Bios & Gallery

Dorothy Savitch, Music Director

Dorothy Savitch conducting

In 2002, Dorothy Savitch was named as the first Music Director of the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra. Since 1997, Ms. Savitch has also been Music Director of Long Island's Sound Symphony Orchestra. Since her tenure began, both orchestras have grown and expanded into two of the finest community ensembles in the New York metropolitan area. They have received high praise for their vibrant performances and expansive repertoire.

In 1990 Ms. Savitch founded the Gotham Chamber Orchestra. From 1990-1998 the GCO established itself as one of New York City's outstanding professional chamber orchestras. During these years Ms. Savitch gained her reputation as a champion of American composers, performing numerous premiers and revivals of American works. The Brooklyn Free Press hailed the GCO performances as "a tour de force". Maestro Savitch also served on the faculty of the Summer Conductors Workshop at Queens College.

Before her transition to the podium, Ms. Savitch studied the classical guitar with Christopher Parkening and Vicente Gomez, and toured throughout the West Coast. She received music degrees from Columbia University and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Her conducting teachers include Harold Farberman and Maurice Peress.

Ms. Savitch is also the Director of the Brooklyn Conservatory's Music Partners program, which provides hands-on musical training to nearly 4,500 New York City school children.

Isaac Casal, Cello Soloist

Isaac Casal is a versatile, classically trained cellist whose trademark is built around the concepts of performance variety and flexibility, covering a range of musical languages that span from classical to world, latin, and folk.

Panamanian cellist Isaac Casal has brought international recognition to his country through his artistry. With an active agenda, he has performed numerous solo recitals, chamber and orchestral music concerts, and as a soloist throughout Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Casal has premiered pieces by composers such as Miguel del Aguila, Jorge Figueroa, Jorge Bennett, Darwin Aquino, Dinos Constantinides, Guido López-Gavilán, among others. In 2012 he created the Ensemblast Project, which fuses the aesthetics of the classic quartet with Latin American styles borrowing freely from an array of musical languages. In 2019 with the support of the University of Panama, Ensemblast Project launched its first discography.

A visionary of his generation, at the age of 25, Isaac founded Sinfonía Concertante Foundation of Panama (FUNSINCOPA). The foundation's mission has been to create educational music programs for low-income children and youth, including an orchestra system for high-risk children inspired by the El Sistema orchestral program of Venezuela. He is also the Artistic Director and founder of the Alfredo Saint-Malo Music Festival of Panama (ASMF), an annual one-week festival that saw its inception on May 25, 2007 and has become one of the most important music festivals of the Central American region.

In December 2021, Dr. Casal won an Emmy Award as part of the production of the musical work "River of the Last Valley," in the category of Musical Composition/ Arrangement. The piece was part of a larger project entitled "United we Stand." He has degrees from Florida International University, Baylor University, and Southern Methodist University, and a Doctorate in Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University (2015).

Currently, and aside from his active agenda as a performer and Artistic Director of FUNSINCOPA and the ASMF, he holds the "Extraordinary Professorship" position as Cello Faculty at the University of Panama School of Music and is a Miami Philharmonic Artist.

Luis Enrique Casal, Concertmaster and Violin Soloist

Luis Enrique Casal One of Panama's leading violinists and violists, Luis Casal was awarded "Remarkable Citizens of Panama 2015" by Panama's National Commission Pro Civic Values and Morals. The Panama News cites: "Panama does have a worthy classical scene, and right at the top of it we find Luis Enrique Casal". Mr. Casal is vice president of the Sinfonía Concertante Foundation of Panama, an honorary academic adviser to the Alfredo Saint Malo Music Festival, and viola instructor at The Juilliard School's Music Advancement Program (MAP), violin/viola instructor at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and the Washington Heights Community Conservatory of Fine Arts. Known for his charisma, versatility, and musicality, Mr. Casal is a favorite among audiences and an established artist in both art and folk music stages. He has represented his country in events in the Bahamas, England, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, the United States, and Uruguay.

An experienced orchestra player, Mr. Casal has held the position of Principal Violist ad honorem of the National Symphony of Panama, Principal Violist of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, Concertmaster of the Butler Symphony Orchestra in Butler, Pennsylvania, Concertmaster of the Viola Ensemble of the 2003 Tertis International Viola Workshop and Competition, Co-Principal Violist of the Lyrica Chamber Orchestra, and guest concertmaster of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra.

He is co-founder and member of the Camerata Alfredo De Saint Malo, and currently performs as concertmaster of the Camerata Washington Heights, concertmaster of the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra, principal second violin of the Musica De Camara String Orchestra (New York), principal violist of the Metro Chamber Orchestra, violist of the Paramount Chamber Players, violist/violinist of the The Fontenay Chamber Players, and member of Concerts in Motion New York.

A concert artist in both the violin and the viola, his performances have included chamber music and solo appearances in Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall, Merkin Hall at Kaufman Center, Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, the Hall of the Americas at the Organization of American States, the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and residency at the Harper School Chamber Music Camp 2011 and the Loon Lake Live 2011 Summer Concert Series. Mr. Casal is also enthusiastic about collaborating with modern composers, having premiered pieces by Mikolja Gorecki, Carlos Bernales, Alexandra Dubois, Jorge Figueroa, Howard Lew, Ricardo Risco, and Bartosz Smoragiewicz.

Aside from his duties as a performer, Mr. Casal invests much time as a pedagogue. His professorships include violin instructor of the National Institute of Music in Panama (1996), viola instructor of the 2003 Oklahoma Arts Institute Summer Festival, violin/viola instructor of the Laredo Community College, Texas (2005 to 2008), conductor and clinician of Region 14 Middle School Orchestra in Texas (November 2006 and 2007), violin instructor of Queensborough Youth Conservatory of Music at the Queensborough Community College (2009-2010), and upper strings coach of the Brooklyn Conservatory Youth Orchestra (2009 to 2011), and violin instructor at the Léman Manhattan Preparatory School (2016-2017). Additionally, through the Danilo Perez Foundation, Mr. Casal has led music seminars for the National Institute of Culture of Panama (January 2008 and 2009) and has been a clinician for the Panama Jazz Festival (2009 and 2010). In general, he maintains a close relationship with the arts in Panama by frequently giving lectures and master classes in several of Panama's universities and educational music programs.

Mr. Casal's discography includes Luis Casal: Homage to Panama released in January 2007 by Earthcds Partners [semifinalist in the 2007 Independent World Music Series (IMWS)]; Gustavo Salamín y Luis Casal, Música de Cámara Folclórica Panameña (Folk Chamber Music of Panama) re-released in September 2014 by Earthcds Parners [first released in August 2002]; and Luis Casal y la Música de Artemio Córdova (Luis Casal and the music of Artemio Córdova) released in 2015 by Multicultura Media's Rootstock Recording.

Luis began his violin studies at the age of 6 under professor Jorge Vergara and in 1992 moved to the United States to study under scholarship at the New World School of the Arts. He holds degrees from the University of Florida (with honors), Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University, and the University of Oklahoma. His major teachers include Jorge Vergara, Carmen Cedeño, Cathy Robinson, the Miami String Quartet, Carolyn Huebl, Matthew Dane, Daniel Heiftetz, Atar Arad, and Ilya Kaler.

Jon De Lucia, Saxophone Soloist

Jon De Lucia

Jon De Lucia is a woodwind multi-instrumentalist based in Brooklyn, NY. His diverse projects have included a baroque improvising trio featuring saxophone and electric guitar, a jazz quartet, a five saxophone jazz octet, and multiple classical chamber groups. He performs with these groups and as a sideman in various clubs and venues in NYC, along with recording studio sessions for TV and movies, including Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Random Acts of Flyness (HBO), and many more. He has released four albums as a leader, and published his first book, Bach Shapes: Diatonic Sequences for Saxophone, in 2017. He currently teaches jazz courses at the City College of New York, along with a private teaching studio. More info at

Katherine Wessinger, Soprano Soloist

Katherine Wessinger Praised by The New York Times as a soprano with a "genuinely angelic voice," soprano Katherine Wessinger brings freshness and uncommon musicality to a wide repertoire on the concert, opera, and recital stage. Having performed domestically and abroad, Ms. Wessinger is a regular soloist at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, both for services and as a member of the Saint Andrew Music Society. Highlights of past performances include Britten"The World of the Spirit", Haydn "Harmoniemesse", Vaughan Williams's "Hodie", and Handel's "Israel in Egypt". Ms. Wessinger recently made three important debuts in New York City. She was the soprano soloist in Mozart's "Solemn Vespers" and Bach"Magnificat in D" at the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series. The New York Times said that she "sang her aria... with stricken dignity." Ms. Wessinger was soprano soloist in Bachà "Christmas Oratorio" with Canticum Novum led by Harold Rosenbaum, and, most dramatically, made her Carnegie Hall debut stepping in on one day's notice to sing Gabriel in Haydn's "Creation" with the New York Virtuoso Singers and the Orchestra of St. Luke's. The New York Times wrote that she "sang with charm and grace" and that her "clear voice was beautifully suited to Gabriel's music." She has sung internationally with the Italy and USA Alba Music Festival, performing Mahler Symphony No. 4, Del Tredici Dracula, and Bach Cantata No. 51. In addition to her work as a concert soloist, Katherine performs opera from the Baroque through the 21st century. Her operatic performances have included Rhomilda in Handel's "Xerxes", Bystrouska in Janaceck's "The Cunning Little Vixen", sung in Czech, Pamina in "The Magic Flute", Karolina in Smetana's "Two Widows", and Birdsong in Mozart's "The Impressario."

Erik Ryding, Guest Speaker

Erik Ryding Erik Ryding is the author of "In Harmony Framed" and coauthor, with Rebecca Pechefsky, of the award-winning biography "Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere" (Yale University Press). His Columbia University doctoral dissertation was on Renaissance music and poetry, and for years he taught English at Columbia and Barnard. He left academia in 1993 to pursue his other great love, music, and worked in the frenetic music business until 2008, when he set off to pursue his own projects. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Current Musicology, Classic Record Collector, Shakespeare Quarterly, Playbill, and other publications. His writings on Mahler include the introduction to Bruno Walter's book "Gustav Mahler" (Dover), an essay on the first recording of Mahler's "Ninth Symphony" for the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, and liner notes for Sony Classical, New York Philharmonic Special Editions, and Andante; in addition, he has lectured at the Gustav Mahler Society of New York and given preconcert talks for the Bard Music Festival and the New York Philharmonic. Currently a producer of video and audio recordings, he served for years as editor of publications at Carnegie Hall. Also a practicing musician, he has performed as a lutenist in the US and Europe. Born in Manhattan, he is astonishingly married to another native New Yorker, the harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky. They are delighted to call Brooklyn home.

William Lang, Trombone Soloist

William Lang

Originally from Long Island, trombonist William Lang is an active performer, improviser, and teacher based in New York City. He can be found playing in all settings and style, from the avant-garde and classical to Broadway and indie chamber pop. He has given his signature unaccompanied recitals throughout the United States, played concertos in both America and Europe, and has also recorded with such artists as Philip Glass, David Bryne, St. Vincent, and Jonsi (of Sigur Ros.) Intensely passionate about chamber music, he regularly performs alongside his groundbreaking ensembles loadbang (an original and unique group of musicians interested in cutting edge music) and the Guidonian Hand (a trombone quartet dedicated to breaking boundaries within the brass community.) The New York Times has called his playing "fiercely, virtuosic" and the Boston Globe has hailed him for his "superb performance" in past solo works.

Tony Leonardo Cimino, DMA, Flute Soloist

Tony Leonardo Cimino, DMA

Dr Tony Cimino was born in Brooklyn into a family of musicians and artists. His grandfather was a well-known composer and conductor and both parents sang opera. As a child he taught himself to play the accordion, recorder, guitar and piano. At 8 years old he performed a movement from the Telemann G major Recorder Concerto and a transcription of Beethoven's Ode To Joy.

Tony attended a music and art High School where he focused on flute, piano, guitar, singing and drawing. He was the soloist in a vocal quartet, sang in the chorus and assisted with the conducting. He also sang with The Staten Island Chorus and All City Chorus.

After one year of study with flutist Sandra Miller, Tony was awarded a scholarship for the remainder of his Bachelor's Degree. Hunter offered him another full scholarship and he returned to complete his M.M., studying with Linda Chesis. He graduated summa cum laude and was awarded the Dr. Beno Lee Graduate Scholarship for Musical Excellence.

In the 90s, Tony spent several years in Seattle, where he pursued a Doctorate in Flute Performance. He was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Washington and studied with the late Felix Skowronek. He graduated summa cum laude, defended his dissertation: Verdi's Programmatic Use of the Wind Instruments in Selected Operas with distinction and was awarded a Doctorate in Flute Performance in 2004. Some of his other flute teachers include Lise Mann, Seattle, WA and Philip Dunagan of The North Carolina School of the Arts.

Dr Cimino has performed as a soloist with The Friends of Music, Guillford, Vt., the Hunter Symphony and Suny Purchase Symphony. He has also performed with The New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble; Greenwich Village Orchestra; Sonos Chamber Players; The Tattinger Wind Ensemble; The Queen of Hearts Trio and was a founding member of The Fandango Al Tango Society Orchestra in which he played solo piccolo. In the 90s, he was occupied with making recordings for the History Channel. Currently, he is collaborating with pianist Rene Denis and studying piano with Edna Golandsky.

In 1994, Dr Cimino was hired as a piano/flute instructor at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. During his tenure, 5 years were spent serving as Director of the Classical Division. He is still on the Conservatory's Classical piano/flute faculty.

Victor Starsky, Tenor Soloist

Victor Starsky

Victor Starsky is a native of Queens, New York where he works as a teacher, carpenter, martial artist, and socially conscious musician. After two years of Philosophy at St. John's University, Mr. Starsky studied for three years at the Aaron Copland School of a Music under the guidance of Rose Marie Crouse. After singing the role of the Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" under the baton of Maestro Maurice Peress, Mr. Starsky went on to sing Don José in Bizet's Carmen with New York Opera Exchange in May 2015. Opera Today writes, "Victor Starsky's Don José is terrifying and compelling, with a voice that performs vocal acrobatics with strength and beauty that remains undiminished through his final line."
Mr. Starsky has recently sung the roles of Tony in Opera North's production of "West Side Story", Gustav Mahler's "Das Lied Von Der Erde" with M. Peress in October of 2015, and made his solo debut in Carnegie Hall in November of 2016. His future engagements include Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata, Ferrando in Mozart's Così Fan Tutte, Lensky in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, an Italian Aria concert with the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra under Maestra Tong Chen, and a premier of "Song of Wandering Aengus" by Howard Lew, for tenor and orchestra, under Maestra Dorothy Savitch with Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra this spring.
Mr. Starsky studies with Andrea del Giudice, and is advised and mentored by Mr. Peter Randsman and Mr. William Thomas Smiddy.
Victor owes tremendous gratitude to his parents, teachers, friends, and loved ones, without whom none of this would be possible.

Howard Lew, Composer

Howard Lew

Howard Lew has been working in New York as a composer since the 1980's. He has written extensively for voice, and his songs have been performed by noted singers such as Rachel Rosales, Mary Kay McGarvey, and Christine Sperry.

Mr. Lew's First and Second Rhapsodies for String Orchestra and Soprano were premiered to acclaim by the Gotham Chamber Orchestra with soprano Christine Sperry and conducted by Dorothy Savitch. Tenor Karim Sulayman premiered his Third Rhapsody, "The Song of Wandering Aengus". On March 25, 2017, at Plymouth Church, tenor Victor Starsky and the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra present a newly revised version of Third Rhapsody.

From 2013 to 2014 Mr. Lew produced the "Haiku Song Project", an online gallery of new music written in collaboration with a collective of NY poets and singers. They produced 27 exhibits of music and writing at their tumblr site. Most recently Mr. Lew has been exploring the intersection of painting and music with a series of "music videos" inspired by legendary painters. The videos may be seen at the "Comparative Listening" YouTube page.

Educated at Columbia University, Mr. Lew studied composition with Max Lifchitz and Fred Lerdahl and piano with Niels Ostbye. In Brooklyn, Mr. Lew is well known as an educator and has been the teacher to numerous students at his studio in Park Slope. In the 1990's he was Curriculum Director and then dean of Students at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and taught music for many years at New York City Technical College (CUNY). For more samples of his music click here.

Alice Ivy-Pemberton

Alice Ivy-Pemberton

Alice Ivy-Pemberton, eighteen, began playing violin at age four and studied with Nurit Pacht at the Lucy Moses School of the Kaufman Music Center in New York for ten years. Alice is now a first-year student under the tutelage of Itzhak Perlman and Catherine Cho at The Juilliard School where she has been awarded a Kovner Fellowship, the conservatory's comprehensive four-year merit-based scholarship. When she was ten, Alice played on NPR's "From the Top" and the PBS series "From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall" in which she performed solo, as well as together with Gil Shaham playing the Bach Double Concerto. In 2010 Alice was chosen to compete in the Menuhin Competition in Oslo where she was selected as one of eight finalists. She has won first prize in the 2008 ISO Concerto Competition, the 2009-2010 Greenwich Village Orchestra Young Artists Concerto Competition, the 2011 New York Chamber Players Orchestra Annual Music Competition, and the 2007, 2012, and 2015 Lucy Moses School Concerto Competitions. In 2014, she performed in duet with the violinist Robert McDuffie at the Kaufman Music Center's Benefit Gala, was awarded the Grand Prize of the Young Artist Competition of the Ensemble 212 orchestra (performing solo with them in Merkin Concert Hall), and also garnered first prize in the Young Artist Competition of Long Island's Sound Symphony, performing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto with them in November of that year. She has performed solo (in recital and with orchestra) in many venues in New York City, including Zankel Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Symphony Space, Bargemusic, and the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage of Carnegie Hall.

Alice is an avid chamber musician and has been first violinist in various chamber ensembles selected by the New York Youth Symphony to perform in Weill Recital Hall for the past five years. Her chamber group, the Tempus Trio, was awarded the Kaufman Music Center's Roberta Rettner Prize for Chamber Ensemble (2013-2014) and the New York Youth Symphony Chamber Music Program's McCrindle Fellowship (2013-2014). In February 2015, Alice performed in Denver on NPR's "From the Top" as a member of the Eris Quartet (formed at the Perlman Music Program in the summer of 2014). She has performed in master classes with David Cerone, Miriam Fried, Ida Kavafian, Masao Kawasaki, Patinka Kopec, Mark Peskanov, and Arnold Steinhardt, among others, and she has received significant additional coaching from violinist Yuval Waldman for several years. Since 2012, Alice has been a member of the Perlman Music Program, attending the Program's Summer Music School on Shelter Island, as well as its Sarasota and Tel Aviv Residencies. She was the 2012 New York Youth Symphony's Roy and Shirley Durst Debut Artist, accompanied by the orchestra as she soloed together with Cho-Liang Lin, Michelle Kim, and Samuel Katz at the Symphony's 50th Anniversary Carnegie Hall Gala Concert in November of that year. Alice was praised in a review of that concert in the New York Times for her "sweet-toned playing" and a performance that was "most memorable."

Andy Sapora, Narrator

Andy Sapora

Andy Sapora performs regularly as one of The Flying Karamazov Brothers and is a clown and facility supervisor with Big Apple Circus Clown Care Hospital Clown Program. He recently originated an additional, non-singing principal role in The Metropolitan Opera's 2015 production of Pagliacci. He will reprise the role again in January of 2016. He is also a founding member of the comedy music troop, The Maestrosities and was co-host and co-founder of monthly variety cabaret tinyDANGEROUSfun. He has been performing on stage since he was 10, and street performing, juggling, and clowning since he was 15. He has studied at the Jacques Lecoq International School of Theater and at the Belgian National Circus School. He has taken workshops and master classes with Keith Johnstone, Bill Irwin, David Shiner, Steve Smith, Jeff Raz, Rick Davis, and Ami Hattab. In addition to teaching privately, he has taught theater, clown, improv and presentation at both The New York Circus Arts Academy and The Circus Warehouse. He has also taught general circus skills and clowning with the outreach programs of Big Apple Circus, Cirque du Soleil, and The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. He lives in an embroidery factory in New Jersey with his wife and his two sons.

Kako Miura, Soloist

Kako Miura

Seventeen-year-old Kako Miura currently studies at the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School with Masao Kawasaki. She started playing the violin at the age of 4, at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in Illinois. In the past she has also studied with Professors Goetz Richter and Peter Zhang at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and with Angela Eto at Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo. She has taken classes and master classes from masters such as Robert Masters, Gerard Poulet, Vera Tsu, Koichiro Harada, Krzysztof Wegrzyn, Kimiko Nakazawa, Régis Pasquier, and Simon Fischer. Kako has attended a number of summer music festivals and schools, including the Aspen Music Festival and School and the Nagano International Music Festival in 2012, the Australian String Academy in 2009 and 2006, and the Summer String Academy at Indiana University in 2008.

Ever since Kako gave her first public concert in 2001 at age 5, she has enjoyed performing. She performs solo several times a year, and has performed at numerous venues, including Lincoln Center, the Sydney Opera House, and Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at Northwestern University. She has appeared on young performer programs for FM radio stations across Australia and the Disney Channel TV program "Hidden Talents". Kako has performed concerti with a number of orchestras since 2008, including the Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra in China, and the Queensland Youth Symphony and Kuringai Philharmonic Orchestra in Australia.

This summer, Kako was given first prize in the Violin Competition at the Nagano International Music Festival in Japan, and, earlier this year, was also named winner of the Bergen Philharmonic Young Artist Competition in New Jersey. She has also won major competition titles in Australia over the years, at competitions such as the National Youth Concerto Competition and Sydney Eisteddfod. In Australia she was awarded her Associate of Music at age 12, and Licentiate of Music at age 13, both with Distinction, which is the highest mark presented by the Australian Music Examination Board.

Kako is also an avid chamber musician, and is currently part of a Piano Trio and String Quartet at Juilliard Pre-College, as well as the contemporary alt-classical music ensemble Face the Music, a group of young musicians in and around New York City under age 18. When not immersed in classical music, Kako also has a taste for other genres such as rock and jazz.

Peter Daniel Straus, Narrator

Peter Daniel Straus

Peter Daniel Straus has acted and performed comedy around the world. He's been a featured comedian and fire juggler at the Metropolitan Opera, acted in regional theatres like the Denver Center Theatre Company, and was featured as the White Rabbit in "Alice i Eventyrland" at the National Theatre of Norway, and recently played Feste the Fool in Mile Square Theatre's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. He has toured America as a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and loves being a clown "doctor" with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit. Peter has had many appearances on TV, including numerous featured spots on The Late Show with David Letterman and in the award winning The Half Brother (Halvbroren) for NRK (Norway). Wearing another hat, Peter directs and consults for theatre productions and variety performers.

Katherine Wessinger, Soloist

Sarah Hadley Yakir

Praised by The New York Times as a soprano with a "genuinely angelic voice," Katherine Wessinger brings freshness and uncommon musicality to a wide repertoire on the concert, opera, and recital stage. Highlights of the 2013-14 season include Barber Knoxville, Summer 1915 with Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale and Orchestra, Carmina Burana with the Mansfield University Festival Chorus, and Bach Cantatas 147 and 156 with the St. Andrew Chorale and Orchestra.

Ms. Wessinger made three important debuts in New York City to start the 2012-13 season. She began the season as soprano soloist in Mozart's Solemn Vespers and Bach's Magnificat in D Major at the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series conducted by K. Scott Warren. The New York Times said that she "sang her aria, 'Quia respexit humilitatem,' with stricken dignity." Ms. Wessinger was soprano soloist in Bach's Christmas Oratorio with Canticum Novum led by Harold Rosenbaum, and, most dramatically, made her Carnegie Hall debut stepping in on one day's notice to sing Gabriel in Haydn's Creation with the New York Virtuoso Singers and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, also conducted by Harold Rosenbaum. The New York Times wrote that she "sang with charm and grace" and that her "clear voice was beautifully suited to Gabriel's music."

A frequent soloist with the St. Andrew Music Society and Orchestra led by Andrew Henderson, Ms. Wessinger sang Mendelssohn's Hear My Prayer in spring 2012 and was soprano soloist in Bach's St. Matthew Passion in spring 2013. With the St. Andrew Music Society, Ms. Wessinger sang the New York City premiere of the recently discovered Handel Gloria. She has sung internationally with the Italy and USA Alba Music Festival, performing Mahler Symphony No. 4, Del Tredici Dracula, and Bach Cantata No. 51 under the direction of Jeffrey Silberschlag, and at the River Concert Series under the direction of Larry Vote. Other solo performances include the Rutter Requiem with director Tom Hall, and Handel's Messiah and part V of Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the renowned Handel Choir of Baltimore. Katherine has also performed Handel's Messiah with J. Reilly Lewis at Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington, VA, and with Henry Lowe at The Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore, MD.

In addition to her work as a concert soloist, Katherine performs opera from the Baroque through the 21st century. Her operatic performances have included Rhomilda in Handel's Xerxes, Bystrouska in Janaceck's The Cunning Little Vixen, sung in Czech, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Karolina in Smetana's Two Widows, and Birdsong in Mozart's The Impressario.

Sarah Hadley Yakir, Soloist

Sarah Hadley Yakir

“Sarah-Hadley Yakir is a unique and original voice on the violin” -- Zakhar Bron.
“Yakir is wise beyond her years” -- String Magazine.

19 year old violinist Sarah-Hadley Yakir took her first formal music classes and her first violin lessons at the Brooklyn Conservatory when she was 3 years old. She attended New York’s Special Music School for musically gifted children and did her pre-college studies at the Manhattan School of Music before moving to Europe when she was 12, after an invitation by world renowned pedagogue, Zakar Bron. This year Yakir returns to the United States to join the studio of Eastman’s long time pedagogue, Charles Castleman, a Harvard and Curtis Institute graduate, himself heralded as the “child prodigy” of his generation. Her teachers have also included Grigory Kalinovsky and Curtis’s Aaron Rosand. “The varied schools of violin technique from my professors have enabled me to understand and utilize so much of this beautiful brilliant instrument and its repertoire” says Yakir.

Sarah-Hadley’s music has been broadcast on U.S., Canadian, Swedish, Swiss, Polish, German and Belgian television and radio. She has performed in more than 20 countries and continues a busy music festival schedule. This past year she premiered new music at Birdland, New York's famed jazz club with The O’Farrill Brothers’ Band. Yakir is a founding member of New York’s Source to Sound, a collaboration of composers and musicians committed to performing new chamber works.

Yakir has won numerous first prizes, most recently, first prize in her age category for strings nationwide in the Canadian Music Competition where she was also the recipient of the Canimex Scholarship.

Sarah-Hadley currently performs on a 1722 Italian Alessandro Mezzadri violin.

Gannon McHale, Narrator

Gannon McHale

Gannon McHale has appeared on Broadway in James Joyce"s the Dead and The Sound of Music, and Off-Broadway in Fame on 42nd Street, The God Committee, and The Fantasticks. His thirty-year career also includes five National and two International Tours, numerous Regional Theatres, twenty musicals and a dozen productions of plays by Shakespeare. He is also the author of STEALTH BOAT: Fighting the Cold War in a Fast Attack Submarine (Naval Institute Press, 2008)

Brian Snow, Soloist

Brian Snow

Cellist Brian Snow pursues an active performing career in New York City, where he is a member of Newspeak Ensemble, the Omni Ensemble, and the Praxis String Quartet. Praised by the Boston Globe for his "...pugnacious, eloquent, self-assurance...", Brian has appeared as a soloist with the Riverside Orchestra (New York City), the Longy Chamber Orchestra, and Crescent City Symphony (New Orleans). He has performed with Mark Morris Dance Group, Alarm Will Sound, ACME, Fireworks Ensemble, the Emerson String Quartet, and Meredith Monk, and appears on recordings with a variety of artists, including the Yale Cellos, Sonya Kitchell, Ratatat, My Brightest Diamond, and Jonsi of Sigur Ros. Brian has won top prizes at the Paranov, Emerson String Quartet, and Longy concerto soloists competitions. A strong advocate for new music, Brian has worked closely with composers including Nico Muhly, Caleb Burhans, and David T. Little, premiering dozens of new works. Brian holds degrees from Yale, SUNY Stony Brook, and the Hartt School of Music. His cello teachers include David Finckel, Aldo Parisot, and Colin Carr. A dedicated teacher, Brian is a faculty member at Brooklyn Conservatory.

Christoph Denoth, Soloist

Christoph Denoth Christoph Denoth was born in Basel, Switzerland, and spent an important part of his early life in the Grisons. His extraordinary musical talent became apparent early on; from the very first, he preferred the guitar. He began his concert career at 15. His studies of the classical guitar led him to the conservatories of Lucerne, Basel, and Zurich. He attended countless international master classes and continued his studies, above all with Oscar Ghiglia, Konrad Ragossnig, Alvaro Pierri, Pepe Romero, and others. He trained as a soloist with Professor Oscar Ghiglia at the Basel Academy of Music. Sergiu Celibidache, with whom he studied the Phenomenology of Music and Conducting, proved to be one of the most important influences on him.

In addition to his long list of accomplishments, Denoth has conducted several orchestras. Denoth dedicates himself to expanding the tonal and dynamic range of the concert guitar. His repertoire focuses on music ranging from the Renaissance to the present. He follows a long tradition in the European history of guitar music and, moreover, shows how today's concert guitar can open new musical vistas to a larger concert audience.

Christoph Denoth has received several international awards for his playing; among them, at the 35th Concours International de Guitare de Paris by Radio France in 1993, and in Stresa and Tokyo in 1995. As an acknowledgment of his musical work, he was awarded several important grants such as the one awarded by the Louise Silverberg Foundation in St. Moritz, the Werner und Helga Degen Foundation, as well as the Swiss pro arte grant. In 2008 he received the UBS Culture Award for Music.

Christoph Denoth made his debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York in 2001 and has played regularly at the Berliner Philharmonie. He performs solo concerts or as a soloist with orchestras and chamber music ensembles in Europe and overseas, and participates in international festivals such as Schleswig-Holstein and the Salzburg Mozarteum. CD recordings (Philips/Universal), radio recordings, and first performances round off his artistic activities.

He was the first Swiss musician to be nominated at Balliol College, Oxford University, as "Musician in Residence", 2006-2008. He also participated in joint lectures with the physiologist Denis Noble. He is frequently invited as a guest lecturer by universities and music academies.

Mary Jo Stilp, Concertmaster

Mary Jo Stilp Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Mary Jo Stilp currently resides in New York City, where she is active as a freelance violinist, performing with such groups as the Manhattan Pops Orchestra, Lincoln Center's Family MusiK series, and the new music collective Anti-Social Music. In addition to being concertmaster of the BCCO, Mary Jo has also held that post with the Wichita Grand Opera, and has held positions with the Knoxville, Wichita, Topeka, Lawrence Chamber, St. Joseph, Kansas City Chamber Chorale, and La Crosse Symphony Orchestras. Other performing credits include the Spoleto Fesitval USA Orchestra, Sarasota Opera Orchestra, Heidelberg SchlossSpiele Orchestra, and the Opera in the Ozarks Orchestra. She has performed as soloist with orchestras in Missouri and Wisconsin, gives regular solo and chamber music recitals, and has held titled positions with many of the ensembles listed above.

In addition to performing, Mary Jo is passionately committed to sharing her gifts with tomorrow's generation of musicians. Mary Jo is on the faculty of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and has taught violin at Southwestern College in Winfield, KS. She also maintains an extensive private violin studio. In 2002, Mary Jo founded the Southwestern String Festival, an annual summer chamber music festival for middle and high school students, the curriculum of which was expanded in 2004 to include a chamber orchestra. In the spring of 2005, she organized Strings con Stravaganza, a seminar for students ages twelve to twenty-six, offering instruction in a wide variety of musical techniques, including improvisation and the exploration of electronic instruments. For Mary Jo, these experiences are exceptionally rewarding, and also illuminating for her own creative process.

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