Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu has won the hearts of audiences and critics alike with her exciting, elegant and heartfelt performances of the classic, romantic and modern repertoire. The Boston Globe has come to praise her as “not just a virtuoso, but an artist” and the Los Angeles Times has written that her “musical luster, melting lyricism and colorful conception made Irina Muresanu’s performance especially admirable” while Strad Magazine called her Carnegie/Weill Hall performance a first-rate recital”. Irina Muresanu’s performances have been frequently cited as among the Best of Classical Music Performances by the Boston Globe, and her recital in the Emerging Artist Celebrity Series was named one of the Top 10 musical events by the TAB Magazine.

 

Early on Ms. Muresanu achieved international acclaim as an outstanding young soloist, recitalist and chamber musician winning top prizes in several prestigious international violin competitions including the Montreal International, Queen Elizabeth International, UNISA International String, Washington International, and the Schadt String Competition. She is the winner of the Pro Musicis International Award, the Presser Music Award, the Kate Kinley Fellowship Award from the University of Illinois and the Arthur Foote Award from the Harvard Musical Association.

 

Ms. Muresanu has performed in renowned concert halls throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Her recent solo engagements include concerts with the Boston Pops, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the Williamsburg Symphonia, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Geneva), the Syracuse Symphony, the Metropolitan Orchestra (Montreal), the Transvaal Philharmonic (Pretoria, S. Africa), the Romanian National Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Radio Flamande (Brussels), the Boston Philharmonic, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the New England String Ensemble amongst others.

 

 


 

Gregory Lowery is a 25 year veteran of The United States Army, and performs regularly in the Washington D.C. area.  A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. Lowery studied voice at the University of South Carolina with Dr. Donald Grey, and Mr. Gene Ferguson.  He has appeared on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage for numerous productions with The Washington National Opera Chorus, and also sings regularly with the Washington Concert Opera chorus.  In addition to his love for opera, Mr. Lowery enjoys singing major oratorio roles with choral ensembles around the country.  In 2014 Mr. Lowery premiered “By the Dawn’s Early Light” with the Brass Band of Battle Creek, MI, a work for narration and solo voice which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner”.  Mr. Lowery enjoys travel, cooking and reading, and currently lives in Springfield, Virginia with his two teenage sons Matthew and Eric.

 

 


Akemi Takayama appears internationally as a soloist and chamber music collaborator.  She has most recently collaborated with renown Irish pianist, John O’Conor.  Takayama was also a violinist in the recently retired Audubon Quartet, of which she was a member for fourteen years.  Her recordings with the quartet include four CDs, all available on the Centaur and Composers Recordings labels.  She serves as associate professor at the Shenandoah University Conservatory of Music and concertmaster of both the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and the Williamsburg Symphonia in Virginia.  In the fall of 2012, Takayama also served as a faculty at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Born to musical parents in Tokyo, Japan, Takayama began her violin studies with her mother at the age of three. She has performed throughout Japan, France, and the U.S., including appearances with the Shinsei-Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Toho School of Music Orchestra, and on a “FM Recital” broadcast throughout Japan on NHK Radio.  She also has performed with the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, the Yomiuri Philharmonic Orchestra, Music at Gretna, and with the New World Symphony Orchestra.  
 
Akemi Takayama has performed at and served on the faculties of the Chautauqua Institute in New York, the Idyllwild School of the Arts in California, the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, the “Shenandoah Performs Festival” in Virginia, and at Virginia Tech. She earned both an Artist Diploma and a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, serving as assistant to Donald Weilerstein. Previously, she studied with Toshiya Eto and Ryosaku Kubota at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in music performance, and a professional studies degree from the University of Wyoming where she studied with Brian Hanly.  Ms. Takayama won positions in the Marlboro Music Festival and the Isaac Stern Music Workshop.  Ms. Takayama plays an 1805 J.B. Ceruti violin from Cremona, Italy.

 


Aaron Clay distinguishes himself regularly as a uniquely versatile double bassist. He commands great respect as a performer in both the classical and jazz worlds of bass playing, but it was The Washington Post that observed, “What sets [Clay] apart is elegant bowing . . . . His melodic lines have a cello-like glow and flexibility . . . .”

A native of Fairmont, West Virginia, Mr. Clay began his musical training at the age of 10 when he taught himself to play jazz on the electric bass. He later pursued classical training on the upright double bass and, upon graduating from Fairmont Senior High School, attended West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he studied with Richard Manspeaker. In 1989, he was selected to join the United States Navy Band in Washington, DC where he served one enlistment. In 1993, he auditioned successfully for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, where currently holds the rank of Master Sergeant and serves as Assistant Principal Bass.

Mr. Clay makes regular appearances at The White House performing in virtually every type of musical ensemble that is tasked, to include the Marine Orchestra, string ensembles, and jazz/pop combos. He also travels frequently with the Marine Band throughout the United States and abroad. In addition to writing works for violin and double bass duo, Mr. Clay is developing a reputation as a composer of works for larger ensembles. An invitation by the director of the Marine Band to write a work for wind ensemble led to Mr. Clay’s composition “e-volution,” which was premiered by the Marine Band in 2002. His next work, also premiered by the Marine Band, was entitled “Serial Number.”

Mr. Clay serves as Principal Bassist of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra as well as the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and has performed in such jazz and pop groups as The Kenny Rittenhouse Quartet, The Peter Fraize Quartet, and First Light. Mr. Clay is always in great demand as a freelance musician and has appeared with such legendary performers as Aretha Franklin and Joe Williams.

Mr. Clay currently resides in Fairfax, Virginia with his wife Cindy Crumb and their dog Zoe.

 


A graduate of The Juilliard School and a Fulbright Grant winner, cellist Jennifer Kloetzel has concertized across the United States, Europe and Asia. A founding member of the Cypress String Quartet, Ms. Kloetzel has toured the world and performed at outstanding venues such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Chautauqua Institute and the Ravinia Festival, as well as leading Colleges nationwide.

Ms. Kloetzel is noted for her elegant playing and has given numerous recitals, including concerts for San Francisco Performances and on WQXR in New York. Most recently, she performed the world premiere of a Cello Suite by Daniel Asia and a Cello Concerto that was written for her by MIT composer Elena Ruehr. The San Jose Mercury News proclaimed, “Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel shines in premiere” and called her a “terrific soloist…with a robust and earthy sound.” She is winner of The Juilliard School’s top award, the “Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in Music”, and a Presser Music Award, as well as a Fulbright Grant to England. In 2004 she was honored with the McGraw-Hill Companies’ “Robert Sherman Award for Music Education and Community Outreach” in recognition of years of outreach work in schools and community centers. She has appeared at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Sarasota and Aspen Music Festivals, the Britten-Pears School, the Prague Mozart Academy, and performed as cellist of the Cassatt Quartet during the 1995-96 season.

Growing up in Baltimore, Ms. Kloetzel began her cello studies at age six. Her teachers include Aldo Parisot, William Pleeth, Harvey Shapiro, Stephen Kates and Paula Virizlay, as well as members of the Juilliard String Quartet, the Amadeus Quartet and the Cleveland Quartet. After performing with pianist Andre Previn at the La Jolla Chamber Music Festival in 1992, Ms. Kloetzel was invited to appear as one of his select “Rising Stars” at the 1993 and 1994 Caramoor Festivals in New York.

From 2003-2009, Ms. Kloetzel taught cello and chamber music at San José State University, where the Cypress String Quartet was Ensemble-in-Residence. She has given master classes at The Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory and at universities throughout the U.S.

Together with her colleagues in the Cypress String Quartet, she has been featured numerous times on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” and performances have been broadcast on radio stations from coast to coast. The Cypress String Quartet has received the Copland Award for championing living American Composers and has also commissioned and premiered more than thirty works. Ms. Kloetzel has recorded 14 CDs with the CSQ, most recently an all-Dvorak disc on the Avie label. She has performed as principal cellist of the Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Baltimore Opera and the Juilliard Orchestra (under Maestro Kurt Masur), and has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras, performing concertos by Dvorak, Elgar and Haydn.

Ms. Kloetzel plays a cello by Hieronymus Amati II, made in Cremona in 1701.

 


Baritone vocal soloist and narrator Kevin Bennear, of Keyser, West Virginia, joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in January 2000, becoming the third featured vocal soloist since the position was established in 1955. After graduating in 1990 from Elk Garden High School in Elk Garden, West Virginia, he attended Potomac State College in Keyser, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Music from West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, where he studied with Peter Lightfoot. In 1999, he earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Tennessee (UT), in Knoxville, where he studied with George Bitzas.

Kevin has performed with the UT Opera Theatre, WVU Opera Theatre, Theatre West Virginia, and the Knoxville Opera Company, where he played the role of Sharpless in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with noted soprano Stella Zimbalis of the Metropolitan Opera. He also taught voice as a graduate teaching assistant at UT.

As a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Kevin has sung for three U.S. Presidents, is a regular performer at the White House State Dinners, and performs for dignitaries and heads of state from all around the world. He has appeared as a soloist along with Toby Keith and Larry Gatlin on a PBS national production entitled “In Performance at the White House”, and was the featured soloist on Nightline’s July 4th, 2002 production featuring “The President’s Own”. Bennear’s most memorable performing moment is “Singing the National Anthem on September 11th 2002, one year following the attack on America, as President Bush unfurled the flag over the restored Pentagon”.

 

 


 

Penelope Shumate has been described as having a “voice with power” and a “welcome fire” on stage. The New York Times praised her recent performance as the Soprano Soloist in Messiah for her Avery Fisher Hall debut at Lincoln Center, stating she “…sang the soprano solos with appealing bell-like clarity and surpassing sweetness.” She has also performed at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, as well as her many appearances at Carnegie Hall. She was recently honored by The American Prize for “Excellence in Oratorio Performance.” Recent debuts include appearances with Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra, The Virginia Consort, and the Canterbury Choral Society. She has also performed with opera companies and orchestras across America including Baltimore Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Roanoke, Lake George Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, Annapolis Opera, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, and the Kennett Symphony Orchestra, among others. In addition to her active performance career, she serves as Assistant Professor of Voice at Western Illinois University.

 

 

 


Eric Ruple enjoys an active career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. He has performed several times at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.: with mezzo-soprano Carrie Stevens; in collaboration with the James Madison University Chorale; in a concert of Debussy’s chamber music; and in 2007 he performed a solo concert of the music of Beethoven. He has been a pianist for the Richmond Symphony and Virginia Symphony (including a recent recording of the Mahler Symphony #8) and has performed several solo concerts on the prestigious “Carl Broman” recital series in Staunton, Virginia as well as the Staunton Music Festival. He was also a piano soloist with the Richmond Ballet in a performance of the Tchaikowsky Piano Concerto #3. Mr. Ruple has performed and presented concerts and masterclasses at a several universities and festivals throughout the United States. He has twice been a guest clinician for the City Music Festival in Hong Kong, China. In 2010, he taught and performed solo and chamber music at Opusfest in Cebu, Philippines. He has performed at several university campuses, including Virginia Tech University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Richmond and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, as well as at James Madison University. In addition, he is a member of and has performed twice at the annual American Liszt Socitey Festival.

He has been on the James Madison University music faculty since 1987, coordinated the Piano Area from 1992-2010. Mr. Ruple also served as the Interim Director for the School of Music at JMU during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Eric Ruple received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano Performance from Arizona State University, an Artist Diploma from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and his Doctorate from the University of Michigan.

With widely diverse musical interests, she has studied and performed Early music on period instruments, been a member in a folk-music band of the Balkan region and collaborated with such artists as experimental jazz composer Cecil Taylor, Ravi Shankar, Vinko Globakar, and others. With over twenty years of teaching experience, Gee has taught all levels and ages in many different contexts; from 3 year-old “Pre-Twinklers”, to young professionals and conservatory students, to retired adult amateurs. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Workshop at the University of Virginia, a community-based program linking the University of Virginia with its local amateur musicians.

A graduate of The Juilliard School and a Fulbright Grant winner, cellist Jennifer Kloetzel has concertized across the United States, Europe and Asia. A founding member of the Cypress String Quartet, Ms. Kloetzel has toured the world and performed at outstanding venues such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Chautauqua Institute and the Ravinia Festival, as well as leading Colleges nationwide.
Ms. Kloetzel is noted for her elegant playing and has given numerous recitals, including concerts for San Francisco Performances and on WQXR in New York. Most recently, she performed the world premiere of a Cello Suite by Daniel Asia and a Cello Concerto that was written for her by MIT composer Elena Ruehr. The San Jose Mercury News proclaimed, “Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel shines in premiere” and called her a “terrific soloist…with a robust and earthy sound.” She is winner of The Juilliard School’s top award, the “Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in Music”, and a Presser Music Award, as well as a Fulbright Grant to England.
In 2004 she was honored with the McGraw-Hill Companies’ “Robert Sherman Award for Music Education and Community Outreach” in recognition of years of outreach work in schools and community centers. She has appeared at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Sarasota and Aspen Music Festivals, the Britten-Pears School, the Prague Mozart Academy, and performed as cellist of the Cassatt Quartet during the 1995-96 season.Dr. Gee holds degrees in both violin and viola from California Institute of the Arts, the Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland. Chamber music studies have been with the Tokyo, Guarneri, Fine Arts, and Kronos String Quartets, among others. Gee’s major teachers have included Jesse Levine, Jacob Glick, James Dunham, Stuart Canin, and Emanuel Zetlin, a student of Leopold Auer.

Dr. Gee has been on the faculties of Coastal Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and the Eastern Music Festival. Her recordings include the Sonata per a Viola i Piano, by Salvador Brotons for Estudi Moraleda and Soliloquios 1 y 2 para violin, viola, violonchélo y piano by Joaquin Homs in collaboration with Grupo Manon for Spanish National Archives.

 


Lise KeiterPianist Lise Keiter has performed nation-wide and is active as a solo recitalist, collaborative artist, and soloist with orchestra. In the summer of 1998, she was awarded a fellowship to study at the Internationale Academie de Musique in Gargenville, France, where she appeared several times in performance. In the fall of 2006, she returned to France to perform two concerts as part of the International Roussel Festival. In November of 2006, she was the featured soloist in a performance of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto at Elon University, and in 2007 she performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra. Other recent concert engagements have taken her to West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Idaho, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and throughout Virginia.

Dr. Keiter joined the faculty at Mary Baldwin College in the fall of 1998 and is currently the Music Department Chair. Her work at Mary Baldwin led her to develop an interest in the music of women composers, and in 2005, she developed an all-women composers program of solo piano works, in honor of the bicentenary year of pianist and composer Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847). This highly popular recital has become her most-requested program, and she has performed it over a dozen times to date. She was awarded a sabbatical leave during the spring semester of 2008, when she returned to the women composers’ project in a series of recitals, lectures, and masterclasses throughout the United States.

 


Robert MottRobert Mott has been an active bass trombonist, arranger, composer, music director and worship consultant in central Virginia since relocating here in 1998. For three years, Robert served as bass trombonist of the Charlottesville Symphony (CUSO) during which time he helped found Mr. Jefferson’s Bones (MJB), Central Virginia’s Premier Trombone Ensemble. In addition to his work with CUSO and MJB, Robert has performed regionally with the Lynchburg Symphony, Waynesboro Symphony, The Virginia Consort, The Oratorio Society, and as guest bass trombonist with the UVA Jazz Ensemble. In addition, Robert has backed performers including Gladys Knight, The Temptations, and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Robert studied music and fine arts at the University of Arizona, Tucson where he graduated in 1984 with a BFA in Graphic Design while maintaining a four-year music scholarship. At Arizona, he served as trombone section leader of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band and was selected as one of 76 trombonists across the United States to perform with the All American College Marching Band for the opening of Disney’s Epcot Center in1983. Robert has studied trombone with Tom Ervin at Arizona, and more recently, bass trombone with Jeff Cortazzo of the U.S. Army Blues, and Matthew Guilford, bass trombonist of the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, D.C.

Prior to relocating to Virginia, Robert lived in San Diego, CA where he served as founder and music director of the New Hope Praise Band for Hope United Methodist Church’s “Saturday Night Alive” contemporary worship service, and as conductor of the Hope Orchestra: one of the largest all-volunteer, church-based orchestras in San Diego county. Once in Virginia, Robert continued contemporary worship consulting and became the founding music director/worship leader of the Incredible Journey Band at First United Methodist, Charlottesville. Robert has produced two full-length album projects, and his published compositions for both worship and trombone ensembles have earned him membership in ASCAP.

Robert’s “day job” is as a professional graphic designer. His firm, Robert Mott & Associates has garnered national and international awards for design excellence over the past twenty one years. Robert lives in Staunton with his wife Karen and their son, Thelonious.

 


AnnaMaria MottolaAnnaMaria Mottola is one of the most exciting and versatile American pianists of her generation. Her performances have been hailed as “exhilarating” by The Washington Post and she is at-home with virtually every style of keyboard playing from classical to jazz, funk, country, pop/rock, and gospel. A member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band since 2003, Ms. Mottola is one of only three pianists who regularly provides solo piano music at the White House in both the Grand Foyer and the private “Residence” of the Executive Mansion.

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Ms. Mottola began her musical training at age 4. She has won several awards including the Alaska Music Teacher Association piano competitions in 1996, 1997, and 1998. She went on to study classical piano with Robert Hamilton and jazz with Chuck Marohnic and Mike Crotty at Arizona State University in Tempe, where she won the ASU Concerto Competition in 2000. Ms. Mottola’s command of the classical repertoire as well as her innovative jazz/pop/rock playing have put her in high demand in countless venues throughout the National Capital Region and beyond. Her unique talents are put to perfect use in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue,” for it is the quintessential fusion of classical and jazz piano playing. We are honored to have Ms. Mottola join us in celebrating the American Presidency, as she is an integral part of the musical history that is made at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

 


Paul NeebeHighly accomplished across musical genres, trumpeter Paul Neebe performs widely as a soloist, orchestral musician, and chamber player. The International Trumpet Guild praises Neebe for his “crystal clear sound” and “ringing articulation.” He currently serves as principal trumpet of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, and the Charlottesville University Symphony Orchestra.

Paul Neebe can be heard on Te Deum, released in 2003 on the German label MDG featuring solo trumpet and organ; and on American Trumpet Concertos, a 2005 release on Albany Records with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. Paul’s chamber music work can be heard on Walter Ross: Brass Trios on DCD Records.

Neebe actively commissions and performs new compositions, having recently commissioned several new works for trumpet and orchestra from composers Eddie Bass, Richard Cioffari, Jim Sochinski, and Roger Petrich, who praised Neebe as “an exceptional trumpet soloist.” Neebe garnered semi-finalist honors at the First International Trumpet Festival Competition in Moscow. He has performed for the Goethe Institute Cultural Program in Rothenburg, Germany and regularly gives solo recitals across the United States and Germany. He currently serves on the performance faculty at the University of Virginia and James Madison University. He holds both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, as well as the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the Catholic University of America. For more information, visit paulneebe.com.

 


Charlie PowersCharlie Powers is an accomplished soloist, chamber musician, orchestral cellist, educator, and arts administrator. Since making his solo debut at age 17 with the Tacoma (WA) Youth Symphony, he has appeared as soloist with the Capital Area Youth Symphony in Olympia, WA, the Federal Way (WA) Philharmonic, the Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, and the U.S. Marine Band and Chamber Orchestra.

As a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow, Charlie Powers received the 2005 Karl Zeise Memorial Cello Award. He also served as principal of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under James Levine, and he was selected by audition to perform in the cello section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a concert conducted by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos. As a member of the Boston Philharmonic from 1999-2005 under Benjamin Zander, Mr. Powers performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall, NEC’s Jordan Hall in Boston, and Sanders Theatre at Harvard University. In 2003 Mr. Zander invited him to join the cello section of the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra on their concert tour of Guatemala and Panama. He has held titled positions in the Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston, the Fidelio Chamber Orchestra in Boston, and the All-Northwest Symphony Orchestra in Spokane, Washington. Mr. Powers has performed under several other notable conductors including Sergiu Comissiona, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, and Gunther Schuller.

In 2000, he was a winner of the International Master Class Competition and as a result participated in a master class at the third World Cello Congress in Baltimore. A first prize winner in the 1995 Washington State Solo Contest, he has been featured on KING-FM radio in Seattle, Kaohsiung Radio in Taiwan, and KOHO-FM radio in Leavenworth, Washington.

An experienced chamber musician, Mr. Powers has participated in several festivals including Tanglewood, Banff, Aria, Heifetz, and Icicle Creek. In addition to being a founding member of the Teiber String Trio and Triptych, a piano trio based in the Washington, D.C. area, he regularly appears with members of the National Symphony and National Opera Orchestras. Chamber music coaches have included Pamela Frank, Camilla Wicks, Laurence Lesser, David Perry, Lorand Fenyves, and members of the Cleveland, American, Juilliard, Concord, and Borromeo String Quartets.

In addition to his performing career, Mr. Powers maintains a private teaching studio. He has served on the faculties of the Evergreen Music Festival in Olympia, Washington, and the Central Washington University Preparatory School in Ellensburg, Washington. He is on the faculty of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in Washington, D.C. and also teaches beginning strings classes in Alexandria, VA as a member of “A Joyful Noise.”

A native of Tacoma, Washington, Charlie Powers began his cello studies at age three with Jeanette Chapman, and later studied with John Michel at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music with Distinction in Performance. At N.E.C. he studied with Colin Carr and David Wells, and later pursued graduate studies with Natasha Brofsky. He served as principal of the N.E.C. Honors Orchestra as well as the school’s Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. As a student Mr. Powers participated in master classes with such notable cellists as Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, David Geringas, Paul Katz, Timothy Eddy, Stephen Geber, and Emilio Colon. Other influential teachers included Richard Aaron, Mihai Tetel, and Denis Brott.

As an arts administrator, Mr. Powers was Audience Services Manager from 2001-2005 for New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, one of the world’s finest concert halls. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, soprano Anastasia Robinson.

 


Andrew SordsHailed as an “absolute wonder”, violinist Andrew Sords has established himself as the preeminent new face of classical violin. Already a veteran of the concert stage, Sords has appeared with over sixty orchestras and in countless recital venues across three continents. The 2010-11 season will showcase the concerti of Dvorak, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky.Born in 1985 in Newark, Delaware, Sords later moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio, and began his violin studies with Liza Grossman. Sords completed his undergraduate education at the Cleveland Institute of Music with violin pedagogues Linda Cerone and David Russell, and performed for the legendary Midori in masterclasses in New York City and at the University of Southern California. Sords most recently studied under internationally acclaimed violinist Chee-Yun at The Southern Methodist University of Dallas, Texas in the Artist Diploma program.

In 2008, Sords received international exposure as the top Google Classical News story as well as crowning the “Top-40 Charts” in Classical Music. During the 2009-10 season, Sords was a featured guest on NPR’s “Morning Edition”, Dallas’ WRR, Boise State Public Radio, and numerous other media outlets. Sords was profiled by the Reno Gazette Journal and The Sun News among others.

Highlights for the 2010-11 season include return appearances with the Balcones Chamber Orchestra, Carson City Symphony Orchestra, Medical Arts Symphony, St. Augustine Symphony Orchestra, Parma Symphony and the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. Sords will make his debut with The Gulf Coast Symphony, Austin Civic Orchestra, Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra, Crown City Symphony, the Toronto Philharmonia, and the Waynesboro Symphony. Sords will appear as a guest artist on the EMMA Recital Series, Music from the Western Reserve Series, and the Mansfield Symphony Chamber Series. Sords will expand his international presence with recitals on the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society and Anguilla Foundation Recital Series. Sords made his solo debut with the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra and Robert Franz in the memorable 2010 season finale capping Maestro Franz’s 7-year tenure with the orchestra. Additionally, Sords has served as Concertmaster of the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season.

Recently, Sords has appeared with the Portsmouth Symphony, Parma Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Philharmonic, Suburban Symphony, Rappahannock Pops, Diablo Symphony, Magic Valley Symphony, Mesquite Symphony, TOCCATA Tahoe Symphony, Stow Symphony Orchestra and Clear Lake Symphony. As a popular recitalist at colleges nationwide, Sords has performed recitals for the Abilene Christian University, Kent State University, Boise State University, and Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory among others. Re-invited by the Kent State Recital Series in 2008, Sords performed the complete Brahms sonata set with pianist Anita Pontremoli in a broadcast performance. International appearances include concert halls and venues in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.

Commented the Kansas City Star: “one of the finest young violin soloists I have heard recently. Andrew Sords, a 24-year-old, was an absolute wonder.”

 


Melissa SumnerSoprano Melissa Montague Sumner has appeared widely in opera, oratorio, and recital. She has performed at Brevard Music Center, Theatre Bristol, and is a MACCO Competition winner. An avid performer and recitalist throughout the United States, she has performed leading operatic roles as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Susannah in Le Nozze di Figaro, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Hannah in The Merry Widow, and Giorgetta in Puccini’s Il Tabarro. In San Francisco she performed the role of La Speranza in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the Eureka Theatre, singing under the baton of Matthias Kuntzsch. Ms. Sumner has appeared as a guest soloist with Schola Cantorum, the Williamsburg Choral Guild, and has sung the title role of Suor Angelica while serving as a guest artist at the University of Virginia, a role which she also performed in Rome, Italy. Ms. Sumner recently returned from performing with the Ash Lawn Opera Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she served as an Artist in Residence. She made her professional operatic debut as Edith in Knoxville Opera’s production of The Pirates of Penzance.

A native of Christiansburg, Virginia, Ms. Sumner is a graduate of Emory and Henry College, and received her Master of Music from the University of Tennessee. In June of 2007, Ms. Sumner received an assistantship from James Madison University, where she is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts under the vocal direction of Dr. In dal Choi.

Melissa Sumner joined the music faculty at Mary Baldwin College in September 2003 where she maintains a voice studio and serves as the Coordinator of Vocal Studies. She has served as the Director of Opera at the University of Virginia, and will be directing an Opera Workshop at Mary Baldwin College in the Spring of 2008. As a choral conductor and administrator, she directed the Staunton Choral Society until 2008, and is currently the Coordinator of Music Ministries at Verona United Methodist Church. Recent performances include guest recitals at Emory and Henry College, Radford University, and Bluefield Episcopal Church. Upcoming performances include a Doctoral Recital in the Fall of 2008 and a Guest Recital at Tusculum College. She resides in Staunton, Virginia, with her husband Shawn Swisher, where she maintains a private voice studio