A tenor, a soprano and an Irish songwriter walk into a church
Gavin Coyle | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
‘One Heart, Many Voices’
6 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18
Holy Family Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago
$35, $20 students at the door
Updated: November 15, 2012 10:26AM
Three talents will be the charm when the Oak Park-based Tolton Center of the De La Salle Institute holds its “One Heart, Many Voices” concert Nov. 18.
In the spotlight will be tenor Rodrick Dixon, who has worked with conductor James Conlon at the Ravinia Festival and the Los Angeles Opera, Chicago-based Irish singer-songwriter Gavin Coyle, and soprano Alexis Ochoa, 15, a junior at Lourdes Hall Campus of De La Salle Institute in Chicago.
Both Dixon and Coyle will sing solos for 30 to 40 minutes each. Ochoa will do two solo numbers and all three will collaborate on a song or two at the conclusion of the program.
Dixon has appeared at the Ravinia Festival and is a past member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Center for American Artists (now the Ryan Center).
“I’ll be doing something classical,” said Dixon, when reached in Mobile, Ala. where he was performing in another benefit concert.
Dixon also is known as a cross-over artist. So his program at Holy Family will include the haunting “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” and the powerful “Make Them Hear You” from “Ragtime.”
Ochoa sang with the Lyric Opera Children’s Chorus in the company’s production of “Der Rosenkavalier” when she was 9 years old. “Since then I’ve been a supernumerary in ‘The Magic Flute,’ ‘Aida’ and ‘Marriage of Figaro,’ ” she explained. “I want to study vocal performance when I go to college.”
For the benefit concert, Ochoa will sing two arias by Italian composers from the Baroque period, including the lively “Se tu m’ami, se sospiri” by Pergolesi and the more soulful ‘’Amailli, mia bella” by Caccini.
Coyle began winning singing competitions as a boy and at 14 won the title of All-Ireland Singing Champion. His first trip to the United States was as part of a peace project involving youths from Northern Ireland.
He returned to his home where he graduated from St. Mary’s College in Belfast and came to the United States the following year.
He sings both pop and folk music, as well as traditional Irish music, and plays the guitar, the Irish drum and the flute.
The Tolton Center is an adult education program that was established 22 years ago under the auspices of the De La Salle Institute.
“The community at St. Giles Catholic Parish in Oak Park is actively involved in providing volunteers and supporting the Tolton Center,” explained Michelle White of River Forest, who has put the benefit concert together for the nonprofit organization. Center programs operate from three libraries, two schools and Casa Juan Diego in the Pilsen neighborhood.
“This is really a family literacy program,” she continued. “For example, while the parents are working on English as a Second Language, there are early childhood education programs for their children.”
Sue Perez is a member of St. Giles parish, as well as serving as executive director of the Tolton Center. “We work with the most vulnerable population,” she said. “In addition to ESL, we help people earn their GED and help them on a path to employment.”
The center is named for Father Augustus Tolton, the first African-American priest in the United States, who was born in slavery in Missouri in 1854. Ordained in Rome, he established the first black Catholic parish in Chicago in 1889. The archdiocese opened his cause for canonization as a saint of the Catholic Church in 2011.