Nurit Pacht, violin

Violinist Nurit Pacht was selected as one of the “Stars of the Year 2000” by Le Monde de la Musique and since then her career has blossomed with appearances in London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Moscow’s Great Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, The People’s Hall of China in Beijing and at Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series. Chosen by director Robert Wilson to be the featured musician in his multi-media piece Relative Light featuring solo violin works by John Cage and J.S. Bach, Nurit is equally at home in the standard repertoire as in the contemporary.

Last season, Nurit performed as soloist in collaboration with the dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones in one of Europe’s greatest cathedrals, the Duomo in Milan as well as at Kennedy Center and on tour in many U.S. capitals with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company culminating in performances at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival. She is now in her third season serving as the artistic director of the Alliance Players, a dynamic group of musicians who perform innovative programs in New York City.

Nurit performed in duo recitals with Philip Glass playing the composer’s works for violin and piano. She commissioned and premiered works from other leading composers including, Michael Hersch, Noam Sheriff, Annie Gosfield and Octavio Vazquez.

Nurit has toured as soloist with the Israeli Chamber Orchestra. She also performed the world premiere of Noam Sheriff’s Violin Concerto Dibrot, a work dedicated to her, with the Israeli Contemporary Players in a radio broadcast from Jerusalem and in the Contemporary Music Festival in Tel Aviv. Nurit was also the soloist on a tour of China with the Young Israel Philharmonic, performing in the major concert venues of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. In the United States she has been a soloist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Alliance Players, American Youth Symphony and Santa Rosa Symphony. In Italy she performed with the Filarmonica di Roma, in Poland and Germany with the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra, with most of the major orchestras of Romania including the Georges Enesco Philharmonic and with the National Symphony of Columbia.

In the spring of 1996, immediately following the cease-fire, she concertized in six of the worst war-devastated cities of Bosnia to enthusiastic audiences of the three ethnic minorities, with the sponsorship of the United Nations and the European Mozart Foundation. At the invitation of the European Commission she also performed on the occasion of the inauguration of the European Monetary Union in Bruxelles.

She was heard at the festivals of Santa Fe, Mecklenberg Vorpommern, Divonne, Stresa, Kfar Blum, George Crumb, Tartini, Monadnock and, at the invitation of Christoph Eschenbach, performed in Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series. One of her live performances from Wigmore Hall was released by Nimbus records.

Nurit Pacht grew up in Texas and made her first solo public appearance on national television at the age of 12. In 1990, at age seventeen, she made her U.S. solo debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and has since won top prizes in international competitions in Europe and the United States, including the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition in Switzerland.

She plays on a violin made by P. Guarneri in 1750.

Renée Oakford, flute

A long-time Broadway Bach Ensemble member, Renée Oakford has been a soloist with the Goldman Memorial Band and the LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts Orchestra.

Renée performs regularly in New York with the Amato Opera Company and is a past member of the Brooklyn Lyric Opera, the Riverside Orchestra, New Amsterdam Orchestra and the The Eastern Winds.

Among others, Ms. Oakford has studied with Judith Mendenhall, Michael Parloff and Trudy Kane and has participated in master classes by Julius Baker, Robert Dick, Thomas Nyfinger, and Jeanne Baxstresser.

Renee holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes College of Music.

Scott Murphree, tenor

Scott Murphree is a distinguished singer of the concert, recital and opera stage.

As a featured soloist, he appeared in Handel’s “Saul” for the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. Paul Griffiths of The New York Times reported that he “gave an excellent performance as Jonathan, radiant and expressive, completely in command,” as well as declaring his opening aria as “one of the musical high points… [which] gave everyone a lift.” His other solo concert engagements include appearances with the Eos Orchestra of New York, the Newberry Consort of Chicago, the Friends and Enemies of New Music, the Mirror Visions Ensemble, the Symphony of Southeast Texas, the Holy Trinity Bach Foundation and Bachworks.

He has been a featured soloist in concerts of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Mass in B minor. He also has appeared in concerts at several summer music festivals, including the Cape May Music Festival, the Music Festival of the Hamptons, the Aspen Music Festival as well as the Pacific Music festival in Japan.

In Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Mr. Murphree gave a solo recital of songs commissioned by the late Alice Esty. He also has appeared at Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd Street Y and Town Hall, singing the songs of Ned Rorem with the composer at the piano.

He has worked closely with other composers such as Robert Beaser and Richard Hundley, and has premiered works written especially for him by Yehudi Wyner, Christopher Berg, Tom Cipullo and Richard Pearson Thomas. Mr. Murphree often gives song recitals and has been heard in New York at Florence Gould Hall, Cooper Union and the Kosciuzsko Foundation among others. In addition, he has given recitals abroad in Paris, London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Stockholm.

Mr. Murphree has participated in several world premieres of operas. This spring he sang the role of Percy Bysshe Shelly in the premiere of Allan Jaffe’s opera, “Mary Shelley,” at the Ethical Culture Society. He also sang the role of Arviragus in the premiere of “Cymbeline” by Christopher Berg, and he sang the title role for the premiere of Tina Davidson’s “Billy and Zelda” with Opera Delaware. Furthermore, he has sung roles in the acclaimed productions of Britten’s “Paul Bunyan” with the Glimmerglass Opera, and in Jonathan Miller’s staged version of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Among his honors, he was given the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Award, and was selected as finalist for both the Joy in Singing Award and the PoulencPlus! Centennial Competition.

He received his education at the University of North Texas, Yale University and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Michael Mizrahi, piano

Hailed for his “splendid powers of concentration” (The Washington Post) and performances that are “exciting to watch and hear” (The San Diego Union-Tribune), Michael Mizrahi has won acclaim for his compelling performances of a wide-ranging repertoire and his ability to connect with audiences of all ages. He has appeared as concerto soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and music educator across the United States and in Europe.

Mr. Mizrahi has performed as soloist with the Houston Symphony, National Symphony, Haddonfield Symphony, Sioux City Symphony, and Prince Georges Philharmonic Orchestra, performing in venues such as the Kimmel Center, the Kennedy Center, and Houston’s Jones Hall. In 2005 Mizrahi appeared as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto K488 with the Curtis Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Leon Fleisher. Mizrahi is a founding member of the Moët Trio, which is quickly establishing itself as one of today’s most exciting young piano trios. The Moët Trio is in residence at the New England Conservatory this season. Equally at home with contemporary music, Mizrahi is a founding member of NOW Ensemble, a chamber group devoted to the commissioning and performing of new music by emerging composers. A winner of Astral Artistic Services’ 2005 National auditions, Mizrahi joined Astral’s artist roster that year.

In January 2007 Mizrahi was selected to join The Academy: A Program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute (ACJW). Under the auspices of this ground-breaking new program, Mizrahi teaches music at a New York City public school one and-a-half days a week, participates in workshops with leading classical musicians and entrepreneurs, and appears with other Academy members in chamber music concerts at Carnegie Hall and throughout New York City.

Michael Mizrahi began piano studies at the age of four. He received a B.A. in music and religion from the University of Virginia and a Doctoral degree in piano performance from the Yale School of Music. Former teachers include Robert Wyatt, Eric Himy, Mary Kathleen Ernst, and George Francois.

Karen Leah Mason, soprano

Karen Leah Mason, soprano

Karen Leah Mason is a graduate of the University of Colorado and continued her musical studies in Tampa Florida before moving to New York. She has sung leading roles with the Village Light Opera, Encompass Theatre, 1010 Players, Sylvan Opera and Masque Theatre.

Favorite roles include Mad Margaret in Ruddigore, Elsie in Yeomen of the Guard, Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun and Susan in Home and the River — a world premiere performance.

An interesting sideline in her career has been the opportunity in a marketing venture for Ada Core Technologies portraying Lady Ada Lovelace in musical productions and recitals in London, Sweden, Spain, Berlin and throughout the USA.

Curtis Macomber, violin

Curtis Macomber, violin

Curtis Macomber is recognized as one of the most versatile soloists and chamber musicians before the public today, equally at home and committed to works from Bach to Babbitt, and with a discography which includes the complete Brahms String Quartets as well as the Roger Sessions Solo Sonata.

A featured lecture/recitalist in the first American Violin Congress in June of 1987, he was Second Prize winner in the 1980 Rockefeller Foundation International Competition for the Performance of Twentieth Century American Violin Music.

Mr. Macomber has appeared in recital at Carnegie Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Miller Theatre, and the Kennedy Center , and has been soloist with the Musica Aeterna Orchestra, the Juilliard Symphony, Great Neck Symphony, Westchester Philharmonic, Vermont Symphony, and at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

As first violinist of the award-winning New World String Quartet for 11 years (1982-1993), Mr. Macomber performed most of the standard repertoire as well as numerous contemporary works in performances i11 major halls throughout the United States and Europe, and with the Quartet was appointed Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University from 1982-1990; with that group he also recorded 14 discs and performed numerous times on Public Radio and Television in this country, and the BBC in Great Britain.

A founding member of the Apollo Piano Trio and the Bridge Horn Trio, and a member of the 20th-Century music ensemble Speculum Musicae since 1991, Mr. Macomber has also appeared with the Sea Cliff Chamber Players, New York New Music Ensemble, Group for Contemporary Music, New York Chamber Soloists, and in chamber music series across the country and in Europe.

He has recorded for Nonesuch, Koch International, Vanguard, Pickwick, and Musical Heritage; CRI has recently released his second solo recording, entitled “Songs of Solitude”, which the New York Observer named one of 1996’s best instrumental solo discs; and the Violin-Piano Sonatas of Amy Beach and John Corigliano, with pianist Diane Walsh, are available on Koch.

Mr. Macomber is a member of the chamber music faculty of the Juilliard School and the violin faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, and has also taught at Utah State University, Montclair State College and Calvin College.

He holds his B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. degrees from the Juilliard School , where he was a scholarship student of Joseph Fuchs and winner of the Morris Loeb and Walter Naumburg Prizes. (October 28, 2001)

Christopher J. Hall, tuba

Christopher J. Hall, Tubist for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, is currently in his seventh season at the Met Orchestra. Before joining the Met Orchestra Chris held the tuba position in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for two years. He was a fellow in the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in 1995.

Chris has appeared in a variety of performances including: Varese Deserts with Speculum Musicae. He can be heard on the Saving Private Ryan soundtrack of 1998 by John Williams.

In 1993 Chris was the winner of the United Musical Instruments International Solo Competition at the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute, Tempe, AZ, and in 1992 he was the winner of the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference Solo Competition, Open Division, in Lexington, KY.

From 1990 to 1991 he was the Tubist for the New Mexico Brass Quintet, and in 1989 he performed the Vaughan Williams Concerto for Bass Tuba with the University of Illinois Wind Ensemble.

In 1988 Chris performed and recorded Erik Lund’s Music for Tuba and Mallet Instruments, and in 1987 he recorded Sever Tipei’s Cuniculi for Five Tubas, on Centaur CD.

Chris thoroughly enjoys teaching. He has held positions at Montclair State University and is currently on the faculty at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. He also enjoys teaching privately and is always interested in hearing from advanced tuba students.

Chris has studied with Arnold Jacobs, Eugene Pokorny, Daniel Perantoni and Fritz Kaenzig.

Christopher Guzman, piano

Christopher Guzman, piano

Christopher Guzman, of San Antonio, Texas, has won top prizes in numerous competitions, given solo and chamber music recitals throughout America, Europe and Asia and performed with orchestras throughout the United States.

Mr. Guzman made his orchestral debut at the age of thirteen and subsequently performed Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 in C Major with orchestras in Texas, North Carolina, and New Mexico. He has also performed with the EOS Orchestra of New York City, the Fort Worth Symphony and extensively with the San Antonio Symphony.

At The Juilliard School, he is the only current student to have performed with the Juilliard Orchestra three times: in Avery Fisher Hall under the direction of Andrew Litton, in Alice Tully Hall under Jeffrey Milarsky, and in Spoleto, Italy, under Jonathan Sheffer. In addition to these performances, Mr. Guzman is also a member of the school’s New Juilliard Ensemble; in November 2002, he performed John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra with the New Juilliard Ensemble at the Festival Whynote! in Dijon, France.

Mr. Guzman is an avid chamber musician, and has performed chamber music throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Recently he has performed with other musicians in the Juilliard Theater, Columbia University’s Miller Theater, Alice Tully Hall, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, as part of the Artists Ascending Concert Series of Memphis, Tennessee, the Festival dei Due Mondi of Spoleto, Italy, the Vancouver Recital Series, and San Francisco Performances.

He has toured Japan twice with acclaimed violinist Ilya Gringolts, including a debut in Suntory Hall, Tokyo. In October of 2002 he was featured with Gringolts on NPR’s “Saint Paul Sunday,” performing a recital of Bartok, Dvorak and Ravel. Mr. Guzman is currently studying with Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald at The Juilliard School.

Larisa Gelman, bassoon

Bassoonist Larisa Gelman has established herself as an exceptional and dynamic performer and teacher in the United States and abroad. This season she was featured as a soloist with the Brooklyn Symphony performing Richard Strauss “Duo Concertante.” Ms. Gelman’s solo concerts have included Carnival in Caroline, Denton, MD; Impromptu Concerts, Key West, FL; Mozart Festival at World Bank, Washington, D.C.; Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA; West Chester University, West Chester, PA; and Queens College, Queens, NYC. Upcoming engagements include recitals at the Flint Institute of Art, Flint, MI; Juneau Jazz and Classics in Juneau, Alaska and The Encore Programs at Elmira College, Elmira, NY.

Ms. Gelman is involved with educational events in the United States by collaborating with the Midori and Friends Foundation, the New York Philharmonic Outreach Program, Astral Artistic Services, Piatigorsky Foundation and Young Audiences of New York.

Her international teaching experience extends to the Oberlin Panama Project and the Carvalho International Music Festival and School in Brazil. Her innovative methods bring interdisciplinary involvement of music into the academic classroom.

As a performer, Ms. Gelman has served as the principal bassoonist of the Carolina Chamber Symphony and the Key West Symphony. In addition, she has frequently joined the Jupiter, Riverside, New Haven and Norwalk Symphonies, Bermuda Philharmonic as well as the New World Symphony and American Symphony.

Ms. Gelman is the founding member of the Atlantic Winds with which she performs in a multitude of venues in New York, including a recent appearance at the United Nations. Ms. Gelman has also performed chamber music with the New York Wind Soloists, Absolute, S.E.M. Ensemble, and the New Juilliard Ensemble and on many of New York’s finest stages.

Ms. Gelman has attended numerous festivals including the Pacific Music Festival (Japan), Tanglewood, Aspen Music Festival, American Wind Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestral Institute and Colorado Music Festival. The summer of 2000, she joined the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC where she recorded the American premiere of Kurt Weill’s opera “Die Burgschaft” with Julius Rudel under the EMI label.

Larisa Gelman holds degrees of Bachelor of Music (bassoon) and a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (biology) at the Oberlin College-Conservatory, and a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music where she studied with Frank Morelli. She currently resides in New York City with her husband, Igor Begelman.

Karl Kramer-Johansen, horn

Norwegian horn player Karl Kramer-Johansen was principal horn of the Jupiter Symphony for the last four years. During this period, he was regularly featured as soloist in the well-loved concerti of Strauss and Mozart as well as in neglected masterpieces by Reinecke, Dubois, Chabrier and others.

In addition to orchestral and solo work, Karl also maintains a busy chamber music schedule as artist-member and guest artist of numerous concert series and festivals, including Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, Concerts in the Heights, the Lyric Chamber Music Society, and the New England Bach Festival. Chamber music partners include Adam Niemann, William Wolfram, Ruth Laredo and Philip Entremont.

Also sought after as recitalist/lecturer, Karl has toured the United States with composer/pianist Wolfgang Plagge and given master classes at several universities in the southeast. New music collaborations include those with Marc-Antonio Consoli – professor at New York University (Varie Azione III, Games for Three, Four Shades of Tango), and the world-premiere of Kile Smith’s triple concerto “The Three Muses” (with oboist Gerard Reuter and cellist Wolfram Koessel).

Karl is a top prizewinner in many international competitions and the recipient of several awards, such as the 1999 American Horn Competition and most recently the 2001 America-Scandinavian Society Cultural Award.