For centuries, Christians have celebrated their most solemn festivals as a vigil. Christmas Eve in particular has become noted for the custom of having "Midnight Mass". At St. Mary's we interpret "Midnight" a bit loosely, but still observe the vigil tradition. Please join us; beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 24, 2023 we will have a musical prelude, then we will begin the Solemn Mass of the Nativity at 9:00 p.m. with music, lights, and incense, culminating with the presence of Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
This year, we are graced with guest artists Josefien Stoppelenburg and Stephen Alltop lending their talents to our worship of Almighty God. Please see their biographies below.
Dutch soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg is best known for her dazzling vocal agility and her passionate and insightful interpretations. Stoppelenburg has performed all over the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America as a Baroque Music and Oratorio specialist, and as a concert singer.
Her appearance on Chicago’s classical radio program, “Live from WFMT”, was selected as one of the 10 best performances in 2016.
Stoppelenburg has performed most major oratorio works by Handel, Haydn, Bach and Mozart, and many works by Schubert, Mendelssohn and Monteverdi.
Josefien recently appeared to great acclaim in "Annelies", an oratorio about Anne Frank by composer James Whitbourn. This English composer praised Stoppelenburg's outstanding performance, stating:
" I have heard many performances, but few so accomplished and so full of understanding as hers."
Josefien is best known for her dazzling vocal agility and her passionate and insightful interpretations. Stoppelenburg has performed all over the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America as a Baroque Music and Oratorio specialist, and as a concert singer. Stoppelenburg has performed most major oratorio works by Handel, Haydn, Bach and Mozart. Last season Navona Records released her CD, ‘Modern Muses, contemporary treasures for soprano and cello’. The album won a Bronze Medal in the 2022 Global Music Awards.
Concerts this season include appearances in Houston (Harmonia Stellarum and Ars Lyrica), the Boston Early Music Festival with the Newberry Consort, a St Matthew Passion in the Netherlands and concerts at the Arizona Bach Festival, Bach Week Evanston, Indianapolis Early Music Festival and the St. Louis Bach Festival.
Stoppelenburg taught vocal masterclasses at Indiana University (Jacobs School of Music), the University of Colorado, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and Illinois State University. She has performed for the Dutch Royal family on several occasions.
Josefien is also a professional painter and just illustrated a children’s book.
To stay posted about her music and art, please visit:
STEPHEN ALLTOP has built a career based on excellence in several disciplines, conducting both orchestral and choral ensembles, and performing as a keyboard artist.
The 2022-2023 season marks his twenty-sixth year as Music Director of the Apollo Chorus of Chicago. Mr. Alltop is the ninth music director in the 151-year history of the chorus. Under his direction, the Apollo Chorus performed a concert of contemporary music for the 2022 regional conference of the American Choral Directors Association, and expanded its collaborations to include appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater, London Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia Festival, Peninsula Music Festival, Lollapalooza and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Stephen Alltop also serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra. He was named 2022 Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras for his work with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra.
A specialist in oratorio and historical performance practice, Dr. Alltop is been a member of the conducting and keyboard faculties at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University where he conducts the Alice Millar Chapel Choir and the Baroque Music Ensemble. During the early pandemic, he collaborated with Northwestern University opera director Joachim Schamberger to create Orfeo Remote, two feature-length films of Monteverdi’s opera from over 3,000 separate recordings made by student and guest musicians. In the present academic year, he is helping organize festivals with acclaimed scholars and performers around the music of William Byrd and George Frideric Handel, and conducting the world premiere recording of Stacy Garrop’s oratorio Terra Nostra for Cedille Records.
Mr. Alltop has guest conducted numerous orchestras and choruses across the United States, Italy and South Korea. In June of 2022, he stepped in on three-hours notice to lead the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra in a program of Beethoven, Schubert and Tchaikovsky broadcast live on WFMT Radio. He has worked closely with leading composers of the day, including residency projects with John Corigliano, Eleanor Daley, Stacy Garrop, Stephen Paulus and Eric Whitacre, and has conducted world premieres of works by John Luther Adams, Frank Ferko, Fabrizio Festa, Stacy Garrop, Stephen Paulus, and many others. In 2007, he made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting music of Eric Whitacre.
Stephen Alltop has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as both a harpsichord and organ soloist. He has performed with the Joffrey Ballet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Peninsula Music Festival, and each season with Music of the Baroque of Chicago. Alltop served as Coordinator for WFMT’s Bach Organ Project in 2014, and the WFMT Bach Keyboard Festival in 2015, and has performed as a keyboard artist across Europe.
Alltop has worked as a score reader in numerous concerts filmed for television on Great Performances and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. During the pandemic, he collaborated with many organizations to create dozens of video features and filmed full length concerts.
An advocate for diversity in programming, he has sought to bring attention to under-represented composers in both the orchestral and choral realm. Dr. Alltop lectures frequently about music for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Northwestern University Alumnae Continuing Education Series and Osher Lifelong Learning. Since 2014, he has given presentations on leadership for various programs in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.