Test Pilot: a dance opera Test Pilot blog reviews

Penelope FreehPenelope Freeh (co-creator, choreographer, dancer) is a contemporary ballet dancer and choreographer. She creates works that explore the ballet idiom even as they diverge from it. She is a McKnight Fellow for Choreographers and SAGE awardee for Outstanding Performer. Her work is in the repertoires of James Sewell Ballet and Minnesota Ballet among others. Penelope danced for James Sewell Ballet for seventeen years, serving as Artistic Associate from 2007 – 11. She teaches at the University of MN and Zenon Dance School. Her collaborative work with composer Jocelyn Hagen has been called “completely original in all respects”.

Stephanie FellnerStephanie Fellner (dancer) has been in Ballet of the Dolls since 1993. She has also performed with: James Sewell Ballet, City Children’s Nutcracker, Metropolitan Ballet, MN Orchestra, MN Opera, North Star Opera, The Reebok Performance Team for the MN Timberwolves, Children’s Theatre Company, Penelope Freeh and TU Dance. In 2005 she was awarded a McKnight Fellowship for Dancers and named Best Dancer by City Pages. In 2007 she received a Sage Award for Outstanding Performer.

Nic LincolnNic Lincoln (dancer) - Nic has been self producing, dancing and choreographing his own work for over twelve years in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was named one of 25 to Watch by “Dance Magazine”, Best Dancer by the “City Pages”, and one of three Artists Who We Love by “MN Monthly” magazine. He is a proud recipient of a McKnight Artist Fellowship for Dance. He danced with James Sewell Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Cleveland San Jose Ballet and Grand Rapids Ballet.

Stephen SchroederStephen Schroeder (dancer) - Stephen Schroeder's proud of his daughter and twin boys and job as mostly stay at home dad. He danced with Zenon Dance Company for 15 years and also with Minnesota Dance Theater, Nic Lincoln, and ARENA Dances, among others. He's happily a part of his third project with Penelope and second with Jocelyn. He received the McKnight Fellowship for Dancers in 2012 and named City Pages Best Dancer in 2013. Live life inspired.


Carrie ShawCarrie Henneman Shaw (Katharine Wright - select performances) - Carrie is known across the US as a singer who weaves style and emotion into vivid performances of Baroque and contemporary classical music. Praised in the New York Times “as graceful vocally as she was in her movements”, Carrie was a 2010 McKnight fellow and has earned awards as co-director Glorious Revolution. Carrie earned degrees from Lawrence University and the University of Minnesota, and she currently teaches at Bethel University and Winona State University.

Mary HubbellMary Hubbell (Katharine Wright - select performances) - Mary Hubbell, described in the New York Times as “a soprano with a sweetly focused tone,” has appeared in Europe and the US as a recitalist, chamber music collaborator, and oratorio soloist. Orchestral engagements have included Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate, Barber’s Knoxville, and Haydn’s Creation. She performs in the contemporary chamber music group conText. Ms. Hubbell is pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Graduate Center of CUNY and is a faculty member of Smith College.

Paul R. Coate Paul R. Coate (singer) - Paul R. Coate is a vocalist, actor, director, and educator. Vocal performance credits include Opera Omaha, Omaha Symphony, Skylark Opera, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Minnesota Orchestra, where he most recently appeared as Enoch Snow in a concert version of "Carousel". Theatre credits include Guthrie Theater, Children's Theatre Company, History Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Nebraska Shakespeare and Theater Latte Da, where he will be returning for his second season in "All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914."

Jake EndresJake Endres (singer) - Jake Endres lives in St. Paul and wears many hats. He has appeared with many regional organizations, including The Minnesota Orchestra, The Flying Foot Forum/Guthrie Theater, The Schubert Club, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Metropolitan Symphony, The Children’s Theatre Company, History Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Skylark Opera, Nautilus Music-Theater, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, and Frank Theatre. Mr. Endres is also a third-year member of The Rose Ensemble.

Aaron HumbleAaron Humble (singer) - Tenor Aaron Humble has performed in opera, recital, concert, and chamber music venues. During his tenure with Cantus, Aaron enjoyed solo appearances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Boston Pops and concert appearances at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Library of Congress, Wolf Trap, and The Chautauqua Institute. Aaron has taught at Augustana College (IL) and was recently appointed to the faculty at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota.

Gary RuschmanGary Ruschman (singer) - Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “funny and fresh-voiced”, Kentucky native Gary Ruschman is a veteran performer, educator, visual artist, and prize-winning composer/arranger. Along with thirty stage roles and hundreds of concert appearances, the tenor has toured the globe as a member of Cantus, appeared with major orchestras and opera companies, played in rock bands, and presented new works and music for dance in Cincinnati, New York, California, and the Twin Cities.


Timothy C. Takach Timothy C. Takach (singer)
- Takach enjoys a busy and varied career as a composer, singer, clinician and freelance graphic designer. As a full-time composer, Takach has a healthy schedule of commissioned work, and his music has been called “gorgeous” (Washington Post) and “eventful” (Star Tribune). He is a co-founder of the professional ensemble Cantus and Vice President of both Graphite Publishing and the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative. Takach graduated with honors from St. Olaf College with degrees in Music Composition and Art.

Justin SchellJustin Schell (videographer) - Justin Schell is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and educator. His documentary We Rock Long Distance weaves the stories of three diasporic hip-hop artists across generation and geography. In addition, he helped establish the Minnesota Hip-Hop Archive at the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries. He currently lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan and directs the Shapiro Design Lab for the University of Michigan Library.


Alexandra EarlyAlexandra early (violin) - Alexandra Early is a native of St Paul, Minnesota. She has performed in orchestras including the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, New World Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and Charleston Symphony. She spent the 2012-2013 season as a member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to her experience onstage, Alex has appeared in interviews and performances on the BBC, NPR, and PBS. Alex holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Manhattan School of Music.


Jean Marker De VereJean Marker De Vere (violin) - Jean Marker De Vere joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1978, the same year she graduated from Indiana University. Throughout her tenure, De Vere has participated in numerous Minnesota Orchestra activities and has attended several summer music festivals including Blossom Festival, Yale Summer School, Music Academy of the West and the Spoleto Festival. De Vere is currently on the faculty at both the MacPhail Center for Music and the Mount Calvary Academy of Music, and has a private studio in Golden Valley.

Sam BergmanSam Bergman (viola) - Sam Bergman has been a member of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2000. He serves as host and writer for the Orchestra’s Inside the Classics concert series, leads Symphonic Adventures, and co-led the Orchestra’s MicroCommission Project. Sam also serves as Principal Viola of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, CA, plays regularly as a member of the IRIS Orchestra, and has appeared with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Atlanta Symphony, among others. He has been a visiting faculty member at St. Olaf College, and performs and teaches regularly at New Hampshire’s Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music.

Kirsten WhitsonKirsten Whitson (cello) - Kirsten performs extensively as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician. She has played with MN Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Florida Orchestra and Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic. She has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Composers Timothy C. Takach, Jocelyn Hagen, David Evan Thomas and Carl Witt have written pieces for her. Kirsten has received grants from the MN State Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts.