Acclaimed guest conductors Brett Mitchell, Ward Stare, Kensho Watanabe, Kyle Dickson, François López-Ferrer, Linhan Cui and Jenny Wong will serve as Artistic Partners for the 2023/24 season
March 15, 2023
Pasadena, CA – Pasadena Symphony announces its 2023/24 season with an exhilarating schedule of seven performances, running October 21, 2023 through April 20, 2024. Season highlights include piano powerhouse concertos with Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 and Beethoven “Emperor” alongside stunning violin concertos of Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Experience how simultaneously intimate and Technicolor symphonic music can be at the Ambassador Auditorium with Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Sibelius Symphony No. 2 and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. The season also includes the annually sold-out Holiday Candlelight Concert on Saturday, December 16, 2023 with 4pm and 7pm performances at All Saints Church.
The season’s impressive line-up of internationally renowned guest artists includes conductor Brett Mitchell, who will return to open the season October 21st for Tchaikovsky 4 with Yehudi Menuhin International Competition winner Diana Adamyan; Grammy-nominated conductor Ward Stare for Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, performed by award-winning pianist Natasha Paremski; Kensho Watanabe returning to conduct Beethoven “Emperor” with Avery Fisher Career Grant winner George Li; Salonen Conducting Fellow Kyle Dickson for Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 performed by Concert Artists Guild International Competition winner Wynona Wang; François López-Ferrer returning to conduct Beethoven Violin Concerto with the “frighteningly awesome” (Buffalo News) talent of violinist Francisco Fullana; and Dudamel Conducting Fellow Linhan Cui for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Colburn artist Charlotte Marckx.
The Pasadena Symphony’s fourth annual Composer’s Showcase kicks off with Mason Bates’ Garages of the Valley, inspired by the digital age that was dreamed up in the most low-tech of spaces dotting the landscape of Silicon Valley; followed by Patrick Harlin’s Earthrise, inspired by the iconic and arguably the most important environmental photo taken by astronaut Bill Anders on the first-ever trip around the moon. Harlin’s piece is part of the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music, conceived by LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare and San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen to highlight the collaborative and innovative spirit that thrives in California. The season continues with Jessica Hunt’s Climb inspired by her shared struggle with Beethoven, in overcoming physical adversities; Jessie Montgomery’s Strum, which draws upon American folk idioms and the spirit of dance; Shawn Okpebholo’s Stomp the Dust! which showcases the colorful essence of Kenya and musically depicts the arid terrain, dancing and pleas for rain; and Si’ang Chen’s beautifully sonorous Adagio.
The Pasadena Symphony provides a quintessential experience specially designed for the music lover, the social butterfly or a date night out, and the inner epicurean in us all. Audiences can enjoy a pre-concert meal at nearby restaurants in Old Town Pasadena or have a drink and a bite in the lively outdoor Symphony Lounge. A posh setting at Ambassador Auditorium’s beautiful outdoor plaza, the Lounge offers uniquely prepared menus for both lunch and dinner and a full service bar before each concert and during intermission.
All Pasadena Symphony concerts take place at Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. St. John Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105, with performances at 2pm and 8pm. Subscription packages start at $99 with single tickets starting at $40. Both may be purchased online at pasadenasymphony-pops.org or by calling (626) 793-7172.
October 21, 2023
Brett Mitchell, conductor
Diana Adamyan, violin
Mason Bates Garages of the Valley
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto No
Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4
RHAPSODY ON A THEME OF PAGANINI
November 18, 2023
Ward Stare, conductor
Natasha Paremski, piano
Patrick Harlin Earthrise
Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Elgar Enigma Variations
December 16, 2023
Jenny Wong, conductor
January 27, 2024
Kensho Watanabe, conductor
George Li, piano
Jessica Hunt Climb
Kodály Dances of Galánta
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”
TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1
February 17, 2024
Kyle Dickson, conductor
Wynona Wang, piano
Jessie Montgomery Strum
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1
Sibelius Symphony No. 2
BEETHOVEN VIOLIN CONCERTO
March 23, 2024
François López-Ferrer, conductor
Francisco Fullana, violin
Shawn Okpebholo Kutimbua Kivumbi (Stomp the Dust!)
Beethoven Violin Concerto
Stranvinsky The Firebird Suite
VIVALDI FOUR SEASONS
April 29, 2024
Linhan Cui, conductor
Charlotte Marckx, violin
Si’ang Chen Adagio
Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Vivaldi Four Seasons
Formed in 1928, the Pasadena Symphony and POPS is an ensemble of Hollywood’s most talented, sought after musicians. With extensive credits in the film, television, recording and orchestral industry, the artists of Pasadena Symphony and POPS are the most heard in the world.
The Pasadena Symphony and POPS performs in two of the most extraordinary venues in the United States: Ambassador Auditorium, known as the Carnegie Hall of the West, and the luxuriant Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden. The multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” Michael Feinstein, leads the POPS as Principal Pops Conductor, succeeding Marvin Hamlisch.
A hallmark of its robust education programs, the Pasadena Symphony Association has served the youth of the region for over five decades through the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras (PYSO) comprised of seven performing ensembles, with over 400 gifted 4th-12th grade students from all over Southern California. The PYSO Symphony has performed at venues across the globe as well as on the television show GLEE.
The PSA provides people from all walks of life with powerful access points to the world of symphonic music.
Hailed for presenting engaging, in-depth explorations of though8ully curated programs, American conductor Brett Mitchell is in consistent demand on the podium at home and abroad. In September 2021, he was named Artistic Director & Conductor of Oregon’s Sunriver Music Festival, beginning a three-year term in August 2022.
During the 2022-23 season, he will make his debuts with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Tulsa Symphony, and will reunite for performances with The Cleveland Orchestra and Houston Symphony. Recent engagements have included appearances with the Dallas, Detroit, Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, National, North Carolina, Oregon, Pasadena, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Vancouver symphonies; the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl; the Cleveland and Minnesota orchestras; the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; the Grant Park Festival Orchestra; and a two-week tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Mitchell also regularly collaborates with the world’s leading soloists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Itzhak Perlman, Kirill Gerstein, Conrad Tao, Rudolf Buchbinder, James Ehnes, Augutisn Hadelich, Leila Josefowicz, and Alisa Weilerstein.
From 2017 to 2021, Mr. Mitchell served as Music Director of the Colorado Symphony in Denver; he previously served as Music Director Designate during the 2016-17 season. During his ﬁve- season tenure, he is credited with deepening the orchestra’s engagement with its audience via in-depth demonstrations from both the podium and the piano. He also expanded the orchestra’s commitment to contemporary American repertoire—with a particular focus on the music of Mason Bates, Missy Mazzoli, and Kevin Puts—through world premieres, recording projects, and commissions. In addition, Mr. Mitchell spearheaded collaborations with such local partners as Colorado Ballet, Denver Young Artists Orchestra, and El Sistema Colorado. In summarizing his tenure, The Denver Post wrote that “Mitchell has been a bright and engaging presence over the years, delving into the history of certain well-worn pieces while leading expert renditions of them.”
From 2013 to 2017, Mr. Mitchell served on the conducting staﬀ of The Cleveland Orchestra. He joined the orchestra as Assistant Conductor in 2013, and was promoted to Associate Conductor in 2015, becoming the ﬁrst person to hold that title in over three decades and only the ﬁgh in the orchestra’s hundred-year history. In these roles, he led the orchestra in several dozen concerts each season at Severance Hall, Blossom Music Center, and on tour.
From 2007 to 2011, Mr. Mitchell led over one hundred performances as Assistant Conductor of the Houston Symphony. He also held Assistant Conductor posts with the Orchestre National de France, where he worked under Kurt Masur from 2006 to 2009, and the Castleton Festival, where he worked under Lorin Maazel in 2009 and 2010. In 2015, Mr. Mitchell completed a highly successful ﬁve-year appointment as Music Director of the Saginaw Bay Symphony
Orchestra, where an increased focus on locally relevant programming and community collabora2ons resulted in record attendance throughout his tenure.
As an opera conductor, Mr. Mitchell has served as music director of nearly a dozen productions, principally at his former post as Music Director of the Moores Opera Center in Houston, where he led eight productions from 2010 to 2013. His repertoire spans the core works of Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute), Verdi (Rigole7o and Falstaﬀ), and Stravinsky (The Rake’s Progress) to contemporary works by Mark Adamo (Li7le Women), Robert Aldridge (Elmer Gantry), Daniel Catán (Il PosBno and Salsipuedes), and Daron Hagen (Amelia). As a ballet conductor, Mr. Mitchell most recently led a production of The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet in collaboration with The Cleveland Orchestra during the 2016-17 season.
In addition to his work with professional orchestras, Mr. Mitchell is also well known for his aﬃnity for working with and mentoring young musicians aspiring to be professional orchestral players. His tenure as Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra from 2013 to 2017 was highly praised, and included a four-city tour of China in June 2015, marking the orchestra’s second international tour and its ﬁrst to Asia. Mr. Mitchell is regularly invited to work with the talented young musicians at this country’s high-level training programs, such as the Cleveland Institute of Music, the National Repertory Orchestra, Texas Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. He has also served on the faculties of the schools of music at Northern Illinois University (2005-07), the University of Houston (2012-13), and the University of Denver (2019); during the 2022-23 academic year, Mr. Mitchell will again serve as Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Denver, acting as Interim Director of Orchestras and Professor of Conducting.
Born in Seattle in 1979, Mr. Mitchell holds degrees in conducting from the University of Texas at Austin and composition from Western Washington University, which selected him as its Young Alumnus of the Year in 2014. He also studied with Leonard Slatkin at the National Conducting Institute, and was selected by Kurt Masur as a recipient of the inaugural American Friends of the Mendelssohn Foundation Scholarship in 2008. Mr. Mitchell was also one of ﬁve recipients of the League of American Orchestras’ American Conducting Fellowship from 2007 to 2010.
Diana Adamyan is quickly gaining an international reputation as one of her generation’s most outstanding violinists. After winning the First Prize at the 2018 Yehudi Menuhin International Competition, the world’s most prestigious prize for young violinists, she went on to receive First Prize in the 2020 Khachaturian Violin Competition.
In Summer 2022, Ms. Adamyan makes her debut at the Aspen Festival performing Dvorak with Lionel Bringuier, and with the Boston Pops Orchestra performing Mendelssohn at Boston Symphony Hall. Next season, she returns to the Göttinger Symphonieorchester to perform Beethoven, and the Niederbayerische Philharmonie in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. She will also make her debut performing Sibelius with the Staatsorchester Darmstadt, and performing Beethoven with the Bruckner Orchester Linz in Munich’s Prinzregententheater, and will return once more to the Göttinger Symphonie in Dvorak. Recent and upcoming engagements also include recitals in Tokyo and France, and her debut with the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester at the Philharmonie in Berlin.
Since winning First Prize at the Menuhin Competition, Ms. Adamyan has received numerous proposals to participate in the concerts around the world, from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, to the Seiji Ozawa Academy in Switzerland, and the Matsumoto International Music Festival in Japan. Following an invitation from Maestro Pinchas Zukerman to participate under his guidance in summer masterclasses of the Ottawa National Arts Center, Ms. Adamyan was invited to appear as a soloist in Gala Concert of NAC, alongside Mr. Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Jessica Linnebach and other renowned musicians. Later, she also appeared alongside Mr. Zukerman playing the Bach Double Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic at Cadogan Hall in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Born in 2000 in Yerevan, Armenia, into a family of musicians, Ms. Adamyan currently studies at the Munich University of Performing Arts with world-renowned teacher, Professor Ana Chumachenco, whose distinguished students have included Lisa Batiashvili, Julia Fischer, and Veronika Eberle. Previously, she studied at the Tchaikovsky School of Music (Yerevan) with Professor Petros Haykazyan and at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory with Professor Eduard Tadevosyan.
Ms. Adamyan is the recipient of a scholarship from the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben and under the patronage of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and “YerazArt” organization in Boston. She performed on a violin crafted by Urs Mächler for the Menuhin Competition, and now performs on an instrument made by Nicolò Gagliano in 1760, generously on loan from the Henri Moerel Foundation.
Grammy-nominated conductor Ward Stare, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “A rising-star in the conducting firmament”, was Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 2014 – 2021. He has been praised for “inspiring musicians to impressive heights” by The New York Times, and as “a dynamic music director” by Rochester CITY Newspaper. In demand as a guest conductor, Stare has conducted the Symphony Orchestras of Baltimore, Sydney (Australia), Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Germany), Pittsburgh, Grant Park (Chicago), Atlanta, Detroit, Toronto as well as the New World Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic.
Stare made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 2017, conducting nine performances of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, with Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the title role. Stare’s frequent collaborations with the Lyric Opera of Chicago began in 2012, conducting a production of Hansel and Gretel, returning in 2013 for Die Fledermaus, and again in 2014 to lead Porgy and Bess to rave reviews. Stare served as resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2012 and, in 2009, made his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut with the orchestra, stepping in to lead H. K. Gruber’s Frankenstein. Stare has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with the SLSO and returns frequently as a guest.
As a passionate advocate for arts education, Ward Stare has served as a Distinguished Artist at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University since 2012. In the fall of 2016, Stare recorded Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, by R.E.M. bassist and songwriter Mike Mills, with the ensemble and its founder, Robert McDuffie. Stare is an enthusiastic collaborator and performer of new music, including the world premiere performance of ‘Pravda’, by Academy Award-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal and the regional premiere of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ Flute Concerto, performed by Marina Piccinini.
In the Spring of 2019, Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra released American Rapture, featuring the world-premiere recordings of Jennifer Higdon’s ‘Harp Concerto’, with Yolanda Kondonassis as soloist, and Patrick Harlin’s ‘Rapture’. The album garnered two Grammy nominations, with Higdon’s Harp Concerto winning the Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in January 2020. Ward Stare was trained as a trombonist at The Juilliard School in Manhattan. At 18, he was appointed principal trombonist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and has performed as an orchestral musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, among others. As a soloist, he has concertized in both the U.S. and Europe.
With her consistently striking and dynamic performances, pianist Natasha Paremski reveals astounding virtuosity and voracious interpretive abilities. She continues to generate excitement from all corners as she wins over audiences with her musical sensibility and powerful, flawless virtuosity.
Natasha is a regular return guest of many major orchestras, including Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Grant Park Festival, Winnipeg Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Elgin Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom she has performed every year since 2008 in venues such as
Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, and Cadogan Hall. She has performed with major orchestras in North America including Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, NAC Orchestra in Ottawa, Nashville Symphony. She has toured extensively in Europe with such orchestras as Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Vienna’s Tonkünstler Orchester, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre de Bretagne, the Orchestre de Nancy, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchester in Zurich, Moscow Philharmonic, under the direction of conductors including Thomas Dausgaard, Peter Oundjian, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Jeffrey Kahane, James Gaffigan, JoAnn Falletta, Fabien Gabel, Rossen Milanov and Andrew Litton. In addition, she has toured with Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica in Latvia, Benelux, the United Kingdom and Austria as well as appearances with National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in Taipei.
Natasha has given recitals at the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Wigmore Hall, Schloss Elmau, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, Verbier Festival, San Francisco Performances, Seattle’s Meany Hall, Kansas City’s Harriman Jewell Series, Santa Fe’s Lensic Theater, Ludwigshafen BASF Series, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Tokyo’s Musashino Performing Arts Center and on the Rising Stars Series of Gilmore and Ravinia Festivals.
A passionate chamber musician, Natasha is a regular recital partner of Grammy winning cellist Zuill Bailey, with whom she has recorded a number of CDs. Their Britten album on Telarc debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Chart, remaining there for a number of weeks, in addition to being featured on The New York Times Playlist. She has been a guest of many chamber music festivals such as Jeffrey Kahane’s Green Music Center ChamberFest, the Lockenhaus, Toronto, Sitka Summer Music, and Cape Cod Chamber Music festivals to name a few.
Natasha was awarded several prestigious prizes at a very young age, including the Gilmore Young Artists prize in 2006 at the age of eighteen, the Prix Montblanc in 2007, the Orpheum Stiftung Prize in Switzerland. In September 2010, she was awarded the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year. Her first recital album was released in 2011 to great acclaim, topping the Billboard Classical Charts, and was re-released on the Steinway & Sons label in September 2016 featuring Islamey recorded on Steinway’s revolutionary new Spirio technology. In 2012 she recorded Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Fabien Gabel on the orchestra’s label distributed by Naxos.
With a strong focus on new music, Natasha’s growing repertoire reflects an artistic maturity beyond her years. In the 2010-11 season, she played the world premiere of a sonata written for her by Gabriel Kahane, which was also included in her solo album.
Natasha continues to extend her performance activity and range beyond the traditional concert hall. In December 2008, she was the featured pianist in choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s Danses Concertantes at New York’s Joyce Theater. She was featured in a major two-part film for BBC Television on the life and work of Tchaikovsky, shot on location in St. Petersburg, performing excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and other works. In the winter of 2007, Natasha participated along with Simon Keenlyside in the filming of Twin Spirits, a project starring Sting and Trudie Styler that
explores the music and writing of Robert and Clara Schumann, which was released on DVD. She has performed in the project live several times with the co-creators in New York and the U.K., directed by John Caird, the original director/adaptor of the musical Les Misérables.
Natasha began her piano studies at the age of four with Nina Malikova at Moscow’s Andreyev School of Music. She then studied at San Francisco Conservatory of Music before moving to New York to study with Pavlina Dokovska at Mannes College of Music, from which she graduated in 2007. Natasha made her professional debut at age nine with El Camino Youth Symphony in California. At the age of fifteen she debuted with Los Angeles Philharmonic and recorded two discs with Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Born in Moscow, Natasha moved to the United States at the age of eight, becoming a U.S. citizen shortly thereafter, and is now based in New York where she is Artistic Director of the New York Piano Society, a non-profit organization that supports pianists whose professions lie outside of music.
Patrick Harlin’s “aesthetics capture a sense of tradition and innovation…” (The New York Times). His music is permeated by classical, jazz, and electronic music traditions, all underpinned with a love and respect for the great outdoors. His works have been performed by the St. Louis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, the Rochester and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestras, Collegium Cincinnati, and Calidore String Quartet, among others. Patrick was recently chosen as the inaugural composer in residence with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra (2019-2022).
Patrick’s interdisciplinary research in soundscape ecology—a field that aims to better understand ecosystems through sound—has taken him to imperiled regions around the world, including the Amazon rainforest and the Book Cliffs of Utah. His baseline recordings for ecological impact studies are also the fodder for artistic inspiration. These pieces draw parallels between the sounds of the natural world and those of the concert hall, seeking to bring awareness to the importance of sound in our environment.
Patrick’s work in this field has been supported by a Graham Sustainability Institute Doctoral Fellowship, Theodore Presser Award, and a University of Michigan Predoctoral Fellowship, resulting in an ongoing body of works called The Wilderness Anthology.
Recent CD releases include American Rapture by the Rochester Philharmonic, Wind Cave on GVSU’s Dawn Chorus Album, My Time is Now featuring #tbt and the premiere recording using George Gershwin’s Steinway piano, and River of Doubt with the Atlantic Classical Orchestra.
Patrick holds a B.Mus from Western Washington University, and an M.M. and D.M.A. from the University of Michigan. He has studied with Alexei Girsh, Roger Briggs, Evan Chambers, Bright Sheng, and Michael Daugherty. He was raised in Seattle, Washington, and is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of Michigan.
A native of Hong Kong, Jenny Wong is currently the Associate Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. In addition to the regular season, Wong has conducted performances of Peter Sellars’ staging of di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in Australia, the Festival Internacionale Cervantino and the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico, and in the United States. As chorus master, Wong has prepared choruses for Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic, Susanna Mälkki, Eric Whitacre, María Guinand, and Music Academy of the West, including the U.S. premier of Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion and the LA Philharmonic’s recent release of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Deutsche Grammophon. Most recently, Wong was Assistant Producer of the Master Chorale’s latest album, Eric Whitacre’s The Sacred Veil with Signum Classics.
This season, Wong was one of nine national recipients of OPERA America’s inaugural Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors, through which she will be conducting Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Kate Soper’s Voices from the Killing Jar with Long Beach Opera, in collaboration with WildUp. This season also includes an engagement with the Pasadena Symphony. Other recent engagements and positions have included opera Sweet Land by Du Yun and Raven Chacon with opera company The Industry, directed by Yuval Sharon and Cannupa Hanska-Luger, the Grammy-winning ensemble Phoenix Chorale in Phoenix, Arizona, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, as well as the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music and All Saints Church Pasadena, California.
Wong won two consecutive World Champion titles at the World Choir Games (China, 2010) and the International Johannes Brahms Choral Competition (Germany, 2011), conducting the Diocesan Girls’ School Choir from Hong Kong. She has been a conducting fellow for the Oregon Bach Festival, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Distinguished Concerts International New York and Hong Kong SingFest, by which she conducted the Hong Kong Sinfonietta and Hong Kong City Chamber Orchestra.
Wong received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music from the University of Southern California, when she was also assistant conductor of the Donald Brinegar Singers. She earned her undergraduate degree in voice performance from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has given lectures on Chinese choral music and is an active clinician for choirs. As a singer, Wong sang back-up for Elton John at the 2013 Emmy Awards and for Barry Manilow.
Emerging onto the international stage, Kensho Watanabe is fast becoming one of the most exciting and versatile young conductors to come out of the United States. Recently recognized as a recipient of a Career Assistance Award by the Solti Foundation U.S, Kensho held the position of Assistant Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 2016 to 2019. During this time, he made his critically acclaimed subscription debut with the Orchestra and pianist, Daniil Trifonov, taking over from his mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He would continue on to conduct four subscription concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2019, in addition to debuts at the Bravo! Vail Festival and numerous concerts at the Mann and Saratoga Performing Arts Centres. Watanabe has previously been an inaugural conducting fellow of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2013 to 2015, under the mentorship of Nézet-Séguin.
The 2022-23 season will see Watanabe give debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, and Pasadena Symphony Orchestras. He will also return to the Philadelphia Orchestra for subscription concerts, as well as to the Rhode Island Philharmonic and RTE Concert Orchestra.
Equally at home in both symphonic and operatic repertoire, Watanabe has led numerous operas, most recently at the Spoleto Festival 2022 conducting La bohème. This season will see Kensho work with Nézet-Séguin for Kevin Puts’ THE HOURS with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Met, Terence Blanchard’s CHAMPION with the Met. He will also conduct Madame Butterfly with the Michigan Opera Theatre.
Recent highlights include Kensho’s debuts with the London Philharmonic and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Jyväskylä Sinfonia, Turku Philharmonic, and his Polish debut with the Filarmonia Szczecin. Kensho has also enjoyed recent collaborations with the Houston Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Brussels Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Charlotte Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, and the Orchestre Metropolitain in Montreal.
Praised by the Washington Post for combining “staggering technical prowess, a sense of command and depth of expression,” pianist George Li possesses an effortless grace, poised authority, and brilliant virtuosity far beyond his years. Since winning the Silver Medal at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Li has rapidly established a major international reputation and performs regularly with some of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, such as Dudamel, Gaffigan, Gergiev, Gimeno, Honeck, Orozco-Estrada, Petrenko, Robertson, Slatkin, Temirkanov, Tilson Thomas, Long Yu, and Xian Zhang.
Highlights for the 2022-2023 season include concerto engagements with The Cleveland Orchestra in Miami, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, New Jersey, Indianapolis, Portland (ME), Arkansas, Pacific, Fairfax, and Modesto Symphonies, and the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège in Belgium. In recital, Li returns to Carnegie Hall and appears in El Cajon, Santa Rosa, and Carmel (CA), Richmond (VA), New Orleans (LA), Rochester (NY), Middlebury (IN), Williamstown (MA), and Chapel Hill (NC).
Recent concerto highlights include performances with the Los Angeles, New York, London, Rotterdam, Oslo, St. Petersburg, Buffalo Philharmonics; the San Francisco, Tokyo, Frankfurt Radio, Sydney, Nashville, New World, North Carolina, Pacific, Valencia, Montreal, and Baltimore Symphonies; as well as the Philharmonia, DSO Berlin, and Orchestra National de Lyon. His eight-concert tour of Germany with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra included performances at the Berlin Philharmonie, Philharmonie am Gasteig Munich, and the Stuttgart Liederhalle. He frequently appears with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra, including performances at the Paris Philharmonie, Luxembourg Philharmonie, New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music, Graffenegg Festival, and in various venues throughout Russia.
In recital, Li has previously performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Davies Hall in San Francisco, Symphony Center in Chicago, the Mariinsky Theatre, Elbphilharmonie, Munich’s Gasteig, the Louvre, Seoul Arts Center, Tokyo’s Asahi Hall and Musashino Hall, NCPA Beijing, Shanghai Poly Theater, and Amici della Musica Firenze, as well as appearances at major festivals including the Edinburgh International Festival, Verbier Festival, Ravinia Festival, Festival de Pâques in Aix-en-Provence Festival, and Montreux Festival. An active chamber musician, Li has performed alongside Benjamin Beilman, Noah Bendix-Balgley, James Ehnes, Daniel Hope, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and Kian Soltani.
Li is an exclusive Warner Classics recording artist, with his debut recital album released in October 2017 which was recorded live from the Mariinsky. His second recording for the label features Liszt solo works and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1, which was recorded live with Vasily Petrenko and the London Philharmonic and was released in October 2019.
Li gave his first public performance at Boston’s Steinway Hall at the age of ten, and in 2011 performed for President Obama at the White House in an evening honoring Chancellor Angela Merkel. Among Li’s many prizes, he was the recipient of the 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, a recipient of the 2012 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the First Prize winner of the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. He is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at the New England Conservatory, continuing to work with Wha Kyung Byun. When not playing piano, George is an avid reader and photographer, as well as a sports fanatic.
Jessica Hunt (b. 1987) has been commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra (Climb), the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra (The Eagle Tree), the Gaudete Brass Quintet (seven works), Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, The Michigan Lighthouse Landmark Legacy Project, Access Contemporary Music, and many others; has served as the 2018 Boontling Community Fellow at the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music and as the 2017-18 Young Composer in Residence with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings; and was awarded a Regents Fellowship at the University of Michigan, where she completed her doctoral studies in 2019.
In her work as a composer, Hunt’s primary goal is to seek emotional resonance in the rhetorical dialogue between herself, the audience, and the performer by creating eclectic works that explore the aural and syntactical intersections between theatre, narrative, sound, truth and fiction. As such, she has a particular focus on works engaging with the interpretation of text and identity, ranging from her opera-in-progress Thurso’s Landing based on the lengthy narrative poem by Robinson Jeffers, to recently-premiered Climb (Philadelphia Orchestra commission) which explores Hunt’s physical experiences with disability and chronic illness.
As a scholar and educator, Hunt serves as an Assistant Professor of Music Theory at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University where her research interests include the phonetic and articulatory phenomena of sung text, harmonic vocabulary and syntax in musical theater, and expanding the canon through creative analysis and curricular development focusing on the works of under-represented composers.
Hunt was born on a small cattle ranch in the desert mountains of eastern California during a blizzard. Most of her childhood and adolescence were spent in Vancouver, Washington, after which she transplanted to the midwest. Hunt holds degrees from Columbia College Chicago (BM ‘09), DePaul University (MM ‘16), and the University of Michigan (DMA ’19). She presently lives in Baltimore, MD, with her partner and high-school crush, Mark.
Hunt is a member of both ASCAP and the American Composers Forum, and is published exclusively by Just A Theory Press.
American conductor Kyle Dickson is quickly building a reputation as an innovative and compelling presence on the podium. Recipient of the 2021 GPMF Advocate for Arts Award, Dickson is a Salonen Conducting Fellow with the San Francisco Symphony under the guidance of Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen through the Negaunee Conducting Program at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles. In 2021 he became the recipient of the Richard S. Weinert Award from Concert Artists Guild.
He is Assistant Conductor of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and previously served as Music Director of Chicago’s South Loop Symphony. Dickson was a Conducting Fellow at the 2021 National Orchestral Institute’s Conducting Academy with Marin Alsop and James Ross, and from 2019 to 2021 was a Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellow with Chicago Sinfonietta under the mentorship of Music Director Mei-Ann Chen. In 2020, he was selected as Assistant Conductor of Spoleto Festival USA for the world premiere of Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels’ opera, Omar.
Dickson works regularly with youth ensembles and has given numerous masterclasses and webinars for many arts programs including the Chicago Youth Symphony Ensembles and Ravinia’s El Sistema program. Beginning his career as a violinist, Dickson was a prizewinner at the 2010 NANM National Concerto Competition and has held residencies at Indiana University-South Bend and the United World College of South East Asia as a chamber musician. In 2021, Dickson earned his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University studying with Victor Yampolsky. He also received degrees in violin performance from Michigan State University (BM) and DePaul University (MM).
Pianist Wynona Wang was selected as First Prize winner of the 2018 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, which is just the latest in a series of impressive first prize performances, along with the 2017 Wideman International Piano Competition in Louisiana. Wynona was also awarded the 2019 “Charlotte White” Career Grant awarded by the Salon de Virtuosi in New York City.
An active performer in China, Europe and the United States, Wynona’s recent performances include appearances with the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, the Meadows Symphony Orchestra of SMU in Dallas, and such major festivals as PianoTexas, Morningside Music Bridge in Calgary, Canada, the International Keyboard Institute & Festival in New York City, and the Chautauqua Institution. Internationally, Wynona has been a featured soloist with the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine, and the Romanian Mihail Jora Philharmonic Orchestra in Italy. She has also given numerous solo piano recitals in China—including cities such as Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Kunming, Ningbo, and Dalian—as well as in Spain (Madrid) and Indonesia (Jakarta).
Born in Beijing, Wynona Wang began playing piano at age 4, and went on to study at both the Music Elementary and Secondary schools at the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM) in Beijing. In fall 2016, she was awarded a full scholarship for her Performer’s Diploma at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and she now lives in New York while pursuing her undergraduate degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Dr. Robert McDonald.
Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post).
Jessie was born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s during a time when the neighborhood was at a major turning point in its history. Artists gravitated to the hotbed of artistic experimentation and community development. Her parents – her father a musician, her mother a theater artist and storyteller – were engaged in the activities of the neighborhood and regularly brought Jessie to rallies, performances, and parties where neighbors, activists, and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movements of the time. It is from this unique experience that Jessie has created a life that merges composing, performance, education, and advocacy.
Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African-American and Latinx string players. She currently serves as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. She was a two-time laureate of the annual Sphinx Competition and was awarded a generous MPower grant to assist in the development of her debut album, Strum: Music for Strings (Azica Records). She has received additional grants and awards from the ASCAP Foundation, Chamber Music America, American Composers Orchestra, the Joyce Foundation, and the Sorel Organization.
Her growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Some recent highlights include Five Slave Songs (2018) commissioned for soprano Julia Bullock by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Records from a Vanishing City (2016) for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Caught by the Wind (2016) for the Albany Symphony and the American Music Festival, and Banner (2014) – written to mark the
200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner – for The Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation.
In the 2019-20 season, new commissioned works will be premiered by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the National Choral Society, and ASCAP Foundation. Jessie is also teaming up with composer-violinist Jannina Norpoth to reimagine Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha; it is being produced by Volcano Theatre and co-commissioned by Washington Performing Arts, Stanford University, Southbank Centre (London), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Additionally, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony will all perform Montgomery’s works this season.
The New York Philharmonic has selected Jessie as one of the featured composers for their Project 19, which marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting equal voting rights in the United States to women. Other forthcoming works include a nonet inspired by the Great Migration, told from the perspective of Montgomery’s great-grandfather William McCauley and to be performed by Imani Winds and the Catalyst Quartet; a cello concerto for Thomas Mesa jointly commissioned by Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, and The Sphinx Organization; and a new orchestral work for the National Symphony.
Jessie began her violin studies, at the Third Street Music School Settlement, one of the oldest community organizations in the country. A founding member of PUBLIQuartet and currently a member of the Catalyst Quartet, she continues to maintain an active performance career as a violinist appearing regularly with her own ensembles, as well as with the Silkroad Ensemble and Sphinx Virtuosi.
Jessie’s teachers and mentors include Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer, Alice Kanack, Joan Tower, Derek Bermel, Mark Suozzo, Ira Newborn, and Laura Kaminsky. She holds degrees from the Juilliard School and New York University and is currently a Graduate Fellow in Music Composition at Princeton University.
Spanish-American conductor François López-Ferrer came to international attention after a critically acclaimed debut at the 2018 Verbier Festival, where he jumped in for Iván Fischer in a shared program with Sir Simon Rattle and Gébor Takécs-Nagy.
In demand as a guest conductor, López-Ferrer’s recent and upcoming highlights include debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Orquesta Nacional de España, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Omaha Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Berner Symphonieorchester, Orquesta Sinfónica Radio Televisión Española (RTVE), Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Orquesta de Valencia, Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Chile, Orquesta de Extremadura, Joven Orquesta Nacional de España, Orquesta Joven de la Sinfónica de Galicia, Orquestra Sinfônica do Paraná, and the Orquestra Sinfônica de Porto Alegre.
Throughout 2021 and 2022 López-Ferrer has been a Dudamel Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and May Festival, he conducts the CSO’s Young People’s Concerts and provides artistic support to CSO’s Music Director Louis Langrée and May Festival’s Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena. López-Ferrer is one of six participants to be featured in the 2022 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. He previously served as associate conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Chile (OSNCH), Principal Conductor of the Ballet Nacional Chileno, and was the youngest ever Conductor-in-Residence of the OSNCH’s Summer Concert Series.
López-Ferrer was winner of the inaugural 2015 Neeme Järvi Prize awarded at the Menuhin-Gstaad Festival and received third prize at the 2018 OFUNAM International Conducting Competition. He was previously a member of the prestigious Deutsche Dirigentenforum. López-Ferrer holds a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Haute École de Musique de Lausanne, under the tutelage of professor Aurélien Azan Zielinski, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from the University of Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music where his teachers included Joel Hoffman, Miguel Roig-Francoli, and Michael Fiday.
Spanish-born violinist Francisco Fullana, winner of the 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, has been hailed as an “amazing talent” (Gustavo Dudamel) and “frighteningly awesome” (Buffalo News). His solo violin album Bach’s Long Shadow, was named BBC Music Magazine’s Instrumental Choice of the Month. Its five star review stated: ‘Fullana manages to combine Itzhak Perlman’s warmth with the aristocratic poise of Henryk Szeryng’
A native of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands of Spain, Francisco is making a name for himself as both a performer and a leader of innovative educational institutions. As a soloist, he has performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Bayerische Philharmonie led by the late Sir Colin Davis, the Sibelius Concerto with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, and the Brahms Violin Concerto with Venezuela’s Teresa Carreño Orchestra under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. His versatility as a performer has brought him to perform with numerous ensembles across the artistic spectrum: from major orchestras such as the City of Birmingham, Vancouver, Aachen, Pacific and Buffalo Symphony Orchestras, the chamber orchestras of Saint Paul and Philadelphia, to the baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire and the new music driven Metropolis Ensemble. Francisco has worked under the batons of Hans Graf, Alondra de la Parra, Christoph Poppen, Jeannette Sorrell, and Joshua Weilerstein, among many others.
Fullana is one of the first international solo violinists to fully embrace and absorb the baroque language of historical performance. His passion for the gut strings has blossomed into fruitful collaborations with Baroque groups all over the world. Last season, Fullana was the Artist-in-Residence with the Grammy-winning ensemble Apollo’s Fire, performing 18 concerto performances on tour, including stops at Carnegie Hall and Severance Hall among many others. They recently released Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on Avie Records to great success: The album debut at #2 of the Billboard Charts and was named Top Ten Album Of the Year by the Sunday Times. BBC Music Magazine’s review stated: ‘Francisco Fullana reveals Vivaldi’s poetry with effortless refinement.’ The partnership continues this spring, performing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons on tour around the UK, including stops at Aldenburgh Festival & St. Martin in the Fields.
Highlights of Francisco’s orchestral engagements for 2022-2023 include performances with Madrid, Málaga, Tallahassee, Xalapa and Zacatecas Symphonies, as well as the Symphony of the Americas. Francisco will also reappear with Alabama, Austin, Balearic Islands and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, as well as an ongoing collaboration as Artist-in-Residence with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Recent recital debuts included the Phillips Collection and Palm Beach’s Kravis Center as well as recitals debuts at the Mecklenburg-Vorlpolmmern and Geizeitenkonzerte festivals with his duo partner, pianist Matthias Kirchnerheit. In Asia, his two recital tours of eastern China and Japan have been rescheduled for 2023 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Fullana was 2021/22 Artist-in Residence for the 30th anniversary season of the Grammy-winning baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire, performing 35 concerts as a soloist on tours around the country, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Cleveland’s Severance Hall.
His passion for working with youth orchestras through the Fortissimo Youth Initiative will be at full display this season. His concerto debut at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Perelman Hall will feature Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole with the New York Youth Symphony. In 2023, Francisco will embark on a European tour with the Spanish National Youth Symphony JONDE, premiering a new concerto by Mikel Urkiza across 5 countries, culminating at Berlin’s Konzerthaus under the baton of Pablo Gónzalez.
In 2018 Orchid Classics released Francisco’s acclaimed debut recording Through the Lens of Time performed with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Carlos Izcaray. Fullana’s new double album on Orchid, Bach’s Long Shadow, juxtaposes two of the monumental Bach’s Partitas on gut strings and baroque setup with virtuoso solo violin works from the next 3 centuries. Fullana’s love for the sound of gut strings and baroque music has blossomed into an artistic partnership with the baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire. The group led by Jeannette Sorrell joins forces with Francisco for their fiery take on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons both on their newest album just released on Avie Records and was named 2022’s Top Ten Record of the Year by the Sunday Times.
Active as a chamber musician, Francisco is a performing artist at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and has participated in the Marlboro Music Festival, the Musicians from Marlboro tours, the Perlman Music Program, the Da Camera Society, and the LaJolla, Moab, Music@Menlo, Mainly Mozart, Music in the Vineyards, and Newport music festivals. His musical collaborators have included Viviane Hagner, Nobuko Imai, Mitsuko Uchida, and members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Takács, and Cleveland quartets. Francisco’s Spanish roots are also often explored in collaboration with Hispanic artists such as guitarist Pablo Sainz-Villegas and bandoneonist JP Jofre. Their recital for The Violin Channel’s Vanguard Concerts at Merkin Hall was just released for worldwide release this past month on all major streaming platforms.
Born into a family of educators, Francisco is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Madrid, where he matriculated under the tutelage of Manuel Guillén. He received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School following studies with Donald Weilerstein and Masao Kawasaki, and holds an Artist Diploma from the USC Thornton School of Music, where he worked with the renowned violinist Midori.
In 2015 Francisco was honored with First Prize in Japan’s Munetsugu Angel Violin Competition, as well as all four of that competition’s special prizes including the Audience and Orchestra awards. Additional awards include First Prizes at the Johannes Brahms and Julio Cardona International Violin Competitions, the Pro Musicis International Award, and the Pablo Sarasate National Competition.
Francisco is a committed innovator, leading new institutions of musical education for young people. He is a co-founder of San Antonio’s Classical Music Summer Institute, where he currently serves as Chamber Music Director. He also created the Fortissimo Youth Initiative, a series of music seminars and performances with youth orchestras, which aims to explore and deepen young musicians’ understanding of 18th-century music. The seminars are deeply immersive, thrusting youngsters into the sonic world of a single period while inspiring them to channel their overwhelming energy in the service of vibrant older styles of musical expression. The results can be galvanic, and Francisco continues to build on these educational models.
Francisco Fullana performs on the 1735 “Mary Portman” ex-Kreisler Guarneri del Gesù violin, kindly on loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
Shawn E. Okpebholo is a GRAMMY®-nominated, critically-acclaimed and award-winning composer whose music has been described as “devastatingly beautiful” and “fresh and new and fearless” (The Washington Post), “affecting” (The New York Times), “searing” (The Chicago Tribune), “staggering” (The New Yorker), “lyrical, complex, singular” (The Guardian) and “powerful” (BBC Music Magazine). Some honors include The Academy of Arts and Letters Walter Hinrichsen Award, 2022 Winner of Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, First Place Winner of the 2020 American Prize in Composition (professional/wind band division), Second Place Winner in the 2017 American Prize in Composition (professional/orchestral division), First Prize Winner in the Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition and the Inaugural Awardee of the Leslie Adams-Robert Owens Composition Award. Okpebholo’s music has been featured in recital and concert series in nearly every state in America and all over the world, including Aspen Music Festival; Bowdoin International Music Festival; Newport New Music Festival; concerts presented by Chicago Lyric Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Urban Arias, Portland Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater; Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Now Series; Cincinnati and Houston Symphony Orchestras; Unites States Airfare Strings, among others.
Okpebholo’s work as a composer and his music has been featured on PBS Newshour, and radio broadcasts across the country, including NPR’s All Things Considered, NPR’s Morning Edition SiriusXM’s “Living American” series on Symphony Hall Channel, and Chicago’s WFMT. And NPR selected his art song The Rainas one of the 100 Best Songs of 2021; only a few classical works to made the ranking. His artistry has resulted in many prizes and honors, including The Academy of Arts and Letters Walter Hinrichsen Award, 2022 Winner of Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, First Place Winner of the 2020 American Prize in Composition (professional/wind band division), Second Place Winner in the 2017 American Prize in Composition (professional/orchestral division), First Prize Winner in the Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition and the Inaugural Awardee of the Leslie Adams-Robert Owens Composition Award.
Okpebholo’s music has been featured in recital and concert series in nearly every state in America and all over the world, including Aspen Music Festival; Bowdoin International Music Festival; Newport New Music Festival; Monte Music Festival (Goa, India); MusicX Contemporary Music Festival; The Uncommon Music Festival (Alaska); concerts presented by Chicago Lyric Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Urban Arias, Portland Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater; Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Now Series; Cincinnati and Houston Symphony Orchestras; Unites States Air Force Strings; Urban Arias and the Inscape Chamber Orchestra; Copland House Ensemble, Picosa, Fifth House Ensemble, Lincoln Trio, among others. Some solo artists include vocalists J’Nai Bridges, Will Liverman, Michael Michael Mayes, Ryan McKinney, Robert Sims, and Tamera Wilson; pianists Paul Sánchez, Mark Markham, Craig Terry, and Robert Ainsley; euphonium virtuoso Steven Mead, flutists Jennie Oh Brown and Caen-Thomason-Redus.
Okpebholo regularly receives commissions from noted soloists, universities, and organizations, including the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Astral Artists, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, International Tuba and Euphonium Association, The Meir Rimon Commissioning Program of the International Horn Society, among others. His compositions have been featured on six commercially released albums, including his first album solely devoted to his music, Steal Away, a collection of re-imagined Negro spirituals, and his second solo album, GRAMMY®-nominated Lord, How Come Me Here?.
As a pedagogue, Okpebholo has given masterclasses at many academic institutions worldwide, including two universities in Nigeria, and has served on the faculty of summer music festivals, currently on the Fresh Inc Festival’s composition faculty. His compositional and research interests have been a gateway for ethnomusicological fieldwork in both East and West Africa. He has studied the music of the Esan people in southern Nigeria, the Akambe people in the Machakos region of Kenya, and South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda. His field research has resulted in two chamber works, two symphonic works, transcriptions, and academic lectures. Grants from the Endowment of the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Tangemen Sacred Music Center, Wheaton College, and Pew Research Grant (Union University) have supported his work.
He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in composition from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati, where he also studied music theory. He completed a bachelor’s degree in composition and music history from Asbury College. He had additional studies in film scoring from New York University through the Buddy Baker Film Scoring Program. Growing up, a significant part of his music education was through The Salvation Army church, where he regularly received free music lessons. Inspired by that charity, Okpebholo is passionate about offering his musical expertise to underserved communities. Currently, he is Jonathan Blanchard Professor of Music Composition and Theory at Wheaton College-Conservatory of Music (IL), having also taught at Union University (TN), Northern Kentucky University, and CCM. He served as also the Composer-in-Residence of the renowned Fifth House Ensemble. And he is currently in residence with the Chicago Opera Theater (2021-2023 seasons), culminating with an opera commission with librettist Mark Campbell, librettist for the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night.
He lives in Wheaton, IL, a suburb of Chicago, with his wife, violist Dorthy, and his daughters, Eva and Corinne.
“Some believe conductors are born, not made. Linhan Cui is human embodiment of that idea.” – Andrew Mellor
Conductor Linhan Cui has established herself as a sought-after artist who recently won second prize in the Malko International Conducting Competition. With natural expressivity at the core of her work, her experience includes performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Xinghai Symphony Orchestra, Peabody Symphony Orchestra, and the Indiana University Conductor’s Orchestra. As an Assistant Conductor, Linhan has worked with many world-renowned maestros such as Leon Fleisher and Xian Zhang and assisted more than fifty concerts with orchestras around the world. During the 2019-2020 season, Linhan was appointed Conducting Fellow by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra where she had the privilege of serving as Marin Alsop’s cover conductor.
In 2022-2023 season, Linhan is Dudamel’s Conducting Fellow, being a cover conductor, and having concerts with LA Philharmonic.
Cui was born in Shenyang, China and began her piano study at the age of four. She started conducting at age eighteen when she was the only accepted student at the Xinghai Conservatory, China. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in orchestral conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, under the guidance of Arthur Fagen. She holds a Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory and completed her undergraduate studies at Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou. She has participated in masterclass with USA National Symphony Orchestra.
Violinist Charlotte Marckx was a 2019 Davidson Fellowship Laureate and is a Jack Kent Cooke College Scholar. She won the Gold Medal and Bach Prize at the 2018 Stulberg International Competition and was a major prizewinner at the 2018 Johansen International Competition. Originally from the Seattle area, Ms. Marckx has won the KING FM Young Artists Awards and the Seattle Young Artists Music Festival Concerto Competition. Ms. Marckx has soloed with many orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony, Burbank Symphony, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and Kalamazoo Symphony, and has performed with the Seattle Chamber Music Society, Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, and Colburn Chamber Music Society. She has also been featured on National Public Radio’s From the Top and in Strings magazine.
Former teachers include Simon James and Jan Coleman, and she is currently a student at the Colburn Conservatory, where she studies with renowned pedagogue Robert Lipsett. In the summers, Ms. Marckx continues her studies with Mr. Lipsett at the Aspen Music Festival and Sounding Point Academy. Upcoming performances include the Brahms Double Concerto alongside her sister, cellist Olivia Marckx, with conductor Yehuda Gilad and the Colburn Orchestra.
Chinese composer Si’ang Chen is an associate professor of composition at the Xinghai Conservatory of music. He graduated from the Central Conservatory of music, where he studied under the guidance of Professor Tang Jianping. In his compositions, Chen emphasizes the use of timbre, and the exploration of various compositional approaches. His works have been performed by orchestras worldwide, and has been awarded many prizes.