Celebrating the chamber music of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and other Latin American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries
Celebrating the chamber music of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and other Latin American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries
American cellist Lars Hoefs, professor of cello and music history at Sao Paulo State University in Campinas (Unicamp), performs in Brazil, the United States, and Europe. 2015 highlights included solo performances with the Collegium Musicum Orchestra in Berlin, recitals in Poland, appearances in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the Ipalpiti Festival at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and numerous solo performances throughout Brazil. At Unicamp, Lars leads a cello ensemble of his students that tours regularly, and will release the album “Violoncelos sem Fronteiras” in 2016.
Lars has established himself as a leading expert on the cello repertoire of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. He was the first cellist to perform together in one program the complete works for cello and orchestra by Villa-Lobos with the Orquestra Sinfonica da Unicamp. In 2012 he was invited to perform Villa-Lobos’ complete works for cello and piano at the 50th annual Festival Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro. In January of 2015 Lars was artistic director of the first Villa-Lobos International Chamber Music Festival at the University of California in Riverside, presenting 10 concerts in Riverside and Los Angeles and premiering composer Paulo C. Chagas’ monumental cycle “Gravity and Grace, Mobiles I-III.”
As soloist in Brazil, Lars has performed concerti with the Amazonas Filarmonica in Manaus; the symphony orchestras of Barra Mansa, Braganca Paulista, Nova Odessa, and Sorocaba; youth orchestras in Salvador (NEOJIBA), Campos do Jordao, Piracicaba and Rio de Janeiro (OSB Jovem); and notably the South American premiere of Korngold’s Cello Concerto with the Orquestra Sinfonica Municipal of Campinas and Maestro Victor Hugo Toro. Lars is a frequent guest at the Rio International Cello Encounters and the Festival Virtuosi in Recife, and in 2009, Lars spent the year as co-principal cellist of the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira in Rio de Janeiro under conductor Roberto Minczuk.
Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, Lars earned his high school diploma at the North Carolina School of the Arts, a Bachelors from Northwestern University studying with Hans Jorgen Jensen, and both Masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he studied with former Los Angeles Philharmonic principal cellist Ronald Leonard.
Paulo C. Chagas is Professor of Composition at the University of California, Riverside. A very versatile composer, Chagas has written over 140 works for orchestra, chamber music, electroacoustic music, audiovisual and multimedia compositions. His music unfolds a pluralistic aesthetic, using the most diverse musical materials from different cultures, acoustic and digital media, dance, video, and audiovisual installations. His works have resulted from numerous commissions and fellowships and have been performed in Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Czech Republic, Swiss, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, South Korea, the USA, and Latin America to public and critical acclaim.
The creative manipulation of electronic and digital sound and the integration of music into multimedia forms is a significant aspect of Chagas’ work. As he states: “My compositions make extensive use of technology while seeking to understand the ways of thinking that lie behind technology by making it transparent. In accordance with Heidegger, I believe that “the more questioningly we ponder the essence of technology, the more mysterious the essence of art becomes.” The pursuit of the humanistic endeavor and the ascent of man as a spiritual being is at the core of my aesthetics that emphasizes the human, symbolic and ritualistic dimension of music.”
Chagas is also a prolific author of articles on musical semiotics, electroacoustic and digital music. His most recent book Unsayable Music (Leuven University Press, 2014) presents theoretical, critical and analytical reflections on contemporary music creativity. The six essays of the book approach music from different perspectives such as philosophy, sociology, cybernetics, musical semiotics, media, and critical studies.
“Toke Møldrup is without question among the most prominent musicians in Scandinavia.” This from the Danish newspaper Politiken, in response to the cellist's recent CD debut. After his highly acclaimed debut concert from the cello studio of Morten Zeuthen at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 2005, Toke Møldrup has given concerts in some of the worldʼs major concert halls, including the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Daiichi Seimei Hall in Tokyo, and the Musikverein in Vienna. He has won several international awards, including first prize at the European Broadcast Unionʼs “New Talent” Competition in Bratislava in 2007, and first prize at the Danish String Competition in 2006. In 2003, as a member of the Paizo Quartet, he was awarded the Grand Prize at the 4th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. In Denmark Toke Moldrup has received numerous grants and honors, including the Jacob Gades Prize, the Harby Prize, and the Danish Music Critics' Artist Award. In addition to his studies in Copenhagen, Cologne, Chicago, Karlsruhe, Zagreb, Vienna, and his birthplace of Aarhus Toke Møldrup has participated in various master classes, for example Kronberg Academy in Germany and the London Master Classes, with artists such as Valter Despalj, David Geringas, Ralph Kirschbaum, Yo-Yo Ma, György Kurtág, the Amadeus Quartet, and the Alban Berg Quartet. As a soloist he has played with many orchestras in Denmark, including Aarhus and Odense symphony orchestras as well as the Copenhagen Phil, and abroad with the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bratislava Radio Orchestra under the baton of conductors such as Aldo Ceccato, Mika Eischenholz, Morten Ryelund Sørensen, Sanntu-Matias Rauvalla and Joshua Weilerstein.
Toke Møldrup's chamber music partners include 3 of Denmark's other top cellists: Jakob Kullberg, Morten Zeuthen and Henrik Dam Thomsen. Together they form the Copenhagen Cello Quartet. He performs often with young Danish accordeon star Bjarke Mogensen and Israeli pianist Yaron Kohlberg, with whom he recently released the CD Passionate with works by, Ginastera, Shostakovich and Stravinsky among others.
Over and above Mr. Møldrupʼs strong focus on the standard cello repertoire, he has a keen interest in numerous other musical genres, and particularly in contemporary Danish music. Danish composers such as Simon Steen-Andersen, Anders Koppel, Per Nørgaard and Kasper Rofelt have all dedicated works to him.
By day, Toke Møldrup is solo cellist in the Sjællands Symfoniorkester/Copenhagen Phil.
Lately the Augustinus Foundation has put a rare cello by David Tecchler, Rome 1697, at his disposal.
A native of Belgium, Steven Vanhauwaert made his official U.S. solo debut with a recital for the Jacaranda series, where he was hailed by the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Swed for his ‘impressive clarity, sense of structure and monster technique.” Since then, Mr. Vanhauwaert has appeared in solo recitals at the world’s leading venues such as the Concertgebouw in Brugge, Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, Bovard Auditorium in Los Angeles, the Singel in Antwerp, the Great Hall of the Brussels Conservatory, the Great Hall of the Budapest Liszt Conservatory, as well as numerous other prestigious venues in Bulgaria, Hungary, the US, the Netherlands, France, Brazil, Canada, Israel, the UK, Austria, and Spain. He frequently tours China, where he received great critical acclaim for his solo recitals at the renowned National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, and many other venues in Quingdao, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanning, Nanjing, Dalian, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Guiyang, and Jinan. He has appeared with orchestras such as the Pacific Symphony, the Flemish Symphony, the Oak Ridge Symphony, the USC Symphony, the Bryan Symphony, Collegium Instrumentale, the Concord Jazz Ensemble, the Auburn Symphony, the Eastern Sierra Chamber Orchestra, the Peninsula Symphony, and Prima la Musica, amongst others.
Mr. Vanhauwaert is passionate about discovering the less familiar jewels of the classical repertoire and sharing them with his audiences. He has given the West Coast premiere of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and the US premiere of Eric Tanguy’s Piano Trio. He also frequently collaborates with today’s leading composers. This season he presented a recital with works by Busoni, Casella, Pratella, Ornstein, and Lourié at the Concertgebouw in Bruges as part of their happening on the ‘fascination and fear of noise’. He was invited for a residency at New York University in Abu Dhabi, for recitals, masterclasses, and a multimedia project based on the works by Teresienstadt composer Viktor Ullmann, including his melodrama on Rilke’s Cornet poem, and the monumental 7th piano sonata. He also made his debut for the acclaimed PianoSpheres concert series in Disney Hall’s Redcat Auditorium, with a daring program consisting exclusively of 20th and 21st century Etudes for the piano, including two special commissions by composers Eric Tanguy, and Veronika Krausas.
Mr. Vanhauwaert enjoys collaborating with other musicians and is a frequent guest at chamber music festivals worldwide. He is the recipient of the Maurice Lefranc award, the Rotary Prize, the Galiot Prize, the USC Concerto Competition, and the Grand Prize at the 2004 Los Angeles International Liszt Competition.
His discography includes a solo album with works by Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Chopin, and Debussy; two 4hand-discs featuring arrangements of Stravinsky’s popular ballets Petrushka and the Le Sacre du Printemps, as well as works by Satie, Ravel, Poulenc and Casella (with his 4handsLA partner Danny Holt), and a disc with works by L.A.-based Lior Rosner for Bridge Records. Along with violinist Guillaume Sutre and harpist Kyunghee Kim-Sutre, he recorded a disc on Sonarti Records with works by Joseph Woelfl, which received a rave review and 5 diapasons in the french magazine Diapason. The album Pensées Intimes for Editions Hortus, featuring works by Hans Pfitzner, Lili Boulanger, Georges Antoine, and a world premiere recording of the Gallipoli Sonata by the Australian composer F.S. Kelly along with violinist Guillaume Sutre, received great acclaim from On-Mag, and Crescendo Magazine, and also received 5 diapasons in Diapason. A solo disc with works by works by Schulhoff, Casella, Hindemith, Vierne, and a world premiere recording of the piano sonata by Raymond Moulaert will be released on Editions Hortus in March 2016.
Many of Mr. Vanhauwaert’s performances have been broadcast live on networks such as K-MZT, K-CSN, K-USC, K-PFK, W-HKB, W-UOT, K-UAT, W-FMT, RTBF, WTV, PBS, and KLARA. He will also be featured in a documentary on creativity for the German/French channel ARTE. He is frequently invited to give guest lecture recitals and masterclasses in universities throughout the world. Mr. Vanhauwaert is a Steinway Artist.
Bridget Dolkas, Principal Second Violin of the Pacific Symphony, enjoys life as an innovative musician of the 21st century. 2013 saw her first endeavor as co-writer and director of a ground-breaking and “frighteningly funny” mash-up music video, “Frite of Spring” (check it out on youtube!). Bridget performs with the newly formed chamber ensemble, Renga, which recently performed at the 2014 Ojai Festival. Also in 2014, Bridget performed in the inaugural season of the Villa-Lobos International Chamber Music Festival. As first violinist and founding member of the California Quartet, she co-founded the critically acclaimed Connections Chamber Music Series, of which Tim Mangan of the Orange County Register wrote, “a worthy series”. Bridget rocks out in the jazz-classical fusion band, the Peter Sprague Consort, an intriguing ensemble combining string quartet and jazz trio- and always a favorite at the Idyllwild Jazz Festival. Since the year 2000, Ms. Dolkas has performed with the California Quartet in Europe and the United States to great acclaim, and has performed world-wide since the age of ten. In recent years, she has performed as soloist with the Pacific Symphony, South Coast Chamber Orchestra, and Poway Symphony. As a chamber musician, she performs regularly on Pacific Symphony’s chamber music series, Café Ludwig, and has shared the stage with such greats as Mark O’Connor, Orli Shaham, Peter Sprague, and Paul Katz. Ms. Dolkas performed for eight years in the San Diego Symphony and the San Diego Opera Orchestra. Studying chamber music under such masters as Joseph Silverstein, Kim Kashkashian, Fred Sherry, Toby Appel, as well as the Juilliard, Alexander, and Miro Quartets, has made a tremendous musical impact on Ms. Dolkas. As a student of Alice Schoenfeld, she earned her BM degree at the University of Southern California, where she was awarded Chamber Musician of the Year. Continuing her studies with Isaac Malkin, she completed an MM degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She neared completion of a DMA degree from UCLA, where she studied with Mark Kaplan. Ms. Dolkas performs on a cherished 1798 Lupot violin.
Peter Sprague was born in Cleveland, Ohio and was raised in Colorado until 1963, when his family moved to Del Mar, California. Inspired by his father's love of jazz, he took up the guitar when he was twelve. By the age of fifteen he was devoting all his time and energy to learning music.
Following a year's study at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Sprague studied privately and performed around the San Diego area until 1976. That year found him moving to Boston to study with many notable musicians including Pat Metheny, Madame Chaloff and Albin Czak (who taught Peter classical guitar). Peter returned to San Diego in 1978 and formed his ground breaking jazz group The Dance of the Universe Orchestra.
At the age of 20 Peter started recording his own albums on the Concord Jazz and Xanadu record labels. He has been a guest artist on many other records and performed and toured with Chick Corea, Hubert Laws, Dianne Reeves, David Benoit, Sergio Mendes and many others. On his debut with the Chick Corea band for a series of concerts at Disneyland noted Los Angeles Times jazz critic wrote in a review the following day "Peter Sprague is one of the emergent great guitarists." Peter also worked with Chick on the film score to the movie The Cat Chasers, starring actress Kelly McGillis.
From 1990 to 1993 Sprague taught music at both California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. He continues to teach every summer at the annual UCSD Jazz Camp in La Jolla, CA.
Peter was involved with the legendary record label GRP Records on a number of projects. He arranged Chick Corea's song "Spain" for the GRP All-Star Big Band record and video. This performance featured Randy Brecker, Lee Ritenour, Dave Weckl, Ernie Watts among many other jazz legends. Peter was featured on David Benoit's GRP releases Letter To Evan and Shaken, Not Stirred. Also on GRP Records, Sprague played on Eric Marienthal’s recording One Touch featuring Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip, Alex Acuna, and Ivan Lins.
Peter has been the recipient of many awards: His CD Blurring the Edges won the Best Contemporary Jazz Recording of 1994 from the San Diego Music Awards (SDMA); Best Jazz Musician of the Year in 2000 by the SDMA; The San Diego Reader voted Peter the Best Jazz Group for the 2002 Best Of issue; 2004 Best Jazz Artist of the year by the SDMA; In 2006 Peter was the Honored Musician at the Museum of Making Music’s Evening of Note; 2007 Best Jazz Artist of the year by the SDMA; In 2000 his CD Nikki's Rose was nominated for the Best Jazz CD by the SDMA; In 2003 his CD Pass The Drum was nominated for CD of the Year by the SDMA.
Peter has been the recipient of many grants and commissions, (San Diego Symphony, Chamber Music America etc.) and has published eleven music books (The Sprague Technique, Brazil Jazz Songbook, etc.)
Peter is also the chief organizer and transcriber for Chick Corea's music books published with Hal Leonard Publishing. Peter records at his own studio in Encinitas, Spragueland.
Pianist Timothy Durkovic was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He received his musical education at the National Conservatory of Guatemala, the Juilliard School, Salem College, and the Thornton School of Music (USC), where his major teachers were Barbara Lister-Sink, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Daniel Pollack, Jacob Lateiner, and Consuelo Medinilla. He holds two Bachelor’s degrees and one Master’s degree in piano performance. He is the winner of several competitions, both nationally and internationally, and performs in recital, as soloist with orchestra, and in chamber music collaborations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Specializing in teaching the Lister-Sink Method of well-coordinated, injury-preventive piano technique, he currently serves as the Director of Keyboard Studies at Long Beach City College. He has also served on the teaching faculties at the University of La Verne, Orange County High School for the Arts, and the Thornton School of Music (USC). His performances have been broadcast on NPR, the International Voice of America, and TGNA. His Latin American premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Gargoyles brought him acclaim directly from the composer as “an incisive and exciting performance” and is currently available as the title track of his CD available on iTunes. He can also be heard on the Albany Records release, “SixthSpecies,” with violist Leticia Oaks Strong of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is the Vice President of the Lister-Sink Foundation, has served on the Executive Board of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers, maintains a private teaching studio, and is the Director of Music/Organist at Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia, California. For more information on Durkovic’s activities, availability, and recordings, please visit his website at timothydurkovic.com. Timothy Durkovic is an official Steinway Artist.
Since its formation in the year 2000, the California Quartet has grown to become a beloved member of the chamber music community. In particular, the quartet is noted for their spirited interpretations, lyric style, and charisma on-stage and off.
Passionate and personable, the members of the California Quartet create a living connection between performer, composer, and audience through thoughtfully rendered musical interpretations and audience interaction. While the CQ embraces traditional quartet repertoire, they also seek to build audience appreciation and understanding of more modern works as well. This commitment to bringing new and interesting ideas to audiences has led to commissions of new works, world-premiere performances, and designing an interactive chamber music series, “Connections”, which began its inaugural season in January, 2010. The series is co-founded by their friend and colleague, composer Matthew Tommasini.
The quartet has performed to great acclaim at numerous festivals including the Great Lakes Music Festival, the Laguna Beach Chamber Music Festival, the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, the Juilliard, Muir, and Chilingirian Quartet Seminars, the Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Seminar, and the Banff Career Residency Program. In addition, the California Quartet has been awarded finalist or semi-finalist positions in the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, Vittorio Gui International Chamber Music Competition in Italy, the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York, and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition.
The artists of the California Quartet perform in numerous professional ensembles, often in principal positions, including the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and their individual musical experiences have been interesting and diverse. Comprised of artists of great individuality and dynamic artistic backgrounds, the members of the California Quartet have joined musical forces and found a single point of inspiration in which to blend their talents. With energetic intensity and musical sincerity, the California Quartet continues to delight audiences everywhere they perform.
Rose was the pianist of the highly accomplished piano trio, the Blue Rose Trio. The trio had captured top prizes in the Coleman, MTNA, and Peninsula chamber music competitions and concertized in Canada, Austria, Brazil, France, Israel, Hong Kong, and China. Within the United States Rose also maintains a steadfast performing and teaching career in Alaska, Texas, and throughout California.
In addition to her lifelong interest in Western classical music, Rose’s eclectic taste in music encompasses a variety of styles and genres, including jazz, folk, pop, and the music of Latin America. Rose’s recent projects include composing and recording music for a short film called Tasting Wednesday; the world premiere of Suite Adeline for solo piano by techno pioneer Bruce Haack (1931-1988); an album dedicated entirely to the piano-cello works by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos; and the premiere of her own arrangements of several Taiwanese folk/pop songs for piano, melodica, and choir.
Rose is currently a music faculty at Cypress College and Hyperium Conservatory. She is also the music director at the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester, Los Angeles. An advocate for Taiwanese contemporary music, Rose was appointed director and conductor of the Los Angeles Taiwan Chorus in 2010.
Dr. Ruby Cheng is an active soloist and chamber musician in the Southern California area where she has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards including the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition, Music Academy of the West Concerto Competition, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Bronislaw Kaper Awards.
Dr. Cheng has collaborated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and has appeared as soloist with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, and the Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra. Her performances have been broadcast on Santa Barbara's KDB 93.7 classical radio. She has given recitals throughout North America, including at the Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Sarasota, Banff Centre for the Arts, and Harvard University, including the Wednesday at One series at Alice Tully Hall with cellist Alisa Weilerstein. As a chamber musician, she has been heard on series throughout Southern California at the South Bay Chamber Music Society, Dana Point Coastal Arts, Concertos Pomeridiano, and The Previews at Trinity Lutheran Church, and at the Coleman and Fischoff National Chamber Music Competitions where she was a finalist and semi-finalist.
Influential teachers include Ick Choo and Hae-Young Moon, Mark Richman, Jerome Lowenthal, Marc Durand, and Walter Ponce. Dr. Cheng received her BM, MM, and DMA degrees from the Juilliard School and UCLA.
Anita Protich is a soprano whose unique and agile voice has been heard in operatic, concert and recital appearances throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. She is winner of the Los Angeles Phi Beta Theta Award, a Pasadena Opera Guild Winner and is a Metropolitan Opera Audition Regional Winner and National Finalist. Her list of masterclass teachers and mentors included Jess Thomas, Sir Richard Bonynge, Joan Dornemann, Mignon Dunn, Gundula Janowitz, Evelyn Lear, Sherrill Milnes, Martial Singher and Nico Castel.
Ms. Protich’s beautiful spinto voice has been heard in the heroine roles of operas such as Il Trovatore, Aida, Ballo in Maschera, Attila, Der Rosenkavalier, Lohengrin, Die Walküre, and Tristan und Isolde. She was particularly honored to sing with Dame Joan Sutherland in Dame Joan’s final appearances as Bellini’s Norma with Opera Pacific and Michigan Opera Theatre. She also was privileged to sing the role of Sister Prejean in the American opera Dead Man Walking, a special performance led by the composer Jake Heggie at the keyboard. European and Asian audiences have been thrilled by her performances during her concert/operatic tours of Germany, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Ukraine, Croatia and Thailand.
Miss Protich has been featured with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, and as featured soloist with the Claremont, Mountainside, Pacific, Saddleback, and Orange Chorales. Her most recent performances of note were recitals for the Pacific Standard Time Project's Émigrés and Experimentalists: Music in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s presented by the J. Paul Getty Museum and LA Opera.
Residing in Los Angeles, Anita extends her range of vocalism to using her voice for film, and television. Her credits include the Warner Bros. film “Kangaroo Jack” and independent films “Distance” and “Dogs.” She has sung for commercials for Teac, Honda and Mazda and her voice can be heard in the animation series "Veggie Tales: Larry Boy The Cartoon Adventures" and for "Kid Notorious."
Tao Ni, a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was born in Beng Bu, An Hui Province, China. He began his cello studies with his father at the age of eight and a year later he was enrolled in the Shanghai Conservatory Preparatory Division, where he studied with Professor Liu Mei Juan. Tao Ni made his first visit to North America in 1996 attending summer music workshops at Indiana University (Bloomington) and the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. He came as a student to the first Morningside Music Bridge in 1997, and stayed at Mount Royal College Conservatory studying with John Kadz. His other teachers include Laurence Lesser, Timothy Eddy, and most recent, Ronald Leonard at the Colburn School. Tao was also a participant in various festivals including Meadowmount, Ravinia Festival (Steans Institute for Young Artists), and the New York String Seminar in Carnegie Hall.
Ni has had much success in competitions, including winning the Johannsen String Competition, the Pasadena Showcase Competition, the Hudson Valley Competition, and the New England Conservatory Concerto Competition, as well as getting top prizes at the Tchaikovsky Competition for young musicians, the Kingsville Competition, the Klein String Competition, the Corpus Christi Concerto Competition, and the Hams Competition. In 2015 Tao competed in the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Saint Petersburg.
He has soloed with many orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Arlington Symphony, the Brockton Symphony, the Concord Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Shanghai Philharmonic, the Sendai Orchestra, the Shanghai Opera, the Colburn Orchestra, and the Calgary Youth Orchestra, among many others. As an experienced chamber musician, Ni has collaborated with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Joseph Silverstein, Ani Kavafian, Anton Kuerti, Kim Kashkashian, James Dunham, Donald Weilerstein, Frank Cohen, Miriam Fried, and Robert Chan.
Other performing highlights include playing for Jiang Zemin, the President of China, in Calgary; playing in recital at The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.; being featured in a national CBC radio broadcast as part of the Mount Royal College 90th Anniversary Series; and performing a hip-hop arrangement of Vivaldi’s A-minor Cello Concerto with members of the Boston University Orchestra. He was featured in Canada’s National Post newspaper as a “Leader of Tomorrow.”
Tao Ni was previously a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in March 2012.
A graduate of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Mr. Sweeney returned to his home town of Pasadena, California in 2005 to pursue his career as a performing artist and to help young cellists develop their own talents. During this time, Mr. Sweeney has frequently performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, and Pasadena Pops. He is also an active performer for the soundtracks of major Hollywood motion pictures. His credits include “Spider-Man 3”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”, “All the King’s Men”, and “Click”.
Because of his particular passion for shaping the abilities of young cellists, Mr. Sweeney has been involved in music education for some time. He has been teaching privately since 2001, working with students in Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, New York, and Los Angeles. In addition to private teaching, Mr. Sweeney has served as a coach for the North Shore Cello Choir in Evanston, Illinois, chamber music instructor at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California, and currently coaches the cello sections of the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Youth Chamber Orchestra, and Huntington Middle School Advanced Orchestra. His students currently hold positions in the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra, Huntington Middle School Advanced Orchestra, and Harvard Westlake Middle School Symphony Orchestra. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons of the notable Meadowmount School of Music in Westport, New York, Mr. Sweeney served as the teaching assistant to the school’s Director, Owen Carman.
Throughout his twenty eight years of study and experience, Mr. Sweeney has had the distinction of being mentored by cellists that could only be described as “world-class”. During his time at Rice University, Mr. Sweeney was one of the privileged few selected to study with the renowned soloist Lynn Harrell. Before earning his Master’s degree in Cello Performance at Rice University, he received his Bachelor of Music from the Northwestern University School of Music. His four years of undergraduate study were the last of a twelve year period spent studying with the highly celebrated pedagogue, Hans JØrgen Jensen. During the course of his secondary education at the Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California, Mr. Sweeney was a student of the then principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Professor of Cello at the University of Southern California, Ronald Leonard. His early years were spent under the tutelage of the widely recognized soloist and current principal cellist of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, John Walz. In addition to those cellists with whom he studied, Mr. Sweeney has also been selected to play in master classes given by Janos Starker, Ralph Kirshbaum, and Ko Iwasaki
In addition to the musical knowledge he acquired through the remarkable lineage of his cello teachers, Mr. Sweeney has also learned from the finest chamber musicians in the world. At the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival Mr. Sweeney was one of five musicians selected to participate in an intense training session where he was coached by the likes of the American String Quartet and Hillary Hahn. At Rice University his quartet held the distinction of performing for both the Tokyo String Quartet and the Guarneri String Quartet. He has also collaborated and performed with the great violinist Pinchas Zuckerman.
Mr. Sweeney has been awarded many prizes from prestigious competitions including; the Women’s Association of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Society of American Musicians Young Artist Competition in Chicago, and the Northwestern University School of Music concerto competition. In 2002, he made his solo debut with the YMF Debut Orchestra at the Wilshire Ebel Theater in Beverly Hills and later performed with the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra at the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois. Mr. Sweeney has appeared in recital in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, New Jersey, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem.
Cellist Julie Jung has performed internationally as a soloist and member of the award-winning Jung Trio with her two sisters Jennie and Ellen. A prizewinner in the 2000 Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, she has been presented in recitals by the Debut-Young Concert Artist Series in Montreal and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC Radio) across Canada and has also performed as soloist with the Toronto Symphony, Canadian Chamber Academy, State Symphony of Tatarstan, Korean Philharmonic, Taejon Philharmonic, University of Toronto Symphony, Korean-Canadian Symphony, and East York Symphony Orchestras. She has participated in festivals including the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Norfolk and Great Lakes Chamber Music Festivals, the Manchester Cello Festival (England), New York String Seminar, and the Verbier Academy in Switzerland where she studied with artists including Frans Helmerson, Ralph Kirshbaum, Paul Katz, and David Geringas.
An avid chamber musician, Ms. Jung has performed in Japan, Malaysia, and Germany, and has collaborated in performance with artists including the St. Lawrence String Quartet, James Dunham, Edgar Meyer, Shauna Rolston, and Laurence Lesser. As a member of the NEC Honors String Quartet, she was awarded the Silver Medal at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Ms. Jung has performed with iPalpiti in the International Laureates Festival in Los Angeles since 2007 and appeared with the ensemble in Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, and the Kimmel Center. With the Jung Trio, she was awarded the Grand Prize at the Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition and the Bronze Medal at the Fischoff Chamber Music Compeition. The trio has performed in Austria, Germany, Russia, Los Angeles, Toronto, New York City, Seoul, and toured Kenya and Mauritius. The trio completed studies in the Artist Diploma program at Yale and also attended the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival/Yale Summer School of Music where they collaborated with violist Jesse Levine and studied with artists such as Claude Frank, Peter Frankl, Tokyo String Quartet, John O’Conor, and Syoko Aki. Their first album on the Groovenote Label was released in July 2009 and they are currently Trio-in-Residence at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA.
Ms. Jung received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto where she studied with Shauna Rolston. She received her Master of Music degree with Academic Honors and Distinction in Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston under the tutelage of Laurence Lesser, and completed studies at the Yale School of Music with Aldo Parisot in the Artist Diploma Program. Ms. Jung is currently a member of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Redlands Symphony Orchestra, and the Riverside Philharmonic. She is on faculty at Vanguard University, Mount San Antonio College, and is also on the Board of Advisors for the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF).
Maksim Velichkin has been active as a solo performer, chamber and orchestra musician, both locally and throughout the world. Mr.Velichkin has appeared as a soloist with Uzbekistan National Symphony, Duquesne Contemporary Ensemble, American Youth Symphony, as well as Torrance, Westchester, Southeast and Bellflower orchestras. He has toured extensively to Europe, Asia, North and South America and Australia with the prestigious Verbier Chamber and Verbier Festival Symphony Orchestras.
Maksim has worked with such outstanding conductors and instrumentalists as James Levine, Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, Yuri Temirkanov, Wolfgang Sawallish, Herbert Blomstedt, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Neemi and Paavo Yarvi, Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Sarah Chang, Maxim Vengerov (recording project for EMI), Yuri Bashmet, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Bobby Mc Ferrin, Joshua Bell. Mr.Velichkin’s performances have been featured on Radio Swiss Romande, WQED FM in Pittsburgh, National Radio and Television of Uzbekistan. He has performed A. Vivaldi's Double Concerto with Bobby Mc Ferrin in Switzerland, Mendelssohn Octet at the 2005 Miyazaki Music Festival in Japan. Maksim's interest in contemporary music lead him to numerous collaborations with Duquesne University Contemporary Ensemble where he played both cello and piano. He has performed Concerto by J. Ibert and Kammermusik #3 by P. Hindemith with this group. American composer David Stock has written a piece for solo cello for Maksim, titled "Dark Wind", which he has premiered. Mr. Velichkin has also collaborated with Los Angeles Sacred Fools theatre on the production of "Claire Z" , the music for which he had written and performed on both cello and piano. Mr.Velichkin has begun his musical education at the Special Music School for Gifted Children in his native Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In 1996 he was awarded a full scholarship to pursue Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance at the Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, which led to his move to the United States. In 2000 he graduated with honors, Magna cum Laude. He continued his education at the University of Southern California at the studio of the renowned professor E. Schoenfeld. In 2006 Maksim earned his Master’s Degree, Magna cum Laude. Maksim Velichkin has also been active as a collaborative pianist having performed numerous recitals with instrumentalists and singers. As a duo pianist, he has performed J.S.Bach's Concerto for Two Pianos in c minor at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, and more recently, Saint-Saens's Carnival of the Animals in Sydney, Australia. In addition, Maksim also plays harpsichord and has performed obligato parts in Bach's Orchestral Suites, in Stravinsky's opera Rake's Progress which was broadcast by WQEDFM Pittsburgh, with Verbier Chamber Orchestra, and in recitals. Maksim recent projects included a recording project with Maxim Vengerov and Verbier Chamber Orchestra, a tour of Mexico with Southwest Chamber Music, an Israeli tour with Yuri Bashmet and Verbier Chamber Orchestra as well tour in Switzerland and Japan with Gabor Takacs, Sarah Chang and VCO where Maksim in addition to being a cello principal also performed on harpsichord.
Mr. Terzian has performed extensively throughout the former Soviet Union, United States, Mexico, Spain, Ireland and Czech Republic. He has frequently appeared as a soloist with several orchestras including Armenian State Philharmonic Orchestra and various orchestras in Mexico. He has worked at Armenian State Chamber Orchestra, Armenian Vertuosi Chamber Orchestra, Beverly Hills Chamber Orchestra and South Bay Chamber Orchestra. He is a member of Los Angeles based award winning Elixir Piano Trio.
Mr. Terzian began to study cello at the age of six with his father in former Chekoslovakia. Mr. Terzian continued his music education at Babadjanian College of Music, followed by the Yerevan State Conservatory. Awarded a merit scholarship from the University of Southern California, he continued his education at USC's Thornton School of Music under the direction of distinguished professor Ronald Leonard, where he received Master of Music Degree in Cello Performance.
Mr. Terzian has performed in Aram Khachaturian Music Festival in Spain and the Chamber Music Festival in Dublin, Ireland. He is the First Place winner of the Young Musicians Competition and Armenian Philharmonic Concerto Competition both in Yerevan, Armenia. Mr. Terzian has made number of recordings for Television and Radio Stations in the former Soviet Union, United States and Mexico. He has been featured in live radio broadcasts on KUSC "Sundays at Four", Los Angeles. Mr. Terzian serves on the faculty of East Los Angeles College.
Simone Vitucci has always had music in her life and began studying cello as a child in South Africa, playing solo with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra by the age of 15. She earned scholarships to several universities in the United States before ending up at Yale with the legendary cellist Aldo Parisot. She is now based in Los Angeles with her family, and became a US citizen in 2012. Simone’s improvisatory chamber music work won her a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her music has allowed her to tour throughout the world, and to play a diverse range of musical styles ranging from classical to jazz. She has also played cello for pop stars such as Burt Bacharach and Rod Stewart, recorded soundtracks for Hollywood movies and video games, and appeared in commercials, TV and radio shows.
With an international career that includes performances in both opera and oratorio, Camelia Voin has performed on some of the worlds most important stages, including Carnegie Hall in New York, Spain’s Teatro Gayarre, the West Palm Beach Opera, Los Angeles Music Center and more.
Camelia Voin’s voice has led her to prize wins in more than a dozen competitions, and she continues to dazzle audiences throughout the world with her command of the repertoire for lyric coloratura soprano.
Her signature roles include Violetta in La Traviata, Gilda in Rigoletto, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, as well as some of the more tour de force roles presented in operas such as Les Contes d’Hoffman’s Olympia, and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.
The Peter Sprague String Consort is a gathering of two different worlds — a group comprised of a classical string quartet and a jazz trio. The two worlds come together to explore a soundscape rich in harmony riding on the rhythmic pulse of the Brazilian samba and jazz swing. Peter is the main composer for the group but the band also plays a few pieces written by Chick Corea and a few other arrangements as well. The group has recorded two albums: The Wild Blue, and Dr. Einstein’s Spin, both available from Petersprague.com
Formed for the final concert of the inaugural Villa-Lobos International Chamber Music Festival to perform Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras #1 and #5, the cello ensemble featured cellists from the USA, Brazil, China, South Korea, Canada, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Denmark, and South Africa.