Emanuel Borok, violin
Emanuel Borok, Concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1985 to 2010, has had a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. Before coming to Dallas, Borok served for 11 seasons as Associate Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Concertmaster of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Born and trained in the Soviet Union, Borok received his early musical instruction at the renowned Darzinya Music School in Riga, Latvia, and the Gnessin School of Music in Moscow. In 1964 he became prizewinner of the most important national violin competition in the former Soviet Union. In 1971, he won the position of Co-Concertmaster in the Moscow Philharmonic.
Since emigrating to the West in 1973, Borok has made many solo appearances in Israel, Canada, France, Italy, Norway, Germany, Venezuela, Mexico, Switzerland, Holland and throughout the United States (including Carnegie Hall). His solo appearances have included the Bach Double Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin, Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with Pinchas Zukerman and Brahms’s Double Concerto with Janos Starker; concerto and chamber music appearances at notable festivals such as the La Jolla Festival of the Arts in La Jolla, Calif.; Montecito International Music Festival, Mentecito, Calif.; Summit Music Festival in Purchase, N.Y.; Settimane Musicale Senese in Siena, Italy; Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy; Gstaad Switzerland and others. His chamber music partners have included such distinguished artists as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Shlomo Mintz, Lynn Harrell, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Christopher Hogwood, Joshua Bell, Ralph Kirshbaum, Cho-Liang Lin, Sarah Chang and Paul Neubauer as well as Principals of Berlin Philharmonic Hansjorg Schellenberger and Daniel Damiano. Borok was also featured in the Distinguished Artists Recital Series at the 92nd Street Y in New York.
In 1999, Borok was part of the Grammy-nominated CD Voces Americanas with Dallas-based new music ensemble Voices of Change. He also recorded the Shostakovich Violin Sonata with Tatiana Yampolsky (which received a four-star rating from the Penguin Cassette Guide), the solo part of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with musicians from the Boston Symphony (named “Best of the Month” by Stereo Review magazine), and Beethoven’s Archduke Trio with pianist Claude Frank and cellist Leslie Parnas (honored by Ovation magazine as the record of the year).
Borok’s most recent recordings include A Road Less Traveled and Songs for a Lonely Heart, with seldom-performed concertos by Joseph Haydn and romantic pieces for violin, released to critical acclaim on the Eroica label. He has published a book of original cadenzas for all five Mozart Violin Concertos with Theodore Presser Co.
In addition to his highly active performing life, Borok has established himself as an internationally recognized teacher having taught at the Tanglewood Music Center; the Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy; the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland; Royal Conservatory and Academy of Music in London; Conservatoire de Paris; Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Moscow; and the Academy of Music in Prague. In the summer of 2005 he was invited to teach at the famous Verbier Festival in Switzerland.
Borok’s violin is a 400-year-old Brothers Amati violin, made in 1608 in Cremona, Italy, home to such famous violin makers as Amati, Guarneri and Stradivarius. In 2009, on the occasion of the violin’s 400th “birthday,” Borok traveled with his violin to Cremona and presented a concert for the people of the city, all of which was captured in the documentary A Cremona con Amore, available on Amazon.com.
In June 2010 Borok was invited to perform at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with the Radio Philharmonic orchestra during the Holland Festival under the direction of Jaap van Zweden. The occasion featured a violin concerto written by Alexander Raskatov and dedicated to Mr. Borok’s 1608 Brothers Amati violin.
Borok retired from the orchestra life in 2010 and is currently Distinguished Artist-In-Residence, Violin at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, where he combines his teaching with performing, conducting master classes and adjudicating competitions.
Andrzej Grabiec*, violin
International soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and conductor; performed extensively throughout countries of Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific; First Prize winner, International Competition for Chamber Music Ensembles in France; prize winner, Wieniawski and Thibaud International Violin Competitions; concertmaster, American Sinfonietta; former concertmaster, Polish National Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra; recording artist, Summit Records, Albany, Vifon, Natural Soundfields labels, and Polish Radio and Television, ORF (Austrian Radio, Vienna), West German Radio (West-Deutsche Rundfunk).
Lucie Robert, violin
Violinist Lucie Robert, a native of Montreal, has received enthusiastic praise from audiences and critics alike for the expressive lyricism and tonal beauty of her playing. Allan Kozinn, writing in the New York Times, lauded her "melting tone" and "wonderfully supple approach to phrasing." Ms. Robert carries on the great violin tradition of her teacher, the legendary Josef Gingold.
Ms. Robert has appeared as recitalist and chamber musician throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Far East in major music centers including New York, London, Chicago, Washington D.C., Vienna, Beijing, Seoul, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. She has performed over thirty different works as violin soloist with major orchestras throughout North America. Ms. Robert has also collaborated in chamber music with artists such as Menahem Pressler, Richard Goode, Claude Frank, Philippe Enremont and Isidore Cohen. As a recording artist, she has performed for National Public Radio, the CBC Radio Network, Radio Canada, and Radio France, and received critical acclaim for her recording of violin sonatas by Fauré and Saint-Saëns. An active participant in the summer music festival scene, Ms. Robert has been guest artist or faculty member at festivals such as Bowdoin, the American Conservatoire at Fontainebleau, Musicorda, Meadowmount, Orford, Waterloo, Busan Music Festival and the Hida-Takayama Festival. She is currently on the faculties of the Texas Music Festival at the Moores School of Music, the MusicAlp Academy in France, and the Duxbury Music Festival Ms. Robert is the artistic director of "Mannes in Unison", a new concert series in New York which premiered in 2014..
Highly sought after as a violin pedagogue, Ms. Robert has served as violin professor for the past twenty-five years at the Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes College of Music in New York City. She has given master classes throughout the world at prestigious institutions such as Seoul National University, the Central Conservatory in Beijing, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, the Glenn Gould School, and the Conservatoire de Musique de Montreal. Her students have won prizes in major international competitions including the Indianapolis, Young Concert Artists, Paganini, Sendai, China and Szigeti International Violin Competitions. Ms. Robert has served as an adjudicator for many competitions including the Montreal, Fritz Kreisler, Jozsef Szigeti, and the 2015 Seoul International Violin Competitions.
Kirsten Yon*, violin
Violinist Kirsten Yon is currently in residence at the University of Houston where she is Associate Professor of Violin. Past engagements include serving as Associate Professor of Violin at Texas Tech University, a position she held for eight years. .
An acclaimed teacher, performer, and clinician, she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and the Cleveland Institute of Music before pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. During her degrees, Ms. Yon studied with Stephen Shipps, William Preucil, David Updegraff, and Kathleen Winkler. Additionally, Ms. Yon has worked with Raphael Fliegel, Christian Teal, and Vaclav Snitil. She attended the Meadowmount School for Strings for five summers, where she was the first recipient of the Catherine Tait Memorial Scholarship for Teaching and Outstanding Leadership. The winner of multiple competitions, Ms. Yon has received outstanding accolades for her performances as a concert soloist, chamber musician, and for her concerto appearances.
Ms. Yon has performed with numerous professional orchestras across the United States and South America, including the Ann Arbor Symphony, the New World Symphony, and the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Concertmaster positions include the Bayou City Chamber Orchestra, the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, the Caprock Pro Musica Sinfonietta, and Ballet Lubbock. In the arena of chamber music, Ms. Yon was a founding member of the Champlain Trio, the Archiano Ensemble, the Karlin Trio, and the Botticelli String Quartet. Her concert schedules have included sold-out solo and chamber music recitals throughout Texas, New York (Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall), California, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Germany, France, and Norway. In May 2005 the Botticelli String Quartet and violist Korey Konkol premiered a work by composer Peter Fischer at the International Viola Congress, held in Reykjavik, Iceland. She has toured Brazil with the Botticelli String Quartet and pianist Cristina Capparelli Gerling, traveling to Curitiba, Florianopolis, and performing several concerti with the Orquestra de Câmara Theatro São Pedro in Porto Alegre (Brazil).
Since the beginning of her professional career, students from both her college and pre-college studios have won numerous solo competitions and awards. A frequent violin clinician, Ms. Yon has given masterclasses at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and the Universidade Federal do São João del Rey (Brazil) in addition to numerous schools across the United States and Honduras. Ms. Yon is also a repeated guest artist at the Nathan Schwartzman String Festival in Uberlandia, Brazil (2009-2012). Ms. Yon served as the president of the South Plains Suzuki Strings Foundation and is a strong advocate of string education. In her initial year at Texas Tech University, she was honored with a Texas Tech University Alumni Association New Faculty Award for her work at the School of Music. In September of 2010, she was elected to the Texas Tech Teaching Academy, a distinct honor within the university.
Dedicated to musical outreach at the community and international levels, Ms. Yon is a founder and faculty advisor of Cuerdas de Enlace (String Connection), a pedagogical outreach program with ties to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Previously on the faculty at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Texas Tech University Orchestra Camp, Ms. Yon also taught at the International Music Academy in Pilsen, Czech Republic from 2009-2011. In the summer of 2012, she joined the internationally acclaimed faculty of both the Texas Music Festival and the Cambridge International String Academy (England).
Ms. Yon's debut recording will be released by Centaur Records in 2013, featuring the Ravel and Kodály duos with cellist Jeffrey Lastrapes
Wayne Brooks*, viola
Wayne Brooks is the Principal Violist of the Houston Symphony. Born in Los Angeles, Brooks joined the orchestra in 1977 as Associate Principal Violist after graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 1985 he won the position of Principal Viola. In February 2007 he commemorated his 30th season with the Houston Symphony, performing the world premiere of La Llorona: Tone Poem for Viola and Orchestra, a Houston Symphony Orchestra commission by composer Gabriela Lena Frank.
In addition to appearances as soloist with the Houston Symphony, he has appeared in chamber music performances with Joseph Silverstein, Lynn Harrell, Yefim Bronfman, Garrick Ohlsson and Christoph Eschenbach. He has participated in concerts of chamber music in the Houston Symphony’s previous INNOVA series, in performances with Da Camera of Houston, Greenbriar Consortium, Mukuru “Arts for AIDS” Series and in chamber music festivals in Crafstbury, Vermont and Lake City, Colorado.
As violist of the Houston Symphony Chamber Players, he served on the faculty of Japan’s Pacific Music Festival and toured Japan (1993-1995) and Europe (1994 and 1997). He has also appeared at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival in 1996 and 1997. With the Houston Symphony Chamber Players, he has recorded works of Webern and Berg.
Brooks served as an associate professor of viola at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music from 1985 to 2001; he taught both solo repertoire and classes focusing on the study of orchestral repertoire. His former students perform in the New World, Charlotte, Richmond and Detroit Symphonies, in addition to the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Chiara Quartet, Arianna Quartet and Borromeo Quartet.
In 1995 Brooks gave the Houston premiere of Alfred Schnittke’s Viola Concerto with Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony. In 2001 he performed Frank Martin’s rarely heard Ballade for Viola and Orchestra with Larry Rachleff and the Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra. Most recent solo appearances with the Houston Symphony include Berlioz’ Harold in Italy under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364 with violinist Eric Halen.
James Dunham, viola
Violist James Dunhams’s rich background includes having been founding member of the Naumburg Award winning Sequoia String Quartet and subsequently violist of the Grammy Award winning Cleveland Quartet. An impassioned advocate of new music, he has premiered and recorded many works written for him: his recording of Judith Shatin’s “Glyph” for solo viola and piano quintet was praised by Fanfare Magazine as “reverent…beautifully, skillfully written” and “the playing here by soloist James Dunham is stunning: resonant and vital.” American composer Libby Larsen has written two works for Mr. Dunham and his colleagues: the Viola Sonata (2001) and the song cycle “Sifting Through the Ruins” (2005) for mezzo-soprano, viola and piano. Both appear on the CD “Circle of Friends” by Libby Larsen.
A frequent guest with ensembles such as the American, Jupiter, and Takács Quartets, Mr. Dunham is violist of the Axelrod String Quartet, in residence at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. where the group performs on their collection of Nicolò Amati and Stradivari instruments.
Highlights of recent seasons include performing the Shostakovich Sonata with pianist Vladimir Feltsman, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Queen Elisabeth Competition lauriate Will Hagen, and a three-week tour of their home country with the New Zealand String Quartet. Upcoming events include a residency and recital at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy” in Leipzig, Germany, and multiple performances at the 2017 Aspen Music Festival, including quintets with the Takács String Quartet. Mr. Dunham is featured regularly in concerts, master classes and competition juries throughout the U.S. and abroad, adjudicating twice for the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and in May 2017 as a Senior Division juror for the Fischoff Chamber Music Competiton.
Mr. Dunham is Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music where he also co-directs its Master of Music in String Quartet program.
Formerly on the faculty of California Institute of the Arts and the Eastman School of Music, he chaired the String Department at the New England Conservatory of Music for six years where he received the Louis & Adrienne Krasner Teaching Excellence Award.
Summer activities include yearly participation in the Aspen, Sarasota and Amelia Island (FL) Music Festivals as well as frequent appearances at the Texas Music Festival, le Domaine Forget (Quebec), Garth Newel Center, Heifetz International Music Institute and La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest.
His recordings can be found on labels including Telarc, Innova, Nonesuch, Delos, Naxos and Crystal.
Ivo-Jan van der Werff, viola
IVO-JAN VAN DER WERFF has attained accolades as a chamber player, recitalist, guest artist and teacher throughout Europe and North America. As a member of the Medici String Quartet for 28 years, Mr. van der Werff has performed in over 2,000 concerts in major festivals and venues world wide, broadcasting regularly on radio and television. The Medici quartet made more than 40 recordings for EMI, Nimbus, Hyperion and Koch, and won many awards for works ranging from Haydn, Britten, Janacek, Schubert and the Beethoven cycle to more eclectic works of Saint-Saens, Wajahat Khan and Nigel Osborne. The quartet had collaborations with many artists across the musical, literary and theatrical spectrum including the Royal Shakespeare Company, George Martin, Alan Bennett, John Williams, John Thaw and Jack Brymer.
Mr. van der Werff has performed as recitalist in New York, New Zealand and Hong Kong as well as numerous venues throughout the United Kingdom. His recordings for ASV and Koch include the sonata by Max Reger and the complete works for viola and piano/harp by Arnold Bax. A new recording of works by Al-Zand, Shostakovich and Britten is due for release in November 2014 on the Guild label. Mr. van der Werff is often invited to perform with quartets and chamber ensembles throughout the United Kingdom and Europe such as the Alberni, Coull, Bridge, Redcliffe and Adderbury.
Mr. van der Werff has been a professor of viola and chamber music at the Royal College of Music in London and is now a full time professor of viola at Rice University. He has developed a private viola program near London and is director of the ‘Catskills Viola Retreat’ in Upstate New York. He has taught at summer schools such as Dartington and Oxford in the UK, Schlern in the Italian Alps, in Sweden, at the Texas Music Festival, Domaine Forget and Madeleine Island in the USA and has also been an adjudicator on many competition juries.
Mr. van der Werff has given masterclasses all over the world at schools such as Eastman, Colburn, Vanderbilt and Santa Barbara in the USA, Trinity College, the Royal Northern College and the Royal College in the UK, the Royal Academy in Stockholm, the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts amongst others.
Many of his former students hold principle and regular positions in orchestras such as the BBC Symphony, Philharmonia, London Symphony, English Chamber and English National Ballet as well as orchestras in Spain, Portugal, Norway and France.
For many years he played in London studios on literally hundreds of sound tracks for film, pop and tv ranging from Harry Potter and James Bond to Madonna and Maria Carey to Pride and Prejudice and Doctor Who.
In 2011, inspired by his viola mentors--Margaret Major, Peter Shidlof and especially Bruno Giuranna—Ivo-Jan van der Werff published a book entitled ‘A Notebook for Viola Players’ which consists of a series of exercises and explanations on and about viola technique.
Mr. van der Werff plays on a viola by Giovanni Grancino, of Milan, c1690.
Anthony Kitai*, cello
Anthony Kitai joined the Houston Symphony in 2001, serving as Acting Associate Principal Cellist from 2003-2005, and currently holds the third chair position. Previously, he was a member of the Memphis Symphony and the Iris Chamber Orchestra.
As a soloist, Anthony Kitai has appeared with many orchestras including the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, Galveston Symphony, Houston Civic Symphony, Symphony North of Houston, Texas Medical Center Orchestra, Delta Symphony, Fort Smith Symphony, Pine Bluff Symphony, and the University of Houston Moores School Symphony Orchestra.
Music festival appearances include Grand Teton, Schleswig-Holstein, Zenith, Allegra, AIMS, Aspen, and New York String Orchestra Seminar. From 2010-2011, Anthony Kitai was on the faculty of the American Festival for the Arts in Houston, Texas and since 2012 he has performed and taught at the Texas Music Festival and is on the faculty at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.
As a chamber musician, Anthony Kitai has performed with Mercury Baroque, and on Aperio, Col Canto, Foundation for Modern Music, and Woodlands Salon Series Concerts. He frequently collaborates with his wife, pianist Shannon Hesse, and has performed with her on the Galveston Island Arts Academy Concert Series, Greenbriar Consortium Concerts, Houston Community College Chamber Music Series, Imperial Performing Arts, Louisiana State University Manship Guest Series, and Westminster Summer Concerts.
A passionate and committed teacher, Anthony Kitai currently serves as an affiliate artist of cello at the University of Houston, Moores School of Music.
Anthony Kitai received his BM and performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music and his MM from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. His major teachers have included Desmond Hoebig, Steven Doane, Paul Katz, and Peter Spurbeck.
Philippe Muller, cello
Born in Alsace, Philippe Muller was raised in both the French and German musical traditions of that province. He has kept an open mind to different cultures and pursued a multi-faceted career, performing an extensive repertoire, not only as a soloist, but also as a member of various chamber music ensembles. In 1970, with Jacques Rouvier and Jean- Jacques Kantorow, he founded a piano trio that was particularly appreciated for its dynamism and homogeneity. His seven years working with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, founded in France by Pierre Boulez, enabled him to understand and manage the music of our time
In 1979 he succeeded his master André Navarra as cello teacher at the Conservatoire de Paris. His more than three decades teaching at the Conservatoire allowed him to train an impressive number of young cellists. Many of them, such as Xavier Phillips and Gautier Capuçon, for example, now have remarkable individual careers.
Philippe Muller has been invited to give master classes in prestigious institutions around the world, particularly in Kyoto, Japan, where for twenty-two years he has been involved in an academy of french music. Many international festivals invite him regularly. He performs mostly in Europe, but also in Canada, the United States, Latin America, Japan, and Korea.
Mr. Muller’s extensive discography reflects his personality, presenting a range of works from Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Brahms to Fauré, Ravel, Martinu, Malec, and Merlet, not to mention the complete suites of J. S. Bach.
He plays a 1756 Gennaro Gagliano.
Lachezar Kostov, cello
Assistant Principal Cellist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Lachezar Kostov has appeared as a soloist in some of the world's leading concert venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and Oji Hall in Tokyo. He was the National Winner at the 2006 MTNA Young Artists Competition and has won numerous prizes including the Cello Award at the Kingsville Competition in 2005, the Grand Prix at the International Music and Earth Competition in Bulgaria, and the concerto competitions at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Rice University. In October 2011 Lachezar Kostov and pianist Viktor Valkov won the First Prize and all the special prizes at the Third International Liszt-Garrison Piano and Duo Competition in Baltimore, MD. Mr. Kostov has appeared as a guest soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Japan, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Bulgaria. Mr. Kostov is represented as a member of the Kostov-Valkov Duo by Pro-Piano Management.
Hailed by European and American critics for “the awesome purity of his playing”, and described as “prodigiously skilled protagonist”, in 2009 Mr. Kostov made his official debut at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, performing rarely heard works for cello and piano by Ellen Zwilich, Nikolay Roslavets, and Dimitri Kabalevsky. In 2012, following his participation at the Texas Music Festival, he performed the Second Cello Concerto by C. Saint-Saens, under the baton of Carl St. Clair, and in 2013 he performed Dvorak's famed cello concerto in the legendary Gewandhaus in Leipzig, accompanied by the Academic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Horst Forster.
Mr. Kostov’s first commercial CD was released by NAXOS in 2011 and was immediately featured in “The Strad Magazine”, and “American Record Guide”. In 2016 he released a second CD, containing award-winning transcriptions by the Kostov-Valkov Duo of works by Franz Liszt, as well as virtuoso arrangements from the operas Carmen, and The Barber of Seville.
Lachezar Kostov has appeared as a guest artist at the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, Cactus Pear Music Festival, and is also a guest faculty at the Texas Music Festival in Houston. He has performed alongside musicians such as Jon Kimura Parker, the Tokyo String Quartet, Martin Chalifour, Cho-Liang Lin, Stephanie Sant'Ambrodgio, Lucy Robert, Aloysia Friedmann, James Dunham, and Desmond Hoebig. Mr. Kostov plays on a modern cello made by his friend, luthier Sam Matthews in Houston. Prior to his appointment with the Baltimore Symphony he was a tenured member of the San Antonio Symphony, and also performed regularly with the Houston Symphony. His major teachers include Bogomil Karakonov, Aldo Parisot, Norman Fischer, and David Grigorian; he has appeared in master-classes with Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Isserlis, and Bernard Greenhouse.
Lachezar is an avid single-malt Scotch whisky collector, an aspiring runner, conductor, and pianist, and has flown as a co-pilot to General William “Bill” Anders (Austronaut Bill Anders from Appolo 8), on Mr. Anders' private plane.
Paul Ellison, double bass
Performing solo and ensemble concerts as well as giving master classes on the double bass and period instruments on four continents, Paul Ellison is the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Double Bass and chair of strings at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, Visiting Artist-Faculty University of Southern California and guest tutor at the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Royal College of Music, and Bass Club, England. Current summer positions include principal bass at the Grand Teton Music Festival, faculty/performer at the Sarasota Music Festival and faculty/performer at Festival Domaine Forget, Quebec. Former students hold titled positions in major ensembles and institutions of higher learning on five continents. Previous positions include principal bass of Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Aspen Festival Orchestras (also faculty), professor of double bass and chair of strings at the University of Southern California, and president of the International Society of Bassists. Ellison was the first to receive both the diploma and teaching certificate from Institut International Rabbath, Paris.
Eric Larson, double bass
Double Bassist Eric Larson has been a member of the Houston Symphony since 1999. Mr. Larson pursued undergraduate studies at Boston University, where he received a Bachelors Degree in Music Performance. His principal teachers include Edwin Barker and Hal Robinson.
Mr. Larson has participated in several summer music festivals including the National Orchestral Institute, Tanglewood, Grand Teton, and the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. He has performed with the Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia orchestras and was principal bass of the Haddonfield Symphony. As an active chamber musician, Mr. Larson has worked with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and has collaborated with the T’ang String Quartet.
As an avid teacher, Mr. Larson spent three years teaching at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia and ten years teaching double bass and coaching chamber music at the Boston University-Tanglewood Institute. He currently spends his summers teaching at the Texas Music Festival, Bass View and the Wabass Institute for Double Bass.
Dennis Whittaker*, double bass
Dennis Whittaker wears many hats as a professional bassist and educator. He is the Principal Double Bassist for the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, a member of the Houston Ballet Orchestra, Mercury Baroque, and Ars Lyrica Houston. As the Bass faculty and String Area Coordinator for the Moores School of Music, University of Houston, Mr. Whittaker also has a full private teaching studio, and is in demand as a bass pedagogy consultant. He has appeared on six world premiere compact discs with the Houston Grand Opera, various recordings with Houston artists, and on recordingsas principal Bass with the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy.
Mr. Whittaker was the winner of the Gary Karr Foundation National Double Bass competition in 1987. He has performed recitals, concerts and master classes in Japan, China, Italy, Amsterdam, Germany, Switzerland, Los Angeles, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and Louisiana.
Mr. Whittaker performs as a substitute bassist with the Houston Symphony and earned his Bachelor’s in Music Education from Baylor and his Masters in Music Performance from Northwestern. His teachers include Paul Ellison, Eugene Levinson, Jeff Bradetich, Mark Whitney, and Michael Cameron.
Mr. Whittaker’s students are represented in the National Symphony, Colorado Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and New World Symphony, as well as the Aspen, Tanglewood, Domaine Forget, and Pacific Music festivals.
* University of Houston faculty member
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Leone Buyse, flute
Flutist Leone Buyse relinquished her principal positions with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops in 1993 to pursue a more active solo and teaching career after 22 years as an orchestral musician. A former member of the San Francisco Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, she has appeared as soloist on numerous occasions with those orchestras and also with the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, the Utah Symphony, and l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. She has performed with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players throughout Europe and Japan, with the Tokyo, Juilliard, and Muir String Quartets, in recital with Jessye Norman and Yo-Yo Ma, and at many festivals, including Aspen, Sarasota, Norfolk, and Orcas Island.
The only American prizewinner in the 1969 Geneva International Flute Competition, Ms. Buyse has presented recitals and master classes across the United States and in Canada, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Her solo recordings have appeared on the Crystal, Boston Records, Albany, and C.R.I. labels and she may be heard as solo flutist on recordings of the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops and the San Francisco Symphony for the Philips, Deutsche Grammophon, RCA Victor, and Sony Classical labels. With her husband, clarinetist Michael Webster, she co-founded the Webster Trio, which has recorded for Crystal Records and the Japanese labels Camerata Tokyo and Nami.
Ms. Buyse is the Joseph and Ida K. Mullen Professor of Flute at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and has also taught at the University of Michigan, the New England Conservatory, Boston University, the Tanglewood Music Center, and as a visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music. Her students hold positions at major universities and in many major orchestras, including the symphony orchestras of Cleveland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Houston, Charlotte, and Kansas City, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Colorado Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony, the Adelaide Symphony, and the Singapore Symphony. In 2010 Ms. Buyse was honored by the National Flute Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Aralee Dorough*, flute
Aralee Dorough is currently principal flutist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and first appeared as soloist with the HSO in 1992, at the beginning of her second season as principal. The occasion was the season's opening gala, and the piece was Mozart's Concerto in C major for Flute, Harp and Orchestra featuring internationally-reknown harpist Marisa Robles and led by then-Music Director Christoph Eschenbach. One year later she performed the Mozart concerto—the G major—with Eschenbach and the orchestra in Stude Hall in an all-Mozart wind concerto series. Dorough subsequently recorded that concerto for a triple CD set released in 1994 by IMP Records, and in January 2004, performed it in Jones Hall with the orchestra and current Music Director, Hans Graf.
In May 1999, Dorough premiered Bright Sheng's Flute Moon, commissioned by the Houston Symphony and broadcast live by PBS. Other solo appearances have included Quantz’ Concerto in G major with conductor Nicholas McGegen and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with conductor Joshua Rifkin. An avid chamber musician, Dorough has played with the Houston Symphony Chamber Players and Da Camera Society of Houston. With the Houston Symphony Chamber Players, she has traveled throughout Europe and Japan and appeared at the Ravinia Festival, frequently in collaboration with Christoph Eschenbach at the piano. The Chamber Players’ recording of Schoenberg’s Woodwind Quintet for Koch International has been met with critical acclaim.
Dorough grew up in a musical family—her father is jazz artist Bob Dorough, composer of Schoolhouse Rock. She received her undergraduate degree in 1983 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Robert Willoughby. She then studied with Thomas Nyfenger as a scholarship student at the Yale School of Music, winning the position of second flute in the Houston Symphony in 1985. She and her husband, oboist Colin Gatwood, have a son, Corin.
Robert Atherholt, oboe
Principal oboist of the Houston Symphony since 1984 and retired in 2011. Numerous solo appearances and festival residences all over the world. Education: bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. Atherholt won the position of principal obo of the New Jersey Symphony only after two years of graduation. Additional principal oboe positions include: the Opera Orchestra of New York, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Performed as guest principal oboist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in performances of Mahler’s 7th Symphony under Bernard Haitink. Later served as acting principal oboist on the BSO European tour 2000 under the direction of Seiji Ozawa. This season he has appeared as guest principal oboist of The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. As principal oboe of the Houston Symphony he has distinguished himself as a soloist performing numerous concerti with the orchestra, including the Mozart concerto and the world premier of Schumann/Picker Romances and Interludes, both of which he later recorded with this orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach. Solo appearances around the world. He has performed with Spain’s Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias Oviedo in 1999 and in Japan’s Pacific Music Festival in 1995. He has toured Japan and Europe as part of the Houston Symphony Chamber Players and recorded Schoenberg’s Woodwind Quintet, Opus 26 with that group. As a chamber musician, he appears regularly with Da Camera of Houston and has appeared at Marlboro, the Pacific Music Festival, Ravinia, Caramoor Orcas Island and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. During the summer he serves as principal oboe of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and the Grand Teton Music Festival.
He is professor of oboe at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, and conducts guest clinics at various festivals and universities across the country including the National Orchestral Institute and The New World Symphony. He has also traveled to China to work with students at the Beijing Conservatory. His students play in orchestras throughout North America, Switzerland and Israel; many of them as principal oboist themselves.
Jonathan Fischer*, oboe
Jonathan Fischer joined the Houston Symphony as Principal Oboe in September, 2012, and was invited to join the faculty of the University of Houston in September, 2014. Prior to his appointment with the Houston Symphony, Jonathan served as Associate Principal Oboe with the San Francisco Symphony for nine seasons. He has also held positions with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Grant Park Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Savannah Symphony and the New World Symphony. Mr. Fischer has performed as a guest Principal with many of the nation’s leading orchestras including the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the St Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, and the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has performed as a soloist with the the Houston Symphony, the Grant Park Symphony, the New World Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony.
Jonathan currently teaches at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music and the Texas Music Festival. He has taught and performed at the Aspen Music Festival, and the Oberlin Conservatory. He has given masterclasses at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, the San Francisco Conservatory, Rice University, University of Michigan, and has been a coach at the New World Symphony. He holds a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Richard Woodhams.
A native of South Carolina, Jonathan now enjoys living in Houston Heights with his two dogs, a Greyhound and a Louisiana Catahoula mix.
Thomas LeGrand, clarinet
Thomas LeGrand is the Associate Principal and Eb Clarinetist of the Houston Symphony. He is serving as Acting Principal Clarinet for the 2014-15 season. He has appeared as soloist with the symphony in concertos of Debussy, Weber, Rossini, Copland, Mozart, and the Martin Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments. Recently, he performed as recorder soloist in the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in the Houston Symphony ‘Bach vs. Vivaldi’ Festival. An active chamber performer, he has appeared locally with Da Camera of Houston, Texas Music Festival and The Greenbriar Consortium. During the summer he can be heard at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming where he enjoys long mountain hikes when he is not performing orchestral and chamber music.
LeGrand is an Associate Professor of Clarinet at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where his primary focus is conducting the orchestral repertoire class for woodwinds. Prior to that, he served on the clarinet faculty of the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Recently he has been involved with the Fidelity FutureStage® project which helps prepare and inspire underserved middle and high school students for future stages in life through a unique music and theater arts education program.
Before coming to Houston, Thomas LeGrand was a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and taught clarinet at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music.
Mark Nuccio*, clarinet
Critics have praised clarinetist Mark Nuccio for his solo, orchestral, and chamber appearances, describing him as “the evening’s highlight”, full of “mystery and insight” and “shaping his phrases beautifully with a rich, expressive tone.” (NY Times)
Mr. Nuccio began his position as Principal Clarinet with the Houston Symphony Orchestra during the 2016-17 season after seventeen years with the New York Philharmonic. He also serves as clarinet faculty at the University of Houston's Moore School of Music. Mr. Nuccio joined the New York Philharmonic in 1999 as Associate Principal and Solo E-flat Clarinetist and recently served as Acting Principal Clarinet with the New York Philharmonic for four years from 2009-2013. Prior to his service with the Philharmonic, he has held positions with orchestras in Pittsburgh, Denver, Savannah, and Florida working with distinguished conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, André Previn, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Gustavo Dudamel. Additionally, Mr. Nuccio has toured extensively with the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in numerous countries, recorded with both orchestras, and performed regularly with the Philharmonic on the award-winning series, Live from Lincoln Center, broadcast on PBS. Recent highlights include the Philharmonic’s historic and newsworthy visits to North Korea and Vietnam.
Nuccio is an active solo and chamber chamber musician and continues to regularly perform recitals in Asia and Europe as well as across the United States. During the 2017-18 season, Nuccio will be heard with the Colorado Philharmonic and in his subscription solo debut with the Houston Symphony. Mr. Nuccio also performs and teaches in summer music festivals including the Texas Music Festival, Buffet Clarinet Academy, Strings in the Mountains in Steamboat Springs, CO, and Tippet Rise Music Festival in Billings, MT.
As a studio musician, Mr. Nuccio is featured on numerous movie soundtracks, including Failure To Launch, The Last Holiday, The Rookie, The Score, Intolerable Cruelty, Alamo, Pooh’s Heffalump, Hitch, The Manchurian Candidate, and various television commercials. Additionally he has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman and on the 2003 Grammy Awards. His own debut album featuring the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms, Opening Night, was released in November 2006.
A Colorado native, Mr. Nuccio was recently awarded the "Distinguished Alumni Award" from his alma mater the University of Northern Colorado, a very selective honor bestowed on an elite group of 200 alumnus representing various fields throughout the long history of the university. He also holds a master's degree from Northwestern University where he studied with renowned pedagogue Robert Marcellus. Beyond his active performing schedule, Mr. Nuccio is a dedicated teacher committed to training the next generation of musicians and teaches master classes in the U.S. and abroad. Nuccio is a D'Addario Advising Artist & Clinician and a Performing Artist/Clinician for Buffet Music Group.
Michael Webster, clarinet
Clarinetist Michael Webster is Professor of Music at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music and Artistic Director of the award-winning Houston Youth Symphony. Described by the Boston Globe as “a virtuoso of burgeoning prominence,” he has collaborated with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Tokyo, Cleveland, Muir, Ying, Enso, Leontóvych, Dover and Chester String Quartets and artists such as Yo Yo Ma and Joshua Bell, among others. He has been associated with many of North America's finest festivals, including Marlboro, Santa Fe, Chamber Music West and Northwest, Norfolk, Angel Fire, Orcas Island, Maui, Steamboat Springs, Sitka, Park City, Skaneateles, Aria, Bowdoin, Stratford (Ontario), Victoria (BC), and Domaine Forget (Quebec). As a soloist he has appeared with many orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Pops, and was for many years Aaron Copland's favorite interpreter of his Clarinet Concerto.
Webster's recital career began at Town Hall in 1968 with his renowned father, Beveridge Webster, as pianist. That same year he won Young Concert Artists' International Competition and became Principal Clarinetist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for 20 years. Since then he has performed in all of New York City's major halls, across the United States, and in Canada, Mexico, South and Central America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. He has appeared as guest artist at the 92nd Street “Y", Da Camera of Houston, Context, and Musiqa. High Fidelity/Musical America placed his CRI recording of American clarinet music on its Best Recordings list and Artists International selected him for its Distinguished Artist Award.
Webster has served as Acting Principal Clarinet of the San Francisco Symphony, Music Director of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester, Founder/Music Director of Chamber Music Ann Arbor, and Associate Professor of Clarinet at the Eastman School of Music, from which he had earned three degrees as a student of Stanley Hasty. Having been Music Director of the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Asian Youth Orchestra under Yehudi Menuhin, he has also been on the clarinet and/or conducting faculties of the New England Conservatory, Boston University, and the University of Michigan, where he conducted the Michigan Youth Symphony. Webster is currently clarinet and woodwind coach for the Texas Music Festival and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas and director of Clarinetopia, an annual seminar that takes place at Michigan State University.
With his wife, flutist Leone Buyse, and pianist Robert Moeling he plays in the Webster Trio, represented on Crystal Records by Tour de France, and World Wide Webster. With pianist Chizuko Sawa, the Webster Trio Japan has released Sonata Cho-Cho San for Nami and From Vienna to Budapest for Camerata. All of these discs feature Webster's trio arrangements, which, along with his original compositions, are published by G. Schirmer, Schott, and International Music Company. Webster also appears on the Arabesque, Beaumont, Bridge, Centaur, CRI and New World labels. Highly regarded as an educator and active with the International Clarinet Association, he contributes a regular column entitled “Teaching Clarinet” to The Clarinet magazine. Webster is an artist-clinician for Buffet-Crampon, playing Buffet clarinets exclusively.
Benjamin Kamins, bassoon
Since entering the world of professional music in 1972, Benjamin Kamins has enjoyed a wide-ranging career as an orchestral musician, chamber player, solo performer, and educator. During his nine years as Associate Principal Bassoon with the Minnesota Orchestra, Mr. Kamins taught at St. Olaf and Macalester Colleges and was a member of the Aurora Wind Quintet. In 1981 he was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Houston Symphony, a position he held until 2003. In Houston, his artistic life remained diverse as a founding member of the Epicurean Wind Quintet and the Houston Symphony Chamber Players. With faculty appointments at the University of Houston, and then at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, he extended his personal involvement with music to academic institutions and the communities they serve. Now as the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Bassoon at Rice University’s Shepherd School, Mr. Kamins continues to be an advocate for young musicians and classical music performance.
In addition to his years in the Minnesota and Houston Symphonies, Mr. Kamins has served as a guest principal with other major symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. His tenure in the orchestra world has resulted in many solo performances and recordings, including a 1994 recording of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto with conductor Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony.
Mr. Kamins spends his summers teaching and performing throughout the U.S. He currently is on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.
Additionally, Mr. Kamins has entered the world of historical performance where he performs on baroque bassoon. He can be heard playing with many fine period instrument ensembles, especially Ars Lyrica Houston. He has recorded the complete sonatas for two oboes, bassoon and continuo by Jan Dismas Zelenka for Crystal Records. This remarkable set is the first complete recording of these pieces by American performers on modern instruments. Benjamin Kamins’ solo CD of French recital pieces is available at iTunes, and CD Baby.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Benjamin Kamins was exposed to the rich musical culture of that city through his parents and his early experiences as an active freelance musician throughout Southern California. Other musical influences in his teenage years include attending the Tanglewood Music Center, the Music Academy of the West, and the Kent/Blossom Music Center. He studied with Norman Herzberg at the University of Southern California.
Benjamin Kamins is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique through Alexander Technique International. He teaches Alexander Technique classes with his wife, Janet Rarick, at Rice University, and as well as private lessons at the Rice University Recreation Center.
Elise Wagner*, bassoon
Bassoonist Elise Wagner has been a faculty member at the University of Houston, Moores School of Music since 2011. She also teaches at the Texas Music Festival and the American Festival for the Arts. This past year she gave guest master classes at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the National Institute of Music in Panama City, Panama.
Ms. Wagner has been a member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra since the fall of 2008. In the summer of 2017 she and two other Houston Symphony musicians joined Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, on a European tour to promote the city of Houston. In addition to her regular Houston Symphony schedule, this year Wagner was a guest with the Pittsburgh Symphony under the direction of Manfred Honeck and Gustavo Dudamel, the Chautauqua Music Festival, and the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Wagner also has a passion for musical collaborations outside of the orchestral setting. Highlights from the past year include a performance of Verne Reynolds, Fantasy Etudes for Bassoon and Percussion and Andre Previnʼs Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano.
Wagner studied under Nancy Goeres, principal of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Daniel Matsukawa, principal of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. She holds bassoon performance degrees from Temple University and Carnegie Mellon University.
* University of Houston faculty member
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Robert Johnson*, horn
Robert Johnson enjoys a growing career as an orchestral and chamber musician, soloist, and teacher of horn. Before joining the Houston Symphony in 2012 as Associate Principal Horn, Mr. Johnson was Assistant Principal/Utility Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, Principal Horn of both the Dayton Philharmonic and Richmond Symphony, and Fourth Horn of the Honolulu Symphony. He has also performed with the Houston Grand Opera, IRIS Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and both the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as a guest Principal Horn. Mr. Johnson has performed as a Concerto Soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, New World Symphony, Texas Music Festival, at Chicago’s Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and nationwide as a recitalist and chamber musician. In the summers, Mr. Johnson has performed with the AIMS, Aspen, Cascade, Colorado, Strings, and Tanglewood Music Festivals, as well as the Perlman Music Program and Sun Valley Summer Symphony. He can be heard performing on numerous recordings, commercials, and soundtracks made with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, Dayton Philharmonic, Nashville String Machine Studio Orchestra, and the Houston Symphony.
In the Fall of 2013, Mr. Johnson joined the faculty of the Moores School of Music as an Affiliate Artist at the University of Houston, thus fulfilling a long-held dream of expanding his teaching to the collegiate level. Also a faculty member at the Texas Music Festival, he is in demand to lead masterclasses and lectures nationwide, most recently at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Mr. Johnson’s previous students have enjoyed acceptance and appointment to a multitude of prestigious universities, conservatories, summer music festivals, and professional ensembles. Acceptances include the Banff Centre for the Arts, Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States, Interlochen Arts Camp and Academy, Yamaha’s Young Performing Artist Program, as well as the Brevard, Domaine Forget, Hot Springs, Lucerne, Pacific, Sarasota, and Texas Music Festivals. Collegiate acceptances include Carnegie Mellon, DePaul, Indiana, Northwestern, Rice, and Roosevelt Universities, the New England, Oberlin, and San Francisco Conservatories, as well as the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music, and Peabody Institute. His students have performed with a number of professional ensembles, including City Music Cleveland, Hawaii Symphony, Houston Symphony, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
A graduate of Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, he studied with William VerMeulen and received further training as a fellow with the New World Symphony. Mr. Johnson is a lifetime member of the International Horn Society and has authored for The Horn Call magazine. He is married to flutist and teacher Ariella Perlman, with whom he chases their twin boys, Ezra and Reuben.
William VerMeulen, horn
Hailed as “an impeccable solo horn” by the Berlin Neue Zeit, William VerMeulen leads his generation of American Horn Soloists. In Tune magazine says, “the horn playing of William VerMeulen is miraculous!....clearly one of today's superstars of the international brass scene.” Fanfare magazine writes, “Horn virtuoso William VerMeulen may be the best of the lot, commanding his difficult instrument with suavity and grace.”
Mr. VerMeulen has been Principal Horn of the Houston Symphony since 1990. In addition, he has performed as guest Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He previously played with the orchestras of Chicago, Columbus, Honolulu, and Kansas City. Mr. VerMeulen maintains a busy schedule as a soloist and chamber musician with recent engagements in New York, Spain, Israel, Poland, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Idaho, Orcas Island, Virginia, Washington, and Texas.
Mr. VerMeulen has participated as a performer and on faculty with numerous music festivals and chamber music presenters including: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Aspen, Music@Menlo , DaCamera, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Joshua Bell and Friends, Methow, Tanglewood, Grand Teton, Pacific, Steamboat Springs, Orcas Island, Seattle, National Repertory Orchestra, Festival Institute at Round Top, Bowdoin, Colorado, Interlochen, Chamber Music Northwest, Kapalua and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony where he also serves as Principal Horn.
He has performed to critical acclaim on four continents as a soloist and chamber musician and is a popular artist at International Horn Symposiums. His recording of the four Mozart Horn Concerti with Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony is heralded internationally with high critical acclaim and has sold out of its third pressing. A champion of new music, Mr. VerMeulen has had numerous pieces written for him including concerti by esteemed American composer Samuel Adler and Prix de Rome and Stoeger Award winner Pierre Jalbert. A winner of array of awards and honors, Mr. VerMeulen received first prize at the 1980 International Horn Society Soloist Competition and the Shapiro Award for Most Outstanding Brass Player at the Tanglewood Festival.
Arguably the most successful of horn teachers working today, Mr. VerMeulen is Professor of Horn at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University with students performing in numerous major orchestras throughout the world including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati and Dallas Symphonies. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the International Horn Society and also serves as an adjudicator and board member of the International Horn Competition of America and has been a regular coach at the New World Symphony in Miami. In 1985 he was invited to the White House to receive a “Distinguished Teacher of America Certificate of Excellence” from President Reagan and the White House commission on Presidential Scholars.
Mr. VerMeulen received his training from Dale Clevenger at Northwestern University and at the Interlochen Arts Academy and performs on horns, handcrafted and custom made by Keith Berg of Canada and Engelbert Schmid of Germany. He is Founder and President of VerMeulen Music, L.L.C., which offers music and products for horn players worldwide.
Mark Hughes*, trumpet
Mark Hughes "knows how to spin out a long line with the eloquence of a gifted singer," says Derrick Henry of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Hughes developed his abilities while a student at Northwestern University where he studied with the late Vincent Cichowicz of the Chicago Symphony. After graduation, he was selected to be in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago allowing him to be a scholarship student with Adolph Herseth, the legendary Principal Trumpet of the Chicago Symphony.
Hughes then began touring with Richard Morris as the popular organ and trumpet duo, "Toccatas and Flourishes," performing throughout the US and Canada. His appointment as Associate Principal Trumpet with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra followed, a position he held for 12 years. During his time with the ASO, he appeared as soloist with the orchestra on numerous occasions, performed on dozens of recordings, and was an active studio musician.
Mark is currently Principal Trumpet of the Houston Symphony, a position he has held since 2006. He has appeared as soloist with the orchestra on several occasions, including the performance of the Shostakovich Concerto #1 for Piano and Trumpet with Jon Kimura Parker, a performance heard nationally on American Public Radio’s “Symphony Cast”. Since his arrival in Houston, Hughes has performed and recorded with the Boston and Chicago Symphonies, and continues to be in demand as a soloist, with orchestras and in recital. In addition, each summer Mark serves on the faculties of the Brevard Music Center and the Texas Music Festival. Mark lives in Bellaire with his wife Marilyn and their two children, Thomas and Caroline.
Thomas Siders, trumpet
Thomas Siders joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Principal Trumpet in January 2010. He is currently a member of the trumpet faculties at The Boston Conservatory, Boston University, and New England Conservatory. An active clinician, Mr. Siders has presented masterclasses at The Boston Conservatory, Louisiana State University, Miami University (OH), New England Conservatory, Northwestern University, and Rice University. Mr. Siders received degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and Rice University, where he studied with Ray Sasaki and Marie Speziale, respectively. Prior to his appointment to the BSO, Mr. Siders was a New World Symphony Fellow. He was also a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow in 2008 and 2009.
Allen Barnhill, trombone
Principal Trombonist with the Houston Symphony, Allen Barnhill joined the orchestra in 1977 and has been featured as a soloist on numerous occasions. His 2008 world premiere of Cindy McTee's Solstice for Trombone and Orchestra was hailed by the Houston Chronicle: "Barnhill played with masterful control. His tone was burnished, his legato a pleasure for its seamlessness, and his power and agility impressive." Winner of the Swiss Prize at the 1979 Geneva International Solo Competition, he has made numerous solo appearances with orchestras, bands, in solo recitals and as a chamber musician. As an ensemble collaborator, he has appeared in concert and on numerous recordings with The Houston Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque Ensemble and the Houston Symphony Chamber Players.
Mr. Barnhill is in demand as a teacher of the Trombone and has given master classes throughout the United States and abroad. Currently Associate Professor of Trombone at the Shepherd School of Music, he has also held faculty positions at The University of Texas, The University of Houston, Sam Houston State University and St. Thomas University.
Allen Barnhill graduated with honors from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Donald Knaub. A native of Elizabethtown NC, he received his early musical training from Band Director Ray Haney, trombone teacher Jack Pindell and piano teacher Mae Melvin. He enjoys water skiing, snow skiing and golf.
Phillip Freeman, trombone
Phillip I Freeman began his musical studies on euphonium before switching to bass trombone during his senior year at the University of Houston. After completing a degree in composition he continued his study of trombone at the Manhattan School of Music. He was awarded fellowships to the Tanglewood Music Center and Spoleto Festival USA.
Freeman has been the bass trombonist of the Houston Symphony since 2007, before which he was a member of the Sarasota Opera orchestra. He has performed with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra, the Sarasota Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony, and the Houston Ballet on tenor and bass trombone, euphonium, and bass trumpet.
Formerly a faculty member of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, and the American Festival for the Arts, he now teaches at the Texas Music Festival and maintains an active masterclass schedule.
David Kirk, tuba
David Kirk is Principal Tubist of the Houston Symphony and an Associate Professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, positions held since 1982.
Mr. Kirk enjoys an international reputation for effective teaching of musicianship and the physical aspects of wind playing. He has presented master classes throughout North America and in Japan. He was selected for his teaching and playing positions during his final year of undergraduate studies at the Juilliard School. While at Juilliard, he studied with Don Harry. Kirk's other teachers include David Waters, Chester Schmitz, Warren Deck, and Neal Tidwell.
Mr. Kirk appears as a guest performer with many ensembles throughout the US. Locally, he is an active recitalist, chamber music collaborator, and spokesman for the musical arts. He may be heard on Houston Symphony recordings under conductors Sergiu Comissiona, Newton Wayland, Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Krajewski, and Hans Graf. His solo playing is featured on Mark Custom Recordings’ The Music of Leroy Osmon, Volume 1.
* University of Houston faculty member.
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Paula Page, born in Odessa, Texas and raised in Philadelphia, joined the Houston Symphony as Principal Harpist in 1984 and retired in 2013. Prior to her Houston appointment, she was a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony in the dual positions of harpist and keyboard artist.
A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Miss Page began her career as Principal Harpist of the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra. She has been guest harpist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and is Principal Harpist of the Grand Teton Music Festival. Miss Page is a frequent participant in various chamber music series in Houston and has been featured at several national conferences of the American Harp Society and at two meetings of the World Harp Congress. She has served as a judge for numerous competitions including the ASTA (American String Teachers Association) and the Corpus Christi International Competition. In 2006, she was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Always eager to combine performance and pedagogy, Miss Page has served on the faculties of the University of Oklahoma, Temple University Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, Interlochen Arts Camp, and is currently Associate Professor of Harp at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. During the summer she is a member of the faculty at the Texas Music Festival and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top.
This combining of performing and teaching careers follows in the pattern of her two main mentors, Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra) and Edna Phillips (Philadelphia Orchestra).
Miss Page comes from a highly successful musical family. Her father is Robert Page, conductor, and her mother, Glynn Page, recently retired from the Department of Drama at Carnegie-Mellon University. Her sister, soprano Carolann Page, is an established artist in opera, Broadway, and recital.
Former Principal Percussionist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Edward (Ted) Atkatz has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. Now residing in Los Angeles, Ted is a studio musician as well as a performer in both the orchestral world and with his band, NYCO. Ted is an active teacher and clinician: he is on faculty at the Bob Cole Conservatory at California State University at Long Beach, The Colburn School in Los Angeles, and the Texas Music Festival in Houston, Texas. He has given clinics and masterclasses worldwide, and has been a three-time PASIC clinician.
Ted began his studies at age 10 at the Bloomingdale House of Music in New York City and later attended the preparatory division at Manhattan School of Music. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance and Music Education, magna cum laude, from Boston University. His graduate studies were at the New England Conservatory of Music and at Temple University, where he worked with Alan Abel of the Philadelphia Orchestra. An avid long-distance runner, Mr. Atkatz ran the Chicago Marathon in 2001 with a time of 2:59:32, and ran the Santa Barbara Marathon in 2012 with a time of 3:09:34.
Matthew Strauss has been applauded throughout the United States as an energetic percussionist and timpanist with a diverse musical background. In addition to his positions as Percussionist with the Houston Symphony and Timpanist with the American Symphony Orchestra at the Bard Music Festival, Mr. Strauss is currently an Associate Professor of Percussion at Rice University, Lecturer at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music and faculty member at the Texas Music Festival at the University of Houston. Prior to his post in Houston, he performed as a member of the percussion section in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra throughout the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. He also has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, to name a few. Solo appearances include performances with the Houston Symphony, Texas Music Festival Orchestra, Akron Symphony, New Hampshire Music Festival, Reading Symphony Orchestra and Delaware Symphony Orchestra. An active chamber musician, Mr. Strauss has performed with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Da Camera of Houston, Foundation For Modern Music, Bard Festival Chamber Players, Skaneateles Music Festival, and has participated in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's contemporary chamber series, Music Now, under the batons of Pierre Boulez and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Mr. Strauss received his bachelor's degree in Percussion Performance from the Juilliard School and his master’s degree in Performance from the Temple University. He is an alumnus of both the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals and has participated in the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Strauss taught percussion performance at the Mason Gross School of Music at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. He has presented master classes and clinics at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Juilliard School, Aspen Music Festival, Northwestern University, Temple University, Bard Conservatory, New York University, Peabody Conservatory, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Roosevelt University, and DePaul University. Mr. Strauss is a performing artist and clinician for Zildjian Inc., Pearl/Adams Corporation, Freer Percussion, and Evans Heads.
* University of Houston faculty member
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