An accomplished chamber musician, Chérie Hughes has performed throughout the United States and Mexico. She is a frequent collaborator with guitarist Roberto Limón, and as the Pacific Duo they have toured throughout Mexico and been featured in recital at the famed Bellas Artes Manuel Ponce Chamber Hall in Mexico City.
“I strongly believe that music is a holistic journey. You bring all that you are, all that you listen to, and all the performers you have worked with to your own artistic interpretations. Chamber music provides the perfect way to express and explore this”.
Born in Montreal, CANADA and later moving to Michigan; Chérie was immersed in music. Her mother was a professional musician and she spent many years studying first the piano and then the violin. While still in high school, she began studying voice with Jean Dice and then Dale Moore at Indiana University.
Though her work with Dale Moore continued for the next 10 years, it was the artistic inspiration of violinist and chamber musician, Laura Klugherz that prompted her to attend Colgate University. “As a liberal arts program, it inspired me in many areas beyond music, including German language and literature, classical Indian music, and theatre”. Colgate provided an eclectic education which included standard elements of both violin and voice, but also exposure to a thriving new music scene through her mentor Neva Pilgrim, and in particular a great love for chamber music through her mentor and longtime teacher Laura Klugherz. It was also through Klugherz that she met guitarist Roberto Limón and started a long collaboration exploring the music of Spain, Mexico, and Latin America.
As The Pacific Duo, the two are passionate advocates for new music, particularly of Mexican and Latin American composers; as well as performing standard works for voice and guitar by composers such as de Falla, Schubert, and Argento. In 2013, they were featured in recital at the Bellas Artes Manuel Ponce Chamber Hall in Mexico City. Past engagements for the duo include the world premier of Songs of the Poets by Bryan Townsend as part of the San Miguel de Allende International Guitar Festival, a concert tour sponsored by the Mexican government’s Coordinación Nacional de Música y Ópera to Mexico City, Guanajuato, and Salamanca; and appearances at the XI Festival de Guitarra Internacional del Noreste in Saltillo, Mexico. Twice,they were selected as Artists in Residence with the Seattle Jack Straw Cultural Center, which along with a grant from Seattle Pacific University helped to sponsor their recent recording ON MY PEOPLE. Released on the Origin Classical label, ON MY PEOPLE is a collection of Sephardic inspired songs by film composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Catalonian composer Matilda Salvador, and a new commissioned work by Samuel Zyman.
Chérie has continued her passion for chamber music with other musicians as well; collaborating with Brian Chin and Ben Thomas on the premiere of Tom Baker’s Songs of Sleep and Dreams; with violinist Laura Klugherz, clarinetist John Bruce Yeh, and pianist Steve Heyman as a guest artist to the Chenango Summer MusicFest; and with other musicians throughout the greater Seattle Puget Sound region.
While chamber music is her great passion, Chérie is also noted for her rich vocal color and dramatic sparkle in the operatic and oratorio repertoires. Past roles have included Musetta in Puccini’s LA BOHÈME with Kitsap Opera, Gretel in Humperdinck’s HANSEL AND GRETEL with Lyric Opera Northwest, and Valencienne in Lehár’s THE MERRY WIDOW with Livermore Valley Opera. Other operatic appearances have included Pamina, the title role in Massenet’s MANON, Silberklang, Susanna, and Rosina.
Influenced by many years as a church musician, Chérie developed a great love of the oratorio repertoire. Her engagements include Gabriel in Haydn’s CREATION with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s SYMPHONY #9 with the Port Angeles Symphony, and the Soprano II soloist in Mozart’s MASS IN C MINOR and J.S. Bach’s MAGNIFICAT with Helmuth Rilling in Eugene, OR. Other appearances include the Faure REQUIEM, J.S. Bach’s CANTATA #202, and Mozart SOLEMN VESPERS.
“Ultimately, my greatest artistic joy is in recital collaboration with other musicians”. Beyond her chamber concerts, Chérie has been privileged to work with many wonderful collaborative pianists such as Michelle Beaton, Emily Witt, Jennifer Bowman, and Amy Boers. Her varied art song repertoire includes works of Wolf, Mompou, Hindemith, Schumann, Zemlinsky, Weill, Nin, and Libby Larsen. Concert appearances have included the complete Polish songs of Chopin for the NW Chopin Foundation, solo recitals at the WA State Governor’s Mansion, performance of 20th century songs for the Celebrate Song Series in Portland OR, performance of Debussy songs for the Young Artist Concert Series at the Aspen Music Festival, and solo recitals for the Music for Lunch Series in Seattle.
After many years maintaining a private teaching studio, Chérie decided to explore her interests in teaching further and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Oregon. While there, she discovered a passion for musicology. She combined this with earlier interests in Kurt Weill to pursue research on his 1949 Broadway musical, LOVE LIFE.
Chérie is currently Head of Vocal Studies at Seattle Pacific University. The liberal arts community has allowed her to explore other areas of interest including teaching classes in song literature and diction, vocal pedagogy, studio voice lessons, and directing the opera workshop. She lives in Seattle with her family.