THE BSO

andrew-balio
Principal Trumpet

Wisconsin native Andrew Balio was appointed as Principal Trumpet of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2001 by Yuri Temirkanov. He recently served as principal trumpet of the Oslo Philharmonic concurrently with his BSO duties in 2014/15. Prior to his arrival in Baltimore, he had been principal trumpet of the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta since 1994 and the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico since 1990, as well as the Boston Philharmonic.  His solo debut was at age 15 with the Milwaukee Symphony playing the Haydn Concerto.  His teachers included Charles Schlueter, Adolph Herseth, Roger Voisin and Gene Young.

He and his wife Laura recently launched The Future Symphony Institute, an online think tank to examine the complexities of making symphony orchestras financially viable while preserving their artistic mission. Their websitewww.futuresymphony.org has garnered much attention in the international press. For his work in this area, he was inducted in to the Academy of Philosophy and Letters and presented a paper during its last conference.

As a soloist, Mr. Balio has appeared in Europe, South America, Japan and the United States under such conductors such as Mehta, Temirkanov, Rozdestvensky, Herbig, Venzago, McGeegan and Lintu.  Recent years have included solo appearances in Lithuania, Russia, Italy and Brazil as well as the release of his first solo recording for Naxos, the Weinberg Trumpet Concerto with the St Petersburg Symphony. His recent Carnegie Hall solo debut was with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra in a special concert for victims of Hurricane Sandy, many of which were Soviet émigrés.

As a teacher, Mr. Balio has taught master classes regularly in Russia, Poland and Italy, the Conservatorio Nacional of Mexico, as well as in Brazil, Chile, Scandanavia, Israel, Japan and the United States.  He has recorded for the Sony, RCA, Angel, Phillips, Naxos and Teldec labels.

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Trumpet

Matthew Barker recently joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as the 4th/Utility Trumpet beginning in the 2016-2017 season. A native of Houston, he earned a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University in 2013 where he studied under the tutelage of Barbara Butler, Charles Geyer, and Robert Sullivan. He also served two years in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a premier training program for emerging professional musicians, continuing his studies with Christopher Martin. Matthew returned to Houston and his former teachers Butler and Geyer in pursuing his Masters at Rice University’s esteemed Shepherd School of Music in 2015, where he frequently subbed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

Matthew served four of his collegiate summers at Camp-of-the Woods, a Christian family resort in the Adirondack Mountains, as a member of the music staff, where he was frequently featured as a soloist. He also participated in the Music Academy of the West Academy Festival Orchestra in 2015. Matthew is an accomplished arranger with a few of his numerous arrangements being featured at the Fischoff National Chamber Competition and the National Trumpet Competition as well as in professional settings by Yo-Yo Ma and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago Brass Ensemble.

In his spare time, Matthew enjoys exercising, cooking, gaming, and spending time with his wife, Alicia.

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Principal Bass

Robert Barney, Principal Double-Bass,  joined the BSO in 1973.

Who or what inspires you?
Nature, and people who have realized that they are not really a separate self.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
The Grand Tetons Music Festival, for the gorgeous mountains and the inspired music-making.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? or What piece of music do you wish you had written?
The 1st movement of Hindemith’s Symphony: Mathis der maler.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My parents loved symphonic music; great composers did the rest.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
Hike, garden, read, enjoy cats (does being with friends count as “me time”?))

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Horn

Performing orchestral and chamber works throughout the United States and Europe, Lisa Bergman has been praised for her “sweet sound” as a horn player (Miami Herald). Before joining the Baltimore Symphony in the fall of 2013, Ms. Bergman was a member of the San Antonio Symphony, the Knoxville Symphony, the New World Symphony and performed regularly with orchestras throughout the United States, including the Indianapolis Symphony, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony. She is currently on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival where she enjoys educating and motivating younger players. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Ms. Bergman holds a Master of Music degree from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Music degree from Michigan State University. Her principal teachers include Randy Gardner, Michael Hatfield and Julie Landsman. In her spare time she enjoys being outdoors, yoga classes, cooking, and enjoying a glass of wine with family and friends.

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Violin

A member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 1984, Leonid Berkovich is a native of St. Petersburg, Russia.  He began his violin studies at age six under his mother’s instruction and later attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music.  After immigrating to the United States, Mr. Berkovich earned his Bachelor of Music and Master’s degrees from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.  During his studies, he traveled to Europe with the Peabody Honors Quartet as the group’s first violinist.  Prior to joining the BSO, he was the concertmaster of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.  In addition to his performances with the BSO, Mr. Berkovich enjoys teaching violin and actively participating in the Arts Excel Program.

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Acting Fourth Horn

Joy Branagan is excited to be playing Fourth Horn with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra during the 2017-2018 season. From 2012-2016, Joy was acting Second Horn of the National Symphony Orchestra, and currently holds the position of Second Horn with the Richmond Symphony. She has also held permanent positions in the Vancouver Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and Albany Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to her orchestral schedule, Joy has a private teaching studio, and has been on the faculties of Towson University and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. Joy was a faculty member of Bar Harbor Brass in Maine for ten summers, and has taught and performed at the Eastern Music Festival since 2007.

Joy has a degree in Music Education from The University of Georgia and a Master of Music in Orchestral Performance from Manhattan School of Music.

Outside of the concert hall, Joy will be hiking, biking, swimming, knitting, traveling, or flying on the trapeze! She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, Chris, and their dog, Georgia.

joybranagan.com

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Bass

Double Bassist Drew Banzhaf is thrilled to join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the 2017-2018 season. For the last three years, Drew was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. During his time in Miami Beach, he was a frequent substitute with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra.

Starting in 2016, Drew joined the Midsummer’s Music Festival, where he performs numerous chamber music concerts throughout beautiful Door County, Wisconsin during the summertime. Drew also collaborated on many chamber music concerts in Miami Beach, including a performance of Edgar Meyer’s Concert Duo for Violin and Bass in which he was hailed by the South Florida Classical Review as “…nothing short of superb”.

Inspired by his students, Drew teaches privately and regularly taught at the Miami Music Project. In November of 2016, Drew was invited to Colombia, South America to teach lessons and masterclasses through La Academia Filarmónica de Medellín.

Drew attended the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with pedagogue Lawrence Hurst. After graduating from IU, he earned his Master’s of Music from the Rice University Shepherd School of Music, under the tutelage of Timothy Pitts. Other influential teachers include Paul Ellison, Harold Robinson, Peter Lloyd, Jeffrey Turner and Bruce Bransby.

In his free time, Drew enjoys reading, coffee, and watching as many Chicago Cubs broadcasts as possible.

Violin playing
Violin

Leonid Briskin’s musical education took place in the former U.S.S.R., where as a child, he attended the Special School of Music affiliated with the Leningrad Conservatory.  He then earned his Bachelor of Music and Master’s of Music degrees from the Leningrad Conservatory of Music, and he received a Ph.D. from Gorky State Conservatory.

Before coming to the United States, Mr. Briskin was the Assistant Concertmaster of the Karelia Symphony, professor of violin at a branch of the Leningrad Conservatory in Petrozavodsk, and he toured the Soviet Union as a member of the Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet.  Among his credits are numerous solo appearances with orchestras in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as well as solo chamber music recitals in the Soviet Union.  Finally, he has also performed on radio and television for solo broadcasts.

karin-brown
Assistant Principal Viola

Violist Karin Brown received critical acclaim for her “strikingly rich and warm tone” (The Strad) after making her solo recital debut at Weill Recital Hall. Ms. Brown is a violist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and performs frequently as a solo and chamber musician in the Baltimore/Washington area. She made her Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerto debut performing the Britten Double Concerto with Concertmaster Jonathan Carney, of which The Baltimore Sun noted “Karin Brown sculpted her phrases in a rich, subtly shaded tone.”  She will make her Chicago recital debut with radio broadcast at the Dame Myra Hess series in 2008.

Ms. Brown has been a prizewinner in numerous competitions, including the William Primrose International Viola Competition and the National Federation of Music Clubs Competition. She has been featured in Caramoor’s “Rising Stars” series, and has attended festivals at Tanglewood, Pacific Music Festival, and Verbier. In addition, she has performed at New York Viola Society Concerts, and gives master classes and recitals across the country. An advocate for new music, she has performed several premieres, and strives to program music by women composers, lesser known masterworks, and American music. While still a student at Juilliard, Ms. Brown was a frequent substitute with the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera, joining each for several international tours. She received her Bachelor’s d egree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and her Master’s degree from the Juilliard School, where she was a recipient of the Nathan Gordon Memorial Viola Award. Ms. Brown has studied with Cynthia Phelps, Roland and Almita Vamos, Samuel Rhodes, and Zoya Leybin. A committed teacher, she has served on the faculty of the Killington Music Festival, and maintains a private studio of violin and viola students. Her students have been accepted to Oberlin, Eastman, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Peabody.

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Bass Trombone

Randy Campora has been the bass trombone player in the BSO since 1985.

What does a bass trombonist do?

Every day I come to work and go to the sump pump/laundry/HVAC room in the Meyerhoff basement, because there are only 6 rooms for 96 musicians to warm up in before rehearsals and concerts. This noisy, stinky room is mine because no one else wants it, except the highly evolved cockroaches of Baltimore. After an hour, I go up to the stage and sit with the tuba on my left and the second trombone on my right. We are less than two feet from each other. Most of my work is non verbal. This is my office. Isn’t it just like yours?

The bass trombone is a larger version of the tenor trombone, specializing in the lower range, with a larger bore, mouthpiece, and bell. It also has extra tubing and valves to facilitate lower notes. The tuba and I partner with the cellos and basses and timpani to provide the terra firma of the orchestral world environment created for you, the listener. With the tenor trombones we form the low brass section.

In order to prepare, I start months in advance by studying the orchestral score—this gives me all the information that the conductor has, so I will know how my part fits into the big picture. Next I will listen to recordings from my collection. And then I will start practicing the bass trombone part in my practice studio (that’s what musicians call their Man/Woman Caves).

This is in addition to all the regular practicing that must be done to keep the body and mind in good working order, making it possible to give a command so that the sound and musical phrase that I desire really does come out of the large end of the horn.

The most enjoyable parts of this process for me are seeing the joy on your faces as the audience: you have paid authentic bona fide money that you could have spent on something else, you might have had a hard day at work or taking care of the kids. You might have something grave happening in your life, or you might be on a first date wondering if this is “The One”. It gives me happiness to see that what we give to you is uplifting, edifying, cleansing, and–at the very least–entertaining to you. You are the final station as this wonder we call Western Classical Music makes its way from composer, to performer, to audience. Without you it would be like manning a train that has no stops—what would be the point of that? Even the finest scenery would become banal eventually. Thank you so much for lending us your ears, your minds and your hearts for two hours at a time! I feel honored—it’s not something we take lightly.

My theory is that our society is kept healthy and happy by making a woven tapestry of as many positive things as we can muster, all partnering for the good in us, keeping the negative at bay: museums, schools, hospitals, sports, government, cinemas, theaters, businesses, banks, media, technology, restaurants, churches/synagogues/mosques, grocery stores, barber shops, transportation. If we keep this tapestry strong, thick and varied, there is no limit to the number of positive, useful things we can pass on to the next generation in our wonderful city. The more cities and rural areas doing this the stronger our country is.

 

Strangest Tour Story:

The BSO toured Eastern and Western Europe, including the Soviet Union, in the Spring of 1987. We flew from London into the airport in East Berlin on a group visa, for our concerts in East Berlin and Leipzig. We could not even go to West Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie because we would not be able to get back into the East, due to the group visa.

The first concert was in Leipzig, featuring Schumann’s second symphony. The hall was filled to capacity in the new Gewandhaus, but the crowd was noticeably polite in their applause after the pieces. I was not sure if they were unimpressed with the performance or because it was risky to be seen in public enthusiastically applauding an American orchestra.

Our encores were chosen by David Zinman to make an overt American statement: a Brahms Hungarian Dance, then an arrangement by Christopher Rouse, done especially for the tour, of the Beatles’ Twist and Shout. In this arrangement the melody was to be played by the trombone section, standing up.

I remember thinking when it started: This could be fun, or they won’t applaud at all and we’ll all end up in the East German Klink!

We stood up and let the melody fly. The crowd erupted with wild whoops and hollers as soon as they realized what we were playing. When we finished they gushed over the top. All that careful politeness and reticence evaporated and there was high voltage in the air and smiles all around. A moment never to be forgotten. We ended the whole thing with Stars and Stripes Forever! I still correspond on Facebook with a friend I met that night in Leipzig after the concert.

 

What do I do when I am not playing music?

 Our BSO rehearsals and concerts usually keep us busy Tuesday through Saturday, and two to three Sundays per month. Mondays are our usual off days. I spend a few hours of my Mondays teaching bass trombone at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. I enjoy helping the students improve and figure out what they want to do with their professional lives. Before I began at Peabody, I taught at the Baltimore High School for the Arts for a year.

My wife Olga is a yoga teacher in our town of Ellicott City, and was born and raised in Czechoslovakia. Our oldest son, Dominik, is a trumpet major at Brigham Young University and currently serving as an LDS missionary in Poland. Our younger son, Raffi, is a senior in high school and will study mathematics at BYU’s Idaho campus in the Fall (he’s going to be the “normal” member of the family). My family is such an inspiration to me, and we spend as much time together as we can given all our activities and the demands of modern American life.

Over the years we have been pleased to be able to do a lot of different things volunteering at our church. We have taught all kinds of classes, conducted the choir, done all levels of Scouts, community projects, working at the Temple in DC. We even led a very small urban congregation on Baltimore’s West side (Park Heights) for a year before we moved to Ellicott City. I shudder to think of the things we would have missed out on had it not been for the chance to be involved in this way–so many wonderful people, so many great experiences.

I can’t say I have any hobbies, though in the past I used to play golf. I stopped playing many years ago when I lived in Baltimore City and the courses were not convenient to get to. Another reason I quit: golf is the closest thing I have ever experienced to playing a musical instrument, and I was already doing that. I look forward to playing again in a few years when I have more free time.

Last year I started watching Dr. Who on Netflix and now I am addicted to the Timey Whimey stuff. I would try to get help but I really don’t want to be cured that badly. Besides, I have some Welsh ancestors in my family tree, and the series is filmed in Cardiff, Wales, so I can blame it on DNA. Allons-y!

 

What are some things not many people know about me?

 During the orchestra strike of 1988-89 I taught general music at a Baltimore County elementary school in the Southeastern part of the county. That was the most challenging job I’ve ever had.

I am still pretty fluent in Spanish, though rusty. I used to be able to hold conversations in Czech and Italian but those have faded quite a bit.

I served as a missionary in the Spanish speaking parts of Houston in the 1980s, where I met some of the most amazing and humble humans on this planet. Also: pupusas!

In the past I have served on the Players’ Committee, the Artistic Committee, the Committee for the Future in the wake of the 1988-89 strike, and the Music Director Search Committee. I am grateful for the things I learned in these endeavors, and for the people I worked with.

The great golfer and Masters champ Billy Casper stayed at our home in Tallahassee, Florida for a few years when playing in the PGA’s Tallahassee Open in the early 80s. Billy was the nicest, most down to earth man: we’d follow him on his round during the day, and go fishing together in the evening.

I come from a sporting family: My father, Steve Campora, was the fullback on the BYU football team, and the catcher on the baseball team; his brother, Don, was a rookie offensive lineman for the 49ers the same year Artie Donovan was a rookie for the Colts; my cousin Bronco Mendenhall has just left the head football coaching job at BYU to coach at Virginia. I got none of that talent, however.

I was born on my grandparents’ walnut orchard in California’s San Joaquin Valley, outside Stockton. My grandfather Domenico came from northern Italy when he was 12, and had a wonderful tenor voice, with dreams of becoming an opera singer. He took his new bride, Rhoda Holt, all the way to New York City in the 1920s and paid the bills by singing in an Italian restaurant in the Bronx. His voice teacher eventually arranged a recital for several opera impresarios in Manhattan, including the MET. His voice teacher, serving as his pianist, came to the recital drunk and the performance was a disaster. My grandparents returned home to the orchard where they decided to live the simple life. He died in a tractor accident when my father was fifteen. I often imagine grandpa checking in on me during BSO concerts, and I think he especially enjoys it when we have singers involved. I assume he’s always there when we play operas in the Lyric!

Many years ago I had my trombone stolen from my car in Mt. Vernon. After a few days I got a call. The voice on the other end of the phone had a raspy, Godfather-like voice with an Italian accent. Are you Campora? Yes. Do you own a large brown box with something metal inside? Yes. My son and I found it in the park by Mercy Hospital, we work for the city on the gardening crew. My son wanted to throw it away but I said, wait!, it’s got an Italian name on the tag. Come to my house in Highlandtown tomorrow at noon and I’ll cook pasta and give you your brown box back. The trombone was untouched, in perfect condition. The pasta was superb. I love Baltimore . . . they even had painted window screens.

Biggest life change: choosing to follow a Whole Food Plant Based dietary system as a cancer survivor (see below). I did not think we could do it, but now after a year we are so glad we did!

I was a BSO subscriber the year before I joined the orchestra in 1985. For the 1984 season I sat next to a wonderful retiree named Bob in the terrace center section, three rows from the back. Bob is probably no longer with us, but often I look up there during concerts thinking of how much he loved the music. His only complaint: he didn’t like the Pops and found it hard to skip a week without a concert!

Favorite outdoor place on earth: Wakulla Springs, Florida.

My least favorite composer: Bernstein.

My favorites: Prokofiev, Mahler, Bruckner, Hindemith, Janacek, Strauss, Vaughn Williams, Sibelius, Mozart, Respighi, Berlioz—oh boy, the list could go on.

The hardest to play: Strauss and Brahms.

What is my one parting bit of advice to you?

 A year ago I was diagnosed with stage 1 esophageal cancer. It is not usually found in the early stages. Our family was greatly blessed. I took three months off the orchestra to have major surgery, and now my scans are all clear and my health is drastically improved, with a positive outlook. I had such a wonderful experience with all the doctors and surgeons at Hopkins Hospital (Drs. Molena, Lidor, Canto and Solaiman), the nurses and the staff. How richly blessed were are in Baltimore to have such phenomenal doctors and health care within minutes of our homes. They were the perfect model of professionalism and I fell in love with all of them. My thoughts are so often with those who don’t survive cancer and other such maladies, and their families.

My advice: when it comes time for your periodic colonoscopy, ask your doctor to sit you down and ask you all of the esophagus and stomach related questions. If your doctor hears you say anything remotely concerning (chronic acid reflux, difficulty swallowing), it is a very simple and painless thing to have an endoscopy done with your colonoscopy. This is the best way to find it early, because by the time obvious symptoms arise it can in many cases be already advanced.

Congratulations on making it all the way to the end of this! If I had a prize I would give it to you. I simply cannot thank you enough for being a part of our wonderful BSO audience, and I can’t wait to see you at the next concert. God bless you and yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Concertmaster

Jonathan Carney has held the BSO Concertmaster position since 2002.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
I imagine the next century will deliver a legacy of excellence and relevance.

Who inspires you?
Sitting 5 feet from some of the worlds greatest conductors and soloists is a dream come true and a constant source of inspiration and perspiration!

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
A dream of mine as a boy was to be a baseball player. More realistically now I would enjoy the art of working as a professional driver.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
My life partner Julie and I love to travel. Paris, New York and Atlantic City are three of our favorites, not least of all because I love to play cards and Julie is half French.

Where would people be surprised to find you? 
You might find me at a Texas Hold-em table for two straight days!

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? 
I can’t swear an oath of allegiance to any one piece of music but as my desert island choice and as a violinist, it would have to be the Solo Sonatas and Partitas of JS Bach.

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My parents were the perfect stage parents and raised us all to be heathy integrated citizens and well functioning musicians.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
Our favorite activity is to escape with our little fold up Brampton bicycles to a place with flat, sunny, carless roads.

How do you give back to our community?
I spend as much time as I can with the amazing students of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

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Associate Principal Viola

Noah Chaves has been the Assistant Principal violist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 1979. He joined the Baltimore Symphony viola section in 1974, after graduating from Oberlin College with a Bachelor’s degree in history. His teachers have included such legendary violists as Walter Trampler and Abraham Skernick, and violinist Berl Senofsky.

In addition to his performance engagements with the Baltimore Symphony, Mr. Chaves has enjoyed a rewarding career as a soloist and chamber musician. He was a member of the Dulaney Quartet, was also a frequent guest of the First Opus Concert Society in Baltimore, and has participated in The Skaneateles Festival in upstate New York. For several seasons, Mr. Chaves served as Principal Violist of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, with whom he performed as a soloist. He also held a faculty post at Towson State University, where he taught and performed both in recital and as a member of the Towson Chamber Players for a number of years.

Currently, Mr. Chaves performs regularly along with many of his BSO colleagues on the “Candlelight Chamber Music Series” at the Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. He is also a frequent guest artist at Hood College. A few years ago, Mr. Chaves joined with soprano Deidra Palmour and pianist Noel Lester to form the Guilford Trio, in order to explore the surprisingly varied and interesting repertoire for voice, viola and piano. Mr. Chaves has recently participated in the recording of two discs released by the Koch International Classics label, featuring song cycles by the American composer Charles Loeffler, “Charles Martin Loeffler: Forgotten songs” , and “Charles Martin Loeffler: A Dream Within A Dream.”

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Contrabassoon

Some people play Sudoku or do crossword puzzles. I’d rather write code. Computers have always fascinated me. My master’s thesis in music theory was a computerized analysis (back in the days of punch cards!) of Bach’s Cello Suites. After graduating from the Eastman School of Music, while working as a freelance musician in New York City, I had a day job working as a computer programmer for a small Manhattan software company. Computer technology changes so fast that it’s hard to keep up, so it’s a hobby that keeps me busy. My latest project is this website!

My father was probably the first person who inspired my love for music. He was a gifted amateur singer and performed with Robert Shaw’s Collegiate Chorale in the 1940s in New York City, including performances with Arturo Toscanini. In high school, I played bassoon in the orchestra, and sousaphone in the marching band. 

Ferraguto
Principal Librarian

Michael Ferraguto is the Principal Librarian of the BSO. He is also an amateur violinist and pianist.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
In the next century, the BSO will continue to showcase the orchestra in stunning concerts. If we continue making music at such a high level, and reaching out to young people as we do, Baltimore’s musical future is secure.

Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by my colleagues in the orchestra. As a librarian, the music I make is backstage. To see all of the parts I prepare come to life in the hands of the orchestra is a really amazing experience.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I’d probably teach French- I double-majored in Music and French in college, and lived there for a time. I’m also interested in medicine. For a long time I was planning to go into prosthetics and orthotics. I still find that it’s a fascinating field, and would be interested in taking it up again.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
Give me a day at the ballpark and I’m in heaven. I grew up going to Fenway so the Sox are still my #1, but I’m looking forward to rooting for the O’s at Camden.

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I enjoy rock climbing/bouldering. I’ve heard there are some good spots near Baltimore, but I haven’t been since I moved!

What piece of music do you wish you had written?
I’ve always wanted to write some sort of novelty piece, a “Concerto for Librarian”. It would involve running around on stage and fixing music while the orchestra played. Some sort of gag that I’m sure only I would find funny.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Straight out of college, I got a library job at the Tanglewood Music Center. I was interviewed by the (now retired) Principal Librarian of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Marty Burlingame. It was through him that I really discovered what the job was, and saw how it connected the dots of my performance experience, personal qualities, and musical know-how.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
One of my hobbies is tabletop gaming: board games, card games, etc. I’m into the complicated games with instructions a mile long. The fun is really in hosting your friends and spending time together.

How do you give back to our community?
Before I moved to Baltimore, I was on the junior board of a community grief counseling service, helping them organize fundraisers. I’d like to get involved with something like that here.

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Bass

Double Bassist Timothy Dilenschneider is a native of the Philadelphia area and a newly appointed section bass player for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He has been a frequent substitute for the Philadelphia Orchestra and has performed with that orchestra on tours across Europe and Asia. Before joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Dilenschneider was a member of the New World Symphony, based in Miami Beach, FL, under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Mr. Dilenschneider is a 2014 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Hal Robinson and Edgar Meyer. While at Curtis he performed with the Allentown, Lancaster, and Harrisburg Symphony Orchestras, along with Symphony in C (formerly Haddonfield Symphony) and the Bryn Mawr Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Dilenschneider has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School, performing with the Aspen Chamber Symphony and Aspen Music Festival Orchestras. He has also been a fellow at the Pacific Music Festival in Japan and performed with the PMF orchestra as principal bass.

In addition to his orchestral work, Mr. Dilenschneider has performed in numerous recitals and was invited to participate with “Curtis on Tour” – on their tour around New England and on their “East Coast 2×4” Grammy award winning CD. He has participated twice in “WaBass – Institute for the 21st Century Bass Player”, and was featured in the summer 2014 edition of the on-line magazine “Next Level Bassist” as an “up and comer”.

Mr. Dilenschneider has performed in some of the world’s most notable halls including Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall in New York, Musikverein in Vienna, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. In June of 2016 he joined the New York Symphony Ensemble on their tour across Japan, where he performed and worked with students participating in local youth orchestra side-by-sides.

Mr. Dilenschneider began playing the double bass at age 8 and studied with Time for Three Bassist Ranaan Meyer, prior to his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music.

gabrielle-finck
Associate Principal Horn

Gabrielle Finck has been associate principal horn since 2008.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
Honestly, if I lost the ability to play the horn for the BSO, I’d probably rush as fast as I could to master some other instrument or musical form so that I could keep having a life of music. There are other things to life, of course, and I have diverse interests, but I can’t think of anything I’m more suited to.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
Circumstances led me to get to know the Adirondack mountains in northern New York when I was in high school. It’s like a giant nature playground; Swimmable lakes, jumpable waterfalls, kayaking everywhere, mountains to climb, camping anywhere you please.  You can even gather downed wood and make campfires in most places. The weather is always perfect (read: low humidity and mild temperatures) in the summer. I’ve adapted my vacation style to my changing stages of life, but the “rondacks” have continued to work for us. We’re going this summer. Want to come along?

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? 
Mahler’s Das lied Von der Erde is a particular favorite because it is such a prolonged, all-encompassing work. It feels like it’s about a whole universe, a whole lifetime. Also, Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphoses because that piece fits my horn playing better than anything else. I feel like Hindemith’s writing style is what my lips were made to play. Bruckner’s Symphony#6, because it seems to describe a paradise that is exactly what I would design…if I were designing paradises…

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My teachers were my major influences during the times I studied with them. They were professional performers,  they modeled the life I wanted, and gave me a personal look into the career I was aspiring to. Music students and teachers form a kind of apprenticeship rarely seen in our day, and it seems there’s really no other way to find your way into a professional career, other than following the one-on-one guidance of people who have already traveled the road you’re on.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
Me time? I have two babies! Me time is now “us time”, which is something I’ve had to get used to. My favorite things to do as a family are walking to the Bolton Hill swim club playground, going to the Roosevelt Park kiddie pool, seeing the blue beads at the BMA, and looking at the butterflies at the Walters Art Museum.

How do you give back to our community?
I’ve tutored English at the Esperanza Center in Fells Point, I’ve served lunch at Our Daily Bread, I’ve had homeless people sleep at my house, we donate to the SPCA and Catholic Charities, we’ve taken in stray cats, I give stuff to the people with the cardboard signs, I teach horn lessons, I’ve hosted a moms playgroup, I take people meals and watch their kids. Every little thing counts. My philosophy is to pay extra attention to the poor, and to generally try to help people with the things they need help with. I feel like helping people is the reason I’ve been put on this earth.

sarah-fuller
Guest Harp

Sarah Fuller has been performing the duties of principal harp with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007. She is also the principal harpist of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. In a Baltimore Sun review of the Baltimore Symphony, classical music critic Tim Smith claimed that “…the refined harp playing by [Ms.] Fuller stood out” and he hailed her performance as an “impressive flash” in the orchestral texture.

Ms. Fuller began her studies on the harp at the age of eight at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, PA. She then went on to study at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan with Joan Raeburn Holland for her high school career. Ms. Fuller holds a master’s degree in music from Indiana University and studied at the New England Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School for her bachelor’s degree. Her teachers have included Judy Loman of the Toronto Symphony, Anne Hobson Pilot of the Boston Symphony, Nancy Allen of the New York Philharmonic, Alice Chalifoux of the Cleveland Orchestra, and distinguished professor at Indiana University, Susann McDonald.

Outside of the orchestra, Ms. Fuller enjoys collaborating with other musicians in a chamber setting. She is a member of Trio Cloisonnè (along with the Baltimore Symphony’s Marcia Kämper, flute, and Karin Brown, viola) and has performed with them on series such as the Chamber Music by Candlelight in Baltimore, the Baltimore Symphony’s chamber music series in Frederick, MD and in the future, the Music in the Great Hall series in Baltimore and the University of Maryland’s concert series at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, MD. She is also a member of the Dolce Suono Ensemble, a chamber group based in Philadelphia led by renowned flutist Mimi Stillman and including members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. In addition, she frequently performs with the notable Philadelphia contemporary ensemble, Network for New Music, and has recently been featured on a recording of the works of Bernard Rands with members of the group. In January, 2009, Ms. Fuller was the solo artist on an evening of harp music for the Delaware Symphony’s Champagne Chamber Music Series, which was broadcast on Philadelphia’s NPR station WHYY.

Ms. Fuller has recently been appointed the professor of Harp studies at the University of Maryland’s School of Music in College Park and maintains private teaching studios in both Philadelphia and Baltimore. She is a former faculty member of the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia was also the assistant director from 2006-2009 for the Saratoga Harp Colony, founded by the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal harpist, Elizabeth Hainen. In the summers she is on the faculty of the National Orchestra Institute in College Park, MD.

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Violin

Violinist Ken Goldstein joined the BSO in 1981.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
An orchestra that is second to none is entirely possible.

What inspires you?
A lot of the symphonic and chamber music that I play inspires me and motivates me. Also great tennis playing–especially Roger Federer!

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I don’t have a lot of other skills besides playing the violin and playing tennis–and no one is willing to pay me for playing tennis! Perhaps I could become a conductor, although I hear it’s harder than it looks!

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
Almost every summer for 1 week my family shares a beach house with another family in Ocean City, New Jersey. No violin playing permitted! It’s a very laid back fun week that includes a good bit of bike riding and board walking .

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I do not go bungee jumping or skydiving–sorry to disappoint!

What piece of music do you feel was written for you?
I love everything composed by Mahler, Brahms, and Elgar, among many others.

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
The lion’s share of the credit would have to go to my father Nathan Goldstein, who was a violinist in the NY Phil. And I’m sure being at some of Leonard Bernstein’s “Young People’s’ Concerts” had an impact. My two primary violin teachers Josef Gingold and Franco Gulli had a major impact.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
When I have free time I enjoy tennis, biking, hiking and reading–in that order; as well as occasionally watching a really good movie.

How do you give back to our community?
I support a variety of charitable causes, to the best of my ability.

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Assistant Principal Bassoon

Assistant Principal Bassoonist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Julie Green Gregorian is a native of Cortland, New York where she was introduced to the bassoon at the age of thirteen.  Her first bassoon teacher was the late Ithaca College professor Edward Gobrecht Jr., a former member of the Baltimore Symphony.  Ms. Gregorian came to Baltimore from Temple University where she earned a Master’s in Music degree under the tutelage of Bernard Garfield, retired Principal Bassoon of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Her tenure has included several years of serving as acting principal bassoon in the BSO.

An experienced teacher, Ms. Gregorian is on the faculty of the Baltimore School for the Arts as well as the BSO Academy. Previously academic appointments include Catholic University and Ithaca College. Julie has served as a judge and performer at the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition and Symposium where she was praised for her “beautiful expressive sound” and “thoughtful performance.”

Performances and studies at the Aspen Music Festival and Norfolk Chamber Music Festival at Yale fostered an early love for chamber music.

Locally she has been featured in concerts at the Second Presbyterian Concert Series, Central Presbyterian, Chamber Music on the Hill in Westminster, and Sundays at 3 in Columbia. She also cofounded the Glyndon Chamber Players with her husband, BSO double bassist Arnold Gregorian. The GCP have given concerts at historic Emory Grove and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Glyndon, in Frederick and in Germantown, Maryland.

The Gregorians are active members of Historic Glyndon where they live in their 104 year old Victorian home.

Julie and Arnold are the proud parents of three grown children and have two granddaughters. While making bassoon reeds, Julie enjoys talking on FaceTime to her daughter Ani who is the principal oboist of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra in Nishinomiya, Japan.

Ms. Gregorian preforms on a vintage Heckel bassoon dating from 1930.

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Trumpet

Nathaniel Hepler, trumpet, is a native of Malvern, Pennsylvania and joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2013.  Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Nate began his instruction with Kenneth Laudermilch. He attended Philadelphia’s prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, earning a Bachelor of Music while studying with Frank Kaderabek and David Bilger.  He then attended the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Mark Gould and earning a Master of Music degree.  Before joining the BSO, Nate enjoyed an active schedule as a freelancer and teacher primarily based out of Philadelphia, while also performing in orchestras and festivals around the world.  He was a substitute with groups such as the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the IRIS Orchestra, Delaware Symphony, and the Harrisburg and Reading Symphonies, among others.  He has served as Principal Trumpet of the Sarasota Opera and Second Trumpet of Symphony in C in Camden, NJ.  As a soloist, Nate has performed Tartini’s Concerto in D, Copland’s Quiet City, Fasch’s Concerto in D, and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.  He has participated in numerous music festivals including the Spoleto Festival, invited as Co-Principal Trumpet of the Santo Domingo Music Festival, three years as Principal Trumpet of the Artosphere Music Festival, and five summers with the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, including three with the Chamber Orchestra.  Nate continues to enjoy performing chamber music with the Westminster Brass and arranging music for his own company,  Valley Music Press.

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Assistant Principal Trumpet

A native of San Diego, California, René Hernandez is as comfortable in his role as Assistant Principal of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as he is as a soloist, teacher or chamber musician.

His skills as an orchestral musician have taken him around the United States and to more than a dozen countries with such orchestras as the Boston Symphony, the Boston Lyric Opera, the Boston Philharmonic, the Colorado, New Hampshire and Albany Symphony Orchestras, the International Symphony in Jerusalem, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia in Spain, the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado De Mexico, and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano in Italy where he met his wife Silva.  In addition to Maestro Yuri Temirkanov, a few of the notable conductors with whom Mr. Hernandez has worked are Simon Rattle, Michael Tilson Thomas and Lorin Maazel.

When not on stage, René Hernandez can often be found in the kitchen preparing one of his delicious non-musical creations.

melissa-hooper
Assistant Principal Oboe

Melissa Hooper was named assistant principal oboe of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2014.  She has performed as a guest musician with the Metropolitan Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Hawaii and San Antonio. Ms. Hooper received a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where she was a student of Elaine Douvas.  She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, serving as a teaching assistant for Rebecca Henderson. During recent summers, Ms. Hooper has performed at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where she was a recipient of the New Horizons Fellowship.

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Bass

Mark Huang joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2003, appointed by then music director Yuri Termirkanov. He is Yuri Termirkanov’s only North American double-bass appointment in history.

Along with Charles Barr of the Cleveland Orchestra, Mark Huang is the last pupil of Roger Scott in Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute Of Music.

Mark is a two-time recipient of the Aspen Music Festival Fellowship. He has also participated in music festivals of Les Rencontres Musicales d’Evian France and New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

Mark is proud to be a Taiwanese American double-bassist influenced by many Great American bass traditions of:

Roger Scott of Philadelphia Orchestra and Curtis Institute Of Music
Ralph Jones of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Lawrence Hurst Of Bloomington, Indiana

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Bassoon

Schuyler Jackson is the  Second Bassoonist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and joined the orchestra in this capacity in September 2014. He received a BM in Bassoon Performance at The Hartt School in 2013, studying bassoon with Marc Goldberg. Schuyler began working in the Fall of 2013 on an MM in Orchestral Performance at the Manhattan School of Music, studying bassoon with Roger Nye, but did not finish his studies so that he could begin performing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to performing with the BSO, Schuyler has performed with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Hartford Opera Theater, Hudson Valley Chamber Winds, Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, The Chelsea Symphony, The Hartt School ensembles, and the MSM Chamber Sinfonia and Symphony Orchestra. Schuyler has performed in Carnegie Hall and at the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage with the Manhattan School of Music’s Chamber Sinfonia and Symphony Orchestra, as well as with the Hartt School’s Wind Ensemble.

In 2014, Schuyler was a finalist in the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition, as well as a two-time winner of the Fuch’s Chamber Music Competition at the Manhattan School of Music. He feels comfortable performing chamber music, new music, and orchestral music, and during his time at The Hartt School performed many new works with the 20/20 chamber ensembles and Foot in the Door contemporary ensemble. Schuyler has also attended many music festivals, including the National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, New York String Orchestra Seminar, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and Sewanee Summer Music Festival.

In his spare time, Schuyler loves to ride his bike, read, and watch movies. Schuyler is also a member of the Central Cycle Club in Central Village, CT, where he likes to ride his motocross bike with his dad (when he’s on vacation, of course!)

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Clarinet

What is your name, instrument or instruments and number of years in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Bill Jenken, Clarinet, since 1998. I have been playing bass clarinet in the orchestra since Eddie Palanker retired.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
It will continue to bring the best of western music in all of history to be enjoyed live; the way music was meant to be heard.

Who or what inspires you?
Musically inspiring conductors

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
Either Photography or healthcare in some capacity.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
Victoria, B.C. with my wife Mariko. It is our home away from home.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? or What piece of music do you wish you had written?
It is impossible to pick favourites, but I identify mostly with Mahler and Brahms.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Music in general chose me and continues to inspire me, but also Clarinetist, J.Wesley Foster

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
Rest and enjoy Photography

How do you give back to our community?
I teach young clarinet player.

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Second Violin

Originally from House Springs, Missouri, Holly Jenkins  joined the second violin section of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in September, 2016.

Ms. Jenkins has performed as both a soloist and a chamber musician in recitals in seven different countries, and in such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, Cleveland’s Trinity Lutheran Church, and at St. Louis’ Sheldon Concert Hall. She began her performing career at the age of 11, when she was selected to solo with the Alton Symphony Orchestra. Subsequent concerto performances have included appearances with the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestra, St. Louis Chamber Orchestra, Richardson Symphony Orchestra, Sarasota Music Festival Orchestra, Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, Principia College Orchestra, Belleville Philharmonic, and the Clayton Symphony. Ms. Jenkins was also a member of the New York City based conductorless string ensemble, Shattered Glass, from 2013-2016, touring the Midwest and East Coast and performing regularly across New York City.

In addition to performing, Ms. Jenkins is passionately committed to promoting peace, dialogue, and cross cultural awareness through music. During the summer of 2011, she and a colleague conducted a tour of Jordan and the West Bank in cooperation with Musicians Without Borders, Nablus a Culture, and several other organizations, teaching and performing in schools and community centers. In 2012 she participated in a two-week trip to Pakistan with Cultures in Harmony to perform and conduct music workshops.

Ms. Jenkins holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music. Most recently she has attended Bard College to play with The Orchestra Now. Her teachers have included Milan Vitek, Laurie Smukler, Amy Oshiro-Morales, and Winifred Crock.

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Bass

I’ve been called a “musical chameleon.” Though best known as a BSO bassist, I also play piano for local folk and ballroom dance groups, and mandola with the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra. I’m a songwriter and published arranger/composer. Two of my orchestral arrangements have been performed on international tours by the BSO. And I’ve been asked asked me to fill in keyboard, mandolin, banjo, and tin whistle on occasion.

For the past 15 years, BSO percussionist Chris Williams and I have been performing in elementary school classrooms. We’ve put together an entertaining presentation about the musical families of instruments which requires me to play double bass, tabor pipe, psaltery, ocarina, panpipes, flute, bamboo clarinet and my own “Home Depot bassoon” that I made from plastic tubing.

Lately, I’ve turned my attention to the stage. I had an idea that the mayoral years of the late Governor William Donald Schaefer would make a great subject for a musical. I started writing some of the songs when he passed away in 2011, and really got excited about making this work. With Baltimore playwright Rich Espey’s help, “Do It Now” was born. We’ve had two successful public readings, and my dream is to see it on the stage once we’ve fashioned it into the best show it can be.

Another little thing I do that has earned me some notoriety within BSO circles is my role as the unofficial musical tribute writer. Whenever there’s a retirement, anniversary, birthday, etc., they call on me to come up with a little song parody to mark the occasion. I have a lot of fun doing it. I’ll never forget the goodbye song I composed for (former BSO music director) Yuri Temirkanov. It was written to the tune of “I’ve Got Rhythm” and was sung in both English and Russian. The look on the Maestro’s face was priceless!

johnson
Guest Keyboard

Johnson_Duo

Duo Baltinati
Ilya Finkelshteyn, cello & Lura Johnson, piano
2nd Prizewinners,
2015 International Johannes Brahms Competition

Lura Johnson is the BSO’s guest pianist. She often plays harpsichord, organ, synthesizer, and celesta as well.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by the pursuit, creation, connection with and appreciation of beauty of all kinds. For me, beauty doesn’t just mean pretty things. Beauty can be sincerity. Beauty can be passion. Beauty can be terrifying, especially in music sometimes. Immanuel Kant defines beauty as the interplay that happens between us and an object of beauty – in other words, beauty is what it does to us. Music is an incredible world of beauty that I am fortunate to grasp – I happily accept my calling to spread this beauty – understanding of it and access to it – to all I meet.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
In my next life, I’d LOVE to be a Broadway dancer. :)

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
Since my performance schedule generally doesn’t allow me to take LONG vacations, my favorite kind are short road trips to Bed and Breakfast locations around the area. I’m a huge fan of getting away for a couple of days to Deep Creek Lake. I also love exploring the many beautiful places in southern Virginia, in the Shenandoah. I love leaf peeping and blossom gazing. These are my best ways to unwind.

Where would people be surprised to find you? or What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I’m a social and competitive west coast swing dancer. Many Friday and Saturday nights, after concerts, I grab my dance shoes and head for the ballroom. I compete nationally in the Pro Am Routine division (my routine dancing with my amazing champion teacher, Gregory Scott) and the Rising Star division (my routine with my fellow amateur dancer and great friend, Corey Flowers.) In 2015, Greg and I took 2nd Place at the US Open Swing Dance Championships! It was the biggest thrill of my life that didn’t involve a piano.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
Brahms, Op. 118, No. 2. This piece has become my anthem.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
I come from a musical family. The question in our household was not, “Are you going to learn an instrument?” but “What instrument are you going to learn?” My mother and brother are both violinists and my father and I are both pianists. He was my first teacher. I’m the only one crazy enough to be out there doing it professionally, but they are all really talented, accomplished, and musical.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I love dining al fresco in the sunshine! My back deck is a great place to do that. I really enjoy trying out new recipes, doing things to make more beautiful my 1828 colonial, spending time with my fabulous friends, and being a 5 star hostess on Airbnb.

How do you give back to our community?
After the riots of April 2015 quieted down, I had a conversation with former BSO principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn. During that conversation, I articulated the belief that the only real way to make changes to our society, here in Baltimore, is one child at a time. When I hung up the phone, I went online and signed up for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, to become a mentor to a child in inner city Baltimore. BBBS was inundated with mentor requests at that time, and it has taken a long time for them to weed through all the applications. I’ve been through countless hoops online, had my references checked, and underwent a 2.5 hour in person interview. Now I’m just waiting to be matched with my Little! Really looking forward to meeting her and hopefully providing her with some perspective on life that she doesn’t receive in her every day life. I hope one day to be bringing her to BSO rehearsals and concerts!

Pianist Lura Johnson is a Steinway Artist and the Second Prizewinner, as a member of Duo Baltinati with cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn, of the 2015 International Johannes Brahms Competition Chamber Music Division. Hailed as “brilliant” by the Washington Post, she is celebrated for her passionate and insightful interpretations of the standard repertoire and esteemed by colleagues for her uncommon sensitivity and skill as a collaborative partner. Equally comfortable as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician, she is the Principal Pianist of the Delaware Symphony and has performed extensively as the pianist of choice for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007. Trained by luminaries Robert McDonald and Leon Fleisher, Ms. Johnson has collaborated extensively in orchestral performances and recordings with Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Leila Josefowicz, Joshua Bell, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, the St. Lawrence String Quartet and has performed as soloist with the Baltimore and Delaware Symphonies.

Ms. Johnson’s discography includes a 2001 album, The Jennings-Johnson Duo, with flutist Christina Jennings, and 2010 Centaur Records release of Inner Voice, with BSO violist Peter Minkler, featuring sonatas by Rochberg and Shostakovich. This recording of Arvo Pärt’s spiegel im spiegel was featured in the official teaser trailer for the 2013 Warner Brothers film Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Ms. Johnson can also be heard on several recordings released by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, including Naxos’ Grammy nominated release of the Bernstein Mass, on which she played principal keyboard. Ms. Johnson’s first solo CD, Turning, was released in summer of 2014. Ms. Johnson has recorded for the Foxridge, Naxos, Innova, Centaur, Albany, and Azica labels.

Devoted to chamber music from an early age, her many recital partners include Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Jonathan Carney, with whom she has presented the complete Brahms violin sonata cycle, clarinetist Anthony McGill, cellists Ilya Finkelshteyn, Amit Peled and Kenneth Slowik, and flutist Marina Piccinini. She is a founding member of three duos, the Jennings-Johnson Duo with flutist Christina Jennings, Times Two with violinist Netanel Draiblate, and Duo Lalu, a cabaret duo with soprano Lara Bruckmann. She performs with VERGE Ensemble, 21st Century Consort, PostClassical Ensemble, and the Towson New Music Ensemble.

Ms. Johnson has taught piano at the Peabody Conservatory since 2002 and from 2013-2015 was Director of Chamber Music at Georgetown University in Washington. She has taught on the faculty of the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music.

Formerly the Artistic Director of Baltimore chamber music series Music in the Great Hall, Lura has also worked as Pianist and General Manager with the PostClassical Ensemble in Washington, DC, an innovative and wildly ambitious chamber orchestra that is reinventing and reinvigorating the presentation of classical music with programming that is thematic and cross-discliplinary.

When not onstage, Lura can be found on the dance floor. She is an avid social and competitive dancer with roots in gymnastics, ballet, and ballroom, specializing now in West Coast Swing.

 

marcia-kamper
Flute

Marcia Kämper has been a member of the flute section for 11 years.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
Pusuit of excellence is what I hope will be evident in our next 100 years.

Who or what inspires you?
Nature inspires me always.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I think I’d like to be an astronaut or architect.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
I love to be anywhere near an ocean, lake or river.

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? 
I love the waltz from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Attending  the Interlochen Academy one summer was a pivotal experience that led me to a career in music.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I love swimming and yoga.

How do you give back to our community?
I am an avid volunteer.

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Violin

Violinist Boram Kang joined the BSO in 2015.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
The BSO will continue to offer inspiring music, change lives and better our community.

Who inspires you?
Working with people who have passion to make great music is inspiring to me.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would like to have a career in interior design.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
I love Cancun.  I enjoy the beautiful sand, sun, and sea and would like to go back and swim with the dolphins!

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
You would be surprised to find me on the slopes on my snowboard, I used to be very scared to do anything on snow but I love it now!

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Librarian
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Violin

A member of the Baltimore Symphony since 1990, Wonju Kim is a native of Seoul Korea.  Ms. Kim began studying the violin when she was five years old and made her solo debut with the Women’s Symphony of Seoul at the age of ten. As a child she performed with her sisters in the Kim Trio, playing concerts in Asia, Africa and the United States, where the group appeared on “Good Morning America.” In addition, she performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Korean Broadcast Symphony at age 16.

Ms. Kim moved to the United States in 1980 to attend the Juilliard School of Music. She also studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music in the Netherlands for several years. Her principal teachers have included Herman Krebbers, former Concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Rafael Druian, former Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.  She moved to Baltimore in 1986 to attend the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Berl Senofsky and has remained in the area since graduating in 1989.

In addition to playing with the BSO, Ms. Kim has an active performance schedule. She has played with several chamber music groups, including Semaphore, a New York City-based new music ensemble. She is a founding member of Music in Common, a Columbia-based concert series devoted to building new audiences for chamber music that was created by her late husband, Daniel Malkin.

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Assistant Principal Cello

Newly appointed Assistant Principal Cellist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Lachezar Kostov has appeared as a soloist in some of the world’s leading concert venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and Oji Hall in Tokyo. He was the National Winner at the 2006 MTNA Young Artists Competition and has won numerous prizes including the Cello Award at the Kingsville Competition in 2005, the Grand Prix at the International Music and Earth Competition in Bulgaria, and the concerto competitions at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Rice University. In October 2011 Lachezar Kostov and pianist Viktor Valkov won the First Prize and all the special prizes at the Third International Liszt-Garrison Piano and Duo Competition in Baltimore, MD. Mr. Kostov has appeared as a guest soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Japan, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Bulgaria. Mr. Kostov is represented as a member of the Kostov-Valkov Duo by Pro-Piano Management.

Hailed by European and American critics for “the awesome purity of his playing”, and described as “prodigiously skilled protagonist”, in 2009 Mr. Kostov made his official debut at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, performing rarely heard works for cello and piano by Ellen Zwilich, Nikolay Roslavets, and Dimitri Kabalevsky. In 2012, following his participation at the Texas Music Festival, he performed the Second Cello Concerto by C. Saint-Saens, under the baton of Carl St. Clair, and in 2013 he performed Dvorak’s famed cello concerto in the legendary Gewandhaus in Leipzig, accompanied by the Academic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Horst Forster.

Mr. Kostov’s first commercial CD was released by NAXOS in 2011 and was immediately featured in “The Strad Magazine”, and “American Record Guide”. In 2016 he released a second CD, containing award-winning transcriptions by the Kostov-Valkov Duo of works by Franz Liszt, as well as virtuoso arrangements from the operas Carmen, and The Barber of Seville.

Lachezar Kostov has appeared as a guest artist at the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, Cactus Pear Music Festival, and is also a guest faculty at the Texas Music Festival in Houston. He has performed alongside musicians such as Jon Kimura Parker, the Tokyo String Quartet, Martin Chalifour, Cho-Liang Lin, Stephanie Sant’Ambrodgio, Lucy Robert, Aloysia Friedmann, James Dunham, and Desmond Hoebig. Mr. Kostov plays on a modern cello made by his friend, luthier Sam Matthews in Houston. Prior to his appointment with the Baltimore Symphony he was a tenured member of the San Antonio Symphony, and also performed regularly with the Houston Symphony. His major teachers include Bogomil Karakonov, Aldo Parisot, Norman Fischer, and David Grigorian; he has appeared in master-classes with Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Isserlis, and Bernard Greenhouse.

Lachezar is an avid single-malt Scotch whisky collector, an aspiring runner, conductor, and pianist, and has flown as a co-pilot to General William “Bill” Anders (Austronaut Bill Anders from Appolo 8), on Mr. Anders’ private plane.

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Violin

Gregory Kuperstein is a member of the first violin section.

I am blessed: I have a great family; I have a great job.
Most of our family are professional violinists (our oldest daughter chose a different path). My wife Janet has been a substitute violinist with the BSO since 1985. She plays regularly with orchestras in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, with occasional forays to Florida and Tennessee. Our daughter Melanie plays with the Maryland and Annapolis symphonies. So it is not unusual that on a Saturday night I would play in the Meyerhoff or Strathmore, Janet would be playing in Lancaster, PA or Reading, PA, and Melanie – in Hagerstown, with the Maryland Symphony.

We also teach. Janet – in Timonium where we live. Melanie and I – in Howard and Montgomery counties. Add to this that my brother David and his wife Olga have the most successful piano studio in Howard County and, probably, in Maryland. There are a lot of Kupersteins making music in the land of pleasant living.

My students, current and former, range from those who dream of playing with the BSYO or a GT orchestra, to those who are current members of the National and Atlanta Symphonies. All of them are united in the desire to play music as best as they can, and I just help them to achieve their dreams.

In the little free time I have, I read a lot, watch British mysteries on DVDs, and collect fine art, minor works of great artists. That’s all, folks!

Larson
Third Horn

One of the most frequent questions orchestral musicians have to answer is, “What do you do when you’re not playing in orchestra?” Some people cultivate hobbies outside of music and some spend time with family and while I enjoy both of those my main pastime outside of orchestra is, “Have horn, will travel!”

I am admittedly a bit of a travel junkie but I firmly believe that travel and more importantly interaction with people different than yourself fosters understanding, tolerance, and acceptance across cultures and continents, something that seems to be currently in very short supply. I think spending two summers while in school with the Verbier Festival Orchestra in the Swiss Alps surrounded by musicians from all over the world made me realize how many awesome opportunities are out there to experience different cultures and lifestyles through music.

Something I’ve taken to more recently is “competitive tourism”, traveling somewhere far-off for a competition and exploring around during and after. Just this past few months I entered major competitions in both Europe and Asia and spent close to a month total overseas as a result, all without missing a day of orchestra rehearsal. I also won 2nd Prizes in both competitions so I look at these as well-paid semi-working vacations!

These trips have been eye-opening both musically and personally in addition to great fun so I plan on being a competitive tourist until I’m too old to compete anymore!

Professional bio at: www.austin-larson.com/about

aaron-lavere
Principal Trombone

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra named Michigan native Aaron LaVere principal trombone in 2014. Mr. LaVere’s former post was as principal trombone of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. Other previous positions include guest principal trombone with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and principal trombone with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. His recent work with the New World Symphony had him performing under the batons of Michael Tilson Thomas, Hans Vonk, Sergiu Comissiona, Vladimir Spivakov, Don Runnicles and Hugh Wolff. Mr. LaVere has worked with the Detroit Symphony under Neeme Jarvi, the San Antonio Symphony under Christopher Wilkins, the Kalamazoo Symphony, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ann Arbor Symphony, and the Flint Symphony.

 

A frequent soloist, Mr. LaVere has appeared throughout the Midwest, performing the Grondahl Concerto, the David Concerto, and the Jacob Concerto. As a chamber musician, LaVere has performed with the Detroit Chamber Winds, the Detroit Symphony Brass Quintet, the Michigan Chamber Brass, and the New World Brass Quintet.

 

Mr. LaVere holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music from University of Michigan and his teachers include H. Dennis Smith, Jay Friedman, Sam Pilafian and James DeSano.

angela-lee
Assistant Principal Second Violin

Angela Lee, Assistant Principal Second Violin, joined the BSO in 2012.

Who or what inspires you?
Mahler Symphonies, Puccini operas, Jascha Heifetz, David Oistrakh

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
An interior designer or a medical doctor.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
NYC. which is my favorite city.

Where would people be surprised to find you? or What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I used to speak Italian fluently when I was little. Now I forgot everything.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
Go to cafe and enjoy a cup of latte. When I have more time, I travel.

Lee_CW_sqr
Associate Principal Cello

When I was a child growing up in South Korea there was no music in my family — and certainly no Western classical music. But my oldest brother worked in a violin shop, and he got the idea that I should play the cello. I did well and enjoyed the attention I received. So I kept at it, and the doors kept on opening before me.

When I was in high school I won Korea’s most prestigious music competition. Soon after, I played for Janos Starker, who was in Seoul on a concert tour. He offered me a full scholarship to Indiana University, where I found myself for the first time surrounded by young cellists who played much better than I did. So I started practicing five or more hours a day. Once I had to go the doctor because my thumb was infected and bleeding from too much playing!

After 37 years in the BSO, music making for me has come to be all about beauty and love. I learned from conductors who would not be satisfied with a technically correct reading of the music…they demanded artistry. There were soloists who brought me to tears.

And I was always surrounded by my colleagues who gave their best — night after night.

The music touched my heart, and that is what I want to share with others.

I’m told I have an eye for beauty. In another life, if I weren’t a musician, perhaps I would be an interior designer.

But I live in the house of music, and that is my home.

qingli_sqr
Principal Second Violin

Qing Li, Principal Second Violin has been a BSO member since 1994.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
I am hopeful that we will uphold our renowned reputation, as one of the best orchestras in US.

Who or what inspires you?
Great musicians, and inspirational conductors are my guilty pleasures.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would undoubtedly still be a musician somewhere else, either performing or teaching music.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
I love to explore Europe and with loved ones.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you?
I think humanity has a lot in common. Though a lot of music was written for specific personal experiences, the icing on the cake is that we all get to color our music-making with our own personal nuance.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My father is a musician, and I’m glad now that I had no choice but to become a musician.

How do you give back to our community?
Playing solo tours in rural places, and teaching kids music in places where they are deprived of knowing wonderful classical music.

bo-li
Cello

Cellist Bo Li has been a BSO member since 2001.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would pursue a career in Arts Administration.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
When I am able to get away I like to travel with my family to cities we have never been to.  We like to explore new places and people.

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My parents were pivotal in my decision to become a musician.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
My two favorite pastimes are coffee and reading.

How do you give back to our community?
I look for opportunities to perform at schools, community centers, hospitals and retirement homes.

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Oboe

Michael Lisicky, oboe, joined the BSO in 2004.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
I have no idea. I have a feeling that when the BSO debuted in February 1916, nobody thought about what the BSO would be like in 100 years? The group was just fixated on getting better. Too many people and institutions are fixated on “leaving a legacy.” Some plan their legacies before they start. That is just plain disingenuous. If you have a passion to do something and you do it well, your legacy will follow. Stop worrying about how things look on paper.

Who or what inspires you?
People who actually get things done in a timely fashion. And only need to be asked once.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
If I tell people where my favorite get-away spot is, then people might try to contact me. I can’t risk that, but I do have one.

What was your most memorable summer job?
I was a doorman at the residence of a prominent Philadelphia/South Jersey mafia crime family. Other “non crime family” residents also lived there. Nothing much happened. There were some blatant infidelities and a strict order not to give out ANY information. I do remember a headline in the Atlantic City Press that leaked a planned hit on the city’s mayor. It freaked out the other residents. I did feel a little vulnerable at times, not too much, but they tipped real well. I am surprised, in retrospect, that my parents didn’t seem to have an issue with it. One of the main guys ended up becoming an informant. So much for omertà.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
I know what pieces that were not written for me.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I don’t have “me time.” I really don’t. “Me time” always involves some sort of multi-tasking. That’s my specialty. Sitting down to watch TV or listen to music has become such a foreign concept. Do people really allow for me times?

How do you give back to our community?
I seem to pick up everybody’s trash. I hate trash and that’s the Slovak in me. (Come to Fell’s Point on a Monday afternoon. There I am with my huge Rubbermaid cans on wheels with my brooms, pans, and claws. Rain or shine for over 4 years.) I hate it when people either say that I shouldn’t have to do it or that they do the same thing on their block. First, if I don’t do it, it all makes its way into the harbor. That’s just great. And I’m sorry, nobody cleans up the streets like I do. Trust me. That’s example #1.

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Percussion

John Locke has been a member of the percussion section for 25 years.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
Hopefully the BSO will leave a legacy of outstanding music making, including recordings and tours, premiers of new works, as well as innovative educational programs which embrace Maryland’s youth and their families .

Who or what inspires you?
Outstanding art of all kinds inspires me, no matter what the medium; music, visual art, – especially sculpture and painting, architecture, and even exceptional chefs, like my cousin, Chef John Piliouras – executive chef of a restaurant on the Hudson River called Orama.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
There are so many things I would love to do- design furniture , jewelry , write stories and poetry, and yes, be a Chef- I absolutely LOVE to cook!!

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
I love being by the ocean- it’s my place of solitude and contemplation.

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I enjoy spending time with the elderly- filled with calm, contemplative wisdom- and often unexpected humor.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
I would have to give three answers to this question: Elgar’s Nimrod movement from the Enigma Variations, the Beatles – “All You Need is Love” and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are a Changin'”- it defined a generation of real change.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Tony Denicola, who played drums with the Harry James big band was a teacher when I was in my youth- an outstanding musician- and my first teacher at Peabody – John Soroka- who is a former principal percussionist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. 

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I seldom have actual “me” time- I am nearly always around my colleagues at the BSO , working with students at BSFA, Peabody and at Goucher College, or I am spending cherished time with my family and good friends.

How do you give back to our community?
I share my love and enthusiasm for music with students who are in high school through college age. – it’s my way of giving back to those who gave and inspired me.

 

 

There were actually three people who pointed me in the direction of the arts and music. First, my mother played the piano and introduced me to the joys of music making. Second, my first real teacher was a man named Tony DeNicola. Tony was a big band drummer who played in the Harry James Big Band for many years. He taught me to play non-melodic percussion instruments like the snare drum with a melodic sense and with a musical line. The third was John Soroka, a former principal percussionist with the Baltimore Symphony and teacher at Peabody. I would never have made it into the BSO if it weren’t for him. John taught me to really push myself to new heights, both technically and musically. Whoever thought that making music and playing in an orchestra was actually a career? Sometimes, I still can’t believe it.

Although music is an important part of my life, it is by no means my only passion. I am still interested in so many things. If I weren’t a musician, I would definitely be a chef. I love to cook! My two grandmothers taught me at a young age, how to bake and cook , and cooking as been an important part of my life since then. I often fantasize about being a professional Chef—an outstanding and highly trained one like my cousin, John Piliouras, who was a chef at Molyvos, a restaurant near Carnegie Hall in New York City . When I’m not cooking, I’m reading about cooking! I have taken books out of the library on knife technique and knives, garnishes, hors d’oeuvres, cakes, breads, desserts and more and even subscribe to a couple of cooking magazines.

I have had a couple of old British cars, one of which I am constantly working on which uses up quite a bit of my time away from the BSO. I also run a company that makes small percussion instruments: “Locke Percussion.” In addition, I teach at The Baltimore School for the Arts, the Peabody Institute, and Goucher College. So life is busy.

But never too busy for the most important people in my life: my family. My wife Kathryn, who is a pianist, and son John Edgar are incredibly supportive of my endeavors. My son and I share time playing baseball, skiing, or biking to Pennsylvania. We are quite a team, especially when it comes to our shared love for cycling. I used to be the one coaxing him to join me; now he’s saying, “come on, dad—let’s go!”

Low_432
Cello

Raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, cellist Seth Low has been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 1985. Before joining the BSO, he was principal cellist of the Richmond Symphony and taught cello at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Mr. Low holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and from Queens College of the City University of New York. His teacher at Oberlin was Richard Kapuscinski, an early student of Leonard Rose. It was Kapuscinski’s teaching, with its special emphasis on the bow arm and fine tone production that became Low’s main formative influence as a cellist. Later at Queens College and at the Aspen Festival, he also studied with Claus Adam, long-time cellist of the Juilliard Quartet.

Having been born into a musical family — his grandmother was a violin teacher, his mother an amateur violist and his father played the recorder — he began cello lessons at age eight. During high school he studied with Evelyn Elsing, professor of cello at the University of Maryland.

Mr. Low has appeared twice as soloist with the BSO, performing the Bruch Kol Nidrei and the Caprice and Elegy by Frederick Delius.

In addition he appears occasionally as a chamber musician in the Baltimore area and also teaches cello. He is the principal cellist of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.

ma_lin
Assistant Principal/Eb Clarinet

Lin Ma, a native of China, is the newly-appointed assistant principal and Eb clarinetist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Previously, he played a one year position as second clarinet in the Houston Symphony. Ma won the 2014 Ima Hogg International Competition and performed as soloist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra at Jones Hall. Later, he appeared as soloist at the Baytown Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-15 season opener. In addition, Ma has soloed with National Repertory Orchestra at the NRO music festival in 2013.

Ma earned his Master of Music degree at Rice University, under the tutelage of Richie Hawley, and he holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied with Richard Hawkins. As a student at Rice, he performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ma has also studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy with Yehuda Gilad, and the Middle School attached to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing with Yuanfu Huang. 

Violin playing
Violin

Mari Matsumoto has been a member of the violin section of the BSO since 1973.

Marvine
English Horn

Jane Marvine has played oboe and English horn in the BSO since 1979

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by anyone who cares about others.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would love to be a composer, teacher, lawyer or a project manager.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
My favorite place is any place I can spend time with my family.

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I like to tap dance.

What piece of music do you feel was written for you?
The music of Prokoviev touches me very deeply and inspires me.

What influenced you to be a professional musician?
Love of music was the prime motivation for me to be a musician. I thank my parents who were amateur jazz musicians for exposing me to all kinds of great music and supporting my pursuit of excellence as a musician.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
When I have free time I love to garden,cook and be with family.

How do you give back to our community?
I enjoy teaching, and spend a lot of my energy supporting music and the arts in the schools.

Minkle_sqr
Viola

Peter Minkler is heralded by Tim Smith of the Baltimore Sun as an inspiring artist who “makes the viola sing….” Having firmly secured his reputation as a musician of rare communicative warmth and possessing eloquent depth of expression, he was awarded Baltimore’s prestigious Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, and is a two-time recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Classical Music Solo Performance.

Mr. Minkler began his undergraduate studies with Robert Vernon at the Cleveland Institute of Music and earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he was a student of Francis Tursi. He also participated in master classes at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada with Lillian Fuchs, Donald McInnes and William Primrose.

A  member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 1984, he also holds the position of Principal Viola with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society Orchestra. Prior to his arrival in Baltimore, he served as Associate Principal Viola with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

He has appeared as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions, as well as with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Prince George’s Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Johns, Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra, The Columbia Orchestra, Baltimore Choral Arts Society and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, he was the featured artist at the Finger Lakes Bach Festival in Ithaca, NY. As soloist, he has worked with such distinguished conductors as Andrew Constantine, Tom Hall, Marvin Hamlisch, Raymond Harvey and Daniel Hege.

An avid and versatile musician, Mr. Minkler is also highly sought both as recitalist and chamber musician. He has performed extensively throughout the Baltimore region and is a regular guest artist on numerous established local series including: Free-Fall Baker Awardee Concerts, Catonsville Concerts at 3, Sundays at 3 Chamber Music Series and Chamber Music by Candlelight, a series he co-founded at the Second Presbyterian Church. Other appearances include an exhibition and recital at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the University of Maryland, Chamber Music UB: The BSO Musicians Series, a series he developed and coordinated in conjunction with the University of Baltimore and musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the BSO Summer MusicFest. Nationally, he has been a featured artist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with composer Jeremy Gill for the George Rochberg Memorial concert, Dickinson College, PA, the 2012 40th International Viola Congress held in Rochester, NY and presented recitals at both Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA and the Channing Concert Series in Houston, TX. At the behest of Mrs. George Rochberg, he has also presented recitals at Dunwoody Retirement Village in Newtown Square, PA. Throughout the years, Mr. Minkler has collaborated with many luminaries including violinists Pinchas Zukerman, Stephan Jackiw and Victor Costanzi, cellist Ralph Kirschbaum, flutist Toshiko Kohno, harpists Rita Costanzi and Elizabeth Hainen, percussionist David DePeters and pianists Jonathan Biss, Lura Johnson and Max Levinson. More recently, he has begun exploring new and innovative ways to express himself and has worked in partnership with Shodekeh, a human beat boxer, award winning jazz saxophonist, Carl Grubbs, and modern dancer, Naoko Meshiba.

In addition to his private teaching studio, Mr. Minkler, a devoted pedagogue, has presented a viola composition seminar at the Peabody Conservatory of Music; coached adult chamber music participants of the BSO Summer Academy, coached the viola section of the former Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra and has presented numerous master classes for students of all ages and abilities in a variety of formats, cities and settings, including the Hoff Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale, NY, East Aurora High School, East Aurora, NY, and the aforementioned Dickinson College and Northwestern State University.

Mr. Minkler has released two solo CDs on the Centaur Records label, both garnering exceptional reviews. The first, Viola Seul: Works for unaccompanied viola, is a compilation of seven works that showcase the extraordinary qualities of the oft-maligned viola and was praised by allmusic: “Minkler’s playing is…thoroughly musical, insightful, witty, and highly nuanced…this album is likely to please anyone interested in solo string works or just solid, unpretentious, musical artistry.

Inner Voice, his second project recorded in collaboration with pianist, Lura Johnson, features four major works of the twentieth century composed by Britten, Rochberg, Pärt and Shostakovich. This CD has also received high praise from critics: Carlos María Solare of The Strad writes, “Britten’s Lachrymae…is given an unusually well-structured performance that goes beyond superficial tonal beauties to reveal the score’s constitutive elements. While listening I felt that this is how William Primrose – the piece’s dedicatee – might have played it….It was this recording of Arvo Pärt’s spiegel im spiegel that was used in multiple trailers for the Academy Award winning movie, Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. This as well as other critical acclaim continues to affirm his artistry and command of the instrument.

He has actively served on both the BSO Players’ Committee and the Artistic Advisory Committee for the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In 2012 he was nominated for, and served on, the Maryland State Arts Council Review Panel (MSAC). As one of nine discipline-based panelists, he played a significant role in the grants process through his expert recommendations to MSAC.

Mr. Minkler commissioned Dark Bells, a major new work for viola, chorus and orchestra by world renowned composer, Jonathan Leshnoff. Based upon the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, this oratorio received its world premiere in May 2014 with Music Director Andrew Constantine and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. In addition, he presented the world premiere of Whistling in the Dark for unaccompanied viola by composer, Jeremy Gill, on the Strathmore Mansion Series in Bethesda, MD. 2015 included the US premiere of Sonata for Viola and Piano by Israeli composer, Boris Pigovat, and the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Piano Quintet, Radiance, in Memory Of Christina Tarsell. He is actively seeking other contemporary composers with whom he can work so that together, they can create exciting new music that showcases the viola.

As John Peter Thompson of the Prince Georgian writes, “If you get a chance to hear Mr. Minkler perform, you need to grab it.

Exciting highlights of the 2015-16 season include the recording of new works by Jonathan Leshnoff for the Naxos label, a performance of the string trio version of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations on the Sundays at 3 series, as well as two performances of Leshnoff’s Dark Bells. Taking place in October, these concerts will premiere in Reading, PA and here in Baltimore with Music Director Andrew Constantine conducting the Reading Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. These concerts will also feature Mr. Minkler as soloist in Vaughn Williams’ Flos Campi.

mellon
Cello

Esther Mellon has been a member of the Cello section since 1977.

Mulligan_sqr
Violin

Greg Mulligan has been a member of the First Violins since 1985.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
A legacy of great music and an identity as an orchestra for all the people of Baltimore and Maryland!

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by my incredible colleagues, and the dedication and inspiration of the great conductors and guest artists with whom we get to work.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I have many fantasy careers; baseball player, tennis player, meteorologist and astronomer.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion?
I love to visit the Rocky Mountains with my wife Jeanne.

Where would people be surprised to find you? 
When not on the stage you might find me on the tennis court, or if you’re really good at spying you might find me disco dancing.

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? 
I love Sibelius’s 7th symphony or anything by Bach.

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My parents were a great influence on me as amateur musicians who played and listened to music often as I grew up.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I enjoy tennis, and love to read, spend time with family and friends, especially when my sons Eric and Stephen are around. Jeanne and I love long walks on the beach. :)

How do you give back to our community?
I teach at the Baltimore School for the Arts, conduct sectional rehearsals for Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras. I perform occasionally as a volunteer at hospitals and schools. I also try to help fellow musicians and students whenever asked. 

Munds_sqr
Principal Horn

Before I was born, my mother was the children’s chorus conductor at Covent Garden Opera House. While on holiday in mainland Europe, she met my dad, a young tenor studying voice in Rome. Needless to say, growing up, there was a lot of music in our home. I was raised on the “other” coast: California. I think the laissez-faire culture of the West Coast helped me develop a more laid-back approach to life. I try to live one day at a time, and relax and take it easy.

This approach to life is especially evident in my choice of where to live: my beautiful wife, Amy, and two kids—Hannah and Ian—decided to make our residence on our 46-foot Silverton aft-cabin motor yacht, docked in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore. We named the boat “Spiorad,” which is Gaellic for “Spirit.” There’s not a lot of room in our floating house for extra “stuff”—but we don’t need that anyway! We have each other and music—what more do we need?

I also attribute my approach to life, as well as to music, to my teacher, Dave Krehbiel, the former Principal horn of the San Francisco Symphony. I was hooked on playing horn from the moment I heard him perform with the Napa Symphony. From then on, I practiced obsessively. He taught me how the horn is supposed to sound and also how to think about playing and life in general.

sharon-pineo-myer
Viola

Violist Sharon Pineo Myer joined the BSO in March 1978

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
The next century will hopefully provide a rich legacy of superb music making of old and new music.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by nature, the ocean, the woods, the sky.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would love to be a potter.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion?
My husband Steve Yusko and I love to go to his cabin in Washington, New Hampshire on a small lake. We love to swim, hike, kayak and enjoy the beauty of the place.

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I have been having a wonderful time drawing house plans for a possible renovation of the cabin in New Hampshire.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
I identify strongly with the solo Bach Suites.

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My parents loved classical music and always took me to concerts from the time I was little. My father played records all the time.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I love being with my grandchildren. I also enjoy reading and gardening in addition to all the outdoor summer activities.

How do you give back to our community?
I teach viola and play in several groups other than the BSO, notably Choral Arts, Pro Musica Rara. I also play in my church’s Consort.

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Principal Oboe

Katherine Needleman has been Principal Oboist since 2003.

Do you practice every day?
Of course! In addition to the new repertoire I prepare each week, I practice many other things for my own enjoyment, inspiration, and skill maintenance. I like to practice music not written for the oboe and things that are way too hard for me and then I usually feel in good shape and better about playing the things that are written for the oboe. I also spend a lot of time making reeds daily, usually starting around 5 or 5:30AM. You can’t really get by as a professional oboist without doing this.

When my daughters are done with school and their homework, I practice violin and cello with them, too. I don’t play these instruments, but usually sit at the piano and lead the sessions. It’s impossible for most really young kids to organize their own practicing effectively, and we (usually) have a great time practicing together. We do all sorts of things we aren’t told to do by their teachers either, but it’s a good place to goof off and screw around. We just jointly composed a piece called “Enchiladas” and are planning our next work, “Taco Night.”

What kind of instrument are you playing now?
I was really thrown for a loop about a year and a half ago when my oboe was stolen in Montreal. It was one I had been playing for a long time, and honestly had been planning to play forever because the bore was lined and I never expected to have to replace it. It was comfortable and easy. I had a bunch of others in my house, but I never liked them as much and had grown so accustomed to the one which was stolen. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to replace. I tried many oboes by the same maker and could not find something I was happy with in the same way. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that I was making a recording six weeks after the oboe was stolen, and I really just had nothing I wanted to play or made me happy.

I ended up finding another maker just six days before I made the recording. It was a huge switch, but the instrument spoke to me in some way. It was used, had a bunch of mechanical problems and needed to be customized for me, which I had done well after the recording, once I was more familiar with the oboe. Subsequently, I bought four more instruments by this maker searching for just the right thing. Then I realized there is no “right thing” and in the process I had gained some flexibility from switching around all the time. It really forced me to be in control and present.

So I don’t really have one oboe now; I have several. I have three different makers in my house right now, and use two of them pretty regularly. I have a new model being carried over from London for me this week that I am very excited to try.

What do you like to cook for dinner?
I have been a vegetarian for 25 years, and a vegan for a good number of those. So, I don’t cook any meat. My favorite way to cook is with some sort of limitation. I hate planning in advance, using recipes, or buying ingredients with a meal in mind. I love to cook food that needs to be used up. My husband loves to grocery shop. So, our best meals tend to be something I have improvised after he has been to the Asian market or we’ve taken a trip to the farmer’s market. Usually, they involve some sort of bean, mushroom, tofu, green, or ideally, a combination of all those things.

nichols
Violin

Rebecca Nichols has been a violinist in the BSO since 1991.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by new (to me) musical ideas, from conductors, soloists and my colleagues.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would be a seamstress/tailor/quilt-maker

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
I love leaving the dock with my husband in his sailboat

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I collect and repair antique sewing machines – I have 16 of them!

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony has always been a favorite of mine.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
I saw Mr. Suzuki with his pupils on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was about 7 years old – I was totally mesmerized.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I love to Sew!

How do you give back to our community?
I tutor kids with dyslexia.

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Cello

Kristin Ostling joined the Baltimore Symphony in 1995. She is a graduate of both the Curtis Institute of Music and the Mannes College of Music, where she received the Mannes College Performance Award. She has been a featured soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and has enjoyed chamber music roles with a roster that includes Pinchas Zukerman, Ralph Kirschbaum, and The Baltimore Symphony’s concertmaster, Jonathan Carney. Since 2002, she has served as principal cellist of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society Orchestra,under the direction of Tom Hall.

She has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at venues throughout the world including Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The German and Icelandic Embassies, the U.S. State Department, The Pennsylvania Academy of Music, and the Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. She has also appeared at New York’s Bargemusic, the La Jolla Chamber Music Society’s SummerFest, the Pensacola Chamber Music Festival, at An Die Musik, and on the Baltimore Symphony’s Chamber Music by Candlelight series. Most recently, she has been featured on the newly released “Works of Larry Hoffman,” by the Baltimore based composer of that same name. Her performance of “Blues Suite for Solo Violoncello” has garnered rave reviews from such notable publications as the American Record Guide, Downbeat Magazine, and the Baltimore Sun. She plays a cello made by Giacomo Rivolta (Milan, 1828).

In addition to playing the traditional classical repertoire, Kristin is also one of a growing number of cellists exploring the genre of rock cello. She was a member of the heavy metal cello band Primitivity, and is an honorary member of The Sofa Kings of Pittsburgh. She can also be heard on the rock album “Southern Barber Supply” by the Cashmere Jungle Lords.

In her spare time, Kristin enjoys an active yoga practice, hiking, attending Volkswagen gatherings, and duking it out for next to last place at Go Kart racing. She occasionally finds additional time to study Belly Dancing with the legendary “Yasmine,” Geno Rothback.

james-olin
Trombone

James Olin has been a member of the trombone section since 1977.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
a legacy of great musicians united as a team to make great music.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by the dedication of my colleagues to honing their craft.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would probably teach music full time.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion?
I enjoy taking long walks with my wife, BSO English Horn Player Jane Marvine.

Where would people be surprised to find you?
You be surprised to see me behind the piano accompanying my students. 

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
Mahler Symphony 9 is a favorite of mine.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Among the many inspirations I can count my mother, my band directors and my high school trombone teacher.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I love to exercise, walk and bike in my spare time.

julie-parcells
Violin

Violinist Julie Parcells joined the BSO in 1980

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I’d probably be a veterinarian or an organic farmer.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
I’ve enjoyed playing with and experiencing the Grand Teton Music Festival in WY for the last 8 summers as I love the combination of music making and hiking in that National Park. Another favorite place is the Mexican Riviera May

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
I’m a 4th generation musician so my family inspired me. I was surrounded by music.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I like to spend time with my cats, spend time outdoors gardening or walking, sometimes I enjoy ballroom and salsa dancing.

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Cello

Winner of the inaugural Zara Nelsova Memorial Award, cellist Se-Doo Park’s performances have taken her around the world. She won top prizes in the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank Competition in both 2015 and 2012, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Standard Life Competition, Korean TV-Radio Competition, The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) Academy Symphony Orchestra Competition, among others.

Ms.Park successfully gave solo recitals across Canada recently, and has been performing with ARC Ensemble of Canada as a guest cellist. She performs regularly in North America and Europe as a soloist and a chamber musician, premiering chamber and solo works that have been composed for her. A versatile musician in demand, she has collaborated with top artists in different genres, ranging from the world-renowned musicologist and pianist, Robert Levin, to the singer Nathan Pacheco on his PBS Specials. Ms. Park has appeared at numerous eminent music festivals as well, including the Verbier Festival Academy, where she was awarded Prix Nicolas Firmenich de Violoncelle as “the cellist with exceptional talent,” Ravinia Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Banff Music Festival, Meadowmount School of Music, Centre d’arts Orford, and Le Domaine Forget.

Born in Monterey, California, Ms. Park grew up in both Korea and Canada. She first began her musical lessons on piano at age 7, and made her orchestral debut as a solo cellist at 15 in Korea.  She obtained her Artist Diploma from The Colburn School in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Ronald Leonard, after receiving a Bachelor and a Master’s degree on prestigious Rena Robbins Shapiro Memorial Scholarship in Cello from The Juilliard School in New York City.  Her mentors include Timothy EddyBryan EppersonRafael FigueroaMenahem PresslerSharon Robinson, and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi. Ms. Park is making her new home in Baltimore, Maryland from 2016-17 season as a member of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with the 1824 McConnell Nicolaus Gagliano cello on generous loan from the Canada Arts Council. She was previously a member of Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

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Second Violin

Sunjoo Park joined the Second Violin section of the BSO in September, 2016.

Who or what inspires you?
People who are still passionate and excited about making music after they have spent years in an orchestra. Being able to play with such amazing musicians who are still dedicated to their craft inspires me every day.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I’d probably be a painter or a therapist.

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
Recently I’ve been into interior design. I enjoy cleaning – yes, you heard me right – and organizing things at home while trying different furniture and decorations to change up the vibe.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I’m a total foodie, so you’ll catch me trying new restaurants, coffee shops, and all the different dessert places that I can. Besides that, I would love to travel when I have time.

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Percussion

Brian Prechtl has been a member of the percussion section since 2003

I love my job! Getting paid to play percussion in a major symphony orchestra has been a dream of mine since I was in high school. The exhilaration I felt when I heard the ascending bass line in a transcription of Bach’s Fantasia in G Major at Hartt Summer Youth Music Program spoke to me in a way that cemented my will to do this for the rest of my life. This desire guided me as I followed the call toward an eventual position in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It led me first to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and then Temple University in Philadelphia where I studied with some of the giants in the field of percussion. Among these are Charles Owen, Michael Udow and Alan Abel.

I was lucky enough to get a job as Principal Percussion in the Toledo Symphony Orchestra right out of school. I followed this position with stints in The Columbus Symphony and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic where I remained for 14 seasons. It was not until 2003 that I achieved my childhood goal of attaining a percussion job in a major American Symphony Orchestra, being hired by Yuri Temirkanov, a maestro that still exists as the standard of musicianship for me personally.

In addition to playing percussion I’ve been active as a composer and educator.

I began working as an educator and mentor with the BSO’s outreach program Orchkids in 2009. The OrchKids program serves over a thousand kids in six schools located in some of the most at-risk neighborhoods in Baltimore.  I reach over 200 children at three of these schools four times a week. This is the most fulfilling work I do. We’re trying to give these children a glimpse out of the difficult circumstances that encompass their world-view. We’re also trying to instill values that will serve them in all areas for the rest of their lives – concepts like teamwork, concentration, independence and discipline. We help them understand what can be possible when they channel their energies with a sense of focus and purpose for any task. They learn what they can accomplish as individuals and the power of cooperation that a group can achieve. We also teach them a little something about music, but it’s about so much more than that. We want to unleash the desire to dream big beautiful dreams and the skills that will help them make those dreams a reality.

As a composer I have composed 25 pieces that have been performed by chamber music groups at the Second Presbyterian Church Candlelight Concerts Series, which features BSO musicians. I have been the composer in residence on this series for the past 5 seasons. I have also had many premieres of my composition works at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

When I’m not playing percussion, teaching or composing I like to spend my free time with my partner, Tad Peel and our Pit Terrier, Clarence. I also love spending time with my three kids Jason, Naomi and Adam. We all love the outdoors and can often be found hiking and camping in Patapsco State park here in Maryland or on the banks of Jackson Lake in Jackson Hole Wyoming each summer.

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Violin

Craig Richmond has been a member of the 1st Violin section since 1972.

Who or what inspires you?
Great classical music, and great pipe organs.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
If not for fear of heights, I’d try to be an organ builder.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
Europe, but I couldn’t pick a single favorite.

Where would people be surprised to find you? 
Napping in a deck chair, on the Queen Mary 2

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
Mahler Symphony #3

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My 1st violin teacher wouldn’t take “no” for an answer!

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
Travel, or stay home and watch old movies, or MPT.

 

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Violin

Violinist Christina Scroggins has been a member of the BSO since 1979.  

When did you first start playing the violin?
I started in public school in the 4th grade. The music teacher brought all the string instruments to class. When I heard the sound of the violin I knew it was my instrument.

What was the most challenging part of learning how to play?
Learning how to read music was very difficult for me because I have a good ear and could play music without reading the notes. Fortunately I had a very kind private violin teacher who helped me manage my frustration.

Do you have any advice for new concert goers?
Think of going to a BSO concert like going for a walk in a beautiful forest- you don’t have to know the name of every tree, plant or bird to enjoy the experience. Each time you return you will notice new things. Our concert halls are a place to relax, a refuge from the outside world! Every performance is unique.

What do you do to relax?
I love walking and sitting quietly in the woods or by streams. I love listening to the birds. I like to read.

What do you do to give back to our community?
Locally I have been known to pick apples for the Baltimore Orchard Project, and to publish photos and distribute hugs to adorable, adoptable animals at Defenders of Animal Rights. Nationally I have photographed the magnificent herd of rare white buffalo who recently relocated from Oregon to California.

Who inspires you?
Anyone who makes a long term commitment to running an animal sanctuary. My personal favorites are The Tossed and Found Cat Sanctuary in Gettysburg, PA and the White Bison Association in Upper Lake, California. I also admire photographers Dereck and Beverly Joubert for their work bringing awareness and helping to save Africa’s highly endangered species like lions, rhinos and elephants.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
Maybe be a plant based nutrition coach, or a geologist or be a wildlife photographer/blogger/tracker advocating for wild places and endangered animals. Presently I have two photo websites where I display and sell my work.

Please visit www.chrisscroggins.com and www.chrisscrogginsphotography.com

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Viola

Appointed Fourth Chair Viola of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2016, Massachusetts native Jacob Shack earned his Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Misha Amory and Heidi Castleman and frequently performed as co-principal of the Juilliard Orchestra. As an undergraduate at Harvard College, Jacob enjoyed playing with the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra as principal violist, including on their tours to Cuba and the Middle East.

He has toured the world as a chamber and orchestral musician, performing on four continents, most recently in Hong Kong at Bright Sheng’s Intimacy of Creativity Festival and in Colombia at the Medellín International Music Festival. He has performed at several other music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Tanglewood Music Center, where he was the recipient of the Maurice Schwarz Prize in 2013. In addition, he was selected to participate in Jaime Laredo’s New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall in both 2010 and 2012.

In addition to his dedication to orchestral playing, Jacob has been recognized in solo and chamber music competitions, including the Washington International Competition for Strings and the Stulberg International String Competition. He has collaborated in performance with such world-renowned artists as James Buswell, Steven Doane, James Dunham, Joseph Kalichstein, Robert Levin, and Joseph Silverstein, and has received numerous awards and scholarships from Harvard University, as well as from his alma mater Phillips Academy. In the summer of 2015, Jacob served as the violist of the New Fromm Players, an ensemble-in-residence at the Tanglewood Music Center devoted to contemporary music performance.

david-sheets
Associate Principal Bass

David Sheets has been a member of the  Double Bass section since 1996.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by genuine passion and dedication to anything someone loves to do.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would be a musician in another orchestra. It has always been clear to me that this is what I was meant to do.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
I enjoy travelling to the extent my finances allow, and am very grateful that my career has allowed me to see a lot of the world. Locally, I like to visit Assateague and New York

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? 
There are too many works to mention here. I love playing real orchestral music more than anything. Some of my favorite composers are Mahler, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Brahms. I’m also a big fan of Steve Reich

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Oddly, the rock band “Rush” had a big influence on me – Yes, seriously!

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
When I have the time I study Chinese, fish at Loch Raven Reservoir, work out at the gym, and enjoy discovering new places.

emily-skala
Principal Flute

Emily Skala serves as Principal Flute. She commented, “Sometimes I play piccolo, alto flute, tin whistle and recorder. Once I played fife with my colleagues for a recording of music by Charles Ives when David Zinman was music director.”

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
Hopefully a full-size ensemble of 105-120 musicians who are paid like the professionals they are, and a legacy of first class recordings with music directors who ought to be remembered for a long time to come!

Who or what inspires you?
I am often inspired by a captivating, soulful sonority coming from my colleagues or guest soloists. When someone has something both original and heartfelt to convey, and when orchestra and conductor are completely aligned in performance.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
This is a very hard choice to make, if not impossible. I had trouble with this question in high school, too. For me there was only one answer. But secretly I wish I could know if I have what it takes to be a successful singer.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
My favorite spot is anywhere in the mountains and woodlands. It takes me back to what I knew as a child; a simpler and more pure time, when I was at one with my world, happy, excited, full of enthusiasm.

Where would people be surprised to find you?
People might be amused to find me at the local miniature golf course or surprised to see me looking after my fish, frogs, and salamanders in my pond; or they may be shocked to see me rescuing a snake trapped in the garage.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you?
I am connected to almost anything from the Baroque period or any of the works written by Gustav Mahler!

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My family was very influential. Both parents were pianists and my mother was a cellist with the Vermont Philharmonic. I am told I was singing flawlessly at age 3. And we danced to polkas in the living room on a regular basis. The phonograph and the radio were constantly in use, as if music were our daily bread. We watched the great ballet companies of the world on television, I spent hours listening to my Mom teach her piano students at home, and we went to concerts regularly. My Grandfather was on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since before I was born and my Grandmother was on the Women’s Auxiliary Committee of the symphony as well. They gave parties in their home for members of the orchestra. I am told my Grandmother had a crush on the Principal Flutist of the time, the tall, dark, and very handsome Albert Tipton. Even more exciting, my Grandfather was the founder of the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra.

As you can see, it was just all around me, all of the time. But I chose the flute, to my knowledge, when I saw the Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts over CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) telecasts. Amazingly, despite all of this exposure to classical music, it wasn’t until I was mid-way through high school that I learned it was possible to be a paid professional musician and that there were schools specializing in the training of professional musicians!

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I am an avid reader of non-fiction, I love going to movies. Oh, and I feed the birds, cuddle with my kitties, and teach myself ways to be a steward of the environment.

How do you give back to our community?
I have raised an intelligent, aware, sensitive, informed, compassionate and capable daughter – and I teach music! Is there any other way, really?

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Principal Cello

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Principal cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski has delighted audiences of many concert halls in America and Europe with his great artistic and technical command of the instrument. As a soloist he performed with numerous orchestras in the US including the National Philharmonic, Alexandria Symphony, Arlington Philharmonic, Lancaster Symphony, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

In 2013 Dariusz was awarded the prestigious Baker Artist Award, the highest recognition for artists in Maryland.

As a chamber musician, Dariusz appeared in many chamber music concert series including the Candlelight Series, Music at the Great Hall in Baltimore, and the Barge Music Festival in New York City. In November of 2005 he gave his Carnegie Hall debut, which was sponsored by the La Gesse Foundation. The cellist is also a member of a critically acclaimed ensemble — the Monument Piano Trio.

Dariusz is a laureate of various international competitions such as the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Leonard Rose Competition in Washington D.C., and the Rostropovich Competition in Paris.

Dariusz began his musical education at the age of six and spent his school years in Warsaw, Poland where his teachers were Professor Z. Liebig and Professor A. Zielinski. He completed his higher education as a scholarship recipient at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and perfected his art under the supervision of world-renowned cellist Stephen Kates.

The soloist’s repertoire is extremely diverse and includes compositions from early Baroque to the present. His debut CD “Cello Populus” is a collection of solo pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries and includes works of Hindemith, Ligeti, Crumb, Penderecki, and others.

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First Violin

Violinist Kevin Smith joined the BSO in September, 2015.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
A legacy of connecting the great music of composers past and present to our community young and old is what I envision. The key is to make this music accessible and presenting it in a way that connects to our daily lives.

Who or what inspires you?
The audience – watching people’s faces light up when the music excites them is the most rewarding part of being a musician. The energy that audiences bring to live performances feeds the orchestra’s desire to play our best.

What piece of music do you wish you had written?
I wish I had written Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. It has always been one of my favorite pieces and I think it’s one of his most perfect compositions.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My first classical CD was a recording of the Cleveland Quartet playing Beethoven String Quartets. I would listen to this CD on repeat for hours and I still enjoy that recording to this day. It definitely made me want to play violin for the rest of my life.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I enjoy reading, playing golf, hiking, and learning about history.

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Bass

I never wanted to be a professional musician. My dad, George Stahl, played in the bass section of the Minnesota Orchestra and I always thought it would be unoriginal to follow in his footsteps. After attending Interlochen Arts Academy Music Camp, I totally changed my mind and I’ve been wholly committed to music ever since.

I suppose if I had never gone to Interlochen, I would have made a career as anon-fiction writer, writing mainly history. I am actually quite a history buff. I joined a Civil War reenactment regiment to celebrate the 150 th anniversary of that major event in our nation’s history. There is nothing like dressing in a heavy period costume when it is 102 degrees! But I loved it. It was an amazingly inspiring experience as I truly felt like I was walking in the footsteps of my ancestors. I am trying to get my two children interested in history, too. I hope that my son Jacob will become drummer boy and maybe my wife Karen will get involved in the camp life reenactment someday.

My two children, Jacob and Sonja, and my wife of 20 years are extremely important to me. There are few things in life that truly matter and I believe that family is by far the most important. We love to have family adventures in the great outdoors. When not performing, I try to be out hiking, camping or canoeing. When I was younger, I once canoed the length of the Mississippi River from its head waters to New Orleans with my father. I am currently introducing my own children to camping. We recently had a wonderful vacation in Northern Minnesota. We saw a lot of wildlife and the kids learned the simplicity of camping.

I also have a deep appreciation for Volkswagens. Maybe this started when I chose such a large instrument that requires a large car! I am not sure. I currently own eight antique Volkswagens– including four Bugs and a pick-up bus. I love greasy car work because it’s such a huge contrast to getting all dressed up for concerts with the tux and the tails.

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Associate Principal Second Violin

Ivan Stefanović was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and began his violin studies at the age of five. At sixteen, he was accepted as a college student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with David Cerone, Victor Danchenko, David Updegraff and Cathleen Winkler. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1989 and an Artist Diploma in 1991, both with honors, from the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 2003, the Cleveland Institute of Music awarded him an Alumni Achievement Award “in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the fields of Violin Orchestral and Chamber Music Performance.”

Mr. Stefanović joined the second violin section of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1991 under David Zinman, at the age of 21, moving up to a third chair position a year later. In 2004, Yuri Temirkanov named him Assistant principal second violin. He was then named Associate principal second violin by Marin Alsop in 2012.

As a soloist and chamber musician, Mr. Stefanović has won many first prizes in local and national competitions in Yugoslavia. He has performed numerous times as a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of Radio and TV Belgrade and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. He has made live recordings for Radio and TV Belgrade, Radio Yugoslavia and WCLV in Cleveland, in addition to numerous solo and chamber music recitals in Yugoslavia, Spain, and the United States.

Some of the reviews of his performances include: “The surprise star was Stefanović…breathtaking agility”- Portland Press Herald (Maine) “Deftly virtuosic and musically compelling”- Cleveland Plain Dealer “Golden tone and tender phrasing; considerable technical flair” – The Baltimore Sun

Mr. Stefanović is Acting concertmaster of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, a baroque violinist in Pro Musica Rara, and a co-founder and co-Artistic Director of “Chamber Music by Candlelight,” a series featuring BSO members. He is a violin teacher and chamber music coach, and conducts orchestra sectionals, at both the Preparatory Department of the Peabody Conservatory of Music and Baltimore School for the Arts. He has conducted master classes in the United States and Japan, and is a member of the Clipper Mill Quartet.

At the invitations of their respective Music Directors, Ivan has served numerous times as Guest Concertmaster with Ft. Wayne Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestra Augusta (GA). He has served on the faculty as a coach, soloist and conductor at Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Peabody Utah Summer Music Festival and School, and Peabody Chamber Week. He was twice chosen to be a member of the All-Star Orchestra, comprised of the best orchestral players in the country, in PBS broadcasts.

Mr. Stefanović plays on a violin made by Nicholas Lupot in 1810, on a generous loan from the private collection of the family of Marin Alsop.

lisa-steltenpohl
Principal Viola

Lisa Steltenpohl, the newly‐appointed principal viola of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School. She has served as principal violist of The Curtis Symphony Orchestra and the Haddonfield Symphony, now Symphony in C. Ms. Steltenpohl has also performed with such ensembles as The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. She began her musical studies on viola at age eleven and while a student in high school was one of the youngest members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Ms. Steltenpohl made her Orchestra Hall debut performing Bartók’s Viola Concerto with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2001. In addition to her orchestral career, she has participated in many chamber music concerts and festivals, performing alongside notable musicians such as Arnold Steinhardt, Leonidas Kavakos, and others.

Originally from North Barrington, Ill., Ms. Steltenpohl comes from a musical family. She and her twin sister Anna, oboe and English horn, have been featured on the educational series “Musical Encounters” and have performed many recitals together highlighting the viola and oboe repertoire. Prior to joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Steltenpohl was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Her teachers have included Misha Amory, Roberto Diaz, Desiree Ruhstrat, and Stephen Wyrczynski. She made her Baltimore Symphony Orchestra solo debut performing Bach’s Sixth Brandenburg Concerto last season.

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Viola

I’ve been Jeff Stewart, violist of the BSO, for almost forty years (this seems like a long time but only occasionally feels that way). I am mildly surprised that playing my instrument and making music has become increasingly important to me as I get older; I’m lucky to be a part of the glorious wash of sound we make onstage at the Meyerhoff and Strathmore. My colleagues continue to delight me with their wonderful playing, and the decades of friendships in the BSO have made it much more than a musical home.

My civilian life revolves around my family of people and dogs. Elisabeth, my lovely wife, will soon finish nursing school, while daughters Eve and Anna thrive and boogey down at Skidmore College and Park School. Gracie, our 85 years-old-in-human-years yellow lab, is Queen of the household, while young rescue Liesl gets away with as much as she can. I enjoy reading and running (although not at the same time, and these days it’s more walking than running due to injury), trying to eat less carbs in the winter (hence the aforementioned walking), and, like all good Baltimoreans, cheering on or groaning about the Orioles and Ravens. Crabs are good, too.

My hope for the BSO’s future is that it will be able to continue to give beauty and inspiration to a searching world. Simply put, we hope to share our music with everyone. Music can Help.

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Viola

Delmar Stewart has been a member of the Viola section since 1977.

 

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Cello

“A great talent like  comes along infrequently … [and] is without a doubt an outstanding instrumentalist who has a brilliant technique and a vivid talent…” Stephen Kates, Professor of Cello at The Peabody Conservatory. “… the Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello, played beautifully by Lukasz Szyrner.” The Washington Post… Born in Poznan, the musical capital of Poland, he began his studies at the age of seven. A recognized child prodigy, Mr. Szyrner was performing in the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra when he was ten and made his solo debut with the orchestra at fourteen performing the Saint-Saëns cello concerto. He was the youngest Master’s graduate of the Jan Paderewski Music Conservatory in Poznan, studying under Prof. Stanislaw Pokorski. He continued his studies with Karine Georgian at the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany. Since coming to this country he has studied at The Peabody Conservatory with cellist Stephen Kates, and with cellist Laurence Lesser at the New England Conservatory of Music. By age twenty, Mr. Szyrner had won top prizes in music competitions worldwide including the International Nicanor Zabaleta Competition for Strings in San Sebastian, Spain; the Irving M. Klein String Competition in San Francisco; the Mary Graham Lesley International Music Competition; the Yale Gordon Competition; the International UNESCO competition for Young Musicians; and the D’Angelo Young Artist Competition. He was a semi-finalist in the Leonard Rose Competition, and semi-finalist in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. In 1993, he was the recipient of the Glos Wielkopolski “Medal of Young Art” award for his artistic achievements in Poland and abroad. Over the years in addition to an active recital and chamber music career, Mr. Szyrner has soloed with many orchestras in Poland as well as in the United States. He has spent summers performing at numerous festivals such as the prestigious Ravinia Festival; the Piatigorsky Seminar in Los Angeles, CA ; the Heifetz International music Institute; the Endless Mountain Music Festival. Mr. Szyrner made his debut on compact disc with the Swedish recording company, Chamber Sound, and has performed for radio and television in Poland, Sweden, and Germany. In recent seasons he has travelled to perform in Italy, Argentina, Uruguay and Costa Rica as part of Quin Tango, a group dedicated entirely to Tango music. Before joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2016 he served for many years as the principal cellist of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, the principal cellist of the Lancaster Symphony and the principal cellist of the Mid Atlantic Symphony. He has been featured as soloist with these orchestras on works such as the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations, Schumann Cello Concerto and Shostakovich Cello Concerto no 1.

 

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Violin

Ellen Pendleton Troyer, member of the first violin section since 1991

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
I hope to see the BSO as a catalyst in the rebirth of Baltimore as a destination city. I envision a legacy of symphonic music played at the highest level for all people, by musicians who passionately love and respect the art form.

Who or what inspires you?
People who do whatever they can for others. Those who take chances that force them out of their comfort zones.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would love to try my hand at theater.

Where is your favorite get-away spot?
Ironically, two very different getaway places; the central coast of California (for hiking and wine-tasting,) and the island of St. Martin, B.V.I. (for doing nothing at all but reading under an umbrella on the beach.)

Where would people be surprised to find you? 
Covered in dirt and sweat, digging, planting and weeding in my vegetable garden. I’d also love to skydive again.

What piece of music do you feel like was written for you? 
Brahms 4th, The Pines of Rome, the Barber Violin Concerto, the slow mvt. to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto….too many pieces to mention!

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Arthur Tabachnick, my violin teacher from the age of 14 through my studies at Juilliard. Observing the care with which he taught and performed, I realized that great musicians have a duty to communicate the beauty of our art form.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
If I’m not spending time with my family, I love to read, go for a run or work in my garden.

How do you give back to our community?
I have volunteered at my all my daughter’s schools, I’m also an active member of Second Presbyterian Church, where I have served on a committee to address at-risk youth in Baltimore city.

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Violin

Inspired by Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, James Umber began violin lessons at age seven with Barbara Pettey.  After further studies with Kevin Roy, he was a scholarship student of Elaine Richey at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he was a winner of the school concerto competition.  A pupil of Yumi Scott and Jaime Laredo, Mr. Umber is a 1990 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Before joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1991, Mr. Umber was a substitute player with the Philadelphia Orchestra and a member of the Concerto Soloist Chamber Orchestra.  A participant in the Bowdoin, Taos and Grand Teton Festivals, he regularly appears as a recitalist and chamber music performer.

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Assistant Concertmaster

Wyatt Underhill joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Concertmaster in 2016. His orchestral path began in earnest when, at the age of 19, he served as concertmaster for a six city concert tour of China and Singapore with the Oberlin Orchestra. Subsequently he has been concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra and the Colorado College Summer Music Festival Orchestra, substitute concertmaster with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and associate concertmaster of Symphony in C. He has won top prizes in the Irving M. Klein International Competition for Strings and the Minnesota Orchestra Young Artist Competition, and has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Concord Chamber Orchestra and the Oberlin Orchestra, and in recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Gualala Arts Center in California.

An avid chamber musician, Mr. Underhill is the founding first violinist of the award-winning Blue Hill String Quartet, with whom he has been a fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Formed at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, the quartet has performed at Alice Tully Hall in New York, on Juilliard’s FOCUS! Festival for contemporary music, at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and on the Treetops Chamber Music Society’s recital series and new outreach initiative.

Mr. Underhill is an active proponent of both baroque and contemporary music, and his experience at both ends of the spectrum is extensive. As a baroque violinist, he has performed with Apollo’s Fire (The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra), performed and toured with Juilliard415, and been soloist for Bach’sBrandenburg Concerto No. 5 with the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra. In the world of contemporary music, Mr. Underhill has collaborated with current composers on chamber and solo music, has been concertmaster for numerous world premieres and recordings and has performed with Contemporaneous, the New Juilliard Ensemble and AXIOM.

A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and the Juilliard School, Mr. Underhill is a recipient of the Benzaquen Career Advancement Grant and was awarded the William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation from Juilliard.

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Trombone

John Vance has been a member of the trombone section since 1986.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
It’s a little late now, but theoretical physics would be a great.

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? 
Just about any symphony by Mahler brings the whole world of emotions with it.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
Even though my father was an high school instrumental music teacher, I think my high school band teacher inspired me to push the boundaries of musical values the most.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I like to read non-fiction as well as some fiction, run, or mountain bike.

How do you give back to our community?
I am secretary of the board of directors for my local community association.

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Violin

Having joined the Orchestra in 1975, BSO violinist Charles Underwood answers some of the most common questions he’s received during his 40 + year career with the Orchestra.

“How did you become a classical musician?  Do you come from a musical family?”
Many musicians do, but my parents weren’t musicians — or even college educated.  My career path was a struggle.  My family had little money, and I’m from a small, uncultured community of about 18,000 people, where there was almost no opportunity for an aspiring classical musician.  The Pittsburgh Symphony was a major orchestra fifty miles away, but I never had the opportunity to attend their children’s concerts, or rarely any other type of performance.  I’m sometimes asked about my high school orchestra.  My answer:  There was none.  My school system was mostly about sports.  I once complained to my high school principal about this, and his response was that I could play in the school’s marching band.  I informed him that violins don’t play in marching bands. “Well it’s just like playing the trumpet – you change fingers to get the different notes,” he explained.

“What else might you have done professionally?”
I have many interests; I’m bilingual French/English; and might have pursued a career in writing, and perhaps broadcast journalism.  Or maybe I’d have been a comedy writer/humorist, or actor, among other possibilities.

“What surprises have there been during your career?”
Shortly after I became a member of the Orchestra, I was elected to the BSO “Players’ Committee” – a small group of Musicians who represent their colleagues to the Union, management, the press, and the public.  I spent at least 13 years on that committee, and was involved in five consecutive management/Musician contract negotiations.  This was unexpected, and indescribably fulfilling.

“What interests do you have other than your work?”
Many – including the human body, and how it interacts in concert – or in conflict — with the forces of nature.  I’m very physical and athletic, and am particularly fond of extreme activities.  My athletic endeavors have included, among other things, tennis, scuba diving, skiing, and trapeze.  I also practice Yoga, and find Yoga inversion postures especially interesting.  I see them as unnatural — humans usually support themselves by their feet.  I like breaking rules.

“Does this rule breaking extend to participating in extreme activities?”
Yes, I jump from bridges hundreds of feet high – backwards or forward — with one or both ankles attached to a bungee cord.  As with playing the violin, I try to do so with proficiency, accuracy, elegance, and skill.  This means, for example, good form and body alignment.

“Bungee Jumping? You can’t be serious.  Even small injuries could end your career.” 
Yes, there have been sprains, back problems, dislocations, and eye issues from bungee jumping.  Or a jumper can panic, grab something he shouldn’t touch, then injure his hand or a finger, but these problems are infrequent, especially for someone athletic.  It’s intense, and – again — I get to break the rules of human nature – humans were not programmed to jump 500 feet toward the ground.  I’d also like to learn to be shot from a circus cannon, but that seems unlikely; the circus schools don’t teach it.

“What is your primary goal in the BSO?” 
Our primary objective never changes – it’s to make music – and to do so at the highest possible level of excellence.

“Do you have any advice for aspiring performing artists, or perhaps anyone wishing to become successful in any profession?”
Work hard and be nice to people. 

To see Charles jump from the top of a 720 foot high dam in Switzerland, click on the video below.   (And if one day – perhaps after summer vacation – this insatiable thrill seeker’s thick crop of silver gray hair is no longer visible beneath the stage lights when the new BSO season begins, we’ll all know what happened.)

andrew-wasyluszko
Violin

Born in Montreal, Andrew Wasyluszko is a graduate of the renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with the eminent pedagogue Ivan Galamian and acclaimed violin soloist and chamber musician Jaime Laredo. Other mentors and coaches include Hans Bauer, Yuri Mazurkevich, Felix Galimir and Josef Gingold.  The winner of numerous competitions and the recipient of several Canada Council awards as a student, he was invited to Parliament Hill to perform for the Governor General of Canada. 

Mr. Wasyluszko has held the position of Assistant Concertmaster with Orchestra London and was appointed Principal Second Violin of the Schneider Seminar in New York, working intensively with members of the Guarneri and Budapest String Quartets.  At the 17th International Horn Convention, he collaborated with the distinguished former Principal Horn of the Boston Symphony, Charles Kavalovski.  Since joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1983, Andrew has performed at the Walters Art Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Peabody Conservatory of Music, as well as on numerous chamber music series, including Music in the Great Hall, Chamber Music by Candlelight, Sundays at Three, and Strathmore’s Music in the Mansion concert series in Rockville, MD.

Andrew is the former concertmaster of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society Orchestra and was featured as soloist at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, performing the Mozart Violin Concerto in A Major.  He has also appeared as concertmaster in a televised PBS special with the late Victor Borge and in several CBS and TNT “Christmas in Washington” productions, performing for Presidents Bush and Clinton.

christopher-williams
Principal Percussion/Assistant Principal Timpani

Christopher Williams became the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Percussionist and Assistant Timpanist in 1978.  He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Delaware where he studied with John Soroka.  He earned his Master’s of Music degree from the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Charles Owen.  Mr. Williams has been a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra as well as the recipient of the 1987 Delaware Distinguished Alumni Award.  In 2005 he went on tour to Europe as a soloist with the Baltimore Symphonic Band under the direction of Christopher Wolf, highlighted by the fact that two of his sons performed along side with him.

Mr. Williams has been an active participant in the BSO’s Arts Excel Program where he has presented several different curriculum based programs utilizing percussion instruments.  He was a featured performer in the acclaimed March 1996 youth concert, “Music Talks.”  He continues presenting his programs today with the “BSO On The Go” program.  Since 2002 Mr. Williams has been a faculty member of the Asian Youth Orchestra, traveling to Hong Kong in the summer to coach the percussion section.

When not performing with the BSO, Mr. Williams enjoys his many outdoor activities which include tennis, skiing, boating and riding his “Harley.”  He also cherishes his time with his family which includes his five grand children.

audreywright
Second Violin

Violinist Audrey Wright joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in September, 2016. A versatile performer in solo, chamber music, and orchestral settings, Audrey has previously held positions with the Excelsa Quartet (2014-16) and New World Symphony (2013-14). Audrey has been a member of the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra (Verbier, CH) directed by Gábor Takács-Nagy since 2014, performing as the ensemble’s concertmaster several times. She has performed in such chamber orchestras as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Saint Paul, MN) and the Discovery Ensemble (Boston, MA), and has appeared as guest artist with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Axelrod String Quartet, Borromeo String Quartet, and Boston Trio. Audrey maintains an active collaboration with the Smithsonian Chamber Players (Washington, DC), and has had the honor of performing on instruments within the Smithsonian Instrument Collection such as the “Greffuhle” Stradavari. She has collaborated with other artists such as Mayron Tsong, Paul Watkins, Roger Tapping, and John Gibbons, as well as pianist Christopher O’Riley on the national radio program “From the Top”. Most recent festival appearances include the Verbier Festival (Verbier, CH), Manchester Summer Chamber Music (Ipwich, MA), Great Lakes Summer Chamber Music Festival (Detroit, MI), Kneisel Hall School of Music (Blue Hill, ME), and the McGill International String Quartet Academy (Montreal, QC).

Audrey completed her undergraduate studies in 2011 with Lucy Chapman at the New England Conservatory (NEC) earning the prestigious Chadwick Medal, and received a Master of Music from NEC in 2013 studying with Lucy Chapman, Bayla Keyes, and Jennifer Frautschi. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Maryland, studying with David Salness. Audrey plays on a violin bow made in 2000 by Paul Siefried generously on loan from The Maestro Foundation.

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Viola

Violist Mary Woehr also plays piano and has been a member of the BSO since 1983. 

What will the Baltimore Symphony bring in its next 100 years?
I am hopeful that the BSO will bring joy to our many grateful patrons!

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by musicians who play at the highest level , both technically and musically.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would be a piano accompanist.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion and why?
My heart belongs to Chautauqua New York. My 5 siblings and I spent every summer there growing up.

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
I collect owls and have hundreds of owl pictures, figurines, pillows – you name it!

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? or What piece of music do you wish you had written?
My favorite piece is Don Juan by Richard Strauss – it evokes an image of my father playing the French horn.

Who influenced you to be a professional musician?
My parents, who were professionals themselves, with the Pittsburgh Symphony were the biggest influence on me.  

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I love to read British murder mysteries.

How do you give back to our community?
I support local arts and environmental organizations.

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Principal Timpani

Timpanist James Wyman has been a BSO member since 2013.

What will the Baltimore Symphony leave behind in its next 100 years?
A legacy of great perseverance, dedication to its community and fantastic recordings.

Who inspires you?
My non-musician inspiration would certainly be my wife, Elizabeth. She inspires me to not only be a better and harder working musician, but a better parent, spouse and person our community.

If you had to do something other than be a Baltimore Symphony Musician, what would you do for a living?
I would love to be a National Park ranger or a state wildlife officer.

Where is your favorite get-away spot or favorite get-away companion?
My favorite getaway spot is Hocking Hills OH. My companion is my wonderful wife Elizabeth. I love renting a cabin for the weekend and spending time hiking and exploring the caves and woods.

What would people be surprised to find out that you like to do?
People may be surprised to find me with my two sons at any local play area or playground playing on the slides or playing hide and seek with them! People may be surprised to find that I like to watch and follow NBA games, history and statistics! I still remember stats from NBA seasons in the early 1990’s!

What piece of music do you feel was written for you? What piece of music do you wish you had written?
I feel like Sibelius’s Symphony No.1 was written just for me. The way the timpani writing fits my style and my preference is unlike any other symphony in the repertoire! A piece that I wish I had written would be Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. There is so much emotion and beauty in this singular work and it is such a joy to listen to it.

What or who influenced you to be a professional musician?
I have been and still am inspired by my mentors and previous timpanists who have perfected our craft and have paved the way for timpanists of my generation. Paul Yancich and Cloyd Duff are two very important people who have shaped my playing, not to mention the other dozen teachers I have had the pleasure of working with over the course of my studies.

What do you like to do with your ”me time”?
I love to study recordings, work out, watch my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers!!!, and play some Xbox. (Who says grown-ups can’t play video games!!!)

How do you give back to our community?
I participate in both of my son’s PTA programs and come into the classroom often to assist. I also teach timpani and percussion lessons to students of all ages.

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Principal Bassoon

After winning the Principal Bassoon position with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2012, Fei Xie became the first Chinese born bassoonist to hold such position in a major American symphony orchestra. Prior to joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as second bassoonist in 2008, Mr. Xie held the same position with the Houston Grand Opera, and was the Principal bassoonist of the Mansfield Symphony of Ohio. Fei Xie has performed as guest principal bassoonist with orchestras such as Houston Symphony Orchestra, and Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. In 2010, He was a finalist of the International Double Reed Society’s Gillet-Fox competition, where he was the only American bassoonist chosen for the final round. Mr. Xie has performed as soloist with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in works of Mozart and Haydn. He made his concerto debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performing the Mozart Bassoon Concerto, and received high praise from critics of the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

Fei Xie has performed at many summer music festivals, such as Sun Valley Summer Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, National Repertory Orchestra, and Music Academy of the West. In the summers of 2012 and 2013 Mr. Xie was a faculty member at Compos do Jordäo International Music Festival in Brazil. He performed the Kalevi Aho Quintet for bassoon and strings with the award-winning Quarteto Radamés Gnattali in Brazil, and was described by Mr. Aho himself as having “the perfect sound.” As an avid educator, Mr. Xie has taught master-classes throughout conservatories and festivals in USA, China, and Brazil. Fei Xie will be joining the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Music beginning in fall of 2016.

A Native of China, Fei Xie came from a musical family. His parents and uncle are renowned Peking Opera musicians. He started piano lessons at age of 3, and began bassoon studies when he was 13 at the Middle School Attached to the Central Conservatory of Music, where his teachers were Yunhua Dai, and Ju Zhu. Fei Xie holds a bachelor degree of music from Oberlin Conservatory, and Master’s degree of music from Rice University. His major teachers and influences are George Sakakeeny, and Benjamin Kamins.

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Principal Clarinet

Yao Guang Zhai, is the new Principal Clarinet with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, appointed by Maestra Marin Alsop in 2016.

A native of Tai Yuan, China, Yao began his musical pursuit at the age of three on the violin, switched to the clarinet seven years later. He studied at the China Central Conservatory in Beijing, the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild California, and then the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Yao was instructed by many distinguished clarinetists, including: Yehuda Gilad, Donald Montanaro, Ricardo Morales and Joaquin Valdepeñas. In 2009, he represented the Curtis Institute of Music to tour in the U.S. as the solo and chamber clarinetist, the solo performance was also awarded to the Curtis Institute CD of the Year. During his study, he has won the Hellam Competition, Aspen Music Festival Concerto Competition, the Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition, the Spotlight Award and the Pacific Symphony Concerto Competition.

After graduation, he held position as Principal Clarinet at the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in China for 2 seasons, and as the Associate Principal Clarinet with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra appointed by maestro Peter Oundjian for 5 seasons.

Along with his solo appearances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Yao has performed with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (China), Toronto Summer Music Festival Orchestra, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra (Aspen) and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He is featured to play the Copland Clarinet Concerto with the Victoria Symphony in Canada in 2017. He has actively participated in various music festivals as both soloist and chamber musician; such as: Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival invited by violinist Cho-Liang Lin; Music From Angel Fire Festival invited by violinist Ida Kavafian; Laguna Beach Chamber Music Festival invited by pianist Christopher O’Riley; Aspen Music Festival; Pacific Music Festival in Japan; Beijing International Clarinet Festival; Toronto Summer Music Festival; and ChongQing International Clarinet Festival in China.

He was also one of the clarinetists chosen to record the Royal Conservatory of Music’s exam level commercial CD, which has been sold across North America. He played the principal clarinet during live recording of Messiah with Toronto Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sir Andrew Davis in year end 2015; The CD is to be released in 2017 by Chandos Records.

Yao Guang Zhai is a Buffet Crampon Performing Artist.