Current Artists

Season 5 Artists

The Madison area is home to many musicians with a deep love, extensive training, and wide experience in performing the music of J.S. Bach. Just Bach is delighted to feature them on our concert series, giving them an opportunity to share their talents, and Bach’s music, with the community.

Micah Behr received his Doctorate in Viola Performance at UW Madison where he studied viola with Sally Chisholm and collaborative piano with Martha Fischer. His original compositions and transcriptions have been premiered by the Madison Bach Musicians and the Stoughton Chamber Music Players. He also composes music for Geneva Campus Church where he serves as Worship Director and Artist-in-Residence.

GRAMMY Award-winning soprano Sarah Brailey, a co-founder of Just Bach, enjoys a versatile career that defies categorization. Praised by The New York Times for her “radiant, liquid tone,” and by Opera UK for “a sound of remarkable purity,” she is a prolific vocalist, cellist, recording artist, and educator. Sarah’s numerous career highlights include performing Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with the Mark Morris Dance Group, serenading the Mona Lisa with John Zorn’s Madrigals at the Louvre in Paris, and performing the role of The Soul in the world premiere recording of Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison, for which she received the 2020 GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. Sarah is the Director of Vocal Studies at the University of Chicago and the Artistic Director of the Handel Aria Competition.

Versatile mezzo-soprano Britt Brown is a sought-after interpreter of a wide variety of repertoire throughout New England and the Midwest. Recent seasons have seen her premiering the role of Lavinia in Opera America’s Discovery Grant-winning Dark Exhalation by composer Amber Vistein, alto soloist in the Liszt transcription of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA, and alto soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with UW La Crosse. Her performances of new works include the world premiere of Vores’s Chrononhotonthologos, the Boston premieres of Jonathan Bailey Holland’s Naomi in the Living Room, Stefan Weisman’s The Scarlet Ibis, and the NYC premiere of Epstein’s Rumpelstiltskin, now on Parma Recordings. Britt received her Bachelor of Music from Stetson University and holds a Master of Music in Voice Performance from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music. She is based in Madison with her husband Ryne and their small zoo of rescue animals.

Baritone Ryne Cherry’s past season highlights include performances of Purcell’s The Fairy-Queen with Portland Bach Experience, a national tour of Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spaulding’s jazz-opera Iphigenia, regular appearances with Handel and Haydn Society including Bach’s Magnificat with Raphael Pichon and Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion with Bernard Labadie and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall, and his debut with Miami-based Seraphic Fire in concert of music for men’s voices. He spent this past summer as a Virginia Best Adams Fellow at Carmel Bach Festival in California. Solo oratorio appearances include Fauré’s Requiem (Nashoba Valley Chorale), Beethoven’s Mass in C and Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht (Back Bay Chorale), Dvořák’s Te Deum and Orff’s Carmina Burana (Symphony Pro Musica), plus premieres of several new works by living composers. Ryne is the current Vocal Co-Director of Just Bach.

Violinist Nathan Giglierano has performed across Europe, Central and North America. Nathan graduated with his Bachelor’s in Music from Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Marilyn McDonald, and earned his Master’s degree from UW-Madison under the tutelage of David Perry. Nathan is very active in the Madison baroque music scene and is a member of the Madison Bach Musicians and Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble. When not playing concerts or teaching, Nathan enjoys photography, woodworking, and hiking with his wife.

Thomas Heidenreich recently completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. He is a member of The Diapason’s 2021 class of “20 under 30” young organists and the 2016 winner of the Joan Lippincott Competition for Excellence in Organ Performance at Westminster Choir College. Thomas serves as the Organist in Residence at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, WI. His playing there is featured on the Seminary’s newly released recording We Praise Our God. Thomas was the 2017-2018 Association of Anglican Musicians Gerre Hancock Organ Fellow at Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina, and received previous degrees from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

This season, Jeni Houser returns to the Metropolitan Opera to cover the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, joins the Florida Orchestra and Madison Symphony for Carmina Burana, and performs recitals in Madison and Laguna Beach, California. She has sung the Queen of the Night with numerous companies including the Met, Dallas Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Other favorite performances include the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor with Madison Opera and in Seoul, South Korea, world premieres at Vienna State Opera and Fort Worth Opera, and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with Austin Opera and Minnesota Opera.

Violinist Leanne Kelso is associate concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and assistant concertmaster of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.  Her performances include chamber music and orchestral performances in Italy, Austria, Amsterdam, Costa Rica, and Slovenia, and cities throughout North America.  From 1996-1999, she was a fellow at the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida where she performed as concertmaster and principal second violin.  She earned her M.M. in performance from UW-Madison, studying with Vartan Manoogian and holding an assistantship at UW as a violinist in the Strelow String Quartet. Her undergraduate studies were completed at The Florida State University and Eastman School of Music.  On the Baroque violin, Leanne has studied with Karen Clarke and has performed with Nicholas McGegan, Max von Egmont, the Tallahassee Bach Parley, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, the Madison Bach Musicians, and Sonata à Quattro.

Praised for her “sparkling, fluid soprano with admirable flexibility” (Opera News), Kristin Knutson enjoys portraying characters from early music to contemporary musical theatre. Recent engagements include L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Drusilla/Fortuna) and Susanna (Daniele) with Chicago’s Haymarket Opera, Messiah with the Sheboygan Symphony, J.S. Bach’s Coffee Cantata with Great Lakes Baroque, Clérambault’s Orphée with Indy Baroque Chamber Players, and Scarlatti’s L’Orfeo with the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble. Additional appearances include Candide (New York Philharmonic), A Tribute to Gilbert and Sullivan (Florentine Opera), Magic Flute (Skylight Theatre), the modern day premiere of Ariane et Bachus (Haymarket Opera), A Fireside Christmas (Fireside Theatre), and Wallace Shawn’s The Music Teacher (The New Group, Off-Broadway). Ms. Knutson holds a Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School, with graduate studies at Manhattan School of Music. She is a founding member of the New Milwaukee Consort with whom she sings and plays Baroque guitar.

Eric Miller performs as a viola da gambist, cellist, and occasional trumpeter around the Midwest, currently performing with the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, ViolMedium, and frequently giving solo recitals. Previous performance credits include the Arbor Vitae String Quartet, the Madison Choral Project, the Madison Chamber Choir, Madison Youth Choirs, and American Players Theater as well as countless chamber music projects, mostly centered around historical performance. As an improviser, he is known for his skill and sensitivity in collaboration with songwriters and has collaborated on several albums with songwriter Katie Burns. As an explorer in experimental music, he has recorded several hours of lo-fi electronic music with his duo, Basidium. Trained in the Suzuki method, Eric has taught cello, trumpet, and viola da gamba lessons to students all ages and abilities at his home in Madison, Wisconsin since 2009. He holds degrees from Northern Illinois University and the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Linda Pereksta has played historical flutes and recorders with numerous ensembles, including Spire Baroque Orchestra, Washington Bach Consort, Sonata à Quattro, Madison Bach Musicians, Ensemble Musical Offering, Tallahassee Bach Parley, and Baroque Southeast. She is Professor of Flute at The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, has served on the Editorial Advisory Board for The Flutist Quarterly, and was Chair of the National Flute Association’s Historical Flutes Committee. A two-time prizewinner in the NFA’s Baroque Flute Artist Competition, her doctoral treatise, “20th-Century Compositions for the Baroque Flute,” was a winner of its Graduate Research Competition. An equally accomplished performer on modern flutes, Linda holds the position of Piccolo in the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and was previously a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans.

An oboist from Amarillo, Texas, Keslie Pharis currently holds a Paul J. Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellowship at UW-Madison, where she performs with the UW Symphony Orchestra, UW Wind Ensemble, Driftless Reed Quintet, and other local ensembles. She has also recently performed with the Miami Music Festival Opera and Conductor’s Orchestra, New Voices Opera, and the IU New Music Ensemble. Her playing is strongly influenced by her extensive background with ballet, and she enjoys teaching in her private oboe studio and through local high school programs. Keslie holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University, and her principal teachers are Lindsay Flowers, Linda Strommen, Margaret Owens, Roger Roe, and Robert Krause.  

Charlie Rasmussen is a cello faculty member and string department co-chair at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. He performs historical cello and viola da gamba with the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, New Milwaukee Consort, and Sonata à Quattro. He is the Instrumental Co-Director at Just Bach. Mr. Rasmussen has recorded Tommaso Giordani’s Cello Duos (Centaur Records, 2020) and 11 Capricci by Joseph Dall’Abaco (Centaur Records, 2018). As an early music teacher, he has served on faculty at the Madison Early Music Festival and currently teaches viol at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Soprano Julia Rottmayer is active in the stage, concert, and teaching arenas. Along with her interpretation of standard repertoire, Dr. Rottmayer is an avid performer and champion of both early and contemporary music. Recent performances include soprano soloist in Brahms’ Requiem, Mozart’s Grand Mass in C, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, Haydn’s Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and as Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites, Beth in Adamo’s Little Women, Mabel in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Rose Maurrant in Weill’s Street Scene. In addition to her numerous concert and operatic credits, Dr. Rottmayer has toured nationally, singing art song recitals with repertoire ranging from Bach to Berg, Clérambault to Fauré, Lauridsen to Mussorgsky, and much more. She has premiered works for such art song composers as Scott Gendel and Daniel Crozier, and was honored to sing for former President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. In addition to performing, Dr. Rottmayer is a dedicated voice teacher. She maintains a private voice studio and is a member of the voice faculty at the University of Wisconsin – Madison

Mark Brampton Smith holds degrees in Organ Performance from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. Currently the organist at Grace Episcopal Church, on Capitol Square in Madison, Mark has served on the music staff of churches in seven states. A prize winner in several national organ competitions, he has given solo concerts in numerous churches and auditoriums, including Overture Hall. As a collaborative pianist, Mark has worked with singers, instrumentalists, and choral ensembles, including the University of Michigan choirs, Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, Colgate University Chorus, and, since 2012, the Wisconsin Chamber Choir.

T. Jared Stellmacher is Director of Worship and Music at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Madison/Verona, WI, where he oversees the large and diverse music program across two campuses. Jared is also organist with the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble. Previous positions include Director of Music at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Watertown, WI; Director of Music at Redeemer Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Hinsdale, IL; Interim Director of Music at First Church Congregational in Fairfield, CT; Accompanist for the critically acclaimed 100+ voice Fairfield County Chorale; Assistant Organist at the historic Riverside Church in New York City; Associate Organist at the First Presbyterian Church in New Canaan, CT; and Assistant Choral/Vocal Administrator at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Jared has received many awards for his performance excellence, most notably first place in the American Guild of Organists Region VI Competition for Young Organists held at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs; he then performed as a “Rising Star” at the National AGO Convention in Chicago. Jared received his MM from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale School of Music and BMus from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

Trevor Stephenson–harpsichordist, fortepianist, and pianistis the artistic director and founder of the Madison Bach Musicians. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Historical Performance of 18th-Century Music from Cornell University, where he studied fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson. With his colleague, Norman Sheppard, he has made and refurbished a series of historical keyboard instruments ranging from Italian Renaissance harpsichords to Victorian pianos. He has released sixteen recordings on the Light & Shadow label and tours throughout the United States as performer and lecturer. Information and tour schedule at

Acclaimed for his “deeply hued countertenor” (The New York Times), Geoffrey Williams is in demand as a singer, conductor, teacher, and early music specialist throughout the United States and abroad. Dr. Williams began his musical life as a treble in the American Boychoir. A devoted church musician, he has served the parishes of Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign, Illinois; St. Mary the Virgin, Times Square; Trinity Church in Princeton; Washington National Cathedral; and was for a decade a Gentleman of the Choir of Men and Boys at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, in New York City. He is founder and artistic director of the GRAMMY-nominated male classical vocal quartet New York Polyphony. Praised for a “rich, natural sound that’s larger and more complex than the sum of its parts,” (National Public Radio) New York Polyphony is one of the foremost vocal chamber ensembles active today. Dr. Williams is married to Emilie, who teaches pre-K to eighth grade music at Adeline Montessori School in Summit, and they have two sons, Ellis Michael and Peter Grafton.

Chicago-based tenor Steven Caldicott Wilson has been a member of the twice GRAMMY-nominated quartet New York Polyphony since 2011. He was a soloist with Cleveland’s Apollo’s Fire in fall 2022 (Monteverdi Vespers and Handel Messiah), and an inaugural member of The Leonids with Chor Leoni Vancouver in May 2022, where he will return in 2023. Past solo appearances include Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Symphony Hall Boston, Chatham Baroque, TENET Vocal Artists, Clarion Orchestra NYC, and multiple Evangelist roles and Bach cantata recitals with Trinity Baroque Orchestra in NYC and Montreal. Steven is an enlisted veteran of the United States Air Force Band Singing Sergeants (2001-2005) and a graduate of Ithaca College (BM) and Yale University (MM).

Featured Image (Kangwon Kim and John Chappell Stowe) photo credit: Dave Parminter
Giglierano photo credit: Jillian Giglierano
League photo credit: Barry Lewis
Stephenson photo credit: Mary Gordon
Smith photo credit: Tom Stone

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