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. She played the French horn throughout her youth and studied at the Eastman School of Music Prep School.
Ms. Cowan’s Irish heritage informs many of her musical activities. 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. Ms. Cowan also has appeared as guest artist several times with the Paul Winter Consort and has been a featured performer on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center, and at the Smithsonian Institution. She has made several recordings, including "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 engaging collection of music for the season.
Ms. Cowan performs at colleges, universities, cultural institutions, houses of worship, festivals and art series venues. She has presented workshops in Celtic song and master classes in acting, voice and performance technique in the U.S., Europe and China, and has developed several shows and characters in close collaboration with other artists. Her most recent work was with Venetia Stifler’s Concert Dance, Inc. of the Ruth Page Dance Foundation, where she created the score which she sings a cappella for a dance called “Day of the Rope.” The piece has now been performed at the Ravinia Festival, The Mauch Chunk Opera House, and in Europe. A key collaboration was with composer/writer Joseph Sobol as she created the principal female roles of "In the Deep Heart’s Core," a musical drama based on the life and works of William Butler Yeats. The production toured for 10 years and Ms. Cowan received unanimous critical acclaim for her “raw, crackling energy ...luminous presence ...and deep affinity for her material.” She recently performed in the world premiere of Adam Whiteman’s Music Mad , a show telling the story of Chief Francis O’Neill, the renowned Chief of Chicago police who saved Irish traditional music. Ms. Cowan has sung lead roles in Gilbert and Sullivan productions, medieval opera, was a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus for nine seasons, and specializes in small ensemble singing in several styles from early music to swing. She has contributed back-up vocals to many recordings, has done voiceover work, and has sung at Chicago’s Temple Sholom for 35 years.
Ms. Cowan also teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music and has taught at the Victory Gardens Theater. She meets each student where he or she is in terms of technical and artistic development. Ms. Cowan 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.