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).
Zuo Jun, violin
Hailed as one of the most gifted Chinese violinists of his generation, Zuo Jun began violin studies at age six and is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he studied with Professors Shen Guan En and Zheng Shi Sheng. In 1988, Zuo Jun’s talent was noticed by Fredell Lack and he went to the United States to study with her and subsequently with Berl Senofsky and Ariana Bronne.
Zuo Jun played as a first violinist in the Houston Symphony from 1994 to 2004. Prior to joining the Houston Symphony, he was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for a season. He has also appeared as soloist with many renowned symphony orchestras, such as the Shanghai Opera Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Radio Orchestra, Shanghai Ballet Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony Orchestra (New York), Julius Grossman Orchestra (New York), National Repertory Orchestra (Colorado), San Antonio Youth Symphony, Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra, and New Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.
Zuo Jun has been a prizewinner in prominent national and international competitions, including the first prize in the China National Violin Competition in Shanghai in 1986. Also, he was awarded prizes in the Kingsville International Music Competition in 1990, the American Music Teachers’ National Association Competition in 1989, the Corpus Christi Young Artists Competition in 1989, and the National Violin Competition of China in 1984. In 1984, Zuo Jun was invited by the China Ministry of Culture to perform in Beijing to celebrate the 35 th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. In that same year, he gave a solo recital as part of the “Spring of Shanghai” Music Festival.
Critics have praised Zuo Jun’s performances for his musicality and technical brilliance. He was featured on “Good Morning America” (ABC) in 1990, interviewed by NHK in 1987, and performed live on Singapore national television in 1986 and 2004.
Lucie Robert, violin
Critically acclaimed for the expressive lyricism and tonal beauty of her playing, Lucie Robert carries on the great violin tradition of her teacher and mentor, the legendary Josef Gingold. Allan Kozinn, writing in the The New York Times, lauded her “melting tone” and “wonderfully supple approach to phrasing.”
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. 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, the Duxbury Music Festival and the Beijing International Music Festival and Academy.
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, Korea National University of Arts, the Central Conservatory in Beijing, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, the Glenn Gould School, the Fredell Lack Masters Series at the Moores School of Music 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 and Jozsef Szigeti 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 Dunham’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 several works written for him by American composer Libby Larsen. In April 2013 he joined the members of the Diotima String Quartet of France for the premiere of a new viola quintet by composer Richard Lavenda. Mr. Dunham has collaborated on contemporary and standard repertoire with such renowned artists as Emmanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Cho-Liang Lin and members of the American, Brentano, Guarneri, Juilliard, Takács, Tokyo and Ying Quartets. His recording with the Ying Quartet and cellist Paul Katz of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence was nominated for a 2008 Grammy. In addition to guest appearances, Mr. Dunham is violist of the Axelrod String Quartet, in residence at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. where the ensemble performs on their collection of Nicolò Amati and Stradivari instruments. Formerly on the faculty of California Institute of the Arts, the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory (where he chaired the string department and received the Louis & Adrienne Krasner Teaching Excellence Award). 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.
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. He is featured regularly in concerts, master classes and competition juries throughout the U.S. and abroad, recently as guest at the Lübeck Hochschule für Musik in Germany, the Manhattan School of Music, return participation in the Festival International Turina in Seville, Spain and in mini-residency at the University of Ottawa through their Astral Young Artists Mentorship Program. Highlights of his 2013/2014 season include string quartet performances as part of the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation in Seoul, Korea and a return to Japan as jury member of the 8th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition.
Currently Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, he directs their Advanced Quartet Studies Program. Mr. Dunham formerly taught at the New England Conservatory where he also Chaired the String Department. A devoted teacher, he frequently presents viola and chamber music master classes at leading schools and universities including Tokyo’s Toho School, Freiburg’s Hochschule für Musik, Beijing’s Central Conservatory, Boston and Northwestern Universities, USC, UCLA and the Royal Conservatory in Toronto.
His recordings can be found on labels including Telarc, Nonesuch, Delos, Naxos and Crystal. Mr. Dunham performs on a Gaspar da Salo viola, ca. 1585. www.jamesdunham.com
Ralph Fielding, viola
Internationally known viola pedagogue RALPH FIELDING teaches in Boca Raton, Florida at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music, a small and high-quality program that for the last few years has provided full tuition scholarships for nearly all accepted conservatory applicants. Mr. Fielding previously held positions at the University of Southern California, the University of California Los Angeles and Texas Tech University. He is active as a clinician at music programs around the country and has given master classes at such institutions as Oberlin College, the Cleveland Institute, DePaul University, the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, the New England Conservatory, the San Francisco Conservatory, Rice University, the New World Symphony and the Colburn School. He has also been an adjudicator for ASTA, MTNA, Suzuki, AVS/Primrose and other competitions. He specializes in quickly getting players to reach their highest potential through combining a singing approach to music-making with simple ways to master the basic mechanics of bow control, shifts, string crossings and bow changes.
Prior to his teaching activities, Mr. Fielding had a long history as an orchestral musician. As a teenager, he played a year in the Utah Symphony under Maurice Abravanel. He later spent 16 years as a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (including serving a term as Chair of their Auditions Committee) and has since helped students prepare musically and mentally for the most competitive of performance situations. His orchestral repertoire students continue to win positions in ICSOM and regional orchestras.
Ralph Fielding held a three-year term as the elected President of the American Viola Society, a 33-year-old 1,000 member nonprofit organization that puts out a peer-reviewed Journal, sponsors the North American Viola Congress every two years and holds the Primrose Memorial Viola Competition, one of the nation's largest and most prestigious viola-only events.
Mr. Fielding graduated cum laude from Yale University with a B.A. and M.M. in Music and an M.B.A. from their School of Management.
Norman Fischer, cello
Norman Fischer first graced the international concert stage as cellist with the Concord String Quartet, a group that won the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, an Emmy and several Grammy nominations, and recorded over 40 works on RCA Red Seal, Vox, Nonesuch, Turnabout and CRI. The New York Times recently said, "During its 16 years, the supervirtuosic Concord String Quartet championed contemporary work while staying rooted in the Western tradition."
He has performed in 49 of the 50 United States and on 5 continents. In addition to performing the major concerti, Mr. Fischer has premiered and recorded many new scores for cello and orchestra including two recorded with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony by Augusta Read Thomas and Ross Lee Finney. Recitals of unaccompanied cello works have received rave reviews such as "Inspiring" [New York Times] for his New York debut recital of the complete Bach Suites in one evening and "Coruscating" [Boston Globe] for his performance of Osvaldo Golijov's Omaramor at the opening of the 1998 Tanglewood festival. During the 1994 Broadway season, Mr. Fischer's recording of William Bolcom's score was used for the premiere of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass. His chamber music expertise has led to guest appearances with the American, Audubon, Blair, Cavani, Chester, Chiara, Ciompi, Cleveland, Enso, Emerson, Jasper, Juilliard, Mendelssohn and Schoenberg string quartets, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music International, Context, and Houston's Da Camera Society. Mr. Fischer joins pianist Jeanne Kierman and violinist Andrew Jennings as the Concord Trio, a group that has been performing together for over 30 years. Mr. Fischer also joins Ms. Kierman and violinist Curtis Macomber as co-artistic directors of the autumn chamber music extravaganza Musica Viva Festival headquartered in Norwich VT.
A devoted teacher and mentor to young players, Mr. Fischer has been on the faculty of Dartmouth College and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and is currently Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Violoncello and Coordinator of Chamber Music at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University (Houston, TX). Since 1985, he has taught at the Tanglewood Music Center (summer home of the Boston Symphony), in Lenox, MA where he holds the Charles E Culpepper Foundation Master Teacher chair and is also Coordinator of Chamber Music.
Lachezar Kostov, cello
Hailed for the “awesome purity of his playing”, and described as a “prodigiously skilled protagonist” Bulgarian cellist Lachezar Kostov 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, first prize at the Hendersonville Chamber Music Competition, and the Grand Prix at the International Music and Earth Competition in Bulgaria. He has appeared as a guest soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Japan, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Bulgaria. Having spent three consecutive summers at the Tanglewood Music Center, Mr. Kostov was a member of the resident ensemble “The New Fromm Players”, collaborating with prominent American composers such as John Harbison, Ellen Zwilich and Harvey Solberger and participating in master classes with Yo Yo Ma and James Levine.
In the past three seasons Mr. Kostov performed series of concerts in Japan, including concerts as a soloist of the Philharmonic Orchestras of Hino and Tachikawa, as well as recitals in Tokyo’s Sakura Hall and Oji Hall, where he performed with Japanese pianist Ai Shimizu. In May 2008, he performed a recital at Weill Hall, sponsored by the “Bulgarian Treasures” Foundation. In March 2009, Mr. Kostov made his official debut at Carnegie Hall’s ZANKEL Hall performing rarely heard works for cello and piano by Zwilich, Roslavets, Kabalevsky and Saint-Saens. Both concert featured his longtime friend and chamber music partner, pianist Viktor Valkov.
Lachezar Kostov is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at Rice University, where he studies with Norman Fischer. He also holds diplomas from North Carolina School of the Arts and Yale School of music, where he was tutored by Zvi Plesser and Aldo Parisot.
Mr. Kostov’s first commercial CD was released by NAXOS in 2011 and was immediately featured in “The Strad Magazine”, and “American Record Guide”. Highlights of the last seasons include concerto appearances with the Texas Music Festival orchestra, conducted by Carl Saint-Claire and a residency at the La Jolla Summer Fest, where he performed with artists such as Cho Liang Lin, Augustin Hadelich and the Tokyo String Quartet. In October 2011 Lachezar Kostov and Viktor Valkov won the First Prize and all the special prizes at the 2011 International Liszt-Garrison Piano and Duo Competition in Baltimore, MD.
In the 2012-13 season Mr. Kostov performed at the Gewandhaus Hall in Leipzig as the soloist of the Academischer Orchestra of Leipzig, at Oji Hall in Tokyo, and was the featured soloist in Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante op. 125 with the Shepherd School Orchestra. During the 2013-2014 season Mr. Kostov was a guest artist at Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, and Camerata San Antonio. Currently, he is a tenured member of the San Antonio Symphony, and concertizes around the USA, Japan, and Europe.
Brinton Smith, cello
Praised by New York Newsday for “extraordinary musicianship...forceful, sophisticated and entirely in the spirit of the music,” American cellist Brinton Averil Smith's performances have received rave reviews around the world. Smith’s debut recording of Miklos Rozsa’s Cello Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for Koch Classics won widespread international critical acclaim, including the annual Gramophone Awards Issue which praised Smith as a “hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist,” and continued, “The sheer bravura of Smith’s reading is infectious.” His recording of Fauré’s Piano Trio and Après un Rêve with Gil Shaham for Vanguard Classics was selected as one of BBC Music magazine’s best albums of the year and the American Record Guide praised their performance as “Stunningly beautiful”, continuing “I cannot imagine a better stylistic match for Shaham.” Mr. Smith is also featured on a recent Naxos release of the chamber music of Steven Gerber, for which Strings magazine hailed him as “an extraordinary cellist."
Mr. Smith has appeared regularly as a soloist with the Houston Symphony since joining the orchestra as principal cellist in 2005. Prior to this, he was the first musician chosen by Lorin Maazel to join the New York Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Smith's North American engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival and the Banff Centre for the Arts and his concerto appearances have included orchestras in Detroit, San Diego, Houston, Fort Worth, Tucson, San Jose, New Jersey and Phoenix. A devoted advocate of compelling lesser known repertoire, Mr. Smith recently gave the North American premiers of rediscovered works of Jean Sibelius and Alexander Zemlinsky. Mr. Smith is a member of the faculty at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and has given masterclasses throughout the United States, including at the New World Symphony and the National Orchestral Institute.
An active chamber musician, Smith has collaborated with violinist Gil Shaham on numerous occasions including Carnegie Hall's Gil Shaham and Friends series. He has also collaborated with cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell, violinists Cho-Liang Lin, Sarah Chang and James Ehnes, soprano Dawn Upshaw and members of the Beaux Arts Trio and the Guarneri, Emerson, Juilliard, Cleveland, and Berg quartets. Smith has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the New York Philharmonic Chamber Series, the Killington Music Festival, El Paso Pro Musica, the Mainly Mozart Festival, the Brevard Music Festival and the Texas Music Festival. Mr. Smith is also an artistic director of the Restoration Chamber Music festival in Galveston. As a student, he was a prize winner in the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition and in several consecutive Juilliard and Aspen Music Festival concerto competitions and was invited to perform at the American Cello Congress. His performances have been broadcast on CBS's Sunday Morning and on the radio throughout the U.S., including NPR’s Performance Today and Symphonycast.
The son of a mathematician and a pianist, Brinton Averil Smith was admitted to Arizona State University at age 10, where he took courses in mathematics and German and, at age 17, completed a B.A. in mathematics. He then became a student of Eleonore Schoenfeld at the University of Southern California, where he was also a teaching assistant in the mathematics department, and completed work for an M.A. in mathematics at age 19. He subsequently studied with famed cellist Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, writing on the playing of Emanuel Feuermann. Mr. Smith resides in Houston with his wife, pianist Evelyn Chen and their daughter, Calista.
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
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, after serving as Associate Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony. Jonathan also serves as Principal Oboe with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Idaho.
Mr. Fischer has 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 Grant Park Symphony, the New World Symphony and several times with the San Francisco Symphony. In October 2013 made his solo debut with the Houston Symphony performing the Mozart Oboe Concerto.
He has taught and performed at the Aspen Music Festival as well as Music at Menlo, and he frequently coaches at the New World Symphony. Mr. Fischer holds a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Richard Woodhams. He grew up in the Carolinas and travels there often to visit his family.
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.
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.
Richard Beene, bassoon
Richard Beene enjoys an active career as a teacher, soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral performer. In 2001, while serving as Professor of Bassoon at the University of Michigan, he was awarded the 2001 Harold Haugh Award for excellence in studio teaching. He has been invited to present master classes and teaching residencies at a number of institutions, including the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and McGill University, among others. He has also served on the faculties of Michigan State University and Wichita State University.
In addition to performing numerous times with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Beene has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. While maintaining his teaching schedule in Michigan, he also held the position of Principal Bassoonist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, where he performed many times as a soloist. Additionally, he has toured Europe as a soloist with the American Sinfonietta and performed as a soloist at the Festival de Musique de St. Barthelemy in the French West Indies. Summer festival engagements have included the Sunflower Music Festival in Kansas, the Basically Bach Festival in Anchorage (Alaska), the Colorado Music Festival, Strings in the Mountains (Colorado), the Arkansas Music Festival, Washington's Centram Chamber Music Festival, the Bellingham Festival of Music, and the Peninsula Music Festival (Wisconsin).
Chamber music and recital engagements have taken him to New York's Merkin Concert Hall and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as well as venues throughout Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria. Mr. Beene has also been a featured recitalist at the annual convention of the International Double Reed Society.
Richard Beene is Dean and Chair of the Winds Department and teaches bassoon at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music.
Elise Wagner*, bassoon
Elise Wagner has been a member of the Houston Symphony bassoon section since August of 2008 and has also performed with the Toronto Symphony and the Sarasota Opera Company. She was a fellow at both Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festival and recently joined the faculty of the University of Houston and the Texas Music Festival. She earned her Bachelors of Music degree at Temple University under the tutelage of Daniel Matsukawa (principal bassoon of the Philadelphia Orchestra) and received her Masters of Music degree from Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with Nancy Goeres (principal bassoon of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra).
* University of Houston faculty member
Robert Johnson*, horn
Robert Johnson is the Associate Principal Horn of the Houston Symphony. Before joining the Houston Symphony in 2012, he was Assistant Principal/Utility Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, Principal Horn of both the Dayton Philharmonic and Richmond Symphony, Fourth Horn of the Honolulu Symphony, and a member of the New World Symphony. Johnson has performed with the IRIS Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and San Antonio Symphony. He has performed as a Concerto Soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and at the Chicago Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic.
His students have been accepted into Interlochen Arts Camp and Academy, Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States, and Yamaha’s Young Performing Artist Program. University acceptances have included Carnegie Mellon University, University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, New England Conservatory, Northwestern University, Oberlin, Rice University, Roosevelt University, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
In summers, Johnson has performed with the Aspen Music Festival, Cascade Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival, Strings Music Festival, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Tanglewood Music Festival as well as the Perlman Music Program in both Shelter Island, NY and Sarasota, FL. He is also a faculty member at the Texas Music Festival.
A graduate of Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, Johnson was a student of William VerMeulen.
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.
Jim Vassallo*, trumpet
Currently principal trumpet with the Houston Ballet Orchestra and the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. A teacher and frequent performer with the Texas Music Festival each summer, he has also performed with the Grand Tetons Festival Orchestra, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and the AIM Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria.
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 Freeman joined the Houston Symphony in September 2007 as the orchestra's bass trombonist. Prior to his appointment to the HSO he was an active freelance musician, performing in a broad range of classical and commercial settings. In addition to performing with the Sarasota Opera Orchestra for six seasons, he has also performed with 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.
At the other end of the spectrum, he has played several of the musical tours to come through Houston, as well as many performances with the Texas Music Festival Jazz Project. A native of Houston, Freeman began his musical studies on euphonium before taking up bass trombone during his senior year at the University of Houston.
After completing a degree in composition and euphonium, he continued his study of the bass trombone at the Manhattan School of Music. He was awarded fellowships to the Tanglewood Music Center and the Spoleto Festival USA. Freeman is currently on the faculty at the Shepherd School of Music and the Texas Music Festival.
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.
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.
* University of Houston faculty member.
A former principal percussionist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ted Atkatz has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. Over the past two years he has played on several movie scores, including those for The Day the Earth Stood Still and Up. He has also participated in the St. Barts Music Festival since 2001. Prior to winning his Chicago Symphony position in 1997, he was a member of the New World Symphony in Florida. He is currently a faculty member at Lynn Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Florida, and at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.
Mr. Atkatz began his studies at age 10 at the Bloomingdale House of Music and later attended the preparatory division at Manhattan School of Music. He holds a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance and a music education degree, magna cum laude, from Boston University. Prior to graduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, he taught music in elementary schools in Worcester, Massachusetts. While in graduate school, he was invited to participate in the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra for two summers, and in 1996 he served as timpanist for Tanglewood’s production of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. Mr. Atkatz earned a professional studies degree 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. He enjoys performing various styles of music, is a singer/songwriter, and plays guitar and keyboard for the band NYCO. The band was the subject of a 2008 New York Times article and its music has been featured on MTV and in advertising for Volkswagen and JC Penney. www.nycomusic.com
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 on faculty at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music and 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, 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 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, New York University, Peabody Conservatory, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Roosevelt University, and DePaul University. Mr. Strauss is a performing artist and clinician for the Pearl/Adams Corporation, Zildjian Inc., and Evans.