Minister of Music Frances Conover Fitch has toured extensively in North America and Europe and performs with many prominent early music ensembles. She helped found the groundbreaking ensemble for 17th-century music, Concerto Castello, and has been described as a “delightfully inventive and compelling” continuo player. Ms. Fitch has participated in major music festivals, including Tanglewood, Aix-en-Provence, and Tage Alter Musik (Regensburg). Ms. Fitch has made more than a dozen recordings, including a double CD of music by Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre. Her playing has been noted for its “precision and delicacy of wit.”
She was a member of the faculty of the Longy School of Music for nearly three decades, and served as Chair of the Early Music department there. In 2006, Longy awarded her the George Seaman Award for Excellence in the Art of Teaching.
Ms. Fitch is on the faculty at Tufts and Brandeis Universities and The New England Conservatory. In 2012-13, she was Guest Professor at Ferris University in Yokohama, Japan. With Jack Ashworth of the University of Louisville, she is co-author of the figured bass workbook, Running the Numbers. She also maintains a private studio in the Boston area.
Hailed as a “clear-voiced lyric Dalinda” in Handel’s Ariodante, Soprano Section Leader Catherine Spanu has been featured as a soloist in opera, oratorio and art song performances, and has extensive experience as a choral singer. She has appeared with the Canadian Opera Company, the Aldeburgh Connection, Queen of Puddings Music Theater, and the Center for Opera, Sulmona, Italy, among others. She was previously the soprano section leader at Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Canada, and at Christ Episcopal Church, Needham.
Catherine holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, summa cum laude, from Boston University, and a Master of Music in Opera Performance from the University of Toronto. When she is not singing, she practices family law in Newton, and enjoys spending time with her husband, Giovanni, and daughter, Sylvia.
Peter Hoyt, countertenor and Alto Section Leader of St. John’s Episcopal Church, became seriously committed to voice while an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire. At that time, the late Professor of Music, Dr. Donald Otto Steele identified Mr. Hoyt’s unique vocal capabilities and took him to New York City to sing for the then world’s most celebrated countertenor, Russell Oberlin. Although the door to professional vocal study was open to him, Peter chose to continue his liberal arts education in New Hampshire, adding private voice study with Roxana Tourigny for the balance of his undergraduate work.
During this time, in addition to singing in the University of New Hampshire Chamber Chorus and appearing as a soloist with the UNH Concert Choir, Mr. Hoyt sang for Thomas Kelly of the Wellesley College faculty at Ascension Memorial Church in Ipswich and at the Castle Hill Music Festival. At this time, Peter sang the role of David in Handel’s oratorio, “Saul,” and the title role, Joseph, in Handel’s “Joseph and His Brethren,” the former of which toured the state to great acclaim. A near fatal automobile accident seriously interrupted Mr. Hoyt’s studies and performance for an extended period of time but in the early 1980s, he was able to begin retraining his voice under the guidance of Dorothea Georges Pliatska. Then, Peter appeared with the Castle Hill Music Festival once again, studied briefly with Toronto-born countertenor, Jeffrey Dooley of New York City, and was a soloist and member of the Cambridge Madrigal Singers.
A founding member of the Apollo Consortium and of the New England Vocal Ensemble, Mr. Hoyt also became a member of the Newburyport Choral Society while continuing his formal vocal studies with Kathleen Wilson and then Keith William Rhodes. Mr. Hoyt is delighted to focus his attention on making beautiful music with his dedicated colleagues at St. John’s Episcopal Church Choir.
Canadian baritone and Bass Section Leader Giovanni Spanu performs Oratorio, Opera and Art Song regularly in Massachusetts and Canada. He was featured in concert at Massey Hall and the Glenn Gould Studio (Toronto), Palais Montcalm (Quebec City) the Neptune Theatre (Halifax) and looks forward to future opportunities to make music.
Operatic roles include Papageno (Magic Flute), Peter (Hansel and Gretel), Don Giovanni and Leporello (Don Giovanni), the Hunter (Rusalka), Marquis de la Force (Dialogues des Carmélites), Dulcamara (L’elisir d’amore), and Harlekin (Ariadne auf Naxos). Contemporary pieces include Count Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music (Sondheim), Signor Naccarelli in The Light in the Piazza (Guettel), and Maximilian in Candide (Bernstein).