Britton Riley, Artistic Director
Canadian-American cellist Britton Riley enjoys a rich and diverse career as a performer, teacher, administrator, and recording engineer. Prior to joining the National Symphony Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda in 2019, he served as Assistant Principal Cello of the Calgary Philharmonic and a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 2014-2019. Additionally, he maintains his role as Assistant Principal Cello of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra.
Dr. Riley has recorded for film, television, and radio for Sony Pictures, PBS, CBC Radio 2, Classical KUSC, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Live from Orchestra Hall series. Live performances have brought him to venues throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston Symphony Hall, Smetana Hall in Prague, and Vienna's Konzertaus, among others. 2022-23 season highlights included Brahms' Double Concerto with his sister, Meredith Riley, and the Washington Metro Philharmonic, and performances with the Sphinx Virtuosi, Minnesota Orchestra, Bravo! Big Sky, and Colorado Music Festival.
In addition to performing, Dr. Riley is sought after as a cello teacher, panelist, and speaker. Recent engagements include The Royal Conservatory of Music, University of Denver, University of Colorado Boulder, Mount Royal University, SphinxConnect, The National Academy Orchestra of Canada, Calgary Youth Orchestras, the Alberta Youth Orchestra Symposium at the Banff Centre, and the NSO Summer Music Institute at the Kennedy Center. Dr. Riley holds Doctorate and Master's degrees from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor's degree in Cello Performance and Music Industry from the University of Southern California. During his graduate studies, he served as teaching assistant to Richard Aaron. Other primary influences have included Eleonore Schoenfeld, Raphael Wallfisch, Miklós Perényi, Gilda Barston, and Nancy Hair. Following his graduation in 2013, he was named an inaugural Rebanks Fellow at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
Dr. Riley is the founding Artistic Director of Chamber Music at New Park, an annual series in Ithaca, NY promoting cross-border collaboration between Canadian and American musicians. In 2018, he received an MPower Artist Award from the Sphinx Organization to further its mission.
Among his many interests, he enjoys traveling, nature, sports, cooking, hiking, and photography.
Click here to visit Britton's website.
Eugena Chang Riley, Festival Manager
Cellist Eugena Chang Riley joined the National Symphony Orchestra in 2016 under Music Director Christoph Eschenbach. She was previously the youngest member of the Minnesota Orchestra from 2007-2016, joining the cello section at the age of twenty. There, she served as acting Associate Principal Cello from 2012-2013 and 2015-2016.
As a recipient of numerous awards, prizes, and scholarships, Ms. Riley has appeared throughout the world as a recitalist, chamber, and orchestral musician, and several of her performances have been broadcasted on radio and television. In 2009, she made her Paris recital debut at the Auditorium du Louvre.
Ms. Riley was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of fourteen and studied with Orlando Cole, Peter Wiley, and William Stokking from 2001-2007. During her time at Curtis, she was featured in numerous solo, chamber music, and orchestral performances and served as Principal Cello of the Curtis orchestra, as well as a substitute cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra during her final year. She attended Perlman Music Program from 2002 to 2006 as a student of Ron Leonard and Paul Katz, and previously studied with Eleonore Schoenfeld in California, where she grew up.
Lucia Ticho (2023)
Toronto-based cellist Lucia Ticho enjoys an active career as a performer and teacher.
She is currently a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado
Music Festival Orchestra, and she has played with the Houston Symphony, the St.
Louis Symphony, and the Classical Tahoe Orchestra. She has appeared as a soloist
with the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony, the Chicago
Youth Symphony Orchestra, and other ensembles in the Chicagoland area, where she
was born and raised.
As a chamber musician, Lucia has played with the Houston DACAMERA and at
music festivals around the United States, collaborating with artists like violinist Stefan
Jackiw, singer-songwriter Ben Folds, and dancer Lil Buck. This Fall, she will appear
on the inaugural concerts of Toronto’s “Music Around the Corner” series. She is an
advocate and enthusiast for new music, having performed with the Aspen
Contemporary Ensemble, AXIOM, Loop38, the New Juilliard Ensemble, and the
Shepherd School Contemporary Ensemble. She commissioned a solo cello work from
American composer Kim Diehnelt in 2015.
Lucia is a dedicated teacher, and her students have been accepted to competitive pre-
college and college programs at the Manhattan School of Music, the Jacobs School of
Music at Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory
of Music. She is a certified instructor in the Suzuki method and is committed to
expanding music education in K-12 classrooms, having taught over 50 school
workshops across the Houston metropolitan area in 2021.
Lucia attended Columbia University (Bachelor of Arts, 2020), The Juilliard School
(Master of Music, 2021), and Rice University. Her mentors have included Richard
Aaron, Tanya Carey, Timothy Eddy, and Brinton Smith. She is an alumna of the
Aspen Music Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the National Youth
Orchestra, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, the Orford Music Academy, and
the Sarasota Music Festival.
Joseph Johnson (2017)
Cellist Joseph Johnson has been heard throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician and educator. His festival appearances include performances in all classical genres at the American festivals of Santa Fe, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Bard, Cactus Pear, Grand Teton, and Music in the Vineyards as well as the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and the Virtuosi Festival in Brazil.
Highlights of Joseph Johnson's 2016/2017 season include concerto performances of the Schumann Cello Concerto with the Toronto Symphony and the North American Premiere of Marc-Andre Dalbavie's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra with the Esprit Orchestra in November. Other concerto appearances include Tan Dun's Elegy: Snow in June with the New World Symphony in Miami, and the Dvorak Concerto at the Lakes Area Festival in August. Joseph made his Edmonton Symphony debut with a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto as well as Miguel del Aguila's Concierto en Tango, a concerto of which Mr. Johnson performed the Canadian Premiere with the Toronto Symphony.
Recital appearances this year include performances at the Faculty of Music Walter hall series at the University of Toronto, the Chatter series in Albuquerque, Placitas Artist Series, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Music in the Vineyards in Napa, Toronto Summer Music Program, Mountain View Music in Calgary, Noon Concert series at the Canadian Opera Company, and the Chamber Players series in Toronto. Mr. Johnson recently celebrated the release of his album with pianist Victor Asuncion featuring the Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich Sonatas. He also completed a special recording project with the G. Schirmer Instrumental Library: The Cello Collection. Published in three volumes by Hal Leonard and featuring companion recordings by Mr. Johnson, this project presents cello literature appropriate for recitals and contests, and is available online and from major music retailers worldwide.
In 2012 Joseph Johnson performed the North American premiere of the Cello Concerto Grosso by Peter Oetvos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a co-commission with the Berlin Philharmonic. He recently performed Don Quixote with Sir Andrew Davis and the Toronto Symphony, as well as with Victor Yampolsky and the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, performed the Barber Cello Concerto with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and performed multiple concerts in the summer of 2016 at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Johnson is a founding member of the XIA quartet.
Principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since the 2009/2010 season, Mr. Johnson previously held the same position with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as principal cellist of the Santa Fe Opera, and during the 2008-2009 season, was acting principal cellist of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his Milwaukee appointment, Joseph Johnson was a member of The Minnesota Orchestra cello section for eleven years, during which time he performed numerous chamber music works during the orchestra's Sommerfest, both as cellist and pianist. He was a founding member of both the Prospect Park Players and the Minneapolis Quartet, the latter of which was honored with The McKnight Foundation Award in 2005.
A gifted and inspiring teacher, Mr. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Toronto. He has conducted numerous master classes for a wide range of institutions and ensembles, including The New World Symphony, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, and the youth orchestras of the Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Toronto symphonies, as well as at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Joseph Johnson earned his master's degree from Northwestern University. Awards and honours include a performer's certificate from the Eastman School of Music and first prize from the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition.
Mr. Johnson performs on a magnificent Paolo Castello cello made in 1780 in Genoa.
Matthew Zalkind (2016, 2018, 2019)
Praised for his “impressive refinement, eloquent phrasing, and singing tone” by The New York Times, American cellist Matthew Zalkind has performed throughout the United States and abroad as a recitalist, soloist and chamber musician. As a soloist, Mr. Zalkind has performed concerti with such organizations as the, the Albany Symphony, the Hongzhou Philharmonic, Musica Viva Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, the Tongyeong International Music Festival Orchestra, the Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra and the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra. He has performed concerti with celebrated conductors Ludovic Morlot, Thierry Fischer, Giancarlo Guerrero, and David Alan Miller, among others.
Mr. Zalkind has given recitals at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, Gardner Hall in Salt Lake City, UT, the Moscow Conservatory in Moscow, Russia, The Dame Myra Hess series in Chicago, The Juilliard School in New York, the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in Washington, DC and the Beijing Concert Hall in Beijing, China. An active chamber musician, Mr. Zalkind has participated in numerous music festivals, including Marlboro and “Musicians from Marlboro” tours, Music from Angel Fire, Olympic Music Festival, Innsbrook Institute, Twickenham Festival, and Ravinia’s “Steans Institute.” With his partner Alice Yoo, Mr. Zalkind is the Co-Artistic Director of the Denver Chamber Music Festival. For more information, please click here.
Mr. Zalkind has performed chamber music at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, New York’s Alice Tully Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a former member of the acclaimed Harlem String Quartet, Mr. Zalkind toured internationally with jazz legends Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and Gary Burton. He was awarded First Prize in the Washington International Competition, as well as top prizes in the Beijing International Cello Competition, Korea’s Isang Yun Gyeongnam International Competition and the Juilliard School Competition. He also won distinction as one of the eight concerto semi-finalists in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
Mr. Zalkind has a strong interest in teaching and outreach. He was awarded a Gluck Community Service Fellowship at The Juilliard School for four years, performing concerts at treatment facilities throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Mr. Zalkind is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. A Salt Lake City native, Mr. Zalkind’s primary mentors included Richard Hoyt, Pegsoon Whang, Timothy Eddy, Richard Aaron, and Hans Jørgen Jensen. Mr. Zalkind has Bachelors and Masters degrees from Juilliard, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan.
Mr. Zalkind plays on a rare Italian cello made by Florentine Maker Luigi Piatellini in 1760.
Alice Yoo (2018-2019)
Cellist Alice Yoo has been warmly hailed for her sensitive musicianship, expressive nuance, and passionate commitment to teaching. She has performed extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, performing in prestigious venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Denver Chamber Music Festival, she and cellist Matthew Zalkind have created a new chamber music festival in Denver, Colorado that features the world’s most sought-after chamber musicians in world-class chamber music summer concerts all around the city of Denver.
A sought after chamber musician, she has performed with distinguished artists including Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Dénes Varjon, Donald Weilerstein, Pamela Frank, Miriam Fried, Midori Goto, Kim Kashkashian, Jonathan Biss, and members of the Cleveland, Guarneri, Takacs, and Juilliard Quartets. Festival appearances include the Marlboro Music Festival, Moab Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Music@Menlo, Caramoor Evnin Rising Stars, Perlman Music Program, VIVO Music Festival, and IMS Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music. She regularly appears on tour with Musicians from Marlboro and performs with premiere ensembles including the New York Classical Players, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, and Grammy nominated ensembles A Far Cry, The Knights, and Metropolis Ensemble.
From 2012-2014, Alice was a member of Ensemble Connect (ACJW), a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School of Music, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. In addition to creating engaging chamber music programs for detention centers, hospitals, and other community centers in all five boroughs of New York City, she was a guest teaching artist in Edward R Murrow High School in Brooklyn for two years.
Alice is on the chamber music faculty at the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music and was the guest cello teacher at the University of Colorado- Boulder during the 2018-2019 school year. Other teaching posts include Guest Artist at the 2019 Intermountain Suzuki String Institute, faculty of cello and chamber music at Bard College’s Preparatory Division, and masterclasses and residencies across the United States including at Skidmore College, North Dakota State University, and more. As winner of the USC 2009 String Concerto Competition, Alice performed Samuel Barber’s Cello Concerto with the USC Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Jorge Mester. She is a top prize winner several competitions, including the Holland-America Music Society Competition, Schadt International String Competition, National Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition, and Klein International String Competition. Solo appearences with orchestra include the USC Chamber Orchestra, Longmont Symphony, Cleveland Philharmonic, New York Classical Players, Billings Symphony, and the Bozeman Symphony. Her performances have been featured and broadcasted on Los Angeles’ KUSC, Chicago’s WFMT, and Boston’s WGBH.
Passionate for new music, Alice has worked closely with the esteemed composers Sophia Gubaidulina, Jennifer Hidgon, György Kurtág, and John Harbison. She has given world premieres of acclaimed composers Samuel Carl Adams and Andy Akiho at Carnegie Hall. Recent recordings include Pierre Jalbert’s String Trio for Music at Copland House, music of the Tonight Show band The Roots, and works by Andy Akiho and Derek Bermel with Grammy award-winning producer Judith Sherman.
A native of Bozeman, Montana, Alice’s teachers include Ralph Kirshbaum, Dr. Ilse-Mari Lee, Richard Aaron, and Paul Katz. She holds degrees from the New England Conservatory, Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Click here to visit Alice's website.
Grace An (2021)
Cellist Grace An has shared her love of music with audiences across the world as an acclaimed orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist and teacher. Currently performing with the Winnipeg Symphony, Ms. An previously held positions in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Sarasota Opera Orchestra and has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Florida Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, and Des Moines Metro Opera among others. She spent four seasons as a cello fellow in the New World Symphony under the baton and mentorship of Michael Tilson Thomas.
Performances have taken Ms. An to the renowned stages of the world such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Hall, the Kennedy Center, Sydney Opera House, and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. A passionate advocate for spreading the joy of classical music beyond the concert hall, Ms. An also performs in hospitals, assisted living centers, public parks and libraries, women's shelters, farms, and dive bars. Festival appearances include Bravo! Vail, Verbier Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Spoleto Festival USA, Castleton Festival, Banff Centre, Pacific Music Festival, and the Thy Chamber Music Festival. She has also performed at Lakes Area Music Festival, Artosphere Festival, Fairchild’s GardenMusic, Laguna Beach Music Festival, and Brooklyn BargeMusic.
Ms. An has been featured as a soloist with the New World Symphony, Stanford Symphony Orchestra, and South Coast Symphony, in performances described as “sizzling with raw excitement and tonal beauty” (South Florida Classical Review). She performed in a widely seen recorded masterclass with Yo-Yo Ma and has collaborated with distinguished artists Emanuel Ax, the St. Lawrence String Quartet and eighth blackbird. She has given masterclasses and mentored young musicians at the Academia Filarmónica de Medellín in Colombia, served as a coach for the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, and adjudicator for the National Youth Orchestra USA. Ms. An has been heard on NPR’s What Makes It Great and Performance Today.
A native of Orange County, California, Ms. An began her musical training at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, and completed degrees at Stanford University, Eastman School of Music, and Manhattan School of Music. Her teachers include Alan Stepansky, Alan Harris, Stephen Harrison, and Richard Naill. Ms. An performs on a rare French cello by Nicolas Darche, dated 1841. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband Jeff Dyrda, and is a voracious reader and food enthusiast!
Philip Kramp (2023)
Violist Philip Kramp is a versatile performer and teacher whose playing has been heard worldwide. Praised by the New York Times for his “impressive” performances, he has participated in chamber music festivals at Marlboro, Ravinia, Yellow Barn, Sarasota and many others.
Based in Washington, DC, Phil is a former violist in the Kansas City Symphony and a former faculty member of the University of Kansas. Currently, Phil teaches viola and chamber music at the University of Maryland and he plays regularly with the National Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony. He has performed on tours worldwide with many orchestras and can be heard on recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, National Symphony, Metropolis Ensemble, and The Roots. Phil has also played on many motion picture soundtracks and television shows.
In chamber music settings, Phil plays regularly with the Chiarina Chamber Players, as well as in concerts with members of the National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and Philadelphia Orchestra. He is a past participant of the Marlboro Music Festival and has performed on several tours with Musicians from Marlboro. He is also a regular participant and the Twickenham Music Festival and the Music in the Mountains Festival in Durango, CO. Phil has also enjoyed collaborating with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and has performed alongside many of the world’s greatest artists, such as Richard Goode, Peter Wiley, Michael Tree, Arnold Steinhardt, Marcy Rosen, Miriam Fried, and many others.
In competitions, Phil has won prizes in the Irving Klein String Competition, Chicago Viola Society Competition, NEC Concerto Competition and has participated in the Stulberg Competition and the HAMS Viola Competition. Phil received his formal training at the Curtis Institute and the New England Conservatory. His primary mentors include Michael Tree, Roberto Diaz, Kim Kashkashian, Roger Tapping, Peter Wiley and Steven Tenenbom.
Bill Neri (2022-2023)
Violist Bill Neri is driven to create, facilitate, and perform through the intersection of art, community, and diversity. Bill is committed to increasing diversity in the American arts world and having cultural institutions be reflective of the communities they serve. Bill serves as Manager of Ensemble Advancement and Artist Engagement for the Sphinx Organization, coordinating the convening and impact of the Sphinx Virtuosi and Sphinx Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Bill manages the The National Alliance for Audition Support, an unprecedented national initiative to increase diversity in American orchestras. In 2021, Bill joined the third cohort of Sphinx LEAD, a program designed to evolve the industry landscape by empowering the next generation of executive leaders. In addition to his years as an administrator, he has performed as a violist on stages across the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Bill currently holds the Assistant Principal Viola position with The York Symphony Orchestra and is a section Violist with The Fairfax Symphony and tours regularly with the Sphinx Virtuosi. In the summer of 2019 he performed with Central City Opera in Colorado during their productions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Britten’s Billy Budd. Additional orchestral engagements have found Bill playing with The National Symphony Orchestra, The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, PostClassical Ensemble, The Malaysia Philharmonic, and others.
Bill earned his Bachelor of Music degree under the guidance of Victoria Chiang at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD where he was a recipient of the Christian A. Johnson scholarship. He continued his studies with Dan Foster, Principal Viola of the National Symphony Orchestra.
Edwin Kaplan (2022)
Violist of the award-winning Tesla Quartet and the newly formed Duo Kayo, Edwin Kaplan continues to forge a versatile identity as a recitalist, chamber musician, and educator. He has performed on concert series across North America, Europe, and Asia, including Wigmore Hall, Lincoln Center, and Tanglewood Music Center. Highlights from the 2018-2019 season with the Tesla Quartet included a tour of Brazil, two visits to the United Kingdom, and engagements in Germany.
Pushing his boundaries beyond the traditional repertoire, Edwin is equally at home in new music, having participated in numerous premieres including Andy Akiho's LIgNEouS and Zosha Di Castri’s String Quartet No. 1. One of his most treasured projects is the Tesla Quartet’s annual call for scores, for which he combs through hundreds of recently composed string quartets submitted by composers from all over the world.
Edwin is proud to serve his community as an advocate for music education. Through his work with the Tesla Quartet, he performs outreach at community primary schools and high schools and has given masterclasses at universities across North America. He spent a year teaching at Mt. Allison University in Canada, collaborating with music faculty, coaching chamber music, and workshopping new works by composition students. Edwin believes strongly in music education at all levels and has participated in adult amateur chamber music workshops at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine, where he has brought in-depth coaching and musical training to adults for whom music is a passion and hobby.
Edwin Kaplan is a Doctor of Musical Arts and received a Master of Music degree and an Artist Diploma from the Yale University School of Music. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Rita Andrade (2019)
Violist Rita Andrade, a native of Austin, Texas, is currently living as an active orchestral and studio violist in Los Angeles. After pursuing a pre-college arts education at Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, Rita continued studying viola performance for her bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Texas Butler School of Music and finished her masters at DePaul University.
In the years following her masters degree, Rita was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, with an assistant principal position for the 2014 - 2015 season. Rita was also a fellowship member of the Chicago Sinfonietta and Grant Park Symphony Project Inclusion programs geared toward promoting diversity in the world of classical music. Some of her most memorable and influential musical experiences were at summer festivals such as the String Academy in Cambridge UK, Encore Chamber Music Festival, Marrowstone Music Festival, and Bowdoin Music Festival.
Alongside her orchestral pursuits, Rita is a founding member of the ATLYS String Quartet. Together they sailed the seas performing over 900 concerts representing Lincoln Center of NYC. The quartet continues to travel across the states performing in a partnership with Brave Enough Artists Agency, sharing their passion for the classical tradition with modern production techniques such as amplification and looping software. As the original violist of the Austin-based chamber rock band Mother Falcon, and with experience playing in various bands, Rita remains in demand for many styles of performance and collaboration. Outside of teaching and performing, you can find Rita on her yoga mat, strolling through farmer’s markets or wandering around with her camera to practice her hobby and love for street photography.
Andrew Eng (2021)
Violist and violinist Andrew Eng has gained a versatile reputation playing such diverse genres as Baroque, Classical, Tango, Jazz and Contemporary music. Eng’s playing has been noted as “intense and powerfully emotional” (Classical New Jersey) and The New Jersey Star Ledger described him as having an “instinct for the emotional pulse of a line.”
As a founding member of the two-time Grammy nominated A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Eng also served as the violinist for the Bernardo Monk Tango Quartet, and the Found Objects Jazz String Trio of Boston. He has been featured on the Boston Celebrity Series, Mohawk Trail & Electric Earth Concerts and has been a Guest Artist on the National Chamber Players, Classical Movements, the Lyrica Boston Chamber Music and Longy School of Music’s Modern American Music Concert series.
Mr. Eng has collaborated as a soloist with Elmar Oliveira and the Lyrica Chamber Orchestra, in chamber music with Eugene Drucker, Terry King, Victor Rosenbaum, and has improvised with musicians including Daniel Binelli, George Garzone, Diane Monroe, and Peter Cassino. He has taught at summer music festivals including LyricaFest, Point Counterpoint, Youth and Muse, Lyra Music Festival and Maine Chamber Music Seminar. He currently teaches violin, viola, and chamber music at Wellesley College.
Mr. Eng received his A.R.C.T. Performer’s Certificate from the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada, and continued his training Cambridge, Massachusetts earning his Undergraduate Diploma in Performance and Master of Music in Modern American Music at the Longy School of Music.
Keith Hamm (2016-2018)
A native of Rosebud, Alberta, violist Keith Hamm is rapidly gaining recognition as a dynamic and exciting young presence on the Canadian music scene. Upon completion of his studies, Keith was named Principal Violist of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.
Mr. Hamm received his training at The Glenn Gould School of Music under the instruction of Steven Dann, and at the Mount Royal Conservatory under Nicholas Pulos. Other influences include Pinchas Zukerman, Mark Fewer, Richard Lester, the London Haydn Quartet, and especially formative summers at the Chamber Music Programme at Le Domaine Forget. He is an alumnus of the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove; the Sarasota Music Festival; Masterclasses at The Banff Centre, and Morningside Music Bridge. Mr. Hamm has been featured on CBC Radio, Classical 96.3 and has been named one of Canada’s Hottest 30 Classical Musicians Under 30 by CBC.
A dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Hamm has shared the stage with Anssi Kartunnen, Ernst Kovacic, Richard Lester, David Geringas and members of the Smithsonian Chamber Players. Keith has been invited to perform at the Ravinia Festival as guest violist with the Royal Conservatory’s ARC Ensemble; the SweetWater Music Festival in Owen Sound; Ottawa Chamberfest, and at Music By The Sea in Bamfield, BC. He performs regularly on the Skylight Series in Toronto’s Distillery District and is co-founder and producer of Stereo Live at Toronto’s Campbell House Museum. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of The Rosebud Chamber Music Festival in Rosebud, Alberta.
Mr. Hamm plays on a viola made by Joseph Curtin in 2001.
Rory McLeod (2016-2019)
Toronto-based violist Rory McLeod believes strongly in the connective power of music, and uses his work as a chamber musician, orchestral player, artistic director, arts advocate, and teacher to build connections in his community. Together with his wife, pianist Emily Rho, Rory co-directs Pocket Concerts, an intimate chamber music series that provides extraordinary listening experiences in homes and other unconventional venues in the GTA.
Rory follows his passion for chamber music all over North America, including recent appearances at The Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance, The SweetWater Festival, Bravo! Niagara, Chamber Music at New Park (Ithaca, NY), and The 21C Festival. Summer 2019 brings him back to Lunenburg, along with Festival of the Sound, Belfountain Music Festival, and Chamber Music at New Park. Rory frequently appears as an extra with The Canadian Opera Company and National Ballet Orchestras, and as principal viola of The Elora Festival Orchestra. Outside of music he loves making sourdough bread and training with kettlebells.
Meredith Riley (2016-2023)
Violinist Meredith Riley received a Bachelor of Music degree under Brian Lewis at the University of Texas in Austin and completed an Advanced Musical Studies certificate with Andres Cardenes at Carnegie Mellon University. Other important musical mentors include Linda Case, Laura Bossert, Margaret Pressley, and Daniel Ching.
Meredith has been a member of Sphinx Virtuosi chamber orchestra for four national tours and served as Principal Second Violin on their seven week 2021-2022 tour. Committed to diversity in the arts, Sphinx Virtuosi performs extensively throughout the US engaging with diverse and underserved communities. During the 2021 - 2022 season, Meredith performed with Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Williamsburg Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Pops. She also participated in Gateways Festival’s Carnegie Hall debut with Jon Batiste. Formerly, she was the Associate Principal Second Violin in Richmond Symphony from 2016 - 2021, and acted as Principal Second Violin in the Erie Philharmonic during graduate school. For the 2022 - 2023 season she looks forward to playing on a one year contract with the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as upcoming solo appearances at Sunflower and Wintergreen Music Festivals.
Meredith plays chamber music whenever she can and has appeared twice on the Smithsonian Chamber Series and numerous times on Chamber Music of Central Virginia programs. Some memorable festival experiences include Toronto Summer Music Festival, Wintergreen Music Festival, Sunflower Music Festival, Chamber Music at New Park, Boston Festival Orchestra, Encore School for Strings, Heifetz International Music Festival, Chautauqua, the International Music Academy of Plzen in Czech Republic, Domaine Forget Chamber Music, St. Lawrence String Seminar, Music by the Sea, Steamboat Strings Music Festival, Collectif9’s tour to Nantes, France and International Musical Enghien Encounters in Belgium.
Meredith has a small private violin studio in Alexandria and Richmond and is an adjunct professor of Violin at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2021-2022, she directed the Sympatico Program in the Alexandria schools for the Alexandria Symphony. Meredith loves to spend her free time with her husband and dog Homer, and you are as likely as not to find her with a bottle of hot sauce, singing or laughing loudly, and improvising vocally or on the violin.
Kumiko Sakamoto (2023)
Violinist Kumiko Sakamoto is a devoted performer, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Her commitment to fostering human connection through art has led Kumiko to pursue a richly diverse career as a violinist, vocalist, and advocate. A passionate collaborator, Kumiko has performed alongside members of the Emerson, Kronos, St. Lawrence, and Borromeo quartets, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, Eighth Blackbird, Leila Josefowicz, and Lawrence Power. As a founding violinist of the Thalea String Quartet, Kumiko has performed across North America, Europe, and China, in halls including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Massey Hall.
With her quartet, Kumiko has spent over a decade developing and presenting innovative programming both on and off the stage, including a strings program for people with autism, and presentations on non-verbal communication and diversity in classical music. As a soloist, Kumiko has performed across France, Italy, and Poland, including recitals at La Fenice in Venice, and St. Sulpice in Paris. Her debut album, featuring works of Gino Gorini, was released under the Naxos label in 2015.
Kumiko has held fellowship positions at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Waterloo, Belgium. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Maryland where the Thalea String Quartet holds the Doctoral Fellowship String Quartet position. Kumiko was recently awarded the Ann Divine Educator Award from the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association for her work in music education, and she currently coaches chamber music at the University of Maryland.
Kumiko’s love for musical theater, art song, and choral music led her to pursue conservatory training as a coloratura soprano. During her time in San Francisco, she was a member of the Grammy award winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus. A dancer for most of her life, Kumiko still enjoys attending ballet classes in her spare time, as well as cooking and baking for her friends and family. She is a dedicated advocate for social justice, health, and food awareness.
Kumiko performs on the 1820 Joannes Franciscus Pressenda violin, generously on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank.
Jina Lee (2021-2023)
Violinist Jina Lee grew up in Ithaca, NY, playing with the Cornell Symphony and Chamber Orchestras and studying violin with Linda Case. After graduating from Ithaca High School, she moved to Baltimore, MD to complete her undergraduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory and Johns Hopkins University. She received bachelor degrees in violin performance and recording arts and sciences as well as a Spanish minor for the professions.
At Peabody, she studied with Shirley Givens, also serving as her teaching assistant.
Jina has had the privilege of traveling the world to perform throughout the US, China, South America, the UK and Europe. She has been awarded fellowships to attend the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival and Verbier Music Festival. She has also performed with the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra in Charleston, SC, serving as concertmaster. Jina was a fellow with the New World Symphony under music director Michael Tilson Thomas from 2009-2012. There, she found opportunities to be active in community engagement, and began to explore innovative methods of reaching new audiences. She is a firm believer in the power that music has to unify, heal, and strengthen communities, as well as to bring about social change. Her passion for making live classical music accessible to everyone has inspired her to curate concert programs for a variety of settings including a “club concert” for string quartet and DJ at a Baltimore club, yoga classes, and a multi genre performance for the annual Green Festival held for BSO Orchkids. During the six years she performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, she was also very active in performing chamber music for BSO community outreach events, and worked frequently with BSO’s Orchkids program as a teaching aid for group classes. She also served as a mentor through the BSO Orchlab program, coaching high school string orchestras.
Currently, Jina is the Associate Concertmaster of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra and the Assistant Concertmaster of the New West Symphony. She also performs as a guest musician with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Florida Orchestra. Aside from her musical career, she is a Realtor in Sarasota, FL and works with children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Bora Kim (2019, 2022, 2023)
Violinist Bora Kim is from Toronto, Canada, where she made her soloist debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2009 at Roy Thomson Hall. She has also performed as a soloist with the Canadian Sinfonietta, Oakville Chamber Orchestra, Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestra, and Niagara Chamber Orchestra. She has given solo recitals and performances at all the major venues in the city, including the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the Carlu, the Living Arts Centre, Canadian Broadcasting Center’s “Glenn Gould Studio,” and Toronto’s Classical 96.3 FM.
Bora’s recent highlights include performances with the Sejong Soloists at Carnegie Hall, recitals in the Netherlands as part of the Holland Music Sessions, a performance with pianist Emanuel Ax at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and masterclass for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. An avid chamber musician and winner of the Yale School of Music Chamber Competition, her piano trio has given performances at Steinway Hall in New York, as well as a lecture recital at the Whitney Humanities Center in New Haven.
As a winner of the Canada Council’s 2018 Instrument Bank Competition, Bora was awarded the three-year loan of a 1747 Januarius Gagliano violin. She has won First Prize at various national competitions, including the Canadian Music Competitions, and represented Ontario at the 2009 National Music Festival.
Bora is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Yale School of Music, where she also completed Master of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees. She holds double Bachelor of Music degrees in both Violin Performance and Piano Performance from the Colburn Conservatory of Music, as the first double-major student in the school's history. Her primary teachers include Hyo Kang, Arnold Steinhardt, Robert Lipsett, Atis Bankas, John Perry, and Marina Geringas. Bora is an alumna of numerous summer festivals including Sarasota, Aspen, Norfolk, Banff, and Orford.
Shane Kim (2019-2021)
Winner of the 2016 Ontario Arts Council Orford String Quartet Award, Toronto-born violinist
Shane Kim has been a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since the 2012-2013 season. Prior positions include Principal violinist of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra and concertmaster appearances with the Tucson Symphony and at the festivals of Aspen and Spoleto-Charleston. Recent highlights include his return engagement as concertmaster at the Lakes Area Music Festival, and chamber music performances at the Toronto Summer Music Festival and the Sun Valley Summer Festival.
Shane is a founding member of the XIA String Quartet. Since its inception in 2014, the XIA
Quartet has performed concerts in Toronto, Cobourg, Port Hope and Edmonton, and has given
masterclasses at the Alberta Conservatory, the University of Alberta and a workshop for the
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s YONA-Sistema program. Shane has also performed chamber
music at Ravinia, the Taos Chamber Music Festival, the Encuentro de Musica in Santander, Spain;
and has performed with musicians of the New Orford String Quartet, Amici, the Bakken Trio and
the TSO Chamber Soloists.
Shane received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto, where he studied with noted pedagogue David Zafer, and chamber music with Lorand Fenyves. Shane continued his studies at the Yale School of Music with Peter Oundjian and the Tokyo String Quartet.
Aaron Schwebel (2016-2018)
Canadian violinist Aaron Schwebel has performed throughout the world in various musical roles. Based in his native Toronto, Aaron currently holds the positions of Concertmaster with the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra and Associate Concertmaster with the Canadian Opera Company. In the past, Aaron has performed as guest concertmaster with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Les Violons Du Roy, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and Orchestra London.
Aaron has performed as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Lanaudiere, the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, and McGill Symphony Orchestra. An active chamber music performer, he is a founding member of the Toronto-based Penrose Trio, LARK ensemble, and Rosebud Quartet, and has been on faculty as a chamber music coach at Toronto Summer Music Festival and Klezkanada. He has been invited to take part in Ottawa Chamberfest, Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Music By The Sea in Bamfield, British Columbia, and the Rosebud Chamber Music Festival. Aaron is grateful to be playing on a 1753 Joannes Baptista Guadagnini violin, on loan to him from the Canada Council for the Arts Instrument Bank.
Aaron did his studies at McGill University and Indiana University with teachers Jonathan Crow, Yaela Hertz, Mauricio Fuks, and Andre Roy. As a student, Aaron was a member of the Roddick String Quartet, representing Canada at the London International String Quartet Competition, and the Kuttner Quartet, Indiana's resident string quartet. Upon graduation from McGill, Aaron was awarded the Schulich School of Music’s Golden Violin Award.
Jeffrey Dyrda (2018, 2021)
Canadian violinist Jeffrey Dyrda has performed across the Americas, Europe and Asia in a variety of musical roles. He has had extensive experience as concertmaster, leading international ensembles such as the Verbier Festival Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, the Lucerne Academy Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. Mr. Dyrda has also appeared as Guest Concertmaster for the Jacksonville Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, and as Guest Principal Second for the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Jeffrey spent three seasons as the second violinist of the Rolston String Quartet, with whom he received the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, as well as the first prizes of the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition. They also received prizes at the M-Prize Competition and Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and were winners of the Astral Artists auditions. Mr. Dyrda performed with the Rolston Quartet to audiences in Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, England, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, as well as at the Spoleto, Cliburn and Banff festivals. They performed together in venues such as Esterházy Palace, La Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Mr. Dyrda has been delighted to perform chamber music with musicians such as Emanuel Ax, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Don Palma, Miguel da Silva, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Dover Quartet and the Grammy nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry. His mentors include Lucy Chapman, Denise Lupien, Gwen Hoebig, Andre Roy, Barry Shiffman, Norman Fischer, James Dunham, Kenneth Goldsmith, and the members of the Brentano and Alban Berg String Quartets.
Devoted to social projects and music education, Jeffrey has mentored at the Academia Filarmonica de Medellin in Colombia and served in South Korea as concertmaster for a World Peace Orchestra comprised of musicians from a multitude of UN countries. He has taught at Virginia Tech’s Intensive Chamber Music Seminar, and he holds degrees from Rice University, New England Conservatory, and McGill University, as well as Fellowships from the New World Symphony and Yale University, where he taught chamber music as part of their Fellowship String Quartet in Residence. Mr. Dyrda maintains a private teaching studio in his hometown of Winnipeg, where he lives with his wife, cellist Grace An, and is a member of the first violin section for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In the summers, Jeffrey enjoys playing as a member of the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland.
Alice Hong (2016-2018)
An international award-winner both as a violinist and composer, Alice Hong was featured on CBC’s 2018 edition of “30 Hot Classical Musicians Under 30”. As a violinist, Alice has been featured as a performer and composer in Atlanta Symphony’s Conversation of Note series with Robert Spano and toured with Heifetz Institute of Music’s Heifetz on Tour as well as Lincoln Center Stage on Holland America Line cruising through Alaska and the Northwest Pacific. She has performed her own compositions at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Spoleto Festival USA, and Heifetz on Tour. She has also performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony as a substitute violinist and alongside esteemed musicians such as James Ehnes, Frans Helmerson, Mihaela Martin, Jonathan Crow, and Barry Shiffman, among others. Her performances have been featured on CBC radio, WABE 90.1 Atlanta and WSMR 89.9 Tampa. Alice holds degrees from Rice University's Shepherd School of Music as a Dorothy R. Starling Foundation Scholar and the Cleveland Institute of Music, and she is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto as a Harold Carter Foundation fellow studying privately with Jonathan Crow.
She has had compositions performed in Hungary, Netherlands, China, Czech Republic, Canada, the United States, and in film-scores for Studio3D productions. Her works are published by Edition MatchingArts and have won multiple awards from the ASCAP Morton Gould Awards and first prizes at the International Keuris Competition, Carl E. Baldassarre Composer-Virtuosi Competition, NorCal Viola Society Commission Contest, Pikes Peak Composition Competition, and third prize along with the audience prize for the 2018 Lands End Ensemble Composition Competition. Her pieces have been performed and read by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ludwig Symphony Orchestra, CIM Symphony Orchestra, Amersfoort Youth Orchestra, and members of the New York Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Canadian Opera Company, Rolston String Quartet and Cypress String Quartet, among others. Her piece “Phoenix” will be performed by the Georgian Bay Symphony in October 2018.
Laura Bossert (2018-2021)
Laura Anne Bossert, violinist/violist, a Silver Medalist in the Henryk Szeryng International Violin Competition, has earned recognition for her artistry as a soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. She is also one of the most respected and sought after teachers of her generation.
Ms. Bossert is an Associate Professor of violin and viola at the Setnor School of Music of Syracuse University, Wellesley College, the Longy School of Music of Bard College and in the summer months, The Quartet Program, LyricaFest, ArtsAhimsa and Wellesley Composer’s Conference. Her students hold positions in many wide ranging institutions such as the San Francisco, Portland, Milwaukee, and Houston Symphony, and National Canadian orchestras, Handel and Haydn Society, BBC Radio Orchestra, Helsinki, Santiago and Royal Philharmonics, the Hausmann & Cecilia String Quartets, (Banff’s 2010 International Quartet First prize winners), A Far Cry, New England Conservatory, Santa Fe Opera, Community Music Works, University of Ottawa, San Diego State University and the Longy School of Music. They have been awarded top prizes in international and national competitions such as Young Concert Artists, Fischoff, Spohr, the Banff & Miami String Quartet Competitions and the Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA).
Ms. Bossert has appeared in collaboration with Elmar Oliveira, Joseph Silverstein, Paul Neubauer, William Preucial, Kim Kashkashian, David Jolley, Joseph Robinson and with ensembles such as the Muir and Lark String Quartets, Amelia, Raphael and Mirecourt Piano Trios. She has toured as an improv violinist with David Amram and Chuck Mangione, and was a frequent guest artist, with the Boston based ensemble, Cello Chix. She started her early career as an orchestral player, having played with the Utah Ballet Orchestra (Ballet West), and as guest concertmaster of the Tucson and Oklahoma Symphony Orchestras. Currently, she leads the Lyrica Boston Chamber Orchestra.
Recent performing highlights include chamber music appearances with David Finckel, the Ellipsis Piano Trio, Con Affetto & the Hausmann String Quartets, Vocollage and a debut recording sponsored by the Rebecca Clarke Society of the violin duo repertoire. Bossert resides in Lincoln, Massachusetts with her husband, cellist Terry King and their very loved Brittany spaniel dog, Buddy. With Terry they co-direct LyricaFest, a chamber music festival for college and conservatory students now in its 18th season.
Jamie Kruspe (2016)
Violinist Jamie Kruspe was appointed as Assistant Concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra in the fall of 2014. He was awarded the 2010 Orford String Quartet Scholarship by the Ontario Arts Council, who remarked that he "plays with conviction and confidence, producing a singing tone." In 2011, Mr. Kruspe won the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the U of T Symphony Orchestra in 2012.
Mr. Kruspe has appeared as concertmaster of numerous ensembles including the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, and the Scarborough Philharmonic. In 2012, he was named concertmaster of the Koffler Chamber Orchestra. Other orchestral engagements include frequent performances with the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. Jamie has attended several chamber music festivals including Kneisel Hall (2011), Le Domaine Forget (2014), and Chautauqua Institution (2007, 2008, 2010). He holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Toronto, where he studied with Jacques Israelievitch, Annalee Patipatanakoon, and Yehonatan Berick. He also holds an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of music as a student of Paul Kantor.
Susan Spafford (2019)
Violinist Susan Spafford is a member of the Richmond (VA) Symphony, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra (NY), and Lancaster Festival Orchestra (OH). She has played regularly with the symphonies in Allentown and Harrisburg (PA), Albany (NY), Binghamton Philharmonic, Chautauqua Lake Pops, and Skaneateles Festival (NY). Solo engagements include the Erie Chamber Orchestra and recitals at Mansfield University, Library of Congress, throughout the U.S. and in South Korea. Chamber music highlights include the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra’s Chamber Music Series and Lancaster Festival Series.
Ms. Spafford has been a Faculty Guest Artist for the String Institute at Ithaca College and presented hundreds of educational workshops throughout the country. She’s been featured in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Family Series and Music Educators Association’s conferences at the state level. She has served many years as an adjudicator for NYSSMA, completed Suzuki teacher training courses, and graduated from the LAO Essentials of Orchestra Management course. Ms. Spafford earned her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music.
Benjamin Smith (2017-2023)
Described as a “thoughtful and immensely exciting performer” with “scintillating technique” (Barrie Examiner) and “intelligently rounded musicianship” (The Irish Times), pianist Benjamin Smith has performed as soloist and chamber musician across Canada and the United States. He has been a laureate of numerous competitions, including the Dublin International Piano Competition, the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, and the CMC Stepping Stone Competition. Guest appearances include the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Las Vegas Young Artists Orchestra, the Ontario Philharmonic, Orchestra London, the Windsor Symphony, and the University of Toronto’s Hart House Orchestra. As soloist, he has performed under esteemed conductors such as Rossen Milanov and Marco Parisotto, with concertos including rarities such as the Schoenberg Piano Concerto.
Festival appearances include Toronto Summer Music, Banff Summer Arts, Stratford Summer Music, Music Niagara, and the Long Leaf Opera Festival (Raleigh, NC). American performances include recitals for the Texas Chopin Society and Chicago’s Landowska Harpsichord Society. Recent seasons have included two concerts in Carnegie Hall, most recently as soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue with the Hart House Orchestra, and previously in recital with Canadian cellist Dongkyun An. A disc with Mr. An of Saint-Saens, Schumann, and Beethoven was released in December 2016. The upcoming 19/20 season sees solo recitals in Toronto and southern Ontario (and possibly China), a duo recital with Gábor Tarkovi of the Berlin Philharmonic, and a concerto recording with Sinfonia Toronto.
Devoting considerable time to chamber music, Ben has been heard nationally across Canada on CBC Music (Radio 2). He has partnered in recital with renowned artists including Martin Beaver, Colin Carr, Narek Hakhnazaryan, Jacques Israelievitch, Julie Nesrallah, Joaquin Valdepeñas, Wolfgang Redik (formerly of the Vienna Piano Trio), Øystein Baadsvik and William VerMeulen, as well as with ensembles such as the Penderecki, Cecilia, Tokai, and Annex string quartets. For two seasons he performed as one-third of the Israelievitch-Smith-Ahn piano trio. Involved with music of our time as well, he is a regular member of the Esprit Orchestra in Toronto, and has worked under prominent conductors Joel Sachs, Steven Schick and Werner Herbers, as well as with composers John Corigliano, Reinaldo Moya and Chandler Carter.
Dr. Smith currently resides in Toronto, maintaining a concert schedule and serving as a faculty member for both the Glenn Gould School (GGS) and the Taylor Young Artist Academy at the Royal Conservatory. Previously, he held a position on the piano faculty at Western University (London, ON). His principal teachers included Andrea Battista, James Anagnoson, Julian Martin, and Christina Dahl. Along with a DMA from Stony Brook University, he holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto, an Artist Diploma from the GGS, and a Masters from Juilliard.
Ryan McCullough (2021, 2023)
Pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough has developed a rich musical life as soloist, vocal and instrumental collaborator, composer and arranger, recording artist, and pedagogue. Ryan’s growing discography features many world premiere recordings, including solo piano works of Milosz Magin (Acte Prealable), Andrew McPherson (Secrets of Antikythera, Innova), John Liberatore (Line Drawings, Albany), Nicholas Vines (Hipster Zombies from Mars, Navona), art song and solo piano music of John Harbison and James Primosch (Descent/Return, Albany), and art song by Sheila Silver (Beauty Intolerable, Albany). He is also founder of False Azure Records, which released its first album in November 2022, The Labor of Forgetting, featuring works by Katherine Balch and Dante De Silva.
Ryan has appeared on PBS’s Great Performances (Now Hear This, “The Schubert Generation”) and is an alumnus of NPR’s From the Top. He has also appeared as concerto soloist has appeared with major orchestras, including with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony Orchestra, is a frequent collaborator with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and has performed at the Tanglewood Music Center, Kneisel Hall, and Marlboro Music Festival. Ryan teaches at Bard College Conservatory, and lives in Kingston, NY, with his wife, soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon.
Click here to visit Ryan's website.
Jeanie Chung (2022)
Canadian pianist Jeanie Chung enjoys a rewarding performing and teaching life. She has given solo recitals, concerto performances, and chamber concerts throughout North America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Recent and long term collaborations include projects with Barry Shiffman, Andres Diaz, Colin Carr, Rachel Mercer, Ian Swensen, Yehonatan Berick, Mayumi Seiler, Susan Hoeppner, Ian Clarke, Frank Morelli, Shalom Bard, YaoGuang Zhai, William Vermeulen, Michael Sachs, Alexander Dobson, Laurence Lemieux, Margie Gillis, and Ted Robinson.
Following her studies at The Glenn Gould School and The Taylor Academy for Young Artists at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, she attended the Juilliard School where she obtained Bachelor of Music, Masters of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. Her principal teachers have been Boris Lysenko, Leon Fleisher, John Perry, and Herbert Stessin.
Ms. Chung was the recipient of the Career Development Award from the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and numerous grants from the Canada Council and Chalmers Fund. She is a faculty member of the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School and the Taylor Academy for Young Artists.
Emily Rho (2016-2019)
Pianist Emily Rho is an open-minded and sought-after musician based in Toronto, Canada. Forging a multi-faceted career of her own, she works as a pianist, artistic director, and educator.
Alongside her performing career, Ms. Rho is the co-artistic director of Toronto’s Pocket Concerts, which presents high-quality chamber music concerts in intimate venues such as homes and workplaces all over Toronto. Most recently, she performed chamber music concerts at Toronto Summer Music Festival, Chamber Music @ New Park, le Salon Vert (Québec), The Belfountain Music Festival, The Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance, and the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, among others. Through speaking engagements, Ms. Rho shares her experience as an arts entrepreneur. She has been invited as a guest speaker at various workshops through McGill University, National Academy Orchestra, Artscape and University of Toronto, where she discussed how Pocket Concerts was built and operates.
Emily is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, The Glenn Gould School, and University of Toronto. She is a member of the chamber music faculty at The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists of The Royal Conservatory of Music, and also teaches privately. Emily is a newly minted PADI Open Water Certificate diver, and also sings alto in Acquired Taste Choir, a group that was founded through Pocket Concerts for professional instrumentalists who are interested in singing.
Click here to visit Emily's website.
Rajesh Soodeen (2021-2023)
Clarinetist Rajesh Soodeen is currently serving as a member of the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C. Prior to this, he held the position of third/auxiliary clarinet with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. As a freelance musician, he has performed with the Indianapolis Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, and the orchestras of Richmond (Indiana), Evansville (Indiana), and Owensboro (Kentucky).
Soodeen earned a Bachelor of Music from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston in 2013 and a Master of Music from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in 2015. His primary teachers include Randall Griffin and James Campbell.
Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano (2023)
Praised for her “dazzling, virtuoso singing” (Boston Globe), soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon believes that creating new works and recreating those lost in centuries past makes room for the multiplicity of voices integral to classical music’s future. As such, Ms. Fitz Gibbon has given U.S. premieres of rediscovered works from the Baroque through the mid-20th century, including recording seminal Yiddish song cycles. She has also collaborated with notable composers of her own time, among them John Harbison, Kate Soper, Katherine Balch, Reena Esmail, Tan Dun, and Pauline Oliveros.
Lucy has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Tafelmusik; the Naples Philharmonic; the Albany, Eureka, Lexington, Richmond, and Tulsa Symphonies; and the American Symphony Orchestra in her Carnegie Hall debut. In the 23-24 season, she appears in performances of major works by Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg, Unsuk Chin, and György Kurtág in venues throughout North America.
Hailing from Davis, California, Ms. Fitz Gibbon has spent summers at the Tanglewood Music Center and Marlboro Music Festival. She is on the faculty of Bard College Conservatory’s Vocal Arts Programs, having previously served as Director of the Vocal Program at Cornell University.
Click here to visit Lucy's website.
Steven Stull, baritone (2019)
A versatile performer, Steven Stull has lived and performed in Ithaca since 1986 and appears regularly in the area with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Society for New Music, Arts at Grace, and Triphammer Arts. He has been a soloist in sixty performances with Symphoria and Syracuse Symphony including nine productions with the Syracuse Opera. A frequent performer with the Rochester Philharmonic, he performed with RPO as Sherlock Holmes in 2019 and in seven concerts in 2018, narrating and singing a variety of pieces including Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait, and the Dr. Seuss stories, The Sneetches and Gerald McBoing Boing.
Mr. Stull has been a soloist in nearly eighty performances with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and can be heard in their recordings Home for the Holidays and Tales from the West Virginia Hills. His other recordings include Boyz in the Wood with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, The Pulse of an Irishman, Opera Cowpokes, and Christmas from the Heart of New York. Steven has appeared with Glimmerglass Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Artpark, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kyrgyz State Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Oswego Opera, Anchorage Festival of Music, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Ithaca, Erie Philharmonic, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, and Fredonia Bach and Beyond Festival. Recent and upcoming performances include soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Bonhoeffer in Hugh McElyea’s Tenebrae: The Passion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, and Frank Baum in the new opera Pushed Aside by Persis Vehar.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory, Steven is also an actor, producer, director, composer, painter and photographer. Since 1990, Steven and choreographer Jeanne Goddard have presented an eclectic series of music and dance performances on the CRS Growers organic vegetable farm overlooking Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, NY. His numerous recordings are available here.