GEORGE CEDERQUIST (Producer)
George Cederquist is the Artistic Director of Chicago Fringe Opera, which produces experiential, immersive, and site-specific productions of operas composed in English. His work has been seen in major opera houses across Europe and America. He’s directed new productions and opera scenes with Chicago Fringe Opera (where he is Artistic Director), the Bay View Music Festival, North Park University, Wolf Trap Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Northwestern University, and Roosevelt University. He was the Resident Artist Stage Director at Pittsburgh Opera in 2014, the Apprentice Stage Director at San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program in 2013, and a winner of OPERA America’s 2013 Director-Designer competition. George was also one of ten Americans to receive the 2011-12 German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. George holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Theatre Studies and English from Yale University.
OLIVER CAMACHO (Creative Consultant)
Oliver Camacho is a tenor specializing in Early Music and Art Song. Among his many other activities in music are serving as a co-director of Liederstube.org, an oasis for devotees of art song in Chicago; co-hosting the OperaNow! Podcast, with which he began in 2006; serving on various administrative and artistic committees for VOX 3 Collective; serving as production manager for the opera project of the prestigious Amherst Early Music Festival; and serving as editor for VocalArtsChicago.com, which he founded. (All of which means to say that he does a lot of things that don’t pay the bills!) Oliver went on to study vocal performance at Northwestern University and historically informed performance practice at the Amherst Early Music Festival and Early Music Vancouver.
MATT CUMMINGS (Co-Host)
Matthew Cummings is a tenor who, as a longtime listener and one-time guest of Opera Box Score, is both excited and relieved that George and Oliver are letting him come back into the studio. Matthew has performed at Opera in the Ozarks, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Lakes Area Music Festival, and Northwestern University. He also sings with various choirs around Chicago, including Constellation Men’s Ensemble. Matthew is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and came to Chicago by way of Northwestern University, where he studied Voice and Economics. He spends his time between performances trying to extend his streak on The New York Times crossword app, continuing his pursuit for the perfect piecrust, and uploading every opera recording in existence onto his computer.
WESTON WILLIAMS (Co-Host and Editor)
Weston Williams has spent the better part of the past decade blending in with opera and classical-music professionals across the U.S, despite his distinct lack of professional training in singing, musicianship, or composition! In college, he often shirked his studies in theater and philosophy in order to write, produce, engineer, and host his own opera radio show, “Crescendo!” This did little to discourage his reputation as “the opera guy” in both his professional and personal life. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Weston is a former intern of Opera Birmingham and the Avondale Fine Arts School, where he helped teach elementary-level children in basic music classes. He has had stints as a journalist for WBHM (Birmingham’s local NPR affiliate), and as a writer for The Christian Science Monitor. He has also served as a guest lecturer on opera on numerous occasions at his alma mater, Principia College, and even spent a semester post-graduation redesigning and updating the institution’s opera history class. When he’s not talking about opera for hours on end to anyone who will listen, Weston is an actor, sound designer, and general odd-jobber throughout Chicagoland.
ASHLEE HARGROVE (Co-Host)
Ashlee Hardgrave is a musician, writer, cat mom, politics wonk, recovering arts-school administrator, and current law-school administrator (same issues, less clarinet and theatre majors). She has subjected her friends, family, and social media to her bold opinions on the arts for years, so she’s thrilled to be on a weekly show to give those folks a break. Ashlee trained as a classical musician and has spent the past 15 years making art on her own terms. She sings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus, has premiered new musicals and orchestral works, performs in churches for various divinities, writes scripts and songs for the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, lobbies for equity and access in arts education, and manages a vocal ensemble, Vox 3 Collective. A music graduate of Roosevelt and Arkansas Tech Universities, she also consults for music schools, nonprofits, and private clients on ways to change the arts-education game.
NORM WOODEL (Announcer)
Norm Woodel has awards in everything he’s ever done. One of the nation’s top voice talents, he’s voiced for CBS News, Aleve, Subway, Chewy, The Unexplained (A&E), and political ads for Obama and both Clintons, as well as characters in the video game Halo. His stage credits include Big Daddy/Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and a wide variety of other roles. He has journalism awards from AP and UPI, a Chicago Jeff Award for his stage work, and an Emmy for a television-station image promo. He spent several seasons narrating videos for NASCAR on ESPN. He’s also co-starred in music videos with both Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. Norm is an ensemble member at Buffalo Theatre Ensemble in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he recently starred as Watson in Jeffery Hatcher’s Holmes And Watson.