Natalie Zhu, piano
The recipient of both 2003 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award, pianist Natalie Zhu is a winner of Astral Artistic Services' 1998 National Auditions. The Philadelphia Inquirer heralded Astral's recent presentation of Ms. Zhu in recital as a display of "emotional and pianistic pyrotechnics." The recital was later broadcast on National Public Radio's "Performance Today."
Ms. Zhu has performed throughout North America, Europe, and China as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. She has performed in the United States with the Pacific Symphony, the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Astral Chamber Orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and with the Colorado Philharmonic National Repertory Orchestra. Ms. Zhu made her European debut in 1994 at the Festival de Sully et d'Orleans in France, and has toured in Austria, Holland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France and Turkey.
She collaborated with renowned violinist Hilary Hahn, stepping in for pianist Garrick Ohlsson in several performances of Ms. Hahn's October 2000 U.S. tour. Subsequently, Ms. Zhu and Ms. Hahn have maintained a partnership to this day with tours of the U.S., Europe, and Japan, including a hugely successful Carnegie Hall recital debut. The duo recorded the Mozart Sonatas for the Deutsche Grammophon label.
Natalie Zhu has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the grand prize in the both the 1988 and 1989 Young Keyboard Artists Association Competition. She was the first prize winner in the Johanna Hodges Piano Concerto Competition in 1988 and 1991, having also received its 1991 Concert Series Award. In 1994, she was the top prize winner in the first China International Piano Competition. An active chamber musician, she is a frequent soloist at the Amelia Island Festival and has appeared at both the Great Lake Music and Marlboro Music festivals. In the year 2000 she was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival.
Ms. Zhu began her piano studies with Xiao-Cheng Liu at the age of 6 in her native China and made her first public appearance at age nine in Beijing. At age 11 she immigrated with her family to Los Angeles, and by 15 was enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music where she received the prestigious Rachmaninoff Award and studied with Gary Graffman. In 2001 she joined the Curtis faculty as staff pianist. She received a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music where she studied with Claude Frank.
For further information, go to www.nataliezhu.com.
Martin Beaver was First Violin of the world-renowned Tokyo String Quartet from June 2002 until its final concert in July 2013. As such, he appeared to critical and public acclaim on the major stages of the world including New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Berliner Philharmonie, Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and the Sydney Opera House. Recordings during his tenure include the complete Beethoven Quartets for Harmonia Mundi.
Mr. Beaver’s concerto and recital appearances span four continents with orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège and the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra and under the batons of Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Charles Dutoit and Yannick Nézet-Séguin among others. Chamber music collaborations include such eminent artists as Leon Fleisher, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell, Sabine Meyer and Yefim Bronfman.
Martin Beaver is a proud co-founder of the Montrose Trio (with cellist Clive Greensmith and pianist Jon Kimura Parker), which made its debut at the Chamber Music Society of Detroit in December 2013.
Mr. Beaver’s discography includes concerti, sonatas and chamber music on the Harmonia Mundi, Biddulph, Naim Audio, René Gailly and Naxos labels. His recorded repertoire ranges from Bach to the music of Alexina Louie and Joan Tower.
Mr. Beaver’s teachers include Victor Danchenko, Josef Gingold and Henryk Szeryng. A laureate of the Queen Elisabeth, Montreal and Indianapolis competitions, he has subsequently served on the juries of major international violin and chamber music competitions.
A passionate educator, Mr. Beaver has conducted masterclasses worldwide. He has held teaching positions at the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of British Columbia and the Peabody Conservatory. More recently, he served as Artist in Residence at the Yale School of Music, where he was awarded its highest honor - the Sanford Medal. He joined the faculty of the Colburn School in Los Angeles in August 2013 as Co-Director of String Chamber Music and Professor of Violin.
Che-Hung Chen, viola
Violist Che-Hung Chen has been a member of The Philadelphia Orchestra since the spring of 2001, when he was hired by then music director Wolfgang Sawallisch, becoming the first Taiwanese citizen ever to join the Orchestra. He has also served as Acting Associate Principal Viola under former music director Christoph Eschenbach.
Mr. Chen was the first-prize winner at the Seventh Banff International String Quartet Competition as the founding member of the Daedalus Quartet; the quartet was also awarded the Pièce de concert prize for the best performance of a commissioned work and the Székely Prize for the best performance of a Beethoven quartet. A three-time, top-prize winner at the Taiwan National Instrumental Competition, Mr. Chen is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with the legendary Joseph dePasquale. His other teachers have included Ben Lin and Toby Appel. Mr. Chen has served as principal violist of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and recently appeared as guest principal violist with Japan's Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Chen's recording of Chiayu's "Twelve Signs" for solo viola on the Naxos Label was praised in the Gramophone's Awards 2015 issue for its "mesmerizing intensity."
As a chamber musician, Mr. Chen has been a frequent participant with Marlboro Music, performing in its 50th anniversary concerts in Boston and New York's Carnegie Hall, and in several "Musicians from Marlboro" national tours. Mr. Chen performs annually at the Kingston Chamber Music Festival in Rhode Island with his wife, pianist and Artistic Director Natalie Zhu, and has also participated in such festivals as Ravinia, Caramoor, Saratoga, Bridgehampton and Music from Angel Fire. With Ms. Zhu, Philadelphia Orchestra colleague and First Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang, and cellist Thomas Kraines, he is a founding member of the Clarosa Piano Quartet, dedicated to exploring and enriching the piano quartet repertoire. Their debut performance earned praise from the Philadelphia Inquirer as "a combination of easy cohesion and unfettered, expressive freedom." The quartet made a highly anticipated debut for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in May 2016.
Mr. Chen currently serves on the faculty of Temple University's Esther Boyer College of Music and its Preparatory Division. He performs on a viola made by Carlo Antonio Testore in Milan, Italy, c. 1756. He and Natalie reside in Narberth, PA, with their daughter Clara.
Known for his virtuosic, high‐energy performances, violinist Zachary DePue successfully balances his roles as concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, soloist, chamber musician, fiddler, community leader and mentor with passion and dedication.
A rising star among both classical and crossover music fans, he was appointed concertmaster of the ISO in 2007 and became one of the youngest concertmasters in the country. He graduated in 2002 from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with renowned violinists Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo. He earned a full‐tuition scholarship to Curtis and he also held the David H. Springman Memorial Fellowship. He served as concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra before becoming a violinist in The Philadelphia Orchestra. Prior to entering Curtis, he attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.
With an innate talent for improvisation and arranging, Mr. DePue found much of his inspiration from his three older brothers, all violinists and fiddlers. In 1985, the four classically‐trained brothers formed their own acclaimed group, which combines classical and bluegrass for an eclectic, fun concert experience. The group’s father is Wallace DePue, a composer and professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University.
Mr. DePue was a founding member of Time for Three, ISO’s first ever ensemble-in-residence, alongside his fell Curtis colleagues, violinist Nick Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer. With its dynamic energy and unique mash-ups of bluegrass, jazz and classical music, Time for Three has reinvented the ISO’s Happy Hour Series and has introduced a new audiences to the symphony experience.
This season, Mr. DePue became a member of the 40th Class of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series, a prestigious program that connects Indianapolis’ emerging leaders to the issues and needs of the community.
His violin was made by Ferdinand Gagliano of Naples, Italy, in 1757.
Juliette Kang, violin
Canadian violinist Juliette Kang serves as First Associate Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Kang also performed for two seasons with the Boston Symphony as assistant concertmaster, and as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Ms. Kang’s solo engagements have included the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, l’Orchestre National de France conducted by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, the Baltimore Symphony, the Boston Pops, and every major orchestra in Canada. Overseas she has also performed with the Czech Philharmonic, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the KBS Symphony in Seoul.
She has given recitals in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet, in Tokyo at Suntory Hall, in Boston at the Gardner Museum, and in New York at the 92nd Street Y and the Frick Museum. As gold medalist of the 1994 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, she was presented at Carnegie Hall in a recital that was recorded live and released on the Samsung/Nices label.
Ms. Kang was a featured soloist in the 2012 Carnegie Hall performance with her hometown orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony, and she made her Philadelphia Orchestra solo subscription debut performing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with conductor Gianandrea Noseda.
Ms. Kang has been actively involved with chamber music since studying quartets at the Curtis Institute of Music with Felix Galimir. Festivals she has participated in include Bravo! Vail Valley, Bridgehampton, Kingston, Marlboro, Moab (Utah), Skaneateles (New York), and Spoleto. In New York she has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at the Mostly Mozart Festival with her husband, cellist Thomas Kraines, and at the Bard Music Festival.
After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of Jascha Brodsky, where she entered the school at age nine, she earned a Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Dorothy Delay and Robert Mann. She was a winner of the 1989 Young Concert Artists Auditions, and she subsequently received first prize at the Menuhin Violin Competition of Paris in 1992.
Cellist Jonathan Karoly is a native of Chicago, where he began studying the cello at the age of three. He has been a prize-winning cellist, pianist, and composer from an early age. Following his studies in Chicago and New York, Karoly graduated from the University of Southern California, where he was a pupil of Ronald Leonard.
An avid chamber musician, Karoly has performed in many music festivals: Marlboro, Kingston, La Jolla Summerfest, Verbier, Sarasota, Music Academy of the West, the International Laureates Chamber Music Festival, and Aspen, where he was a fellowship recipient. He has also been a frequent performer on Musicians from Marlboro tours across the country, and was invited to perform several concerts of chamber works with Pierre Boulez at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Karoly has appeared in live radio broadcasts of solo recitals and chamber music performances.
An accomplished competition winner, Karoly took grand prize in the Pasadena Instrumental Competition and first prize in the Chicago Cello Society Competition. He has performed concertos with numerous orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and has been principal cellist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles, among others. In 2009, Karoly was the featured performer and actor in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Symphonies for Youth program entitled The Spirit of the Cello, which told a fictional story about Karoly’s cello. These performances were repeated in 2016.
Karoly has been a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1997.
Kyu-Young Kim, artistic director and principal violin of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, is one of the most versatile and accomplished musicians of his generation. His appointment as the SPCO’s artistic director in January 2016 marks the first time a playing member has been tapped to take the artistic helm of a major American orchestra. Previously, Mr. Kim served as director of Artistic Planning with the SPCO all the while continuing to perform in the orchestra, and since assuming a dual role in 2013, the SPCO has named four new artistic partners and opened its new concert hall at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts to great critical acclaim.
Hailed by the Chicago Tribune for his “flawless musical and technical command”, Mr. Kim has toured throughout North America, Europe and Asia, performing in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, the Seoul Arts Center, the Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), and the Beethoven-Haus (Bonn). As a founding member of the Daedalus Quartet, winners of the Grand Prize at the 2001 Banff International String Quartet Competition, he performed in many of the major halls of Europe, including the Musikverein (Vienna), the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), the Philharmonie (Cologne), the Cité de la Musique (Paris), the Mozarteum (Salzburg), the Festpielhaus (Baden-Baden), and the Megaron (Athens), and was a member of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two Program. He has also served as guest concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and is a core member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Kim has received degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, and has studied with Donald Weilerstein, Robert Mann, Jaime Laredo, Yumi Scott and Shirley Givens.
Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a pianist whose playing is “warmly charismatic” and “calm maturity with naturalness” by Seen and Heard International, pianist Hanchien Lee is recognized for her eloquent and virtuosic performances as a soloist and chamber musician. Since her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 16, Ms. Lee has performed throughout the U.S., in Europe and across Asia in such prestigious venues as Steinway Hall in New York, Academy of Music, Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., the Basilica San Pietro in Italy, and the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.
Ms. Lee has appeared as soloist internationally with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Taiwan National Orchestra, American Elite youth orchestra, Plainfield Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Perugia and Poland’s Capella Cracovienses Chamber Orchestra.
Interested and dedicated in advancing contemporary music, Ms. Lee often premieres works by contemporary composers. An active recording artist, she took part in recording for composer Chia-Yu Hsu under the Naxos label. Her recording of Sarasate’s violin works with award-winning violinist Yu-Chien Benny Tsung was awarded “Best interpretation” by 2015 Chun-Yi Golden award in Taiwan.
A dedicated and enthusiastic chamber musician, Lee has performed in many highly respected music festivals, including Prussia Cove International Music Seminar, Kingston, Sarasota, Yellow Barn, Norfolk Chamber Music Festivals, and Music Academy of the West.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Hanchien Lee began her piano study with Shu-Ling Wang and Chao-Yang Liu at age five. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1996 to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at age 11 where she was under the tutelage of Claude Frank and Eleanor Sokoloff. Following graduation from Curtis, she continued her studies at Yale University with Claude Frank, earning both a master's degree and an Artist Diploma. She holds a doctorate in music from Peabody Conservatory of John Hopkins University where she worked with Boris Slutsky. She was part of András Schiff’s class at Prussia Cove International Music Seminar. Her mentors also includes esteemed pianists such as Gary Graffman, Richard Goode, Meng-Chieh Liu and Jerome Lowenthal.
Ms. Lee has served as a piano faculty at Peabody Preparatory of the Johns Hopkins University and Washington College. Currently, she is on the faculty at the preparatory music school of Carnegie Mellon University.
Priscilla Lee joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as associate principal cello at the start of the 2016-2017 season. A 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, she began studying at age five and made her solo debut in 1998 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
A native of California, Priscilla studied with Ronald Leonard at the Colburn School of Performing Arts and in 1998 went on to the Curtis Institute of Music to study with David Soyer. In 2005, she received a master's degree from the Mannes College of Music, where she studied with Timothy Eddy.
Ms. Lee has participated in the festivals of Marlboro, Santa Fe, Seattle, Delaware, St. Denis in Paris, Kingston, Lexington and Taos. She was a member of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two for the 2006-2009 seasons.
She was a founding member of Trio Cavatina, a piano trio that won Grand Prize at the 2009 Naumburg International Competition. The trio made its debut at the New School and Merkin Hall's Rising Star Series, along with Boston’s famed Jordan Hall and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall.
Ms. Lee was the principal cellist of both Opera Philadelphia (from 2014-2016) and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia (from 2015-2016). She resides in Newtown Square, Penn., with her husband, Burchard Tang (Philadelphia Orchestra violist) and their two daughters.
Jasmine Lin is a "magnificent player with superb tone and strong interpretive powers” and “a violinist of remarkable intensity,” maintain American Record Guide and Chicago Tribune.
As a member of Formosa Quartet and Trio Voce, faculty member at Roosevelt University and Music Institute of Chicago, Curtis Institute of Music alumna, confidante to a 1662 Cremonese violin, arranger of Grappelli tunes, prizewinner in the Naumburg and Paganini competitions, Grammy nominee, and recording artist on Con Brio, EMI, and New World Records, Jasmine likes to solicit magnificence and intensity while leaving raindrops on her nose un-wiped-off. Her biography contains precisely one hundred words.
Kenneth Olsen was appointed assistant principal cello of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February 2005.
He began his musical studies at the age of eight with Martha Vivona in Albany, New York, and later studied with Luis Garcia Renart of Bard College. Mr. Olsen received his bachelors degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Richard Aaron, and went on to study with Joel Krosnick at the Juilliard School.
Mr. Olsen has performed as soloist, chamber musician and in orchestras at numerous festivals around the country, including Tanglewood, Saratoga, Kingston, Aspen, and the Steans Institute at Ravinia. He has also been a top prize winner at many competitions, including the Holland America Music Society Competition, the Nakamichi Cello Competition, the Heida Herman Young Artisits Competition, the Ithaca College Young Artists Competition, and the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition. He was the only American invited to play a recital at the Philharmonie in Berlin as a finalist at the 2002 Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann.
In addition to his work with the Chicago Symphony, Mr. Olsen is on the faculty at Roosevelt University in Chicago and is a founding member of the group ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra), which is a conductor-less string orchestra made up of soloists, and chamber and orchestral musicians from around the country.
Praised for her “deeply reflective playing” (Indianapolis Star) and “infectious exuberance” (New York Times), Korean-born pianist Jeewon Park has garnered the attention of audiences for her dazzling technique and poetic lyricism. Since making her debut at the age of 12 performing Chopin’s first concerto with the Korean Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Park has performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, 92nd Street Y, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kravis Center, and Seoul Arts Center in Korea.
In recent seasons, Ms. Park has performed at major concert halls across the U.S. and Korea. She performs as soloist with the Hwa Eum Chamber Orchestra in the Inaugural Festival of the IBK Chamber Hall at the Seoul Arts Center, as well as engagements at venues such as the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Vilar Performing Arts Center, and Kumho Art Hall in Seoul, among others. In addition, she returns to the Caramoor International Music Festival as a member of Caramoor Virtuosi where she was a Rising Star in 2007, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, among others.
An avid chamber musician, Jeewon Park has performed at prominent festivals throughout the world. She is regularly invited to collaborate with the members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble, and has performed with members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Vermeer, Brentano, Tokyo, Fine Arts, and Miami Quartets.
Recent and current highlights include several performances of Mozart piano concertos, a recital of Messiaen Preludes and Kurtag Jatekok, a solo recital at Caramoor, and U.S. tours with the “Charles Wadsworth and Friends” series. As a soloist, she has appeared with the Charleston Symphony, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Monterrey Symphony, the Mexico State Symphony, and the KBS Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Park has been heard in numerous live broadcasts on National Public Radio and New York’s Classical Radio Station, WQXR. Additionally, her performances have been nationally broadcast throughout Korea on KBS television. She came to the U.S. in 2002, after having won all the major competitions in Korea, most notably Joong-Ang and KBS competitions. Ms. Park is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Yale University, where she was awarded the Dean Horatio Parker Prize. She holds the DMA degree from SUNY Stony Brook. Her teachers include Young-Ho Kim, Herbert Stessin, Claude Frank and Gilbert Kalish. For more information, please visit www.jeewonpark.com.
Violist Anna Marie Petersen joined the Philadelphia Orchestra immediately upon graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music.
Ms. Petersen has appeared at the Kingston Chamber Music Festival several times over the years and is a frequent guest at other chamber music festivals, including the Ravinia Festival, Casals Festival, Seoul Arts Festival, and Saratoga. She recently toured South Korea with a string quartet that included Kingston festival founder David Kim, and other Philadelphia Orchestra members Daniel Han and Yumi Kendall.
She has appeared as a guest performer with the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra in Seoul, Korea, and she has performed as soloist with the Seoul Philharmonic and the Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota. Her solo debut recital in Seoul, Korea, was sponsored by Jeunesse Musicales.
Hailed by The Washington Post, Ms. Petersen “…played with a grace, fluency of phrasing, richness of tone and expressive power….that marks her as a major artist.”
Praised for his “virtuosic,” “dazzling" and “brilliant” performances (The New York Times) and his “bold, keen sound” (The New Yorker), oboist James Austin Smith performs equal parts new and old music across the United States and around the world. Mr. Smith is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Talea Ensemble and Cygnus, as well as co-artistic director of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall. He is a member of the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase and is co-artistic director of Tertulia, a chamber music series that takes place in restaurants in New York and San Francisco.
Mr. Smith’s festival appearances include Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein, Stellenbosch, Bay Chamber Concerts, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, OK Mozart, Schwetzingen and Spoleto USA; he has performed with the St. Lawrence, Orion and Parker string quartets and recorded for the Nonesuch, Bridge, Mode and Kairos labels. His debut solo recording "Distance" was released in early 2015 on South Africa's TwoPianists Record Label.
Mr. Smith received his master's degree in 2008 from the Yale School of Music and graduated in 2005 with Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern University. He spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Leipzig, Germany, at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy” and is an alumnus of Ensemble ACJW, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, the Weill Music Institute and the New York City Department of Education. Mr. Smith’s principal teachers are Stephen Taylor, Christian Wetzel, Humbert Lucarelli and Ray Still.
The son of musician parents and eldest of four boys, Mr. Smith was born in New York and raised in Connecticut.
Wilhelmina Smith, cello
Cellist Wilhelmina Smith has been awarded a 2015-2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians administered by the MacPhail Center for Music. She made her solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra while a student at the Curtis Institute of Music and in 1997 was a prizewinner in the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition. She has gone on to solo with orchestras, including the Orquesta Millenium of Guatemala and the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia and has performed recitals across the U.S. and Japan. A strong supporter of new music, she has worked frequently with composers such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, with whom she collaborated to performed his cello concerto, Mania, and gave the American premiere of his solo cello work, Knock, Breathe, Shine.
As a chamber musician, Ms. Smith has performed with Paul Tortelier, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank, Dawn Upshaw, Benita Valente and members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Brentano, Miami, Borromeo and Galimir String Quartets in venues across the U.S. and Europe. She has been a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Boston Chamber Music Society, and is a founding member of Music from Copland House. In 2005, she formed the Variation String Trio with violinist Jennifer Koh and violist Hsin-Yun Huang, a group that has performed across the U.S. and Europe. She is founder and Artistic Director of Salt Bay Chamberfest on the coast of Maine.
Ms. Smith's solo CD of sonatas by Britten and Schnittke with pianist Thomas Sauer was released on the Arabesque label in 2006. Her recordings of chamber music include the complete chamber works of Aaron Copland, works by Sebastian Currier, John Musto and Aaron Jay Kernis. She has performed frequently with pop musician Sting and can be heard on recent recordings for both Sting and Bruce Springsteen. She currently lives in Saint Paul, Minn., with her husband Mark Mandarano and children August and Giovanna.
Burchard Tang began his musical studies on the violin at the age of three and, at 16, switched to viola, studying with Choong-Jin Chang, principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He continued his musical education at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Joseph de Pasquale, former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Upon graduation, he was appointed to the viola section of the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Mr. Tang has appeared at many of the country’s top festivals, including Marlboro, Ravinia, Music from Angel Fire, Seattle, Kingston and Caramoor. He has toured with Music from Marlboro, and the Brandenburg Ensemble.
As the winner of the 1992 Albert M. Greenfield student competition, Mr. Tang appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has also appeared with the Temple University Orchestra, where he presently is on the faculty, teaching viola and chamber music.
Winner of the 2012 New Orleans International Piano Competition, Viktor Valkov has been hailed as a “lion of the keyboard” and “sensational” (Wiesbadener Kurier). A winner of Astral Artists' 2015 National Auditions, he recently gave a critically acclaimed recital in London’s Wigmore Hall, and appeared as soloist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Valkov has appeared frequently as a recitalist in the U.S., Japan, Germany, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. He has performed with most of the major orchestras in his native Bulgaria, and at most of the country’s important music festivals. He debuted with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, and performed Dimitar Nenov’s Grande Piano Concerto with New Symphony Orchestra, under Rossen Milanov. Mr. Valkov has made a number of recordings for the Bulgarian National Radio archive, and for Bulgarian National Television and Macedonian Radio and Television.
Mr. Valkov frequently performs with Bulgarian cellist Lachezar Kostov. In 2009, the Kostov-Valkov Duo gave its Carnegie Hall debut in Zankel Hall, and in 2011 won the Liszt-Garisson International Competition, where the duo was also awarded the Liszt Prize and special prizes in the collaborative artists category. In 2008, they recorded the entire opus for cello and piano by Nikolay Roslavets, released by Naxos in 2011.
Viktor Valkov studied at the State Music Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria, and went on to study at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, Germany. He also holds a master's degree from The Juilliard School and, in the fall of 2010, he began his doctoral studies at Rice University.
A chamber ensemble for the 21st century, Project Fusion strives to entertain and inspire audiences as well as promote camaraderie among artists through unique collaborations. Formed in 2010 by graduates of the Eastman School of Music, Project Fusion has been praised for staging engaging and communicative concerts, achieved in part through the distinctive feat of performing musical programs exclusively from memory. The ensemble is also known for its diverse musical programming that includes new music, standard repertoire for the saxophone quartet, as well as arrangements and transcriptions.
Project Fusion is a winner of Astral Artists’ 2015 National Auditions. The quartet has also captured top prizes in the world’s most prestigious chamber music competitions, including the Gold Medal at the 40th Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, First Prize at the 2013 Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music Competition, and, in 2013, became the first saxophone quartet to earn Grand Prize, as well as the Hugo Vianello Audience Choice Award, at the 6th Plowman International Chamber Music Competition.
Comprised of dedicated and passionate teachers, Project Fusion has presented convocations, clinics, and workshops in numerous K-12 schools as well as residencies and master classes at colleges and universities throughout the Midwest and East Coast. The ensemble is dedicated to public arts outreach, and has also presented recitals and educational programs in retirement communities, libraries, churches, and civic centers across the U.S.
Project Fusion’s name is derived from the philosophy that music is an infinite, ongoing “project” guided by a sense of adventure and creativity, and that the “fusion” of ideas results in meaningful and enjoyable artistic creations.
Matt Amedio, alto saxophone, currently pursues a Master’s degree in Saxophone Performance at the Eastman School of Music, under the tutelage of Chien-Kwan Lin. In 2012, he earned a dual Bachelor’s degree from Eastman, in Saxophone Performance and Music Education. While an undergraduate student, he earned the John Celentano Award for chamber music excellence as well as a Performer’s Certificate, the highest distinctions awarded at the conservatory. Mr. Amedio has won numerous awards as both a soloist and chamber musician, including prizes from Vandoren’s Emerging Artist Competition, and the Fischoff, Coleman, Plowman, Arriaga, North American Saxophone Alliance, and MTNA competitions.
Dannel Espinoza, soprano saxophone, is the adjunct Professor of Saxophone at Florida Atlantic University, as well as an active freelance saxophonist and private studio educator. Dr. Espinoza maintains a busy performing schedule with his chamber ensembles Project Fusion and Kontra Duo, as well as his solo appearances. He holds a DMA in Saxophone Performance and Literature with a minor in Conducting from the Eastman School of Music, where he was also awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern Arizona University and Florida State University, respectively.
Matt Evans, baritone saxophone, is an active soloist, chamber musician, teacher, and arranger. He has performed in Thailand, Scotland, Germany, Japan, and throughout the United States. Mr. Evans earned a DMA in Saxophone Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music, and he holds both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Saxophone Performance and Literature from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He is currently a saxophonist with the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” in Washington, D.C.
Michael Sawzin, tenor saxophone, earned dual Master’s degrees in Saxophone Performance and Literature and Music Education from the Eastman School of Music in 2013. He also holds dual bachelor’s degrees with honors in Music Education and Saxophone Performance (2009) from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, under Dr. Shelley Jagow. Mr. Sawzin currently resides in Long Beach, California. He teaches in various settings in Los Angeles and Ocean County, and is Instructor of Saxophone at UC Riverside. He assists also with the National Music Festival as Personnel Manager for the orchestra and Director of Youth Programming.