Administrative Staff

Emilee Syrewicze | Executive Director

A native of West Michigan, Emilee Syrewicze previously served as the Executive Director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina. Prior, she was Executive Director of the Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing (NMSH) in Traverse City, Michigan. Syrewicze, a classically trained pianist, earned a B.A. at Alma College, Alma, Michigan, in Political Science with concentrations in chemistry and music and a J.D. with a focus on nonprofit and environmental law/policy at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont. During law school, Emilee clerked for the Center for Environmental Law & Policy in Seattle, Washington. Emilee is currently on the Board of Directors for the Torch Conservation Center.

Sarah Horlings | Box Office and Marketing Manager

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Sarah earned a degree in Fashion Business Management with a specialization in Marketing and Data Analytics. Originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Sarah spent three years in New York City, accumulating experience in the Fashion Tech industry. Upon returning to Grand Rapids, she transitioned into various marketing roles before joining Opera Grand Rapids.

Education Program Leaders

William Bokhout | Collegiate Education Leader

William Bokhout’s (Operatic baritone) performance career has taken him coast to coast in as many as 35 different operatic roles, countless solo appearances and directing of over 40 different stage productions. He has been featured with Opera Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Symphony, Durufle’ Requiem in Carnegie Hall, the Pine Mountain Music Festival, and the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra. His operatic roles include Barone Douphol in Verdi’s LaTraviata, Count Ceprano and Marullo in Verdi’s Rigoletto, the Sacristan in Puccini’s Tosca, Dr. Bartolo in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, El don Cairo in Bizet’s Carmen, Gregario in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette, Slim in Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men, and Father in Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel. He also appeared as the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi with the Blue Lake International Repertory Opera. In concert Mr. Bokhout has been featured with the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and The Music of Final Fantasy. In 2003, Mr. Bokhout founded The 2nd Act opera company, a professional touring group dedicated to promoting Opera as an art form to young people, performing in many of the schools in the area as well as touring with his wife Hollis presenting Children’s Opera Workshops in elementary schools across the country. Mr. Bokhout is the composer of 6 original children’s operas and is also known as The Opera Farmer, the tile role of a feature length independent family film.

Rachel Mills | Youth Education Leader

Praised for her “comedic timing and sense of theatrical flair” (Near North Now) as well as her “lovely, clear voice” (The Rapidian), Rachel Mills is a soprano from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who has performed in operatic performances in the United States, Europe, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Rachel has performed in several recent seasons with Opera Grand Rapids, appearing as Zerlina in Don Giovanni,Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Papagena in The Magic Flute and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro. Rachel also sang Zerlina with Opera Carolina in 2022 and Papagena with Toledo Opera in 2018. Other roles include First Boy in The Magic Flute (Welsh National Opera), Anne in A Little Night Music (Castleton Music Festival) and Polly in Beggar’s Opera(Opera’r Dddraig).

Rachel recently appeared as a soloist in Handel’s The Messiah at Dubai Opera. She is a passionate recitalist and has performed a series of recitals with pianist Katalin Zsubrits in Budapest, Sopron, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Grand Rapids, MI and Fairfield, CT. She has performed Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras with members of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra in 2015, and a year later as a guest soloist at New York University Abu Dhabi with French cellist Yan Levionnois. Rachel enjoys contemporary and experimental music and has worked with students at the Art Institute of Chicago in a light and noise installation called within IMMITANCE. She sang Elliott Carter’s Of Challenge and Of Loveas well as Joseph Schwantner’s Two Poems of Agueda Pizarro in recital at Lutkin Hall in Evanston, Illinois.

Rachel holds a Master of Arts in Opera Performance from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, a Master of Music in Voice and Opera Literature from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre from Arizona State University.