Mark Bilyeu - Artistic Director
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 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 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.