By Pamela Jansson
HURLEY — When Ann Toomey was in high school, she envisioned herself teaching music in a
high school or college.
She said she had “great reception” from the public when she performed in Michigan’s Shelby
Township, where she attended Eisenhower High School. “I had no idea I was going to be a professional singer,” she said in a recent phone call from upstate New York. “I went to school only to be a teacher.”
That notion continued as she earned her bachelor’s degree in music from Oakland University,
which included a focus on both performance and education. While there, she was cast in Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
“I was bitten by the bug,” she said, adding that she was “heavily encouraged” by her teacher,
Alta Boover, at Oakland. She credits Boover with understanding her voice better than she herself
Toomey continued on to earn, with the help of a Corbett scholarship, her Master of Music degree
from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
But even at that level, she did not suspect the magnitude of her future.
She described it as a competitive environment — one in which, as she put it, “I was very lucky to
get the opportunities I did.”
Since then, she has been named a Wolf Trap Filene Artist, a Katherine Mayer Award Recipient,
a Richard F. Gold Career Grant Recipient, and a Metropolitan Opera National Council National
This year, in Puccini’s Tosca, she played the title role with the Livermore Valley Opera in
In recent years, she has sung in Berlin, Chicago, Cincinnati, Santa Fe, Saint Louis and Madison.
And now, on Saturday, she will offer a one-night show at 7:30 p.m. in the Hurley School
auditorium. Her show will be one of the Emberlight Festival’s Main Stage performances.
“I’m calling it ‘On the Road.’ It’s a cabaret-esque program,” said Toomey, who claimed that she
regards her role in Emberlight as “cherished.”
She will offer a mixture of songs, including popular music, jazz and opera.
“I’ve been able to create a program, so I’m kind of building a story and show,” said Toomey. “It’s a more intimate experience where the audience can get to know me.”
She added that she will share a little bit about her new adventures in performance, which
includes a life on the road — the good and the bad.
Although her promotional materials say she is based in Chicago, Toomey noted, “That’s what I
say, but I’m not based anywhere. I live out of a suitcase.”
She is excited to return to northern Michigan. “I love the U.P. It’s very special,” she said. Toomey said she knew for a long time of Miles Mykkanen, a Bessemer native who is the Artistic
Director of Emberlight, before she met him through mutual friends.
“Once we finally met, it was as though we always knew each other,” she said. “Miles has
become a very good friend.”
Accompanying Toomey in her Emberlight performance will be Madeline Slettedahl, who is
equally acclaimed. Toomey described her as “an incredible pianist who works all over.”
She explained that there is a method to her nomadic existence. “I do auditions, and I have a
manager who helps to line up my schedule,” said Toomey.
She already is scheduled to perform next year at the Glyndebourne Festival in the United
Kingdom. She will play the First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
In addition, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she also will play Woglinde in Wagner’s Das
Toomey laughed as she recalled, “I have my teaching certificate. I think it’s expired now.” And she concluded, “I do not know what the future holds,” but added, “Education will always be
part of my life.”