Timothy Cheek is Associate Professor of Vocal Arts at the University of Michigan. There he serves as music director of Opera Workshop, teaches French, German, and Italian lyric diction classes, and is a coach for opera productions. From 2000–2006 Cheek worked as a pianist/coach at the university’s spring term vocal program in Sesto Fiorentino, Italy, serving the last two years as director. He is also an Associate Faculty member of the university’s Center for Russian and East European Studies, and teaches a Czech Vocal Literature course for singers and pianists.
Cheek’s affinity for Czech vocal music is founded on an internship at the National Theatre in Prague under the great Janáček conductor Bohumil Gregor. His books Singing in Czech: A Guide to Czech Lyric Diction and Vocal Repertoire, with a foreword by Sir Charles Mackerras; a series on Janáček’s opera libretti; a book on Smetana’s The Bartered Bride; and a book on Dvořák’s Rusalka are recognized internationally as authoritative resources for singing in Czech. Cheek’s championing of the works of Czech female composer Vítězslava Kaprálová (1915–40) led to his performing several world premieres of her songs; his recording of the complete songs of Kaprálová with soprano Dana Burešová on Supraphon records, nominated for the best recording of 2003 by the Czech journal Harmonie; and a critical edition of the songs of Kaprálová edited by Cheek for the Czech publisher Amos Editio in 2006. In 2012, Cheek performed with bass-baritone Stephen Morscheck at the Rudolfinum, Prague, as part of celebrations of the presentation of the Masaryk-Wilson Award for Democracy and Freedom, and the rededication of a statue of Woodrow Wilson that had been destroyed by the Nazis. Cheek is on the faculty of the Moravian Master Class, a summer program in Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, Czech Republic, dedicated to the study of Czech art song and opera roles. His playing of Dvořák with the renowned men’s chorus Cantus can be heard on their all-Czech CD. Cheek has also served on the international jury of the Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition, in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, the longest continuously running voice competition in the world.
Cheek has performed recitals as a collaborative pianist in eighteen countries on four continents, and has been heard on radio and television programs around the world. In 2007 and 2008, he was the music director of the Studio Giovani vocal program at the Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca, Italy, and has worked as pianist/vocal coach at the Steans Institute for Young Artists, Chicago; Michigan Opera Theatre; Israel Vocal Arts Institute, Tel Aviv; Teatro municipal, Santiago, Chile; Vianden Festival, Luxembourg; Santa Fe Opera; the Mozart Opera Studies Institute, held in Kaprun and Salzburg, Austria; Bay View Music Festival, Michigan; Bel Canto Northwest Vocal Institute in Portland, Oregon; and at the International Institute for Chamber Music, held in Munich, Germany, where he performed for five summers as masterclass pianist for Elly Ameling, Walter Berry, Thomas Grubb, Jörg Demus, and others. He has served as a guest coach and taught masterclasses at numerous schools and festivals such as the Eastman School of Music; Oberlin Conservatory; Opera Nuova, Canada; Academy of Vocal Arts, Philadelphia; Cherubini Conservatory, Florence; Music Academy, Bratislava; Prague Conservatory, Czech Republic; and others.
Dr. Cheek holds a doctorate in Collaborative Piano and Chamber Music from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Martin Katz. He also holds degrees in Piano Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and from the University of Texas at Austin. Cheek was the recipient of a Fulbright Award to study in 1990–91 as an opera coach apprentice at the Teatro comunale in Florence, Italy under conductors Bruno Bartoletti, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, and Zubin Mehta.