Diane Wittry, guest conductor

Diane Wittry, guest conductor

International conductor Diane Wittry specializes in conducting American music abroad, and is known in the United States for her innovative programming and her engaging audience rapport. During the past few seasons, she has conducted concerts in Japan, Canada, Bosnia, Russia, Slovakia, New York, Washington D.C, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and California, as well as her regularly scheduled concerts with the orchestras in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. She is known as a conductor who “specializes in finding creative ways to make the music fresh, accessible, and exciting.”

In the United States, Diane Wittry has led performances by, among others, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, the Little Orchestra Society of New York, and the symphony orchestras of Milwaukee, San Diego, Houston, New Jersey, Santa Barbara, Augusta, Stockton, Pottstown, Wichita, and Wichita Falls; while her international engagements include concerts with the Sarajevo Philharmonic in Bosnia, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Russia’s Maikop and Sochi symphony orchestras, Slovakia’s State Orchestra-Kosice, Italy’s Sinfonia Dell’Arte di Firenze, Canada’s Niagara Symphony, and Japan’s Orchestra Osaka Symphony. She has also conducted at the music festivals of Ojai (CA), Penn’s Woods (PA), and I-Park (CT).

Diane Wittry was recently named the Artistic Director (USA) for the International Cultural Exchange Program for Classical Musicians through the Sarajevo Philharmonic (Bosnia) and the Bosnian-Herzegovinian American Academy for Arts and Sciences (Chicago). She is also the Music Director of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra (PA), a professional orchestra that performs about 22 concerts per season. In the past, Diane Wittry has been the Music Director and Conductor of the Norwalk Symphony (CT), Artistic Director of the Ridgewood Symphony (NJ), and Music Director and Conductor of The Symphony of Southeast Texas (TX) where her artistic leadership garnered national attention.

Over the years, Diane Wittry has received many honors and awards, including the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Helen M. Thompson Award for outstanding artistic leadership of a regional orchestra. She has been the subject of profiles in The New York Times and Newsweek. Ms. Wittry received the Women of Excellence Award in Beaumont, Texas, the Arts Ovation Award and the Woman of Distinction Award from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Most recently, she became only the third American to be named – in recognition of her leadership in the arts and humanities – the recipient of the prestigious Fiorino Doro Award from the City of Vinci, Italy.

Her book Beyond the Baton, (Oxford University Press) about artistic leadership for young conductors and music director was recently re-released in paperback. It is the focus of a yearly International Conducting Workshop which helps emerging conductors put to practical use the elements in the book.

More information about Diane Wittry’s work is available at: www.DianeWittry.com

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, narrator

Dr. Ruth Westheimr is a psychosexual therapist who helped to pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, Sexually Speaking. It began in September of 1980 as a fifteen minute, taped show that aired Sundays after midnight on WYNY-FM (NBC) in New York. One year later it became a live, one-hour show airing at 10 PM on which Dr. Ruth, as she became known, answered call-in questions from listeners. Soon it became part of a communications network to distribute Dr. Westheimer’s expertise which has included television, books, newspapers, games, home video, computer software and her own AOL website, www.drruth.com.

Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. Westheimer was sent to a school in Switzerland at the age of ten which became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students who had been sent there to escape the Holocaust.

At 16 she went to Israel where she fought for that country’s independence as a member of the Haganah, the Jewish freedom fighters. She then moved to Paris where she studied at the Sorbonne and taught kindergarten.

She immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 where she obtained her Masters Degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research. In 1970, she received a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher’s College.

She worked for Planned Parenthood for a time and it was that experience that prompted her to further her education in human sexuality by studying under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center. She later participated in the program for five years as an Adjunct Associate Professor. She has also taught at Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi University, Columbia University and West Point.

Currently Dr. Westheimer is an Adjunct Professor at N.Y.U. and an Associate Fellow of Calhoun College at Yale University. In the Spring semester of 2003 she taught a course on the Jewish Family at Princeton University. She is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and in addition to having her own private practice, she frequently lectures at universities across the country and has twice been named “College Lecturer of the Year.”

During her days as a college professor, Dr. Westheimer never envisaged that one day she would be making such wide use of the mass media to help spread what she has labeled “sexual literacy.” However, with her unique style, she has been able to communicate effectively through almost every avenue available.

In addition to radio, her television career has spanned both broadcast and cable. Her first TV show aired locally in New York but she soon went national on Lifetime’s The Dr. Ruth Show. Ask Dr. Ruth was syndicated both nationally and internationally by King Features Entertainment so that she became a regular in such places as London and Hong Kong as well as America. The All New Dr. Ruth Show brought her back to Lifetime and with What’s Up, Dr. Ruth she helped broaden Lifetime’s appeal with teens.

“You’re On The Air with Dr. Ruth” brought her back to the format she began with on television with both guests and live phone calls. In the Fall of 1992 she reached out to adult Americans with Never Too Late which was broadcast on Nostalgia Television. Lately she has been reaching the younger set teaching puppets how to read long words on the PBS series, Between The Lions.

Her first video was entitled Terrific Sex and she later did two more for Playboy. In the Fall of 1993 Dr. Ruth had her own weekly series in Hebrew on Israeli television as well as a five minute weekly “strip” on Great Britain’s This Morning program.

Her other foreign ventures have included spots on Radio Television Luxembourg, German Swiss Television and France’s TF-1. In 1991, she donned the title of Executive Producer for a documentary on Ethiopian Jews titled “Surviving Salvation.” Filmed by the Academy Award winning Malcolm Clarke, the documentary aired nationally on PBS. Her second documentary, entitled “No Missing Link”, also received national airing on PBS and was about how grandparents have transmitted values, particularly religious values during the 70 years of communism in Russia. She also has material for another based on a visit to the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea.

In print she circles the globe with her column, Ask Dr. Ruth, syndicated by King Features. She is the author of twenty-seven books, and counting, with two more in preparation. She has her own web page on America Online (http://www.drruth.com.)

There is also Dr. Ruth’s Good Sex Night-to-Night Calendar (1993 & 1994) and a board game, Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex, which Victory Games released in a version for computers.

Unrelated to her vocation was her part in the French film by Daniel Vigne, One Woman or Two, which starred Gerard Depardieu and Sigourney Weaver and in which she played the part of a wealthy philanthropist.

She also starred in a pilot for ABC titled Dr. Ruth’s House and appeared in an episode of Quantum Leap. She’s been featured on TV commercials for Clairol Herbal Essence, Honda, Pepsi, Entenmann’s and many other products. She also narrated two children’s stories, Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears, on a CD entitled Timeless Tales And Music Of Our Time, a project by An die Musik (Oboe, String trio & Piano) for Newport Classics records which received a Grammy nomination (2002).

The National Mother’s Day Committee has honored Dr. Ruth as “Mother Of The Year” and she received a Liberty Medal from the City of New York. She has been nominated for an Ace Award by the cable industry on five occasions and her program,

The All New Dr. Ruth Show won an Ace Award in 1988 for excellence in cable television. What’s Up, Dr. Ruth was awarded the Gold Medal from the International Film and TV Festival for excellence in educational television. People Magazine included her in their list of the Most Intriguing People of the Century.

In May of 2000 she received an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College – Institute of Religion for her work in Human Sexuality and her commitment to the Jewish People, Israel and Religion. In June, 2001 she received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from CUNY’s Lehman College. In 2002 she received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the International Society for Sexual and Impotence Research 20th Anniversary Award and the Leo Baeck Medal.

She is the President of the YMHA of Washington Heights. Dr. Westheimer has two children, four grandchildren and resides in New York City.

Richard Stout, guest conductor

Richard studied conducting with Daniel Lewis and Henry Holt at the University of Southern California.

He was active in southern California opera companies. An interest in the music of Bach led Richard to study with Helmuth Rilling, who invited him to the Frankfurt Musikhochschule. Richard co-conducted the premiere of Robert Moran’s “Hagoromo” at Lehigh University, and was principal conductor of the Turnpike Camerata contemporary ensemble in New York.

Richard is music director and conductor of the Cornerstone Chorale, performing repertory from renaissance to contemporary. In addition, he was the conductor of the Third Street Music School Settlement Chamber Orchestra. Under Richard’s baton, they performed with acclaimed soloists, including Maxim Vengerov and Claude Frank. In 2000, the Chamber Orchestra performed, as one of four invited groups from all over the U.S. and Canada, at the conference of the Suzuki Association of the Americas in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Richard conducts the Sinfonia Orchestra at the Mannes College of Music Preparatory Division. In that past several years Richard has served as a guest conductor in Ottawa, Canada, at concerts for the Prime Minister, and has conducted at the National Arts Centre, with noted artists Anne Murray and Holly Cole.

Jeff Spurgeon, narrator

While still a teenager in his western Nebraska hometown Jeff Spurgeon’s radio career had what might be called a providential beginning: He was giving announcements in church, and one congregant– who owned a local radio station — heard him and offered an audition.

Since then, Jeff has worked on the radio as an announcer, a news reporter, a newscaster, an interview, and a producer. He got his first New York radio position in 1989. Jeff became a member of the WQXR news department in 1997 and in 1999 was named the station’s Mid-day Host. In 2006 Jeff became WQXR’s Morning Show Host.

One of Jeff’s proudest accomplishments has been his work as a schoolteacher. He recently developed and taught a course in broadcast journalism for Townsend Harris High School one of New York City’s top public schools.

Jeff is also a singer. He has performed with several New York City � based choruses and church choirs, and is a member of a cappella quartet whose repertoire ranges from music of Renaissance masters to original arrangements in modern styles.

Jeff lives Brooklyn with his wife Judy, a high school English teacher.

Christopher Silsby, tenor

A recent NYC transplant from Minnesota, Mr. Silsby appeared as Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore with the Village Light Opera Group. In Minneapolis, MN, he performed with the Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company as Strephon in Iolanthe and Marco Palimieri in The Gondoliers.

Christopher holds his B.A. in Theatre from Carleton College, where he received honors with distinction for performing, along with two fellow theatre majors, all three roles in Yasmina Reza’s play Art on sequential nights in six different permutations.

He has also studied in Russia at the Moscow Art Theatre. Christopher has performed numerous musical theatre roles with various theaters in Minnesota, including Migaldi in Evita, Marvin in Falsettos, Zangara in Assassins, and both Pirelli and Sweeney in two different productions of Sweeney Todd.

On the non-musical side of things, he has performed as Sebastian in Twelfth Night; The Chorus in Iphegenia at Aulis; Jim, the Gentleman Caller, in The Glass Menagerie; Brodie in The Real Thing; and Madame Chandebise in the French farce A Flea in Her Ear.

Currently a graduate student in College and Community Educational Theatre at NYU, he is appearing at the Provincetown Playhouse as Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde from February 23 to March 4.

Jonathan Schiffman, guest conductor

Jonathan Schiffman is an exciting new presence in the musical world. Now in his second season as principal conductor of the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Schiffman also maintains an active career in Europe where he serves as assistant conductor to both the Orchestre National de France and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Mr. Schiffman made his conducting debut in 2001 at age twenty-four with the Fort Worth Symphony. His success there led to his immediate reengagement for future concerts, as well as appearances with the Eugene Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand), Riva Music Festival (Italy), Florida West Coast Symphony, and National Symphony orchestras.

Mr. Schiffman, an active composer himself, has also been especially involved in new music. In 2001, he was invited to conduct the U.S. premiere of a work by avant-garde Italian composer Fausto Romitelli in Juilliard’s Focus Festival. Mr. Schiffman has since returned to conduct works by Zoltan Jeney and Stravinsky in subsequent Focus Festivals. More recently, Mr. Schiffman recorded young composer Sarana Choi’s flute concerto, which took first prize in the 2002 ASCAP Composers Contest.

A native of New York City, Mr. Schiffman began studying cello at age five. While an undergraduate at Yale, Mr. Schiffman was appointed music director of the Yale Bach Society Orchestra & Chorus. During his two-year tenure, Mr. Schiffman led the orchestra in the world premiere performance of Stravinsky’s last work, Four Preludes & Fugues.

Upon graduating from Yale with honors, Mr. Schiffman was accepted into the 1999 Aspen Music Festival Conducting Seminar. He returned the following year as a fellowship recipient. Mr. Schiffman received a masters degree from Juilliard in 2004, where he studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller.

Mr. Schiffman currently resides in Paris, having spent the past year studying composition with Narcis Bonet as a Fulbright scholar.

Samuel Rhodes, viola

Samuel Rhodes is a consummate artist, well known as recitalist, soloist with orchestra, recording artist, composer and teacher. His artistry has become well recognized and his playing has received international critical acclaim. The New York Times has called him “a remarkably sensitive violist”; the Washington Post has described him as a “master of the viola fit to stand with the instrument’s greatest”; the Boston Herald wrote, “the texture of his sound is in itself a wonder”; in London they praised his “stunning range of color”; and in Paris he was called “a violist of the very first rank.”

Mr. Rhodes is celebrating his 34th year as a member of both the Juilliard String Quartet and the faculty of the Juilliard School. He serves, along with Karen Tuttle, as co-chair of the viola department.

He also has been a participant of the Marlboro Music Festival since 1960 and is a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center.

His solo appearances have included several recitals at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and an unaccompanied recital at the Juilliard School highlighted by world premieres of works by Milton Babbitt and Arthur Weisberg. In 1985, he supervised and performed in a recital series at Weill Hall, New York City, celebrating the 90th birthday of Paul Hindemith. In 1996, he organized and performed in a similar recital series at Miller Theatre, Columbia University, commemorating Hindemith’s 100th anniversary.

In 1998, he gave the world premiere of Donald Martino’s Three Sad Songs for viola and piano with Thomas Sauer at the Library of Congress. In June, 2001, Mr. Rhodes was invited to play a recital consisting of the Babbitt, Play it Again, Sam and the Vieuxtemps Sonata at the 10th anniversary of the “Viola Space” series at Casals Hall, Tokyo, Japan.

Since 1998 Mr. Rhodes had the honor to be invited to join the late Isaac Stern to be a coach at his Chamber Music Workshops in Jerusalem, Israel; Miyazaki, Japan; and Carnegie Hall, New York.

Mr. Rhodes, a native New Yorker, studied the viola with Sydney Beck and Walter Trampler. He has a B.A. from Queens College of the City University of New York and an M.F.A. from Princeton University, where he studied composition with Roger Sessions and Earl Kim.

As a composer, he wrote a String Quintet for two violins, two violas and cello, which has been performed by the Blair, Composer’s, Galimir, Pro Arte and Sequoia Quartets. The quintet was recently recorded by the Pro Arte Quartet with the composer as guest.

As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, Mr. Rhodes toured throughout Europe, North and South America, the Near East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand; has recorded an extensive catalogue of the string quartet literature on the CBS Masterworks, Sony Classical, Wergo, and CRI labels; has won three Grammy Awards for the Debussy and Ravel Quartets, the complete Schoenberg Quartets, and the complete Beethoven Quartets; has commissioned and performed the world premieres of works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Mario Davidovsky, Henri Dutilleux, Alberto Ginastera, John Harbison, Fred Lerdahl, Donald Martino, Morton Subotnick, Stefan Wolpe, and Richard Wernick. In 2002, the quartet gave the world premieres of newly commissioned works by Ralph Shapey and Gunther Schuller.

In 2003, the Quartet will celebrate 40 years of residency at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC by performing a Beethoven cycle combined with distinguished American works by Shapey, Schuller, Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and including the world premiere of the Horn Quintet by Richard Wernick.

Mr. Rhodes has also been artist in residence at Michigan State University and has been awarded honorary doctorates by Michigan State, the University of Jacksonville, and the San Francisco Conservatory.

He has appeared as a guest artist with the Beaux Arts Trio, the Mannes Trio, the American, Blair, Brentano, Cleveland, Galimir, Guarneri, Mendelssohn, Pro Arte and Sequoia String Quartets.

Harumi Rhodes, violin

Violinist Harumi Rhodes is in her second year of New England Conservatory’s Master of Music program studying with Donald Weilerstein.

Ms. Rhodes has performed as a soloist with the Juilliard Symphony in Alice Tully Hall, Kenosha Symphony, Long Island Sound Symphony, Northern Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Rockland Symphony, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Broadway Bach Ensemble.

This March, Ms. Rhodes will be performing Bach’s a minor Violin Concerto in Jordan Hall. This May, she is looking forward to her second appearance with the Broadway Bach Ensemble performing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with her father and violist, Samuel Rhodes.

As a chamber musician, Ms. Rhodes has been a participant at the Marlboro Music Festival for the past three summers and has concertized with the “Musicians from Marlboro” this past spring on a tour including New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington D.C.’s Freer Gallery, Philadelphia’s Convention Center, and Boston’s Gardner Museum. Most recently, Ms. Rhodes was asked to be a member of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two program giving her the great honor of working with her some of the most renowned chamber musicians of our time.

Ms. Rhodes has also performed on numerous occasions on the Bargemusic Series in Brooklyn, New York and has been a guest with the Boston Chamber Music Society, Walden Chamber Players, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Rhodes has performed a variety of newly composed works by many of her peers as well as many of the great established composers still living today. This past summer, the first recording of Milton Babbitt’s Sixth String Quartet was released on the Tzadik Composer Series Label with Ms. Rhodes as the first violinist.

Ms. Rhodes received her Bachelor of Music from the Juilliard School studying with Earl Carlyss and Ronald Copes and studied with Shirley Givens at Juilliard’s Pre-College Division.

Robert Alan Radmer, guest conductor

Robert Alan Radmer lives in Austin, Texas, where in 1998 he founded and became Music Director of the Balcones Community Orchestra, now in its fourth season. He has conducted youth, festival, community and professional orchestras in ten states, and maintains an active schedule of high-school orchestra clinics and workshops.

Mr. Radmer’s primary conducting teacher is Gurer Aykal, and he has received additional training at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen under the direction of David Zinman and Murray Sidlin.

Mr. Radmer holds the position of Instructor of Viola at Southwest Texas State University, and has served on the music faculties of the College of Saint Scholastica and Eastern New Mexico University, where he was Music Director of the ENMU Symphony Orchestra for ten seasons.

Mr. Radmer has performed as a violist with the Paganini Duo since 1981, and has been a member of chamber ensembles and orchestras in over two thousand performances in North America and Europe. This season he will serve as violist in the Arco Voce String Quartet in San Antonio and The Roundabouts in San Marcos, Principal Violist in the Sun Valley (ID) Orchestra and Chorale, and violist in the Broadway Bach Ensemble in New York City.

Armen Ra, theremin

ARMEN RA, Theremin, is an Armenian performance artist and Thereminist born in Iran.

Raised by a concert pianist mother and aunt a renowned opera singer and Ikebana master, it was no surprise that Armen flourished, not only as one of New York’s leading aesthetes, but also as a self-taught master of the theremin.

By combining both the visual and aural aspects of his craft, Armen Ra has developed an art form that is truly his own and is something quite amazing to behold. Fusing Armenian folk music with modern instrumentation, along with melodic lounge standard’s and classical arias. His unique and elegant recitals transport the listener to a time and place of beauty, emotional healing, and of course sacred glamour.

The U.N.,Lincoln Center,CBGB’s, Knitting Factory, Joe’s Pub, La Mama, etc… Featured on and appeared in: CNN, HBO, MTV, Vogue, Glamour, Amica, NY Times, NY Post, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Time Out, etc. …and so on..

_____________ “Am I scaring you?” he asked the crowd, which had been lulled into such a trance they weren’t even cruising each other. It was spooky and fabulous . . . (from a review by Michael Musto) –

. . . . Ra’s incredible command of the theremin, the unusual electronic instrument on which the player creates sound by seemingly manipulating the air around the instrument.

Most familiar to mainstream listeners as the source of the “weird” sounds heard on the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” and in countless ’50s sci-fi films, the theremin has an expressive potential that is only now being fully explored by a small but dedicated band of visionary musicians.