Illinois College -> June music festival will feature renowned soprano
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June music festival will feature renowned soprano


The second annual Engelbach-Hart Music Festival is planned for late June at Illinois College, thanks to the generosity of the Engelbach-Hart family. The festival will celebrate the rich heritage of music in our community with two concerts and a masterclass on the hilltop campus.

Slated for Thursday, June 28, through Saturday, June 30, the Festival will feature the internationally renowned soprano, Karen Fergurson, who travels from her home in Germany to sing at the festival. Originally from Greenfield, Fergurson has made her career singing opera and lieder in Europe.

Fergurson’s Friday evening solo recital on June 29 simply titled “Liederabend” will feature beautiful songs by Bellini, Brahms, Mahler and Strauss. Other highlights include the set of Hermit Songs by the American composer, Samuel Barber, and works by Lehar and Rachmaninov. She will be accompanied by Illinois College professor and collaborative pianist Garrett Allman. The free concert starts at 7:30 p.m. in Rammelkamp Chapel.

The talented soprano will also give a masterclass on Thursday, June 28, at 7:30 p.m. Students from the voice studios of Terri Benz, Diane Dietz and Addie Gramelspacher, along with students from Illinois College, will sing for Fergurson and receive her comments in a public forum. The masterclass is free and open to the public.

The final concert of the festival on Saturday, June 30, will be a chamber music concert featuring Fergurson accompanied by Illinois College faculty. Pianist Garrett Allman, violinist Kamen Petkov, cellist Susan Phillips, organist Rudolf Zuiderveld, along with sopranos Addie Gramelspacher, Abby Musgrove and Nichol DelGiorno will join Fergurson on stage. The program will present works by Mozart, Bach, Arensky and Strauss. This final concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. All performances are in Rammelkamp Chapel.

American-born soprano Fergurson began her musical training at the age of six, studying piano. After earning a master of music degree in vocal performance, she made her professional debut with the prestigious Wolf Trap Opera Company as a Filene Young Artist, was a participant in the Merola Opera Program, and continued on as an Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera. Fergurson also sang the role of Micaela in “Carmen” with Opera Festival of New Jersey before beginning her European career.

Fergurson has won many competitions including the Eleanor McCollum Competition associated with Houston Grand Opera, was a National Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and placed twice in the Hariclea Darclee Competition in Braila, Romania. Fergurson is equally at home in art song and lieder having been named a winner in the D'Angelo Competition and a finalist in the Naumburg Competition.

Fergurson's European debut in 2000 was singing the role of Konstanze in “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” with Stadttheater St. Gallen, Switzerland, followed by her debut in Germany with the title role in “Le Villi” with the Südostbayerischen Stadttheater in Passau, Germany. From 2002-2008 she was an ensemble member of the Städtische Bühnen Osnabrück. Most recently Fergurson has been quite active with concert repertoire in Europe and the U.S. and has reprised the role of Donna Anna with Oper Leipzig and the Staatsoper Hamburg, as well as making her role debut as Lucrezia Contarini “I due Foscari” at Das Meininger Theater.

The late A.C. Hart, Illinois College trustee emeritus, and the late Charlotte Engelbach Hart graduated from Illinois College in 1925 and 1926, respectively. The College awarded them both honorary degrees in recognition of their long-standing support of the music program. In 1979 the Hart Sesquicentennial Organ in Rammelkamp Chapel was dedicated in their honor. The baby grand piano in Barnes House was also named in their honor in 2003. More information about the Engelbach-Hart Music Festival is available at
About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Ill. With an enrollment of about 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs and a Master of Arts in Education degree program. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit or call 217-245-3467 for more information.

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