Rebecca Jackson, violin
Rebecca Jackson is a 2018 KSBW Jefferson Award honoree and acting member of San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. She is founder and artistic director of Music in May, an annual chamber music festival that has featured notable musicians Jennifer Koh, Cho-Liang Lin, Martin Beaver, Michael Tree, Ron Leonard, and Shmuel Ashkenasi. During her five seasons as acting member of Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, the company won 2019 Grammy for Best Opera Recording for (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Believing strongly in the power of music to heal and unite, she has performed in many marginalized communities across the U.S., Ukraine, Romania, Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Costa Rica, and recently into Said Gawash and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. Combining her passion for music and service, she is co-founder of Sound Impact. Recently released and now available on Amazon, her latest undertaking, in collaboration with her father, was completing the authorized biography of her mentor David Arben, imprisoned in many Nazi death camps and former associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Jackson received her B.M. from The Juilliard School and a graduate degree from UC Santa Cruz.
Hometown: Crescent City, CA
Best Known for: Jumping on a plane at every opportunity, especially to bring music to underserved communities.
Activities/Interests: Triathlons, Salsa Dancing, Experimenting in the Kitchen
Favorite TV: Anything motivational like “The Biggest Loser”. I’m a huge Gillian Michaels fan!
Jonah Kim, cello
Critically acclaimed cellist Jonah Kim made his solo debut with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2003. The same year, he also appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra in DC where the Washington Post called him simply, "the next Yo-Yo Ma." Mr. Kim graduated from the Juilliard School then the prestigious Curtis Institute in spring of 2006 while still only 17 years old, and has soloed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonia, Symphony of the Americas, Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional and many others. He has performed recitals at the prestigious Phillips Collection, Kimmel Center, Kravis Center and the Kennedy Center where Anne Midgette of the Washington Post wrote, "Kim can do pretty much what he wants on a cello... He flirted with the line, shaped it, wrapped it around his fingers, pulled it out in a new dimension, all with practiced ease."
Born in Seoul, Korea, Mr. Kim immigrated to the United States at the age of seven. His father, a pastor at a Korean Presbyterian Church in New York, introduced him to the cello. Despite having no formal musical training, he possessed a keen ear for music. By playing with VHS tapes of Pablo Casals play the Bach's Solo Cello Suites, young Jonah learned strictly by imitation. Within the year, the seven year old was invited to the Juilliard School with full scholarship. He began his professional training at Juilliard, and learned to read music, but it was not until he played for Janos Starker the next summer that he became sure music was his calling. He was attending a New York City public school, learning to speak English, and adjusting to life in the United States. He and his father wrote to Janos Starker for advice. Starker's invitation to play at his masterclass at Indiana University was pivotal, inspiring the young cellist to continue with renewed motivation. Starker later remarked, "Jonah is an exceptional talent. He is at the top of his generation.”
Mr. Kim's recordings and live performances can be heard on national and local radio and TV networks. He also records for popular artists and has collaborated live in concert with Andrea Bocelli, Mariah Carey, Cristian Castro, Vic Damone and Kenny Rogers to name a few. He plays a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume made in 1845 as well as a 2015 Haide Lin. His bow is by Jules Fétique from the workshop of Eugène Sartory in Paris circa 1904.
Jonah is an exceptional talent. He is at the top of his generation. - Janos Starker
Think Lang Lang, think Yuja Wang. Jonah Kim, the 22-year-old cellist who gave a recital at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater on Sunday afternoon, is cut from the same cloth... Kim can do pretty much what he wants on a cello. He played with a lot of finesse and a lot of intensity... He flirted with the line, shaped it, wrapped it around his fingers, pulled it out in a new dimension, all with practiced ease... Kim showed that he has all the goods to excel and to entertain. - Anne Midgette, Washington Post
Elizabeth Schumann, PIANO
Pianist Elizabeth Schumann has a diverse career portfolio of projects, recordings, and performances which have brought her all over the world as recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. The Washington Post Magazine noted her playing as “deft, relentless, and devastatingly good—the sort of performance you experience not so much with your ears as your solar plexus.”
The first place winner of both the Bösendorfer International Piano Competition and the Pacific International Piano Competition, Elizabeth has won over 25 prizes and awards in other major national and international competitions, including the Cleveland International Piano Competition and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. Elizabeth was honored with the prestigious Gilmore Young Artists Award, and was highlighted in a PBS Television documentary on the Gilmore Festival.
She has performed solo recitals and chamber music concerts worldwide, in such venues as the Kennedy Center, Vienna’s Bösendorfer Saal, Toronto’s Koerner Hall, and Montreal’s Place des Arts. Featured at the International UNICEF benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina Victims, the Cannes Film Festival, the Gilmore Festival, Australia’s Huntington Festival, the Musica Viva chamber music series, the Ravinia “Rising Stars” Series, and National Public Radio's “Performance Today”, her recitals have been broadcast live on public radio and television in cities around the world, including Washington D.C., New York, Sydney, Cleveland, Montréal, Dallas, and Chicago. Elizabeth gave the world premiere performance of Carl Vine's Sonata No. 3, which the composer dedicated to her.
Passionate about creating public access to the arts, Elizabeth founded Piano Theatre, an artist group formed to engage audiences with innovative combinations of classical music, theatre, literature, art and technology. Piano Theatre’s recent tours of the US, Canada and Australia were acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Elizabeth founded and is president of Project Classical, Inc.¸ a 501(c)(3)organization whose mission is to support artist led initiatives that encourage public education and appreciation of classical music. Concerned with the declining funding for arts education in the United States, Elizabeth devised and directed Piano Carnival, a project to introduce free, high quality classical concert music to children in areas without arts education.
Elizabeth is on the faculty of Toby and Itzhak Perlman’s Perlman Music Program and is director of the Schumann Music Studio in San Francisco.
Moni Simeonov, violin
A native of Bulgaria, Simeon Simeonov began playing the violin at age 5, and came to the United States in 1997 on a full scholarship to the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California. He is currently a student in the doctoral program at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, where he studies with Midori Goto. An active member of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Simeonov is also assistant concertmaster of the Sacramento Philharmonic and has served as a guest musician with the LA Chamber Orchestra under Jeffrey Kahane. Additionally, he has been involved in recording numerous soundtracks. Recent performance highlights include Memphis and Mobile in the Southern U.S., Connecticut, Los Angeles and New York City. On tour and at USC, Mr. Simeonov dedicates considerable time and energy to community engagement work and to musical activities and presentations for young people.
Mr. Simeonov served as concertmaster of Idyllwild’s International Chamber Orchestra, and his prize-winning performance at the Academy’s concerto competition was recorded and distributed on CD. Upon graduation from Idyllwild, Mr. Simeonov was named “Most Outstanding Musician” of his class. He continued his education at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Zvi Zeitlin on full scholarship, earned first prize at the school’s concerto competition, and was awarded a Performer’s Certificate. Having earned his Artist Diploma from Yale University, Mr. Simeonov completed his Masters in Music there with Ani Kavafian and was concertmaster for the Yale Philharmonia Orchestra and New Music Ensemble. Following Yale, Mr. Simeonov earned his Graduate Certificate Degree from USC’s Thornton School of Music, where he studied with Midori Goto and was given the Outstanding Student Award in May 2009. To supplement and enhance his collegiate experiences, Mr. Simeonov has attended several summer performance festivals, including Tanglewood, the Music Academy of the West, Pacific Music Festival and the New York String Orchestra Seminar.
While at Yale, Mr. Simeonov was a violinist in the New Haven Symphony, and he has served as concertmaster for the NY-based Bulgarian Virtuosi and Young Soloists of New York chamber orchestras. In 2008, Mr. Simeonov performed as concertmaster in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with the SoliAll Orchestra in Seoul, Korea; he was the concertmaster of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under James Levine in 2009. Past chamber music collaborations have involved members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Tokyo and Ying String Quartets, as well as Jerome Lowenthal, Giora Schmidt, Joseph Silverstein and Zvi Zeitlin.
Hometown: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Activities/Interests: Brazilian JiuJitsu, Languages
Matt Young, viola
Matt Young has played chamber music with members of the Cleveland, Juilliard and Takacs quartets, the Florestan Trio, members of the top orchestras of Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Concertgebauw, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. He was a founding member of the Verklärte Quartet, which won grand prize of the Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition during his time with that group.
Matt is excited to be part of an artistic “start up” in San Francisco. He is focused on forming new connections with new and old audiences, under served or under connected to art music.
Hometown: Herndon, KY
Activities/Interests: I’ve done a couple half marathons since moving here and I am thinking I may try to do a marathon soon. I also enjoy cooking, hiking, and exploring this amazing town and its many colorful neighborhoods.
Favorite TV: Mad Men and Six Feet Under both are favorite TV shows of mine. Also, I’m a huge Pixar fan!
Young executed the Shostakovitch with gravitas. - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Gorgeous, creamy viola solo! - Examiner.com
Guest Artists - Current Season
Jessica Chang, viola
Violist Jessica Chang is passionate about building communities through technology and music for all. Following her studies at Juilliard and the Curtis Institute of Music, she has been broadcast on NPR’s “Performance Today”; performed at festivals including Tanglewood, Verbier, and Taos; featured as a teaching artist with Project 440 and the Savannah Music Festival; and founded Chamber Music by the Bay, a series that brings interactive concerts to Bay Area schools. From 2013-2014 she was the violist of the Afiara Quartet, the Quartet-in-Residence at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and visiting faculty at The Banff Centre. She graduated from Yale with honors and distinction and recently relocated to the Bay Area to join the engineering, product, and design recruiting team at Dropbox.
Angela Lee, cello
Since giving her Carnegie Hall debut in 1994, Angela Lee’s “amazing finesse, control and coloration” [San Francisco Chronicle] and “astonishingly rich tone” [San Francisco Examiner] has been celebrated with recitals in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Victor Borge Hall at Scandinavia House in New York, Chicago’s Cultural Center, The Phillip’s Collection and Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Copenhagen’s Nationalmuseet and the Purcell Room at South Bank Centre in London. She has soloed with orchestras including the Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, the San Francisco Concert Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony, the CAMS Orchestra, the Central Philharmonic Orchestra, the Paraiba Symphony, São Paulo State Orchestra, the Chautauqua Symphony, and the Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra (UK), performing works of Boccherini to Barber to Kernis. Her solo and chamber performances have taken her throughout North and South America, Australasia, Europe and Asia. She is frequently invited to festivals including St. Petersburg’s Revelations, IMS at Prussia Cove, Cagayan Valley International Music Festival, Taipei Summer Festival, Pontino Festival, La Musica, Banff, Marlboro Music Festival, Anneberg Festival, Chelsea Music Festival, Music Mountain, and Mahler-Jihlava Festival, collaborating with the likes of Nobuko Imai, Bruno Giuranna, Frans Helmerson, Isabelle Faust, Lydia Artymiw, Andras Schiff, Alexander Lonquich, Anthony Newman, Franco Petracchi, the Hausmann Quartet, and members of the Beaux Arts Trio and Guarneri Quartet.
She is the recipient of the Ruth T. Brooks Achievement Award for Continued Excellence in the Arts, a grant from the Foundation for American Musicians in Europe, a Fulbright scholarship to study in London with William Pleeth, the Jury Prize in the Naumburg International Cello Competition, and a cello performance fellowship from The American-Scandinavian Foundation. Her cello is a 1762 Nicolo Gagliano from Naples.
James Austin Smith, oboe
Praised for his “virtuosic,” “dazzling" and “brilliant” performances (The New York Times) and his “bold, keen sound” (The New Yorker), oboist James Austin Smith performs new and old music across the United States and around the world. Mr. Smith is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and Decoda, co-principal oboist of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Artistic and Executive Director of Tertulia, a chamber music series that takes place in restaurants in New York and San Francisco He is a member of the oboe and chamber music faculties of Stony Brook University and the Manhattan School of Music.
Mr. Smith’s festival appearances include Marlboro, Lucerne, Music@Menlo, Spoleto USA, Bowdoin, Bay Chamber Concerts, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Orlando; he has performed with the St. Lawrence, Parker, Rolston and Orion string quartets and recorded for the Nonesuch, Bridge, Mode and Kairos labels.
Mr. Smith received his Master of Music degree in 2008 from the Yale School of Music and graduated in 2005 with Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern University. He spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Leipzig, Germany at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy” and is an alumnus of Ensemble Connect, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, the Weill Music Institute and the New York City Department of Education. Mr. Smith’s principal teachers are Stephen Taylor, Christian Wetzel, Humbert Lucarelli and Ray Still. Follow him on Instagram @jaustinsmith.
DANIEL STEWART, violA
Daniel Stewart, Conductor, Composer, and Violist, is the Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony, and former Assistant Conductor with The Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Stewart’s first three seasons in Santa Cruz have led to great critical acclaim, including the Peninsula Reviews’ assertion that “the Santa Cruz Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Stewart has now developed into the finest musical ensemble South of San Francisco and North of Los Angeles.”
Since 2012, when Mr. Stewart was invited by James Levine to become the first conductor of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he has conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and soloists in a comprehensive range of repertoire. In 2013, he made his acclaimed Lincoln Center debut in a Metropolitan Opera produced concert of comic operas by Stravinsky, Mozart, Donizetti and Berlioz.
The recipient of the 2010 Aspen Music Festival’s James Conlon Conducting Prize, Mr. Stewart has conducted orchestras including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Hessischer Rundfunk Orchester, the Frankfurt Opern Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and the Saint-Louis Symphony. He has previously served as Cover Conductor with the Atlanta Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and the Saint-Louis Symphony, assisting conductors including Thomas Adès, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Kurt Masur, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Mr. Stewart has worked closely with contemporary composers such as the late Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Adams, and particularly Thomas Adès, whom he assisted in preparing the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Aspects of Adès” festival in 2011. An avid composer himself, Daniel Stewart’s compositions have been performed at venues including the Aspen Music Festival, Tribeca New Music Festival, and Verbier Festival. A selection of his music can be found at youtube.com/danielpatrickstewart.
Mr. Stewart is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller, with additional studies with Sir Simon Rattle, Christoph Eschenbach, and Alan Gilbert. As a violist, Mr. Stewart has has concertized frequently as soloist, and served as principal violist of numerous ensembles, including the New World Symphony, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, and for six years with the Verbier Festival and Chamber Orchestras. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, recorded for EMI with Maxim Vengerov, and toured extensively in over 40 countries.
Guest Artists - Past Seasons
Laura Albers, violin
Violinist Laura Albers is the Associate Concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera. She, as well as her sisters, began studying Suzuki violin with their mother, Ellie LeRoux, at the age of two. Laura went on to receive her Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music and The Juilliard School, where she studied with Donald Weilerstein and Ronald Copes. She has performed and taught on both violin and viola throughout the United States and in Canada and Mexico. She has also participated in the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Rhode Island’s Newport Music Festival, the Sarasota Opera Festival in Florida and an Orpheus Chamber Orchestra tour. In addition to her music, Laura heads a San Francisco chapter of Dining For Women, an international giving circle who’s mission is to empower women and children living in extreme poverty. During the Opera’s off–season, she enjoys traveling, preparing gourmet meals with her husband and racing as an age group triathlete.
Kimberly Braylock, ballerina
Born in New York, New York, Kimberly Braylock trained with Charla Genn, Studio Maestro, Ballet Hispanico, and San Francisco Ballet School (including one year as an SF Ballet School Trainee) prior to being named an apprentice in 2009. She joined the Company in 2010. Braylock has danced featured roles in Tomasson’s Nutcracker (Arabian), Wheeldon’s Cinderella (Spanish Princess), and Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House (Ellida Wangel).
Her repertory also includes Tomasson’s Giselle, Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, Criss-Cross, and Prism; Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote; Ashton’s Symphonic Variations; Balanchine’s Coppélia, Divertimento No. 15, The Four Temperaments, Scotch Symphony, Serenade, Finale in Stars and Stripes, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, and Theme and Variations; Cranko’s Onegin; Fokine’s Petrouchka; Forsythe’s Artifact Suite; Lifar’s Suite en Blanc; Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet; Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid; Page’s Guide to Strange Places; Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini and The Rite of Spring; Robbins’ Glass Pieces; and Zanella’s Underskin.
Braylock performed the Act II pas de deux from Giselle (Petipa) with Anthony Spaulding at the Youth in Action Gala, “Les Danses de L’Amour,” in Bozeman, Montana, in June 2012.
Betany Coffland, mezzo-soprano
Betany Coffland, mezzo-soprano, has had her performances hailed by Opera News as “extremely fine” and the San Francisco Classical Voice describes her voice as “plush”. A graduate of The Juilliard School and New England Conservatoy, she attended the Aspen School of Music and she was a Resident Artist with Opera San Jose from 2008-2012. As a soloist, she has performed in prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Boston's historic Jordan Hall. Ms. Coffland recently debuted with The Juneau Symphony, The Sacramento Philharmonic and toured in recital with guitarist, Aaron Larget-Caplan. She also debuted as a soloist with the San Francisco Choral Society, and she was a guest performer with the acclaimed chamber group, Ensemble SF. Last season, Ms. Coffland sang with Festival Opera in Ariadne auf Naxos and she returned as a soloist with the SF Choral Society to sing the alto soloist in Stacy Garrop's new work and Handel's Dixit Dominus. 2016 begins with Ms. Coffland performing the role of Sprechstimme in Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire with the chamber orchestra Espressivo and singing the alto soloist in Bach's B Minor Mass.
Joy Fellows, viola
Joy Fellows joined the San Francisco Opera in 2008, and was recently appointed Assistant Principal of the San Francisco Ballet. 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. While growing up in Oklahoma, she began her orchestral career at the age of 14 with the Oklahoma Sinfonia, and later the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
Joy has been a resident chamber musician at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Italy, and was also selected to participate in the Juilliard String Quartet seminar. She has also participated in the 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 Bachelor degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Master's 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.
Marcel Gemperli, viola
Marcel Gemperli began studying the viola at the age of eight in his native New York state. He continued his musical education while earning his B.A. at Harvard University and furthered his viola studies in Germany and Switzerland as a Henry Russell Shaw Fellow in 1995 and 1996. He was also a founding member of the Linnaean String Quartet, and performed with the National Repertory Orchestra during the 1995 season.
Since relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997, Marcel has performed extensively throughout the region. He currently serves as Principal Viola of the California Symphony, and performs on a freelance basis with many orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet and Opera Orchestras, the New Century Chamber Orchestra, the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, as well as the orchestras of Marin, Modesto and Santa Rosa. Marcel performs frequently in touring Broadway productions and also records film and television soundtracks through the Skywalker Sound Studio. In the summer months, he has performed at the Telluride Chamber Music Festival, the Mendocino Music Festival, and as part of the Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra.
Joanna Goldstein, flute
Flutist, Joanna Goldstein has performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Santa Rosa Symphony, Portland Symphony (ME), Rhode Island Symphony, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and the Granite State Symphony, among others. She has participated in the Tanglewood Music Center Contemporary Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Joanna was a founding member of the woodwind quintet, Vento Chiaro, a position she held from 1997-2013 until relocating to the west coast. While with Vento Chiaro, she had the opportunity to mentor some of the country’s most talented musicians as the Quintet in Residence at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. As a member of Vento Chiaro, Joanna also held teaching/performance residencies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Providence College, and Longy School of Music. Joanna was a part-time faculty member at Boston University from 2006-2013 as the founding director of Boston University Music Organization Flute Ensemble. She held the position of Director of Chamber Music at the Beaver Country Day School (Chesnut Hill, MA) from 2000-2013. As the recipient of three degrees, a Bachelor of Music from Boston University, a Masters of Music from the Peabody Conservatory, and an Artist Diploma from the Longy School, Joanna has had the privilege of working with some of this country’s finest flutists including Alice Weinreb, Doriot Anthony Dwyer, Mark Sparks, Robert Willoughby, Geralyn Coticone, Cindy Meyers, and Elizabeth Rowe. Currently Joanna is the director of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra Flute Ensembles and is on faculty at The Harker School in San Jose, CA. Aside from her interest in music, Joanna is an avid soccer player, having played with the Division I Boston University Women’s Soccer team while in college.
José González Granero, clarinet
Born in Iznatoraf, a small village in the south of Spain, José González Granero joined the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in 2010 and holds the position of Principal Clarinet. He began studying the clarinet at the age of eight. Both his father and grandfather are band directors. Mr. González Granero received his Bachelor Degree from Granada Superior Conservatory (Spain) and G. Verdi Conservatory (Italy). In 2007, he moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and The Colburn School of Music to study with renowned clarinet teacher Yehuda Gilad.
Mr. González Granero has won numerous competitions and awards, including Grand Prize for exceptional talent and musicianship in the Pasadena Instrumental Competition (2009), First Prize in the Burbank Philharmonic Concerto Competition (2009), Second Place in the Downey Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition (2009) and Second Prize in the Pasadena Instrumental Competition (2008).
Mr. González Granero was Principal Clarinet of the Andalucia Philharmonic Orchestra (Spain) from 2005-2007. He has also performed as Principal Clarinet with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (Norway), Odense Symfoniorkester (Denmark), Young Musician Foundation Debut Orchestra, Galicia Symphony Orchestra (Spain), City of Granada Orchestra (Spain), Orchestre des Jeunes de la Mediterranee (France), and the European Union Youth Wind Orchestra (Luxemburg).
Mr. González Granero enjoys composing music for concert band and wind ensemble. He won Second Prize in the Ville de Comines-Warneton composition competition in Belgium, and some of his works have been published in Spain and Italy.
Alexandra Leem, viola
Alexandra Leem, viola, is a graduate of Eastman School and Yale University where she was a member of the Yale quartet in residency under the tutelage of the Tokyo Quartet. She is former Principal Viola of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and Concerto Soloists, The Opera Company of Philadelphia, Orchestra 2001, and a substitute for the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years. She has participated in the Heidelberg Festival, International Orchesterinstitute Attergau, the Holland Music Session, and has performed for the Royal Ballet, the Pennsylvania ballet, and Network for New Music with members of the Philadelphia orchestra. Recently she has appeared with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Santa Fe Concert Association. Ms. Leem has recorded extensively for Larry Gold studio in Philadelphia and currently serves as a member of the Santa Fe Opera and Principal Viola of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.
Steve Lin, guitar
Steve Lin has concertized throughout the United States, Italy, the Philippines, and Taiwan. He is praised by Classical Guitar Magazine as “a confident player with a powerful sound, quick hands, and a solid musical memory” and was the first prize winner at the Boston GuitarFest Competition and the East Carolina Guitar Competition. He has two albums on VGo Recordings: Eliot Fisk Series Vol. 1 and Imagen.
He founded Boston Guitar Project, which organized over 20 community performances annually throughout Greater Boston. Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he continues outreach and educational performances through South Bay Guitar Society.
Steve is the guitar area coordinator at San Jose State University. He earned his masters from Yale School of Music and is completing his doctorate from New England Conservatory under Eliot Fisk. During his free time he spends many hours in the kitchen and plays a lot of badminton competitively.
Minjia Liu, oboe
Mingjia Liu joined the San Francisco Opera as Principal Oboe in 2010. Recognized for his charismatic performing skill and “singing ability” on the instrument, he is currently the youngest Principal Oboist of all professional orchestras in the United States. He was selected out of nearly 180 applicants for his outstanding playing and musicianship.
Since joining the orchestra, Mr. Liu has received many favorable reviews from critics: “…The standout was Principal Oboist, Mingjia Liu, who played his solos exceptionally well. This however comes as no surprise as Liu’s technique is always clean and flawless in the pit…” by GB Opera Magazine, and from Nicola Luisotti, Music Director of the San Francisco Opera as “having his sound come from God”.
In 2009, at the age of 21, he won the position of Principal Oboe at the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra under the directorship of Michael Stern. During that time, he collaborated with such artists as Gil Shaham and Emmanuel Pahud among others. In his short tenure with that orchestra before coming to the San Francisco Opera in 2010, he received many favorable reviews among the local critics:
The Kansas City Journal of Performing Arts wrote “Principal Oboist Mingjia Liu displayed especially brilliant and eager playing in his featured melodies.”
The Kansas City Star wrote “Principal Oboist Mingjia Liu was notable for his wonderful solo lines…”
In addition to playing with The San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Mr. Liu has also appeared as a guest on stage with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the China National Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, he made his debut as a soloist with the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra and was especially lauded by Chinese critics. On his most recent tour of China, he was seen as an emerging star of western classical music. Recognized not only for his outstanding performing skills, Mingjia Liu is gaining considerable recognition as a teacher both in the United States and abroad. He continues to show his enthusiasm for education through this genre as can be attested by his recent invitation from the Central Conservatory of Music to give both recitals and master classes at the First Beijing International Oboe Festival. Future teaching engagements include a teaching appearance at his Alma Mater, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Tamara Mudarra, ballerina
Tamara Mudarra is a Cuban ballerina trained at the National School of the Arts in Cuba. Since 2006, she has danced as soloist for Laura Alonso’s company in Cuba and as principal for the National Ballet of Ecuador and the National Ballet of Panama. A prizewinner of the International Ballet Competition of Havana, her performances of the Nutcracker, Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty have been met with critical acclaim.
John Nava, percussion
John has been playing percussion for over 30 years. He is an experienced recording and performing artist, clinician, and band leader. He has shared the studio and the stage with John Wineglass, Patt Casion & IOC, Kim Stone, Joseph Lucido, Weber Iago, Mike Shanon, and many more.
His current project is Latin Jazz Collective with John Nava. With this project, John performs all over the Monterey Peninsula and the South Bay areas.
Rufus Oliver, bassoon
Rufus David Olivier studied music at Azusa Pacific University, where his teachers were David Breidenthal, Principal Bassoonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, ret., and his father, Rufus Olivier Jr, Principal bassoonist of the SF Opera and the SF Ballet. He has performed in some of the most renowned venues in the world, including the Musikverein of Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Olivier performs regularly with the SF Opera, the SF Ballet, and the Berkeley Symphony. Mr. Olivier enjoys performing chamber music, teaching, and promoting musical appreciation to young people in his community.
Scott Pingel, bass
Principal Bass of the San Francisco Symphony since 2004, Scott Pingel previously served as Principal Bass of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and as Guest Principal with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada. As a chamber musician, he can often be heard on radio programs including NPR’s Performance Today. Formerly active as a jazz musician, Pingel performed in venues from New York to Stockholm. Currently, he is a faculty member of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Livia Sohn, violin
Hailed by Opus Magazine as “a stunning musician”, violinist LIVIA SOHN performs widely on the international stage as concerto soloist, recitalist, and festival guest in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand. The Strad Magazine says, “Livia Sohn possesses a remarkably lithe and transparent tone of exceptional purity. [Her] virtually blemishless accounts are nothing short of remarkable. Even when under the most fearsome technical pressure at high velocity, every note rings true with pinpoint accuracy.”
This past season saw Livia performing in the cities of Rome, Madrid, New York City, Los Angeles, and Ottawa, among others. In March 2015, a recording of the Saint-Saens piano trios was released, featuring Livia on the Eloquentia label. This coming season will also see Livia in the release of “Opera Fantasies”, a recording of opera transcriptions for violin and piano (including two world premieres), to be released on the Naxos label.
Livia gave her first public performance at age eight. In 1989, at the age of 12, she won First Prize in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. 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 in California since 2005, and makes her home in the Bay Area with her husband, Geoff Nuttall, and their two young sons Jack and Ellis.
Emma Votapek, violin
Violinist Emma Noël Votapek has been a member of the Honolulu (now Hawaii) Symphony since 2004. She recently performed for several seasons as principal 2nd violinist of the Tucson Symphony, and as the violist of the Kingfisher String Quartet. Emma completed her undergraduate studies with Sergiu Luca at Rice University, and received her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, where she was a student of Jorja Fleezanis. During the summer, she performs at the Mammoth Lakes and Britt music festivals.
Roman Fukshansky, clarinet
Roman Fukshansky serves as principal clarinet with the Berkeley Symphony, Symphony Napa Valley, and as acting principal clarinet with the Modesto Symphony. He appears regularly as a guest musician with the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera, as well as with virtually all San Francisco Bay Area orchestras. Roman has performed on several concert tours with the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of MTT, appeared as principal clarinet with the Verbier Chamber Orchestra, and participated in the festivals of Sun Valley in Idaho, Sarasota, Idyllwild, AIMS in Graz, and at the White Night Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. As an educator, Roman is on faculty at San Francisco Conservatory’s Pre-College Division, UC Santa Cruz, and at CSU Stanislaus, and maintains a highly esteemed private studio in Mountain View, California.
An avid chamber musician, Roman is co-founder of the exciting new chamber music consortium Ensemble San Francisco, and performs regularly as a chamber musician and recitalist with many of the Bay Area institutions. Roman received his education from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music. His principal teachers include David Neuman, Luis Baez, Yehuda Gilad, and Mark Nuccio.
Christine Mcleavey Payne, piano
A prizewinner at the Lyon International Chamber Music Competition, Christine McLeavey Payne was featured on Radio France and France TV. Ms. Payne has performed in such venues as Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the Kingston Chamber Music Festival with Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim, the Banff International Keyboard Festival, and the Tanglewood Music Festival. She has also worked as a rehearsal pianist for the New York Philharmonic. She resides now in Portola Valley, CA with her husband and two sons. Ms. Payne completed her masters in the spring of 2004 at the Juilliard School of Music. Prior to that, she graduated as valedictorian of Princeton University, with a degree in Physics.
Hometown: West Kingston, RI
Activities/Interests: I love to swim, though these days I spend any of my extra time chasing after my two sons.
Beautiful... with a graceful touch. In the Tchaikovsky A minor trio she took more of a leading role, somehow stirring up rumbling arpeggios while also playing gorgeous melodies in octaves. - Examiner.com
Pianist McLeavey Payne was a perfect match for Kim, as she delivered the large and demanding part with confidence, making good use of the beautiful tone of the Yamaha piano. - Peninsula Reviews
Kevin Rivard, horn
Known for his “delicious quality of tone,” Kevin Rivard is currently Co-Principal Horn of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Principal Horn of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.
As a soloist and chamber musician, he has performed with the New Century Chamber Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Winner of numerous solo competitions, he was awarded the grand prize at the 2008 Concours International d’Interprétation Musicale in Paris, the 2007 International Horn Competition of America, and the 2003 Farkas horn competition. Mr. Rivard’s career has climbed in spectacular fashion. He served as guest principal horn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra & the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and was a featured soloist with the Houston Symphony. Previous positions also include the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Florida Orchestra.
A Juilliard graduate, Mr. Rivard has performed with the Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Music Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Verbier Festival.