Welcome to the webpage of John M. Koch, baritone

Associate Professor of Music at Illinois State University!  

Scroll down for studio information and lots of info about ME!

I am the Artistic Director of the Midwest Institute of Opera at Illinois State University

and the General Director of the Illinois Festival Opera at ISU




Have a listen.  I'm singing the aria "Nemico della patria" from Giordano's masterpiece opera Andrea Chénier:

Nemico della patria/J Koch

My background

I started my musical career as a trumpet player with a bit of guitar, banjo and dulcimer thrown in.  Then as a sophomore in high school I discovered I had a singing voice!  I performed my first full voice recital as a senior and decided to major in vocal performance in college.  I attended UW-Madison then went on to grad school at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.  I was privileged to study under the late Ilona Kombrink and Andrew White.  Before coming to Ilinois State in 1997, I performed opera, oratorio and recitals all over the world.  

Here's a pic of me singing Tarquinius Sextus in Benjamin Britten's The rape of Lucretia...













or Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia...













or singing a staged version of Carmina burana in Caracas, Venezuela...












Koch Studio of Voice

Now in my 20th year of teaching at Illinois State University's College of Fine Arts, I committ my efforts to make the best singer possible out of every student. Weekly voice lessons and regular master classes impart consistency and a good ethic on my students.   Lessons consists of breathing and stretching exercises to promote the proper breath support to the singing voice known as appoggio. Vocal exercises stretch and strengthen the voice through the use of arpeggios, scales and staccato drills.  After breathing and vocalizing, we work on repertoire for YOUR voice. There are no tricks to teaching the art of singing.  It takes time and patience on the part of the teacher and diligence and dedication on the part of the student.  Daily practice is a MUST!  I also teach Vocal Pedagogy at Illinois State.  Not only is the course required for Performance Majors, it should also be taken as an elective by Music Education majors!  I co-teach the class with Dr. Kathryn Leemhuis. Together we discuss vocal function, anatomy, keys to good health and then begin TEACHING one another in class!  To contact me, go to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

20151123 112409OK, perhaps you figured out that I like the mountains...  We LOVE going to Jackson Hole! 


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And, I like to kick back, put my boots up and chill occasionally...







 John Koch Bio:

John Michael Koch, baritone, joined the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University's School of Music in 1997 and has been nominated to Who’s Who in America in 2008 and 2009, and three times to Who's Who Among America's Teachers and serves as Voice Area Coordinator in the School of Music. New endeavors include conducting ISU’s Civic Chorale and conducting operas for the Illinois Festival Operas at Illinois State. He has performed over 35 operatic and 40 oratorio roles throughout the world. He is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Midwest Institute of Opera that had its premiere season in 2011 with Die Zauberflöte and season six included Falstaff, Dialogues of the Carmelites and Hansel and Gretel. The summer opera program was created to give emerging singers the opportunity to learn and perform complete operatic roles.

Mr. Koch was a National Finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as well as the winner of the 1991 Opera Columbus Competition, the 1991 Meistersinger Competition in Graz, Austria, and the 1987 National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Auditions.  He came to international prominence as the 1989 laureate of the Montreal International Music Competition for Singers, where he received outstanding reviews for his operatic and art song interpretations. He has since performed leading roles with the Montreal Opera, Florentine Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Edmonton Opera, New Orleans Opera, Madison Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Dayton Opera, Eugene Opera, Opera Omaha, Gold Coast Opera, and San Francisco Opera's Western Opera Theatre 1989 -1990 National Tour of Madame Butterfly.

Solo appearances include the Milwaukee Symphony, Peoria Symphony, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Montreal Philharmonic, Asheville Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and the Dayton Philharmonic. His November 1996 performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Florentine Opera was broadcast in 1997-1999 on PBS. In 2002, he recorded Daron Hagen's The Heart of the Stranger for Albany Records with the ISU Wind Symphony. In 1993 he recorded the title role in a world premiere of Schubert's rare opera Der Graf von Gleichen with the Cincinnati Philharmonic, released on CD by Centaur Records in 1996. His world premiere of David Maslanka’s A Carl Sandburg Reader was released in 2009 by Albany Records. He holds a Master of Music from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, where he studied voice with Andrew White and opera with Italo Tajo.  2007 brought the world premiere of a commissioned Hagen work based on the famous Civil War letter of Major Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah entitled: The Banner of my Purpose. Performances of the work were held at Illinois State University, Western Illinois University and Pacific Lutheran University.










 Performing Carmina burana with the Heartland Festival Orchestra, June 2016



 ISU Civic Chorale!

In 2010 I took directorship of the ISU Civic Chorale.  One of our early concerts was the 10th Anniversary of the 911 tragedy. We performed René Clausen's Memorial with the ISU Wind Symphony and guest soloist Kitt Reuter Foss.  The Center for Performing Arts Concert Hall was packed.  Conducting that performance was one of the highlights of my musical career.  Civic Chorale remains steadfast in bringing outstanding performances to the central Illinois community.  We rehearse Monday nights when ISU is in session from 7-9 p.m. in the ISU Center for Performing Arts Concert Hall.  In 2018 Civic Chorale will celebrate its 50th anniversary!

No audition is required to sing with the group.  Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for more information on joining.


 Working with the ISU Civic Chorale-Civic Chorale photos compliments of Jolene Bresney














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