M.A., Northeastern Illinois University, Vocal Pedagogy
B.F.A., Roosevelt University, Theater
Mezzo-soprano Kathy Cowan brings her eclectic background of performance and teaching to her work at Northeastern Illinois University. Ms. Cowan grew up in a musical family, singing the alto part of 5-part motets at home. She played the French horn throughout her youth and studied at the Eastman School of Music Prep School. Kathy Cowan earned a BFA in Music/Theatre from Roosevelt University in Chicago and a Master’s Degree in Vocal Pedagogy at Northeastern Illinois University.
As a performer, Kathy’s Irish heritage significantly informs her musical activity. She has been the featured soloist, singing Irish songs, with several major symphony orchestras throughout her career. She has appeared with: Doc Severinsen and the Milwaukee Symphony; the Buffalo and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestras; and the Toledo, Colorado and Madison Chamber Symphonies. She has appeared as guest artist several times with the Paul Winter Consort and has been featured on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center, and at the Smithsonian Institution. She has made several recordings - In the Deep Heart's Core, songs from the poetry of William Butler Yeats (volumes 1 and 2); The Red-Haired Man's Wife, a collection of Irish folk songs; and A Kiltartan Road Christmas, an unusual collection of music for the season.
Ms. Cowan performs at colleges, universities, cultural institutions, houses of worship, festivals and on art series and presents workshops in Celtic song and master classes in acting, voice and performance technique in the U.S., Europe and China. She has developed several shows and characters in both collaboration with others and in a nod to her Irish heritage. Her most recent work was with Venetia Stifler’s Concert Dance, Inc. of the Ruth Page Dance Foundation where she created the score for a dance in which she sings a cappella, and which has now been performed at the Ravinia Festival, in Pennsylvania and in Europe. Another significant performance creation was Music Mad, a show telling the story of Chief Francis O’Neill, the renowned Chief of Chicago police who “saved” Irish traditional music. She developed the roles of the Sean-Bhean bhocht (Irish for ‘poor old woman’) Catherine O’Neill, Chief O’Neill’s mother, as well as his wife, Anna Rogers. She has professionally sung roles in Gilbert and Sullivan productions, medieval opera, was a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus for nine seasons, as well as having specialized in small ensemble (Church to Chant to Swing) and back-up singing. She has sung at Chicago’s Temple Sholom for 37 years. She collaborates in many productions of concerts and lectures in Chicago which include Scots and Irish song - The Phontom Collective, the Irish American Heritage Center to name a few.
Besides being a member of the faculty at Northeastern Illinois University, Ms. Cowan teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music and has taught at the Victory Gardens Theater. She meets each student where they are in terms of their technical and artistic development. She provides a challenging, but safe, atmosphere for the discovery of the voice, while guiding students with technical and artistic advice to further develop their own art.
What the critics are saying about Kathy Cowan:
"A powerful infusion of authenticity... masterful singing" The Chicago Sun Times
"Kathy Cowan is superb." The Philadelphia Inquirer.