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Mezzo-Soprano Jan Bickel was born and educated in the Midwest; earning a liberal arts degree in music from St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Chicago Conservatory of Music under the mentorship of renowned contralto Madame Sonia Sharnova, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. She has received awards for her singing from the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Musicians Club of Women, and the Foundation for the Arts in Chicago, was a finalist in the National Opera Association vocal artist competition, and a regional finalist in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist competition.

Dr. Bickel is Professor of Music/Director of Vocal Studies at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, where she has taught in the music department since 1982. As a faculty member at SXU, Dr. Bickel has been awarded the Saint Xavier University Award for outstanding service, the Teaching Excellence Award, the Excellence in Scholarship, and the Excellence in Research awards, has been nominated and listed in Who’s Who Among American Teachers in the USA during consecutive years, and has received several faculty research and creative production grants for her work as a singer and researcher. She has received a fellowship for her research project, in collaboration with Professor Martha M. Morris, entitled Enhancing Flute Tone Through Vocal Tract Resonance, and has presented workshops and conference presentations nationally on this subject. Because of her expertise in vocal pedagogy, Dr. Bickel is often recommended to student vocalists who have been diagnosed with serious vocal medical issues. During her many years of teaching, she has brought numerous singers back to full vocal health.

As a professional singer, Dr. Bickel has been heard frequently as a recitalist in Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Xavier Classics at Noon Concert Series, Cantigny Gardens, and for a variety of other organizations. She has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, and Chicago Chamber Orchestras, the Mid-Columbia, Chicago Bar Association, Southwest, Wheaton, and Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestras, among others. She has performed leading and supporting roles with the Chicago Opera Theater, Chamber Opera Chicago, Chicago Opera Players, Opera Racine, Inspiration Point Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and others. Some of her roles include Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Maddalena in Rigoletto, and Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, as well as Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, and both the 2nd and 3rd Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. She also appeared in the Chicago Opera Theater premiere of Daron Hagen’s Shining Brow. Dr. Bickel has been heard as soloist in many oratorios and cantatas; including Rossini’s Stabat Mater, the Bach, Rutter, and Raminsh Magnifi cats, the Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio, Mozart’s Requiem, among others. Dr. Bickel recently recorded a compact disc entitled An Art Song Excursion, with pianist, Dr. Dana Brown, which includes songs by Schumann, Poulenc, Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninoff, and Ginastera.

Dr. Bickel is a well-known choral director, and her University Chamber Singers have recorded two compact discs under her baton. Her choral ensembles are known for presenting a wide variety of musical styles and languages from the chants of Hildegard von Bingen to the music of living composers such as Gwyneth Walker, Imant Raminsh and a variety of traditional and non-west composers. The compact disc Of Wind and Voice is a recording of music arranged or composed specifically for her University Chamber Singers and the Flutes LTD choir of the Chicago flute choir Flutes Unlimited. Dr. Bickel is a frequent adjudicator at choral festivals and conducts at both the college and high school level in that capacity. Dr. Bickel is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Music Educators National Conference, Illinois Music Educators Association, the American Choral Directors Association, and the American Association of University Professors.

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