FIVE FRIDAYS: The Laughing Bird Quartet
Leslie Johnson, soprano
Jenifer L. Smith, mezzo-soprano
Steven Bradshaw, tenor
Colin Dill, bass
Comprised of four singers from the Philadelphia area, each an established solo, chamber, and choral artist, The Laughing Bird is Philadelphia's premier Early Music vocal quartet. Founded in 2010 and devoted to high quality performances of vocal chamber music from time immemorial through 1750, The Laughing Bird has performed monophonic and polyphonic works by such composers as Machaut, Dufay, Josquin, Byrd, Guerrero, Schütz, and Monteverdi, as well as plainchant, and presents varied programs highlighting the members' command of both ensemble and solo singing.
LESLIE JOHNSON, soprano
With repertoire spanning the Renaissance to the 21st century, soprano Leslie Johnson, originally from Macungie, Pennsylvania, has been featured as soloist with the Beijing National Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony, and the Springfield (MA) Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared extensively in the greater Philadelphia region as a featured soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Tempesta di Mare, Riverside Symphonia, Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Valley Vivaldi, the Gabriel Chamber Ensemble, The Philadelphia Singers, Choral Arts Philadelphia, and the Bucks County Choral Society. She appears regularly as soloist with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, with whom she has performed more than 20 Bach cantatas and other works. She also sings chorally with The Crossing and as a member of the all-professional choir at St. Clement's Church in Philadelphia. With a diverse vocal career that has also encompassed art song and opera, she sings regularly with Philadelphia's Lyric Fest, has appeared at the Octobre en Normandie Festival in Rouen, France, the New York Festival of Song, Chicago's Ravinia Festival, and the Newport Music Festival, and has performed leading roles with the Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Portland Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Lake George Opera Festival, Glimmerglass Opera, and others. She holds music degrees from Westminster College (PA), the Hartt School, and the Yale School of Music.
JENIFER L. SMITH, mezzo-soprano
Originally from Wethersfield, Connecticut, mezzo-soprano Jenifer L. Smith has been a featured soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, Choral Arts Philadelphia, and the Montgomery County Choral Society. She has appeared as soloist in Handel's Messiah, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and Paukenmesse, and Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, as well as in over a dozen Bach cantatas. An avid chamber singer, Jenifer has performed with the Antioch Chamber Ensemble, The Crossing, and the Vox Renaissance Consort, and is a founding member of both the Buxtehude Consort and The Laughing Bird. Her discography includes The Passing of The Year with the Antioch Chamber Ensemble and It Is Time with The Crossing. Jenifer is currently a member of the all-professional choir at St. Clement's Church in Philadelphia, under the direction of Peter Richard Conte. She received her musical education at Westminster Choir College and Temple University.
STEVEN BRADSHAW, tenor
Tenor Steven Bradshaw is a founding member of The Laughing Bird. With an affinity for both early music and new music, Steve has appeared as soloist with Tempesta di Mare, the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, the Buxtehude Consort, the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Lyric Fest, and Piffaro, as well as with Bang On A Can, the Washington Project, and the experimental Toby Twining Music, with whom he premiered Eurydice for Philadelphia's Wilma Theater, performing the live score alongside Sarah Ruhl's play of the same name. Steve has been soloist in Bach's St. John Passion, Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, and numerous Bach cantatas. He also performs chorally as a core member of Choral Arts Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Singers, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and The Crossing, with whom he has appeared on several recordings. Also a dedicated visual artist, Steve has been recognized for his dark themes and meticulous technique. Originally from Audubon, New Jersey, he holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Philadelphia's University of the Arts.
COLIN DILL, bass
A native of Frederick, Maryland, bass Colin Dill has a passion for early music, particularly the works of J.S. Bach and Henry Purcell. He has performed the role of Christus in Bach's St. John's Passion with Choral Arts Philadelphia, and has been featured as soloist in Bach's "Wachet auf" Cantata, BWV 140, Handel's Utrecht Jubilate Deo, and Haydn's Nelsonmesse with the Reading Choral Society. He has also been a featured soloist with Philadelphia's Lyric Fest. Colin received his vocal training at Temple University where he earned a Master of Music degree in 2008. Since graduating, he has continued to expand his understanding of early music through performance, working with such prominent musicians as Helmuth Rilling and Julianne Baird, and performing as a member of composer/lutenist/countertenor Mark Rimple's Musica Humana Vocal Consort. Colin also enjoys singing new music with groups such as The Philadelphia Singers and The Crossing.
Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill (View)
22 East Chestnut Hill Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
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