Special Events Series
EMF String Fellows
George Sakakeeny, bassoon
Jenny Grégoire, violin; Randall Weiss, violin
Brian Gordon, piccolo
Catherine Cary, violin; Neal Cary, cello
Les Roettges, flute
Catherine Cary returns for her 18th season as a violinist with the Eastern Music Festival. Ms. Cary is a full-time member of the Richmond Symphony and a member of the Richmond Chamber Players. She joined the Richmond Symphony, music director George Manahan, in 1994, winning the 3rd chair in the first violins. During her tenure in Richmond, Cary has served 1 and ½ seasons as assistant concertmaster. A graduate of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music, Ms. Cary studied violin with Yumi Ninomiya Scott and William de Pasquale. Additional studies in chamber music were with Orlando Cole, Helen Kwalwasser, members of the Audubon Quartet, Susan Starr, Lambert Orkis and Jeffrey Solow. Catherine has performed as a soloist with the Richmond Philharmonic in Brahms Double Concerto, with her husband, cellist Neal Cary. Recent chamber music performances include the modern-day premiere of Randall Thompson’s The Wind in The Willows string quartet with the Richmond Chamber Players. Ms. Cary has performed with the Harrisburg Symphony, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra.
George Sakakeeny has appeared as a soloist with orchestras throughout North and South America, Europe, and the Far East, including engagements in Vienna at the historic Musikverein, at Severance Hall with members of the Cleveland Orchestra, and a nationally televised concert in Japan under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Three major works for bassoon and orchestra have been commissioned for him. Libby Larsen’s full moon in the city (2013), Peter Schickele’s Bassoon Concerto (1998), and Viennese composer Alexander Blechinger’s Faggottkonzert (1997.) As a soloist, he has recorded Blechinger’s Faggottkonzert for the Harmonia Classica label as well as his latest solo CD, “full moon in the city” on the Oberlin Music label which features four previously unrecorded works for solo bassoon and orchestra.
Sakakeeny is Professor of Bassoon at the Eastman School, and formerly held the same position at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He also holds the titles visiting professor for graduate studies at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela, and guest professor of the Central Conservatory of Music of Beijing, China. He is principal bassoonist of the Eastern Music Festival and a faculty member at the Round Top Festival Institute each summer. In the past, he held the principal bassoon positions of the New Japan Philharmonic, the Handel & Haydn Society of Boston, the Opera Company of Boston, Boston Musica Viva, the Promusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, and CityMusic Cleveland. He has also served as principal bassoonist of the Grand Teton Music Festival, the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Peninsula Festival, and performed extensively with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestras.
Many of Professor Sakakeeny’s former students have gone on to hold positions in symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, and universities throughout North and South America and the Far East. He has three times been invited to teach master classes at International Double Reed Society conferences and is regularly invited to serve as a jury member for international and national competitions. For seven years he served in an ongoing capacity as wind coach and bassoon teacher in the Venezuelan National Youth Orchestra System, known as “El Sistema.” His contributions included teaching master classes to orchestra members, leading wind sectionals, and providing training to the bassoon teachers of El Sistema through his position as guest professor of the Latin American Bassoon Academy.
He has given numerous solo recitals and taught master classes at leading institutions such as the Paris Conservatory, the Juilliard School, the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy in Kiev, Rice University, and the Tokyo University of the Fine Arts. He has also performed longer-term teaching residencies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the New World Symphony, Seoul National University, and the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse of Lyon, France.
A veteran chamber music performer, he has appeared on four continents with various ensembles, including the Oberlin Reed Trio, Boston Musica Viva, the bassoon quartet Men Who Don't Bite, and the Boston Wind Octet. As a chamber music artist, he is featured on numerous recordings, most notably the International Double Reed Society’s 25th anniversary CD in a performance of the Villa-Lobos Duo for oboe and bassoon with oboist Alex Klein. He is the author of the iBook Making Reeds Start to Finish with George Sakakeeny. He can be found on the world wide web at www.sakakeenybassoon.com.
Violinist Jenny Grégoire has been concertmaster of the Mobile Symphony, under the direction of Scott Speck, since 2001. Born in Québec, Canada, Ms. Grégoire began to play violin when she was five. At age six, she was admitted in the pre-college division of the Québec Music Conservatoire where she studied with Jean Angers and Liliane Garnier-Le Sage and earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in violin performance. Upon leaving Québec, Ms. Grégoire attended Northwestern University where she received a Master’s degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy with Dr. Myron Kartman. She was also a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for two seasons and worked with conductors Cliff Colnot, Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim, among others. Ms. Grégoire left Chicago to play one season with the New World Symphony, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, in Miami, FL. Jenny Grégoire is extremely sought-after in the southeast, as she is also concertmaster of the Tuscaloosa and Meridian Symphony Orchestras.
In addition to her orchestral career, Ms. Grégoire remains active as a soloist and a recitalist. She has performed several times as a soloist with the Mobile Symphony, the Meridian Symphony and the Tuscaloosa Symphony. She has been heard in solo recitals in Canada, Alabama, Mississippi and New York. She co-founded the duo “Jouvence” with pianist Konstantza Chernov. Jenny Grégoire is Assistant Professor of Violin at The University of Alabama. She has been on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival since 2004.
Les Roettges has been the principal flute for the Eastern Music Festival since 2002 and also serves as the coordinator for the faculty chamber series. During the year he is the principal flute for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He is also the second flute for Maestro Schwarz’s All-Star Orchestra project. A native of Ohio, Mr. Roettges became a student of The Cleveland Orchestra's Maurice Sharp at age 15. He holds a bachelor's degree from the New England Conservatory and a master's from The Juilliard School, and he studied for a year in Paris. His teachers include Paula Robison, Julius Baker, Alain Marion, and Robert Stallman. Mr. Roettges was the winner of the first annual James Papoutsakis Memorial Flute Competition. He is a regular participant in the Amelia Island (FL) Chamber Festival, and the Saint Augustine (FL) Festival and has participated in the Colorado Music Festival, the Bowdoin (Maine) Chamber Music Festival, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. Before taking the position in Jacksonville, he performed as the principal flute for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Mexico City, Solisti New York, the Opera Ensemble of New York, Bel Canto Opera Company of New York, the Boston Philharmonic, and many other freelance orchestras in New York and Boston.
Neal Cary has been praised for his “robust tone and high-romantic Neal Cary has been praised for his “robust tone and high-romantic phrasing,” and the “tremendous amount of emotion and heart” he brings to his performances.
He has been principal cellist with the Richmond Symphony since 1988 and has served as principal cellist of the Williamsburg Symphony since 2002. In 1984, he joined the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has served as principal cellist every summer since 1988. In August of 2012 and 2016, Neal Cary performed in the All-Star Orchestra - an orchestra comprised of some of the finest musicians in the United States. This orchestra was created for the production of educational television programs and is now included as part of the educational mission of Khan Academy.
Previous to moving to Richmond, Neal Cary was co-principal cellist of the Kansas City Philharmonic, and assistant principal cellist of the Tulsa Philharmonic, the San Antonio Symphony, and the Denver Symphony orchestras. From 1994 -98, he was a member of the adjunct faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University. While a student at Juilliard, he was a chamber music teaching assistant to Earl Carlyss and Claus Adam in 1980 and 1981. While a student at Meadowmount during the summers of 1980 and 1981, he was a chamber music teaching assistant to Joseph Gingold.
In addition to his symphony work, Neal Cary maintains a large private teaching studio and has been a member of the performing artist faculty at the College of William and Mary since 1991. An avid chamber musician, he has had the opportunity to perform with many world-famous musicians at the Eastern Music Festival and has been a member of the Richmond Chamber Players since 1989.
Neal Cary's major teachers have included Pat Ficarra, Robert Newkirk, Channing Robbins, and the world-renowned Leonard Rose. Mr. Cary holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Catholic University, and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School of Music.
Notable recital performances include those from memory of the 40 Popper Etudes and all the Bach Suites for Solo Cello. Concerto performances include nearly 50 performances of most of the major cello concertos, unusual works, and a world premiere with orchestras on the East Coast. YouTube videos of Mr. Cary include a live performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto, a performance of the Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 2, and a video lesson on the Saint-Saëns.
Neal is married to Catherine Cary, a violinist in the Richmond Symphony and at Eastern Music Festival. They have two children – daughter Emma, a cellist, and son Alan, a violinist.
RANDALL WEISS, principal second violin of the Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra, made his solo debut as a winner of the Victoria, BC concerto competition. He studied with Tadeusz Wronski at Indiana University, received his M.M. from the University of Victoria under Paul Kling, and engaged in further study at both the Peabody and Oberlin Conservatories, most notably with Sylvia Rosenberg and William Berman.
Mr. Weiss spent 17 years as Assistant Concertmaster of the San Jose Symphony, regularly substituting as Concertmaster. He is currently Assistant Concertmaster of Symphony Silicon Valley, and has been Associate Concertmaster of the Music in the Mountains Festival, as well as Concertmaster of the Santa Cruz Symphony and the AIMS Orchestra in Graz, Austria. He has performed with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and the New Century Chamber Orchestra. As a member of the Louisville Orchestra, Mr. Weiss participated in the First Edition recordings under the direction of Jorge Mester.
Mr. Weiss is the founder and music director of Music in the Mishkan, a chamber music series in San Francisco, and he is a founding member of The Bridge Players, a chamber ensemble based in San Francisco. Mr. Weiss joined the EMF faculty in 1989.
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