Lawarence Rapchak served as Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater for five seasons, conducting the Chicago premieres of Berlioz’s Beatrice and Benedict, Ullmann’s Kaiser of Atlantis and Hagen’s Shining Brow.
He also led the company’s acclaimed recording of Menotti’s The Medium, of which the British Opera - The Rough Guide said “this performance is so rivetingly theatrical, and much of the praise should go to Lawrence Rapchak for his powerfully atmospheric direction,” while Le Monde De La Musique wrote “Lawrence Rapchak conducts this compact drama perfectly”.
In his eighteen seasons as Music Director of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra (IL), Mr. Rapchak conducted the Chicago-area premieres of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 2 and Michelangelo Suite, Richard Strauss' Panathenaenzug, Franz Schmidt's Symphony No. 1, the Hans Rott Symphony in E Major and the North American Premiere of the Symphony No. 4 in C minor by Josef Bohuslav Forster. He appeared with The Chicago Symphony and Maestro Christoph von Dohnanyi as auxiliary conductor in Ives Unanswered Question, and served as Director of Educational Projects for The Chicago Philharmonic in conjunction with the Ravinia Festival.
Mr. Rapchak has also conducted for Ravinia’s Kraft Saturday Morning Series, The Civic Orchestra of Chicago's community outreach programs, as well as guest appearances with the Rochester (NY) Philharmonic, Marion and Muncie (IN) Orchestras. He also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Northwest Indiana Symphony, Music Director of Chamber Opera Chicago for eight seasons, and has guest conducted the Czech Radio Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra in concerts and recordings of his own works.
His orchestral work Saetas was commissioned and premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Neeme Järvi in 1997, and was hailed by the Chicago Sun Times as "the most welcome kind of new work." Saetas was subsequently performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. His works have also been performed by the Detroit Symphony, the Omaha Symphony and the National Orchestral Association in Carnegie Hall. Mr. Rapchak's Orloj and the chamber opera The Lifework of Juan Diaz, based on a story by Ray Bradbury, are also commercially available on CD, both with Mr. Rapchak conducting. He is listed in the authoritative Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, edited by Nicholas Slonimsky, and has spent many seasons as pre-concert speaker for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Rapchak was born in 1951 in Hammond, Indiana, and studied composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Donald Erb, Marcel Dick, and Leonardo Balada. He also studied conducting with James Levine. He now resides in Whiting, Indiana with his wife, Celeste, and their three whippets, Penny Pasta, Otis, and Katie O'Toole. He is the son of Chicago radio personality Mike Rapchak.[This is my third interview with Rapchak. To read the first two, from 1989 and 1991, click HERE. To read the fourth, from 1996, click HERE.]
Jepson was one of four children born to Magnus Jepson and Dorothy Jepson, and the only daughter among the siblings. She grew up in Onawa, Iowa, and graduated from West Monona High School. She took her university degree in music at Morningside College, where her teachers included Harlan Buss. Jepson later studied music at Indiana University, with a focus on opera, and earned a Master of Arts degree.
Jepson made her debut at New York City Opera in September 1998. At the Metropolitan Opera, she sang the role of Ascanio in the company's premiere production of Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini with Marcello Giordani as the title character, conducted by James Levine (later issued by the Met on CD). She sang in the first performance of Franz Liszt's oratorio St. Stanislaus in May 2003, at the Cincinnati May Festival, with Donnie Ray Albert, conducted by James Conlon (later issued on Telarc CD).
Jepson premiered the role of Kitty Oppenheimer in the first performances of John Adams's Doctor Atomic at the San Francisco Opera in October 2005. Her other work in contemporary opera included performances in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, as Sister Helen Prejean, at San Francisco Opera and at the Theater an der Wien.
Tragically, Jepson passed away from cancer at age 54.
© 1994 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on March 26, 1994. Portions were broadcast on WNIB a few days later. This transcription was made in 2023, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here. To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.
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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.