DAN CHOUINARD is a saloon pianist, street accordionist, concert soloist and accompanist, a polyglot both musical and linguistic, a writer, Italian teacher and bicyclist. He plays, tours and records with a broad range of musicians, and is also a writer frequently commissioned to create and host programs that blend history, memoir and music for Minnesota Public Radio, the Minnesota Historical Society, and theaters throughout the region. He performs and travels regularly with singer Prudence Johnson and fiddler/mandolinist Peter Ostroushko, as well as with Ms. Jette. He’s made numerous appearances on the hometown national radio show, A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. In 2005 he served as rehearsal leader and vocal coach to Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and others on the movie version of the show, directed by Robert Altman.
From the early 1990s until 2007 he was assistant director of music at the folky and progressive Church of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis where he helped build the church’s reputation for musical quality and eclecticism. He continues as music advisor and producer of special concerts. In 1994 he created an acclaimed radio series “The Singer’s Voice,” broadcast live Sunday nights from the Dakota Jazz Club, then in St. Paul, hosting song-spiked conversation from the piano with a different singer each week, some 200 in the six years of the show’s tenure.
He attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and spent four years as a teacher of French and Italian as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. In his spare time he travels by bicycle with accordion in tow.
MARIA JETTE began her professional life performing a combination of often excruciatingly difficult yet sometimes beautiful contemporary music and generally beautiful yet often difficult early music. She rapidly branched out into other eras and styles; and as she likes almost everything, has now sung it. She’s appeared with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Houston, Kansas City, San Luis Obispo, Santa Rosa, Charlotte, Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Austin, San Antonio and New York Chamber Symphonies, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Musica Angelica, and has been a regular guest over many seasons at the San Luis Obispo Mozart and Oregon Bach Festivals and the Oregon Festival of American Music. At home in Minneapolis-St. Paul, she’s regularly found with VocalEssence (under the baton of longtime friend and colleague, Philip Brunelle), Chamber Music Society of Minnesota and the Lyra Baroque Orchestra. She is regularly heard nationally on Garrison Keillorʼs A Prairie Home Companion.
Her 45+ operatic roles range from Monteverdi's Poppea and Handel's Cleopatra through Mozart's Pamina, Susanna and Fiordiligi, many of them with the late, lamented Ex Machina Antique Music Theatre, where for many merry seasons she portrayed goddesses, queens and mermaids in the Twin Cities. With the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, she starred as the Mrs. in the May 2002 premiere of Garrison Keillor's “opera,” Mr. and Mrs. Olson. Traveling with her own ham, eggs, fox, box, house, mouse, et al., sheʼs performed her own production of Rob Kapilowʼs mini-opera setting of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham with festivals, orchestras and chamber groups around the USA, and stopped counting the audience total when it went past 50,000.
Her lengthy list of commissions and premieres includes song cycles by British composers Geoffrey Bush, John Gardner, Ian Kellam and Alan Bullard; and chamber works, songs and cycles by Dominick Argento, Randall Davidson, David Evan Thomas, Steve Heitzeg, Russell Platt and Janika Vandervelde. For her service to new music, she was awarded a life membership by the American Composers Forum.
Together, Dan and Maria have performed countless times over a couple of decades, with shared musical and cultural interests ranging from a love of all things French to American novelty tunes, and generally having a good time with an audience. They’re both members of The Wodehouse Society. Dan has yet to develop a full-blown Wodehouse infection, but Maria’s case is severe-- and neither is seeking a cure.