Daniel Koplitz, artistic director & tenor—is a soloist, ensemble singer, and conductor based in Milwaukee. In the spring of 2018, Daniel graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a BA in vocal performance. During his studies, he had emphases in linguistics, choral conducting, and music history, and has furthered his education by attending various programs such as the Madison Early Music Festival, the Boston Early Music Academy, and the Amherst Early Music Festival. His solo credits include Autumn in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, the cantor in Franz Michael Haydn’s St. Leopold Mass, and the tenor soloist in Vivaldi’s Magnificat. In addition, Daniel is a private voice and piano instructor at the Wauwatosa School of Music, a section leader and soloist at St. John’s Cathedral, and the director of the children and youth choir at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Currently, he is seeking out graduate programs with the intention of obtaining a Ph.D in historical musicology.
“Art is humanity’s way of communicating the joys and pangs of being human. It helps us to see ourselves in others and come to the realization that we are not separate, but all part of a greater whole. Becoming an artist has been an act of self-discovery, and I would have chosen no other path.”
Deme Hellwig, soprano— is a graduate of Lawrence University with a BM in Vocal Performance. She has performed the roles of first Maid (Street Scene), Mrs. Splinters (The Tender Land), and Jenny Diver (The Beggar's Opera), as well as many roles in opera scenes performances while studying at Lawrence University. Since moving back to Milwaukee in June 2018, she joined the All Saints’ Cathedral Choir and APERI ANIMAM. It is her hope to continue professionally in her passion for early music performance.
“The amount of emotion and communication that can be expressed in music, even in a single note, is incomparable to anything else. Music has felt like the purpose of my life from day one, and I can only hope to live and perform that purpose to the best of my ability. I cannot think of anything I can connect to and experience more than the deep love and passion I not only feel, but can share, with music.”
Jackie Willis, administrative director & alto—serves as the administrative director of APERI ANIMAM, and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she received a BFA in vocal performance. She has performed in numerous roles around the Midwest, including Hecuba (La Didone) with the Haymarket Opera Summer Course, Third Lady (Zie Magic Flute) with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, First Witch/Enchantress (Dido & Æneas) with UWM Opera Theatre, and Chorus (Tales of Hoffman) in a collaboration with Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Skylight Music Theatre. She has also enjoyed participating in the Madison Early Music Festival the last three years.
“I think what I’ve always found comfort in with art is the balance of satisfaction between myself and the audience. We’re all experiencing the same thing, but absorbing it in different ways, just as we do with life. Through early music, it has been consistently accessible to create my own form of communication; I feel that it comes naturally to translate my sentiments through this style of music. Not only do I find peace expressing what I think is beautiful, but seeing a benevolent smile, the embrace of the sorrowful text, or someone simply sitting with their eyes closed, it gives me a visceral feeling which, to me, is the ‘why.’ Those small moments of connection don’t feel so small; it feels necessary.”
Elizabeth Smith, soprano—earned a degree in vocal performance from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She was recently invited back to Iowa for a third season with American Gothic Performing Arts Festival to perform as Hansel in a children’s adaptation of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Elizabeth has also performed as Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and Lucy (The Telephone) with UWSP opera. Since moving to Milwaukee in 2016, she has benefitted from the city’s diverse arts community, performing with many local organizations and festivals.”Love isn’t always simple, but I value it deeply. I have been crafting my voice and my song for a long time, trying to find ways to fold love into it, and I forever continue my work so that I might share something with you more beautiful and revealing and precious than the time before. And part of the art, I think, is allowing vulnerability. That is what is so difficult, but, also, entirely seductive. I agonize to surrender to that vulnerable place which will allow me to truly offer my voice and spirit as a vessel for music, and for love. And if you, the hearer, can be softened by my attempt at a gift--something I tried to make beautiful for you--then, perhaps, we have the opportunity to connect. And that’s all I ever wanted, anyway.”
Xai, composer in residence & soprano—a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she is double majoring in music composition & technology and vocal performance. Studying composition under Amanda Schoofs, Xai creates primarily experimental vocal works that often include electronics and utilize extended vocal techniques. Xai also studies a wide variety of vocal styles and eras of repertoire with Wendy Rowe. She views every musical opportunity as a chance to grow and has found invaluable experience through her work with APERI ANIMAM.“Early music and new music represent to me the beginning of time and the end of time as it continuously passes. Time is infinite, it is both linear and circular, and it is oblong and jagged across multiple planes. I find that if time were a circle, early music and new music, the two ends, would meet, connecting as one. Early music echoes through the corridors of time only to reverberate back to us, so that we may send new music and meaning forth, out into perpetual infinity; that is my inspiration, and observing music in this way gifts me with an ethereal connection to the universe. When I am unsure of my path, I remember that music is a constant wealth that will never deplete, for its history is long, its world is vast, and more lies ahead.”
Jennifer Grokowsky, marketing director & alto—serves as the marketing director for APERI ANIMAM. recent roles include Mimì (La Bohéme), Antonia (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), and Anita (La Périchole) with UWM Opera Theatre, and Ensemble (Carmina Burana) with Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Skylight Music Theatre. She has also appeared as the soprano soloist in Kile Smith’s Canticle with Bel Canto Chorus and in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the UWM Symphony Orchestra and Choirs. Jennifer was named runner-up in the UWM Symphony Orchestra Concerto & Aria Competition and holds music degrees from UW-Eau Claire and UW-Milwaukee.“Music and the arts have been an immense source of healing and joy for me throughout my life, but it has also caused much anxiety. Despite that, I constantly remind myself of the comfort I have found in music. From the people I have met through my experiences to the places it has taken me, music has filled my life with love. One of my mentors says that ‘music is the expression of the human experience through sound.’ That human experience can only be communicated when, as performers, we are living in the music, enjoying what we are doing and living out the music as it was intended.”
Jennifer Jakubowski, alto—holds a degree in exercise science from Carroll University and is currently pursuing a licensure in Massage Therapy and Therapeutic Bodywork from Blue Sky School of Massage. Jennifer's love for early music has led her to perform with numerous groups in the Milwaukee area including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Master Singers, Music by the Lake Singers, and the Concord Chamber Orchestra. For the past six years, she has attended the Madison Early Music Festival, gaining exposure to early music from across the world.
“Identifying pathways which we can express our soul to others is very personal, and often harrowingly difficult to achieve. Singing is one of the few physical outlets I have found to express mine. It has elicited countless emotions on the spectrum out of me. Unadulterated joy, anger, sorrow and pity, frustration, and all-encompassing love. The sense of vulnerability I have come to identify with when singing, specifically Renaissance polyphony, has surprised me. Frightening at first, but now something I yearn for, a feeling I now want to elicit in everyone. How do I share this vulnerability I have cultivated with others? How, through my singing, can I help others experience what I consider a starting point in the lifelong journey to a sense of inner peace?”
Crawford Wiley, lecturer & tenor—is the Director of Liturgy & Music at St Jude the Apostle Parish in Wauwatosa, WI, where he directs the parish choir and choristers and presides over the 2009 Schantz organ. A native of Naples, FL, he completed his Master's of Sacred Music in Organ Performance at the University of Notre Dame under the instruction of Prof. Craig Cramer. Besides singing tenor in APERI ANIMAM and the Milwaukee Chamber Choir, Crawford is an ardent bibliomane, devout member of the Chicago Art Institute and a lover of the Yosemite.“Disarmed as I am by Beauty, I feel that all performance is an attempt to embody and communicate the particular beauty of music, which can only be directly experienced - never explained or relayed. Polyphonic choral music is particularly satisfying because it not only demands the individual commitment and mutual vulnerability that good chamber music requires, but even the intervening wall of an instrument is taken away; there is nothing but the human person - some hundred-odd pounds of flesh and bone vibrating into the lived proportions of the harmonic overtones emerging from tightly tuned voices. For a few moments, as the music rings through our bodies, we are not alone, but known, the frame of our bodies a lyre for Beauty itself.”
Austin Bare, tenor—is currently completing a BA in vocal performance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. he has performed as The Sailor (Dido & Aeneas), Don Gomez (La Périchole), and in numerous opera scenes performances with UWM opera theatre. Outside of UWM, he has appeared in roles such as the Lamplighter (The Little Prince) and Mitch Mahone (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). In november 2016, Austin took part in the Wisconsin NATS Regional Auditions, placing second in the junior men’s division. “What really keeps me going as a musician is the effect music and storytelling has on a listener. Being the one who paints the picture and invites an audience in to a new world is such an honor.”
Sam Mullooly, bass—graduated summa cum laude from Illinois Wesleyan University in May 2016 with a BM in composition. As a self-published composer, Sam has written a multitude of operatic, choral, symphonic, and singer-songwriter works. His first full-length opera American Spring premiered in Milwaukee in august 2017 with two sold out performances. Sam currently works for Hal Leonard Publishing as music editor of the Shawnee Press School choral division and the Henry Leck Creating Artistry Series. In his spare time, he runs an independent review blog on new music and continues to compose, arrange, sing, and do anything creative that comes to mind.“Truth is paradoxical. Personal truth is not constant, and constant truth is not personal. If I said I didn't exist, I could not be disproven. Yet, I give little room to such nihilism. That is because I, or rather this mind and body called ‘I’, have found purpose, which is to be a servant of music. Just as the puppeteer holds power over the marionette, music holds power over me. To create music is to give back to the universe and feel alive. This art form is my connection to the unexplainable; my key to love, existence, and to the beyond. Fortunately, between the years of 1400 - 1600, music reached a certain form of perfection, where that connection is incredibly clear. It is my wish as a member of APERI ANIMAM to convey that to you. One great concert can change the world.”
Colin Han, bass—is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in information science and technology and is currently pursuing a career in software development. After also completing a music minor, he retains a passion and drive to create music through local performing groups such as APERI ANIMAM. He appeared in UWM’s productions of Dido & Aeneas and La Périchole and participated in the 2018 Madison Early Music Festival. Colin expresses a deep appreciation of APERI ANIMAM’s dedication to musicianship and ensemble discipline.“To me, making music as part of an ensemble has always been a vital part of what makes being a musician special. From intense technical challenges, to deep emotional investments, to the sense of community and companionship gained along the way, ensemble performance allows for some of the most exciting and powerful moments I could ask for as a musician. Not to say that it is an easy thing. Anyone who has been part of an ensemble can attest that the road to performance is full of setbacks, frustrations, and personal hardship. But for me, the payoff has always been worth it.”
Joseph Krohlow, historical linguist & bass
—studies vocal performance and linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with the intention of pursuing an operatic performing career. He has performed as Pédro (La Périchole) and Spirit (Dido & Æneas) at UWM, and the understudy for Christopher Melody in Sam Mullooly’s opera American Spring. Joseph serves as the historical linguist for APERI ANIMAM, and has been a part of the ensemble since its inception in 2017.“Classical music is a community I feel I belong to and a solace that I can always come back to. I love the never-ending pursuit of excellence that its musicality provides—there are always new connections to be made and music to be explored. Performance has always drawn me because of the opportunity to make the audience feel, to widen their understanding of the universe by the smallest margin. And, of course, without the risk of failure, the payoff could never taste so sweet. For me, early music as a whole has endless possibilities of refinement and the path to an artful and communicative performance feels more nuanced and difficult than any other genre.”