American countertenor Ryan Belongie has rapidly garnered critical acclaim for his “oft-astounding vocalism,” (San Francisco Classical Voice), "a remarkably warm, evenly produced voice whose supple phrasing included many an exquisite shade,” (Opera News) and musicianship that "brought wonderfully stylish singing.” (Chicago Tribune)
Ryan Belongie recently made his debuts with Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Mago in RINALDO conducted by Harry Bicket and Canadian Opera Company as Athamas in SEMELE. He returned to Canadian Opera Company to cover Lychas in HERCULES and to San Francisco Opera to cover Armindo in PARTENOPE as well as debuting at Festival Napa Valley in the new opera ANGEL HEART alongside Frederica Von Stade. Recent and upcoming operatic engagements include Ottone in L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA at Boston Baroque, FAIRY QUEEN with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera, Ottone in AGRIPPINA with West Edge Opera, and Pirro in LA CIRCE with Ars Minerva in San Francisco. Recent and upcoming concert engagements include Carmina Burana with Alabama Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Utah Symphony, Messiah with Lexington Philharmonic, Quickening with the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, a Midwest tour of St. John Passion with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra, a return to Music of the Baroque for Dettingen Te Deum conducted by Jane Glover, a return to the International Music Foundation of Chicago sing-a-long Messiah, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the St. Cecilia Orchestra and Chorus.
Past engagements include Carmina Burana with St. Louis Symphony, Messiah with Alabama Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and Seattle Symphony, St. Matthew Passion with Utah Festival Opera and Grand Rapids Symphony, Chichester Psalms and Bach Cantata - 170 Vergnügte Ruh with the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park, Ottone in L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA at West Edge Opera, Katte for the Metropolitan Opera's workshop of THE SORROWS OF FREDERICK by Scott Wheeler, and B minor Mass with the American Festival Chorus at Utah State University and Bach Institute at Valparaiso University.
Earlier career highlights include Oberon in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM with Wolf Trap Opera, Didymus in THEODORA with Opera Bergen, Norway, Arsamene in XERXES with both San Francisco Opera (cover) and with Alan Curtis at West Edge Opera, Lychas (cover) in HERCULES with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Gesualdo’s Responsoria with Il Complesso Barocco in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Bernstein's Missa Brevis with the Grant Park Music Festival, Purcell’s Ode to St. Cecilia, Spirit in DIDO AND AENEAS, and soloist in THE FAIRY QUEEN with Jane Glover at Music of the Baroque, and soloist with Alonzo King's LINES ballet in Lyon, France. Mr. Belongie has been heard on Chicago’s classical music station WFMT in numerous performances with Music of the Baroque in addition to a solo recital on the network’s series, “Live from WFMT,” and has appeared on PBS across the United States in A Renaissance Christmas.
Mr. Belongie is a graduate of the prestigious Merola Opera Program (2009) and Adler Fellowship (2010, 2011) at San Francisco Opera. In addition to being a two-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Central Region and national semi-finalist (2009, 2010), he was the first place winner of the Igor Gorin Memorial Award (2012), the recipient of a career grant from the Metropolitan Opera (2013), a Shouse Career Grant (2010), two Richard F. Gold Career Grants (2009, 2010) from the Shoshana Foundation, and the Lola Fletcher Award from the American Opera Society of Chicago (2009). Mr. Belongie is a graduate of the Vocal Honors Program at Northwestern University.
Baritone Ryan Cox has been teaching voice at First Conservatory since 2004, where he is also the director. He is a graduate of Millikin University with degrees in Vocal Performance and Business Management.
He has been a professional member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Grant Park Choruses since 2003 and has performed with Chicago a cappella and Music of the Baroque. As a soloist Ryan has been heard in styles ranging from Baroque to new compositions. Recorded on the Cedille label, Ryan was the baritone soloist on William Schuman’s A Free Song in Grant Park’s “Pulitzer Project.” He sang Schubert songs on the CSO Chamber Music Series: “Rivers” and has also been featured on the Music Now series, singing the Chicago premiere of Mason Bates’ Sirens. In 2016 Ryan performed Fauré’s song cycle “La Bonne Chanson” with the Chicago Ensemble and the role of Jesus in J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion with the Bach Institute of Valparaiso University.
Additional solo appearances on the concert stage include Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Messiah, the Fauré, Brahms and Mozart Requiems, Mozart's Grabmusik, Bach’s Ich habe genug, BWV 82 and Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211. Operatic roles include The Count in La Nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, and the title role in Gianni Schicchi. As a boy soprano, Ryan was the soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under Michael Tilson-Thomas.
Ryan is also the Music Director at First Congregational Church of La Grange where he directs all of the vocal and instrumental ensembles, working with musicians from 5-85.
Where is your hometown? Chicago, Illinois
How long have you been teaching at First Conservatory? Since 2004
What ages do you prefer to teach? Generally 11 and older is good for voice lessons, however, I have had several younger students.
Who are your favorite performers on your instrument? Robert Merrill, Joan Sutherland, Gerald Finley, Fritz Wuderlich and so many more!
And, NOT on your instrument? Andras Schiff, Yo-Yo Ma, Jascha Heifetz
Who would you like to perform a duet with, dead or alive? Leonard Bernstein
Who are your favorite composers? Britten, Bach, Handel, Richard Strauss
Tell us about a particularly strange or interesting gig. A travelling, staged production of Carmina Burana came to the United Center. I was in the locally hired chorus. We were costumed in flame-proof, fiberglass, hooded robes as the staging required us to carry lit torches while we sang. However, due to Chicago regulations, open flame was not allowed. Instead we carried tiny "torches" with LED lights and little fans to blow small pieces of red, orange and yellow fabric.
What would you be if you weren't a musician? Engineer or tennis teaching professional
Favorite books or movies? Books: Middlesex, A Clockwork Orange, Freakonomics Movies: Spaceballs, Up, As Good As It Gets