Violist Ben Geller is currently in his third season as Principal Violist of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. He performs regularly as a soloist in the orchestra and as a chamber musician in the Charlotte Area. Originally from Rockford, IL, Ben began violin lessons at the age of three in the Suzuki tradition at the Music Academy of Rockford. He continued his musical training at Butler University with Larry Shapiro and formally took up viola with Michael Isaac Strauss as well as a Jazz Minor with Mark Buselli. He went on to pursue his Masters at The Juilliard School where he studied with Toby Appel. Following graduation, Ben was awarded a fellowship to the New World Symphony in Miami, FL where he performed for almost two seasons. His first professional engagement took him to New Zealand where he was Associate Principal Violist of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. While in New Zealand, Ben also served as Principal of the Auckland Chamber Orchestra and regularly performed as soloist with both orchestras. He then returned to the United States and joined the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra viola section for two seasons before his appointment in Charlotte. In addition to his work in the Charlotte Symphony, Ben teaches and performs at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC and performs in the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra in Phoenix, AZ. Ben also coaches string programs in Charlotte area schools and has been a guest teacher at the Atlanta Music Project. Ben has also performed in the National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, Aspen Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Interharmony International Music Festival, and the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall. Ben Plays on an award winning viola made by Theodore Skreko in 2007 and bow by Matthew Wehling made in 2008.
AWADAGIN PRATT began studying piano at age six and violin at age nine. He entered the University of Illinois at age 16, studying piano, violin and conducting, and at the Peabody Conservatory he became the first student in the school's history to receive diplomas in three performance areas--piano, violin and conducting. In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Mr. Pratt recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins. He is the artistic director of the Next Generation Festival, a two-week chamber music festival in Lancaster, Pa., and appears with cellist Zuilli Bailey in duo recitals throughout the United States. Mr. Pratt is currently an associate professor of piano and artist in residence at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.
Mr. Pratt has played numerous recitals throughout the U.S., including performances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, and Orchestra Hall in Chicago. His orchestral performances have included appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, National, Detroit, and New Jersey symphonies. Major summer festival engagements include Ravinia, Blossom, Wolf Trap, Caramoor, Aspen, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo. Internationally, Mr. Pratt has toured Japan four times and performed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel, and South Africa.
As a conductor, Mr. Pratt has participated in American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductor's Guild workshops, as well as in the National Conducting Institute, where he worked closely with Leonard Slatkin and conducted the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He has also conducted the Toledo, New Mexico, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe, and Prince George County symphonies, the Concertante di Chicago and .two orchestras in Japan.
Recent and upcoming appearances include recital engagements at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and in Baltimore, La Jolla, Savannah, and Duke University, as well as appearances with the orchestras of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle, Colorado, Kansas City, Utah, Nashville, Memphis, Grand Rapids, Virginia, Winston-Salem, New Mexico, and San Antonio.
A favorite on college and university performing arts series and a strong advocate of music education, Mr. Pratt participates in many residency and outreach activities wherever he appears, including master classes, children's recitals, play/talk demonstrations and question/answer sessions for students of all ages.
Named one of the 50 Leaders of Tomorrow in Ebony magazine's special 50th anniversary issue, Awadagin Pratt has been the subject of numerous articles in the national press, including Newsweek and People magazine. He has been featured on several NPR programs, has performed on the "Today" show, "Good Morning America," and "Sesame Street," and has been profiled on CBS "Sunday Morning." He performed twice at The White House at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Pratt records exclusively on the Angel/EMI label and discography includes his debut album, A Long Way From Normal, as will as Live from South Africa, an all-Beethoven Sonata CD, Transformations, and an all-Bach disc with the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Ariadna Bazarnik-Ilika, violin, is a native of Poland where she attended the Karol Szymanowski music school in Wroclaw and the Cracow Music Academy where she earned a Masters in Performance while studying with Ariadna Lwowicz and Kaja Danczowska. She has taught and played violin for the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro since 1992. Ariadna has also held positions with the Delaware Symphony, Philomel, Brandywine Baroque and the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia. Since moving to North Carolina in 2001 she has been an active free lancer and has performed regularly with the North Carolina Symphony, Carolina Ballet, Florida Orchestra, Opera Tampa and other leading arts organizations. She is married to North Carolina Symphony. Principal Trombone, John Ilika and they reside in Garner, NC with their two children, Tristan and Zofia, four cats and a very large dog.
Anthony Taylorholds the position of Principal Clarinet of the Winston-Salem Symphony in North Carolina, is a regular substitute for the North Carolina Symphony and the Greensboro Symphony, and has formerly held orchestral positions with the Spokane Symphony and the Boise Philharmonic. He is also Associate Professor of Clarinet at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As a soloist, recent concerto appearances include Donald Crockett’s Dance Concerto for clarinet and bass clarinet, the Mozart Clarinet Concerto (on basset clarinet), Adams's Gnarly Buttons, the Martin Concerto for Seven Winds, and McAllister Black Dog, in concerts at the Hot Springs Music Festival (Arkansas), the International Clarinet Association ClarinetFest® (Austin, Texas), and at various venues in North Carolina. His most recent recording is with New Music Raleigh, the first recording of Brett William Dietz’s chamber opera Headcase, which will soon be released on Centaur Records. Taylor holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Florida State University, and Washington State University, and has studied with Steve Cohen, Ron Aufmann, Richard Hawkins, Frank Kowalsky, and James Schoepflin. Taylor is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique (ATI), and documents his Alexander-based teaching discoveries online at http://anthotaylo.wordpress.com.
Anthony Anurca, plays second bassoon and contrabassoon in his hometown orchestra,the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He grew up in Jacksonville Beach and first started playing bassoon at the age of 12. He played in the the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and is the first alumni to become a core member of the JSO.
He studied with William Winstead and Martin James at the Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music, where he obtained his B.M in 2003. After undergraduate studies, Mr. Anurca, was a fellow with the New World Symphony, from 2004-2007, under the direction of, Michael Tilson Thomas. During those summers, he attended the Aspen Music Festival as an AACA fellow, where he studied with Nancy Goeres and worked with many young conductors and their mentor, David Zinman. He also attended the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston,SC. He was the alternate finalist for the IDRS Fox-Gillet bassoon competition in 2006.
After his fellowship with NWS, he moved back to Jacksonville and freelanced with various orchestras across the Southeastern US including: Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Savannah Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Palm Beach Opera,Seraphic Fire and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra, Southwest Florida Orchestra, and Naples Philharmonic. In 2009, he won a one-year position playing associate principal/utility, and contrabassoon with the Kansas City Symphony. In 2010, he was appointed second bassoon at the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and at the end of the season, won his position in a national audition. in 2011, he joined the EMF faculty as the contrabassoonist. In 2014, he started on the faculty at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. One of his favorite pastimes is watching his cat, Crystal, chase reed string.
ANNE DONALDSON, violin, holds a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music in Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University, where she was the teaching assistant of Blair Milton. Ms. Donaldson currently freelances in Washington, DC and has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, and the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW). She is also a Suzuki specialist and has been a guest faculty member with the Suzuki Association of Georgia, Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music, and Suzuki Music Columbus. Anne is the founder of Mount Pleasant Talent Education, and was the assistant director of the Suzuki Talent Education Program of Birmingham (AL) for 6 years. She was a member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra from 2008-2012. This is her 9th summer teaching at EMF.
Violin superstar, Anne Akiko Meyers, is one of the most in demand violinists in the world. Regularly performing as guest soloist with the world’s top orchestras, she presents ground-breaking recitals and a best-selling recording artist with 34 albums. Named Billboard’s top-selling traditional classical instrumental soloist, her albums debuted at #1 on Billboard classical charts. Meyers is known for her passionate performances, purity of sound, deeply poetic interpretations, innovative programming and commitment to commissioning new important works from composers.
This spring, Anne performs the world premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Fantasia, his final work written for her, with the Kansas City Symphony, conducted by Michael Stern. She performs new compositions and traditional repertoire in recital in Florida, New York, Virginia, Washington D.C., and returns to the Nashville Symphony performing the Bernstein Serenade with Giancarlo Guerrero. In May, she will headline the Kanazawa Music Festival performing the Beethoven Concerto and Mason Bates’ cadenzas with the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, “Archduke” Trio and “Spring” Sonata #5 during Japan’s “Golden Week”. Recently, Anne toured New Zealand with the Mason Bates Violin Concerto and New Zealand Symphony and returned to Krakow and Warsaw, Poland to perform the Szymanowski Concerto and Jakub Ciupinski’s, Wreck of the Umbria. She also performed in Cartagena, Colombia and led the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with the Vivaldi Four Seasons.
Anne’s 35th album, Fantasia with works by Rautavaara, Ravel and Szymanowski, recorded with Kristjan Järvi and the Philharmonia Orchestra, will be released on Avie Records this October, 2017. She will also premiere Adam Schoenberg’s violin concerto, which she commissioned, with the Phoenix and San Diego Symphony Orchestras and a new work by James Newton Howard with the Pacific Symphony, led by Carl St.Clair in the 2018 season.
Anne appeared in a nationwide PBS broadcast special and on a Naxos DVD featuring the world premiere of Samuel Jones’ Violin Concerto with the All-Star Orchestra led by Gerard Schwarz and the French premiere of Mason Bates Violin Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre de Lyon. Two new recordings and a box set were released – Naïve Classics celebrates Arvo Pärt’s 80th birthday with Passacaglia: Arvo Pärt, works for violin and orchestra whom she collaborated closely with the composer, led by Kristjan Järvi and the MDR Leipzig Orchestra and Serenade: The Love Album, an album featuring Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade and ten newly arranged pieces from the American Songbook and classic movies, with the London Symphony Orchestra, Keith Lockhart conducting. Anne’s complete RCA Red Seal recordings are now available on Sony Music. Meyers also stepped in on 24 hours notice to perform and lead the conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in Carnegie Hall and Pennsylvania.
The American Masters album, features the world premiere recordings of the Mason Bates Violin Concerto, a work she co-commissioned and premiered with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Leonard Slatkin in December 2012 and John Corigliano’s ‘Lullaby for Natalie’ (written for the birth of Ms.Meyers’s first born daughter) and the Samuel Barber Violin Concerto, with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. This recording made Google Play’s Best of 2014 and was heralded by critics and audiences alike. Anne’s prior releases the Four Seasons: The Vivaldi Album, debuted at #1 on the classical Billboard charts, as did Air: The Bach Album, and the Vivaldi was the recording debut of the Ex-Vieuxtemps’ Guarneri del Gesu violin, dated 1741, which was awarded to Meyers for her lifetime use.
A champion of living composers, Meyers collaborates closely with many of today’s leading composers. She adds new works to the violin repertoire, commissioning and premiering works by composers such as Mason Bates, Jakub Ciupinski, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Samuel Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Akira Miyoshi, Arvo Pärt, Gene Pritsker, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Somei Satoh, Adam Schoenberg and Joseph Schwantner.
Anne has collaborated with a diverse array of artists outside of traditional classical, including jazz icons, Chris Botti and Wynton Marsalis, avant-garde musician, Ryuichi Sakamoto, electronic music pioneer, Isao Tomita, pop-era act, Il Divo and singer, Michael Bolton. She performed the National Anthem in front of 42,000 fans at Safeco Field in Seattle, appeared twice on and was featured in a segment on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann that became the third most popular story of the year.
Anne has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CBS’ “The Good Wife”, NPR’s Morning Edition with Linda Wertheimer and All Things Considered with Robert Siegel and the popular Nick Jr. show, Take Me To Your Mother, with Andrea Rosen. Best-selling novelist, J. Courtney Sullivan, consulted with Anne for The Engagements, and based one of the main characters loosely on her career. She also collaborated with children’s book author and illustrator, Kristine Papillon, on Crumpet the Trumpet, where the character Violetta the violinist, is played by Anne.
Anne Akiko Meyers was born in San Diego, California and grew up in Southern California. She studied with Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, Josef Gingold at Indiana University, and Felix Galimir, Masao Kawasaki and Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. She received the Avery Fisher Career Grant, “The Luminary Award” for her support of the Pasadena Symphony and the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Colburn School of Music.
ANNALIESE KOWERT began Suzuki violin studies at age 4 in Madison, Wisconsin. After soloing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra at 14, she became its youngest member two years later. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Paul Kantor. She plays violin in the Miami Ballet and Atlantic Classical Orchestra but has been a member of the Florida Grand Opera, Palm Beach Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Opera, RED: An Orchestra, the Madison Symphony, the Stony Brook Early Music Ensemble and the Transiberian Orchestra. Kowert has worked with the Stony Brook University Preparatory Department, the Cleveland Music Settlement, the Port Jefferson Suzuki Institute, Suzuki Strings of Madison and is an artist in residence in the West Palm Beach School District. She has spent several summers as an EMF fellow, where she is a member of the Festival Orchestra.
Ms. Anna Kate Mackle has been the principal harpist with The Florida Orchestra since 1999. A former EMF student, she has been on the faculty of Eastern Music Festival since 2000. She has been a featured concerto soloist with The Florida Orchestra four times, performing Ravel's Introduction and Allegro, Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, Ginastera's Harp Concerto, and Takemitsu's Toward the Sea II. She has also performed concerti with Eastern Festival Orchestra, New World Symphony, Wheeling Symphony, Mansfield Symphony Orchestra, Baldwin-Wallace College Symphony Orchestra, and New Jersey Youth Symphony.
Ms. Mackle was previously principal harpist of the New World Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto Festivals (Italy and USA), Sarasota Opera Orchestra,Ohio Light Opera Orchestra and Colorado Music Festival.
Ms. Mackle has a B.M. from Baldwin-Wallace College and a M.M. from the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Alice Chalifoux at both institutions. In high school she attended the Mannes and Manhattan Schools of Music in the preparatory divisions.
Ms. Mackle has toured with Josh Groban, Chris Botti, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and has performed with several touring Broadway shows. She is also the principal harpist with St. Petersburg Opera and Opera Tampa, is on the faculty of St. Petersburg College, and was named one of Tampa Bay's top ten female musicians by Creative Loafing magazine in 2007.
Ms. Mackle is married to John Shaw, principal percussion of Eastern Music Festival and The Florida Orchestra. They live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their daughter Madeline and two cats.
Ann Choomack currently plays piccolo with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. She is also a founding member of the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, a group of musicians dedicated to inviting 21st century audiences into the concert experience. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music she went on to complete her masters degree at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Before arriving in St. Louis, Ms. Choomack played with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra in Richmond, VA and participated in numerous music festivals including Music Academy of the West, National Repertory Orchestra, and the Tanglewood Music Center.
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