About Opera Grand Rapids Chorus
Since Opera Grand Rapids inception, the chorus has played a crucial role in each production. Representing a variety of ages, professions and experience, the chorus is composed of West Michigan’s most talented regional voices.
Dr. Patrick Coyle | Chorus Master
Dr. Patrick Coyle, Chorus Master of Opera Grand Rapids, received the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in conducting at Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and holds degrees from Furman University, Emory University and Converse College. Dr. Coyle is a native of South Carolina and moved to Saugatuck in 2011, having enjoyed the beauty and friendliness of West Michigan as a part-timer since 2008. He has performed and conducted opera and musical theatre since his teenage years, with most recent performances of Porgy and Bess, La bohème, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Cabaret. He is also Minister of Music at historic Park Church in Grand Rapids, where he oversees twelve employees, conducts four of the church’s eight ensembles, and maintains two concert series: Great American Voices and Music at Mid-Day.
Dr. Coyle was active in the artistic and social justice life of Cincinnati, Ohio, for 17 years. He was Artistic Director of Cincinnati Men’s Chorus, Director of Music at St. Paul United Methodist Church and Contract Associate Conductor with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He prepared opera choruses for the College-Conservatory of Music, May Festival and Cincinnati Symphony and served on the board of directors of GALA Choruses International.
He is a published composer of choral, keyboard, handbell and children’s music. Dr. Coyle has conducted two series of European Cathedral Concert Tours in Florence, Assisi, Rome, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest and Prague; has eight commercially available CDs to his credit; and has conducted choirs and orchestras in concert in San Jose, Tampa, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Miami and Boston.
Robert Byrens | Rehearsal Pianist
Robert Byrens is one of the region’s finest collaborative pianists. He is sought after as a vocal and instrumental partner and has performed well over a thousand programs in his forty plus years as a concert artist. His playing has been described as “beautifully expressive” with a “singing tone” and “impeccable articulation.” He joined the faculty of Grand Valley State University in 1990, where he currently serves as an artist faculty pianist and vocal coach. He is the rehearsal pianist and vocal coach for Opera Grand Rapids, a position he has held since 1994. He has recently partnered with cellist Nancy Steltmann to form Il Duo Lirico.
Robert began his musical training as the soprano soloist for the American Boychoir School from 1970 – 1973. He continued his studies at Olivet College (BA in piano performance, summa cum laude), Western Michigan University, and Indiana University at South Bend. He was invited to attend the Geneva Conservatory to study collaborative piano and vocal repertoire with Dalton Baldwin and Gerard Souzay in June and July of 1979. His summer music festivals include the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck (Co-Artistic Director and performer), Westminster Choir College Art Song Workshops, Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, Fontana Chamber Arts, Blossom Festival, and Garth Newel Music Festival.
Mr. Byrens has worked with many renowned musicians during the course of his musical life journey. His principle teachers include Dalton Baldwin, Ivan Frazier, and Ronald Gorevic. Additionally, he has performed in vocal master classes for Phyllis Curtin, Elly Ameling, Gerard Souzay, William Parker, Jessye Norman, Martin Katz, and Robert Spillman. He has performed in training orchestras with Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Lewis, Herbert Blomstedt, Neville Marriner, and Andrew Parrot. As a former professional symphony violist, his conductor roster includes David Lockington, Catherine Comet, Kenneth Kiesler, William Stein, Yoshimi Tekada, A. Clyde Roller, and Gustav Meier.
Charles Hutchins | Children’s Chorus Director
Charles Hutchins has led the Opera Grand Rapids Children’s Chorus for 17 years, providing musical and language preparation for Turandot, Tosca, Carmen, Queen of Spades, La Bohème, and Noye’s Fludde, most of them more than once. He has also sung with the adult chorus and played the occasional comprimario role (Sciarrone in Tosca, Parpignol in La Bohème). When not at Opera Grand Rapids, Charles provides music direction for the Grand Rapids Civic Theater, Community Circle Theater and other area theaters; teaches voice lessons to music theater performance majors at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo; runs a private voice studio in his home; collaborates on cabaret performances with area actors; and pinch hits as a pianist for the Grand Rapids Symphony. Charles holds degrees in music from the Eastman School of Music (M.M.) and the University of Michigan (B.M.).
Paula R. Tibbe | Chorus Coordinator
A member of the Opera Grand Rapids chorus since 1984, Paula R. Tibbe has had roles in The Magic Flute, Pirates of Penzance, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Noah’s Flood, The Student Prince and La Traviata. She was a soloist in Broadway on the Grand. Currently, she is the Chorus Coordinator for Opera Grand Rapids. Paula was a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus for 19 years and appeared as a soloist with them. She has been seen in a variety of roles with Circle Theatre and Heritage Theatre. She was the featured soloist with the West Michigan Academy of Music for Girls performance of Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio. She is also a section leader at Mayflower Congregational Church.
Those interested in auditions for principal, comprimario, or chorus roles are welcome to submit their name and e-mail address here. Auditions for the 2017 production of The Barber of Seville will be January 14. More information to follow soon.