Musicians

Shenshen Zhang

A native of China, Ms Zhang began playing the Pipa when she was nine still living in her hometown of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, in southeast China, playing music with her mother, who initially rec­og­nized her talent having played the pipa herself from an early age.  Soon, Ms Zhang enrolled in the Wenzhou Junior Arts School and she had her initial solo debut that same year. At age 12, following a multi-​​level music and general education assess­ment of pipa students from all regions of China, Ms. Zhang was sin­gu­larly selected for the Pipa Major at the Preparatory School affil­i­ated with the pres­ti­gious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.  She was graduated from the school with an excellent academic record. After grad­u­a­tion, Ms Zhang was admitted to the Chinese Music Department of Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, where she continued studying pipa per­for­mance with Professor and Pipa Master, Weixi Sun, as well as other pipa masters, Shicheng Lin, Yuzhong Kuang and Zemin Chen. Four years later, Ms Zhang completed her academic and music course work at the Central Conservatory and, due to her out­stand­ing accom­plish­ments, she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance (BA) with a major in Pipa and a minor in Piano, Guzheng and Ruan. In 2005, following an addi­tional three years of study combining per­for­mance, com­po­si­tion and eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy, coupled with com­ple­tion of her thesis “The Variations of the Shape and Structure of Twisted Neck Pipa and its Playing Skills” (published in The New Voice of Yue-​​Fu, The Academic Periodical of Shenyang Conservatory of Music), Ms Zhang aws awarded a Master of Arts in Musicology (MA) from Xiamen University (China).

Upon grad­u­a­tion from Central Conservatory of Music, Ms Zhang was offered a tenured position at the Xiamen Opera House as Pipa Soloist. Over the next decade, Ms. Zhang played many solo per­for­mances in Xiamen with the Opera House Symphony Orchestra and the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra.  She was also honored to represent the Opera House as a solo performer on national and inter­na­tional tours, playing over a thousand combined per­for­mances in China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.  While still in Xiamen, Ms. Zhang held a cel­e­brated solo pipa recital in 2003 and a quintet ensemble concert in 2005.
With a natural and elegant per­for­mance style developed from an early age, Ms Zhang has won many citations and awards including the “Outstanding Solo Performance Award” in the Young Professional Pipa Performer category in the 1st International Chinese Traditional Instruments Competition, Beijing (1989), and 2nd place in Chinese String Ensemble Competition at the Fujian Art Festival in 2001.
While remaining pipa tra­di­tional reper­toires, Ms Zhang par­tic­i­pated in many landmark premieres of works by a modern gen­er­a­tion of like Tan Dun, Guo Wenjing and Li Binyang. Chamber opera, Courtside, written by Bay Area composer, Jack Perla, and produced by Houston Grand Opera (February 2011); Jazz com­po­si­tion Shanghai Story by Francis Wong (November 2010, with San Francisco trom­bon­ist, Wayne Wallace, Melody of China and Asian Improv aRTs); Multi-​​media chamber music, Shanghai Trilogy composed by Joan Huang with Bridge Chamber Virtuosi, (June 2010, Expo 2010 Shanghai and July 2010, Asian Arts Museum, San Francisco);  Chamber ensemble com­po­si­tion, Prelude K2 Playcomposed by Jim Francisco (October 2009, Los Gatos, CA); Chamber com­po­si­tion for Chinese and western instru­ments, Wondering Along the Journey composed by Yuanlin Chen (NYC) with Melody of China. (October 2007, San Jose, Mountain View, San Francisco and Berkeley, and January 2008, 30th Anniversary National Conference Chamber Music America, New York);  Contemporary ballet, Long River High Sky, composed by Miguel Frasconi, Melody of China, presented by Lines Ballet Company and chore­o­graphed by Alonzo King (April 2007, San Francisco).
Recently Ms. Zhang suc­cess­fully held her solo recital as opening program of Music @Noon at Santa Clara University (2016). She also performed with LAChamber Orchestra (2015). She is also honored to par­tic­i­pate for three seasons of San Francisco Symphony’s Adventure in Music (AIM) Educational Program (2014, 2011,2008), and Symphony Silicon Valley’s ArtSPARK program (2011).
Ms Zhang has her pipa studio in San Jose, and she has been teaching in Stanford University as music instruc­tor since 2015.

Phoebe Carrai

The American cellist, Phoebe Carrai, earned her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees at the New England Conservatory of Music, studied and played early music with Laurence Lesser. Upon graduating in 1979, she was awarded a Beebe foundation grant and undertook post Graduate studies in Historical Performance Practice with Nikolaus Harnoncourtat the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

In 1983, Phoebe Carrai joined the chamber music ensemble Musica Antiqua Köln and worked with them for the next ten years, touring and teaching in the USA, Scandinavia, Asia, and Australia. Now she lives in the USA and performs with the Arcadian Academy and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (Nicholas McGegan); Ensemble Arion (Claire Guimond),Les Musiciens du Louvre (Marc Minkowski), Handel and Haydn Society (Grant Llewellyn), Concert Royal, Bach Chamber Soloists, and other national and international groups. She has also performed with the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra. She performs internationally as a soloist, in chamber ensembles. Among her chamber music partners are the harpsichordist Arthur Haas and the recorder player Marion Verbruggen. She is also a founding member of the Van Swieten Quartet, and Director of the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra. She also works with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony.

During her perion with Musica Antiqua Köln, Phoebe Carrai taught at the Hilversum Conservatory of the Amsterdam School of the Arts in the Netherlands. She presently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she teaches at the Longy School of Music and is co-director of Longy’s International Baroque Institute. Additionally, she teaches at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany, St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts, and in the fall of 2009 joined the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music in New York. She is also a founding member and co-director of the International Baroque Institute at Longy School of Music. She has given master-classes in Asia, North America, and Europe.

Phoebe Carrai has numerous widely acclaimed recordings with Jordi Savall, Jaap Schroeder, Renee Jacobs, etc. on Aetma, Aetma, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Harmonia Mundi Germany, Telarc and BMG. Both her recordings of the J.S. Bach’s Solo Cello Suites and the Kummer Duos can be found on the Avie label.

Phoebe Carrai performs on an anonymous Italian cello from c1690.

ZOFO – Keisuke Nakagoshi & Eva Maria Zimmerman

Since joining forces as a professional duo in 2009, internationally acclaimed solo pianists EVA-MARIA ZIMMERMANN and KEISUKE NAKAGOSHI – ZOFO – have electrified audiences from Carnegie Hall to Tokyo Japan with their dazzling artistry and outside-the-box thematic programming for piano-four-hands. This GRAMMY-nominated, prize-winning Steinway Artist Ensemble – one of only a handful of duos worldwide devoted exclusively to piano duets – is blazing a bold new path for four-hands groups by focusing on 20th and 21st century repertoire and by commissioning new works from noted composers each year.

ZOFO, which is shorthand for 20-finger orchestra (ZO=20 and FO=finger orchestra), also performs heart-pumping duet arrangements of famous orchestral pieces such as Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” exploring the realms in which many composers first experienced their symphonic visions.

Owen Dalby

Praised as “dazzling” (The New York Times), “expert and versatile” (The New Yorker), and “a fearless and inquisitive violinist” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Owen Dalby is hailed for his gripping interpretations of music from across the stylistic spectrum. A specialist in both new and early music, and both violin and viola, Owen brings daring and sophisticated artistry to audiences worldwide. As the newest member of the St Lawrence String Quartet, Owen will live and work as artist-in-residence at Stanford University starting in the summer of 2015. He is also a co-founder of Decoda, New York City’s trailblazing society of virtuoso chamber musicians, arts advocates, and educators.

Owen made his Lincoln Center debut in 2010 with Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, and that same year gave the world premiere of Look Around You, a one-man double concerto by Timo Andres for solo violin and viola, with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. He is the concertmaster of Novus NY, the contemporary music group of Trinity Wall Street, is a member of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and frequent concertmaster for the Westminster Choir College ensembles. Owen appears frequently with leading groups in and around New York City such as Ensemble ACJWArgento Chamber Ensemble,Metropolis Ensemblethe Locrian Chamber Players, and the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble

Owen loves early music and can be heard as soloist and leader on baroque violin with New York Baroque Inc.Four Nations EnsembleClarion Music Society, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and Choir. In 2010 he completed a three-year tenure in The Academy, a fellowship of Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School that seeks to link a performer’s life with advanced training in education and community engagement. He has taught music to students of the Choir Academy of Harlem, PS 14Q in Queens, and PS 112 in Brooklyn, and in masterclasses in Mexico, Iceland, at Princeton University, Skidmore College, and the University of South Carolina.

Meena Bhasin

Meena Bhasin is a captivating violist who is forging a new role for the classical musician. She is passionate about using music to spark cultural dialogue. In recent seasons, Ms. Bhasin has designed Carnegie Hall residencies in Mumbai and Abu Dhabi collaborating with musicians and students from both cities. In her home town of New York City, Ms. Bhasin is a member of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, principal violist for Trinity Wall Street’s NOVUS NY, a frequent performer with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and a teaching artist for the New York Philharmonic. She also relishes collaborations across genres and has toured the US as a soloist with legendary rock band Jethro Tull and performed Persian music as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Bhasin graduated as a Presser scholar from New England Conservatory and also holds a BA in international relations from Tufts University.

Jiyang Chen

Praised by critics for his poetic and lyrical style, Jiyang Chen made his concerto debut at the age of seventeen with the Ruby Mountain Symphony Orchestra and performed the Gershwin Piano Concerto with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra as well as the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Reno Chamber Orchestra.

He received his Master’s in Piano Performance from New York University, studying under the tutelage of Seymour Bernstein, and his Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Barry Snyder as a recipient of the Howard Hanson Scholarship and the George Eastman Grant. Prior to that, he studied privately with James Winn at the University of Nevada, Reno.

He has participated in the PianoTexas Festival in Fort Worth as well as the Heifetz International Festival, and has received masterclasses and lessons from Andre Watts, Stephen Hough, Jeremy Denk, Jon Nakamatsu Yoheved Kaplinsky, and Jose Feghali. In chamber music and collaborative music, he has received coachings from Paul Katz, Steven Doane, Mikhail Kopelman, Oleh Krysa, Jean Barr, Zvi Zeitlin and members of the Ying Quartet.
Jiyang served as Adjunct Faculty at New York University and is also a photographer. His portfolio can be seen here.

Janet Coleman

Janet Coleman, a versatile and dynamic pianist, has been active in a wide variety of musical collaborations throughout the Northwest for over a decade. Recent performances have included appearances with the Oregon Symphony, Southwest Washington Symphony, Portland Opera, Cascade Music Festival, Aaron Meyer, Third Angle New Music Ensemble and Fear No Music.

Janet received her bachelor of arts degree from Willamette University and her master’s in music from the University of Oregon, where she was named Outstanding Chamber Musician.

An accomplished recital pianist, Ms. Coleman has performed with hundreds of singers and instrumentalists and plays regularly for master classes with artists such as Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Janos Starker and Joseph Silverstein. Her collaborations at national and international competitions have contributed to top awards at the MTNA National Convention, including first place winners in several national concerto competitions and the gold medal at the Stulburg International String Competition.

For several seasons, Ms. Coleman was coach/accompanist with the Linfield College and Portland State University Opera Workshop programs, Eugene Opera and Portland Opera’s Education and Outreach tours. Summer activities have included performances at the Aspen Music Festival, Bel Canto Northwest, Portland Opera Performance Institute, Astoria Music Festival and the Oregon Bach Festival.

Adam Lamotte

Adam LaMotte is becoming well known to audiences throughout the country as a leader of both period and modern ensembles. He has appeared as soloist, concertmaster, and conductor of numerous orchestras, including the Northwest Sinfonietta in Seattle, String Orchestra of the Rockies, Astoria Festival Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and the Maggini String Orchestra in Houston.

As violinist and violist, Adam has been hailed by critics as an “especially compelling” and “superb violinist” with “exceptional talent,” whose performances are “energetic and exquisite.” As Artistic Director of the Montana Baroque Festival, he brings first-class period instrument performances to the rural Montana community. He has co-founded two critically-acclaimed ensembles, in Portland and in Houston, and continues to produce many chamber music and chamber orchestra performances. In collaboration with ensembles such as American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Ars Lyrica, and Chanticleer, Mr. LaMotte performs on period instruments, using a fine Italian instrument made in 1730 by Bernardo Calcagni, for which he is indebted to his generous patrons who made the purchase possible.

Avi Avital

Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital is one of the world’s most exciting and entrepreneurial musicians. He is deeply committed to building a fresh legacy for the mandolin through virtuosic performance and commissioning new works in a range of genres.

Avi Avital is internationally regarded for his performances at venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, KKL Luzern, Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and Wigmore Hall in London. He has appeared as soloist with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Berliner Symphoniker under the batons of Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Simon Rattle and Philippe Entremont, amongst others. Avital has collaborated extensively with artists such as clarinettist Giora Feidman, soprano Dawn Upshaw, and trumpeter and composer Frank London. He has also been featured at the Tanglewood, Luzern, Spoleto, and Ravenna summer music festivals.

Avi Avital is the first mandolin player to receive a Grammy nomination in the category “Best Instrumental Soloist” (2010) for his recording of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto (Metropolis Ensemble/Andrew Cyr). He has won numerous competitions and awards including Germany’s ECHO Prize for his 2008 recording with the David Orlowsky Trio and the AVIV Competition (2007), the preeminent national competition for Israeli soloists.

Recent highlights include Concerto performances at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Fest and Aspen Music Festival, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road workshop on a new composition by David Bruce, performances of “Avital meets Avital”, a cross-genre programme with New York-based jazz artist Omer Avital at the Musikfest Bremen and Jewish Culturte Days Festival in Berlin, and engagements with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Oxford Philomusica and Potsdam Kammerakademie.

Michelle Djokic

Cellist Michelle Djokic is founder and Artistic Director of the Concordia Chamber Players. Since its inception in 1995 this series has brought together the brightest talents of the chamber music world in thoughtful and adventurous programming with their performances broadcast regularly on WWFM in Princeton, NJ. Concordia Chamber Players commissioned “Obrigado”, Quintet for mandolin and string quartet by young Brazilian superstar, Clarice Assad, which received it’s world premier in the spring of 2011 with Mike Marshall on the mandolin. Djokic will join pianist, John Novacek at the 2011 Festival Mozaic for the world premier of Novacek’s “Singular Piece” for cello and piano commissioned by the Seattle Commissioning Project. Her most recent recording with Quartet San Francisco entitled “QSF Plays Brubeck” earned a 2010 Grammy Nomination in Best Classcial Crossover.

Active as a chamber musician, Ms. Djokic has been invited to collaborate with Emanuel Ax, Menahem Pressler, Lynn Harrell, Toby Appel and Cho-Liang Lin, among others, as well as the Boston Chamber Players with whom she recorded Schoenberg’s “Verklarte Nacht”. Her festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Music Festival, Newport Music Festival, Kingston Chamber Music Festival, Princeton Music Festival, Roycroft Chamber Music Festival, Bowdoin College Music Festival, Northern Country Chamber Players, Vermont Mozart Festival, Mozaic Festival and the Music in the Vineyards Festival. In 1985 Ms. Djokic made her Carnegie Hall debut as soloist with the New Jersey Symphony. She has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the United States, Canada and Europe to great critical acclaim.

Michelle captured the Philadelphia Orchestra Young Artist Competition first prize giving her her solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 13. Other prizes include the Prince Bernard Award for Excellence in the 1989 Scheveningen International Cello Competition, the coveted People’s Prize in the 1980 Pablo Casals International Cello Competition in Budapest, Hungary, first prize in the Chicago Civic Orchestra Competition, as well as first prize in the young artists competitions of the New Jersey Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Juilliard School Concerto Competition and the Aspen Festival Concerto Competition.

Upon moving to Northern California from the East Coast in 2005 Michelle served as Assistant Principal Cellist of the San Francisco Symphony for two seasons. Michelle received her Bachelor and Masters Degree from the Juilliard School as a student of Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at 20 years of age.

Gabriela Frank

Born in Berkeley, California to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela Lena Frank explores her heritage most ardently through her musical compositions. These have been described by critics as “luminous… bursting with fresh originality” (Los Angeles Times), “crafted with unselfconscious mastery” (Washington Post), and “brilliant” (Chicago Tribune). She has travelled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin-American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own.

With Latin Grammy and Grammy wins and nominations as both composer and pianist, Frank is regularly commissioned and performed by artists such as Yo Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, The King’s Singers, and the Kronos Quartet, as well as the major orchestras of the US including those of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Atlanta. Her newest work “Concertino Cusqueño” was recently commissioned and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, receiving rave reviews. Upcoming premieres include a piece for the 2015 Bicentenniel of the Haydn/Handel Society to be premiered at the Library of Congress and a symphonic work for the Cleveland Symphony. Frank collaborates closely with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz on vocal works including an upcoming opera about painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Frank received a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a 2010 USA Artists Grant for fifty of the country’s most brilliant artists. She is the subject of two PBS documentaries: “Peregrinos/Pilgrims: A Musical Journey,” which documents her work commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra based on interviews with Hispanic immigrants; and the forthcoming “Compadre Huashayo,” which follows her to Ecuador as she works with the Orquestra de Instrumentos Andinos, a 38-member ensemble comprised entirely of native highland instruments. Frank’s life and music are featured in dedicated chapters in scholarly books on women composers as well as a recently published W.W. Norton Anthology entitled The Musics of Latin America.

Born in 1972, Frank holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Rice University and a doctorate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is published/managed exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc.

Robert Howard

A native of Atlanta, GA, Robert began studying cello at age 12. He graduated from Rice University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has studied and performed at festivals such as Tanglewood, Spoleto, Verbier, the Accademia Chigiana, and the Sandor Vegh Academy in Prague. Robert won first prize in the Rome Festival Competition and has received grants from the Maggini and Virtu Foundations. Robert has performed in the Festival Internacional de Musica in Costa Rica, the Festival de Guadarama in Spain, and on the Mostly Mozart series in Lincoln Center. Locally, he has performed with American Bach Soloists, New Century Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque, and the San Francisco Symphony. He is also co-principal cellist of San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. A frequent guest on many Bay Area chamber music series, Robert has also made concerto appearances with BARS Orchestra and Stanford Symphony. As a teacher, he has coached at San Francisco Conservatory, Stanford University, and San Jose State University.

Jeffrey Ladeur

LaDeur has performed in recital throughout the United States including appearances at the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center, Dakota Sky International Piano Festival, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, and Four Seasons Arts Concerts. Recent solo performances include recitals at Old First Concerts, a live broadcast from PianoForte studios in Chicago, and at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he has served as Artist-in-Residence since January 2014.

A passionate chamber musician, LaDeur is a founding member of the acclaimed Delphi Trio. Henk Guittart, Violist of the Schoenberg Quartet, has described the Delphi’s playing as “Integrity and sincerity combined with amazing musical depth and joy.” Season highlights for the Delphi Trio include performances at the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, Bear Valley Music Festival, concerts and masterclasses throughout the midwest, and the release of their first commercial recording. In addition to his activities with the Trio, Jeffrey frequently collaborates with artists such as Robert Mann, Bonnie Hampton, Roy Malan, Ian Swensen, Axel Strauss, Paul Hersh, and Jennifer Culp.

Jeffrey completed his undergraduate education at the Eastman School of Music, studying with Douglas Humpherys and earned a Masters Degree in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music studying with Yoshikazu Nagai. One of two pianists selected for the 2010 Taos School of Music, LaDeur worked intensively with pianist Robert McDonald and members of the Borromeo, St. Lawrence, and Brentano String Quartets. Jeffrey received his formative musical training from Mark Edwards and Annie Sherter, a student of Vlado Perlemuter and Alfred Cortot.

Livia Sohn

Livia has been a guest soloist in North America with the symphony orchestras of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Seattle, Milwaukee, Edmonton, Rochester, Austin, Phoenix, San Antonio, Oregon, Dayton, Winston-Salem, Hartford, Cheyenne, Green Bay, Boca Raton, Louisville, I Musici de Montreal, Aspen Festival Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Boston Pops, and Brooklyn Philharmonic, among others. She has performed with many eminent conductors, including Yehudi Menuhin, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, James DePreist, Gerard Schwarz, Myung-Whun Chung, William Eddins, Grant Llewellyn, Lukas Foss, Jane Glover, Junichi Hirokami, Murry Sidlin, and Jorge Mester.

Internationally, she has performed as soloist with the Budapest Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, Cologne Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, Hungarian Radio Philharmonic, Orchestra del Teatro Marrucino di Chieti in Italy, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Limburgs Sinfonie Orkest in Holland, The City of London Sinfonia, Asia Philharmonic Orchestra, Korea’s Seoul and Pusan Philharmonics, and the Wuhan Philharmonic in China. She performed a multi-city tour with South Africa’s National Symphony and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestras and has performed solo recitals in Spain, Mexico, Cyprus, Israel, and Japan.

An avid chamber musician, Livia has been a guest artist at festivals such as the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, Cartagena International Music Festival in Colombia, Spoleto Festival USA, Aspen Music Festival, Caramoor International Music Festival, Edmonton Chamber Music Society, Newport Music Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, Maverick Concerts, Brevard Festival, Chamber Music Society of Sonoma, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Prince Albert Music Festival in Hawaii, Festival of the Sound and Pender Harbour Music Festival in Canada, and Festival de San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

In recital, Livia has appeared at New York City’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, Stanford University’s Lively Arts series, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Jordan Hall in Boston, Dame Myra Hess series in Chicago, Gwinnett Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, Xavier University in Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, Peace Center for the Performing Arts in South Carolina, and the Broad Stage in Los Angeles.

Born from her love of chamber music, Livia is part of the piano trio Latitude 41, which was formed in 2009 with pianist Bernadene Blaha and cellist Luigi Piovano. Their debut CD of Schubert’s monumental Trio in E flat major, and Schubert’s “Notturno”, was released in 2011 on the label Eloquentia to rave reviews. Among other places, they have performed in Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco. Highlights from this season will see them perform in Port Townsend, Washington, and Rome, Italy. They will record another CD on the label Eloquentia of the piano trios by Camille Saint-Saëns.

In addition to the CDs she has recorded with Latitude 41, this year the Eloquentia label released a disc of Livia playing the concertos of Benjamin Britten and living composer Jonathan Berger. Gramaphone Magazine says of this recording, “Sohn’s playing…is shot through with angst and urgency…”, and The Strad Magazine says “Violinist Livia Sohn gives a committed account of the solo part, and she demonstrates an ease in getting through the notes, even where Britten sets his formidable double-stopping challenges.” Livia can be heard on the Naxos label in the CDs “Opera Fantasies”, which features opera arrangements for violin and piano (and includes three world premiere transcriptions), and “Miracles and Mud”, featuring works by Jonathan Berger. She can also be heard on iTunes performing the Dvorak and Khachaturian Concertos in a live recording with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra.

Livia gave her first public performance at age eight. In 1989, at the age of 13, she won First Prize in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, where she was also awarded the Audience Prize. She attended the Juilliard Pre-College Division from the age of seven, at which time she began her studies with Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang. She continued under their tutelage at the Juilliard School, where she also studied chamber music with the legendary Felix Galamir. Livia plays on a J. B. Guadagnini violin crafted in 1770, and a Samuel Zygmuntowicz made in 2006. She has been on faculty at the Music Department of Stanford University since 2005.

Ian Swensen

Ian Swensen is one of the few musicians to have been awarded top prize (as first violinist of the Meliora String Quartet) by the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation in both the International Violin Competition and the Chamber Music Competition. He received his training at The Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay and at the Eastman School of Music with Donald Weilerstein.

Mr. Swensen has taught violin and chamber music since 1985 and currently is chair of the string department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His most recent chamber music collaborations have been with members of the Juilliard and Cleveland quartets, the Smithsonian-Axelrod String Quartet, Menahem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, Robert Mann, Bernard Greenhouse, Joel Krosnick, and Yo-Yo Ma. As well as a recitalist, Mr. Swensen, has also been a featured soloist with the Boston Philharmonic, Boston Pops Orchestra, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra of Santa Fe, the Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Oakland symphonies, Toulouse Symphony of France, and the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra.

Sharon Wei

Violist Sharon Wei was a National and a Canadian Merit Scholar at the University of Western Ontario. She completed her studies at the Curtis Institute and at Yale, graduating with the Viola Prize. Other honours include top prizes at the London Music Competition, and the Washington International Competition. Sharon has appeared as soloist with orchestra throughout North America. She has performed with the Stratford Civic Orchestra, New Haven Chamber Orchestra, Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, and the Orchestra of Southern Utah. Past highlights include concerts at the International Viola congress, Ravinia, Norfolk, Verbier, Scotiafest and Musique de Chambre a Normandie. Recent concerts include concertos with the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra and a Debut Atlantic Recital tour of the Maritime provinces in Canada. She has pursued her studies on grants from the Canada Council and Chalmers Foundation. Sharon has taught in Yale University’s undergraduate department, given masterclasses throughout Canada and has been on faculty at Stanford University. Sharon will be Assistant Professor of Viola at the University of Western Ontario from January 2014.

— our past performers — 

Joy Fellows

Joy Fellows is a member of both the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet currently as acting Associate Principal. Previously, she was Associate Principal Viola of the Indianapolis Symphony, and has also been a member of both the St. Louis Symphony, and the New World Symphony in Miami. 

Joy has been a resident chamber musician at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Italy, and has also participated in the Juilliard String Quartet seminar, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Central City Opera (Colorado), Pacific Music Festival (Japan), and has participated and taught at the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Joy has performed as chamber musician and as a soloist across the US, Europe and Asia.

Ms. Fellows holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Masters degree from The Juilliard School. Joy studied chamber music with Robert Mann, Nicholas Mann, Earl Carlyss, Joel Smirnoff, and Sam Rhodes. Her principal teachers included Wayne Crouse, Matthew Dane, and Samuel Rhodes of the Juilliard String Quartet.

Keisuke Nakagoshi

Keisuke Nakagoshi began his piano studies at the age of ten, arriving in the United States from Japan at the age of 18. Mr. Nakagoshi earned his Bachelors degree in Composition and Masters degree in Chamber Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Graduating as the recipient of multiple top awards, Keisuke was selected to represent the SFCM for the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project, a program featuring the most promising young musicians from major conservatories across the United States.

Mr. Nakagoshi has performed to acclaim on prestigious concert stages across the United States, including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. He has received training from some of the most celebrated musicians of our time – Emanuel Ax, Gilbert Kalish, Menahem Pressler, Robert Mann, Norman Fisher, The Peabody Trio – and enjoys collaborating with other accomplished musicians such as Lucy Shelton, Ian Swensen, Jodi Levitz, Robin Sutherland, the Afiara String Quartet and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

In addition to performing with symphonies and playing an expansive repertoire of chamber music, Keisuke tours as principal pianist and slide guitarist with conductor George Daugherty’s award-winning “Bugs Bunny on Broadway” and “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony,” performing with American orchestras from coast to coast.

Mr. Nakagoshi is Pianist-in-Residence at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Opera Parallele.

Jeremy Preston

Jeremy is the newly appointed Principal Second Violin of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. He also serves as Associate Concertmaster of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and performs with the San Francisco Ballet and the Berkeley Symphony.  Before moving to San Francisco in 2013, he was a tenured violinist with the North Carolina Symphony for seven seasons.

Jeremy has performed in the Old First Concerts Series and the Music in the Mishkan Chamber Music Series. He was member of the North Carolina Symphony String Quartet and frequently performed with the Mallarme Chamber Players, the Peace College Manning Chamber Players, New Music Raleigh, and the Eastern Festival Chamber Players.

Jerome Simas

Jerome Simas joined the San Francisco Symphony as clarinetist and bass clarinetist in 2012. He has performed as a guest orchestral musician with other American orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra (acting principal clarinet), and the Naples Philharmonic of Florida. Jerome won first prize at the International Clarinet Society’s Young Artist Competition, grand prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and first prize at the Yellow Springs National Chamber Music Competition. He has appeared as soloist with the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, California Symphony, New World Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Modesto Symphony, IRIS Orchestra, and the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony, where he received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees as a student of Cleveland Orchestra principal clarinetist, Franklin Cohen.

As a music educator, he has taught master classes in the United States, Canada and China and is currently a coach with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Community of Music Makers program. He is a regular coach with youth orchestras and university ensembles throughout Northern California and has been a faculty member at the University of Akron, UC Davis, Stanford University, and at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance where he was Assistant Professor of Clarinet. He recently joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Chautauqua Institution’s collegiate summer program.

Marilyn Thompson

Pianist Marilyn Thompson received her Bachelor’s Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she was a student of Adolph Baller. She was awarded a Fulbright grant to the Vienna Academy of Music, and subsequently received her Master’s Degree from Stanford University, where she studied under the Helen Evans Memorial Scholarship – a full-tuition grant. While at Stanford, she gave the West Coast Premiere of Roger Sessions’ Piano Concerto. She has given countless recitals in the United States and abroad, and has been the featured soloist in concerti of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Martinu, Hindemith, Barber and others. She has performed virtually the entire standard chamber music repertoire. Her recordings include performances of the Thomas Beversdorf Cello sonata, the Brahms Trio Op.87, and Ravel’s Violin-Piano Sonate. Miss Thompson has performed in chamber music concerts in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center; the 92nd Street “Y” in New York City; the Philip’s Gallery, Washington D.C.; Boston’s Symphony Hall; Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco; and most recently in the Teatro Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica. In the 1980’s she was the pianist member of the Chamber Soloists of San Francisco and the San Francisco Trio. At the present time Miss Thompson is the pianist of the Navarro Trio, a group which performs frequently throughout the Bay Area. Marilyn Thompson has taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the College of Holy Names, Oakland, California; at the University of California at Santa Cruz; and is presently on the faculty of Sonoma State University where she has taught since 1976.

Lila Watanabe

Born into a musical family in Tokyo, Japan, Lila Watanabe began playing the violin at the age of four. She first received instruction from her father, a cellist, and her aunt, a violinist. She later graduated from Toho Gakuen School of Music where she studied with Toshiya and Angela Eto.

Ms. Watanabe came to the United States to continue her studies with Franco Gulli and Mauricio Fuks at Indiana University School of Music, where she received Performer Diploma and Artist Diploma. Subsequently, Ms. Watanabe completed the graduate chamber music program at San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Camilla Wicks and Mark Sokol. While attending the Conservatory, she performed with faculty and guest artists including Bonnie Hampton, Gilbert Kalish, Jorja Fleezanis and Robert Mann.

A frequent performer at various festivals, Ms. Watanabe appeared as soloist and concertmistress with Institut Musical de Provence-Aubagne, performed with Waterloo Chamber Music Society and was invited to Tanglewood Music Festival where she was the recipient of Boston Symphony Orchestra Audition Award and Henry Kohn Memorial Award, and appointed as concertmistress for a BSO/Tanglewood joint concert. In 1998, she founded Chamber Ensemble Bloomington, which has performed to critical acclaim in Japan annually. She has also performed as a soloist with Orchestrada in Tokyo, Japan, where she often contributes her time coaching the players in string sectionals and chamber music, and in Estonia where she has served as a soloist and faculty for a conductors’ masterclass with Parnu City Orchestra.

Ms. Watanabe is currently a full-time substitute violinist with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and her past positions include associate concertmistress with Stockton Symphony, assistant second violinist with Marin Symphony, principal second violinist with Northwest Indiana Symphony, assistant concertmistress/assistant principal second violinist with Elgin Symphony, and section violinist with The Cleveland Orchestra.