Jori Jennings, mezzo-soprano, a doctoral candidate in voice at the University of Illinois, hails from northwest Indiana. She has performed extensively with Illinois Opera Theatre, singing major roles in Cosi fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, Die Fledermaus, and Albert Herring. Ms. Jennigns most recently performed with Opera Aegean during the 2001 season. She also is active in youth education and outreach. In addition to organizing a living and learning center music program at the university, she also performs with the Youth Opera Preparation and Education program (YOPE).
Jennings is a 1991 graduate of Lowell High School, where she first began singing as a choir and theatre student. She credits former Lowell High choral director Becky Osborn, with whom she also took private lessons, with encouraging her to further her talents and become a vocal performance major at Butler University in Indianapolis.
While in Indianapolis, Jennings performed with the Indianapolis Opera chorus. After earning her bachelor's degree at Butler in 1995, Jennings went on to get a master's in vocal performance at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. There, she also gave private lessons and innovated a class for beginning singers at the university.
Once Jennings had her master's degree, she returned to Indiana, where she attended Grace College near Warsaw. She continued her education and teaching there before returning to Lowell and teaching at Valparaiso University for a semester.
Jennings is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
There, she met Peter Taboris, who founded Opera Aegean and who has a production company called MidAmerican Productions. She spent five weeks in the summer of 2001 touring with Opera Aegean, performing opera scenes in Athens and five Greek isles.
Jennings and three other singers from that tour were chosen to be in MidAmerican Productions' performance as soloists on March 11 in Mozart's coronation mass and Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" at Carnegie Hall. Both are full-length works accompanied by a large chorus.
Jennings was just married in January to Christopher Jennings of Urbana, who also works at the University of Illinois. She hopes to finish her doctorate in May 2003.
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