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PROFILES



The 2019 Board of Directors
  • Christine Steyer, President of Working In Concert, Artistic Director of Bellissima Opera
  • Claudia Hommel, Treasurer, Executive Director of Working In Concert, Director of Cabaret Connexion
  • Cappy Kidd, Secretary of Working In Concert
  • Barbara Smith, Director at-large; Communications and Meeting Facilitator
  • Craig Weissman, CPA, Financial Director for the Board of Working In Concert
Essential Volunteers

In alphabetical order by first name:

BARBARA SMITHBarb6333 (108K)

Board member at large, Barbara is a recruiter/connector and works on logistics and communications for Working In Concert, regularly volunteering at the home office alongside Lydia Stux. Before retiring as Associate Director of Training and Development at AT&T, Barbara was responsible for Sales and Customer Service training, managing teams of teachers and instructional designers to develop selling, interpersonal communication and customer service skills along with telecommunications product knowledge. She has taught Interpersonal Communication skills at Loyola University and English, Business Writing and Report Writing at Harper College. She has a Masters Degree in English and is a certified instructor for Myers Briggs Type Indicator. With a powerful alto voice well-suited to jazz, blues, folk music and cabaret, Barb began her performance career as a folk singer, playing guitar and singing at coffee houses and in hootenannies. She has sung at Davenport's, Underground Wonder Bar, Rosa's Lounge, Chief O'Neill's and the Cliff Dwellers Club, and was the winner of the 2018 Skokie Idol Contest. She participated in Paris in the Singers Jazz Workshops led by Keri Chryst, Maja Savic and Claudia Hommel in 2014 and 2015; participated in the first Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion in 2017, and has been an active volunteer organizer of the Cabaret Connexion ever since.

CAPPY KIDDCappy

Secretary of the Board, Cappy is the go-to person and co-producer for fund-raising, outreach and logistics for Working In Concert initiatives. With years of experience in industrial and building trades as carpenter, building contractor, licensed Stationary Engineer, degreed Environmental Control technologist, home inspector and energy rater, Cappy formed Informed Energy Decisions in 2003. A thousand homeowner cases later, Informed Energy joined an environmental services and engineering consulting firm in 2009 to bring federally-funded Energy Efficiency and Conservation programs (EECBG) to more than 30 municipalities and counties in the region. Since 2013, as a Certified Energy Manager and independent consultant, he continues to assist commercial and institutional building owners and managers, including LED lighting retrofits for a major Chicago museum, church buildings, ice arenas, and municipal streets. He has instructed at the Illinois Inspector Training Institute, Wilbur Wright City College and for the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, with special recognition for his affable and highly-rated lecture for the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. In recognition of his considerable contributions to improving building energy performance he was inducted into the Environmental Hall of Fame in 2008 and received an Energy Star leadership award for work at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in 2009. www.energydetectives.com

CHRISTINE STEYER

Christine Steyer (439K) Since 2005, Steyer has brought classical music to 23,000 youth in underserved areas with Bellissima Opera Outreach, an organization that she founded. Steyer is President of Working In Concert as well as the Artistic Director of its Bellissima Opera. Bellissima's primary goal is the realization of The Transcendence Triptych—three new operas by acclaimed composer David Shenton exploring our shared humanity, premiering June 2020 in Chicago. In December 2019, Christine was featured on WFMT's program Whole Notes: Music of Healing and Peace , performing the aria "Red" from the opera Future Perfect, with libretto inspired by her workshops with 1,300 Chicago area youth.
Christine Steyer, soprano, has distinguished herself as an artist of great versatility. In addition to being the recent recipient of seven national performance awards including the American Prize Chicago Oratorio and Opera Award and Johnny Mercer Award, Steyer has received acclaim for her portrayals of the title role in Madama Butterfly and Violetta in La Traviata. Since 2000, she has sung as a chorister and in several small roles in over 40 productions at Lyric Opera of Chicago. A frequent recitalist, Steyer sang several concerts of Russian and American music with pianist Philip Morehead, and Spanish music with guitarist Brandon Acker. Steyer seeks innovative ways to keep classical vocal music relevant in today's world and has collaborated with numerous poets and musicians to publish Six Songs for Soprano and is currently collaborating with Jean-Claude Orfali on a book of original cabaret songs. Steyer recently toured the UK with Chamber Opera Chicago's Persuasion and France with the Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion singing at the Montpellier Opera House, in the Paris Salle Olympe de Gouges and at the Cabaret Lapin Agile. In 2020 she will perform at Knox and Monmouth Colleges with Tim Pahel and the Schubert Festival at Unity Temple, Oak Park, sharing the stage with Lawrence Brownlee, Winston Choi, Jeffrey Panko, and members of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestras. Steyer teaches voice privately in Oak Park and is an adjunct faculty member at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. christinesteyer.com

photo by Jen Stanko CLAUDIA HOMMEL

Executive Director and Treasurer of Working in Concert, Claudia directs our Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion and the SongShop workshops and concert productions. Raised in Detroit, Claudia received her Masters in Library Science from Wayne State University and founded the archives of the Detroit Institute of Arts prior to pursuing a full-time career on stage, first in New York City, then Chicago. Actor-singer, teacher, cabaret promoter, Claudia brings to Working In Concert all her personal connections and passions, beginning with the Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion. Born to two "Americans in Paris," she has sought out the cabaret scene in her birthplace for twenty-some years. Her recordings of Paris/Paree, Paris in the Jazz Age, Romance Language: French Songs for Lovers, and the two Jazz Fauré Project albums are a reflection of her eclectic, yet Paris-centric repertoire. She is on faculty at the Community Music Division of DePaul University School of Music with SongShop, the award-winning workshop in song interpretation established in 2003. She instigated the founding of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals in 1998 and is one of four coordinators for the first ever Chicago Cabaret Week launching in March 2020. www.cabaret-paree.com

Craig1 (8K)CRAIG WEISSMAN, CPA, MST

Craig has worked in the field of public accounting for almost 30 years, with experience in auditing, tax, and business consulting. A graduate of University of Illinois, Craig passed the CPA examination in 1991 and received a Master of Taxation, with distinction, from DePaul University in 2007. He is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, offering classes in Individual and Advance taxation. Craig is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society. He is a certified QuickBooks adviser as well. His current client roster includes many performers from Chicago to Hollywood.

lydia (20K) LYDIA STUX

Lydia assists with the myriad tasks of organizing our Connexion conferences, website updates, graphics design for our concerts, and press releases. Lydia holds a BA in Theatre from Kent State University and an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. Now retired, she worked in the development department of the Museum of Contemporary Art and for the ACLU of Illinois before directing marketing and arts programing for the Skokie Public Library.

NICK SANDYS

Nick Sandys (31K)

Nick serves as creative consultant to Bellissima Opera's Transcendence Triptych. A graduate of Cambridge and Loyola universities, Nick is a renowned actor, director, and fight choreographer. A Certified Teacher and Fight Director with the Society of American Fight Directors, he has been adjunct faculty at the DePaul University Theatre School since 1994, for whom he has choreographed over 40 shows. He serves as Resident Fight Director at Lyric Opera of Chicago, designing combat for over 40 productions from The 2005 Ring Cycle, Don Giovanni, Othello, to world premieres of William Bolcom's A View From The Bridge (directed by Frank Galati) and A Wedding (directed by Robert Altman). He has remounted his fights for Il Trovatore (2009) and Giulio Cesare (2013) at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, as well as choreographing the Met's historic 2014 production of Borodin's Prince Igor. He has choreographed violence for over 30 shows at the Goodman Theatre, numerous shows for Steppenwolf Theatre, and across the country from Baltimore Centerstage to Portland Opera. As a member of Actors' Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, and American Guild of Musical Artists, he has performed in New York, London, Edinburgh, and Chicago. He is the Producing Artistic Director at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and an Artistic Associate at First Folio Theatre. He was named Best Actor of 2011 by Chicago Magazine and received the 2011 Achievement Award from the Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts.

PAUL GEIGERPaul Geiger (1210K)

Paul serves Working In Concert in many capacities, from master carpenter and videographer, to lyricist. As bass-baritone he has performed extensively throughout the United States, from Palm Beach Opera to San Francisco Opera. With Chicago Opera Theater he sang the title roles in Marriage of Figaro and Turk in Italy, Belcore in Elixir of Love and Mustafa in Italian Girl in Algiers and with Des Moines Metro Opera he sang Olin Blitch in Susannah, the Four Villains in The Tales of Hoffman and the title role in Sweeney Todd. He recently toured the UK with Chamber Opera Chicago's Persuasion as Admiral Croft. Director Dr. Robert Larson said, "Paul has the uncanny ability to completely inhabit any character he plays." Bellissima Opera audiences remember him as Germont in their production of La Traviata and Sharpless in Madame Butterfly.

SUSAN HUIZINGASusan Huizinga (1636K)

Susan has assisted with the school outreach programs of Bellissima Opera and is facilitating logistics for the launch of our Transcendence Triptych operas and the premiere of Future Perfect as Production Manager and Creative Consultant. Originally from Michigan, Susan received both her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and Master's in Industrial Relations from Michigan State University. After moving to Chicago and working as a Human Resource Manager, Susan chose to focus on raising and home schooling her two girls. After many years of volunteering with various community organizations, including youth theatre, Susan is now working in the insurance industry.

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