Chamber Music Sundaes

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Raushan Akhmedyarova

Raushan Akhmedyarova comes from a family of eminent musicians in Kazakhstan. She began her violin studies at the age of five, and at age eleven she won first prize at the National Violin Competition of Kazakhstan. She has also won first prize at the International Competition of Asia in Tashkent, the UNISA International Competition in Pretoria, and the Geneva International Competition.  Ms. Akhmedyarova graduated from Kazakh State Conservatory in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and also took private lessons at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1994 she received a full scholarship to study at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Her principal teachers have included Eduard Schmieder, Aiman Musakhodjaeva, Svetlana Abdusadykova, and Jacob Fudiman.

From 1997 to 2000, Ms. Akhmedyarova she was a member of the New World Symphony, and she was also active in that orchestra’s chamber music series. She has performed in the Czardas In-Context Festival, the Shostakovich project at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Isaac Stern chamber music workshop at Carnegie Hall, and in a chamber music project in Costa Rica. She has given numerous recitals and has been a guest soloist with orchestras throughout Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Russia, Holland, France, Germany, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. She has also participated in summer festivals including Tanglewood, the Holland Music Session, the Paris Château de Champs, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, and the Spoleto Festival in Italy.  Raushan Akhmedyarova is currently Associate Concertmaster of the New Century Chamber Orchestra, and she is on the violin faculty of the San Francisco Academy Orchestra.

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Luis Baez

Luis Baez joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1990 as Associate Principal Clarinetist. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, he began his professional career as principal of the Annapolis Opera Company Orchestra and has been a member of the Florida Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, and New Mexico Symphony, where he served as principal clarinet for four years. A frequent participant in the SFS Chamber Music Series, Mr. Baez made his first solo appearance with the Orchestra in Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto in 1999. He is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and coaches clarinet players in the SFS Youth Orchestra.

Alexander Barantschik

Born in   Saint Petersburg, Russia , Alexander Barantschik began violin studies at age six. He attended the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and went on to perform with the major Russian orchestras. After emigrating from Russia , he served as Concertmaster of Germany’s Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has been an active violin soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, performing with such artists as Andre Previn, Mstislav Rostropovich, Maxim Vengerov and Yuri Bashmet. Mr. Barantschik began his first season as Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony in September 2001, and has performed as a soloist in concertos by Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Britten, and Shostakovich. By arrangement with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Mr. Barantschik has the exclusive use of the 1742 “David” Guarnerius del Gesu violin, bequeathed to the Museums by Jascha Heifetz.

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Barbara Bogatin

Barbara Bogatin has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony since 1994. She began her cello studies at the New School of Music in Philadelphia, continued at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division, and earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School.

Before joining the San Francisco Symphony, her varied career included playing with New York Chamber Soloists, the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the Monte Carlo Show, the Casals Festival, and as principal cellist with Milwaukee and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras. She has performed and recorded on Baroque cello and viola da gamba with Aston Magna, the Amati Trio, Connecticut Early Music Festival and New York’s Classical Band. An avid chamber musician, she has played with Chamber Music Northwest, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Tiburon Chamber Players, Lake Tahoe Summerfest and on cruise ships throughout the Baltic Sea and the Middle East.

Along with her husband, neuroscientist Clifford Saron, she has led workshops on meditation and music practice at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the Esalen Institute, Stanford Symposium for Music and the Brain, Telluride Compassion Festival and the Institute for Mindfulness South Africa Conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She is a proud mother of two University of California undergraduates.

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Jill Rachuy Brindel

Jill Rachuy Brindel has been a cellist with the San Francisco Symphony since 1980 and a member of the Navarro Trio for more than twenty years. This ensemble was hailed as "the premier trio of Northern California" by Terry McNeill writing for North Bay Classical Music (  She studied at Indiana University and Chicago Musical College and was formerly Assistant Principal Cellist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, Principal Cellist of the Mendocino Music Festival for its first six years, cellist for the Navarro Quartet and a member of the Houston Symphony. She has performed chamber music at Kohl Mansion, the Russian River Chamber Festival, Old First Church, the Ralston Chamber Series, Chamber Music Sundaes and at Sonoma State University, where she teaches and the Navarro Trio is in residence. In 2006 she returned to the Mendocino Music Festival as Principal Cellist and chamber soloist and in 2009 she became co-director of the Emerging Artists Program at the festival. Ms. Brindel actively promotes the music of her late father, composer Bernard Brindel. She is a private instructor of cello as well as the coach for the cello section of the SFS Youth Orchestra. Ms. Brindel has given seminars on audition techniques to students at the University of Nevada at Reno and the New World Symphony. In 2011 the San Francisco Symphony selected her to hold the Gary & Kathleen Heidenreich Second Century Cello Chair. On August 23, 2014 the Navarro Trio played in the opening concert in Schroeder Hall , the new Chamber music hall at Sonoma State University. She has been an instructor of cello at Sonoma State University since 2015. 

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Dan Carlson

Dan Carlson, who joined the SFS in 2006, is Associate Principal Second Violin and occupant of the Audrey Avis Aasen-Hull Chair. He previously served as rotating concertmaster for the New World Symphony during the 2004-05 season.

Mr. Carlson has performed and toured with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, been a member of the first violin section of the Phoenix Symphony, and participated in the Kneisel Hall, Tanglewood, and Marlboro festivals, as well as the Marlboro Music Tours. He has also performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and worked on chamber music compositions with Bright Sheng, George Pearl, Hans Werner Henze, and Thomas Adès.

Mr. Carlson holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Joel Smirnoff and Dorothy Delay.

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Nicole Cash

Associate Principal horn, San Francisco Symphony

Charles Chandler

Charles Chandler is the first member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra to become a member of the San Francisco Symphony, a position he has held since 1992. Born in Champaign, Illinois and raised in Mill Valley, Mr. Chandler began studying the bass with Shinji Eshima of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. In 1983, he entered the Juilliard School of Music where he studied with David Walter.

Prior to his position in San Francisco, he served as Associate Principal Bass of the Phoenix Symphony. He has also performed in the Marin Symphony, where his wife is violinist and mother is principal flute.

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Jerry Chang

Cellist Jerry Chang, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, studied with George Wisneskey, and with Diane Mather of the Cleveland Orchestra. He has studied chamber music at the Blossom Music Festival, the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra, and at Harvard University, with Patricia Zander and Robert Sirota. He has performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as well as in Cleveland and Boston. He has appeared as a guest artist with the Ariel Ensemble of the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento as well as with Peninsula Grace Notes. He is a founding member of Trio Concertante. Robert P. Commanday, Senior Editor of the San Francisco Classical Voice and former music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle has lauded Chang’s “expressive voice” as well as his “command and strong, firm tone”.

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John Chisholm

John Chisholm joined the San Francisco Symphony in 2002. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees as well as a performer's certificate, studying with Zvi Zeitlin and Sylvia Rosenberg. He has held positions with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra, where he was formerly Associate Concertmaster, and was Assistant Concertmaster of the Sunriver Music Festival in Sunriver, Oregon from 1993-2001.

Yun Chu

Yun Chu is in his second season with the San Francisco Symphony. Holder of the Symphony’s Isaac Stern Chair, he received his early training at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and served as concertmaster on two concert tours with the Asian Youth Orchestra under Sergiu Comissiona, performing as soloist with Yo-Yo Ma in Strauss’s Don Quixote . In 1999, while a student at the University of Southern California , he was selected to participate in the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany , where he played under such conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Spivakov, and Mstislav Rostropovich, and was subsequently appointed concertmaster of the Festival Orchestra. 

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Jeremy Constant

A native of Toronto , Canada , Jeremy Constant joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1984 as a section member of the violins and won the position of Assistant Concertmaster in 1992. Brought to California by the Carmel Bach Festival in 1979, Mr. Constant joined the orchestra of the San Francisco Opera in 1980. Mr. Constant studied violin on scholarship at the Juilliard School of Music with Ivan Galamian and at Brooklyn College under the tutelage of Itzhak Perlman. While in New York , Mr. Constant served as Concertmaster of the National Orchestral Association, the Village Light Opera Company, and the Manhattan Savoyard Orchestra.

An active musician, Mr. Constant also currently holds the positions of Concertmaster in the Marin Symphony and Concertmaster of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. He is an active participant in the Edgar Bronfman Chamber Music Series and the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. He was a founding member of Navarro String Quartet and Navarro Trio, and has served as Concertmaster of the Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival, the Mendocino Music Festival and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.

In 1979, Mr. Constant was the Grand Prizewinner of the Du Maurier Competition in Canada and has performed on radio and television networks in Canada , the United States , and Mexico . He has collaborated in chamber music with many of the world’s leading soloists and chamber musicians.  Residing in Oakland with his wife Sharon, owner of Visible Ink Design, Mr. Constant is currently building an RV7A experimental aircraft.

Thomas Darter

Thomas Darter was born in 1949 in Livermore, California. He holds a Doctorate in music composition from Cornell University. His main composition teachers were Karel Husa and Robert Palmer, and he also had private lessons and classes with visiting composers Elliott Carter and Aaron Copland. He has won several composition awards, played keyboards on numerous Jerry Goldsmith film scores, and arranged two albums for the Kronos Quartet (Monk Suite and Music of Bill Evans). He taught music theory and composition at Roosevelt University (in Chicago), where he was also the Director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble, and taught electronic studio techniques at the University of Southern California. He was the founding Editor of Keyboard magazine.

P.S. He first met Jill Brindel at Roosevelt University, decades ago. Small world!

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Russ deLuna

Russ deLuna joined the San Francisco Symphony as English horn player in 2007, and is occupant of the Joseph and Pauline Scafidi Chair. Mr. deLuna was previously principal oboist of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra and the Columbus (Georgia) Symphony; he was also English horn player of the Atlanta Ballet and the Alabama Symphony. He has performed numerous times with the Atlanta Symphony and toured and recorded extensively with that ensemble, including as guest principal oboist at the Ojai Music Festival and at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Mr. deLuna has taught at Emory University and Columbus State University, and has given master classes at the Manhattan School of Music. He was a student of Ray Still at Northwestern University; during his time there he performed with the Chicago Civic Orchestra and subbed for the Chicago Symphony. Other solo appearances include performances with the Radio Orchestra of Bucharest, Romania; the Columbus (Georgia) Symphony; and at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. Mr. deLuna holds a master’s degree from Boston University, where he studied with Jonathan Dlouhy. He has also studied with Patrick McFarland, of the Atlanta Symphony; Ralph Gomberg, Principal Oboe of the Boston Symphony; and Robert Walters, of the Cleveland Orchestra. Now a resident of the Bay Area, he performs on the Noe Valley Chamber Music Series as well as with the Gold Coast Chamber Players. 

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Avi Downes

Since making noteworthy debuts in London, Vienna, and Amsterdam at the age of sixteen, pianist Avi Downes has performed extensively throughout Europe, South America, and the United States . A native of San Francisco , Ms. Downes began her piano studies at the age of three as the youngest student ever admitted to the San Francisco Conservatory. At 14, she moved to Europe to further her musical education; completing her studies at the University of Vienna and the University of Cologne . Throughout her career, Ms. Downes has divided her time between her solo work and various chamber ensembles. As the youngest of three musical sisters who constantly made music together, her interest and talent for chamber music showed itself at a very young age. She was awarded top prizes in some of the most prestigious international music competitions in the world, including the ARD Competition in Munich, the Rostropovich Competition in Paris, the Maria Canals in Barcelona, and the Vittorio Gui, and Trio di Trieste competitions in Italy .  

Don Erlich

Don Erlich received his Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College, his Master of Music degree is from the Manhattan School of Music, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan . After a year as Principal Viola in the Toledo Symphony, he joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1972, where he is now Assistant Principal Viola. An established chamber musician and soloist, his has been a member of the Aurora String Quartet and the Stanford String Quartet. He appears frequently in such series as Chamber Music West, Chamber Music Sundaes and the Mendocino Music Festival, and has been on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory since 1972.  He plays on an ergonomic viola designed and built by David Rivinus of Portland, Oregon.

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Nancy Ellis

Violist Nancy Ellis attended Oberlin College and graduated from Mills College , where she studied with Nathan Rubin. She attended the Marlboro Music Festival, was a founding member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Ensemble, and is presently a member of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival, in Telluride, Colorado. She has been a member of San Francisco Symphony since 1973.

Dan Ferreira

Dan Ferreira, clarinetist, is a professional musician from the San Francisco Bay Area. He has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Oakland Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, and many other professional orchestras throughout the region. As a chamber musician Dan has appeared in recital with members of the San Francisco Symphony and presented his own solo recitals. In addition to his busy performance schedule, Dan has held the position of Assistant Music Librarian with the San Francisco Symphony since July 2011. In his career as a Music Librarian Dan enjoys working closely with the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony and the eminent conductors and soloists of our time. A Bay Area native, Dan is a graduate of California State University, Hayward and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

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Gina Feinauer

Gina Feinauer is a native of Ardsley, New York. She attended Boston University and The Yale School of Music. Before joining the San Francisco Symphony in 1992 she was a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic for 5 seasons. An active chamber musician in the Bay Area, she is currently keeping herself busy raising twin 4-year old sons. 

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Akimi Fukuhara

Akimi Fukuhara was born in Osaka, Japan. She made her recital debut at age twelve in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, and her solo debut with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Summer Arts Academy the following year. Ms. Fukuhara studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Mack McCray and went on to win the Susan W. Rose Scholarship at the Juilliard School, where she studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky. She has performed in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. She has also appeared in Italy, France, Korea, Taiwan, and throughout Japan. An avid chamber music player, Ms. Fukuhara has collaborated with cellists Christine Walevska, Nathaniel Rosen, and Fred Sherry, as well as with San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik. 

Sébastien Gingras

Canadian cellist Sébastien Gingras grew up in Chicoutimi, Québec, where he went to school for several years at the Conservatoire de Musique. After graduating from this institution in 2003 from the class of David Ellis, he moved to Boston to study with Laurence Lesser at the New England Conservatory and received his Master of Music degree from this school in 2005. The following year, he received the Graduate Diploma with distinction in performance from the same Conservatory.

Sébastien has won top prizes in several solo competitions including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition, the Festival de musique du Royaume, the Canadian Music Competition and the New World Symphony Concerto Competition. Sébastien has also been heard on several occasions on CBC in recital and in a concerto appearance.

He has participated in several festivals and seminars including Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, the Domaine Forget Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and the Festival de musique de chambre du Larzac, France. Mr. Gingras has also joined renowned artists in chamber music performances including Menahem Pressler, Anthony Marwood and the Alcan and Borromeo String Quartets.

Sébastien has been a member of the New World Symphony and the Saint Louis Symphony before joining the San Francisco Symphony for the 2010-11 season.

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David Goldblatt

Cellist David Goldblatt is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, and has been a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and is presently a member of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. He was a member of the Philly Sound, which won a 1972 Grammy for best instrumental rock ‘n’ roll recording. He appears regularly on concert series in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco Symphony chamber music series and Chamber Music Sundaes.

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Joanna Goldstein 

Flutist Joanna Goldstein has performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Santa Rosa Symphony, Portland Symphony (Maine), Rhode Island Symphony, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and the Granite State Symphony, among others. A founding member of the celebrated Vento Chiaro woodwind quintet, she has enjoyed longstanding associations with the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Providence College, Longy School of Music and Boston University. Joanna is currently the director of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra Flute Ensembles and is on faculty at The Harker School.

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Solon Gordon

Solon Gordon’s musical path has been forged by his love of chamber music. Mr. Gordon graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 2007 having garnered much praise for his frequent and adventurous collaborative performances. In addition to his work on traditional chamber repertoire, he was active in the school’s Contemporary Music Ensemble and was a founding member of Echoi, a new music sextet. He spent his undergraduate summers at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Blue Hill, Maine. Mr. Gordon currently serves as a staff accompanist for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division. He also performs regularly with Classical Revolution, a musicians collective that brings chamber music to new listeners in unlikely venues. Solon is ever grateful to his principal mentors: Monique Duphil, at Oberlin Conservatory, and Sandra Dennis, at the Community Music School of Springfield, Massachusetts.

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Lawrence Granger

Lawrence Granger joined the San Francisco Symphony’s cello section in 1979. Born in San Diego, his family moved in 1966 to the Bay Area, where he studied with Bonnie Hampton. While still in college at Cal State Hayward, he won the Oakland Symphony’s cello audition and joined that orchestra as principal cellist a year later. He also continued his studies with SFS Principal Cellist Michael Grebanier and played for three years with the San Francisco Ballet orchestra. Mr. Granger was on the faculty at Cal State Hayward and frequently recorded for radio, television, and movie soundtracks.   He died in 2009.

Michael Grebanier

Michael Grebanier joined the San Francisco Symphony as Philip S. Boone Principal Cellist in 1977. Prior to that, he was principal cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony for fourteen years (the youngest musician to hold that post in the ensemble's history) and a member of the Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Grebanier has been a soloist with the SFS in the major works for cello and orchestra; most recently, in December 2005, he was soloist with Alexander Barantschik in the Brahms Double Concerto, with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the Orchestra. Mr. Grebanier has played the complete cycle of Beethoven cello and piano sonatas with Malcolm Frager and has been affiliated with the Marlboro Festival in Vermont and the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. With violinist Jorja Fleezanis and pianist Garrick Ohlsson, he is a member of the acclaimed FOG Trio. Michael Grebanier began his musical studies in his native New York City and later attended the Curtis Institute of Music. His teachers included Carl Ziegler of the NBC Symphony, Orlando Cole of the Curtis String Quartet, and Leonard Rose. While at Curtis, he won the Walter Naumburg Award and made his recital debut in New York City at nineteen. He has recorded the Prokofiev cello sonatas with pianist Janet Guggenheim for Naxos, and he is featured in the first recording of the complete music for cello and piano by Rachmaninoff, also on Naxos. 

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Sharon Grebanier

Born in Vancouver , British Columbia , and raised in Seattle , Sharon Grebanier's mother would play the violin for Sharon and her friends (she was eager to start the violin when the school music program began in fourth grade, at age nine, and soon started lessons). She also loved hearing a neighbor's recording of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. She joined the Seattle Youth Symphony in seventh grade and thoroughly enjoyed the music, friends and music camp. Her teachers included Vilem Sokol, Emanuel Zetlin, and Denes Zsigmondy. Sharon attended the University of Washington , where she earned two bachelor's degrees in music and art, and a master's degree in music. During her time there, she was coached by the Philadelphia Quartet and won first prize in the Coleman Chamber Music competition. She played at Tanglewood while in college, winning both the Silverstein Prize for outstanding violinist in 1970 and the Henry Cabot Award for outstanding orchestral musician in 1972. During her final year of the master's program, Sharon won her audition with the SFS, and she began playing in San Francisco in 1973. She met her husband, SFS Principal Cellist Michael Grebanier, when he joined the Orchestra in 1977. Sharon was soloist with the SFS in 1982, performing Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins. She is an active chamber music performer ("Chamber music keeps me in shape!") and a founding member of the Aurora String Quartet, which she helped organize in 1978. The Aurora has performed in New York , London , Tokyo , and Tahiti and has recorded the complete quartets of Mendelssohn and Prokofiev for Naxos . In 1983, they performed the Spohr Concerto for Quartet and Orchestra with the SFS. Sharon also performs occasionally with the FOG Trio and the Fleezanis, Walther, Grebanier x 2 string quartet. In their spare time, Sharon and Michael take sailing trips and collect tribal art. "We love books and movies!" She also enjoys listening to jazz and spending time with the Grebanier cat and two parrots.

Peter Grunberg 

The Australian-born musician Peter Grunberg moved to California in the early 1990's to take up the position of Head of Music Staff at the San Francisco Opera. Since then, he has collaborated frequently with the San Francisco Symphony, where he has been conductor, pianist, and recently also pre-concert lecturer. He has directed orchestras in concert at the Moscow Conservatory, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and the Sydney Opera House. Mr Grunberg delights in making music in smaller venues, and was a founding advisor and performer with Chamber Music San Francisco. He has accompanied many renowned artists in recital, including Deborah Voigt, Thomas Hampson, Joshua Bell and Laura Claycomb. This month he appears with Frederica von Stade in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's LaSalle Bank Chamber Music Series. 

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Patricia Heller

Patricia Heller joined the San Francisco Opera Orchestra’s viola section in 1986. She has served as Principal Viola in several productions over the years, and she can be seen onstage in the Company video of Orlando Furioso with Marilyn Horne.  Ms. Heller studied viola with Lee Yeingst of the Denver Symphony, then with Max Aronoff and Toby Appel at Philadelphia’s New School of Music. She studied with Katò Havas in England and credits Havas’s New Approach with providing the musical skills necessary to sustain the physical challenges inherent in the Opera performance schedule while avoiding serious injury.  Patricia met her husband, composer and pianist Duane Heller, while both were students at the University of Denver. Together they have performed a wide range of music for viola and piano, often collaborating with other musicians, and have commissioned new works. They have also produced chamber music concerts wherever they have lived, including Philadelphia, Ithaca, Corvallis, Oregon, Arcata, California, and Dublin, Ireland. The Hellers’ Highwater Ensemble appears from time to time on the concert series at St. Patrick’s Church in San Francisco.  Patricia and Duane live in Daly City, where their attention is largely focused on the swimming, musical, and academic achievements of their teenage daughter, Julia.

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Timothy Higgins

Timothy Higgins is the San Francisco Symphony’s Principal Trombone and holder of the Robert L. Samter Chair. He was previously acting second trombone with the National Symphony. A Houston native, Mr. Higgins graduated from Northwestern University and has performed with the Milwaukee, Virginia, and Chicago symphonies, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Washington National Opera, and the Baltimore Symphony. In 2005, he won the Robert Marsteller Competition and the ITA Trombone Quartet Competition, both part of the International Trombone Association.

John Imholz

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, John Imholz was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. Imholz began playing guitar at the age of fourteen. Early musical influences included the classical guitar playing of John Williams and Andres Segovia, the jazz playing of Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Les Paul, Charley Christian, and the rock music of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Steve Morse. These varied influences came together professionally for John in his early twenties when he began playing guitar, banjo, and mandolin in such diverse settings as rock bands, jazz ensembles, chamber groups, with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, and many local theater pit orchestras, where his knack of shifting styles, musical genres, and instruments was a definite asset. For fifteen years John played mandocello for the Modern Mandolin Quartet; he also did much of the arranging for the group, including works by Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Prokofiev and Bernstein. Currently Mr. Imholz plays locally and on the road
in symphonic, theater, and chamber orchestras. He also plays recording sessions as well as composing, arranging and performing his own original music. 

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In Sun Jang

In Sun Jang, a top prize winner at the International Henryk Szeryng Violin Competition, made her Japanese recital debut in 2004, playing for sold-out audiences at the Airefu Hall in Fukuoka and at the Cultural hall in Shiida, Japan. She has appeared as a soloist with the New World Symphony, the Puchon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Nanpa Festival Orchestra.

In 2001, by special invitation of the late Isaac Stern, Ms. Jang performed at Carnegie Hall as part of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop. She has collaborated with some of the world’s top artists, performing with Menahem Pressler and Orion String Quartet. Her numerous engagements as a chamber musician have taken her to venues such as Jordan Hall in Boston, Miyazaki Prefectural Arts Center in Miyazaki, Japan and the LG Art Center in Seoul, Korea.

A native of Seoul, Korea, Ms. Jang began studying violin and piano at the age of four. She graduated from the Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory, where she studied with Donald Weilerstein. Prior to joining San Francisco Symphony, she was a concertmaster with the New World Symphony.

Katie Kadarauch

Katie Kadarauch has been Assistant Princpal Viola of the San Francisco Symphony since 2007. A Bay Area native, she studied at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music (while performing frequently as a substitute with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), the New England Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute. Principal teachers include Paul Coletti, Kim Kashkashian and Robert Vernon, as well as members of the Cleveland, Cavani and Takacs string quartets. At Colburn she formed the Janaki String Trio, which won the Concert Artists' Guild International Competition in 2006. The trio was hailed by the New York Times at their subsequent Carnegie Hall debut as "magnificently polished" and exhibiting "an irresistible electricity." They have recorded Beethoven, Penderecki and Vanhal for Yarlung and Naxos. Active in the commissioning of new works, the Janaki Trio performed throughout North America, Europe and Australia A three-time veteran of the Marlboro Festival, Ms. Kadarauch also tours with "Musicians from Marlboro" in performances across the United States.

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David Kim

David Kim joined the San Francisco Symphony’s viola section in 2009. He attended the Juilliard and Eastman music schools, the New England Conservatory, and–as a recipient of a Fulbright/Swiss Government Arts Grant–the Geneva Conservatory, where he studied with Nobuko Imai. Mr. Kim was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has been a member of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the IRIS Orchestra. His chamber music engagements have included performances at the Musée du Louvre, Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Helen Kim

Violinist Helen Kim enjoys a versatile career as performer and teacher. She was a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2011-2016, making solo appearances with the orchestra in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. She is currently the Associate Principal Second Violin with the San Francisco Symphony. Ms. Kim received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, where she was a Presidential Scholar, and her master’s degree from the Yale School of Music.

Ms. Kim has spent her summers teaching and performing at festivals including Aspen Music Festival and School, Yellow Barn, Luzerne Music Festival, and the Innsbrook Institute.

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Kum Mo Kim  

As early as age three, Kum Mo displayed the musical talent one would expect from a daughter whose mother was a concert pianist and whose father was the Music Director of the Seoul Philharmonic. She began piano lessons at age five. She took up the violin at age seven and started playing in public shortly thereafter. At ten, she won a youth concerto competition that led to her debut with her father's orchestra, playing the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5. The next year she won the prestigious National Young People's Competition. Kum Mo was invited, at age sixteen, to play at the Ventnor Music Festival in New Jersey . Her high school years were spent in Madison , where her brother was a professor of music at the University of Wisconsin . She attended the University of Michigan , finishing in three years. She then moved to New York to attend the Juilliard School , where she studied with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay. She received her master's degree in 1971. After Juilliard, Kum Mo played at the Spoleto Music Festival ( Italy ), and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg , where she took master classes with Andre Gertler. Professor Gertler invited her to study with him in Germany , to be come a soloist. Previously, she had been offered a job with the National Symphony. She compared the demands of a soloist against being an orchestral player with a family life. The National Symphony won out. In addition to her orchestral duties, Kum Mo gave recitals in Boston , New York and Washington , to critical acclaim. She was a founding member of the Capital Chamber Ensemble and she taught at American University . In 1975, Kum Mo joined the SFS. She continued playing chamber music and recitals in the Bay Area. Kum Mo spent several summers at the Grand Teton and Sun River Festivals. She was a soloist with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. She is heard frequently with Chamber Music Sundaes and the SFS Chamber Music series. Since her twenty-two year old son has gone off to college, she has more time to devote to her passions: chamber music and dancing. "Chamber music is something I can get high on, like dancing," she says. Kum Mo believes her life is filled with blessings—her son, dancing, and making music with the SFS.

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Christina King

Christina King, viola, joined the San Francisco Symphony’s viola section in the Fall of 1996. She has been a member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, was principal violist in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, (training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and has also played with Lyric Opera of Chicago and various orchestras in Mexico City. She received a Master’s in Music from Northwestern University, and an A.B. in English from Barnard College/Columbia University.

Melissa Kleinbart

Violinist, Melissa Kleinbart, is presently a member of the San Francisco Symphony. Her previous positions include Associate Concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Assistant Concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist, Ms. Kleinbart has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Una Voce Chamber Orchestra and the New York Symphonic Ensemble. Since her 1989 recital debut in New York 's Merkin Hall, Ms. Kleinbart has made recital appearances in the United States and Canada , and has been broadcast on CBC radio. An avid chamber musician both as violinist and violist, Ms. Kleinbart has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, attended the Marlboro Music Festival, and appears annually at the Olympic Music Festival. Ms. Kleinbart began her violin studies with Estelle Kerner and went on to receive her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School where her teachers included Glenn Dicterow, Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang.

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Yukiko Kurakata

Yukiko Kurakata began her violin studies in her native land of Tokyo, Japan and traveled to the United States to study with Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California.  After graduating, Ms. Kurakata taught as an assistant to Mr. Heifetz at USC for four years, and she served on the faculty at UCLA and Pepperdine University. 

She was appointment at the San Francisco Symphony as the Catherine A. Mueller Chair Member in 1993. 

Ms. Kurakata has been a member of the Malboro, Amsterdam, and Okinawa Chamber Music Festivals, and for the past twenty-two years she has been a member of the Sitka Summer Music Festival.  She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Chamber Music/LA Festival, which she created in 1986.  Ms. Kurakata lives in San Francisco with her husband Shunsuke Kurakata, a pianist, and their three children.  In March 1994, she and her husband gave a recital tour and performed throughout Japan.  

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Angela Lee

Angela Lee, a graduate of The Juilliard School and Yale School of Music, began her cello studies at age four at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Irene Sharp. She has been 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 the late 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. 

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Yuna Lee

As an avid chamber musician and recitalist, violinist Yuna Lee has toured extensively throughout Europe, South America, and the United States. In 2006, Yuna received an orchestral fellowship at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, where she was also the featured soloist on the annual Concerto Showcase Series.

As the 2nd violinist of the Phaedrus Quartet, Yuna has been invited to perform at the Verbier Festival, La Jolla SummerFest and Festival Aix-en-Provence where she collaborated with distinguished artists such as Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, and Yuri Bashmet. A graduate of The Juilliard School in New York City, she has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, as well as various New York City hospitals and New Jersey Public Schools where she lead outreach programs for seniors and children.

Yuna has received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree at Juilliard under the tutelage of Cho-Liang Lin and Naoko Tanaka. 

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Suzanne Leon

Violinist Suzanne Leon graduated from Juilliard and the Curtis Institute, where she studied under Jascha Brodsky, Arnold Steinhardt and Szymon Goldberg. An active recitalist, soloist and chamber musician, she has appeared at the Fontainebleau, Evian, Bordeaux , Radio France-Montpellier, Saarbrücken, and Zurich Music Festivals. Based in France for five years, she was concertmaster of  both the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris and the Orchestre Internationale de Paris while teaching at the Sorbonne. With her sister, pianist Stephanie Leon, she has toured extensively throughout Asia as "Artistic Ambassadors" under the auspices of the United States Information Agency, also appearing on Worldnet Satellite.  The Duo has recorded under the Cassiopée label. Ms. Leon has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony since 1990. She enjoys performing violin duos with both her husband Dan Smiley, and her sister Kelly Leon-Pearce, also members of the SF Symphony. She devotes her spare time to practicing yoga and playing with her sons, Nicholas and Max.

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Kelly Leon-Pearce

Kelly Leon-Pearce's mother bought a white baby grand because she liked its looks, and soon the three older Leon children were picking out tunes from "Romper Room." These explorations led Kelly's brother and sister Stephanie to piano lessons at the Detroit Community Music School. Then five-year-old Suzanne began violin. Kelly was two. She remembers her mother telling her not to touch Suzanne's instrument. "So as soon as her back was turned, I touched it." This Midas-gesture brought Kelly her own violin. It was made of plastic – "they didn't trust me with a real one" – cast from a die, just as her career was cast then and there. "I loved to perform. It was a way to be someone special."

She was confident, and when the time came, she decided not even to try to enroll at Juilliard unless she could study with Dorothy DeLay, the great violin pedagogue who has taught such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, and a healthy contingent of SFS musicians. Through her teacher, a former DeLay student, Kelly was able to play for DeLay herself. Yes, she said, she would accept Kelly as her pupil – if she made it to Juilliard. Kelly made it, and four years later she had both bachelor's and master's degrees. "I always wanted to be a soloist, but I grew to realize that soloists live out of suitcases, with no time for families." She became a regular substitute in the New York Philharmonic. And as a chamber musician and founding member of the Persichetti String Quartet, she played the cycle of Persichetti quartets at the Kennedy Center and a Bartok cycle at the Museum of Modem Art in New York.

In the fall of 1989, she came to the San Francisco Symphony as a substitute, winning a permanent place in September 1990, at the same time her sister Suzanne – who had auditioned here at Kelly's urging – joined the Orchestra. Kelly added the "Pearce" to her surname in December, when she married her former roommate's brother. "I met him when he was visiting New York. He asked me to look him up if I ever came to San Francisco." Among her musical loves: "The impressionists. Mahler. Mozart – because it seems so simple and it's so hard to do well. Jazz." Her advice to young musicians: "Practice. When I was growing up, music came easily to me and I never had to work at it. As I became a smaller fish in a bigger pond, my competitive spirit got stronger. I began to enjoy practicing. Violinists like Midori and Anne-Sophie Mutter inspire me to get down to the nitty-gritty and work to become better. The more you practice, the more you hear. I don't think I'll ever stop feeling like a student."

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Yun Jie Liu

Yun-Jie Liu is Associate Principal Violist of the San Francisco Symphony. Born in Shanghai, he joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1993 as Associate Principal Viola. He had also served as Principal Violist of the San Diego Symphony. In 1990, he was invited by Mstislav Rostropovich to join the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC. 

As a soloist, Mr. Liu has appeared with the San Diego Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Fairfax Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Shanghai Youth Orchestra, the Music Academy of the West Orchestra, and the USC Symphony. He also regularly gives chamber music concerts and solo recitals, having performed in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Powell River (British Columbia), Washington DC, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. In 1999 he performed the US premiere of George Benjamin’s Viola, Viola with Geraldine Walther. In 2004 he gave the Chinese premieres of Bohuslav Martinů’s Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra and Paganini's Grand Sonata for Viola and Orchestra.  

Mr. Liu has participated in the Grand Teton Music Festival, La Jolla Chamber Music Festival, Arcady Chamber Music Festival, and the Hong Kong 1997 Reunification Arts Festival. In 1994 he organized a chamber orchestra of thirty-five Chinese musicians from the US for a historical concert tour to Shanghai and Beijing. He has served as guest principal violist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra in Japan, and the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea/Japan. 

Mr. Liu has given viola and chamber music master classes in the US, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Canada. From 1999 to 2007 he served as viola coach of the Asian Youth Orchestra in Hong Kong. 

Yun-Jie Liu began his violin studies with his father. At the age of sixteen, he entered the middle school of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where his teachers included Shen Xi-Di and Wu Fei. He was named Assistant Professor of Viola upon graduation in 1985. A year later he came to the United States to study with Donald McInnes and Alan DeVeritch at the University of Southern California. 

Lawrence London

Larry London did his undergraduate work at Harvard and earned a Master's degree in composition at Mills College . He studied with Darius Milhaud, Terry Riley and Lou Harrison. Besides having played clarinet in all of the Bay Area's professional orchestras, he teaches music at Ohlone and Merritt Colleges . His compositions have been performed at the Aspen and Cabrillo Music Festivals, by the Oakland Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony chamber series. Larry London has contributed as a composer, arranger or performer to over fifty films. He composed the music for Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper, an American Masters documentary film, recognized as Best Portrait at the Montreal International Festival of Films in 1998, and the music for Poumy, A Bridge of Books, and Four Films About Love  in 2002 for New Jewish Film Projects.  

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Lena Lubotsky

Lena Lubotsky was born in Moscow, USSR, where she studied piano with professor Konstantin Igumnov and Tamara Bobovich at the Central Music School, and later graduated from Department of Musicology of the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. She has taught piano, music theory, music history, and solfeggio at various music schools in Russia and USA, where she has lived since 1977. Ms. Lubotsky has also performed as a choral accompanist and chamber music partner with many vocalists and instrumentalists.

Scott Macomber

Trumpeter Scott Macomber served as acting Third Trumpet of the San Francisco Symphony for the 2009-10 season. He also holds positions as Principal Trumpet of the Napa Valley Symphony, Co-Principal Trumpet of the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra as well as Second Trumpet of the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Sacramento Philharmonic. Mr. Macomber performs as a substitute/extra with the San Francisco Opera. Mr. Macomber holds degrees from Northwestern University, where he studied with Vincent Cichowicz, and from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied with David Burkhart. Mr. Macomber is an active chamber musician, recitalist and soloist. He has performed with the Empyrean Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. In 1998 Scott co-founded the San Francisco Brass Company, a brass quintet devoted to performing an eclectic array of music from many genres. As principal trumpet of the Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra, Mr. Macomber has appeared as a soloist on many occasions. Mr. Macomber is on faculty with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division and UC Davis.

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Roy Malan

Roy Malan, violin, counts as his teachers Ivan Galamian, Oscar Shumsky,Yehudi Mehuhin, his mother and, most notably, Efrem Zimbalist. After arriving in California, Mr. Malan kept in constant contact with Efrem Zimbalist, assisting him by hand-copying parts for his compositions and editing his revision of the Bach Solo Cantatas.  He recently published a biography of  Mr. Zimbalist:  Efrem Zimbalist:  A Life.  For  the last thirty years he  has been concert master and solo violinist for the San Francisco Ballet and lecturer at UC Santa Cruz. Prior to this he was on the faculty at Ithaca College.  Mr. Malan is a founding member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and is founder and director of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival in Colorado.  He has recorded widely and his solo tours have taken him throughout the United States and Europe, as well as Latin America, Asia and Australia.

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Leor Maltinski

Born in Tel Aviv in 1976, Leor Maltinski began playing the violin at age six. He studied with Igor Polesitsky in Florence from 1985 to 1993 and then moved to the United States to continue his musical education, first at the Curtis Institute and then at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he received an artist diploma, bachelor's degree, and master's degree under the guidance of Nelli Shkolnikova. He also studied at the Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki, and with Herbert Greenberg at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

Mr. Maltinski is a prizewinner of the "N. Paganini" (Genova, 1995) and the "M. Long—J. Thibaud" (Paris, 1996) international violin competitions. A subsequent First Prize at the 1999 Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition (Special Edition New York City) enabled him to present numerous violin recitals and perform with orchestras throughout the US and Europe.

Mr. Maltinski is frequently invited to participate in international music festivals both as soloist and as an ensemble player, and he presently occupies the Isaac Stern Chair in the first violin section of the San Francisco Symphony.

Roxanne Michaelian

A product of a musical family, pianist Roxanne Michaelian began piano studies with Claire James at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She continued her education there completing an undergraduate degree and earning a Masters Degree in Piano Performance under Paul Hersh.Ms. Michaelian’s first appearance as soloist with orchestra was at the age of twelve when she performed with the San Francisco Symphony on its youthconcert series. She subsequently received First Prize in the North American Young Artists Competition in Denver and performed with the Denver Symphony under Brian Priestman. Other prizes include the Los Angeles Young Musicians Foundation Competition where she was chosen as overall winner.  As a result of that award, Ms. Michaelian appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Debut Orchestra under Calvin Simmons at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. She has also been heard with orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, Oakland Symphony, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra.

In addition, Ms. Michaelian is an active chamber musician and one of thearea’s most sought-after collaborators. She and flutist Maria Tamburrino released a CD featuring the works of Debussy and Ravel. A past winner of the Coleman National Chamber Music Competition and the Carmel Chamber Music Society, she has performed in joint recitals with S. F. symphony members as well as violinist  Nadja-Salerno Sonnenberg, as well as  S.F. opera members.  Ms. Michaelian has toured the United States and Canada with artists such as cellist Sharon Robinson and violist Heiichero Ohyama, simultaneously giving master classes in various states. She has also been a frequent participant at festivals including Chamber Music West, Chamber Music Sundaes, Mid -Summer Mozart Festival, San Jose Chamber Music Society, Oakmont Chamber Music Series, the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and most recently, the New Century Chamber Orchestra.  She is chamber music coach for the Music at Kirkwood Workshop and is a piano instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College.

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Chunming Mo 

Born in Shanghai, China, Chunming Mo started to play the violin at age 11; at age 15, she took part in the first open auditions held after the Cultural Revolution, and was accepted to the Middle School division of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Ms. Mo holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the Shanghai Conservatory and a master’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory.

In 1979, Ms. Mo was selected to perform in master classes for Isaac Stern, as well as Berl Senofsky. Part of her master class performance is included in the Academy Award–winning documentary, From Mao to Mozart. In 1981, as part of a sister city exchange program between Shanghai and San Francisco, she was selected to study at the San Francisco Conservatory. The late Agnes Albert, San Francisco Symphony patron and friend, sponsored her stay in San Francisco.

Before becoming a member of the San Francisco Symphony in 1991, Ms. Mo was a member of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the Sacramento Symphony. She has appeared as a soloist with the Shanghai Symphony and the Shanghai Philharmonic; she has also performed many recitals and chamber music concerts in both China and the US. She was formerly the second violinist of the Aurora String Quartet. 

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Gwendolyn Mok

Currently the Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at San Jose State University School of Music and Dance, Gwendolyn Mok began her career at the Juilliard School of Music. She attended Yale University, where she completed her undergraduate studies, and State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she gained her Doctorate. From there she went on to win several piano competitions.

Born in New York, Ms. Mok has appeared in many of the world's leading concert halls including The Barbican, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and The Hong Kong Performing Arts Center. She is also frequently invited to play and record with major international orchestras most notably The London Symphony, The Philharmonia, The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, The Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra and The Residentie Orkestre of The Hague. 

Diane Nicholeris

Born in Boston, violinist Diane Nicholeris began violin lessons at age ten. She hoped to inspire her father—who once played violin—to take up the instrument again. One year after she began violin lessons, she broke her wrist and needed extensive surgery to repair it. Because of the range, motion, and use of the hand required, playing was a good form of physical therapy. At Boston University, she studied with Joseph Silverstein, and at the Eastman School of Music she earned her bachelor's degree under the tutelage of Sylvia Rosenberg. While a student at Tanglewood, she worked with Jahja Ling, then Associate Conductor of the SFS. Ling told Diane about violin section openings here and suggested that she audition. That is what she did in January 1984. In the fall of that year, she joined the Orchestra.

Diane has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic, and the Music Academy of the West Orchestra in Santa Barbara. She thinks of music as a means of developing the inner self. "It is an audible expression of the soul—the thing in you that makes you who you are." Diane coaches members of the SFS Youth Orchestra and enjoys the challenge of taking YO members through their repertory, sharing her knowledge with them, and, in the end, hearing them play. She encourages young musicians to keep their ears open and to be critical, to search constantly for new approaches to the music. Diane is a big fan of Drum Corps, having marched when she was younger. She has judged several competitions and hopes to do more in the future. She lives with her husband in Pacifica.

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Sarn Oliver

Sarn Oliver was born in New Haven, Connecticut into a creative and musical household where his father, Harold Oliver, is a composer and mother, Patricia, a piano teacher. He began playing the violin at four years and as his father taught music composition at many universities around the country, he had the opportunity to study under various teachers, among them Elmar Oliviera and Ronald Neal. He won many music competitions which resulted in soloist performances with numerous orchestras such as the Dallas Symphony, Shreveport Symphony and Richardson Symphony. He spent his summers attending Meadowmount where he studied with Mr. Galamian and Sally Thomas.

Mr. Oliver attended the Juilliard School and received both his Bachelor and Master degrees as a student of Sally Thomas. At this time, he often freelanced for the Composers Guild of New Jersey and played for over a year with the New Jersey Symphony. He continued to perform as a soloist, appearing with the South Orange Symphony of New Jersey and premiered his father’s violin concerto (composed for Mr. Oliver) with The Little Orchestra of Princeton. He also participated in various music festivals.  After graduating, he secured the Principal Second Violin position at the Sacramento Symphony. There, on numerous occasions, he performed as soloist, as well as for the Camellia Symphony and other orchestras. Other accomplishments include the creation of the jazz group, The Continuum, that performed in Northern California and the recording of the Benda and Stamitz violin concertos with the Montpellier Chamber Orchestra in Sete, France. (Available online on the rarete classiques label).

Mr. Oliver joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1993 where he met his wife Mariko Smiley, also a violinist in the orchestra. They had a son, Sean, on February 8th 2001. Other interests include painting, practicing martial arts, surfing and music composition. Currently he is performing in various chamber music series and one of his recent compositions, Trio One for two violins and viola will be performed in the SF Symphony Chamber Music Series at Davies Hall in the 04-05 season. His first commission, Tilden Trio for Piano, violin, and trombone will be performed in the fall of 2004.

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June Choi Oh

Dominican and San Francisco Conservatory faculty member, June Choi Oh, has performed across the United States, in Europe and in Asia. She has appeared as featured soloist with the New Haven Symphony, Aspen Concert Orchestra, Yonkers Philharmonic and the Filarmonica de Jalisco in Mexico. The Department of Music, Dance and Performing Arts wishes to present this concert in honor of the new President of Dominican, Mary B. Marcy, and the new Dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Nicola Pitchford.

Florin Parvulescu

Florin Parvulescu, who joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1998, is a native of Romania and received degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Julliard Preparatory Division. He has been a member of the Saint Louis Symphony and Baltimore Symphony,won the 1993 Marbury Competition at Peabody and was a prizewinner in the 1994 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition. He has appeared in festivals such as Aspen,Victoria International Festival, Ecole Americaines des arts in Fontainebleau, France and as soloist and chamber musician in New York, Baltimore, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Heidelberg, Germany. Recently, Mr. Parvulescu attended the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival.

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Catherine Payne

Catherine Payne, who joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1996, performed and recorded with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as acting second flutist for two seasons, including the 1994 and 1995 Tanglewood seasons. As a member of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, she appeared on many Evening at Pops telecasts, including the annual July 4th broadcasts live from the Esplanade. Ms. Payne was formerly principal flutist of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston and Associate Principal Flute and piccolo player with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the Portland Symphony, and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, where she was a featured soloist in concertos of Mozart and J.S. Bach. In the 2003-04 season, Ms. Payne was invited to perform for several weeks with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim, playing concerts in Chicago and Europe .

A native of Hartford , Connecticut , Ms. Payne studied with Thomas Nyfenger of the Yale School of Music. At the New England Conservatory, she studied with Lois Schaefer and Leone Buyse of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. While pursuing her musical education, Ms. Payne also attended Tufts University , where she majored in English, and she graduated summa cum laude from both the New England Conservatory and Tufts.

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Christine McLeavey Payne

Christine McLeavey Payne is the co-founder and pianist of Ensemble San Francisco. She completed her masters in the spring of 2004 at the Juilliard School of Music. An avid chamber musician and an audience favorite, she resides now in Portola Valley, CA. In 2006, she was awarded the Coup de Coeur de Bayer Cropscience at the Lyon International Chamber Music Competition and was featured on Radio France and France TV. Ms. McLeavy 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 in a solo concert for Canada's Governor General, and the Tanglewood Music Festival. She has also worked as a rehearsal pianist for the New York Philharmonic.

Ms. McLeavey graduated as valedictorian of Princeton University, with a degree in Physics and a certificate in Piano Performance. She studied most recently with Sharon Mann and Julian Martin, and has participated in Master Classes of Ivan Moravec, Malcolm Martineau, Gary Graffman, and Jerome Lowenthal.

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Scott Pingel

Scott Pingel began playing the double bass at age 17 because of a strong interest in jazz, Latin, and classical music. In 2004, at age 29, he became Principal Bass of the San Francisco Symphony. Previously, he served as principal bass of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, and the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, and served as guest principal with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada. He has performed at the festivals of Bellingham , Spoleto, Verbier, Tanglewood, and Attergau/Salzburgh, and in collaboration with David Finckel and Joseph Silverstein at Music@Menlo.

In addition to his experience in classical music, Mr. Pingel has worked with jazz greats including Michael Brecker, Geoff Keezer, and James Williams, performed with pop icon Madonna, and played in an opening act for Tito Puente.

Mr. Pingel’s formal education began with James Clute at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and after he received a bachelor’s degree in Music in 1996, continued under the private tutelage of Peter Lloyd. In 1997 he moved to New York to study with Timothy Cobb on a fellowship at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received a master’s degree in Orchestral Performance in 1999 and a professional studies certificate in 2000. He then spent two years on a fellowship with the New World Symphony.

Outside of music, Mr. Pingel spent many years studying the ancient Korean martial art of Hwa Rang Do, in which he holds a black belt. He was an instructor at the Madison Academy of Hwa Rang Do and founded the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Hwa Rang Do/Tae Soo Do program, which continues to this day.

Mr. Pingel lives in San Francisco with his wife, Iris, and their daughter, Hannah.

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Douglas Rioth

Douglas Rioth, San Francisco Symphony Principal Harpist, joined the Orchestra in 1981 and made his SFS solo debut in 1984 in Handel’s Harp Concerto in B-flat major, with Raymond Leppard conducting. He has performed as soloist with the SFS in works of Mozart, Ginastera, Debussy, and Frank Martin, and he has appeared many times in the SFS Chamber Music Series and in Wondrous Sounds of Christmas concerts. Born in Missouri in 1953, Mr. Rioth studied with Alice Chalifoux and Elisa Smith Dickon, attended the Interlochen Arts Academy and Cleveland Institute of Music, and studied at the Berkshire Music Center as a fellowship student. Before coming to the SFS, he was principal harpist of the Indianapolis Symphony for six years. He has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Orchestra, and in chamber music with the Caselli Ensemble and Chamber Music Sundaes. He has been featured on NBC News Overnight, has been a regular participant in the Salzedo Summer Harp Colony in Camden, Maine, and serves on the coaching team for the SFS Youth Orchestra.

Wayne Rodin

Wayne Rodin was just a kid studying the violin in Auburn, Alabama, where he was born and raised. Then, while he was in high school, a few weeks at a summer camp in Sewanee, Tennessee changed his life. Melvin Ritter, then Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony, exposed him to a level of playing he had never encountered. "It inspired me, and I wanted to please him." He spent his senior year of high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where an incompatible teacher so disillusioned him that he began thinking of another career. Before he could act on those thoughts, he was offered the chance to study viola and play that instrument at the school's summer session in Siena, Italy. Study with his new teacher, Scott Nickrenz, was revitalizing. He followed Nickrenz to Northern Illinois University, where he was just then founding the Vermeer Quartet, and it was there that Wayne earned his bachelor's degree in 1970.

Drafted upon graduation, he enlisted in the Army to get into the band program as a drummer, but fortunately he went on to audition for the Army's Strolling Strings, which performed at the White House on several occasions, and spent his years in the service with that ensemble. Those years in fact provided him with ample time to practice and to grow artistically. It was a time of studies in Philadelphia with Karen Tuttle, with whom he did "some of the best work I've ever done."

In 1974, when he was discharged, he joined the San Francisco Symphony. Mr. Rodin has played many solo and chamber music recitals in and around the Bay Area. He has also played in music festivals both here and abroad. For the past ten years, he has played chamber music at the Laurel Festival in Pennsylvania and the Gerhardt Festival in Alabama. Two performances from the Laurel Festival (Dohnany Serenade and Borodin String Quartet) were broadcast on NPR's program "Performance Today". In his leisurely time, Mr. Roden is a devoted equestrian and studies dressage, the art of classical riding.


Victor Romasevich

Victor Romasevich was born in Minsk, Belarus , and as a youth studied with Rostislav Dubinsky of the famed Borodin Quartet. He continued his training at the Moscow Conservatory and, following his emigration to the United States in 1977, at Juilliard with Ivan Galamian. In 1979 he became a violin and viola pupil of the composer and philosopher Iosif Andriasov. Winner of the Gina Bachauer Prize at the 1985 J.S. Bach International Competition, Mr. Romasevich joined the Orchestra as Associate Principal Violist in 1990 and in 1992 moved to the First Violin section. He appears frequently in recitals and chamber concerts as a violinist, violist, and keyboard player.

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Philip Santos

Philip Santos is a frequent performer on numerous chamber series, including the San Francisco Symphony¹s chamber music series, Chamber Music Sundaes, Sierra Chamber Society, Music on the Hill, Old First Church Concerts and Composers Inc.  Currently, Mr. Santos is concertmaster of the Fremont Symphony, assistant concertmaster of Marin Symphony and principal second violin of California Symphony. He has also played with the Chicago Symphony and has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony, Oakland Symphony and Berkeley Symphony.  Mr. Santos has taught violin at California State University at Hayward, and is presently on the faculty of the University of California¹s Young Musicians Program. His additional teaching activities include many private students throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Polina Sedukh

Polina Sedukh was born in 1980 to a family of musicians in St. Petersburg, Russia. She was introduced to violin by her father at the age of four. She holds degrees from the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory and the Longy School of Music. Sedukh has appeared as a soloist with St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra and Newton Symphony Orchestra, among others, and she has been a prizewinner of numerous competitions, including the International Spohr Violin Competition in Weimer. Before joining the San Francisco Symphony, Sedukh served as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Nanci Severance

Nanci Severance has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony since 1982. Before joining the San Francisco Symphony Nanci attended Oberlin College, the Banff Centre for the Arts and Northern Illinois University . Her primary teachers were Denes Koromzay and Bernard Zaslav. She has appeared with and been a member of many Bay area ensembles including the Donatello Quartet, San Francisco Contemporary Music Ensemble, Parlante Chamber Orchestra and the Stanford String Quartet. She has also participated in many summer festivals including the Grand Teton Music Festival, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the Telluride Chamber Music Festival and the Eastern Music Festival.  Nanci appears regularly at many Bay area chamber music series, including; Chamber Music Sundaes, the San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series and Music at Kohl Mansion .

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Marc Shapiro

Marc Shapiro, pianist and acting member of the San Francisco Symphony, has partnered with such distinguished soloists as John Mack, Timothy Day, David Wilson-Johnson, Geraldine Walther and William Bennett. Currently he is the Principal keyboardist for the California Symphony and was the San Francisco Symphony Chorus accompanist from 1984-2003.

Mr. Shapiro has toured with the San Francisco Symphony throughout Europe, Asia and the United States and as featured soloist, he has performed Stravinsky's Les Noces, Saint Saën's Carnival of the Animals, Martin's Petite Symphonie Concertante and James P. Johnson's Yamekraw. In addition, he tours with the popular show, Bugs Bunny on Broadway, as principal keyboardist (and slide guitar) with orchestras throughout the United States. He can be heard on several motion picture soundtracks, such as House of Yes, Mars Attacks and Hellboy, and he has recorded with the popular heavy metal group Metallica.

He is a frequent performer for Composer's Inc., Chamber Music Sundae, San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series, Sierra Chamber Music Society, Mainly Mozart Festival (San Diego) and The Mohonk Festival of the Arts in New York. Mr. Shapiro, who is on the piano faculty of Mills College, received his B.M. and M.M. from The Peabody Conservatory of Music and has recorded for Cantilena, New Albion, Music and Art, Delos, Argo, d'Note and Lapis Island Records. 

Mark Simons

A leading Bay Area guitarist and veteran member of the groundbreaking San Francisco Guitar Quartet, Mark Simons’s diverse and engaging programming is notable for its variety, depth and color. He has presented numerous concerts, both as soloist and chamber musician throughout New England, the Mid Atlantic , California and Germany . Recent touring with the San Francisco Guitar Quartet has included Texas , Florida , Arizona , Guam and the Republic of Taiwan . Mark has also toured with the Grammy Award winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and currently performs in duet with flutist Catherine Payne of the San Francisco Symphony. Just back from a Summer 2006 concert tour of Taiwan with the SFGQ,  Mr. Simons now presents the second installment of his “Global Variations Project” featuring diverse works for solo guitar, flute and guitar and guitar quartet. An upcoming solo recording as well as a recording of music for flute and guitar are eagerly anticipated in 2007.

Mark Simons’s enduring devotion to new, World and improvisatory music is evidenced by numerous performances as well as recordings of several world premieres including: “Variacione Casi Latina” by Dusan Bogdanovic (written for Mark Simons) and Paul Dresher’s “Guitar Quartet 1975” (world premiere recording by the SFGQ). Mark Simons’s playing is featured on all three recorded releases by the San Francisco Guitar Quartet, including the recently released “Silhouette” (2006). The 2003 SFGQ release “Compadres” was awarded “Top CD of 2003” by Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Mr. Simons was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in Guitar Performance to Stuttgart , Germany and received both the Outstanding Graduate and Chamber Music Departmental Awards from the University of Southern California School of Music where he was an Assistant Lecturer and Outreach Coordinator for the Guitar Department. Mark Simons holds degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music, Tufts University , The University of Southern California and the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University . Mr. Simons currently runs a private teaching studio in San Francisco ( North Beach ) and also instructs at the City College of San Francisco and Diablo Valley College.

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Mariko Smiley

Born in Los Angeles, Mariko Smiley began piano lessons at four, at the encouragement of her parents, who were both musicians. Her father, David Smiley, was a violist with the SFS from 1962 until 1973, and Mariko began taking violin lessons from him when she was six. She studied with two other former SFS violinists, Leonard Austria and Stuart Canin, before leaving home to attend Juilliard, where she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees under the tutelage of Dorothy DeLay. When she returned to San Francisco, she freelanced before winning a position with the Orchestra in 1982. Mariko never entertained a career outside professional violin playing. Her family connections within the SFS violin section are impressive: her brother, Dan Smiley, and his wife, Suzanne Leon, are both SFS violinists, as is Suzanne's sister, Kelly Leon-Pearce. Mariko's violinist husband, Sarn Oliver, whom she met for the first time at the Music in the Mountains Festival in the early 1990s and married in 1999, is also in the Orchestra. So it is not surprising that one of the things Mariko likes most about being in the Orchestra is the feeling of community she has with her colleagues. She is devoted to chamber music, performing on the SFS Chamber Music series, in Chamber Music Sundaes concerts, and as a member of the Aurora String Quartet. She appreciates the democracy of playing chamber music and the rich repertory, "and the intensity of working with others is deep and fulfilling." For her, sincerity and musical integrity are the most important parts of being a musician, "and you must maintain a passion for playing." She also encourages the audience to remember how important they are to music-making. Her other interests: listening to world music and early music, hiking, Tai Chi, spending time with her cats. In February, she and Sarn became parents of their first child, Sean Harai Oliver.

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Adam Smyla

Adam Smyla first received recognition when, at the age of seventeen, he won the first prize in the National Viola Competition in his native Poland. Within six months, he became a member of the Polish National Radio and Television Orchestra, as well as violist with the Penderecki String Quartet. As a member of the quartet, Adam toured throughout the world for nearly a decade, performing numerous concerts a year, with major performances in Europe and the United States. He has participated in the Oregon Bach Festival, the San Antonio Festival, the Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin, the Rome Festival, and the Midem-Classique Festival in France. He has made numerous recordings for radio and television broadcasts throughout the world. Tours have included China in 1997 and Portugal in 1999, being featured as soloist with the Orchestra Metropolitana de Lisboa. From 1995 to 2000, Mr. Smyla resided in Chicago, where he held the position of assistant principal violist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Currently, Adam Smyla is the acting associate principal violist of the San Francisco Symphony, and enjoys performing chamber music with his wife and pianist, Edna Koren.

Daniel Stewart

Daniel Stewart is the newly appointed Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony. Mr. Stewart's first season in Santa Cruz has led to great critical acclaim, including the Peninsula Reviews' assertion that "Arguably, 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."  A protégé of James Levine, Mr. Stewart was invited to join the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 2012. In addition to studying privately with Maestro Levine and serving as his sole apprentice conductor, Mr. Stewart's activities at the Metropolitan Opera have included conducting concerts, rehearsals, and coaching singers, on a regular basis.

Mr. Stewart's current season includes engagements with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New World Symphony, Orlando Symphony, Skaneateles Festival, and Music in the Mountains Festival.  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 New World Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Saint-Louis Symphony, assisting conductors Thomas Adès, Charles Dutoit, 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 Philharmonics "Aspects of Adès" festival in 2011. An avid composer himself, Daniel Stewart's compositions have been performed at venues including the Aspen Music Festival, the Tribeca New Music Festival, and the Verbier Festival. A selection of his compositions can be found at

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Robin Sutherland

The American pianist, Robin Sutherland, studied with Rosina Lhevinne at the Juilliard School and with Paul Hersh at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. While still an undergraduate, he was appointed principal pianist of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (SFS) by Seiji Ozawa. The recipient of numerous awards, Sutherland was selected at 17 to be sole participant from the USA at the International Bach Festival, held at Lincoln Center. He was a finalist in the International Bach Competition in Washington DC and has performed all of J.S. Bach’s keyboard works.

An avid chamber musician, Robin Sutherland is co-director of the Telluride Players and a regular performer at the Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. Many composers have dedicated works to him, and among the world premieres in which he has participated was that of John Adams’s Grand Pianola Music, with members of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

A frequent soloist with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Robin Sutherland has been featured in Leonard Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting, in San Francisco and on tour, and last May he was featured in Martin’s Petite Symphonie concertante. In 1996, his recording of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) was released on the d’Note label.

Margaret Tait

Margaret Tait, cellist, joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1974 and helped to create the Aurora String Quartet in 1979. The Quartet’s twenty-two years of performances and their recordings have received great acclaim internationally as well as here in the Bay Area. Ms. Tait studied with Irving Klein at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and with Gabor Rejto at the University of Southern California , where she received her Bachelor of Music degree. Her Master of Music degree is from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has appeared as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony and enjoys performing a wide range of solo and chamber music repertoire.

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Yuko Tanaka

Yuko Tanaka is active as a harpsichord soloist and ensemble performer. She performs with numerous ensembles including Music of the Spheres, Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and American Bach Soloists. She has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.

She maintains a private studio, conducts master classes, and appears as guest lecturer at various universities.

Ms. Tanaka holds a DMA from Stanford University.

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Nadya Tichman

Nadya Tichman, Associate Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony, joined the Orchestra in 1980 and served as Acting Concertmaster from 1998 to 2001. Born in New York , she studied with Dorothy DeLay at Juilliard and received a bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Ivan Galamian, Jaime Laredo, and Yumi Ninomiya-Scott. In San Francisco , she continued her studies with Isadore Tinkleman.  Ms. Tichman has performed as soloist with the SFS on many occasions, most recently in January 2006, in Bach’s Concerto for two violins with SFSO concertmaster Alexander Barantshik. Ms. Tichman has participated in festivals such as the Grand Teton Music Festival, Chamber Music West, the Olympic Music Festival, Music in the Vineyards and the Gualala Summer Arts Festival. In addition, she was a founding member of the Donatello Quartet and co-directed Chamber Music Sundaes from 1984 to 1986.A champion of contemporary music, she has had pieces dedicated to her by composers Peter Schickele and Jim Lahti and this April will premiere a duet written for her and her husband, guitarist John Imholz, by composer Allen Shearer. Ms. Tichman plays a 1724 Stradivarius violin purchased by the San Francisco Symphony for her exclusive use.  

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Marilyn Thompson

Marilyn Thompson, piano recieved her Bachelor Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and her Masters Degree from Stanford University.  She was awarded a Fulbright grant to the Vienna Academy of Music.  She has taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the College of Holy Names and the University of California at Santa Cruz. In the 1980s she was the pianist member of the Chamber Soloists of San Francisco.   She is currently on the faculty of Sonoma State University where she has taught since 1976.  Ms.Thompson has performed in chamber music concerts in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street "Y" in New York City, the Philip's Gallery in Washington D.C., Boston's Symphony Hall, Davies Hall, and the Teatro National, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Tanya Tomkins

After fourteen years in Holland, the highly versatile and critically acclaimed cellist, Tanya Tomkins, returned to the United States and won the 2001 Bodky Competition for Early Music Soloists in Boston . As a result, she recorded the Beethoven Sonatas on the Centaur label with fortepianist, Eric Zivian. She has also recorded chamber music on other labels such as Koch, Vanguard, Ottavo and Bis, and most recently Avie, in a recording of the Kummer Cello Duets. She performs regularly in recitals with pianist and fortepianist, Eric Zivian and is a member of the San Francisco String Trio. She serves as prinipal cellist of the Portland Baroque and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestras, and is a member of the Left Coast Ensemble which specializes in Contemporary music.

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Elbert Tsai 

A native of San Francisco, Elbert Tsai has performed as a member of the San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Symphony, and San Francisco Opera Orchestras. His summer activities have included the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Tanglewood Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival (in Sapporo, Japan) and concertmaster with the National Repertory Orchestra.

His formal studies include an Advanced Studies Certificate from the University of Southern California under the tutelage of Robert Lipsett, as well as two Bachelor’s degrees from Oberlin in violin and computer science and a minor in piano performance.

In addition to teaching at Center Stage Strings in Northern California, Elbert has also taught on the faculty of the Luzerne Music Center in New York. 

Alona Tsoi

Alona Tsoi was admitted to the Moscow Special Music School at the age of eight. After graduation she continued her education at the Moscow Conservatory, studying with Zinaida Gilels and Valery Klimov. During her student years in the Conservatory Ms. Tsoi was an active and popular chamber music player. She made numerous concert tours throughout Europe and United States, and studied and performed at such Music Festivals as Aldeborough and Tanglewood, where her mentors were Benjamin Britten, Alfred Schnittke and Seiji Osawa. Alona Tsoi has been a member of the 1st Violins in the Orquesta de Asturias in Oviedo, Spain (1990-1993), the Netherlands Ballet Orchestra in Amsterdam (1993-1995) and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of The Netherlands (1995-2001). Currently a free-lance musician, she takes part in the major recording projects and tours with the San Francisco Symphony.

Jonathon Vinocour

Principal violist of the San Francisco Symphony since 2009, previously principal violist of the Saint Louis Symphony and guest principal of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. First Prize winner in the Holland America Music Society Competition. Soloist with the Saint Louis Symphony, will perform Berlioz’s “Harold in Italy” later this season with Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Regular participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, as well as the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove, the Aspen Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center where he was awarded the Henri Kohn Memorial Prize. Guest of the Boston Chamber Music Societies and International Sejong Soloists. 2001 graduate of Princeton University with a degree in Chemistry and was awarded the university’s Sudler Prize in the Arts. Jonathan then completed his Master’s Degree at the New England Conservatory of Music in 2003, where he studied with Kim Kashkashian.

Jan Volkert

Jan Volkert is Principal Cellist with the Marin Symphony and Assistant Principal Cellist of the Fremont Symphony. She was a long time participant in the Carmel Bach Festival, where she met her husband, violinist Mark Volkert.  She is currently a member of the Golden Gate Ensemble. Ms. Volkert holds degrees from Dominican College of San Rafael and the Royal College of Music in London .

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Mark Volkert

Mark Volkert has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony since 1972, and has held the post of Assistant Concertmaster since 1980. A graduate of Stanford University, Mr. Volkert was Concertmaster and soloist with the Carmel Bach Festival for many years. As a composer, he has received commissions from many organizations, including the San Francisco Symphony, Marin Symphony, Stanford String Quartet, and Fremont Symphony.

Heidi Wilcox

Heidi Wilcox joined the San Francisco Opera Orchestra as the Assistant Concertmaster in 1992. She then joined the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra in 1993 where she currently holds both positions. 

Heidi comes from a musical family of five children, all of whom became professional musicians. She started her studies with her father Edward Wilcox at the age of four, and his teacher Paul Roland, the director of "The Congress of Strings" program in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Heidi attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, high school division, and the University of Miami.  She had master classes with many artists, including Sydney Harth, David Nadien, and David Taylor of the Chicago Symphony. She was the Associate Concertmaster of the Omaha Symphony, the Charleston Symphony (South Carolina), and Concertmaster of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra. These positions also included string quartet, teaching, and solos with the orchestras, and frequent recitals. She was also a member of the Knoxville and Seattle Symphonies.

Ms. Wilcox enjoys playing a variety of music from all periods and styles.  She has also played with the San Francisco Contemporary Players and numerous Bay Area ensembles.

Heidi lives in San Francisco with her husband, Farley Pearce, also a musician, and their three sons.  

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Peter Wyrick

Peter Wyrick, who served as SFS Assistant Principal Cellist from 1986 to 1990, returned to the Orchestra in 2000 and is now Associate Principal Cellist. He has been principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and associate principal cellist of the New York City Opera. As a member of the Ridge String Quartet, he toured throughout the world and recorded the Dvořák piano quintets with Rudolf Firkusny, a disc that won France’s Diapason d’Or and a Grammy nomination. He also recorded the Fauré cello sonatas with pianist Earl Wild (dell’Arte), and he has performed at major festivals such as Santa Fe, Spoleto, and Helsinki.

Amos Yang 

Amos Yang has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, the Far East, and Europe, including performances at the Aspen Music Festival, the American Academy in Rome, Wigmore Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. He has collaborated in chamber music with the Ying Quartet, the Turtle Island String Quartet, pianists Ann Schein and Melvin Chen, violinist Earl Carlyss, and composer Bright Sheng. Mr. Yang’s awards include the Performer’s Certificate at Eastman School of Music and first prizes in the American String Teacher’s Association and Grace Vamos competitions. He was finalist in the Pierre Fournier International Cello Competition, and for outstanding musical contribution he was awarded the CD Jackson Prize at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

As cellist of the Maia String Quartet from 1996-2002, Mr. Yang was involved in many educational programs, performing throughout the country for schools under the auspices of such organizations as Arts Excel, Young Audiences Inc., and the Midori Foundation. During this time he also served on the faculties of the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Iowa, Grinnell College, and the Interlochen Advanced String Quartet Institute. Mr. Yang holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. His primary teachers have included Irene Sharp, Channing Robbins, Paul Katz, and Steven Doane.

Before joining the San Francisco Symphony, Amos Yang was a member of the Seattle Symphony, maintaining a private teaching studio as well as cultivating an active solo and chamber music life. He makes regular appearances with the Seattle Chamber Music Society and the Olympic Music Festival and looks forward to collaborating with colleagues in the San Francisco Symphony. Born and raised in San Francisco, he is a graduate of Lowell and was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and San Francisco Boys Choir. Outside of work, family outings to “kid-friendly” places are what he enjoys the most. His family includes his wife, violinist Alicia Yang, and their two young children, Isabel and Noah.

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Matthew Young

Matthew Young joined the San Francisco Symphony viola section in 2012. He joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2005, and has been featured in numerous Orchestra chamber concerts; at Sommerfest 2011 he performed Brahms’ First Piano Quartet. Winner of a 2007 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians, he has also performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, among other ensembles.

Young was a founding member of the Verklärte Quartet, which won grand prize in the 2003 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. While a member of the Minnesota Orchestra, he played at dozens of chamber concerts throughout the Twin Cities.

Young is active as an educator; in summer 2009 he rejoined the faculty of the National Orchestral Institute. He studied with Robert Vernon at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was awarded the Robert Vernon Prize in Viola Performance. He also attended the University of Kentucky and Yale School of Music.

Young was raised on his family’s farm in rural Kentucky and enjoys the natural beauty of the Twin Cities’ lakes and parks.

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Chen Zhao

Chen Zhao was born into an artistic family in Shanghai; both of his parents are renowned contemporary painters. Chen moved to the U.S. at the age of 12 to continue his violin studies with Heiichiro Ohyama at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica. In 1993 he was selected to attend the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he worked with Felix Galimir, and in 1996 he studied with Camilla Wicks at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  Since joining the San Francisco Symphony in 2000, he continues to perform chamber music throughout the US and in Europe, collaborating with such artists as Martin Lovett, Miriam Fried, Bonnie Hampton, Jorja Fleezanis, Andre Emelianoff, and Geraldine Walther.  Chen is currently on faculty at the SF Conservatory of Music, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and San Domenico Music Conservatory in Marin.

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Eric Zivian

Eric Zivian received a diploma from Toronto ’s Royal Conservatory of Music, a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, and graduate degrees from the Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music. He has won numerous prizes for young pianists, including the Charles Miller/Sergei Rachmaninoff Award upon graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Grace B. Jackson Award for Outstanding Achievement and Notable Contributions to the Program as a Whole at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Mr. Zivian has appeared as a soloist in Toronto , New York , Philadelphia , and the San Francisco Bay area. He has performed Mozart and Beethoven concertos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Festival Orchestra at "Music in the Mountains" in Grass Valley . He is a member of the Zivian-Tomkins Duo (a fortepiano-cello duo), the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and has performed with the Empyrean Ensemble, Earplay, and Alternate Currents. He is a frequent guest artist on the San Francisco Conservatory's faculty chamber music series.


Trio Navarro

Trio Navarro just began is in its tenth season in residence at Sonoma State University.  The trio is named after the lovely Navarro River which runs through Mendocino County and has been a site of meditation and solace for the trio members in between their strenuous musical schedules.  Founding members Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello and Marilyn Thompson, piano have been with the group for fourteen years and this year they have welcomed violinist Roy Malan to the group.  Trio Navarro has performed at Old First Church, the UCSF Chancellor Series, the Ralston Concert Series, the city of Sonoma Concert Series, the San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series, the Arizona State Teachers Association in Tucson and most recently at the Mendocino Music Festival, where Mr. Malan is Concertmaster and Ms. Brindel is Principal Cellist.

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Last update  19 February  2018