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Mark Bilyeu - Artistic Director

Mark Bilyeu Mark Bilyeu enters his 6th season with the South Metro Chorale, with the 2018-19 season marking his new role as Artistic Director. Previously the Assistant Director/Accompanist for SMC, Bilyeu is thrilled with this new opportunity to grow and develop SMC in meaningful ways for both members and community. As a conductor, he has had the privilege to work on fully-staged opera productions (University of Northern Iowa Opera, Chicago Folks Operetta, Ensemble113), workshops of opera premieres (Chicago Opera Vanguard), as well as numerous musical theatre and choral organizations. In addition to his work with the South Metro Chorale, he is the Assistant Conductor of the Calliope Women’s Chorus (St. Paul, MN), and is the Director of Music at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Long Lake, MN. As a pianist, he has been described as a “superb partner,” who passionately engages in music as a committed performer, inspiring teacher and enterprising curator. He has taught at Viterbo University (LaCrosse, WI) and the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls). He is also the Co-Founding Artistic Director of the Source Song Festival. Held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Source is a week-long celebration of words and music which includes public concerts and masterclasses by international artists for pianists and singers, as well as a composer institute led by Libby Larsen. Whether playing or conducting, Bilyeu is recognized for his commitment to creative programming and his support of local music. The Star Tribune has said: “…Bilyeu…[is] to the Minnesota classical music scene what craft brewers are to the beer industry - purveyor of a distinctive local product, at a period when corporate brands and entities seem increasingly distant and distrusted.” Mark holds degrees from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and the University of Minnesota, studying with Timothy Lovelace and Chicago Symphony Orchestra pianist Mary Sauer. He has studied at the Aspen Summer Music Festival, Britten-Pears, Vancouver International Song Institute and l’Academie Françis Poulenc. Additional studies with Malcolm Martineau, Roger Vignoles and Susan Manoff. He is heard on the Bridge, Navonna and Leaf labels.

Nathan Cicero - Assistant Director/Accompanist

Nathan Cicero Nathan Cicero is a multi-faceted musician based in the Twin Cities whose interests range from piano, chamber music, song repertoire and vocal coaching to choral and orchestral conducting. He recently earned his Master of Music in Vocal Accompanying from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Eileen Cornett. While at Peabody, he held a graduate assistantship in Opera Accompanying, accompanied regularly in the vocal studios of Denyce Graves, William Sharp, and Stanley Cornett, and was a guest vocal coach and masterclass presenter at Morgan State University and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. A native of Wisconsin, he was inspired to pursue music by his high school music teachers and subsequently earned a BM in Piano-Collaborative Emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2016. While at UW-Eau Claire, he was also heavily involved in the voice and choral division, serving as a chorus master and rehearsal accompanist for Le Nozze di Figaro, pianist and conductor for Cabaret, and director and orchestrator for a student-run variety show, Cabaret Productions, among other leadership roles. In addition, he won the UW-Eau Claire orchestral conducting competition in 2016, and was the recipient of the Ada Bors Music Service Award for outstanding service to the Music and Theatre Arts Department. In the summer of 2017, Nathan was a vocal accompanying fellow at the Miami Music Festival, where he assisted in preparing singers for operatic roles and accompanied masterclasses and recital performances. Alongside his collaborative piano activities, he is an active church musician, serving as Director of Music and Organist for the Church of St. Mark in St. Paul, having previously served in various capacities at Baltimore’s Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and the Baltimore Basilica. A long-time lover of the choral arts, he is excited to make music with the South Metro Chorale this upcoming season!

Loren Squires - Founding Director Emeritus

Loren Squires Loren retired from active directing in December 2010 after leading SMC for 13 years. Loren received his B.M.E. from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and his M.M.E. at MacPhail College of Music. He taught public school music education for 39 years, the last 35 at Burnsville High School. He was formerly Assistant Director of the Bach Society Chorus and a member of the Minnesota Chorale. Loren has also directed choirs at five area churches and was a professor of music at North Central University.