The first winner of Classical Singer International Vocal Competition, American countertenor Mark Crayton is being hailed by critics and audiences for the pure beauty of his voice, his expressive and insightful interpretations, and his natural musicality.

Mark Crayton performs on concert stages and in opera houses throughout the United States and Europe, and his extensive repertoire includes a wide variety of works. Mark Crayton created the role of the  Minstrel in The Holland Festival’s production of Peter Onnes’ opera/theatre piece Pantagruel et Gargantua. This role was specifically written for Mark Crayton.  In 2001, Mr Crayton was chosen by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb to sing the role of Louis Perch in their new musical, The Visit, starring Chita Rivera, at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.In 2002, Mark Crayton was invited by the composer Philip Glass and the Tony Award director Mary Zimmerman to sing in the world premiere performances of Glass’ opera Galileo Galilei in Chicago, New York City and London. Also in 2002, the Lyric Opera of Chicago invited Mark Crayton to cover the role of Armindo in Handel’s PartenopeIn 2007, Mr Crayton made his debut with the Seattle Opera as Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare - the same opera in which Mark Crayton made his San Diego Opera debut in 2006. In 2010, he made his debut with Handelweek in Handel’s Rodelinda in the role of Unulfo.  Other highlights from past seasons include his role as Bacchus in Alexandre Goehr’s critically acclaimed Arianna for the Opera Theatre of St Louis, performances as Amore in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea and as Ericlea in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria with Music of the Baroque.

Besides his operatic and orchestral engagements, the recital repertoire continues to be very important to Mark Crayton.  Since his recital debut at the Ravinia Music Festival as a part of the Steans Institute for Young Artists in 1995, he has been regularly heard in recital frequently with fortepianist and harpsichordist James Janssen.  Their successful collaborations have included recitals at New York’s Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and a live studio broadcast by Chicago’s classical radio station WFMT that was also transmitted via the Internet, plus performances in Washington, DC (The Phillips Collection) and in Amsterdam, London and Chicago. In addition, Mr Crayton has been a guest soloist with the Chicago-based chamber ensemble Haydn by the Lake which performs music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries on period instruments.  Mark Crayton has also appearances on The Phoenix Concert Series in New York City, featuring new music for two countertenors and piano, with colleagues Daniel Gundlach and James Janssen. Subsequently, Mr Crayton was heard in concert with fortepianist James Janssen for Ars Musica Chicago at the DePaul University Art Museum. Mark Crayton was also a guest artist every summer with Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute from 1994 until 2009. Recitals this season include a return to the recital stage in London, a return to Roosevelt’s Ganz Hall, and a recital at Notre Dame. 

Highlights from recent seasons include Mr Crayton’s performances with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, a recital debut on Chicago’s acclaimed Jewel Box Series, several recital engagements at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, Handel’s Jephtha and Messiah with the Choral Society of Durham, the Duke Chapel, and the Orchestra Pro Cantores, and a return to venues in Chicago, London and Amsterdam with a recital program celebrating new music written specifically for Crayton by composers David W Solomons, Ronald William Hill and Gregory Peebles. Mark Crayton happily returned in this recital to Chicago’s Jewel Box Series and this concert was simulcast on Chicago’s WFMT as well as streamed on the Internet and on cable worldwide.

In 2002, Mark Crayton made his debut at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall when he sang Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the National Chorale; Mark Crayton has developed quite a reputation for his interpretation of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms which he has performed 165 times with the most recent performances with the Houston Symphony and the Sheboygan Symphony. Crayton has soloed in the music of G Gabrieli, D Buxtehude, G F Handel, H. Purcell (Fairy Queen), and J S Bach (including the Hohe Messe and Magnificat) during several years of appearances with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque. 

Mark Crayton is regularly heard in the concert and oratorio repertoire. Previous engagements have included his debut at the Kennedy Center with Maestro Stephen Simon and the Washington Chamber Symphony singing Purcell’s Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day.  Mr Crayton has also been the guest soloist with the Concord Ensemble and he has made his debut at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall singing Handel’s Messiah with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago under the direction of Steven Alltop,his Carnegie Hall performances as the alto soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and in Mozart’s Regina Coeli and a return to Avery Fisher Hall in Handel’s Messiah.

As a conductor, Mr. Crayton has conducted performances of Wood’s St. Mark Passion, Keiser’s Markus Passion, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Britten’s Missa Brevis in D, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and Stainer’s The Crucifixion, Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, and C.B. Hawley’s The Christ Child as well as several choral concerts for CCPA in the next year. This spring he will conduct Sommervell’s The Passion of Christ. He regularly conducts the CCPA Chorale at Roosevelt University and the Choir and Orchestra of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, IL. He also music and stage directs CCPA’s Freshmen-Sophomore Showcase. He was honored to conduct one of the back-up choruses for the Chicago appearances of the Rolling Stones in  2013. 

As a stage director, Mr. Crayton has directed Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, Bernstein’s Candide, Scarlatti’s The Triumph of Honor (for which he adapted a new English singing translation with his partner in that production, Elizabeth Parker) and Douglas Moore’s Gallantry.  As part of the Tuscia Opera Festival, he directed Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Future directing projects include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as well as Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne

As a voice teacher, Mr. Crayton has been a full-time faculty member at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts since 2009. He was adjunct faculty at CCPA between 2005 and 2009.  He has taught masterclasses at Oberlin Conservatory’s Baroque Performance Institute, in Viterbo, Italy, Montecatinni Terme, Italy, London, U.K. at The Hap'ning Place, at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, as well as in Milwaukee, Wi, Iowa City, IA, and many venues around Chicago (many for the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing - NATS). Future masterclasses include a return for two days of classes in London, a presentation at the Classical Singer Convention and a masterclass at Notre Dame. He maintains a full and active private voice studio as well. Many of Mr. Crayton’s students are performing in opera houses, musical theater venues and concert venues around the world including Joseph London, Kelly Britt, Megan Cook, Thomas Aláan, Brittany Loewen, Jessica Coe, Gregory Peebles and Michael Bresnahan.

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Mark Crayton attended Butler University and the University of Tennessee as well as the Akademie voor Oude Muziek Amsterdam (Academy of Ancient Music Amsterdam). He has studied with Sharon Beckendorf Searles, Nina Belavin Kor and the renowned baritone, Max van Egmond. Currently, Mark Crayton studies with soprano Judith Haddon.

On a CD for the Centaur label, the beauty of Mark Crayton’s voice, with the Chicago Baroque Ensemble, can be heard singing songs by Phillipp Heinrich Erlebach.

© Mark Crayton 2014