Mozart’s Requiem to Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. She has premiered many new works, including Robert Kyr’s O Word of Light and Thunder and James Kallembach’s 2014 setting of the St. John Passion.
In addition to her much lauded work as an artist in residence with the Rockefeller Chapel Choir, Foley sings with the Grant Park Chorus, Bella Voce, Schola Antiqua, and Prometheus, and is a founding member of the Chicago-based women’s trio Artemisia. She is the director of the Rockefeller Children’s Choir, and she teaches private voice and piano at Elk Grove High School and KF Music Studio. She holds a master’s degree in voice performance from DePaul University, where she studied with Julia Bentley, and she completed her undergraduate work in music education at the University of Missouri under the tutelage of Ann Harrell and the baton of Paul Crabb.